Tuesday, 25 February 2014

2014 - GEOcritically

Sawtooth Thinker-in-Residence discussions in 2014 will start around the term 'geo-critical' which, as GEOcritical, is the theme for the 2014 Art Association of Australia and New Zealand (AAANZ) annual conference, to be held this year right here in Launceston, Tasmania. First time in the regions and we're IT! The conference will be based around Inveresk, but Sawtooth is playing a part. More later.

While the conference will dump a whole lot of thinking beings into our midst around 5-8 December, the Thinker program (with a coordinating Thinker and hopefully a swag of guest Thinkers) will try to get a head start, be ahead of the game, etc etc. So we're thinking GEOcritical. This does not mean we will abandon NewMat -- indeed, one does in no way preclude the other, although either can help define that other.

The Thinker will add some GEOcritical considerations to the blog in the next little while, but in the meantime, would like to convey a recent NewMat moment from the waiting room at one of Launceston's 'imaging' (read x-ray) centres. Sturdy bloke aged 40s/ early 50s waits for x-ray. He's wearing shorts and a dark chocolate-brown T-shirt which has a panoramic image across the chest, more brown tones, a silhouette of two hikers looking towards a golden sunset, out over a vista of apparently endless wilderness. The slogan (there had to be one), in cream text beneath the image: The best things in life aren't things.  NewMat meets GEOcritical ...


  1. Hello!
    Here are some of my thoughts and notes from the other day all jumbled together in a fittingly transversal way. My journal had heaps of drawings of rocks and caves and buildings around these notes which worked quite well - unfortunately you will just have to imagine those into and around the following words.

    GEO Critical = Go Critical or even G.O. Critical?
    GEO= Earth, World, Ground or round?
    Points of reference was a point I think made by a couple of people which is integral to these conceptions. Critical as in also critique.
    Geo history which then becomes time scales. The artists position and or relationship to their geographical position which maybe relates or is contradicted by their ethical position.
    What is invisible and visible - thinking about art forms that can more freely and honestly discuss Geo Criticality, the baggage of being a painter who literally uses geology to paint with about geology/topology/ecology. Here, Fluxus was discussed as an exemplary example of art making that effortlessly circumnavigates certain material issues related to traditional art practices.
    Black Earth - thanks Helene! Research, Scepticism and criticality become highlighted here by the concept of searching for something. This led to imperialism and conspiracy.

    Caves - Homes - Wall painting

    Urgency, anticipation and time-criticality as outlined by Fernando Do Campo (whom Deb spoke for) which are current in contemporary practice and the need to attack something.

    Locative/ Teleological.

    Aesthetic Material Function which is something that I am trying to figure out.

  2. Been contemplating the idea of Geo-critical in relation to art practice and how as an artist we form our ideas. In this case I am utilising the term Geo to be less of a physical/material thing and more of a matrix of ideas based upon Geometry. Admittedly the geometric aspect to these thoughts were inspired by Josh's comments the other day and his reference of Mondrian art. Combining this with Patrick Sutczak describing his current struggle with his own practice produced a somewhat random analogy that I felt perhaps could be an alternative way of looking at the term Geo-Critical; a more meta-physical approach so to speak rather than looking for literal definitions. The analogy is that of a rubik cube.

    Patrick described his current studies and art practice as if he was struggling to squeeze his ideas into a box and make sense of it with the hope of something revealing itself. I think many an artist have at one time or another, found themselves experiencing similar feelings. Thinking about this I began pondering my own creative approach and how I often metaphorically throw a selection of seemingly unrelated thoughts into a 'box' hoping that combining them will result in something. Occasionally I find it does provide that spark of inspiration. But often I find it not quite working or fitting my own inner requirements. It is here that I began thinking of the box more like a rubik cube. I take the box and cut it up into smaller cubes and start rearranging them. I mentally rotate them, flip them, invert them and place them back together. Occasionally I will discard a cube which doesn't fit, placing it to the side with the possibility for later use. The result being a mashing of ideas like a rubik cube that has had the colour sides all mixed up. The ideas at times seem to have no relationship with each other but the key to understanding is the point of reference. The point of reference being Me. Me and my rubic cube of decision making processes.

    So Geo-Critical. Geo could be an aspect of Geology, Geography Geophysics, Geo-politics or Geo- history or more. But for me it all comes down to one important thing; Me. It comes down to me as the point of reference.

    The critical in Geo-Critical doesn't reference my critical thought processes as one might think. In this case the critical is referencing the immediacy. It is a critical moment in time. It is a second point of reference. Everything of that moment is a part of me. Of what makes me, me. Of my experiences. Of my environment. Of my dreams and aspirations. It is critical because those things are only like that for a moment. I am Heraclitus' river.

  3. Hi Glen,

    Interesting post. Lots of great references in there.

    After our discussion I came back to the book I was reading and I have to include a small section of a bit, especially in regard to your words above...

    pg, 160. Deleuze, Gilles, Difference & Repetition

    "At most, the form of possibility varies throughout the history of philosophy. Thus, while the partisans of a mathematical method claim to be opposed to the dialectic, they nevertheless retain the essential - namely, the ideal of a combinatory calculus of problems. instead of having recourse to the logical form of the possible, however they separate out another, properly mathematical form of possibility - be it geometric or algebraic."

    He goes into that idea more in the chapter... but I won't re-print it all here. The chapter its from is called, "The Image of Thought"

    Maybe the image of thought could be a geography or geology or geometry of thought.

  4. Hey Josh,

    Thanks Josh for the response and the quote.

    I have just been breifly looking over Deleuze's writings with a new appreciation after your tip. I see plenty of possible connections I can follow up and investigate although I also see a few cross overs with Derrida and my head aches just thinking about it! Strangely they have a very similar writing style.

    I like the concept of the image as thought being a geometrical matrix of difference that is made up of entanglements.

    I also like that Deleuze considers understanding thought as self engendering and an act of creation that therefore provides identity.

    In some ways this supports me being an integral point of reference by effectively saying 'I think therefore I am'.

    Yet contrary to this Deleuze also implies in his writing that I was perhaps placing to much importance on me being the critical point of reference rather than a point of reference, for they are all entangled for them to exist or as he terms it, for 'actualisation'.

    Certainly plenty more for me to think about. For those who are interested, the sites I briefly glanced over before writing this are as follow:



    Not the best references but they do give a overview of Deleuze's writings. I think i will have to get my hands on a copy of the book you are reading Josh!

  5. The Thinker approves this dialogue! (And will enter into the spirit of GEOcritical very soon ...)

  6. The Thinker approves this dialogue! (And will enter into the spirit of GEOcritical very soon ...)

  7. A small pulse from the south - from a thinker who is slowly but shorely finding handles and orienting herself into a GEOcritical realm