What’s in a prefix? How to read a prefix as short as ‘re-’? Does ‘re-’ really signify? Can it point into a specific direction? Can it reverse? Can it become the shibboleth of a ‘postcritical’ reboot? At first glance transparent and directional, ‘re-’ complicates the linear and teleological models commonly accepted as structuring the relations between past, present, and future, opening onto errant temporalities.
Asked by an academic friend to name one book I would save if the world were to collapse in an apocalyptic climate change scenario, I thought: ‘it’s too hard’, but then started going though my mental library. ‘You wouldn’t want to save an academic book, would you,’ said my friend, ‘surely a novel, an artist’s book…’. But in those few seconds I had already settled in my head for Salvatore Settis’ The Future of the ‘Classical’ (Polity, 2006, translated by Allan Cameron). Why?
Her work, in her own words, is ‘to see Hamlet splinter and be reconstituted; serve as a mask, a megaphone, and a measuring stick; and tell a story as revealing of his host’s identities as his own’. She explores the presence of ‘Hamlet’ in Arab contexts – as both a play and a character – in various forms, shapes and images, with the last chapter of her book examining six Arab Hamlet off-shoots staged between 1976-2004. The common denominator of these productions is how they reveal the political and social consciousness of the theatremakers staging the various productions.
100 years after the end of World War I (and 100 years after L’Histoire du Soldat was first performed), I adapt the classic story to focus on the technology of modern warfare: drones. In conversation with the original, my piece integrates the striking Stravinsky score with the urgency of a new story, allowing us to interrogate the ongoing nature of war and manipulation.
What Bridle repeatedly warns of in his book is that we don’t know what we don’t know, particularly when it comes to tech. There is an urgent need to develop a more-than-functional or technologically-deterministic knowledge of tech and its systems