The Hoard

A launch into group reading again last night thanks to Catherine Barragry for getting things started.  The Call of the Hoard, Jane Bennett’s talk at Vera List Centre, brought up lots of similar interests for Catherine, Ciara and I.

This is just a loose collection of notes but will also hopefully be a text object in itself.  While lying in my bed just after waking this morning this object was already calling me to give it a form. It occurred to me that if I posted notes, slide share or wordpress would do a really good job of helping this object draw similar material to itself.

I love tags – Francis Halsall’s text Little Trapdoors, read in parallel to Jane Bennett, provided some pointers on how to move beyond language in our consideration of objects.  But here I am using tags (language dependent digital objects) that I hope will open a ‘little trapdoor’ to the world that considers objects in themselves.

Let the OOO hoard begin!

Jane Bennett (A link to Bennett’s talk at the Vera List Centre for Art & Politics)

Shem the Hoarder in Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake

Hoarding – a somatic attraction to things – a raised sense of awareness of the draw (or ‘ruckus’ as Bennett describes it) of objects, more pronounced in people who hoard compulsively.  She does not see it as aesthetic attraction per say, as some hoarders describe the objects in a way as part of their being or bodies, it seems more visceral.  To have objects from the hoard removed creates anxiety, a fear of dismemberment and physical injury, a loss of bodily integrity.

Bennett suggests the lens of hoarding could be used to examine the object relationships that other groups and individuals demonstrate e.g. fetishists and collectors or their antithesis, religious groups whose beliefs are non-materialist with an emphasis on poverty, Franciscans and Buddists.  These object practices or relationships might point to how objects persist in the world.

Voluntary poverty is counter to the lure of material possessions.  Minimalists – those who desire a minimum of objects in their environment, seemingly the opposite of hoarders, but yet with a strong sensibility of the way objects should ‘be’ in their environments.  Feng Shui – a way of giving objects space to influence us and also a way of living with them in a productive way.  Feng Shui like Bennett gives objects some potency and power.

Warhol is raised later in the q&a session – he constantly gathered and hoarded stuff which was then boxed at the end of each month and sent to a warehouse, so that his space could be free of the clutter of objects.  The idea of ‘sensory styles’ or orientations.  Hoarders seem to have very similar inclinations to artists!  The potentiality of the hoard, what can arise, what can it become or manifest?

Ideas of slowness and a desire for permanence, a refusal of death, there is eros in the hoard! Hoarders might point to non-human practices at work inside the hoard.  Bennett feels that these insights might help us with issues  of sustainability: how to consume differently; to relate to objects differently; to allow objects to relate differently to us; to slow up and move in a more object-like fashion through the world.

The agency of the hoard, hoards that gather themselves – The Pacific Garbage Patch.  This notion of agency reminds me of Slavoj Zizek‘s and his ideas about ecology i.e. that nature is not something that we can control or have effect on.  From the Zizek point of view we humans are embedded in nature, we are subject to natural forces.  This runs counter to green political ideas around sustainability and the idea that a change in our consumerist behaviors will change the course of a predicted ecological end time.

The q&a offered some further tags, snags, threads to follow and Trapdoors to open: ‘Actor Network Theory’ & Bruno Latour – energy and agency such as geological forces, electricity; spatial relationships.  One audience member asked the interesting question – is our real problem how we relate and communicate i.e. if we solved that problem would politics be necessary?  Are content and function separate or linked are the one and the same?

Taylor – the porous self a bilateral relationship with each other and with objects.  Ciara reminded us of the relationship between human and bicycle in Flann O’Brien’s The Third Policeman.  ‘The gross and net result of it is that people who spent most of their natural lives riding iron bicycles over the rocky roadsteads of this parish get their personalities mixed up with the personalities of their bicycle as a result of the interchanging of the atoms of each of them and you would be surprised at the number of people in these parts who nearly are half people and half bicycle.’  Sergeant Pluck, on The Atomic Theory, in The Third Policeman, by Flann O’Brien.

Autism – a different orientation to objects and their meaning, a desire to focus on certain objects, less filtering of perceptions and sensations.  Bennett mentions filtering and our quite tight ability to filter our surrounds, the language of her hoarders suggests a different ability to filter or read objects in the environment.

Objectum Sexuality – an emotional and sexual orientation towards objects – not quite the same as fetishism where the object stands in for something or someone.  This former concept is an aside from Bennett’s idea but does point towards a different relationship and awareness of objects.

Catherine, Ciara and I talked about this elusive, pre-lingual thing about objects and in particular art objects – a glimpse of ‘the Real’ – the Real breaking through the symbolic.  

Bennett also mentions Barthe discussing why he was drawn to particular photographs as objects – the uncanny, the punctum the non-verbal aspect of the photograph that eludes semiotic analysis. Catherine suggests I go to Zizek for a more approachable interpretation of Lacan’s ‘Real’,  ‘symbolic and ‘imaginary’ concepts.  

This session has been really helpful as I’ve been vaguely dipping into Levi R.Bryant’s blog  Larval Subjects and it will be an opportunity to delve further into this.  Interestingly both Bryant and Bennett are involved in a new journal on OOO -‘O-Zone‘ where I found this interesting video by Paul Caplan on Object Orientated Photography.

In the next session we’re hoping to look at both Bryant and a UCD cognitive scientist Fred Cummins who has some interested things to say about cognitive science and eastern philosophical ideas of self and subject hood. See Fred’s Pink Monkey Farm blog.  In terms of cognitive science developments Ciara also talked about machines which are developed to programme themselves and to share knowledge.  A.I. organisms that function like members of a hive or swarm in how they share knowledge, develop and endure.  

This led back again to Taylor’s ideas of interdependence between man and technology which finds it’s nth degree in The Matrix.  How might we avert being taken by (our machines) a self-created technological monster?  Should we embrace technology completely, as Zizek suggests, is technology embedded in nature just as we are?

 Lets see where these tags take us 🙂


About Monica Flynn, visual artist, organiser, cultural freelancer

My work encompasses drawing, audio-visual media, photography and text, which I present as portraiture; staged events and as works co-authored with the audience. I also work in the area of event management, CPD for visual artists and as a freelance cultural project manager. One strand within my work at present reflects on groups and group action and the creation of events and happenings where I can engage others in dialogue or shared experience. At its core this work aims to explore the connections between the individual, the collective and our belief systems. Asking questions about collective agency and how we think and work in concert. I occasionally write responses to other artists’ works which can be found on my blog. I am a co-founder and board member of The Market Studios with Claire Behan and Deirdre Morrissey.
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1 Response to The Hoard

  1. Pingback: Nelly’s Room | Cumulus

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