MikaelVesavuori-Apparatheid | Ideologies | World View

Apparatheid – Mikael Vesavuori

Apparatheid.
Ideological Apparatus as Art Form & Media

Consider the following proposition: The Highest Form of Artist is God/the State/Capital.

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interfaced technologies. and their knowledge-domains are put to task in the making of ideological objects. 2 / 13 . critically examining issues of democratic participation happening in their objects. neuro-sciences. enmeshed in social and civil life. What it does instead is relate a psychological space in which some actions may be undesirable/impossible and others are deemed as the “right” ones. Object Introduction This essay will present a way of understanding the apparatus of a medium as its main meaning-making loci in contemporary art and politics. At root this is not a new issue. Their methodologies of becoming (creation. but my argument is that it is fast becoming the centerpiece in contemporary society's proliferation of high-technology and devices. I foresee a near-future conflict arising from the intensifying (partly) desire and (partly) “push” to activate citizens in civil life and daily undertakings by way of objects. psychiatry.Apparatheid – Mikael Vesavuori 1. In doing so I will also attempt to define a struggle in what these “apparati”. and they are created with an elegance and discipline that is truly new. in short. often ideologically complicit in upholding certain world-views. production) is valid also in perceiving classical forms of art-making. Modern commercial-industrial design and “radical arts practice” can thus begin to confront each other. but there is most often no real exercise of force in an object. Ideological objects are being produced at a rate which far exceeds that of other times. In a time where “mental disciplines” such as psychology. It should not necessitate remark. it makes sense to be cautious of their collaboration with capitalism. cognitive sciences et cetera are all gaining history and perspective respectively. may represent or enable (as actual consequence) according to current political hegemony. design.

Especially uncomfortable becomes the question of an emancipatory quality and how to reach it. modern warfare. are created or imbued with meaning and in the greater ecology of psychology. To search for how we become affected by objects (the intra-personal is not part 3 / 13 . A long-standing battle in political thinking surrounds the concept of the individual. but claim that every man is his own island.Apparatheid – Mikael Vesavuori The Human Unit First we should understand that there are several layers of problematics and divergences occuring in any discussion of how objects exist. This new era. It stands to reason that every person might be affected or “changed” by others. but I am both more devious in my scheme and more modest. If one knows the mystical way to freedom. capitalists are both paying fortunes for advertising campaigns and brain research. law and other fields. culture of fear. is an oncoming era that will integrate a deeply externalized mode of existence into our current hegemony of Capital. It's high time to deny this falsity by accepting the changing nature of the human being: Humans are similar to clay – malleable. permanent discrediting of political alternatives – and is also one that ties in organically into the business model thinking of the politicoeconomical machinery. What I propose emancipation from. impossible to piece together. is a natural extension of recent developments – surveillance. politics. forever fragmented. that of apparatheid. and by external stimuli. possible to change by force. what are we freed from? It's suggestive to answer “slavery” here. In an ironic twist of massive proportions. willful or subversive – and Ideology is the fire that makes us hardened porcelain – beautifully uniform but easy to break completely.

what we'd like to make easier or how we want to let others do something. One might also add that it creates a fear of physical violence without ever necessarily being made to us. Every man-made object (concrete or conceptual – no difference) is a “knowledge” or trajectory which begins and ends in its own history of discourse. As a tool. but soon one understands its true significance as being that of making us pay attention. material. simply following its motions. circumference. and within its mental constructions and limits and possibilities. As humans. wielded in the classroom – a physical space indeed. but mental in that it enforces submission – is lashing through the air. One recalls McLuhan's statement that the “medium is the message”1 which we will expand to the extreme end of an object directly shaping ideological percepts by its very existence and form. what we think. The object is being mass-produced or otherwise inheriting from a disciplined form: a painting draws influence from endless similar (formal) objects. we make things that may show who we are. pointing. Consider the school teacher's pointing stick: produced in a factory according to some informed decisions concerning length.Apparatheid – Mikael Vesavuori of this essay) we should look beyond representation and more on the actual forms of media. ordering. directing. directing attention at that towards which it travels. one first ignores the stick. Similarly we must 1 McLuhan 1964 4 / 13 . Objects are in no way only material in the physical realm: spaces and other mental materials are likewise materials used in creating the spectrum of affordances in the object. The stick. Individually they exist like instances: as discrete objects. The knowledge is the understanding that informs the shape of the particular instance. the television format somewhat dictated by broadcast standards but resembling photography. color et cetera.

For the current regime (the hegemony) the individual – the human unit – is the highest valued asset.”2 This marks a remarkable change in how the human subject is seen. becoming stick makers and not sign-readers. Being a “user” is being an object-user as much as a user of the state (nevermind the devious implication of being a drug user). so the maker of an object (again. In daily life. the forming of the citizen happened in “[en]nclosures” which “are molds.Apparatheid – Mikael Vesavuori turn attention to the act of manufacturing the very stick itself. As Gilles Deleuze writes. like a self-deforming cast that will continuously change from one moment to the other. Its most pervasive change may be how in the previous society. This is its connection to policy: any idea which is formulated into state policy with intended effects – real or proposed – on a society. we are moving to a society of control from the older discipline-based society. 5 / 13 . or like a sieve whose mesh will transmute from point to point. Subject Creating the Subject Politics is that which is “belonging to the State”3. even if very vaguely. distinct castings” (and thus large. conceptual or physical makes no difference) creates objects relating to those structures. That is not to say that any and 2 Deleuze 1990/1992 3 A Latin Dictionary – Entry for “politicus”. politics are the continuous formulation of sets of laws and regulations that enforce certain relationships between the citizen-subject and its greater context: the polity or the state. institutional – the State) and in the new society “controls are a modulation. 2. There is practically no art that is outside the political sphere. in order to gain the power to order and direct.

Let us think of examples of this intertwining of object-creation and its subjectification. drawing slightly on Antonio Gramsci's concept of cultural hegemony5 (the complete overriding power of one culture). An object (or art-work) can be both entirely automatic or conceptual but still retains the quality of being made and set apart to create a position to be seen from.4 The most pervasive level of control is the hegemony. The subject is the most important factor in politics.Apparatheid – Mikael Vesavuori every thing is politicized. see: Vancouver Courier . but rather that it presupposes some view of the work's relation and functioning in the world and that it has some stance toward the spectator. but also through the reification inherent in material objects and spaces.“'Bum-proof' benches highlight hardened urban areas” 5 Wikipedia – Entry for “Cultural hegemony” 6 / 13 . city planning and law enforcement. it is an indicator of freedom but only within certain conditions. It is what forms a culture or nation or even transnational positioning. Hegemony is the distillation of numerous ideologies into a coherent grand narrative or weltanschauung (world-view). The buddhist monk with his rice bowl is placed in a situation of 4 Consider “bum-proof” city benches as a way to connect aestethics. momentary or imagined. since that is what is being politically engaged with. Their power comes through the use of firstly large-scale apparatuses like institutions. A road allows movement in either direction. That is how art is external even if shaped as being bodily. but legislation makes it practically criminal to use it on foot or with vehicles other than cars. in effect the artwork also creates an implicit subject. In the Western/Northern countries neo-liberal capitalism is likely the best candidate for the role of our current hegemony. ergo.

Very little is actually possible to do and few reactions will thus be had to any action made. the desktop or the trashbin.Apparatheid – Mikael Vesavuori asceticism and the need for others to donate food6. Using it. a cycle of teleological determinism is enacted. allowing for new possibilities: Ableton Live8 allows loop-based or segmented music creation and Max MSP9 enables entirely custom-built interfaces and audio programming on the signal input and output levels entirely bypassing any “natural” or standardized (instrument-based) way of making music. note-based and linear composition: You become a composer. However. Most of these build on traditional. Because applications as these are production tools their output becomes doubly important as new processes and media are enabled where previously none existed. This in turn leads to the you-beingthis-or-that effect: While digital imagery is wildly different than its analog counterpart. new modes of thinking are opening up.7 Software suffers bias as it is always based on a “metaphor”. you are a darkroom operator. Think also of avatar-based games: every avatar is only ever allowed a certain degree of freedom and flexibility in the world. using staples such as the window. Making music on a computer. The artist opens possibilities for affect and/or reflection by working with any 6 7 8 9 Pacific Asia Museum – “Buddhist Art” See: Interacting Arts et al – “Avatarvaro” / ”The Avatar Condition” Ableton – Ableton Live Cycling '74 – Max MSP 7 / 13 . programs like Photoshop still use a rhetorical platform directly connected to a paradigm of darkroom techniques to reproduce similar effects. you use music-creation programs. The bowl-object is in a vital relationship with its owner as it directly enforces a certain life-world upon the monk. all obviously having little direct connection to the computer and its life-world.

to order inventories of material and human resources and to create conditions for existence and circulation within it. the State or Capital as the “highest” form of an artist? Because their function has been precisely. From the perspective of the State – or (to some extent) the artist working from this dizzying level – one is already creating meta-narratives for Subjects. God. As such they are this far the only concepts that have exercised the kind of power needed to singularly legislate laws. State. so the “unthinkable” can never be had when no one will not (or cannot) speculate nor redefine desire. the artist navigates equally among them all. you are “it” and you lose the game of anonymity and privateness when you look the officer in the eyes 10 Orwell 1948-1949 11 Althusser 1974 8 / 13 . Capital Why God. Recall Louis Althusser's interpellation metaphor11 of the police officer: “Hey! You there!”. One could see them as the highest level of instrumentalized civilization. because all of them create a view to something new or old. previously non-linear music could not be made. In a world full of ideological objects. In a consumer society it is said that the consumer gets what he can ask for.Apparatheid – Mikael Vesavuori number of forms and media to accomplish the aesthetic communication (s)he has in mind. and only. punish and discipline: they are the only ones able to create hegemony. Orwell's10 newspeak and indeterminate wars are not so much elements of dystopian fantasy as they are on a current sliding scale with the “liquid truths” of capital: “It has always been so”. commercial and art-world-relating. Therefore making the “unthinkable” thinkable is the goal of the artist or object-maker in general. but always Other. setting up a top-tier horizon showing the very limits of social (im)possibility. You are the one he calls for. In the above example of music-creation programs.

We may use more channels to express ourselves. as just one example. voyeurism and control-patterns that happen when larger amounts of personal information becomes public. become the mouthpiece rather than by way of direct politics.Apparatheid – Mikael Vesavuori and acknowledge his power over yourself.12 Other similar concepts. They are entirely complicit in positioning and directing efforts by people to certain activities. but ultimately they mean essentially nothing in practical terms. we have a problem in that these media-outlets are pervasive and general purpose. social interplay and play. Furthermore there is the problematic issue of self-censorship. an external entity. Where art. like gamification – the application of game-like structures on life activities – give extrinsic. negative or positive. One might call this the logical end of representational democracy: you create an external entity-avatar to bring forth your opinion. Herein lies also the yetuntapped power of physicality. “Social” media makes it possible to create a persona. badges or points when we are doing things like shopping. letting social media. Yet again. Something like Facebook acts on our desire to express our views. With the evolution of objects that are this complex. a purely symbolic relation. exercising or saving electricity. How these will interact over time is still uncertain. outside of the previous hegemonies. It is also the first opt-in gateway into ordering “real” subjects in real space. design and object-making becomes extremely socially difficult is in its widespread use in depoliticized populaces. direct rewards like compliments. basically creating a “templated mind” into which users try to flexible expand what the objects/tools/interfaces can allow. they move into the 12 Design Observer – “Designing Our Own Graves” 9 / 13 . show ourselves and to some extent over-emphasize our positive sides.

kitchen utensils.85 million CCTV cameras. Set outside the wrapping-paper of content and illusionistic mindgames. the fetishized commodity in capitalism.Apparatheid – Mikael Vesavuori troubled realm of a perverted. see The Guardian – “ You're being watched: there's one CCTV camera for every 32 people in UK” 17 Parrot AR Drone 10 / 13 . indefinitely. with all its little people and pawns. especially when it is already established that Hegemony is using media in this expanded sense. or “I”) in relation to something external with 13 See: Fisher 2010 14 See: Harun Farocki's Eye-Machine I-III (2001-2003) 15 Consider recent smartphone tracking scandals. Gods. It should come as no surprise that Hegemony has a stake in producing space(s) but also collecting materials from them. see: The Atlantic Wire – “Your Smartphone is Spying on You” 16 The UK alone. the smartphone drone17. the peak-form of this abstract language which art is will be found in the staging of society. waterfalls and plastic recyclable bottles. The essential raison d'être of these objects is in their role as supporting Hegemony. direct usefulness – for example with the advent of industrial design – it is no longer sufficient to deal only with content or surface qualities. and even sometimes. 3. again consider the proposition: The Highest Form of Artist is God/the State/Capital. Ordering the Real Via Proxy Finally. See for example unmanned drones14. the iPhone15 or pervasive CCTV16 or even the bizarre hybrid of all three. The capacity to hijack or critically construct (art) objects comes from the understanding that there is total equality between objects in these three paradigms: the Sacred/Iconic of religion. door mats. for instance. “magical” Capitalism13. the Sanctioned of states. If art is truly the act of staging a Subject (the “you”. has over 1.

dictating the allowed ideologies. Talmon 1952 11 / 13 . being able to order the Real itself and not merely the Representation of it. With these objects it is no longer even necessary to enforce regulations by auxiliary force (police etc. a being. Works cited / References 18 Crouch 2004 19 J.Apparatheid – Mikael Vesavuori whatever pre-conditions and variables that may apply – the artwork as being foreign or positioned somehow – then the movements. In the beginning of this essay I asked what emancipation might mean in relation to ideological objects. L. a politicosmological inverse Big Bang – a “postdemocracy”18 or even the “totalitarian democracy”19: if I am allowed to say anything and everything. a trajectory: thinking becoming material. the promise of one's own voice – the essence in supporting democracy – is always in there. oscillations and forms of its constituent parts will be nothing less than the most complex construct of possibility ever conceived of. The destructive force of an ideological object is unleashed the moment that it begins negating other spaces and turns into Hegemony.) if there was never a choice to be made at all: That is the stage for the permanent conflict in our society. not yet but possibly later turning itself into the unmaking of itself. somewhere. a voice. Because we make things. a thinking. I will say that you must no longer say anything at all. Democracy has been an unprecedentedly fertile ground for the cynical plantation of apparati. Let's restate the being of an object: every object including its ideology is a knowledge. Except that the tools at the disposal of these Hegemonies are unparallelled in complexity and span.

1948-1949. The Medium is the Message. 2009.tufts. http://en. 12 / 13 . Accessed May 18.edu/hopper/text? doc=Perseus:text:1999.04. Mark Fisher. Parrot AR Drone. Entry for “politicus”. Accessed May 18.html? id=53836c28-88c9-4cf3-9060-c4d0f09790d7.com/parrot-ar-drone/en/. Wikipedia. 1990/1992. http://www. L. 'Bum-proof' benches highlight hardened urban areas. 2012. J. Accessed May 18 2012.0059:entry=politicus. 2012. 2012. 2004.parrot.com/technology/2011/11/your-smartphonespying-you/45575/. Buddhist Art. http://www. Post Democracy. http://www. Accessed May 23 2012. Colin Crouch. Vancouver Courier.theatlanticwire. Verso.canada. Louis Althusser. The Origins of Totalitarian Democracy.com/vancouvercourier/news/opinion/story. Talmon. Accessed May 18. http://www.org/buddhism/html/essay4. London. George Orwell. Entry for “Cultural hegemony”. The Atlantic Wire.perseus.Apparatheid – Mikael Vesavuori Literature Gilles Deleuze. Web A Latin Dictionary. Accessed May 18 2012. Capitalist Realism.htm. Postscript to the Societies of Control. Marshall McLuhan. Pacific Asia Museum. 1952.pacificasiamuseum. Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses. http://ardrone. 1964. 1974. 1984.org/wiki/Cultural_hegemony.wikipedia.

Accessed May 23.ableton. Designing Our Own Graves. Design Observer. “You're being watched: there's one CCTV camera for every 32 people in UK”.com/products/max/. http://www. Avatarvaro/The Avatar Condition. Ableton Live.co. http://observatory. http://cycling74.com/live-8. 2012. Accessed May 23 2012. 2012.html?entry=4307. 2001-2003. http://interactingarts. Interacting Arts et al. Accessed May 18. 2012. 13 / 13 . Max MSP. Ableton.uk/uk/2011/mar/02/cctv-cameras-watchingsurveillance.com/entry. Accessed May 23.Apparatheid – Mikael Vesavuori The Guardian.guardian. Eye-Machine I-III. Art Harun Farocki. Accessed May 23. http://www.org/widing/2011/the-avatar-condition. Cycling '74. 2012.designobserver.

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