Photo © Josh Müller

UNTITLED |
Critical Environments IV

MArch Studio: Ecology Sustainability Cultural Heritage

Hannes Stiefel

I am here, and there is nothing to say.
(…) What we require is silence; but what silence requires is that I go on talking.
Give any one thought a push: it falls down easily; but the pusher and the pushed produce that entertainment called a discussion. (…)
All I know about method is that when I am not working I sometimes think I know something, but when I am working, it is quite clear that I know nothing.
John Cage, Lecture on Nothing, 1949/501

Where would I go, if I could go, who would I be, if I could be, what would I say, if I had a voice, who says this, saying it’s me? Answer simply, someone answer simply. It’s the same old stranger as ever, for whom alone accusative I exist, in the pit of my inexistence, of his, of ours, there’s a simple answer. It’s not with thinking he’ll find me, but what is he to do, living and bewildered, yes, living, say what he may.
Samuel Beckett, Stories and Texts for Nothing, 19672

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UNTITLED |
Critical Environments IV

MArch Studio: Ecology Sustainability Cultural Heritage

Hannes Stiefel

My friend,
I am thinking about some conversations we’ve had. About radical work. And about the larger picture. A distant world. I think there is no need – and I also don’t want – to teach a subject any longer. Not now. Not here.
We talked about Beckett the other day. And all the while, I’ve since realized, we were contemplating Cage. With both of them: So much Nothing. So much!
I then grasped that battered little book with the conversations between John Cage and Daniel Charles, and I coincidentally opened it to where Charles reports a random happening: One day at the University of Paris VIII, Charles’ seminar on the composer Messiaen was accidentally scheduled in the same lecture room concurrently with a seminar on Mao Tse-tung. Two languages were spoken in that room, and it was impossible to understand a thing. Striving for acoustic sovereignty, the historians began to recite their texts collectively. Then the musicians fell in with an improvisation for flutes and chairs, and the event went on for an hour. Addressing Cage, Charles noted that though nobody learned much on Mao or Messiaen that day, the experience had been far from “pedagogical hollowness”. Cage was excited.

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UNTITLED |
Critical Environments IV

MArch Studio: Ecology Sustainability Cultural Heritage

Hannes Stiefel

He saw in this event the first steps toward implementing Buckminster Fuller’s conception of an Open University: a university without walls, where students can transgress the boundaries of courses however they wish: “That seems to me the real experience of daily life in the most general sense. Just walk around a city! What happens there is similar to those seminars and professors that let us study what we want.” Well, it’s been 33 years since.I came to rest upon your Non-Titled Files and lost myself in Otaku. I read: “Quand on vous donne un sujet c’est plus facile parce que même si vous n’avez rien à dire vous pouvez le dire et vous consacrer à la forme, à la manière de le dire. Le sujet vous produit un cadre. Un cadre qui devient un cache.”
There won’t be any hideouts. This summer, IKA moves from its 19th century academy spaces to an open-plan office from the 1970s, where a good hundred students will work in one large studioscape – without walls. On the part of the ESC platform, there will be no studio subject beyond the frame given by its name: Ecologies / Surprises / Critical Environments. And yet I wanted to ask you if you might provide us with Otaku – as a voice from the off, from inside the Non-Titled Files. That’d be awesome!

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