Sunday, April 23, 2017, Roaming Assembly #13 at Dutch Art Institute. The Navigation Principle: Double hydrologics



With Ayesha Hameed, Tom Holert, Kevin B.Lee, Marianna Maruyama, Doreen Mende, Rory Rowan, Vera Tollmann & DAI-students

“Where does the world end?” asks the female voice in Harun Farocki’s Parallel 2 (2014) while the subjective shot perspective directs the viewer on the continuous flight across a digitized blue matter with geometric islands popping up, and disappearing again. The sequence offers a horizon for our proposition to enter the Navigation Principle through a double dimension of what we might call, following hydro-feminist Astrida Neimanis, ‘hydrologics’.

One dimension addresses the data logical condition of digitized matter. It takes us towards an investigation of a computer-generated image that operates through digital liquidity and algorithmic cultures.

A second, parallel dimension takes us towards the ancient art of navigation that is revisited as a mode of inhabiting the contemporary political condition. It opens the prospect of what it means to think with and from ‘water’.This is a feminist concern that rethinks received understandings of planetarity and globalization.

How can we think the entanglement of this kind of ‘double hydrologics’? What practices of articulation and inter-animation can be invented for the present and future?
How can we politicize that new image-regime which fosters the “industrialization of thought” (Farocki) through action, operation, and embodiment? What happens to the production of knowledge in the navigational landscape of ‘double hydrologics’?

How and in what ways does ‘navigation’ offer a method, a practice, a politics, an aesthetics, an epistemology and an ontology?

Roaming Assembly#13 takes place in conversation with the Harun Farocki Institute in Berlin and the CCC Research Programme in Geneva.

Program Sunday, April 23
13:30 Word of welcome by DAI-director Gabriëlle Schleijpen

13:35 -13.50 Doreen Mende: THE NAVIGATION PRINCIPLE: Notes on Double Hydro-logics

13.50-14.10 Tom Holert: After Montage?

In one of the last public lectures preceding his premature death in 2014, filmmaker, artist and writer Harun Farocki pondered the question
to what extent, in the age and realm of the digital image, the foremost visual methodology of political modernism, namely montage, has given way
to the paradigm of navigation. Already in Parallel I-IV, his inquiry of computer game visuality, Farocki had raised the issue of the epistemological and aesthetic consequences of such a shift. In his talk Tom Holert will attempt to continue this interrogation of the condition of contemporary digital visual cultures, mobilizing the notion of “navigation” to trace the terrain of operational image production and usage. Particularly interested in the fate of the idea of the political or dialectical image, this line of questioning aims at addressing the modes through which images are being converted into data spaces to be traveled as well as the instrumental life of images as tools of navigation (from neurosurgery to targeted killings).


14.10-14.30 Ayesha Hameed: Black Atlantis: The Plantationocene

To begin with, Black Atlantis is a long-term investigation. Its several iterations take the form of a live audio-visual essay that looks at possible afterlives of the Black Atlantic: in illegal migration at sea today, in oceanic environments, through Afrofuturistic dance floors and sound systems, and in outer space. Black Atlantis combines two discourses: Afrofuturism and the Anthropocene. As a point of departure, it explores Drexciya, the late twentieth-century electronic music duo from Detroit, and their creation of a sonic, fictional world. Through liner notes and track titles, they take the Black Atlantic below the water with their imaginary of an Atlantis comprised of former slaves who have adapted to living underwater. This wetness brings a sense of the haptic, the sensory, the bodily, and the epidermal back to the table. What this ‘below-the-water’ and Atlantis bring back are the bottom of the sea, the volume of the water, the materiality of the space of the ocean, and the other protagonists that inhabit it. This contribution for the Navigation Principle session will present the beginnings of the fourth chapter of the ongoing performance / live audio-visual essay Black Atlantis. We will be visiting the heartland of one of the three stops of the triangular trade, and taking seriously Donna Haraway’s and Anna Tsing’s use of the term ‘plantationocene’ which connects the development of a plantation form of production to the beginning of the current geological era that we are in.


15.20-15.45 Coffee break

15.45:15.50 Doreen Mende: intro to the second part of THE NAVIGATION PRINCIPLE

15.50-16.10 Rory Rowan: Rethinking Geo-Politics in the Anthropocene – Notes on the Oceanic and the Computational

The concept of the Anthropocene has been understood by many to have unsettled some of the fundamental assumptions of modern thought, including within the political domain, requiring a radical re-imagining of the material grounds of politics and establishing the planet not simply as a stage for the political but a dynamic actor within it.
However, even amongst those attempting to critically think through the ramifications of the changes the Anthropocene announces – and the stakes of the concept itself – have for the most part remained wedded to a terrestrial imaginary of the Earthly, leaving little room for thinking about, with or from the oceans and the constitutive role they play in the now deeply entangled and co-constitutive social and bio-geophysical processes of the planet. The division between land and sea that Carl Schmitt argued lay at the foundation of modern global political order – what he referred to as the ‘nomos of the Earth’ – remains today fundamental to international law and lies at the heart of some of the most contentious geopolitical disputes, whilst serving to conceal the ocean as a site of capital accumulation, environmental destruction and ecological inter-dependence with terrestrial dynamics, both social and ecological. Yet the concept of the Anthropocene, and indeed that of the planet as a set of complex systems rather than as the image of the globe or a mythical Earth, is the product of a vast technical appendage, at once material and virtual, produced from the vast network of orbital satellites, multiple data streams and computational models that conjure the Earth as a coherent object of science available for analysis and intervention. If the Anthropocene can be understood to demand a rethinking of the geo in geopolitics what happens when we approach this planet from the perspective of these two registers: the oceanic and the computational? How might the attempt to rethink geo-power and geopolitics – or perhaps think them for the first time – be shaped by setting sail from the epistemological grounds of the terrestrial and the imaginary of the globe as a singular object that can be apprehended without the work of computation?

16.10-16.30 Kevin B Lee: Life Navigation

This talk will reflect on a work-session with DAI-students on April 22, 2017, where participants practiced methods of “life editing” and “life navigation” through personal technology, to reflect critically upon their own everyday practices of personal media production. Using “desktop documentary” and other innovative approaches, we learn to understand better and explore the nature of contemporary social media narrative and self-representation.

16.30-16.50 Vera Tollmann: The Disembodied View

Technoscientific image-regimes create a view that is disembodied from the human perspective. For example, the view from elsewhere in ‘outer space’ breaks with the standard partial perspective on mesoscale, a local position which seems habitual to human vision. How different is a picture taken by an astronaut in the International Space Station? Viewers have been trained in the objective view from above. How does machinic vision contribute to the construction of a ‘disembodied view’ and what does it mean for our relation to the image? When do we speak of embodiment and what do we mean with a universal view? Are formerly opposing concepts blending into hybrids? In her seminal essay “Situated Knowledges” from 1988, Donna Haraway reclaims the “sensory system” and critiques what she calls “the god trick of seeing everything from nowhere”. Thinking with Haraway, is it possible to advocate for a universal view from below? And to update Haraway, can a contemporary feminist position succeed in transiting between scales? How could a critique of the Anthropocene concept get involved with humans on an embodied sense of self-scale?


17.40-18.00 Doreen Mende: Closing Thoughts with the results from Kevin B.Lee’s desktop work-session including the DAI-students and Marianna Maruyama

18.00-18.30 SCREENING of works by the artist, writer, and video essayist Ursula Biemann

18:30 Drinks for all – in the foyer at Huis Oostpool


Monday, March 6, 2017, 7pm, The Navigation Principle: Planetary


The ancient art of navigation is a contemporary condition. Maybe it is our contemporary popular culture. What, ultimately, are today’s conditions and consequences of navigation? The talk will propose to enter that question through the notion of the planetary as an attempt to enounce the navigation principle. The term planetary provides some sort of a working tool and curatorial methodology to learn to understand more precisely the art of navigation as an inescapable condition to think with: It takes place while driving with the car’s GPS. Or while operating the endless image of a computer-game. We navigate while surfing across digital platforms using earth-energy. It takes place on ‘left-to-die-boats’ across the Central Mediterranean Sea in life-danger. As well as on the Lac Léman in class privilege. These navigations operate through lived experiences in non-linear time, as a network of practices crossing borders, as forms of embodiment or the inscription of the feminine, on unstable grounds and liquidity towards spatial disorientation, or through the entanglement of knowledge and non-knowledge. The talk takes place in conversation with the CCC Curatorial Seminar at HEAD Genève asking ‘what is navigation?’. In that seminar, we develop a vocabulary through text-activation, thought-movements, listening, image-processing and thinking in different languages. Its objective is to process and share a political/social/queer/sonic consciousness of ‘navigation’ as a possibility for learning to live the layered complexity of the contemporary world.

Talk by Doreen Mende at HEAD – Genève, Boulevard Helvétique 9, 1205 Geneva, seminar room CCC, salle 27, 2nd floor

000 Towards the initial commitment

I am working on a train of thought, entitled Crossing and Falling, across asymmetrical movements for elaborating on the ‘initial commitment’ that took me towards the idea of navigation. The ‘initial commitment’ departs from a particular sequence in Harun Farocki’s Parallel II, where the skater crosses the threshold between the Demo Area and the Library, after which he soon will fall into a hole. The notion of ‘initial commitment’ is borrowed from Reza Negarestani’s text Navigate Against Extreme Prejudice (Definitions and Ramifications). The essay’s title might play with ‘terminate with prejudice’, a phrase used to express the brutality of an employer to fire someone, as if Negarestani would fire philosophy from its secured seat in the comfort zone of history without giving philosophy entirely up. It’s at the edge. It’s philosophy and not philosophy. A philosophy under erasure which makes it compelling for me to engage with that text as a ‘pilot’ to that blog. The ‘initial commitment’ operates on concrete grounds, e.g., the skater in the computer-game who crosses and falls that demands next steps, or ‘other entitlements. It operates like a gift which cannot be refused, that means, a gift before any form of politeness. It needs to be followed up further. With commitment, though. And this is the challenge.

“For as soon as a commitment is made, its ramifications – whether as other commitments or other entitlements – grow exponentially. The ramified path structure that an initial commitment opens up is wholly asymmetrical to that commitment. If the navigation of ramified paths always involves decision-making, it does not mean that the initial decision, its conditions and assertional content are preserved throughout the course of navigation.”  – Navigate With Extreme Prejudice (Definitions and Ramifications) Encyclonospace Iranica (Vancouver: Access, dadabase, 2013), 3.

11 Revisions.

Why The Navigation Principle (NP)

The Navigation Principle (NP) is a writing platform, conceptual diary and working journal on art, (geo-)politics, vocabularies and spatialities.

The principle of navigation states that our mode of thinking continuously moves between knowing and not-knowing in a spatial composite made of layers such as life, academia, technologies, the art of making and political/social struggle. Writing, therefore, in that sense is like living in the 21st century: never disciplined to one box or one layer, to one language or one tone, to one geography or culture, to one film or one book, to one place or the other. Living in the 21st century means being mediated by and via a screen that poses the profound question of positioning in relation to situated knowledge and a permanently split body-existence. If Serge Daney declared in 1976/77 that “The true place of the filmmaker is in the AND” between Ici et AilleursHere and Elsewhere then in 2016, the Here and the Elsewhere have been collapsed into each other. There is no AND anymore. There is no camera that captures the Elsewhere. If there is a camera then it arrives Here as data. There is no document from the Elsewhere. If there is a document then it is not an evidence of the past. Unmanned. Dronological. Machinic. Permanent. Immanent. Implicated. That condition projects us into a new kind of spatiality. How can we understand that mode of moving in several spatialities at the same time, politically? How can we read such a mode of being in a geo-graphic scene and sense, i.e.,  being written into the planet as if the body is a writing instrument. Not as a fixed inscription but a navigational ongoing process. Already writing in this wordpress template here, which only works in online-mode, is a topolitical writing. I will explain the ‘topolitical’ in a text-to-come published here. Writing, in that sense, may take place in visual, political, sonic, exhibitionary or spatial form. There are many more forms of writing. The NP as a working journal emerged from the urgency to operate inside of a semi-public space for articulating ideas inside of everyday institutional work-obligations at an art academy, pressuring deadlines, the will to write with a certain pressure to write thoughts. The conceptual diary is another term for it, but highlights the necessity to write from a particular moment with the inscription of the feminine. The writing platform will offer space for collecting thoughts for text or writing commissions that I am delaying and delaying. Under the imaginary permanent never sleeping gaze of algorithms, I hope, it will support the ‘initial commitment’ that it takes to process thought.

This is a particular NP, conceived by Doreen Mende. It brings together the admiration for differing ways of thinking such of Reza Negarestani, Gayatri Spivak and Hélène Cixous, as well as Benjamin Bretton, Emily Apter, Sylvain Lazarus (an impossible constellation of voices)… In that line, my comrades at the Harun Farocki Institut in Berlin are part of that thought process too. Furthermore, the work with students – all women – in my Curatorial seminar 2016/17 at CCC Master of HEAD in Geneva are interlocutors here as well. I wish that the NP will also re-inaugurate the means to continue to work visually towards navigated forms of images, or navigated forms of optic operations in the future.