About Sedimenta

In the wake of the Anthropocene hypothesis–which, at least in part, contends that anthropogenic sedimenta
tions are transforming previous geological compositions in literally fundamental ways–the intercalating of existing ‘stories’ and ‘official proclamations’ with transformative and erratic new layers seems of particular urgency.

–Anna Sophie Springer and Etienne Turpin, Land, Animal, Nonanimal, 2015


Sedimenta came to me as a part of another word broken between two lines, in a paragraph outlining a hypothesis, between definitions, between human and geologic histories.

Sedimenta is nothing right now but a collection of reading notes and disconnected ideas in Asana. By April, Sedimenta, edition 0, will be an online publication, most similar to an online journal, that will house three essays, four book and two exhibition reviews, a translated essay, and five to seven interviews. The analytical essays, separately, engage with individual artistic practices that observe and critically intervene under the shifting conditions of the Anthropocene. The book reviews, separately, discover new and exploratory voices in this discourse. The interviews, separately, highlight the voices of these agents. The essays, reviews, and interviews are not segregated into categories; rather, each of these, as case studies in different forms, thematically flow through the circumstances under which colonialism, capitalist economics, and petrol-imperialism occupy twenty-first century artistic practices.


Selenography images

apollo 14 9050-9075This is a composite image of fifteen landscape or horizon images from magazine LL (64), 9050 to 9075. I made this image in Photoshop by layering the images and setting the opacity to 50%.  As you can see there is a prominent shadow, but less visible is the lunar module. The Lunar and Planetary Institute’s description for the fifteen photograps is “LUNAR MODULE; 360 PAN FROM EVA 2.” Because these photographs were likely taken from the Hasselblad mounted to the astronauts’ chest, these images do not necessarily demonstrate a unique or consistent style of photography. I have yet to draw conclusions from these homogeneous, subject-less photographs.


apollo 14 9216 to 9224This is a composite of eight photographs from magazine II (66), 9216 to 9224. I made this image in Photoshop, again, by layering the images and setting the opacity to 30%. The Lunar and Planetary Institute’s description in the metadata is “VIEW FROM LUNAR MODULE WINDOW DURING LUNAR ORBIT SHOWING THE CSM.” Orbital photographs like these were likely taken from handheld Hasselblad cameras. Why eight iterations of the same shot were necessary for this astronaut, I don’t know; one of the conclusions I’ve been able to draw from series of images like these is that I need to look past and around the photograph itself and into the photograph’s context.


vantage panorama glareThis is a screen cap from a dendrogram I made using the Raw visualization. I was able to input my original flat file, but unfortunately, with my capta organized as it was, I was forced to reorganize the information in a completely new way that’s reflected in Monday’s submission. I still have reorganization to do, because without context, those “trues” and “falses” don’t mean anything. Despite that though, I’m thinking my capta isn’t varied enough to make an interesting visualization.

Ameublement Kinethétique: Audience as Mediated Performer in Cage and Hiller’s HPSCHD

John Cage described in his interview with Richard Kostelanetz (1991) that he was moving away from his conceptual work on silence and was instead moving toward the themes and tropes of theatricality. In particular, theater in the round was a conceptual platform from which to jump: He decided against closing the audience out as with the proscenium theater in favor of an all-encompassing, interactive performance. In the proscenium theater, the interior architecture situates the audience members hierarchically and privileges the middle section over the sides. This seating arrangement positions the audience as mere observers, passive subjects of the performance. Instead, understanding theater as life, John Cage idealized each member of the audience as actor, performing composed music, talking or singing along, engaging with all five senses the environment around them. In composing what he would define as a theatrical piece, he defines theater as unrestrictedly as possible: “I would simply say that theater is something that engages the eye and the ear” (Kostelanetz 1987, 101). Continue reading “Ameublement Kinethétique: Audience as Mediated Performer in Cage and Hiller’s HPSCHD”

Archigram: Graphic Design and the City

From ‘Archigram’ Archival Project

It was by walking that man began to construct the natural landscape of his surroundings. And in our own century we have formulated the categories for interpreting the urban landscapes that surround us by walking through them.

Francesco Careri, Walkscapes: Walking as an Aesthetic Practice

After its digitization and subsequent reemergence on the web in 2010, Archigram (1961-1974) is as relevant as it was during its years of publication under the young, English architects of the “lost generation” Peter Cook, Warren Chalk, Dennis Crompton, David Greene, Mark Herron, and Michael Webb (Allen 2003: 36). Each of the nine and a half editions of the ‘zine is comprised of bundled or saddle-stapled sheets of paper, depicting carnivals of loudly and multi-colored, high-contrast images of walking cities, abstracted layouts, and diagrams with a multiplicity of typefaces and sometimes even objects: The seventh edition (1966) “Beyond Architecture” houses seventeen sheets of variously sized paper and an electronic resistor. In the ninth edition (1970), a packet of Steward & Drewell Ltd. Night Scented Stock flower seeds. Archigram is almost as much an artifact of the contemporaneous Fluxus art movement as it is a ‘zine.

Archigram 8
Archigram 8

An aspect of the ‘zine that has largely been ignored, save a few footnotes and off-the-cuff mentions in passing is the materiality of the ‘zine itself. Though the now popular images of “Zoom Architecture” from the well known Archigram 4 (1964) advertise the comic book style, the eye meets more than just Marvelous classics. The publication’s graphic and typographical design mimics that of architecture itself. So while Archigram’s project provided visions for the future, it is in fact the medium within which these visions were housed that is the message.

Most pages enclose black and white illustrations closely akin to Pop, with many images calling back to the Dadaist Happenings in the late 1910s and early 1920s and the Paris’ May 1968 Revolution happening contemporaneously across the English Channel. Following the trends set by Whole Earth Catalog and the growing industry of the popularization of space images (example: Earth Rising, 1968), and emerging from the contention between these young revolutionaries and the Architectural Association, Archigram is a strong call for environmentalism and sustainability, supplying you with the seeds to do so.

In his book Design by Choice, Reyner Banham describes Cook and his crew’s orchestration of this image-text circus as

“rhetorical, with-it, moralistic, mis-spelled, improvisatory, anti-smooth, funny-format, cliquey, art-oriented but stoned out of their minds with science-fiction images of an alternative architecture that would be perfectly possible tomorrow if only the Universe (and especially the Law of Gravity) were differently organized” (1981: 64).

Archigram 7
Archigram 7

Similar in revolution, but perhaps slightly more aggressive was the group Situationist International, born of the avant-garde movements Dada and Surrealism. Franscesco Careri outlines the ideological heritage of the Situationist group, a theoretical timeline illuminating the conceptual ties between these two groups: Careri describes the movement’s lineage through Dada and Surrealism’s visits, Happenings, and deambulation (1910s-1920s) to the Lettrists driftings and situation construction (1950s) and finally to the Situationists’ dérive and psychogeography (1950s-1970s). and he outlines these practices through the performance of walking (Careri 2003). While walking, either at that time or in contemporary parlance, is not often thought of as an artistic practice, due to postmodernist land art and performance art such as Robert Smithson (b. 1938 – d. 1973), Richard Long (b. 1945), Richard Serra (b. 1938), and John Cage (b. 1912 – d. 1992), we can see the performance of walking and specifically wandering as aesthetic practice.

Like the Situationists’ psychogeography, wandering through the pages of Archigram is much like wandering through a city. In what the Dadaists call deamubulation, drifting though city and rural landscapes is like “a sort of automatic writing in real space, capable of revealing the unconscious zones of space, the repressed memories of the city” (Careri  2003, 22). Already, the gesture of walking is likened to writing and reading, taking the artistic gesture from the physical, three-dimensional to the conceptual two-dimensional and then to the subconscious. Guy Debord defines psychogeography as “the study of the precise laws and specific effects of the geographical environment, consciously organized or not, on the emotions and behaviors of individuals” (Knaubb 1981: 5).

Archigram 8
Archigram 8

Carrying on to describe Haussman’s Paris, a city organized under the direction of a single George Haussman, Debord describes the suffocating and oppressing features of forced, pre-planned roads, “Haussman’s Paris is a city built by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing” (Knaubb 1981: 5) Debord borrows from Faulker the discontent that emerges from traveling in pattern after pattern along the boulevard. The avant-garde tendency, (avant-garde carries with it militaristic denotations), is to revolt from the generation before them. So to get past the inconvenience and discontent of trudging along in the foregeneration’s footsteps, they created their own maps from their own memories, creating new signification for their own paths. Archigram‘s streets, boulevards, texts, and images definitely have a Haussman(n) feel, but less George, more Raoul.

Like Stewart Brand’s Whole Earth Catalog (1968 – 1972), which Simon Sadler describes as “a collage of content between iconic images of the earth,” Archigram is a collage of image and text, an architecture of wandering. The group, though certified and practicing architects, was indeed much like Brand, who was an “architect in the way he provided a institutional and material framework through which to stage the desires of others” (Sadler 2008: 121). Archigram is all about the reader, and the its imagination is all about the walker. Each edition in Archigram collects unique, hand-drawn, text and image layouts, and the variance in page size, composition, and binding is completely to the editors’ discretion. It’s up to us to decide what page or box of text to read next. In casting aside the tradition of the typical, traditional grid, Cook opted for circumambulating, papiers collés-ish, D. I. Y. methods of expression, manifesting within the magazine’s unique graphic design. The gesture of reading and flipping through the magazine is comparable to the gesture of walking through a city: Instead of keeping to the routes of the sidewalks or even along the “L” in Chicago’s downtown Loop, Archigram is a sinuous stroll along the reader’s own lines of desire.