21 December 2018

Reflection on a Final in Fred Moten's Class

An excerpt from the scroll.

Some of the members of the class put together an eighteen foot scroll comprised of the work done through the course, as inspired by or adjacent to our work. Palimpsest is seen throughout in the layering of text and images (and textual images). There is no sense of where to begin or end, given the orientation of the text in all directions. The piece is disorienting in its orientation and presentation. The invitation was made to have other members of the class add to the scroll, participation being part of the piece. There could be a circumvention of the typical mode of knowledge production expected of the university subject: the book or the paper does not need to be crammed into a particular format. This piece evades the capture of the university as knowledge object, though might be subsumed under the category of artistic work (if they could in some way monetize its creation). If the collective work of the piece points to a sort of absurdism, it is the absurdism of the institution itself which is the piece’s focus. The expression of frustration permeating the piece does not obscure the evidence that knowledge has been transferred or produced in the process.

The only element that might not be entirely evident in looking at the object is the presence of an indication of a palimpsestic time. This temporality is more evident in the performance of the object’s creation. Conversation goes on around as the object is added to, appended, modified only through addition and not erasure. Layers placed on top of other layers still afford the spectator or viewer an opportunity to examine all the pieces, the bits which form the assemblage of the piece. The symbolic gesture of the piece is one of continuation—of continuing study, of a communal always working towards. In this way, the piece retains both its performativity on the outsider and performance within its community. The point at which addition to the piece ends confers upon the community its move from performers to spectators in the performance being acted on by its residual performativity. Importantly, no one has an ideal vision for this piece, no utopian horizon. The vision is mere existence.

4 May 2018

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