Category Archives: practice

Support de Fortune

[W]hat then, would become of it — this context — if transferred? — if translated? Would it not rather be traduit (traduced) which is the French synonyme, or overzezet (turned topsy-turvy) which is the Dutch one? 1

SdF-1aprilThis month, Kristien Van den Brande installed her research Support de Fortune in the vitrine of Recyclart, Brussels.

“How do supports of writing — a book or a single piece of paper, pencils, typewriters or internet pages — work on our thoughts? How do ‘chance supports’ (a train ticket, the back of an envelope, the margin of a book) challenge common ideas and practices of archiving, binding, displaying, reproducing, translation?”

With Jonathan Lahey Dronsfield, Nick Thurston we contributed artist talks and performative readings, adding to the rich collection of material (books, references, ideas) that Kristien had brought together. It was a welcome opportunity to revisit many familiar themes, an occasion for a re-take of A Romance of Many Dimensions and a first try-out of Technical Writing.

Word, Work

A group from Chicago visited Constant Variable last week. One student explains his mother is a publisher and that she compiled an on-line glossary of terms used in her mixed practice of printing, publishing and writing. It is stunning.
For example, under W:

word spacing:
The amount of space between each word in typeset text.

An informal means of promoting a product from one person to another.

work and tumble:
To print one side of a sheet of paper, then turn the sheet over from gripper edge to back using the same side guide and plate to print the second side.

work and turn:
To print one side of a sheet of paper, then turn the sheet over from left to right using the same gripper and plate to print the second side.

work for hire:
A type of agreement in which the writer or designer sells the complete rights to a work to a publisher.

The Dilettante Expert

‘Dilettante expertise’ as a way to make practice meet theory:

Expertise is the classical foundation of all geekdom, whether it is encyclopedic knowledge of Shakespeare, of the Star Trek universe or the registers of an 8-bit controller. Dilettantism is the unavoidable condition of drawing the bigger picture. It can end up badly like with the pseudo-mathematics and pseudoscience in the books of Lacan, Kristeva, Baudrillard and Deleuze debunked by Sokal and Bricmont, especially to the extent that some of their discourse – Lacan’s in particular – lacked doubt and humbleness.

Sokal and Bricmont published “Intellectual Imposters” in 1997. Retrospectively, it seems to have marked an end of speculative cultural studies and media theory, except for shrinking niches in the contemporary arts and in political activism. And deservedly so, I would say, because you could see the grand media theorists shutting up very quickly when the new media technologies became a reality and you could no longer get away with theorizing about “virtual reality” while not being able to operate your own laptop.1

  1. Florian Cramer: The Medium is not the message, On The Future of Media Studies


MM reads the introduction to Mark Pilgrims’ Dive into HTML5: “HTML has always been a conversation between browser makers, authors, standards wonks, and other people who just showed up and liked to talk about angle brackets. Most of the successful versions of HTML have been “retro-specs,” catching up to the world while simultaneously trying to […]

Shape and orient

Tools shape orient practice Practice shapes orients tools We are imagining the future of Constant this afternoon. At some point, we discuss Queer Phenomenology: Orientations, Objects, Others, a book by Sara Ahmed we like. She uses queer both in the sense of sexual as in spatial orientation; literally thinking through what that means for bodies […]