Penguin diagram by John Ellis with generalized penguin decay diagram by Jedrzej Biesiada, via Science@Berkeley Lab.

“All A Are Not B,” a discussion of diagrams with David Joselit, Susanne Leeb, Prudence Peiffer, and Amy Sillman

155 Freeman Street, Brooklyn, NY
Thursday, April 12
7:00 p.m., $5 suggested donation

Diagrams are usually thought of as a tool for displaying information economically, for enabling us to more easily parse the connections between ideas and events. But diagrams are also often used to opposite ends, to call into question the kind of thinking fostered by the overly rational organization of information. In this sense, the work of many artists, poets, and filmmakers might be understood as diagrammatical. Take, for example, Stuart Sherman, whose “spectacle” performances consisted of the artist rearranging inanimate objects on tabletops; he created semantic relationships but eschewed narrative, instead revealing “all the natural metaphorical resonances of an object.” Approaching the diagram in such a way—as an epistemological figure—means questioning the nature of relationships between things and how we perceive them, and how we understand our own subjectivity in relation to that process.

Participants will discuss how the diagram can break down conventional systems of signification and provide us with different ways of thinking about and acting in the world, and of making art. They may consider the role of transitiveness in contemporary painting; the humorous, mimetic diagrams of Ad Reinhardt; how chance operates in the work of Marcel Duchamp; how the circulation and disposition of images affects the way we relate to them; and how diagrams can draw a line between the body and the machine.

All A Are Not B is being held on the occasion of the publication of Materialität der Diagramme: Kunst und Theorie (On the Materiality of Diagrams: Art and Theory), published by PoLYpeN (Berlin) and edited by Susanne Leeb, with contributions by Ricardo Basbaum, Benjamin Buchloh, Bureau d’études, Bracha L. Ettinger with Birgit M. Kaiser & Kathrin Thiele, Astrit Schmidt-Burkhardt, and Amy Sillman.