Eminent Domain, Dispatx, 2007
Eminent Domain, Dispatx, 2007

Eminent Domain, Dispatx, 2007

(collaborative project)
project website


From the perspective of your own practice or position within an organisation, what are your immediate responses when considering the Eminent Domain theme in relation to contemporary art practices (from curating to criticism), as broadly outlined in relation to the Forum?


"Here it becomes similar to recourse - in the face of blockade, alternative and often radical tactics may be resorted to in order for an idea to move forward…
…At a point of critical mass existing systems begin to fail, invoking a form of negation and opening up a space of uncertainty.”

We want to start with the proposition that, in our practice, the blockade is not something which comes from outside the artwork to force change, but is a fundamental aspect of our own artistic strategy. In contrast with Lorraine's argument about the creative process nurturing, allowing ideas to emerge and overcoming creative block, our practice can be seen to take this block as its starting point. We encourage blocks, barricades or impediments in such a way as to make tactics impossible, in order to explore what happens when there can be no recourse to tactical thinking. Recourse then, in our practice, is not a conscious strategy, but instead something out of the control of an agent, an involuntary effect, which emerges at points of block, an embarrassment. As in Giorgio Agamben’s concept of ‘the gag’, used in the double sense of a device for preventing speech and the performative substitution of bodily gesture for speech, it can be the power of the blockade to produce potential new meaning from around the edges, capacities and impotentialities of existing linguistic structure.

In relation to these thoughts, we want to address the question of eminent domain in relation to the ruin. What is the relation of the ruin to a process of regeneration? Existing as an inbetween state, after development starts and before it ends, the ruin retains traces of its history yet opens up to multiple potential futures and meanings. Our work has consistently engaged with the failure of systems, which are pushed, through repetition or other means, to invoke immanent creative and catastrophic forces. In …And While We Were on Air for example, we edited everything from a series of news broadcasts except for the newsreader’s breath. The resultant rhythmic agglutination of panicked gasps and hyperventilation are uncertain inbetween spaces not just as the negation of meaning, information or communication, but also as traces or evidence of speech. Breath, as a ruin of linguistic representation, an inadequate means, opens up language to other potential worlds, meanings or effects, but also bears a relation to the system which produces it. Regeneration becomes a process of translation, amassal, coagulation, deformation, incompletion and becoming.

In more recent work, we have worked with indefinite articles from manifestos. A recent performance sets all the indefinite articles along with designated nouns in the Communist Manifesto (a spectre..a end end...) to Schoenberg's Erwartung. In the manifesto fragments, alphabeticised as an arbitrary structure, traces of the text open up to multiple reconfiguration. Sung, spoken, inhaled or repeated, these lists begin to fail relative to the limits of the human body, delineated by lung capacity or the ludicrous improvisatory performance of the gag. Rather than subtly refining or radically shifting systems towards a determined endpoint, we propose eminent domain as a series of stress positions.