Here Comes History, There Goes Everybody
Guest Curator: Steve Reinke RT: 63 minutes.
Blot Out the Sun by Harrell Fletcher. USA, 2002, Video, Colour, 22 minutes
Distraught Mother Reunites with Her Children by Barry Doupé. Canada, 2005, Video, Colour, 24 minutes.
Maroon Talking in the Park (from the series “Modernity and Aesthetics of the New Black Africa”) by Antonio José Guzman aka De Akuaigar. Panama/The Netherlands, 2010, Video, Color, 5 minutes.
Necrology by Standish Lawder. USA, 1969, 35mm, Black & White, 12 minutes.
West Project by Erkka Nissinen. The Netherlands, 2008, Video, 16 minutes and 22 seconds.
An early sketch of James Joyce’s novel Finnegans Wake was titled Here Comes Everybody; a phrase that became emblematic of high modernism. This same phrase also brings to mind the pop theory in Clay Shirky’s influential book Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations. Published in 2008, it proclaims how social networking has ‘revolutionalized’ society, profoundly changing the manner in which we relate to one another and to ourselves.
The two ‘everybodys’ are quite different. The modernist version posits something like a post-Romantic swirling, mythological, collective subconscious that unites us all. More than uniting us, it is the stuff (the dark night, the primordial ocean) from which we emerge. Like the Lacanian register of the Real, it is unreachable.
The social networking version, however, implies that ‘everybody’ may or may not retain their subjectivity. In this model, what lies at the point of the individual doesn’t matter. The individual is defined by a set of shifting nodal points in a series of networks, and agency is exercised through a series of networked associations one might randomly make.
Here Comes Everybody thus evokes – contrary to the usual sole narrator speaking with maximum univocity/subjectivity – the mass of humanity, speaking, babbling, murmuring, with maximum equivocity. All voices exist at once and signal the dissolution of individuality and subjectivity. This idea implies a sense of history that is not teleogical, but circular; a mythological dream world where history is an endless procession.
The title of the programme, Here Comes History, There Goes Everybody, implies that history either obliterates everybody (“History teaches us that everyone is dead”), or is itself a continuous, diasporic force. Understood as such, history becomes not only a procession of people through space, but also a movement from one state to another (living to dead, remembered to forgotten).
In the future, it is quite possible that we may have no need for the subconscious at all. I can already feel a certain atrophication. I think the new post-humans will be streamlined, psychically streamlined.