- launch of the online journal
Glass Bead (www.glass-bead.org) is a research platform and a journal concerned with transfers of knowledge across art, science and philosophy, as well as with their practical and political dimensions.
Glass Bead undertook in 2014 of inquiry under the form of an audio research program and a series of public events. Launched in New York in April 2014, this inquiry was pursued during the fall of the same year in Les Laboratoires d’Aubervilliers.
For the launch of its first online issue, titled Site 0: Castalia, the game of ends and means, Glass Bead organizes two days of talks, screenings, and musical performances at Les Laboratoires d’Aubervilliers (Paris) unfolding some of the theoretical perspectives structuring the contents of the journal.
The Depth and the Ply
To be human is to enter into a game of ends and means. This game is not a natural game. Animals do not play it. It is the game through which humans construct themselves as well as their environment. It is a normative game whose rules can be altered and transformed, crossing over the whole range of human engagements with the world.
Elaborating on the contents of the first issue of Glass Bead’s journal, this launch event is dedicated to the following questions: what is the function of art in this game? How can theoretical and practical forms of expression help to reshape the rules of the game and further transform our normative landscape?
Contemporary art generally opposes this game of normative gestures with an endless play of indeterminate signification. It puts forward an understanding of creativity and freedom as that which can only be achieved by escaping the game and its all encompassing logic. Doing so, it paradoxically projects normativity into the background, as an implicit condition with which it becomes impossible to engage.
Contrary to this position, Glass Bead contends that any escape from the game already supposes a type of engagement with its fabric. There is no seclusion, no retreat, no outside to the game. Freedom is not the indeterminacy of play: playing the game means committing to an ongoing process of construction and revision that continually changes its nature. Such a claim does not mean that normativity is freedom, but that freedom pertains to the normative game of ends and means. It is through the congruence and divergence of ends and means that norms can be made explicit, revised and transformed.
The event at Les Laboratoires d’Aubervilliers proposes an investigation into this redefinition of the game and art’s role within it. This exploration will articulate the two dimensions of any game: its depth and its plies. The depth of play names the ability to foresee future moves and adapt the play accordingly. The ply, describes a turn of the game between two players. To take part in the game implies the strategic correlation of these two dimensions where any local engagement within it (the ply) is a transformative commitment with its global structure (the depth).
In such a conception, making a move in the normative landscape of the game is necessarily bound to an act of self-transformation. It does not leave us intact as players by preserving what we are but involves us in a constant redefinition of what we can be and ought to be. These events are dedicated to the collective formalization of this uprooting.
Alice and Guy Debord playing at Jeu de la Guerre, août 1987
Photograph by Jeanne Cornet / BnF, dpt. Manuscrits, fonds Guy Debord