Hito Steyerl, in conversation with Rosemary Heather, offers up a provisional definition of art as being that form of information able to create a productive uncertainty, the emphasis being on “productive.” So, what is that then, a productive uncertainty? A simple way to chart productivity is through action, so that the measure of art would be its consequential, tangible effects upon the viewer, as in their own making or acts of protest or even their dancing in response. A subtler measure would be the internal, ideological resonance whereby an art work sparks lines of flight in the mind of the viewer. I recall, in high-school, a fervent debate in philosophy class about the importance of thought versus action. I was on the side of action, taking the position that action presupposed thought, which was really just argumentative short-hand for not taking a position at all because in the trick I could have both. But I think of this conundrum now in relation to a question of what constitutes productivity and while having a rigorous understanding of one’s motivations for action is helpful, so often the thoughts stop at their own articulation. These are all the late-night conversations that go nowhere. They are lame. What use is a coherent logic if it is not felt in the world?


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