A stanza per week

An eyelash fell upon my hand.
A camouflaged man had an epiphany in the undergrowth:
now Zen Buddha has a bone to pick
but that brand of told-you-so tends to keep the lights on
(veni vixi).

Oh, ’twas a beautiful era
all shiny, and Ohm killed
the goddess on an over/under
between “mission accomplished” and
“predilection for stakes one cannot refuse”

or loyal neoamericana in seven minus
three dimensions
where reparations gave the sandman a run for his money.
Keep it upstairs, for goodness sake.
Save it for the random act of violence.








Second Class Topics

We talked about “The Jon Stewart of Egypt” – Bassem Youssef.

Walter Benjamin talk amongst other things about human beings, machines, senses – and why we build this extension of ourselves.

In the video we watched about Marxism, two main ideas came up –
1. Alienation – people fear of disconnection as a consequence of living in a society stratified into social classes.
2. Commodity fetishism – In Karl Marx’s critique of political economy, commodity fetishism is the perception of the social relationships involved in the production, not as relationships among people, but as economic relationships among the money and commodities exchanged in market trade.

Marx never came up with an alternative to capitalism.

Reference to Zizek – his Toilet video on how he can understand the mentality and culture of different countries from their toilets (difference between American toilet, German etc…)

Talked about the invention of the fax or the chemistry for fixing an image, were available much earlier than actually been used, people didn’t know how to use or take advantage of them at the time they were actually invented.

– we watched a couple of videos:
Freud’s psychoanalysis
Plato in the kitchen
Chauvet Cave paintings – talked about how people created now fake paintings on top of the real ones, so the real ones won’t get damaged – in relation to what is the value of “an original”, or what is “real”.

Talking about the Walter Benjamin text:

Talks about time and what was available – today we have the camera to duplicate everything and imitate reality.

Benjamin mentions Capitalism:
– Mode of production
– Prognostic Value
Marx diagnoses an “illness” – the exploration is very clear, Capitalism can self-destruct. these conditions are reflected in the culture.

– talking about how can art be, and how it will look like when all levels of society will make it. how will it change? creativity is neutralized.
Making the art open to everyone – when used uncontrollably can become repressing.

Part II
The authenticity is the aura.
anything is reproducible as long as you have the right tools for it.

– we mentioned the destruction of negatives here.

we talked about how certain experiences have changed – once, going to Yosemite would be a life changing experience for people, being there by themselves, alone in nature. today – you are never alone, you are there with thousands of people, phones, cameras, the internet.
Also – people always come to these places with some previous knowledge, if its a story or the experience they heard from someone else, an image they saw online, its never clean, you don’t come there as “tabula rasa” anymore, which changes the experience, it cannot be authentic anymore in a way.
Now, you can have Yosemite in your living room, as you’ve taken a picture there, or even downloaded it from the internet.

People want to “recreate” the experience they think they should have – going shopping in Times Square is a must do activity – why?
Is it really for the clean experience of shopping, are the stores that unique and special there? or its just to say that you’ve done that, to recreate a movie scene?

The Mona Lisa painting in the Louvre is another example.

Can something with a sacred power be reproduced?

There’s a good and bad side in the aura, it can show new things, democratizing but demonizing.
Also – the aura might be individual. different from one to another, what it symbolizes.

We talked about the writers – how few of them we used to have, talking to the public. nowadays, anyone can be a writer, which lower the quality of the craft.

We mentioned the Met Breuer “Unfinished” art exhibition – regarding the aura. we can feel the hand of the painters. also – in reference to what is real and not, what is considered finished or not.

Abigail mentioned how some inventions became very obvious to us through the years and we don’t doubt their authenticity – like the telephone.
Talking to someone on the phone is not a real experience, it’s not authentic, as the person is not there, its just audio waves. Its a disembodied experience.

Part 5
Talking about how everything becomes an object.
is everything made to be reproduced from the beginning?

The use of art not as art but as a communication device.
Talking about the relation between Marx and Freud – they both try to resolve the shift from an industrialized world to an Informationalized state.
Abigail posed a question at the end of class regarding sensation – where is it located? on our skin, or is it internal?

First Class topics

Highlights from the First Philosophy class


August Sander – important, foundational source of how people are making portraiture as documentation.

Benjamin theorised artist as a cultural producer and the changing role of an artist as maker and the meaning of images.

Flusser is based on Benjamin.

Berger’s “Ways of seeing” – almost a rip-off of Benjamin.

Contemporary thinking in photography formulated on Benjamin.

The journey from the mystical properties of images (cave paintings) to the contemporary “sea” of images. Everyone can have access to images.


We’ll be reading different texts weekly in conjunction with Flusser.

Themes to discuss:

– The Cyborg Manifesto by Dona Haraway – Post Human.

The Uncanny Valley” – up to the certain point you want the things to be real and from some point no – that’s where the uncanny valley starts.

Robots. VR, AR. -> to liberate oneself from the structures of power.

– Gender – used to be a solid rock. Now we understand it’s a spectrum and it’s fluid. Gender – to assert a power structure. Being human – being in a power position.

– Psychoanalysis – Jacques Lacan, Freud

– Timothy Morton; Eugene Thacker – The Anthropocene -> Idea of history. We are in era of humans, they present next thing we have to do.

Pagans – were integrated with cyclical nature.

Abrahamic religions (Christians, Judeo, Islam) – linear time. Mankind has dominion on Earth.

Anthropocene – we need to imagine a world with out us.

Morton – hyperobjects (idea of history is one, other things that transcend the limitation of object).

You need to understand your position in the evolutionary timeline. The notion of becoming. Notion of multiple positions.

Hakim Bey (DJ, performer, theorist) – The temporary autonomous zone – space you create around yourself. Not dominated by any government.

Lifestyle anarchism – pejorative. You are part of the system, pet anarchist of the system, not really changing.

Social practice – type of art, the work itself is a social practice, investigates the social stream.

– Concept of non-photography

First Assignment: Class Letter

Hi everyone…


You may (or may not) have received a previous class letter….if so, please disregard! It is outdated, and from a previous incarnation of the class, and like any collective entity, we are completely unique, and unlike any other. So all bets are off!

To those of you whose company has never graced my classroom:

  • Please send me that introduction letter! Tell me anything you would like me to know about who you are, where you are from, why you are here….and what you have been doing. Let me know what has been working for you here at ICP, and what has been missing. Also please let me know your native tongue, and how comfortable you are reading in English. 

To my returning little starlings

  • How are you? I am so pleased to see you again, each and every one. To see your names on the roster fills me with delight at the lively and provocative conversations and thought experiments we will have. That said, if I have not seen you since the fall, please let me know what I have missed…and what you are happy about and what you are missing. 


  • Please let me know if you have read any of the following texts, or if any of the names/terms ring a bell (if so, give me some feedback and free association…if not, do not worry..we will explore together)






Jaques Lacan

Sigmund Freud

Timothy Morton

Eugene Thacker

Siegfried Zielinski

Slavoj Zizek

Dona Haraway

Hakim Bey

The Anthropocene

Temporary Autonomous Zone

Lifestyle anarchism

Social Practice


  • I would also love to know if you have any specific hopes or expectations for the class, but please save these to share together in class discussion on the first day. No need to write it down, just think and dream. 
  • Also please let me know your preferred email for contact etc….
  • Before class begins, I would like to set up an online space for the class. I need to share readings, changes, etc. You need to share images, found objects, experiences, videos and talks. I am setting up a simple wordpress site—that is what has worked best in the past, but I am open to ANYTHING—Facebook page, tumbler, foursquare….we just need to be able to share with each other efficiently. Please send me an email from your preferred email for this site, and for general contact. 

I would like each of you to purchase one book for the class: TOWARDS A PHILOSOPHY OF PHOTOGRAPHY by Vilem Flusser 


I have 4 copies available in English at a slightly discounted price, $14. First come, First served….

Also, if you would like to read this book in your native tongue, it is available in many languages, including Spanish, Portuguese, Mandarin and Japanese. Please let us know if you would like help locating it. 

As to the contact info for the TA’s. I am your teacher and I should always be your first line of inquiry. That said we have wonderful TA’s and Nitzan, Izabela and I are a lovely team….if you do not hear from me promptly then forward a copy to them as sometimes email is a mysterious mechanism…

We are going to have a wonderful time together…and I am going to show you that theory is one of the most fun things you can do without breaking any laws….enhanced-buzz-12370-1377628205-14