Adam Walker

Ways of being beyond the perpetuating inequalities of the technosphere: Textual artistic intervention as a vital strategy in enabling resistant agency or, Embodying a practice of radical care.

PhD Viva completed 2020-2021

Ways of being beyond the perpetuating inequalities of the technosphere: Textual artistic intervention as a vital strategy in enabling resistant agency or, Embodying a practice of radical care

ABSTRACT

This research project comprises an interwoven, overlapping body of artistic interventions and multiple forms of writing. Drawing on Virno and others, it addresses and theorises the ‘technosphere’: a would-be totalising, statically reproducing structure of perpetuating inequality, through which contemporary existence occurs. (1) Pivotal within the technosphere are textualised processes of proprietorial individuation and de-humanising abstraction. 

In response to this, I propose an original concept of ‘radical care’. Augmenting the established discourse of ‘critical care’ introduced by Puig de la Bellacasa and others, radical care is developed as an ethical-methodological framework by which resistance within the immediate, visceral conditions of ‘being’ is connected with the speculative, forward-flung possibility of holding thinkable foreclosed futures. (2) This is the principal original contribution to knowledge made by this research project. Combining a careful considered-ness and self-reflexivity with the intermittent need to act unknowingly and ‘carelessly’, radical care holds these facets together as mutually essential to one another, rather than opposing them. 

Radical care is both manifested and articulated through practice. In a further original contribution, as a method by which it might do so through artistic practice, I propose ‘embodied flattened allegorical montage’ (a development of Buchloh’s concept of ‘allegorical montage’). (3) In seeking and then seeking to practice radical care, ‘embodied flattened allegorical montage’ emphasises a holding together of site, context, affect, situated economies of circulation, process, dissemination and potential encounter with audience as a fragmentary, de-centred, fluid, porous artistic intervention. It does this following Barthes’ argument to shift our thinking of the ‘artwork’ from work to text, and in so doing reopen playfulness and process. (4) These texts are subversively and disruptively intersected into the technosphere’s own. Radical care has been refined, conceptualised and made disseminable through the process of these artistic interventions in which it is practiced. 

In reflection of the inescapability of the technosphere, my ‘being’ (in its specific positionality, vulnerability and agency) is entangled through the entirety of this project. ‘Being’, in reflexive parallel with practice and theorising, is acknowledged as a vital co-equal strand of research. The articulation and practicing of ‘iterative refracted practice, theorising and being’ forms the third thread of this project’s enmeshed core contributions. Asserting a value in ‘being’ contests its technospheric exploitation. Ultimately, through the embodiment of a practice of radical care, this project opens a path whereby more equal ways of being become, momentarily at least, possible. 

(1) Paolo Virno, A Grammar of the Multitude: For An Analysis of Contemporary Forms of Life, trans. By Isabella Bertoletti, James Cascaito and Andrea Casson (Los Angeles CA: Semiotext(e), 2004).

(2) Maria Puig de la Bellacasa, Matters of Care: Speculative Ethics in More than Human Worlds (Minneapolis MN: University of Minnesota Press, 2017).

(3)  Benjamin Buchloh, ‘Allegorical Procedures: Appropriation and Montage in Contemporary Art’, Artforum, 21:1 (1982), 43-56.

(4) Roland Barthes, ‘From Work to Text’ [1971], in Image Music Text, trans. by Stephen Heath (Glasgow: Fontana Paperbacks, 1977), pp. 155-164.

Website: www.adamjbwalker.co.uk

Full thesis: https://researchonline.rca.ac.uk/4778/