Works in Progress
Planned Ambivalence : Examining Daft Punk's 2013 Come-back record: Random Access Memories
I put on Random Access Memories, which is one of the few albums on my phone. As you recall, most of the albums on my phone are Mount Laurel Library CDs that I deemed worthy to burn onto my phone. I must have started doing this in 2012. Most of the albums are from like, 2009-2013: Desire Lines, I Bet on Sky, Strange Mercy, Free Your Mind, Helplessness Blues, The ArchAndroid, Aheym, San Fermin, All Hour Cymbols, Merriweather Post Pavillion, SBTRKT, Biophilia, Bloom, Gloss Drop, On the Water, There is Love in You, Noble Beast, Shields. This is Happening too, which I put on my computer a long time ago but just listened to it all the way through for the first time yesterday.
I loved it obviously and was still feeling bouncy but didn't want to listen to it again so I felt Random Access Memories, of all the things on my phone, would be the most consistent follow up. When I put it on I just got this realization like you know what? Everything in my life went wrong after that album came out.
I think I mentioned this to you before but one of the inexplicably happiest days of my life was with Brien Porter when we walked across Cedar Point Shores during the choir-band trip. We loved RAM and it had just came out a few weeks earlier. The first time I ever used a headphone splitter was when we were riding across Pennsylvania and listening to it on a loop.
I've always been confounded by that day. How could it be so good when things with Brian ended so bad? I'm sure I haven't mentioned this because I don't bring it up much, but Brian ended up putting me into some pretty upsetting sexual situations. Nothing too severe, kissing stuff, I mean it was more so about the humiliation of being held against my strength in public. It happened multiple times too. (I didn't want my friends to say it was my fault but they did.)
There's something so wholesomely mediocre about Random Access Memories. It's not a bad album couldn't you say? And we can easily say it's not great, but we admire it wouldn't you say? I've never fully understood ambivalence, even though I know it. So now I'm imagining that if I could know this album, if I could gain the language and the cultural knowledge to critique it outside the experience I had as a 17-year-old kid having a lovely day with someone I didn't love, then maybe there would be clarity.
OOP: Object Oriented Post-Colonialism
The investigation of objects beyond their material substances is the study of history. I put people's bodies into the category of objects; the associations of our skin color, the amount of flesh we hold, the way our movements register in each other’s perception of time and distance, the familiarity with which our sounds register to each other’s ears, they all are qualities of an object that we refer to as “the body.”
In relatively recent times academia has embraced the theories and philosophies around post-colonialism. Due to the frequency with which new understandings of social, political, military, and economic histories and stories are understood throughout the world, it is difficult to find a universal definition of post-colonialism.
I am using a theory, object oriented ontology (OOO pronounced "triple O"), which has been circulating in the visual art world for the last decade, to create a definition of post-colonialism which can be used both in and outside of visual critique. OOO is a reactionary philosophical movement that is defined in part by its rejection of correlationism, the belief that things only exist when they are in relation to the human mind and human language.
The clarity with which this philosophy is demonstrated in visual media is dubious at best. Timothy Morton writes that OOO is the extension of the idea of the irreducible darkness- the idea that when we see an object there is part that we cannot see and that what we cannot perceive will always be the “underside” of said object- from a subject to object relationship to an object to object relationship.
Visual artists have challenged themselves to depict the irreducible darkness of an object-to-object relationship, typically by removing the viewer as the center through which all perceptual analysis and understandings of the work be held. Generally this has been done by imbuing concepts of autonomy or purpose to animals, objects, or ecology that are beyond the viewer’s desires or expectations.
I believe these works profoundly fail to illustrate the core concepts of OOO. The theory provides a way of understanding of the existence and importance of all objects, all of which can not be directly engaged or known by any person or other object. Timothy Morton describes objects as “profoundly withdrawn” and declares that no amount of investigation, manipulation, or material change will get to what the object actually is.
By producing visual work with the intention to expand upon or exemplify this, artists are conflating the “withdrawn” qualities of an object with the inattention paid to it by a subject. Removing the ability to investigate an object does not bring out the fact that object is withdrawn because no amount of investigation would change that quality regardless.
This is why I say bodies must be categorized as objects. By doing so I can set up a definition post-colonialism that borrow from the concepts of OO0; post-colonialism is the conceptual framework that promotes the utilization of historical information to enhance the autonomy of a person beyond their relationship to their viewer.