Superhumanity conversations #5: on winning and wandering
Benedict Singleton and Marta Ferreira de Sá respond to Keller Easterling, “No You’re Not”
"A pitch proposes a course of action to an audience, specifically one which requires their involvement if it is to take place. This immediately makes the pitch very different than the kind of argument that Easterling describes. When an argument is addressed to an audience, it demands they acknowledge it as correct. A pitch, in contrast, offers something to them, in the knowledge they might say no. One does not need to pitch if one is in a position to issue a command: if you are in a position to say 'let it be so,' and then have it be so, you are on the receiving end of pitches—you are the audience, not stood in front of it. Pitches, then, trade off persuasion, not insistence, and aspire to be seductive, which it would be naive to automatically equate with deceit.
If pitches are therefore a means of appealing to people in a position of power over you, the pitch shouldn’t be mistaken for the plea. Both pitch and plea ask for something from the audience, but the plea does not offer anything in return. This gives them a certain symmetry with the kinds of argument Easterling talks about: both the plea and the argument demand the audience give something up. Because they table a sacrifice, the plea and the argument have a certain religious tenor. The pitch, on the other hand, is profoundly secular: it solicits an investment (as measured in time, money, or whatever one’s favored unit) by describing the form that investment can take, and the rationale for doing so. The fact that, in moments of extreme desperation, people tend to mix an argument with a plea—to ask at once to be acknowledged as correct, and simultaneously also for a favor—is indicative of how close the two are, and how distant from the pitch."
"The Labyrinth of the Immaterials"
Jon Goodbun responds to Daniel Birnbaum and Sven-Olov Wallenstein, “Spatial Thought”
"Who or what are the Immaterials? What is their nature? What is their culture? And how and why did they come to inhabit a labyrinth on the fifth floor of the Pompidou Centre for a number of months during 1985? What did they do in there? And what did they say? What was the meaning of their occupation of that building, in that city?
In seeking to answer the questions above, we must consider the primary artefacts and texts through which the Immaterials emerge. Daniel Birnbaum and Sven-Olov Wallenstein suggest that the project of Les Immatériaux has two main components: the exhibition itself and an essay by Lyotard published concurrently, entitled 'The Sublime and the Avant-garde.' However, as soon as these two components are engaged with, a network of other documents, records and artefacts emerge. In addition to the exhibition catalogue texts, there is an experimental interactive text inspired by the work of British cybernetic artist Roy Ascot entitled 'Les Immatériaux—Epreuves d’écriture' in which 26 intellectuals (including Jaques Derrida and Isabelle Stengers) recursively riffed upon 50 keywords given by Lyotard. Furthermore, there are a series of commentaries by Lyotard and others given before, during and after the exhibition, all of which become fascinatingly complicated when considered together with any attempt to critically comprehend the building and institution within which they take shape."
Superhumanity conversations is a collaboration between e-flux Architecture and the Royal College of Art School of Architecture.