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Research Studio with Open Reading & Writing Days

Lichtung': Reading and writing the discourse of ‘the public’

Visual Research Centre, Centrespace 24 February - 7 March 2014

John Dummett

Each of us is a solitary shadow of that inscrutable and illegible thing called ‘the public’.

Endlessly reproduced in demographic profiling, sociological analysis and theoretical texts, ‘the public’ is our fictional double. Inhabiting a discursive realm of generic abbreviations, social conventions and institutional necessities, the discourse of ‘the public’ stages, rehearses, and choreographs a political regime predicated upon representation.

To begin out manoeuvring this instrumental and objectifying mode of politics, Lichtung will explore alternative practices of reading and writing in an effort to return the discourse of ‘the public’ to an immediate and experiential encounter with the thoughts of others.

Framed as a two week ‘research studio’, Lichtung will be a live and discursive process that will unpack and elucidate how the theoretical discourse of ‘the public’ is defined by and situated within a set of philosophical and theoretical texts by a range of contemporary and significant 19th & 20th century thinkers including Michel Foucault, Hannah Arendt, Søren Kierkegaard, Martin Heidegger, Paolo Virno, Antonio Negri and Jacques Ranciere.

Employing a range of creative and critically reflexive practices that draw upon the conventions of group discussions, collaborative writing and textual interventions, Lichtung will mark out a model for a future critical practice that does not represent the public, but instead offers a radical and contingent presentation ofthe public’.

‘Lichtung’: Reading and writing the discourse of ‘the public’, Research Studio, John Dummett, 2014

Open Reading & Writing Days:

Monday 3 March, 11am-4pm

Wednesday 5 March, 11am-4pm

As an intrinsic part of Lichtung, the research studio will be utilised as a live collaboratory. These two days will be drop in sessions which will open up Lichtung to interested individuals who wish to critique, problematize or intervene and undertake “thinking the thoughts of another”[i] through actions of reading and writing. In the context of the collaboratory, reading and writing are taken as expanded practices that, beginning from their conventional understandings, expand to encompass different ways of engaging with, responding to and encountering textual material.

John Dummett is a DJCAD Fine Art PhD candidate, supervised by Tracy Mackenna and Lorens Holm.

[1] Lichtung is a German word used by Martin Heidegger in his 1961 text “The End of Philosophy” (English translation, University of Chicago Press 2003). Lichtung means a clearing, for example, a clearing in the woods. Since its root is the German word for light (Licht), it is sometimes also translated as "lighting," and in Heidegger's work it refers to the necessity of a clearing in which anything at all can appear, the clearing in which some thing or idea can show itself, or be unconcealed.

[2] Georges Poulet. The Phenomenology of Reading. 1969