April 11, 2014 - e-flux - Reza Negarestani and Guerino Mazzola, presented by Glass Bead
April 11, 2014

Reza Negarestani and Guerino Mazzola, presented by Glass Bead

Charles Sanders Peirce, Labyrinth. From Charles Sanders Peirce papers, MS Am 1632 (1537). Houghton Library, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.

Reza Negarestani: “What Philosophy
Does to the Mind”

Tuesday, April 22, 2014, 7–9pm

Guerino Mazzola: “Melting Glass Beads—The Multiverse Game of Strings and Gestures”
Friday, April 25, 2014, 7–9pm

311 East Broadway 
New York, NY 10002

T 212 619 3356


As part of ART2, an International Platform on Contemporary Art held in New York during April, and one of its multifaceted projects, Composing Differences (curated by Virginie Bobin), Glass Bead invites philosopher Reza Negarestani and musician and mathematician Guerino Mazzola for a series of public talks at e-flux. The talks will also be broadcast live on Glass Bead’s website.

Prior to its 2015 launch, Glass Bead inaugurates a year of inquiry in New York with a weeklong radio series addressing how art practices can explore new geometries of knowledge and initiate different modes of instituting. 

Glass Bead will also organize a series of private radio workshops at MoMA’s AV Recording Studios. These workshops will be presented at the VW Dome at MoMA PS1 on Sunday, April 27, and online.

Reza Negarestani
“What Philosophy Does to the Mind”
Tuesday, April 22, 7–9pm

By approaching the game of truths—that is, making sense of what is true and making it true—as a rule-based game of navigation, philosophy opens up a new evolutionary vista for the mind’s development. Within this evolutionary landscape, the mind is understood as a set of activities or practices required to navigate a terrain which lacks a given map and a given compass—a desert bereft of natural landmarks, with a perpetually shifting scenery and furnished with transitory mirages. The mind is forced to adapt to an environment where generic trajectories replace specific trajectories, and where the consequences of making one single move unfold as future ramifying paths that not only uproot the current position in the landscape but also fundamentally change the travel history and the address of the past itinerary. It is within this environment that philosophy instigates an epochal development of yet unexplored possibilities. By simulating the truth of the mind and forcing it to interact with its own navigational horizon, philosophy sets out the conditions for the emancipation of the mind from its contingently posited settings and limits of constructability. In liberating itself from its illusions of uniqueness and ineffability, and by conceiving itself as an upgradable armamentarium of practices or abilities, the mind self-realizes itself as an expanding, constructible edifice that effectuates a mind-only system. But this is a system that is no longer comprehensible within the traditional ambit of idealism, for it involves “mind” not as a theoretical object but rather as a practical project of socio-historical wisdom.  

Throughout this presentation, we will lay out the minimal characteristics and procedures of the game of navigation by drawing on the works of Gilles Châtelet (the construction of a horizon), Guerino Mazzola (a dynamic theory of addresses), and Robert Brandom (the procedural system of commitments). We will subsequently unpack the consequences of playing this game in terms of the transition from self-conception to self-transformation of the mind, as outlined by the New Confucian philosophers Xiong Shili and Mou Zongsan.

Guerino Mazzola
“Melting Glass Beads—The Multiverse Game of Strings and Gestures”
Friday, April 25, 7–9pm

A critical review of Hermann Hesse’s idea of a glass bead game is presented in light of recent developments in mathematics, music theory, and theoretical physics. The common denominator of these new dynamics is the shift from Wittgenstein’s world of rigid facts to an ocean of elastic gestures. In such a soft architecture of knowledge production, the ultimate principle of uniqueness as conceived in the idea of a singular universe breaks down to a multiverse—a multiplicity of worlds that terminates the historical breakdowns of uniqueness principles from geocentricity (Copernicus), to anthropocentricity (Darwin), chronocentricity (Einstein), and ratiocentricity (computers). We discuss contributions from eminent mathematicians Alexander Grothendieck and Yuri Manin, theoretical physicist Edward Witten, music theorist David Lewin, and philosophers Tommaso Campanella, Paul Valéry, Gilles Châtelet, Jean Cavaillès, Charles Alunni, and Maurice Merleau-Ponty. We complement their positions with our own contributions to topos-theoretical concept architectures and theories in gestural music theory. We offer realizations, both by means of gestural composition software and with examples from contemporary free jazz. The talk concludes with a reconsideration of the game concept as a synthesis of artistic and scientific activity in the light of gestural fluidity.

Reza Negarestani is a philosopher. He has contributed extensively to journals and anthologies and lectured at numerous international universities and institutes. His current philosophical project is focused on rationalist universalism beginning with the evolution of the modern system of knowledge and advancing toward contemporary philosophies of rationalism, their procedures, as well as their demands for special forms of human conduct.

Guerino Mazzola qualified as a professor of mathematics (1980) and of computational science (2003) at the University of Zürich. He served as visiting professor at the Mathematics Department of the University of Rome in 1975, associate professor at the Mathematics Department of the University Laval/Québec in 1996, and at the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris in 2005. Since 2007, he has been a professor at the School of Music, University of Minnesota. He developed a Mathematical Music Theory and its accompanying software: Presto and Rubato. Since 2007, he is the president of the Society for Mathematics and Computation in Music. He has published 22 books and 130 papers, made 23 jazz CDs (as a pianist and composer), and composed a classical sonata. In 2000, he was the winner of the Medal of the Mexican Mathematical Society. In 2005, his book The Topos of Music was proposed as book of the year to the American Mathematical Society.

Glass Bead is an international research platform and journal organized by Fabien Giraud, Jeremy Lecomte, Vincent Normand, Ida Soulard, and Inigo Wilkins. Each year, philosophers, artists, historians, and scientists will be invited to engage with the theoretical, political, or aesthetic dimensions of a specific site. Recognizing art as crucial to the invention of vehicles able to navigate heterogeneous and changing epistemic landscapes, Glass Bead aims to bring disparate practices and ideas together in order to design complex transits between and within them. The journal is conceived as a dynamic point of synthesis in the experimental processes of the research platform. Published on an annual basis, it operates both as a stratigraphic cut revealing the work of the collaborators of Glass Bead, and as a re-launching of its methods.

Between April 21 and 27, Composing Differences, curated by Virginie Bobin, with Council, Glass Bead, Open School East, and PAF, brings together artists, curators, researchers, and other arts professionals from France and the United States who establish new art platforms, explore tactics of knowledge production that promote the circulation of knowledge, and experiment with art as an agent of social change. Composing Differences is part of ART2 and is organized in collaboration with MoMA PS1 and

The project is supported by Etant Donnés, Fund for Contemporary Art.

ART2 is a month-long visual arts festival presented with thirty-eight partner museums, galleries, universities, and non-profit spaces in New York during April 2014. The culmination of eighteen months of cross-cultural research, ART2 will consider seven main ideas and themes, chosen by artists and arts professionals from the two countries, prevalent in today’s patently global art world through exhibitions, talks, conferences, workshops, publications and editorial matter. These seven subjects do not specifically concern France and the United States, but, on the contrary, drive the international art world today. ART2 was conceived as a platform for generating constructive debate “intellectual friction” between artists, arts professionals, and those interested in contemporary art.

ART2 is presented in collaboration with the Institut français, the French Ministry of Culture and Communication and FACE (French American Cultural Exchange).


Reza Negarestani and Guerino Mazzola at e-flux, presented by Glass Bead
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