for 'Excavating Transcendence'

story  Michael Betancourt, December 8, 2017 all rights reserved.


The Modernist desire for transcendence common to abstraction and abstract art generally is an attempt to escape from the physical repressions of industrial capitalism, a translation of the alienation of capitalist social valorization into a rejection and alienation from physicality. This erasure of the physical world from consideration becomes internalized as the aura of the digital's effacement of concern with physicality and matierial restrictions, giving these rejections an esoteric, theological significance as an appeal to and instantiation of an immaterial realm accessed through the digital computer.

In attempting to affirm the traditional, religious paradigm (immediately recognizable in a panoply of rejections of empirical science, (from the assertions of a "flat earth," to suspicions about vaccination causing disease, to denials of evolution), the desire for transcendence is explicitly linked to a rejection of the material world. This avoidance of physicality arises as an explicit "realism born of the mind" that is neither concerned with nor engaged in a verifiable link to observation; in denying physicality, this framework seeks to avoid challenges originating with empirical observation. The aesthetic distinctions between a realism of everyday appearances and a realism of thought connects the aura of the digital to explicitly aesthetic concerns of art while remaining concerned with digital technology and production in a dramatization of the role of culture in mediating our engagements with the world around us. The connections of technological, scientific, and cultural domains to the political economy are expected, revelatory facets of the same social and political activity; however, the ways that this framework obfuscates the relationship between digital technology and materiality makes its critical examination and consideration significant for critical engagement with particular materiality of digital capitalism and how it is systematically denied.

Copyright © Michael Betancourt  December 8, 2017  all rights reserved.

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