Friday 29 November 2013

There is an idea that the subject of our time is a 'hypermodern' subject - a subject for whom the object replaces the Other as organising principle of social discourse. This, so the idea goes, leads to a subject who perpetually goes from object to object, from one satisfaction experience to another, in consumption on and on, which does not stop because it is not adequately satisfied. The idea goes that this constitutes a kind of "hyper" or "excess" condition, with little place for the ideals, ideas, principles, or repressions of what might be called the order of the Other. The 'hypermodern' subject is the site of drives without bound except that of excess. It is less a desiring subject - since desire requires the maintenance of distance to its object which the 'hypermodern' is an attempt to obliterate.

It might be possible to discern in this characterisation, some aspect of the idea of the contemporary in contemporary art. It's a category that, after all, is most associated with auction house periodisation. It can be understood in terms of a transformation of art from a site of alterity which maintained desire through holding certain resolutions at bay, and in so doing holds at bay certain reductions in the way art can be experienced or consumed, to an art object in which that alterity becomes the guarantee of easy consumption with the minimum remainder. All the fun of the fair.

Bound up with this idea of the 'hypermodern' are some moral postures and assumptions to which I'm indifferent, in art it might translate into reductions for instance about how art can or can't work in the art market or elsewhere, and I think the idea far from totalises the experience of our times. It is, though, worth considering. It offers a way of thinking about how some operations in works of art have shifted only subtly whilst the conditions of possibility for how we may experience that art may have changed markedly. If not taken as a given, it might offers ways of thinking about how to make art that offers the condition of possibility to maintain some relation to desire, some holding at bay of the reduction of art objects and experiences to objects and experiences of entertainment seeking to satisfy the drives, with minimal remainder.

The Zombie Epidemic: A Hypermodern Version of the Apocalypse is a pdf of a speech by Jorge Assef, relating to the hypermodern. I'm not at all convinced by his fixing of the subject matter heavily handedly in the imaginary register via the zombie motif, although as an aside I enjoy his defence of vampirism.

No Women in the 21st Century is a pdf of an essay by Natalie Wülfing who takes the idea of the hypermodern subject via changes in the feminine subject.

*the recency of the period that seems to be associated with the 'hypermodern' doesn't match that of the contemporary of contemporary art as such if we take the contemporary to be a name for a single thing, so either the the contemporary really isn't what it was, or it's not a useful term in respect to the 'hypermodern'. I take the former to be the case.

1 comment:

  1. exciting text and suggestions about the HyperModern Zombie times we live !! thanks for sharing !!