using the tool bar to the right →
AboutScrolldiving is an ongoing collection of texts on intersections between digital formats, human experience and geographical spaces. We are tracking texts written by humans interested in such tropes by focusing on authors mainly based in the Americas.
Some of our current editorial interests include accumulative experience with devices, plein-air digital culture, and infrastructure-oriented aesthetics.
Selected authors will be commissioned for maintaining a writing process that occurs online. The text's development and editing will be accessible, allowing the readers to include annotations within the text. This process collates content through expressions of the edition, both visualizing and pluralizing the access through versioning and deviation. Design is embedded in the process, therefore any output is inherently a by-product, not an end.
Scrolldiving runs its headquarters in the U.S. and Mexico as part of
TLTRPreß publishing house (Berlin-Germany,) and its board of editors is composed by Javier Fresneda and Seth Ferris.
- ScrollDiving — Release II
- manuel arturo abreu→Writer & Conductor
- Editorial Board→
Javier Fresneda & Seth Ferris
- Guests→Redeem Pettaway, sidony o'neal, Winslow Laroche
- Editing & Proofreading→Nina Enriquez
- Graphic & Web Design→Seth Ferris
- Housekeeping at TLTRPreß→Martin Kohout
- Hosting→Scrolldiving.pro, Multispace.org, Aeromoto.mx
- Scrolldiving 2017
Ferris and Fresneda Eds.
- U.S. Mailing Address
526 Anderson Place
San Diego, CA, 92103
- MX Mailing Address
Calle Uxmal 122, Narvarte Poniente,
03020 Ciudad de México, CDMX, México
What is the texture of the archive's violence?
A major problem of our time is the conflation of attention and care. Citation stands in limbo between the two, putatively neutral but fraught by its coloniality. Do the formal features of citation present an opportunity to create a context where paying attention is authentically a form of care?
Conducted by manuel arturo abreu, Windows is a collaborative writing project that explores the relationship between this conflation of attention and care by building a cluster of ad hoc multimedia citations and juxtapositions in relation to a video work by Jacksonville-based artist Redeem Pettaway, Windows (2016).
By drawing correlations between the printmaking process and textual intimacy, Windows lays the ground for a network of care in which communion and consumption inexorably exist in tandem. Featuring sound, poetry, critical text, and more, citations from abreu, Winslow Laroche, and sidony o'neal will unfold from 20th March to 17th April 2017 to explore the potential of the casual archive as an agonistic presence against the transformation of care into a facet of the market.
sleep / skull
Redeem Pettaway's Windows (2016) is: that one word on the tip of your tongue is the one that stops the moon from falling. The one your grandfather sent you in between blinks, in that early morning hypnagog, wipe that crust out your eye. Sleep is the cousin of death, time's the father. Stay woke was always already a slogan, so who was even asking. I'm sleep tho. I'm amalgam, balm, alarm of body data in storm and thrum. Weak plunk, podunk, hot filigree.
The skull is the European symbol of determination: not of death, but of the domination of life, of projecting white suicidality onto time itself. We gon work on the other side of time now that it has officially ended. The skull is also the relationship to canon and its shadow: the artist appears with their hands behind their back, making marks with brush in mouth as though words could be writing. As though when one speaks one is spoken through. No map without tongue. No field of stark posies. What's revealed: a black avant-garde is really a form of conservatism, a protection of tradition, a defense of the dead. We are the true angels of history.
The fact is white people love a good memento mori. For them death is a reminder to stay productive, to protect and enjoy the fruits of conquest while they still have them. For us death is the headache of drawing another breath. The exhausting certainty of waking up every day to another loss. Imagine yourself asleep for so long, only to wake up in an alien place where no one claims you. Who does that describe? The fact is nobody sleeps better than white people. So ‘stay woke’ isn't really a choice, just a hollow imperative. Like ‘at the end of the day’ or ‘the fact is’ or ‘take care.’ Take it from whom? Stay woke went from conspiracist sign-off to Snow tha Product merch slogan to white political horizon, even spawning “alt-woke” radicalism. Eventually mayo will make all the words so corny they're unsayable. Can't get no damn sleep at all, even dreams and the unreal have been colonized. The torpor that seeps in is both refusal and exhaustion.
Dr. Kemi Adiyemi speaks of black queer slowness in resistance to the tyranny of speed and productivity. This is not the mourning of the grave or the bored hyper-attentiveness of the studio. Neither is it lateness or the sense of time out of joint. Rather, the slowness is all this and the drawl, the lean, the syncopation. Chopped and screwed, slow jams parties, the black ambient. That little moment before the word comes, or the improvisation begins. The long glance at yesterday and tomorrow. Not affect but its shadow. This is the slowness of Windows, of Jacksonville-based artist Redeem Pettaway's recent output, which explores the ontology of black death in its lived texture, and the impossible glory of black life and ancestry in the longue durée of slavery.
Pettaway comes from a long tradition of Gee's Bend quilt makers, but their practice takes a different direction. They work in performance and video, engaging issues of digitality, black spirituality, and gender. They have inherited the same brilliant eye for texture. What I know from conversation is that Redeem cleans slowly, lingering over every object. Each seems to contain an unfelt gesture, an ungestured feeling. Why do objects seem like they lead secret lives? How do we take our time when living off borrowed time the clock ticks faster? When you're stolen you're stolen. Affect is all carceral.
Pettaway's earlier work is both about and not about the slowness. Under the moniker Safety Corporation, Pettaway adopted a high-fashion, obscure digital persona, posting stylized content on Instagram and tumblr that seemed to celebrate “the motionless, manufactured, and retouched.” The work drew attention to the connections between the clinical aesthetics of digital subcultures like health goth and the antiblack history of medical science, offering a trenchant critique of the violence of fashion and fad cycles. The project was also a performance of labor, with the artist answering questions and offering advice via tumblr until it became emotionally unsustainable. The persona became a kind of oracle, and their responses mimicked AI speech, perhaps exploring the idea of how white supremacy made black people the first robots, something Redeem and I have spoken about.
Pettaway adopting the flat affect of AI in response to an anonymous tumblr question.
They moved on from the Safety Corporation project to produce performances and videos exploring black spirituality and the ritual aspects of aesthetics, with remaining shades of oracular monotony and stillness. In these works Pettaway recalibrates pentecostal possession, locating it not in manic submission but in quiet meditation —the daemons are in the details. In their video narration Pettaway speaks slow and lets the silence take space where it will, to sprout. Words wilt. Visions of greater purpose. Language never claimed to be enough so we can't blame it. As the work draws us back into the inexorably theological character of secular aesthetics and art, it generates a post-body slowness to lay the grounds for immaterial data, for spirit data. The laggy old machine, the floppy drive. An airless bubble of honey. The raw god molecule of melanin.
And yet this new meditative position is never the taciturn pietism of Protestant ethics and their continuation in capitalism. The conceit of Safety Corporation's critique of emotional labor tacitly relied on the failed premise that one can critique something by embodying it. In Pettaway's recent output, this conceit disappears, with ‘work’ returning to its theological roots and appearing more as a horizon along the trajectory of understanding, and eventually preserving, what they call spirit data: that immaterial connection across the slow expanse of history's violence, the originary cybernetic quality of African mainland and diaspora. In this way they point to the endeavor of repairing linear time itself, which has been so brutalized by the white heroics of projecting suicidality, the onward march of skulls which disturbs and destroys so much global cultural continuity, renders so many ontological positions impossible.
The slowness is the antidote to the insurmountability of the work of repairing this situation. It speaks to how we must do what needs to be done in meatspace, but also be still in spirit and wait for visions to come calling in networked blink and recog twitch. Visions of what will arrive, visions of a greater purpose, visions of the unheard. A connective tissue between two negative spaces teaching us to know that we are condemned to meaning, yet that we must celebrate its inevitable outside. Taking the position of a kind of guide, Pettaway adopts a variety of personas in their videos. Ranging from angel to jester to studious boy, they never fail to treat bodily experience as a portal across temporalities and somatic dimensions, achieved by careful attention to haptic detail and textural juxtaposition.
Pettaway's output evidences this attention in a variety of dimensions, such as in the fetishistic latex explorations of Safety Corp or the poetic, ASMR-like qualities of their more recent video work. Their body of work points to the role of meditative openness to embodied experience in grasping the nature of spirit data, and the nature of visions as connective tissue or residue of the symbiosis between body data and spirit data. The slowness is not in a vacuum or a vortex, instead it coexists with the anxiety of daily life and visibility as a practice to be cultivated in private, in conversation, as an open secret, and with whatever is at hand to prepare oneself. The jitteriness of the artist's motions, in tandem with the calm pacing of voice and text, speak to this. Look at god. But remember the trap of visibility.
Safety Corporation during their takeover of Topical Cream's Instagram.
“Imagine if a vortex was laid out in a flat plane, its cylindrical character taking the body of nerve passages, grooves, lines, indents, valleys. Would your hands continue to tell time? Would your mouth see beyond a future of death?”
“The ways which lead to sanctity are not the same in the West as in the East. The one proves its fidelity to Christ in the solitude and abandonment of the night of Gethsemane, the other gains certainty of union with God in the light of the transfiguration.”
One could dismiss the symbiotic nature of visions as simply an error in body data, whether this looks like hallucination, mental illness, a confusion of reality and dream, or some other violent patronizing analysis. But I believe the questions of the mediated nature of reality are separate from what is at stake in Windows, which is really the recognition of black human life as an aspect of divinity, as worth protecting and preserving with our entire spirits and bodies without question.
In his consideration of the longue durée of slavery and its afterlife, Cedric Robinson stated in a lecture that the etymology of ‘slave’ is from ‘slav,’ going on to ask: “What does it mean to treat an African like a slav?” While the historical considerations here are beyond the scope of this essay, Robinson's statement allows us to draw a potential through-line between Pettaway's transtheological endeavor and the formal features of eastern Christian theology. Gnosis, or consciousness of union with God, has different locations in western and eastern Christianity, as Lossky's quote above states. Struggle and work characterize the western path toward gnosis, while the vision of Christ's transfiguration on the mount and the corresponding work of recognition characterize the eastern path.
Unlike its western counterpart eastern orthodoxy does not recognize a stark split between theology and mysticism. Their differing gnostic paths result in a split in method: western Christianity tends more toward cataphatic theology, or describing god with positive statements (e.g. God is love), while eastern Christianity tends more toward apophatic theology, or describing god with negative statements (e.g. God is not anything, since things are created). Roughly speaking, in the former, god's glory can be revealed, while in the latter, in the alien glow of transfiguration, the believer within god's fullness cannot access god's glory, which remains a bottomless mystery and incalculable horizon.
This same structure of horizon is present in Pettaway's output —the horizon of work mentioned before, which will take the entire spirit and reveal not the essence of the divinity of blackness, but the fullness of being within its glory. In this fullness we grieve that some mysteries remain forever unrevealed, but deliberate and speak with considered pause such that we might be ready for arriving visions. A horizon may be a kind of vortex, which normally would suck us in but when laid out in a plane takes on biological features, creating an impasse of recognition in transfiguration. With this image Pettaway speaks to the impossibility of knowing what the tools of sanctification and black liberation will look like, without betraying confidence in the experience of the recognition of the divinity of blackness in key moments of transfiguration. A black theology and mysticism are not separate, they are linked and indeed complete each other when freed from the confines of western Christian coloniality.
The vision of transfiguration: the moment of encounter with black holiness. Whereof we cannot speak, thereof we must remain silent.
Given the revolutionary tendencies of the black church, black syncretic religion, and African religion, it is unsurprising that Pettaway looks to spiritual structure as a potential archival format for the immaterial data that signals to the originary cybernetic nature of African mainland and diaspora. Windows gestures toward this cryptically with a sequence of the artist speaking back to the skull of Europe's march, followed by a scene with their hands behind their back and a paintbrush in their mouth. The work remains theologically ambivalent, refusing to place visions in any lineage despite its apophatic resonances. Instead it proceeds with something like the structure of a vision, while still remaining grounded and mundane to achieve an effect that blurs manifesto vibes, imposter syndrome, and studio boredom.
This ambivalence is key. Raised Pentecostal, I found myself bored and disaffected early on. Philadelphia church in the South Bronx —where we went every Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday for a few years —is where I began playing drums (until they banned me from it after I refused to get baptized at age 13), writing poems on the backs of Sunday school handouts, and arranging detritus in the basement of the brownstone, which had a kitchen where the titis and welas made church lunch and a backyard area where I fooled around. Church is definitely a site for the slowness. But more importantly, its cultivation of critical attention points to ways in which despite an oppressive text, framing, or context, a network of care can emerge from the engagement, in which people gather, share resources, enjoy each other. For the group of Afrolatinx and mestizx people of my church, church offered an alternative nexus of relationships in the face of capitalist austerity, a site where we could articulate abundance not solely or even at all within canonical Christian frameworks, but in a mutual experiential project of survival.
This network of care, in which church is a community resource unrestricted to card-carrying born-again people, is really the horizon of the slowness for me. God has always had broader and fluid implications such as these in black context, where community itself is an expression of the fullness of divinity. In light of this, my hope is that this essay has done justice to the debt, gratitude, and love I feel for Redeem. In a way we are building a little church with our ongoing immaterial collaboration. The words for our friendship are not there, but the spirit data is.
by sidony o'neal
Here is a lumen. A metric that haunts most effectively from around the ankles. For instance, make a recline from the back of the eyes— then slowly utter the phrase, go to work.
Sisal is material made from vascular tissue, and for enhancing texture in coatings application. If you find your hands opening and shutting at regular intervals. If you find your hands opening and
Just like that. Something half eaten contains a device which will never shut off. Turn around, cut away. Listen —they would stay a barbed hole if we didn't decide to teach them how to chew.
In a dream, it was finally your turn to wash the skulls clean, and you mock hurried inside to hide the fact that you would choose the weight of your own dense flesh —and again if you could.
Overlocking. Spirit woven into the garment hems around the ankles, the legs, the throat.
The quiet altar is presented to us in the form of an outstretched hand. How to calculate the grain, the stretch percentage, the amount of clean water wasted on a true stain.
Thank you, rushes out like an agreement with the unease of use. Legerdemain: what remains is always a question of hands, too.
A flash of red redelivers home. Another palmate whistle expelled, passing through the throat, in drape. How many archives? Why are we only asked to forgive what cannot be forgiven?
In this house of veins clogged with head sized universes rotating on a skewer; in this plane touch your ears to your ankles and know that you have done so when you return.
Overlocking. I think about the air drawn in to speak now imbricated, so many seams. And how sometimes the collusion of spirit and body can feel as though I am made of running glass.
Drape from your throat. We forgot the teeth at one funeral, and brought somebody else toes to the next. For every time we have chosen to run, to test the toxicity of light —one weapon.
Turn it up. Watch it again. Turn it up.
by manuel arturo abreu
humbled into obscurity
I look at you and see a pew
caked with hand smudge
in a starless gulp of night
ten ways this minimalist
is like my abuela
al verte las flores lloran
soon i hope to become tired
of punishing myself
in a sense your face
is already sacred for me
i will not repent
from this close harmony
the memory itself is murky
but the hole it leaves
is so crisp it seems ironed
Don't blame yourself
This is a violent season
no mayo has
Ever truly kissed.
We call this
The Hours of Dust
What does it matter how many lovers you have if none of them gives you the universe?
petgirl working on her novel called
Fam Let's go back
to the days when we filmed internet
content with potatoes
Manic pixie dream cuck
Simply vaping in christendom
Plot twist: all media is social
Impossibility of private language
wages should be waged
Block me, sweet dove
If cheeto was a real patriot he would sacrifice his life to Christ.
It will be tragic for them* when they realize they are not holy
One of my godsisters is named jetty
Goals: dick shaped like the spiral jetty
DJ Bird Leaf
Grandma was right when she told me
the computer had demonios in it
Give up looking for what haunts
My sevens have mustaches now
All growed up
DJ Lil Yung
Suburbanization of affect
0-auth 0-day 0-tay
A foregone ghost of pettiness remained
Deez nuts is the refutation of inherence
A flogged and desecrated hurt in clog body
Trout mask original.
my first tattoo will be the entire bee
movie script in a font size that fits on
a grain of rice's surface area
en el espejo espero ver mi enfermedad pero solamente veo a Cantinflas
Forced to live authentically
sometimes i want to live but i remember that we are already dead and this world is hell.
by Winslow Laroche
end of season theme
doubling down to save yr platform
doubling down to save yr platform
in a sensibile heel
there will always be purple
on afternoons where blood
red piano keys punch and bounce
a song know 2 u n me n them n i n III n IIIIIIIIIIIIIII n IIIIIIIIiii
don't believe that if sounds must be felt
that they breathe singularly
untethered 2 a strings section
(like) dancing on crimson
n reluctance, galloping, choppy steps
towards a star
there r always stars
they follow me
where i diffuse bombs for fun
flint fingertips attachments
gunpowder n ground metal
electric guitar on blast
then a monologue of ivory
remember that everyone needs rest
picardy third then back to one, back 2 back,
Blackstreet was told not to come back
reason 2 live #919
tfw a Black person fixes
an anime character's design
prompt 4 yt writers
make a poem that looks like a gun
now bop it, pull it
shoot yrself tho
experienced portal jumpers
on an evening parade of burning
flower wreaths of orange and yellow
a curse known 2 few
spoken in tongue
tied in a knot
real Gs ride silent
like watching a cop
bleed out on a 60 degree day
don't even bother calling home
robots and aliens
would look at this
planet's history objectively
and say to themselves
‘wow, y'all humans lived like this?
they did y'all wrong! how long
was chattel slavery?! then they
rebranded that shit on y'all, flipped it,
and made y'alls' petit bourgeois
into puppets 2 help divide
global Black harmony?’
they would beam us up
one by one 4 a needed
vacation while they torched
yt owned buildings
and destroyed as many
white boxes that could be found.
they would help us
fight the state stationed
robots n the remaining
yt strongholds in the metropolises.
robots r aliens r fam until proven otherwise.