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current research interests

at the beginning of the term, we were asked to make a post about our research. i was just recently invited to be a guest contributor on empyre for the month of november on the theme viral economies: hacktivating design. as i write about my on-going queer technologies project, i thought i would share a recent post i made to empyre. the whole november archive is here if you’d like to read more.

on the virus, the tactics of nonexistence, and political love

i’d like to follow up my post from yesterday and flesh out a bit more on a politics of the imperceptible and its possible relations to viral tactics and aesthetics in political art practices.

as i previously pointed out, in “the exploit,” galloway and thacker write that “future avant-garde practices will be those of nonexistence.” This statement is in response to their question: “how does one develop techniques and technologies to make oneself unaccounted for?” They outline possible answers in their “tactics of nonexistence.” For them, nonexistence is not an absence but a fullness only to be found within the abilities to be a nonrepresentable identity. G&T build off of Agamben here. In “The Coming Community,” Agamben writes, “A being radically devoid of any representable identity would be absolutely irrelevant to the State.” So, nonexistence is the mode or function to escape or avoid sovereign control—not as an outside, some excluded fantasyland, but as a full-outside that is within.

i would like to connect this back to G&T’s point about the virus–that it is “illegible and incalculable.” Queer Technologies is attempting to think about viralities in relation to a tactics of nonexistence. I would be excited to hear thoughts and provocations around what the joining of the virus and nonexistence in this context could offer toward developing tactics, aesthetics, and various interventions.

in his book “the laws of cool,” alan liu attempts to articulate a viral aesthetics through his notion of destructive creativity: a creativity that goes “beyond the new picturesque of mutation and mixing to the ultimate form of such mutation and mixing: what may be called the new sublime of ‘destruction.’ [. . .] the critical inverse of the mainstream ideology of creative destruction [. . . a] viral aesthetics.” (How) Does destruction fit in to viral nonexistent tactics?

Something about being devoid of a representable identity brings the face to mind. Queer Technologies is in development now on a project loosely named Fag Face, which deals precisely with these issues of nonexistence, escape, evasion. I would just like to share some words on Deleuze and faciality (of course, keeping in mind that Jussi Parikka: “virsus, too, have faces.”)

Deleuze: “to the point that if human beings have a destiny, it is rather to escape the face, to dismantle the face and facializations, to become imperceptible, to become clandestine [. . .] by strange true becomings that [. . .] make faciality traits themselves finally elude the organization of the face.” Yet, one must know the organization of the face before dismantling: “Know them, know your faces; it is the only way you will be able to dismantle them and draw your lines of flight.” Suggested nonexistent dismantlings of G&T, such as nonaction, pointless desertions, unmeasurable or not-yet-measurable human traits, configure against the technologies of the face that must be known. These tactics, therefore, hinge upon a not-knowing, which implies a race of speed—for who will have the means (be they technical, financial, social, etc.) to develop such practices first and force the foe to not-know? When Galloway and Thacker write that “the bland, the negligible, the featureless are its only evident traits,” it is the “de-facement” brought by a not-knowing that construes these traits as such.

Crucially, for them, nonexistence is constituted by a politics of love. Indeed, they call nonexistence “the purest form of love.” Thus, as tactics that are sutured to an avant-garde—that is, a front of the line of technique, nonexistence locates us within a precarious bind, for if the purest form of love is to be found within a tactics that many may well not have the means or technique to perform, what are the feasibilities of nonexistence (and therefore, of this love)? Which faciality will be able to perfect its nonexistence and proliferate its own form of pure love? While nonexistence is the “compassion” that abets the escaping of face, can people escape the face of the sovereign or does the sovereign subsume the people into its faciality machine—its own “compassion”?

For Galloway and Thacker, pure love seems to stem for a notion of political love, which qualifies the tactics of nonexistence as an act excluded from the sovereign. Michael Hardt writes that love as a political concept, in a passionate fusing of the personal and the political, binds us to transformative operations of reason that extend beyond rationality yet hold us within a training or disciplining. In opposition to political love, Hardt notes that evil is this type of love gone bad, the destruction of love as a political concept. While political love produces joy in the construction of difference, evil distorts and blocks. The logic of the sovereign denies itself the obtainability of political love, leaving it to reside somewhere in the bad love of evil.

Can the tactics of nonexistence be enacted both as the trick of sovereign evil and as force of the people nonexisting for love? How do / can we work with this?

I share these thoughts not because Queer Technologies or myself think they are necessarily the best approaches, but these ideas, tactics, and calls to action seem to link up in many fascinating ways to questions of the viral as well as the feasibility of being able to put this to practice?

Is the viral what can allow us to hack into this nonexistence?

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