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Theory: Paul Virilio

Train wreck at Montparnasse, France, 1895

The integral accident

Technology cannot exist without the potential for accidents. For example, the invention of the locomotive also entailed the invention of the rail disaster. Virilio sees the Accident as a rather negative growth of social positivism and scientific progress. The growth of technology, namely television, separates us directly from the events of real space and real time. We lose wisdom, lose sight of our immediate horizon and resort to the indirect horizon of our dissimulated environment. From this angle, the Accident can be mentally pictured as a sort of "fractal meteorite" whose impact is prepared in the propitious darkness, a landscape of events concealing future collisions. Even Aristotle claimed that "there is no science of the accident," but Virilio disagrees, pointing to the growing credibility of simulators designed to escape the accident -- an industry born from the unholy marriage of post-WW2 science and the military-industrial complex. A good example of Virilio's integral accident is Hurricane Katrina and the disasterous events that followed, which brought the eyes of the world upon a single nexus of time and place. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Virilio#The_integral_accident [Jan 2006]

Divine accident [...]

The most wonderful of all things in life is the discovery of another human being with whom one's relationship has a growing depth, beauty and joy as the years increase. This inner progressiveness of love between two human beings is a most marvellous thing; it cannot be found by looking for it or by passionately wishing for it. It is a sort of divine accident, and the most wonderful of all things in life. -- Sir Hugh Walpole

The art of the accident

In fact, ironically, ‘Towering Inferno’ images probably were rife in the minds of many of the watchers of the 2001 ‘event’ or ‘accident’. In Virilio’s book Ground Zero he has explicitly claimed that as the September 11 twin towers attack was being ‘broadcast live many TV viewers believed they were watching one of those disaster movies that proliferate endlessly on our TV screens’ and that it was only ‘by switching channels and finding the same pictures on all the stations that they finally understood that it was true’. Aesthetically ‘9.11’ was taken as an ‘art of terrorism’ in some quarters. Virilio quotes the avant-garde electronic composer Karlheinz Stockhausen as saying it was ‘the greatest work of art there has ever been’. Seemingly unknown to Virilio, the Brit-artist Damien Hirst, too, claimed those responsible for September 11 should indeed be congratulated because they achieved ‘something which nobody would ever have thought possible’ on an artistic level. The event was in Hirst’s view ‘kind of like an artwork in its own right…wicked, but it was devised in this way for this kind of impact’ and ‘was devised visually’. --April 29, 30, May 1, 2004 , THE ART OF THE ACCIDENT By Steve Redhead via http://www.surf.salford.ac.uk/documents/UrbanVulnerability/Redhead.pdf [Aug 2005]

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