The first issue of this journal, as well as Glass Bead‘s project at large, is directed towards rethinking art as a mode of rational thought. It departs from the assumption that any claim concerning the efficacy of art—its capacity, beyond either its representational function or its affectivity, to make changes in the way we think of the world and act on it—first demands a renewed understanding of reason itself.
Modelling the Game
Hesse’s The Glass Bead Game is many things. It is clearly modernist in its style, playing with the elements of a classical bildungsroman. It is rigorously hypothetical in its setting, extracting a handful of tendencies from its present, projecting them into minimalist future. It is deeply philosophical in its scope, explicitly referencing the canon of modern European philosophy, implicitly encoding its themes in institutions and characters, and symbolically crystallizing their tensions into a singular conceptual innovation, the Glass Bead Game—a universal language and emblem of intellectual synthesis.
The Glass Bead platform aims at “navigating between heterogeneous and increasingly specialized epistemic sites” and constructing “the conditions for universal transits that transform the sites between which they operate”. It borrows its name from the Glass Bead Game (GBG) presented in the book “Magister Ludi” of Hermann Hesse (1943) as embodying “the ideal goal of universitas litterarum”. The aim of this article is to discuss this reference by answering to the following questions: (i) In which sense is the GBG “creative” and is it compatible with the Glass Bead platform’s project? (ii) If not, can we invent a “Revisited GBG” (RGBG) to achieve the creative objectives of the platform? (iii) What could we learn from such RGBG in terms of trans-disciplinary research?
Transcendental logic aims to uncover both what it is for something to be an “empirical representable” and what it is for something to be a “true representing.” Understanding the former involves grasping the way in which conception interacts with sensation. Understanding the latter requires grasping the nature of the connection between truth pertaining to what is conceptually represented, and truth pertaining to nonconceptual representings.
By following Hesse’s main intuition, we could try to carefully define, construct, and activate a single concrete organon of exploration of the experiential field capable of composing these different abstract sounding lines of mediation. The program of constructing this trans-modal organon is (according to its definition) much more radical than the program of performing transversal compositions that are internal to each abstract modality, such as for instance the interdisciplinary collaborations between different scientific disciplines or multimedia integrations of different artistic practices.
How does the exhibition as a medium partake in the ontological partitions of modernity? This text mobilizes the exhibition as a place particularly suited to a complex analysis of borders and frontiers across different epistemological registers, and as a place where both cognition and aesthetics partake and enact frontiers.
Informed today by the debates emerging around accelerationism and theories of the common, critical strategies may come closer to the multiple meanings of forging: at once shaping a metal object by heating it and hammering it, constructing, by extension, something that is strong, enduring or simply successful, as well as falsifying, imitating, producing a copy of something in order to turning it into something else. Keller Easterling and Benedict Singleton joined us by email to discuss how their respective work related to such ideas and strategies.
The “Big Bang” of Western mathematics dates from Euclid’s definition β: a line is a length without thickness. This invention connects mathematics with Myth while proposing new forms of knowledge, and it organizes human space by separating the visible from the invisible, extracting Platonic Ideas from the world.
To avoid reducing photography to a sort of luminous drawing (the reality of which the moderns strangely believed in) we must go back through the history of the ontology of photography in search of a definition of the photographic real that stands up, that resists the movement by which the ontology of photography seems ineluctably to be beating a retreat.
The first section of this paper presents diverse forms of dialectics between art and mathematics, following Novalis, Warburg, Focillon and Lautman. The second section explores some tensions between the local and the global, both in art and mathematics, profiting from Peirce’s architectonics. The third and final section proposes embedding the local/global dialectics in art and mathematics along multilayered surfaces (coming from Riemann surfaces) and multidimensional sites (coming from Grothendieck toposes), governed by continuous, intuitionistic logics.
Read as a narrative of possible reconciliation, Guimarães Rosa’s “Third Bank” seems to present a scenario that corroborates modern progression: traditional life in the interior of Brazil is dissolved, the family is ruptured, the mother and sister move to a city, a brother to another, while a third son stays and maintains his tie with the father, who shows no signs of leaving the third bank of the river. But the third bank of the river can also be read as a manifestation of irreconcilable convergences, as a place that is determined neither by vital needs nor by stagnation.
Mathematics is divided into several distinct areas: geometry, number theory, algebra, analysis, mathematical logic, and so on. Each of these areas has evolved throughout the years by developing its own ideas and techniques, and by now has reached a remarkable degree of specialization. Now, even more than in the past, we feel the need to unify theories that could intra-disciplinarily connect different areas of mathematics with their different sets of concepts, objects, and methods, in new and powerful ways, hence providing effective tools for solving long-standing problems.
Reversing the order in which instruments are usually created, Tarek Atoui took the sounds of a collection of ethnic musical instruments as a starting point for “The Reverse Sessions.” The artist used the audio recordings of live performances that he wrote and directed, to collaborate with instrument makers on imagining and building the objects that could have generated these recordings.
The Forgotten Meta-Realities of Modernism: Die Uebersinnliche Welt and the International Cultures of Science and Occultism
This essay focuses on an example of cross-cultural diffusion of information, both scientific and occult—in this case, the monthly German spiritualist periodical Die Uebersinnliche Welt, published in Berlin from 1893 to 192215. The journal’s title declared its particular focus—the world beyond the senses, making it a timely index of the modernist preoccupation with the invisible.
Re-Engineering Hegemony: Glass Bead in conversation with Mat Dryhurst, Holly Herndon and Alex Williams
Music, unlike many other forms of art, has long been recognized to serve more than an ornamental or representative function. Plato acknowledged the capacity of music to ‘mightily fasten’ to the inward places of the soul. Studies in evolutionary musicology have investigated how music may have served as the basis for social cohesion in early hominids groups, and some have argued that this was a necessary factor in the development of complex intelligence, the synchronized coordination of bodies and the expansion of memory and anticipation. Jacques Attali further claimed that the changing form of music is a historical process, deeply bound up with the wider political economy, that not only expresses but is prophetic of future forms of social organization. Singularly placed for elaborating the efficacy of music in this regard, we invited Holly Herndon, Mat Dryhurst, and Alex Williams to discuss with us their shared cross-disciplinary interest in speculatively orienting art, technology, and politics toward the future.
Ours is a world in vertigo. It is a world that swarms with technological mediation, interlacing our daily lives with abstraction, virtuality, and complexity. XF constructs a feminism adapted to these realities: a feminism of unprecedented cunning, scale, and vision; a future in which the realization of gender justice and feminist emancipation contribute to a universalist politics assembled from the needs of every human, regardless of race, ability, economic standing, or geographical position.
A means by which a critical culture defines itself as such is for its art, architecture and artifacts to picture the human as a subject of history. This is to say that buildings, forms, images and experiences posit critique as a manifestation of self-consciousness where shapes, forms, and sounds articulate an explicit understanding and explanation of the forces that dominate the relations and values of society and the place of the human that is produced through them and by them.