Editor’s Letter: The Corruptive
Forces of the New
Sara Andersdotter is the Editor of Corrupted Files, and Associate Senior Lecturer in Contextual Studies at Ravensbourne
New thought, some would argue, always directly or indirectly challenges and disrupts existing thought, and opens up new spaces through which further ideas may emerge. Twentieth century philosopher Gilles Deleuze calls this phenomenon an encounter; a concept at heart of his strategy for allowing new thought to arise (Deleuze, 1968/2004, p. 176). The concept of the encounter may be understood as a form of break, rupture, or schism that ‘can only be sensed’ (ibid.); it is that which commands, demands, compels us to think. New thought may thus be understood as unsettling, corrupting, existing thought, practices, systems and modes of operation, and introducing to these entirely new perspectives, perceptions and processes. It is with such ideas in mind that the new journal Corrupted Files approaches research.
Initially, the term corruption – part of the title of this journal as well as the focus of the journal’s first issue – may cause most to associate with it a number of assumed ideas and territories. On the surface, corruption may thus appear easy to define. One needs only to look in the dictionary, where we find definitions such as ‘dishonest or fraudulent conduct’, or ‘the action… of making someone or something morally depraved’, a ‘process of decay’, or a state in which a term or a system becomes ‘debased by alteration or introduction of errors’ (Oxford Dictionaries 2015). The presence and appearance of corruption may therefore subsequently be based on the assumptions the term triggers.
As Anthony R Yue and Luc Peters discuss in their recent paper in Ephemera Journal on the etymology of corruption (2015), corruption may also be understood in relation to forgery; ‘an illegal copying of words or things; a sort of unauthorized mimesis… a decay of the original’ (ibid. p. 447). This association may have immediate, pejorative associations, however, it was not long ago that we came to question, and eventually celebrate, the status of such processes in fields of art and design. Look only to practices of appropriation, which at one point shook discourses surrounding the art object and the role of the artist, or what later developed into what critic Nicolas Bourriaud calls ‘the art of postproduction’ (2002 p.13). Bourriaud sees these as parts of major shifts in twentieth century thought; a violent disruption, a ‘jolt … out of tradition’ (2009 p. 2). What this may ultimately suggest, is corruption as a creative force. Thomas Aquinas proposed that destruction is in fact integral to creation: ‘There is no destruction that does not produce something, no production that does not destroy some existent thing’ (Thomas Aquinas quoted in: Dougherty 2000 p 221). A germinal thought in such suggestions is that there is a force of newness in the creative act of corruption; that to create something genuinely new – a new thought, a new work of art – is to corrupt existing thought and existing practices.
Corrupted Files is Ravensbourne’s new journal of written and practice-based research. Situated on the Greenwich peninsula in London, Ravensbourne students and staff generate innovative and forward thinking research that investigates contemporary creative practices, thought and new developments in design and communication. One of the main aims of Corrupted Files, is to without distinction publish research by staff, students at various stages of their academic studies, and external researchers, and let their contributions sit side-by-side in a non-hierarchal manner, and the contributions it contains can be accessed/read/viewed in any order. That is, we wish to break with existing structures that separate such works, and instead encourage new connections to take form. These new connections may form between research, discussions, concepts, topics, researchers and practitioners, and facilitate an exploratory space, a multiplicity of spaces, in which new ideas may emerge.
This first issue of Corrupted Files responds to the title of the journal itself, and presents a wide range of interpretations of the term corruption. For example, Ravensbourne graduate Michelle Karaivanov discusses cultural concerns regarding the corruption of morality in her paper on issues of transgression in film, while Goldsmiths lecturer in Contextual Studies Sean Hall takes a direct look at how we as a culture tend to define corruption in correlation and opposition to our perception of purity (and vice versa). Found alongside these contributions are a number of other approaches to corruption, which present entirely different angles. These include two visual dissertations by Ravensbourne graduates; Emeline Nsingi Nkosi’s film exploration of why some black women choose to chemically straighten their hair, and Josh Northover’s recent short film which sets out to change existing perceptions through the medium of documentary. Independent artist and writer Rachel Magdeburg’s play script explores politics and xenophobia via an allegory of the extinction and re-introduction of the Red Kite in Britain, while recent Fashion Promotion graduate Jasmine MacPhee takes a critical look at Cosmopolitan and the cultural, personal and political effect of the ‘Cosmo girl’. Australian artist and academic Dr Ashley Whamond takes yet another angle, and discusses in his paper corruption in relation to art practice and viral media, while Ravensbourne MA Visual Effects graduate Alessandro Vitali re-examines and visualises an alternative version of Dante’s Inferno through his psychedelic work PinkOculus.
The first issue of Corrupted Files was brought together through much hard work and dedication from members of our Editorial Board; in particular a small team consisting of Liz McQuiston (Producer), Angela Clarke (Project Manager) and myself (Editor). We have also had the input and support of the full Editorial Board throughout the year. Our graphic designer Anna Barisani has produced an innovative and creative hard-copy version of the journal, which is a condensed version inspired by this online journal. We also worked with two graphic designers and recent Ravensbourne graduates, Ian Davies and Chris Norris, who designed the front page of Corrupted Files online.
We would like to thank our contributors for partaking in Corrupted Files and its mission to generate new, exciting links between different projects, research, practices and thought. We would also like to thank Ravensbourne and the Research Office in particular, who are supporting this journal.
We encourage you – the reader, the viewer – to enter and explore Corrupted Files.
We encourage you to take part and to co-rrupt, as in jointly, together, cause a rupture in thought and let new thought and practices emerge.
And we encourage you to consider creative corruption as a continuous process, a becoming, which breeds newness.
We see Corrupted Files as a platform through which this newness can be shared, enjoyed, and further co-rrupted.
The aim is to generate a continuous flow of direct or indirect challenges and disruptions to existing thought, and to ultimately expose the corruptive forces of the new.
Bourriaud, N. (2009) Altermodern, London: Tate Publishing. Also available online: http://www.scribd.com/doc/29398878/Bourriaud-Altermodern (Accessed: 27 March 2011)
Bourriaud, N. (2002) Postproduction – Culture as Screenplay: How Art Reprograms the World, New York: Lukas and Sternberg.
Deleuze, G. (1968/2004) Difference and Repetition, London: Continuum.
Dougherty, J. P. (2000) Western Creed, Western Identity: Essays in Legal and Social Philosophy, Washington D.C.: Catholic University of America Press
Oxford Dictionaries (2015) Corruption. Oxford University Press. Available: http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/corruption
Ryan-Lopez, B. (2009) Corruption and Infected Sin: the Elizabethan Rhetoric of Decay. Proquest, Umi Dissertation Publishing
Yue, A. R. and Peter, L. (2015) Corruption as co-created rupture: A definitional etymological approach. Ephemera Journal [Online]. Pp. 445-452. Available: http://www.ephemerajournal.org/sites/default/files/pdfs/contribution/15-2yuepeters.pdf
Illustration: from a publication of illustrations of monsters by Ulissi Aldrovandi (Aldrovadus) (1522-1605)