TABLE OF CONTENTS

PRINT September 2012

GHOST STORY: KINETIC ART AND NEW MEDIA

Jean Tinguely, Homage to New York, 1960, mixed media. Performance view, Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden, Museum of Modern Art, New York, March 17, 1960. Photo: David Gahr.

FROM ITS START, kinetic art has been possessed—by the uncanny Surrealist automaton as much as by the technological promise of a utopian future. And, in turn, it has haunted modern sculpture, which had long been vexed by Marx’s famous description of the commodity as a diabolical dancing object. Kinetic art, we came to think, was a bit of an embarrassment—indeed, an aesthetic dead end. But might we instead see kineticism as the very foundation of contemporary modes of experience, from the projected image to spectacle to the media network? Taking his cue from Artforum’s inaugural cover, which featured a Jean Tinguely automated sculpture, art historian Eric C. H. de Bruyn reexamines kinetic art’s labyrinthine past and maps a new space for its passages among us.

NUTTIN MACHINES

All genealogies of media art have their roots in a ghost story. And perhaps none more so than kinetic art, which was paraded on Artforum’s inaugural cover in the form of a shadowy, slightly sinister silhouette of one of Jean Tinguely’s animated sculptures. No doubt the artist would appreciate tales of the spectral if not infernal roots of his automatic creations, propagating the Faustian complex of an artist-constructor who dabbles in the mechanical simulation of life and its explosive demise. Tinguely’s most famous iteration, Homage to New York, which self-destructed in the courtyard of the Museum of Modern Art in 1960, was dubbed by the artist a “simulacrum of catastrophe,” a “cynical object, both luciferian and phantomatic in nature.”¹ Not everyone was impressed by such apocalyptic spectacles, which served up the fiery wreckage of industrial society as a pyrotechnic display to an enthralled audience. Indeed, a 1961 editorial in the Situationist International mocked the Swiss sculptor’s kinetic contraption, constructing a less heraldic lineage for Tinguely’s work. According to SI, a certain Richard C. Grosser had beaten Tinguely to the punch a few years earlier with his prototype of a “useless machine,” the so-called “Nuttin Box, a gray aluminum box with eight small neon lamps which blinked in a totally random pattern.”²

We get the joke: Complete chaos is but another form of total order. Indeed, the randomly flashing lights of the Nuttin Box evince the double bind of all commodities. That is, they speak in order to have commerce with other commodities and human beings, but on the topic of use-value, they have nothing to say. Or as our inventor (who would play a significant role in the early days of computer engineering) explained at the time: “[A Nuttin Box] serves its purpose merely by existing. It attracts attention and confuses your friends. It’s a wonderful thing for a businessman, when he has a customer come into the office. . . . This really breaks the ice.” ³ But for all their display of wit, what the Situationists miss is the uncanniness of Tinguely’s machines, an uncanniness defined by the spectral nature of a recurrent yet utterly enigmatic thing or event.⁴ This is all the more surprising because the Situationists might have turned to the specifically Dadaist and Surrealist tradition of the machine, populated by all kinds of uncanny devices, including automatons, mannequins, schizoid “influencing machines,” and erotic “bachelor machines.” This genealogy extends even earlier, to a moment when machine had not yet found an industrial or informational use but referred, among other meanings, to a movable contrivance for the production of stage effects (e.g., the deus ex machina) or the living body that “moves or acts automatically or mechanically, rather than of its own volition” (Oxford English Dictionary). Kinetic sculpture is haunted by this history, and its spectral traces may be seen equally in Homage and the Nuttin Box, the “diabolical machine” and its parodic counterpart, just as they may still be sensed in the present. To revisit this phantomatic history of kinetic art is, I think, to recount a ghost story worth telling.

A THEATER OF GHOSTS

In the pages of Artforum in 2000, Yve-Alain Bois provided a handy sketch of the rather inglorious history of kinetic art. According to this abbreviated trajectory, kinetic art had a brief moment of success—only to suffer a quick demise, largely due to its public confusion with Op art: “Because kinetic art was (wrongly) perceived as an art based almost entirely on easy optical tricks, it would soon be trashed as utter kitsch, on a par with such risible by-products as the Courrèges dress and the lava lamp.”⁵ Bois makes an exception for one critic (rightfully so, I would agree), Guy Brett, who in Kinetic Art: The Language of Movement (1968) argued that the true exponents of kinetic art were not such figures as Nicolas Schöffer and Julio le Parc—those merchants of an “art of gadgetry”—but Lygia Clark, Hélio Oiticica, and David Medalla (with Tinguely in a mere “supporting” role). In short, Brett developed a genealogy of kineticism that was determined less by its technological aspects than by its collective engagement with the spectator. Unlike the cybernetic sculptures of Schöffer, Clark’s and Oiticica’s work did not require the implementation of advanced forms of information technology. What this work required instead was the conception of a spatial model of organizing social relations, a model that would rely on a topological rather than projective paradigm of geometry. In contrast to the programmed behavior of Schöffer’s robotic sculptures, one may think, for instance, of Clark’s and Oiticica’s collaborative work Dialogue of Hands, 1966—an elastic Möbius strip that creates a sensory feedback loop with one’s own body—or Oiticica’s aptly titled Topological Ready-Made Landscapes, 1978–79.

Richard C. Grosser, Nuttin Box, 1955, aluminum with hammertone finish, 6 x 5 x 4".

Almost two decades after the Situationist editorial suggested it was best suited to be office kitsch, kinetic art would receive a more extensive if still dismissive treatment in Rosalind E. Krauss’s Passages in Modern Sculpture (1977). Krauss situated kinetic sculpture as a subset of the environmental art of “light-space” (László Moholy-Nagy’s term), as exemplified by Moholy-Nagy’s Light Prop for an Electric Stage (also called Light-Space Modulator), 1922–30, which immersed the spectator in a fluctuating field of stunning optical effects achieved by mechanical means. Kinetic art’s bloodstream, Krauss claimed, merged with the work of (ersatz) Constructivists such as Naum Gabo in order to feed into the “pan-European” body of “New Tendency,” which included, among others, Group Zero in Germany, the Groupe de Recherche d’Art Visuel in Paris, and the NUL movement in the Netherlands.

If Krauss left no doubt that kinetic art represented an artistic practice without a future, she suggested that its predecessors were those contraptions used to simulate the movement of living beings, such as clockwork automata. In doing so she was rehearsing the argument of critic Jack Burnham in Beyond Modern Sculpture (1968), according to which sculpture follows a “Faustian” goal; it is possessed by “an unstoppable craving to wrest the secrets of natural order from God—with the unconscious aim of controlling human destiny, if not in fact becoming God itself.”⁶ This portentous claim leads Krauss to the conclusion that beneath the technological armor of kinetic sculpture lies nothing but the same old mimetic ideal of art: The main purpose of Moholy-Nagy’s Light Prop was to exist as a mechanical actor onstage.⁷ In this capacity, it prefigured those cybernetic sculptures of Schöffer, already evoked by Brett, that would learn to dance with actual human beings. Deus ex machina: Kinetic sculpture creates a false copy, a simulacrum of life. And this simulation is deeply ideological; it projects a “picture of the world.”

We find this simulacrum haunting the critical reception of the modern sculptural object and its anxious relationship to the commodity. Krauss thus initiates a form of critique familiar to us from The German Ideology (1846). There, Karl Marx developed a theory of the phantomatic, or a hauntology, that shows how the products of the human brain—our “spirits”—are projected into the world as animistic objects, then begin to behave as autonomous figures, acquiring a life and momentum of their own. In his Spectres de Marx (1993), Jacques Derrida glosses this argument as follows: “The ghost gives its form, that is to say, its body, to the ideologem.”⁸ Marx would later call this apparition the commodity fetish: an animated yet inanimate thing that is capable of entering into relations with one another and with human beings. Or, as Marx famously puts it in Das Kapital (1867), the social relations between men assume the phantasmagoric form of a relation between commodities. Literally this means that commodities constitute themselves as a “gathering of phantasms,” and this spectral assembly has commerce with itself as well as human beings.

To pass unfavorable judgment on kinetic art, as Krauss did in 1977, need raise few eyebrows. What is striking, nevertheless, is the vigilance with which she hunts down the spectral vestiges of “surrogate persons” within contemporary sculpture. What is at stake here, or, rather, continues to be at stake, is the old question of theatricality (although we might now prefer the notion of spectrality). We know how Michael Fried meant the term to carry a blanket rejection of literalist art. Modernism had flattened the field of perception, constructing the pictorial surface as a specular device facing the viewer so that she might recognize her own independence in this autonomous object. But shadows had begun to invade this surface, turning the pictorial plane into a psychic screen that masked a groundless, phantasmatic space that lay beyond. What Fried sensed was indeed uncanny: an anthropomorphic specter lurking between the geometric planes and lattices of Minimalist sculpture. In these “hollow” objects, he recognized a “Surrealist” space replete with the affects of “expectation, dread, anxiety, presentiment, memory, nostalgia, stasis.”⁹ The literalist object installed a fatal dissymmetry in the visual field by assuming a vaguely human presence that concealed nothing but an empty void at its center. Fried warned against the whisperings of such deceptive objects with their “inner, even secret, life.” It was as if a new form of idolatry had seduced the art world, impeding any authentic sensation of “conviction” or epiphany of religious “grace.”

László Moholy-Nagy, Lightplay: Black/White/Gray, ca. 1926, gelatin silver print, 14 3/4 x 10 3/4". Detail of Moholy-Nagy’s Light Prop for an Electric Stage, 1922–30.

To allow such a moment of grace to descend on the spectator, the illusionistic mechanisms of the theater must be suppressed at all cost. One must never be witness to the raising of the curtain; the work of art must always already appear to simply be without need of any audience to confirm its self-sufficient existence. The literalist object, by way of contrast, is said to exist only by virtue of its audience. But is this not the exact condition of the commodity? It also only knows a life onstage, which is why Marx compared it to the dancing table of the spiritualist séance. It is a “sensuous non-sensuous” thing that appears to rear its head and stand on its legs in order that it may address the viewer, all the time evolving out of its wooden head “grotesque ideas far more wonderful than if it were to be dancing of its own free will.”¹⁰ With this magic trick, the commodity assumes the appearance of independent life. Like an automaton, this ghostly specter seems to move on its own, miming the living.

I am not suggesting that we simply conflate the theatricality of the Minimalist object and that of the commodity. But it bears emphasis that by the late ’70s the theatrical—or spectral—condition of art had become differentiated even further. For instance, Krauss distinguished between a good and a bad, a nonmimetic and a mimetic, variant of theatricality. To do so, she brought an oft-ignored question into play, namely, the role of artificial illumination in the display of art.¹¹ Krauss’s example of a radical, nonmimetic theatricality was Francis Picabia’s set for the ballet Relâche (Performance Canceled), 1924, which, flashing a battery of spotlights at the spectators, blinded the audience even while it was illuminated. Picabia’s violent assault on his audience demonstrated that “once the watcher is physically incorporated into the spectacle, his dazzled vision is no longer capable of supervising its events.”¹² The transcendental subject is to be toppled from his seat, attacked by the lights of spectacle and therefore awakened to its illusions of omniscience.

It is easy to conjecture how “dazzled vision” precisely describes the effect that the commodity has on us. Yet this does not say enough. Everything depends on what occurs in that murky, spectral space where bodies and images begin to mingle. Modernism feared this infernal region and would attempt, anxiously, to keep body and image apart. By contrast, the arts of “theatricality”—kinetic art as well as Minimalism and its aftermath—would contaminate the (technical) image with the spectator’s body and dangerously commingle visions and things, radically destabilizing the visual field. Fried’s own haunting by the Minimalist object dramatizes the disjunctive character of spectral space. The ghost inhabits a strange, liminal domain: It looks at us, but we cannot be sure of seeing it, thereby generating a kind of “spectral asymmetry,” to borrow from Derrida, within the visual. But with this uprooting of bodies and images from their former, stable positions within an ideological system of projection, has the path simply been cleared for a more intense form of circulation within the capitalist networks of flow and exchange?¹³

A DESCENT INTO THE CAVE

If the fault of kinetic art was that it upheld the projection of ideological specters, it seems that we need to be “done with projection.”¹⁴ But is it possible to dismantle the ideological apparatus of projection? Can one bring ghosts down to earth? Here we enter the terrain of media archaeology, of the history and theory of media. This excavation can, before one knows it, spirit one away to the Neolithic past of cave paintings or, alternatively, to the mythic past of Plato’s cave parable. Both, for instance, have been identified as protocinematic sites of projection: the former, most recently, in Werner Herzog’s documentary film Cave of Forgotten Dreams (2010) and the latter in the so-called apparatus theory of the ’70s, which equates the cinematic image with the moving shadows or simulacra of Plato.¹⁵ Herzog dismisses new digital technologies used by archaeologists that are capable of constructing an exact spatial map of the subterranean network of cave passages—it’s like reading the Manhattan phone directory, he complains. This in turn reveals his own stakes in using 3-D technology to film the Chauvet Cave in France: not to provide a mere spatial replica of the original site, but to visualize coexistent strata of time, imagining cave painting as a palimpsest of temporalities that resist the narrative orderings of history.

It’s all a bit confused in Herzog’s film: What, exactly, is the genealogical relationship between the apparatus of cinematic and digital projection? Between visualizing the cave as a site of ideological captivation and as a liberatory maze? To begin to answer such questions, we must keep in mind that there are at least two versions of media archaeology. The first is devoted to the writing of linear histories, in which one invention feeds into another according to an evolutionary scheme of continuous technological innovation and perfection. (It’s a scheme that creates such red herrings as: Does the history of the virtual-reality CAVE [Cave Automatic Virtual Environment] start with Roman frescoes or Lascaux?) The other perspective is non­linear and, following the cue of the Surrealists, adopts a more melancholic attitude—seeking out what is outmoded or extinct within technological history rather than chasing after the up-to-date and the state-of-the-art.

Francis Picabia, Relâche (Performance Canceled), 1924. Performance view, Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, Paris, 1924.

As an example of the latter, nonlinear route, I might mention the Dead Media Project, cofounded by sci-fi novelist Bruce Sterling in the midst of the Internet hype of the ’90s. In a highly entertaining lecture called “Media Paleontology” in 2004, Sterling explained his fascination with the phenomena of stillborn or discarded technologies that had been reduced to the status of “curiosities or embarrassments,” so much flotsam that lies “beached on the deserted shores of obsolescence.” Central to his argument was the thesis that the computer has only accelerated the process of obsolescence. It contains “level after level of sophisticated instabilities” that open onto “vistas of woe and decline” and are beset with the “fretful hauntings of threatening ghosts and phantoms.” Sterling’s aim is to debunk the “Platonic mythology” of the computer age with its imaginings of a “clean, abstract, mathematical” environment. To the contrary, Sterling asserts, we are forced to sleep in a “very rumpled, dirty, makeshift, anarchic kind of bed. It smells of viruses and worms.” On the floor of the Platonic cave we sit in “stupefying squalor,” wallowing among heaps of junked technologies.¹⁶

Surely there is more to explore at the bottom of the cave, with its warren of passages, more to explore in these subterranean depths where philosophers seem keen to camp, watching the “demon images” (Baudrillard) and “rebellious simulacra” (Deleuze) multiply so that, in the words of Nietzsche, behind each cave [there is] another that opens still more deeply.”¹⁷ But let us not sink into the muck at the bottom of that endless series of grottoes. We should allow that odd assortment of artist-spelunkers, such as Giuseppe Pinot-Gallizio, Robert Smithson, Mike Kelley, Werner Herzog, and Thomas Hirschhorn, to provide a tour of this cavernous maze some other time.

Instead, we should pursue the revenants of kinetic art elsewhere. To the melancholic disposition characterizing the various “dead-media projects” of media archaeology, we might oppose the delirious operations of the desiring machines of Félix Guattari and Gilles Deleuze, which, as they stressed, were not to be seen as ideological projections, were not to be confused with either gadget or fantasy. (Those are but the residues of desiring machines, they insisted, that have come under the sway of the market needs of capitalism and psychoanalysis.) Rather, they are machinic assemblages consisting of disparate components: schizoid machines of deterritorialization that cut into the semiotic flows of capitalism, creating transitional moments of pure intensity.

One author has given us a description of Guattari suspended in “melancholic ecstasy” while visiting a Tinguely retrospective at the Centre Pompidou in Paris in 1988.¹⁸ Guattari accepted the banalization of Tinguely’s work as a given; in the philosopher’s view, this descent into artiness did not diminish the potential of these phantomatic machines to become devices by which “to try to hook into the cosmos.”¹⁹ Deleuze and Guattari would, in fact, draw a parallel between Tinguely’s kinetic machines and their own desiring machines, because each initiates a kind of interplay, a joyous dismantling of the machine’s functionalism so that “the grandmother who pedals inside the automobile under the wonder-struck gaze of the child,” as Deleuze and Guattari exult, “does not cause the car to move forward, but, through her pedalling, activates a second structure which is sawing wood.”²⁰ But can we take Deleuze and Guattari’s word for it? Are they not dealing in metaphors here? Have they not circumvented the spectral aspects of kinetic art a little too quickly?

Ghosts have a nasty habit of coming back. And to imagine kinetic art’s future apparitions is to revisit the notion of the spectral commodity. Indeed, after Derrida, after Marx, Antonio Negri deemed the construction of the spectral commodity to be itself outmoded, arguing that such a model of the uncanny object belongs to a former, Fordist phase of capitalist development. In its current state, the labor paradigm—in particular the distinction between intellectual and manual labor—has greatly changed. As a result, we live in a world where the uncanny recurrence is not lodged in the objects around us; rather, only “a radical ‘Unheimlich’ remains in which we’re immersed.”²¹ Here the ghosts of Marx are no longer valid; the exploited subject appears on a new scene, which is presented as a mobile and flexible reality. It is not that the experience of the uncanny as such is abolished­—how could it be?—but that its structure has been internalized: We have become specters to ourselves. This can only happen in that space of total interconnectedness that Deleuze and Guattari explored with their desiring machines. And as I have argued elsewhere, this is a space that can no longer be described according to a topography of projection, but only as a topology of flows and networks.²²

Werner Herzog, Cave of Forgotten Dreams, 2010, HD video, color, 95 minutes.

Some have posed this kind of topology as not only a symptom but a means of escape from the spectacular space of capitalism, where, as Guy Debord claimed, all commodities, all bodies, have become images (and reality has become truly ghostlike). But are such deterritorialized lines of flight capable of outrunning the specters nipping at our heels? We know that Debord, at least, still believed in some bedrock of authentic selfhood, a domain where use-value still held significance. But to imagine such a refuge no longer seems tenable amid the permanent displacements and dislocations of subjectivity within a post-Fordist stage of capitalism.²³ Under these circumstances, even the schizoid flows of the Deleuzian desiring machines cannot automatically be considered an effective means of resistance (all depends, as Guattari and Deleuze have observed, on the ever-shifting relations between the forces of deterritorialization and reterritorialization, and capitalism is capable of employing both). At this point, then, we might consider another possibility, another mode of spectral space—one that does not seek to evade, repress, or escape its ghosts, but, to the contrary, allows them to conduct their proper work. A genealogy, moreover, that provides a quite different sense to the “kinetic,” to the auto-motion of images and bodies in kinetic art and cinema.

A REBELLION OF IMAGES

If the spectacle turns bodies into images, what would it mean to turn images into bodies? In a lecture-performance earlier this year, the artist Hito Steyerl suggested that we take a different look at the figure of the revenant.²⁴ Her talk enacted a kind of descent into Plato’s cave, involving a set of screens moving through the auditorium onto which images were projected. Rather than visualizing Plato’s simulacra, however, Steyerl’s images seemed to jump off the wall in order to attach themselves to the moving body of the screens. What was at stake, in other words, was not the image of bodies, but the body of the image itself. “What if images turned into stone, concrete, plastic, into seemingly dead things?” she asked. “Would they thus shake off servitude and meaning? Would this be an uprising of images? And what would they be rebelling against?”

Let there be no misunderstanding. Steyerl is not engaged in a demystifying act, exorcising the monstrous shadows crowding within the interior of the ideological apparatus of projection. That play of Enlightenment critique has ceased to be a performance worth enacting. The ghosts she conjures bear witness to a type of injustice that wholly belongs to our present. They testify to crimes that have slipped through the cracks of the new world order, going both uninvestigated and unpunished.

One such tragic event took place in a cave in the Kurdish mountains, where Steyerl’s friend Andrea Wolf took shelter before being bombarded and killed with other members of the Kurdish resistance group PKK. All that remains of the collapsed cave is a debris-strewn field and shattered rocks. In a somewhat foolhardy attempt to reconstruct what took place, Steyerl turned the location of Wolf’s death into a forensic site, using the latest digital technology of replication: 3-D scanning and printing techniques (the same technology, she points out, developed by the military and used in deconstructivist architecture). But rather than buying into the “whole new euphoria of documentary veracity” that surrounds such state-of-the-art technologies, she tips the rhetoric on its head. “Once we actually try to scan an actual crime or event going on, we start tripping over massive technological limitations,” Steyerl explained in her lecture. This is because the 3-D scan does not represent reality, but generates a fractal space that exists somewhere between the two-dimensional and the three-dimensional, between surface and volume.The measurements are always incomplete since there is a potentially infinite amount of information to register, so that the data set or point cloud must contain many blanks and shadows, forcing the computer to make “religious” leaps in judgment. It is in these empty spaces, Steyerl proposes, where the rebels, the unruly images, can hide. But if they are capable of rebellion, it is not as pure simulacra, as virtual images alone, but through the repossession of a body in that fractal (or spectral) space that lies between the two and three dimensions of Euclidean space.

“I found a roll of film at the cave site,” she said during the performance. “I was obviously not able to develop it. In fact, what I show you here is but a 3-D print of the original roll of film, which is too fragile to bring with me. But I developed this replica instead. . . . What it shows [an image flashes on-screen that bears a striking resemblance to Hokusai’s The Great Wave] are no longer images of bodies or body parts, but the body of the image itself.” We should not mistake this body of the image for that current paradigm of the “haptic cinema” or “touch screen” in cinema studies, which revives an old, art-historical terminology that in its desire to expel the ideological ghosts of apparatus theory moves a bit too hastily. Nor is Steyerl caught up in the recurrent fantasy of avant-garde cinema, which would bestow cinema with a living body, returning the eye to a prelinguistic state of sheer corporeal vision. Recently, for instance, Lutz Koepnick offered a compelling reading of how Herzog’s Cave of Forgotten Dreams revived such an eroticization of the cinematic eye and how he transformed the film screen into a “living membrane” by means of 3-D technology. As Koepnick comments, “Cave|Cinema addresses the eye, not as a transparent window to the soul and the viewer’s desire, but as a physical organ, as part of a body for which experiences of touch and physical motion are integral to the efficacy of seeing.”²⁵ For this reason, Herzog’s cave cinema may well be considered anti-Platonic, and during her performance, Steyerl would show appreciation for certain aspects of his cinematic approach, commenting on how he showed cave painting to be a form of “immersive protocinema,” inhabiting a fractional space where objects and images are able to transform into one another, and concluding that this proves that “something can only be seen under the condition of complete obscurity.”

Projection image used in Hito Steyerl’s lecture-performance The Body of the Image, 2012, as part of the Berlin Documentary Forum 2, “New Practices Across Disciplines,” Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, June 2, 2012.

But if both projects share certain thematic interests, they are still fundamentally different. Steyerl asks us to conceive of a spectral event of a more disconcerting nature than Herzog’s carnal screen:

We are seeing an LCD screen—its matrix—and we see the transformation of the liquid crystals which are carriers of the image information into stone. They refuse being mobilized and liquidated. Instead, they fossilize as if in a flash . . . inside the screen and break it open from within. And at this moment the uprising of images indeed happens. All screens turn into dead objects.

And so we return to the breaking point, the apocalyptic, uncertain death of technology. The specter that rises from this combustion is not an apparatus of projection. No longer the simulacra of literalist art that haunted Fried or the humanist specters of kinetic art hunted down by Krauss, these shadows are produced and erased (if never completely) by processes of technological control and verification moving around and through us. They gather in the virtual meshes of networked spaces; they invade the virtual caves of control we build, calcifying the arteries of informational flow.

Ghosts will exact their revenge.

Eric C. H. De Bruyn teaches in the film and photographic studies program of Leiden University, The Netherlands.

NOTES

1. See “Passages d’un interview d’Alain Jouffroy avec Jean Tinguely,” in Jean Tinguely, exh. cat. (Amsterdam: Stedelijk Museum, 1973).

2. On June 23, Richard C. Grosser wrote me the following e-mail: “Keep in mind that this was at the dawn of the computer era. People were fascinated by blinking lights and associated them with advanced technologies. I actually sold over 2000 of them at $20 apiece. . . . I still have many press clippings and letters from very famous people who purchased them or received them as gifts. One was on the first nuclear submarine (SSN-571 Nautilus) on its historic trip under the North Pole.” The two editorials from the Situationist International, “The Meaning of Decay in Art” (1959) and “Once Again, on Decomposition” (1961), are collected in Guy Debord and the Situationist International, ed. Tom McDonough (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2002).

3. Newspaper clipping received by author from Grosser.

4. Cf. Jacques Derrida, Specters of Marx: The State of the Debt, the Work of Mourning & the New International (New York: Routledge, 1994).

5. Yve-Alain Bois, “Force Fields: Phases of the Kinetic,” Artforum 39, no. 3 (November 2000): 45.

6. As cited in Rosalind E. Krauss, Passages in Modern Sculpture (New York: Viking Press, 1977), 211.

7. For a different appraisal, see Noam M. Elcott, “Rooms of Our Time: László Moholy-Nagy and the Stillbirth of Multi-media Museums,” in Screen/Space: The Projected Image in Contemporary Art, ed. Tamara Todd, (Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press, 2011), 25–52.

8. Derrida, Specters of Marx, 148.

9. Michael Fried, Art and Objecthood (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998), 171.

10. Karl Marx, Capital: A Critique of Political Economy, trans. Ben Fowkes (New York: Vintage, 1977), 164.

11. But see also Fried on post-Brechtian light effects in “the installation view of Judd’s six-cube piece in the Dwan Gallery shows” (although Fried might have used the more obvious examples of installations by Sol LeWitt or Dan Flavin), Art and Objecthood, 172n23.

12. Krauss, Passages in Modern Sculpture, 212–13.

13. Krauss would suggest such a conclusion in “The Cultural Logic of the Late Capitalist Museum,” October 54 (1990): 3–17.

14. Dominique Païni, “Should We Put an End to Projection?,” trans. Rosalind E. Krauss, October 110 (Autumn 2004): 23–48.

15. The classic text is Jean-Louis Baudry, “Ideological Effects of the Basic Cinematographic Apparatus,” in Narrative, Apparatus, Ideology, ed. Philip Rosen (New York: Columbia University Press, 1986), 286–98. See, in particular, Baudry’s comments on the “arrangement of the different [cinematic] elements—projector, darkened hall, screen” as reproducing the mise-en-scène of Plato’s cave, p. 294.

16. Bruce Sterling, “Media Paleontology,” in Book of Imaginary Media, ed. Eric Kluitenberg (Rotterdam: NA: Publishers, 2006), 60–62.

17. See Gilles Deleuze, “Plato and the Simulacrum” in The Logic of Sense (New York: Columbia University Press, 1990), 253–66; and Jean Baudrillard, The Evil Demon of Images (Sydney: University of Sydney, 1987).

18. See Franco Berardi (Bifo), Félix Guattari: Thought, Friendship, and Visionary Cartography (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008).

19. Ibid., 85.

20. Félix Guattari and Gilles Deleuze, “Balance Sheet-Program for Desiring-Machines,” in Semiotext(e) 2, no. 3 (1977): 125–27. This passage does not describe an actual work by Tinguely but does seem to allude to a well-known photograph of his Cyclo-Graveur, 1961.

Projection image used in Hito Steyerl’s lecture-performance The Body of the Image, 2012, as part of the Berlin Documentary Forum 2, “New Practices Across Disciplines,” Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, June 2, 2012.

21. Antonio Negri, “The Specter’s Smile,” in Ghostly Demarcations, ed. Michael Sprinker (London: Verso, 1999), 9.

22. Eric de Bruyn, “Topological Pathways of Post-Minimalism,” Grey Room 25 (Fall 2006): 32–63.

23. To develop this statement, it would be necessary to demonstrate how such topologies are already prefigured with the “unitary urbanism” of the Situationist International or, say, the dynamic labyrinths of Constant. In Constant’s labyrinthine New Babylon, 1959–74, there is no path of return. Whoever walks there will live in a state of permanent disorientation. Thus New Babylon radicalizes Sigmund Freud’s own account of the uncanniness of the urban maze, which causes one repeatedly and involuntarily to return to the same spot (which in Freud’s case proved to be a prostitution zone). In the current context, we might consider New Babylon as a ludic détournement of kinetic art that is truly immersive and participatory in contrast to Schöffer’s programmed cy(bernetic)sp(atiodynamic) sculptures. However, Constant’s relation to automatization technology is complex. Paradoxically, New Babylon relied on computerized machinery (displaced underground) to sustain a nomadic existence of endless drift aboveground.

24. Hito Steyerl, The Body of the Image. The lecture-performance took place during the Berlin Documentary Forum 2 at the Haus Der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, on June 2, 2012. I would like to thank the artist for making the transcript available to me.

25. Lutz Koepnick, “Cave|Cinema” (lecture presented during the conference “Display/Dispositive: Aesthetic Models of Thought,” University of Cologne, May 12, 2012).