Consider, for example, at what cost one may declare that history is dead. Or, what does it mean to say that we now live In the realm of hyperspace? In the dissolution of things (where subjects and objects dissolve Into a space beyond measure) what is the use of history and what might be the status of documentation?
Approaching it from the other side, what shall we say of the ever Increasing jabbering of a history intent on proliferating a new order of truth, spoken, and hence re-inscribed in the present? Everywhere there is noise, ceaseless chatter and unending reproductions of surfaces. The age, so perfunctorily characterised by the persistence of its own mechanical reproduction, occupies that same space of vertiginous technological spiralling familiar to anyone even mildly engaged with the media. How easy it is to fall into the arms of all-night television, to reel at the continual procession of sounds from the radio; to peer, however ungraciously, at the steady stream of printed words, of matter, of texts. The social endlessly produces its fruit and the labourers· sagacious consumption does not go without saying. Indeed, in the realm of culture (proper and improper), the final word is never pronounced by either the work itself or its meeting with the one who consumes it. Neither viewer nor work are all-consumed. Both can only attempt to leave the residue of their perfectly manipulated collision on display.
Here is the impossibility though, for in displaying the leftovers of cultural work, any body of artefacts, there emerges the nownimponderable. Impenetrable face of history. Impenetrable if only because in looking deep into the eyes of the past we see nothing but our own dim reflections. No wonder the concept of inertia replaces history's own fading away with such an immense indifference.
Popular culture reproduces and annihilates itself so quickly that there is hardly time to breathe in the Inexorable gasses exuded. The machine relentlessly turns over, billowing fumes while gathering the momentum required to roll through various passageways while at the same time preventing a knowledge of the path it had only just taken. In the past this might have been described as the machinations of ideology, together with the structural misrecognition of the subject who can consume any number of cultural products and know not why.
Today, however, the logic of popular culture Is one of hysterical overproduction and overconsumptlon, and Its analysis is typified by analogies of speed, pace, acceleration, high turnover, whirling giddiness, vertigo, gravitational loss, implosion, explosion, disappearance and annihilation. The banality of a Mcluhanesque or Baudrillardian dystopia emerges, though neither is unable to come to grips with the material substances and processes which themselves announce and pre-empt so etherial a discourse. Perhaps this is the space into which only a newly developed Dadaism can be absorbed. In our perpetual present our relationship to the past becomes spatial, and the only way through this crisis Is to invent new space - through, beyond and against. And why not, in order to convey this uncertainty, propose a conception of what is precisely immaterial, to denote a contradiction, a material which is no longer matter for a project? Perhaps the only reply to this question should tend in the opposite direction, while being aware of the pitfalls associated with what could only be a nostalgic pining for the comforts promised by the coupling of historicism and materialism.
One can enter this game in one of two ways. Either the nature of cultural production and participation is exaggerated and intensified - to a state where Its contradictions are first made apparent then spectacularised to the point of destruction - or else this overload of material is treated in such a forgetful fashion as to make lt more slowly discernible. In other words, the two approaches can be placed in opposition either as an acceleration or deceleration of what must be seen by both as cultural worlds crammed with products, bodies, events, messages and spaces. The cry of "too much" need not signal the total disintegration of history and its spheres of representation. Nor should it necessarily imply that the cultural artefact be endowed with a permanence and monumentality that it is its vocation to dispel.
One can always tell a story. Stage fictions. lt happened like this: In Brisbane. September 1986. The train of events need never arrive in the present, selfassured in the certainty of a knowledge gleaned from that most vivifying of journeys. Come in off the street. Or take to them. Arise. Perhaps to the fourth floor. And wander. Meander through the accumulation of knowledge displayed on walls, under glass. Objects dangling helplessly upon translucent plastics. regarded through the bottom of an empty glass. Listening over and over again, never to the same, but to another music from a different kitchen. And then let swing the homonymous phantoms of telling, speaking, of memory. Such compelling fantasy. Such a lack of fidelity. There are objects. There are events and there are stories. All products of an imagination far too obstreperous to allow itself to fulfil the promise that naming brings. The broken promise of certainty and stubborn affirmation. Such fulmlnous contagion.
Know Your Product Installation, IMA, 1986