Open Space Calling
Holly Herndon's Platform as Political Theology
A reflection in the tradition of process theology.
See also A Strange and Quivering Universe
The Political Power of Pop
Platform by Holly Herndon
Platform is a political project, an aural revolution for egalitarianism whose consequences should be reaching beyond the "music scene." Recently, in The Guardian, there was a piece by Owen Jones in which he wondered where the hell the 21st century protest songs might be, and we feel he’s just looking in the wrong direction. There is a self-politicization going on and this involves the politicization of aesthetics. The idea that beauty becomes weaponized with exit, freedom, and democracy is so much more attractive than the opposite: the beautification of weapons.
With Platform, she attempts to use electronic music to ask deeper questions about politics, community, and communication. The album's title, borrowed from the theorist and designer Benedict Singleton, refers not to technological environments as much as the attempt to mount a collective effort to define our own future.
To achieve Platform, Herndon has opened up her process to vital artists and thinkers from her creative circle...leading by example to tackle a host of topics ranging from systemic inequality, surveillance states, and neo-feudalism. Platform underscores the need for new fantasies and strategic collective action.
"Will we just hear weird sounds and then get drunk and dance, or are we now able to discuss the values that experimental music can conjure up in those scenarios as well?”
To begin with, she takes technology, including the Internet, as a starting point rather than a stumbling block. Where some would discount online culture as a distraction—or, worse, false consciousness—for Herndon, it's just a place we all call home.
May it be more fair and humane than the world your governments have made before?
Open Space Calling
First things first. Electronic music can be enjoyable for its own sake, and enjoyment is an end in itself not simply a means to better ends. Everybody needs to dance, if not with their legs then with their minds.
On wanting things to happen that you haven't thought about
Art and the Open Space
How to act according to the future in the 21st Century? Taking up strategies in economics, theory, philosophy, and art, Fixing the Future looks to provide useful alternatives for thinking the future again, and to do so as an imperative.
-- Fixing the Future
Here's the problem. Contemporary art is a toy for the idle rich. Many contemporary artists see their art primarily as a medium of individual expression, rooted in the isolated subjectivity of a privatized self. The privatized self is itself a product of capitalism, with its emphasis on the private consumer as the norm for all judgments. Corresponding to this is a view of the future as an empty space that absolutely unpredictable or as a dangerous space that must be managed by the logic of capitalists, lest things fall into complete disarray.
A third option is to consider the future as an open and as yet undetermined space, containing within itself an eros or beckoning toward the well-being of all. In the language of traditional Abrahamic religion, it is a space that calls. We may or may not think of this space as containing a caller. But what is important, if we are to fix the future, is to recognize that it is a lure with content, inviting us to utilize our individual and collective creativity to help respond to the call and bring about a better world for all.
Thus we can imagine the future has having two faced: an open indeterminacy and a calling. Process philosophy proposes that that calling is toward ecological civilizations: that is, toward societies that are creative, compassionate, participatory, surprising, ecologically wise, and spiritually satisfying, with no one left behind. What role can art play in responding to this calling? In Platform, by Holly Herndon, we hear the possibility that collaborative platforms are among the roles art can play, for the common good of the world.
From Fixing the Future:
RETHINKING THE FUTURE