The Museum of Vestigial Desire


Laboratories are spaces for iterative development of solutions for pre-defined problems. They also reserve the right to forget about the problem at hand totally and become spaces for play and exploration. Laboratories are essential spaces for academic tendencies to breakout of their non-stick, hands-free character and become viruses which can effect lives at large and not impose philosophical biases about the trajectories they lead to. Laboratories are wedded forever to a certain idea of industry and enterprise. If business was to be biologically grown and not fuelled by entrepreneurial lust and social warfare then maybe laboratory spaces would be of a different nature, maybe they would even be farms with ample sun and fertile soil.

Laboratories of course can also be oblivious to all of this and design a process with chaos and disarray at the foreground. It can be seen as a clown's errand, a halfway house between a space for therapy and full-scale nihilism. Doing so takes a lot of strength, so much strength that no one has been able to do it yet in the whole world. There was a time in the past when this strength did exist and such laboratory spaces did exist and that time is the sole reason for nostalgia still being meaningful. In that time there were no shared set of goals, no common objectives, humanity was a lost cause and any guess was good enough. The troops rallied in any direction that was clearly pointed out. The group dynamics was wonderfully cheerful. As no one had the answer and everyone was equally lost there was no diabolical layer to society. Politics was not about image manipulation in a terrain where no one was a star, but rather it was a game of chance where it did not really matter because nobody really cared and nobody really had any secretive schemes for taking over and displacing anybody else. Important decisions were taken over casual discussions over a marked table at the local bar. These decisions were then conveyed to the person who happened to be in charge and like a diligent clerk, the person went about implementing those decisions.

But the laboratories that we present here do not have too much to do with these histories. Maybe a little bit but not much. These individual specific laboratories do not even have distinct human minds looking after them. These are rooms in this building where diseases of different kinds can breakout, these are algorithms for predicting the pathways of outbreaks that may happen. When experiments go wrong here and things explode, things still have the potential energy to fly off in the right direction. Things still have a fair chance to conveyer belt that is connected to the main switchboard. These explosive fragments are charged with the laboratory's infectious ambience. In a way the laboratory travels in the particles of the dust, smoke and powder of things falling apart.

Laboratories do not necessarily invoke any cultural traditions at the first instance. Science, technology, industry, secrecy might be part of the history, might be embedded in the backstory but these do not enslave the idea of the laboratory, only co-inhabit it. Such co-habitations are many many and we would only be able to trace out a few here. These traces will emerge and get drawn out of things we do here and also the things we don't of course but also the things we merely sketch in words, merely write about. Because things being the way they are we figure that if you have to die you can die as much from holding a well-sculpted shred of thought in your head as you can from a bullet-wound.

The Labour of Reading tags: agency

Reading is not just a process which has a cognitive load. It is a physical task and process as well. It takes a certain set of physical steps as well. We believe that even if you don’t take on the cognitive load of reading, even if you just read it optically, the text should work. Optical reading means following each word, character by character and read sentences, paragraphs and passages. Text works by the simultaneous operation of the optical and the semantic layers. That means that meaning is made and at the same time the friction produced as a result of the placement of words next to each other and the placement of sentences next to each other produces a certain kind of reading. The process that leads to the production of this reading is laborious and we refer to it in the title of this text. But this text is not just a text, this text is the schematic for a laboratory. The Labour of Reading laboratory studies non-cognitive formats of reading.

Reading is of these two types and we cannot prioritise one over the other. We can read and expect the emergence of meaning and we can read without paying any attention and expect to feel something. The laborious process of reading might not yield exactly the same thing as the semantic but whatever it is, it has been specifically thought about by the author of the text. The typography is not included in this layer of experience of the text. For the layer of typography to be applied, the text at least has to be decided. The text gets decided at the same time as the nature of labour required for reading the text gets decided. Both of these variables do not have any hierarchy between them. They get framed at exactly the same time without one determining the other. The flux of this process simultaneously get set into a typographical form.

Typography does not affect the labour of reading in any way. The font does not either increase or decrease the labour involved in reading a word, sentence or passage. And so in this laboratory we do not reflect on the typography design process at all. In the optical experience, the perception of the font is a very part. As our optical experience is analytical our eyes are part of the sense making complex in our physical system.

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The Fragility of Experience tags: trap

Our experience is fragile. It can easily be shattered. We know that that the fragile is close to being the fictional. Its vulnerability makes it hide itself. It encodes itself within the format of fiction. The purpose of this encoding is not to hide itself in order to escape detection. The purpose is to reveal meanings which can’t be stated. The unstated traditionally lives within the felt and is articulated through poetry, analogy and fiction. Fiction observes that the conditions we live in cannot be taken at face-value and need to be interpreted and analysed. There is a differential and a variable possibility of interpretation. This allows us to assume a role of our choice given that our circumstances remain more or less unchanged.

This makes it more possible for us to be dynamic in terms of our worldview. It gives us the freedom to believe in a version of reality that suits us irrespective of our current situation. Fiction allows us to read the reality which we are facing in a more fluid manner. This fluidity in turn protects our ability to navigate ourselves in a direction that appeals to us. Writing fiction reveals not just the values with which we publicly identify but through the models of the world that we share we end up being more transparent even about aspects of our world-view that we did not set out to reveal in the first place.

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The Surface of Knowledge 2 tags: forest

We have stared at the surface. We have enjoyed having a finite number of dimensions to access to our environment. What we thought was everything was in fact only a part of the whole.

How does that make you feel?

Does that make you feel like you have devoted your attention to a construct that is still fathoming itself?

Well, that is all that is available. Everything is shakeable. There is always distance to travel.

One of our limitations has been that we have thought about the moment as a minute duration. Durations are never singular. Even if minute. There are always parallel sequences of unraveling that render all durations in a format greater than singular.

Construing experience and the knowledge that emanates from it as flat is one thing, but construing it as a ceaseless duration which can only be accessed through slices is another.

This duration is disrupted by many aspects of our behaviour. When we get immersed in anything, we lose everything.

But we are not cataloging all our disruptions here, we are only adding facets which will make it possible to hold our experience of the surface. We are keen to hold and not just get a fleeting glimpse because we do not want to live basking in the memory, we need to live in the midst of the experience.

Also we are realising, having a text that is universal is fine because that is a very broad frame we need to examine the fine detail and the broad perspective at the same time. We cannot put anything into practice unless we are thus split between the micro and the macro. In isolation everything will seem simpler. But in unity what happens? What happens when there is no possibility of pulling things apart. We want to think about each idea that we consider within the scope of what is involved in implementing them into our waking life. Our life in slumber is anyway more efficiently pre-scripted to leave us free from interjecting with a set of choices. Why can't we sleep all the time? Why do we need to wake up at all? If the act of seeing something related to our eyes, then how do we watch dreams with our eyes closed?

There is always a gap between the quality of the shooting script and nature of the footage. Something creeps into the frame from somewhere. And unless we know something about this act of creeping in, we will also treat it like an accident. Accidents remain like a explained phenomenon in our practices and we do not attempt to understand these very much. We attempt to understand only the conditions that produce the accident in question. And please ourselves with a capacity for triggering these accidents constantly.

Eventually we want to do away with triggering altogether and be the accident. How is that going to happen?

The surface is a handy construct for summoning our potential constantly and not be stuck behind layers of time or experience construed as knowledge. But after that has been achieved, how does creating waves of vitiation on the surface work?

If we do not know how to configure, we do not really know enough.

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The Surface of Knowledge tags: weeds

We state that the scenarios of infinite postponement of knowledge in the setting of educational institutions are fraudulent. If knowledge is to be accessed, it has to be produced. There is no knowledge to be gained from the tertiary consumption of experiences. What the system offers us as the range of depth to delve into is only a tactic of deference that does not offer any respite from the compulsion to seek.

The insistence of the system to propel us into a perpetual state of becoming is problem.

The Surfatial University fulfils the persistent craving for knowledge that abounds. We do away with the self-serving model of plunging learners into never-ending self-doubt, chasing and the persistence of illusory depth. We offer the flat surface of knowledge as an entity which offers no sequentiality, that becomes an end in itself. The flatness of the surfaces that we offer have no deformities of terrain and no possibilities for the emergence of shadows. The avoidance of shadows allows a genuine chance for shadows to be considered. The university gathers around itself, a community that doesn't squint in the pursuit of some imagined pot of gold but rather one that allows itself to surrender to the moment at hand.

The emergence of knowledge has no role envisaged for the learner. There is nothing to do. There is nothing to be pursued. If the reluctance to be locked into a cycle of productivity is anything to be named, we would name it the main factor.

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Museums-in-Museums tags: sink

Frames do not exist in isolation. They contain but also they are containers. A museum is not just a frame. It is frame that can hold other frames. This meta-ability is a choice but also it is a compulsion. The satisfaction of being can only be matched by becoming a facilitative being. A terminal can only be trumped by a server. But such a facilitative being is not easily realised. Who should be facilitated? Who is worth it? Who is magnified at the appropriate scale?

In the absence of sufficiently developed stories, should the storytellers just read the names of the stories again and again? If we do not have something, should we wait or should we make it up. Making things up is accompanied by a discomfort. How can we allow ourselves to be so self-serving? The matter at hand is about being able to consider working with the theatre of scale appropriately. We offer a frame that fits neatly inside the widest available frame. There is no empty space to manoeuvre. If you know what snug means, you can expect snug. We identify gaps and we germinate seeds that we transplant into the gaps so that the emergent frame can optimally fill up the gap. We are interested in museums as containers of other containers. We see museums as containers of mere items sometimes. This does not require us to work hard enough to position what we experience in our imagination. Surely what we get can't be what we are meant to get?

We like apartment blocks more than houses standing on their own distinct plot of land. Apartment blocks are frames that exist to merely lead us to the individual apartments. They do not have any function. Once we are at our destination, we knock or ring the bell if there is one and then proceed to go in. Once we are inside, we are in another world. From the container, we enter another container. Like a fridge inside the house, like a television on a television screen, like a story within a story, like an apartment block. Museums appeal to us because then we can carry on our business of catchment-building and containment. We flood the premises that we enter and we flood it with noise. After the initial moment of rupture, the deluge begins to subside. This event allows us to map and understand boundaries based on the slopes and depths of various flows. We of course behave ourselves because this process is only possible if we scan the landscape and figure out a strategy for navigation. Structures and pathways already exist. We are only guests. We can only play with optics, we can reflect, refract and colour frames with different lenses.


When we picture something inside something we picture it in a different light. Our mind imagines space and then fabricates it. If our minds didn't do that then our imagination would be trapped within the confines of where we are. And that is plain ridiculous. One of the only reasons we find it tolerable to keep living is the possibility of being absolute irresponsible in our imagination. This irresponsibility is without an anchor. But is also without any allegiance. It doesn't have ours or anybody else's interests at heart and we need to be hold it with a certain amount of suspicion. The easiest way for mischief to enter our waking consciousness is through our idle imagination. Imagination is not innocent.

So, when we consider enclosures, when we think of museums inside other museums, then the volume that we imagine is speculative in nature. We are not as precise as cartographers but we are as generous as gamblers. When we are considering a prospective space, we do not need precision at all. Those who need security before they place a bet on the unknown potential of a container will not be able to summon the courage of even placing the container in their midst.

Museums as containers within containers take courageous bets.

They schedule and place containers before they have even opened the containers to verify what they contain. This is the only way of dealing with the future. The future will not wait. After it has risen out of the rumble and noise of the present, the bets are closed. And once the bets are closed, the valuations are fixed. Once the valuations are fixed it is not possible to negotiate anymore.

The container might be engaged in the business of celebration, but strangely enough as the level of magnification changes, this is not possible anymore. From celebration, to prospecting, the difference is not huge. The latter serves the former. If you celebrate something once, how can you celebrate it again? This is the problem of celebration, either it is earnest with emotion or it is a ritual. It cannot be both. Museums know that they are on a moving platform, they cannot hold on to anything. By containing containers, museums are able to safeguard their interests. They are able to swim against the current, navigate paradoxes.

Very naturally, as you move closer to things, they appear to be bigger. This instability of the perception of scale makes it possible for distortions and illusions to be constructed. Scale is anything but a simple parameter. When containers enter containers, our view gets obstructed and the absolute scope of scale gets reset. This allows new effigies to be built with as light a touch and casual an undertaking as any. This is only an important part of furthering the cycle. The cycle is not an analysis. It is a process. We might know a process is a process but that does not render it obsolete. How we know the cycle and what we know of it is a small part of all the elements in the cycle. What we call a cycle could be a mere chain-link in a bigger cycle too. This need not overwhelm us, but knowing this we can rest easy amongst the fluid and fickle lot without needing to feign any fixity except the questions that we find ourselves asking repeatedly.

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