Welly welly welly, Urbanomic at the Tate Britain. Last night I attended The Real Thing, a night of events, sound installations, video works and a rather thought provoking panel discussion. I started the evening ambling through the Urbanomic Curatorial Intervention of Art in the Sublime in room 9 ( this room is my favourite space in London, for sometime it's housed one of my most cherished artists, the british romantic painter John Martin ) curiously reading the alternative interpretations of by Urbanomic associates ( Reza Negarestani, China Mieville, Robin Mackay and Eugene Thacker to name but a few ) interpretations and neo-readings of various romantic paintings, this experience was cerebrally stimulating. These re-readings of such established works, works of entrenched history and aesthetics, provided fresh contextualizations for the pieces within todays socio-politic economy, effectively shattering my projected reality of previous viewing experiences, Art and the Sublime re-thought through to The Real and the Sublime, the sublime being re-construed as an aesthetic gravity, pulling the viewer into 'complicity with anonymous materials'. I sensed destruction, re-imagining such contexts and realities felt eerie but none-the-less revelatory ( was this a glimpse of a speculative realism? ).
After this philosophical empyrean, I moved through doors adorned with various statements and permutations of 'the sun is good' on the glass ( visible from both sides ), the blinding sun, the spectacle of revelation seemed apt, the progression of these statements led from 'the sun is god' to 'the sun is evil' - the dualism, of ontological blackholes and blinding neo-realisms echoed my feelings/reactions towards the alternative speculative realist curation of the Art in the Sublime exhibition.
In the geographically transient space of the octagon were refreshments and Florian Hecker's new sound installation Speculative Solution. The piece explores the notion of 'hyperchaos' from Quentin Meillassoux's After Finitude ( a book that proposed that natural laws are contingent, autonomous and subject to change, shift or stop ). The experience was immersive, lucid and certainly conveyed, or rather highlighted, our realities uncertain degrees, transience and liquidinous temporalities.
After an engaging, albeit brief, panel discussion titled The Real, Representation, and the 'In-Itself' with Urbanomic director Robin Mackay talking to Iain Hamilton Grant, , Mikko Canini and Amanda Beech about the nature, role and significance of speculative realist ( and also art's role in exploring such a notion ) philosophies was Beech's video work Sanity Assassin. I found this work to be violent, abrasive and intimidating, the raw amphetaminean rush of imagery, noise and text bombards the organ of the eye with such unrelenting intensity that I found myself in an uncomfortable limbo, between a tension of cerebral comprehension/contemplation and the more physical, instinctual reactions to the stimulus that drenched me.
The Real Thing certainly provided a platform, an opportunity for people to access, experience or explore a fleeting facet of speculative realism. Writers, thinkers, philosophers and academics have explored Speculative Realism for some years now, but retrospectively I cannot help but feel compelled by the unique power/effectiveness of art to convey such ideas and themes, the instantaneous effect, the vivid ontological impressions, especially from Amanda Beech's Sanity Assassin and Florian Heckers Speculative Solution were enthralling and powerful. It's wonderful to have experienced art working and exploring so effectively for Speculative Realism, hopefully this exciting and effective mode of enquiry continues.