Exuberance is beauty – William Blake
Recycling is trendy – Ban Ki Moon
Superabundance is real – Etienne Gilly
A new reference got into the project since last tuesday, which i feel might quite important in the construction of the narrative of project. Georges Bataille work, an more specifically the book he wrote between 1946 and 1949 The accursed Share.
It is a book on general economy and politic. According to Bataille’s theory of consumption, the accursed share is that excessive and non-recuperable part of any economy which must either be spent luxuriously and knowingly without gain in the arts, in non-procreative sexuality, in spectacles and sumptuous monuments, or it is obliviously destined to an outrageous and catastrophic outpouring, in the contemporary age most often in war, or in former ages as destructive and ruinous acts of giving or sacrifice, but always in a manner that threatens the prevailing system.
In fine, what Bataille seems to say is the following : an organism in Bataille’s general economy, unlike the rational actors of classical economy who are motivated by scarcity, normally has an “excess” of energy available to it. This extra energy can be used productively for the organism’s growth or it can be lavishly expended.
It is important to me because it introduces two notions into the project that weren’t explicitly present until now, and that both feed the overall narrative around wastes but also offer a frame in which to develop the question the construction of reality. The first caption introducing the project is :
The project is a conversation between the contemporary construction [composition] of realities and the junks and leftovers that these realities produces. In other words, the project takes for granted the fact that our reality is composed, staged but, because they push toward an always more precious and perfect aesthetic, they tend to increase dramatically the production of wastes, junks, rubble and leftovers. Constructed realities are the main producers of the accursed share.
In order to maintain the economic system under its current form and in order for these realities to continue to exist, the industry and public authorities have put up with legislation on recycling as the main canal through which the increasing quantities of waste that we produce is evacuated – and partly re-inserted into the cycle. Eventually, as Bataille seems to be referring as well, the production of waste is likely to overcome the production of new.
Burps of such a scenario are occasionally happening, and historically we can relate on what is was like, from constructing entire parts of cities on landfill, to uncanny image of tons of rubbish left on streets only after a few days of binmen strikes [http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/this-britain/the-city-that-looks-and-smells-like-a-landfill-site-1816862.html], creation of important landfill projects in different places in the world,…
In addition to waste reduction and recycling strategies, there are various alternatives to landfills, including waste to energy incineration, anaerobic digestion, composting, mechanical biological treatment, pyrolise and plasma arc gasification, which have all begun to establish themselves in the market….
What the project deals with, from this point, is : whatever recycling, landfill, and other technics of taking care of wastes, it wont be sufficient to handle with the booming production of wastes in the coming years. So what are we going to do after point of no-return, when we will have to deal with wastes in other ways that the ones enumerated above ? The project argues, therefore for a complete change in our cultural approach of wastes and economy. By default, we are [at the time of the project] to a point where wastes will HAVE TO be taken out of their traditional cycle.
The first question that the project raises is about the value of products, that, by definition, have no functions anymore. Are they to be considered as valueless fragments that shouldn’t be consider in other ways than just physical form ? Or are they to be given a value, enhancing an economical shift in the way we consider waste ? Both ? perhaps both can actually exist within a same cultural context ? I dont know yet.
The second question is about the collection itself of waste-surplus. Are we to consider some kind of public infrastructure to collect them – and then to do what ? This might depends on what the answer to first question is… Valueless objects would generate other organisations than objects that have a value, because with value come the question of ownership, market, prices,… with valueless objects might exist a completely free structure of exchange,… again both could exist.
The third question is about the societal impact of such a cultural shift – are we to assume that it signifies the total end of capitalism as we know it or is it the birth a parallel economy ?
And eventually the urban and architectural impact of this shift ?
Each choice will raise other set of interesting questions…
As for now, I would be interesting to conduct the project as a sort of argument/manifeste (not ‘o’). In this sens, i think that the projects needs to be constructed on the more radical choices in order to be provocative. Without necessarily ending being a dystopia which i want to avoid as much as i can. Not that i think the project has to be positive but i do want to question a situation more than project a futur. + waste treatment is a very present issue in current societies.
The book TOC is as follow (for now) :
Introduction (2 captions) : what ?
Current situations (5 caption) : explaining the constructed reality, unveil their always more precious agenda, faking the real, based on a cycle of production-consumption-wastes-recycling that is soon be full…
The accursed share (5 caption) : Presenting the accursed share, introducing the notion of value, fragments, products
More to come tomorrow + A3 book !