Thuistezien 84 — 25.06.2020

Abstract Blackness / Absolute Value
Ramon Amaro

In the project ‘Critical Making’ the emphasis is placed on the making process and its critical potential. Since modernism, being critical seems to be inherent in art. ‘Critical Making’ goes a step further, namely by being critical of our prejudices outside the fields in which we feel comfortable. ‘Critical Making’ askes various disciplines (makers, artists, students, activists, theorists, designers, people and ‘non-people’) to enter into dialogue. The goal is not to agree with each other, but to ‘make matter’ through dialogue. This can be a dialogue with and about the other, an object, an embassy, or in this case, the word ‘fear’.

The word ‘fear’ was brought up for discussion in another part of the program: Ramon Amaro's workshop. Amaro is a lecturer in the ‘Visual Cultures’ department at Goldsmiths University of London, and is a researcher in the field of machine learning, black ontologies and philosophies of being. In his workshop the self-examination process was applied as a method for research and making. He led an investigation into the relationship between technology and the senses of self, with categories such as race, ethnicity, gender and sexuality, as well as how this relationship informs our perception of the world. In his lecture he discusses this relationship between technology and the self, using the passport as an example, a document in which placing a photo materializes you as a resident of a particular geopolitical situation. He shows the power that lies behind abstractions like these and how it materializes the relationship. The logic behind the object can also be changed, which Amaro calls ‘reverse engineering’ or ‘reconceptualisation’. Through self-examination we start questioning our own fear, and we determine what we can make of this world. This relates to the point made by Janneke Wesseling, mentioned in her introduction of the symposium, of how West's new location fits in well with the goal of 'Critical Making'; An authentic Bauhaus building that over the years slowly turned into a military fortress of fear has now, after West moved in, been ‘reconceptualized’ and ‘reclaimed’ by the arts.

The symposium ‘Making Matters’ by ‘Critical Making’ is a collaboration between PhDArts / ACPA, Willem de Kooning Academy, Waag, Het Nieuwe Instituut and West The Hague.