Articles with tag: interdisciplinarity

12/15/2021 _Perspective

(Re-)Negotiating Ambiguity’s (Added) Value(lessness)

1_Capacity and Openness are not the Same as Ambiguity. Refuse Ambiguity. [1]  (David J. Getsy) Abstract art is often considered ‘ambiguous’ due to its openness and capaciousness. Even though this sometimes sounds like a compliment, it is not. More often, it is used to avoid confronting the particularities and complexities proposed by an abstract form and others’ investments in it. The same intransigent form can and does mean differently for different viewers. To call this situation ‘ambiguous’ is to fall back into hopeless subjectivism and avoidance. Instead, let’s call this situation ‘competing’ to show how much it is in the viewer’s incomplete attempt to classify that differences emerge and that supposedly stable taxonomies unravel amidst contestations and divergences of reception. Nominations of ambiguity are nothing more than declarations of resignation. We call something ambiguous when we give up on it and when we avoid committing to learning about all that does not fit into our categories. Objects, people, texts, events, and acts are not themselves ambiguous. They are particular, inassimilable, unorthodox, unprecedented, or recalcitrant. To invoke ‘ambiguity’ is to flee from the confrontation with something that does not easily fall into one’s patterns of knowing. This act of exhausted reading disrespects the particularity of that which is before us and instead writes it off as being at fault — as being unknowable, indiscernible, and incompletely categorizable. ‘Ambiguity’ is safe to invoke, because it places blame for our own limitations elsewhere. It is a method of deflection and scapegoating. It enables us to throw up our hands and beat a hasty retreat from confronting how limited our categories and systems are. After all, what do we really mean when we say something or someone is ambiguous? We mean that we cannot read, cannot identify, and cannot classify. Instead, I want to uphold the particularity and inscrutability that the backhanded slur ‘ambiguous’ attempts to manage. I want to see that particularity as a challenge to systems of knowing. ‘Ambiguous’ as an invocation or description merely signals the limitations of the one who would deploy that term. This does not mean I want everything clear and in its place. Quite the opposite: I want to embrace the radical particularity that always exceeds and undermines taxonomies. This is a queer stance, for it denies the applicability or the neutrality of those taxonomies as adequate representations of the world’s complexity. Rather, they are artificial impositions…

Editorial: Ambiguity

Conditions, Potentials, Limits

1_Ambiguously Lured Although the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic can be described, inspired by Pauline Boss, as trigger for an “ambiguous loss,” [106] a collectively experienced loss that remains unclear and undefined and thus lingers indefinitely, especially in times of crisis simple answers to complex questions seem to be growing in popularity. Instead, in this issue we as the Editorial Team plead for a “near-sighted, case-study oriented analysis with ambiguity-pragmatic intention,” [107] thereby focusing on the following questions: Are there different stages, degrees, levels [108] or variations of ambiguity, and can they be differentiated terminologically and analytically? Is there a connection between ambiguity and (socio-)political engagement? [109] How can we include ambiguity’s historicity in our conceptual reflections and theoretical discussions? To what extent are the production, perception, transformation, and functions [110] of ambiguity shaped by the occidental Western tradition of thought, and what are the challenging phenomena? Fig. 1: Tim Lorenz, NordWest 2.03, 2019. © Courtesy of the artist To make it a bit more concrete: The teaser image (Fig. 1) to this issue persists in an associative mode of aesthetic ambiguity [111] with a corresponding mode of reception that Verena Krieger identifies as a “continuous cycle of searching for meaning, but this search remains, in the end, unresolved.” [112] Because NordWest 2.03 (2019) by Tim Lorenz is characterized by a striking ambiguity on a formal-aesthetic level (due to its abstract design vocabulary together with its focus-and-blur relations), it triggers a variety of associations in our Editorial Team: I see a nice warm summer day with green spots as grass. (Çiçek Tanlı) My first association was energy and power, I specifically had to think of energy and glowing wires inside a light bulb; my second association was movement, flying particles, sudden moves and turns of flying animals defying expectation and prediction. (Jens Kugele) The yellow reminds me of a flower in the sun. It gives rise to a feeling of comfort, which is then disrupted by the green-black scratches. (Eva Zimmermann) My immediate impression was that of power, energy or electricity (due to the vibrant colors, but perhaps also because the green lines vaguely remind me of wires), chaotic potential, movement, or even rage which has the power to transform the status quo and trigger chaos which results in new possibilities. Relatedly, I’m also thinking of the process of emitting light — which kind of resonates with the notions of hope, creativity,…