rss_2.0Cultural Science Journal FeedSciendo RSS Feed for Cultural Science Journal Science Journal Feed Culture as System, the System of Culture: Aleksandr Bogdanov on Proletarian Culture and Proletarian Art<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p>In my paper, I first focus on Aleksandr Bogdanov’s systems theoretical understanding of culture and highlight the tektological foundations of culture. In this part, I analyze his organizational account of culture and interpret his tektological approach as a theory of the social dimensions of culture and the cultural dimensions of society. Second, I discuss the term ‘proletarian culture’, its definition and its role in Bogdanov’s theory of socialism. I argue that Bogdanov’s vision of a future socialist society is connected with establishing a socialist culture. He considers the proletariat a bearer of socialist ideology and deduces its unique political role from its unique position in the system of social knowledge. With his idea of proletarian culture, Bogdanov drafts a programme of proletarian evolution which challenges Lenin’s programme for proletarian revolution. My last step concerns Bogdanov’s account of proletarian art. I argue that, in order to understand Bogdanov’s concept of art properly, we should differentiate between the terms ‘culture’ and ‘art’. The category of culture appears to be a form of organization of a social group, and the category of art is a form of aesthetic self-understanding and self-expression of a social group. My analysis focuses on proletarian art as a form of the self-consciousness (ideology) of the working class.</p></abstract>ARTICLEtrue’s ‘Open Letter’ to Bogdanov Eisenstein in the Proletkult<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p>This article examines some of the theoretical issues that exercised Sergei Eisenstein during the years 1920–1924 when he worked in the Russian Proletarian Cultural-Educational Organization (Proletkult), of which Aleksandr Bogdanov was one of the founders. We ask how far Eisenstein was influenced by Marxism in general and by the ideas of Bogdanov in particular, and explain his exit from the Proletkult in terms of the unacceptability of his theory and practice of theatre and film to the Chairman of the Proletkult, Valeriyan Pletnëv. During these years the Agitprop Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, at Lenin’s behest, was taking steps to reduce the scope of activities of the Proletkult, discredit Bogdanov as a thinker, and exclude him from politics.</p></abstract>ARTICLEtrue Eisenstein’s System Thinking: Influences and Inspirations<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p>In 1932, Sergei Eisenstein started work on his key theoretical book, <italic>Grundproblem</italic> (later <italic>Method</italic>), which would present his theoretical system. In the very first notes, he defines a goal that seems to be similar to Aleksandr Bogdanov’s tektology: to find a basic structure – an isomorph – for a work of art but also for the growth of plants and bones, for human society and the organization of bees and ants. Eisenstein’s system thinking was inspired and defined by his basic hypotheses: the structure of an artwork is perceived as a form that equates to multi-layered consciousness in the transition from the pre-logical, sensual to logical thought that the recipient experiences during the ecstatic perception of an artwork. Essential principles of modernist art – fragmentation, montage, visualization and rhythmic recurrence, the object of Eisenstein’s analysis, – determined the new form of Eisenstein’s writing and thinking and revolutionized the theory and the form of its rendition. Eisenstein rejected linear logic and sought forms for a hypertext that in his eyes were closer to associative, spherical and labyrinthine thought structures that to date have found expression only in modernist art experiments.</p></abstract>ARTICLEtrue Foundations of a Darwinian Approach to Cultural Evolution<abstract><title style='display:none'>Abstract</title><p>The present paper reflects on the state of evolutionary approaches to culture, which are mostly seen as essential for defining ‘cultural science’. They manifest two flaws that still block a productive synthesis between the sciences and the humanities. First, they employ an inflationary generic concept of culture that covers all information that is stored and transmitted non-genetically; this differs from the narrower uses in the humanities that focus on the diversity of cultures and their interactions. Second, they approach culture as observable and measurable ‘traits’, hence do not develop a precise concept of cultural meaning, which must take account of the fundamental property of reflexivity in human cognition. I propose an alternative view that is grounded in biosemiotic analysis of the brain, and that I relate to Robert Aunger’s conception of ‘neuromemetics’. I already contributed this idea to the first-stage debates about cultural science after 2008. The current paper adds much analytical detail on the systemic nature of cultural semiosis operating in a selectionist logic of brain dynamics, as theorized early on by F. A. von Hayek. I suggest that the bridge between the sciences and the humanities must be built via new disciplines in the neurosciences, such as cultural neuroscience, which avoids both biological reductionism and a mere analogical deployment of evolutionary diffusion analysis in the new field of cultural science. Semiotics is the overarching paradigm of integration, in the distinct versions of both biosemiotics and physiosemiotics. I suggest combining Peircean biosemiotics with Lotman’s concept of the ‘semiosphere’. In this context, culture is defined by reflexive operations that occur over internal boundaries of the semiosphere that are constitutive of the identity of the agent as the physical locus of neuromeme evolution.</p></abstract>ARTICLEtrue as Archive: Moving in Disciplinary Space from Cultural Studies to Cultural Science. An Interview with John Hartley AM<abstract><title style='display:none'>Abstract</title><p>On 19 July 2021 John and I met at Curtin University on the unceded lands of the Noongar people to discuss his passage from cultural studies to cultural science. For a short time I was the caretaker Editor-in-Chief and so it seemed appropriate that John and I have the conversation to mark the transition of the journal to a new home and team following the long editorship by John while <italic>Cultural Science</italic> resided in the Centre for Culture and Technology (CCAT) Curtin University. Appropriately, our conversation was bookended by morning coffee and then lunch with Lucy Montgomery, the <italic>Cultural Science</italic> Commissioning Editor, leader of the Innovation in Knowledge Communication research program at CCAT and co-lead of the Curtin Open Knowledge Initiative.</p> <p>I framed the discussion around John’s career so far in an attempt to capture his contributions to the fields of cultural studies, creative industries, cultural science and the Humanities generally, and also to identify the complex of academics, individuals and institutions that he worked with and built up throughout his career inside the academy. John publishes prolifically, and the volume of his publications is extraordinary, as is his impact. This is clear in the way John is intellectually generous and innovative: he follows and creates trends and in the shaping of disciplines he remains focused on how to create and sustain communities of practice. What came out of the interview is that John’s academic core, his driving force through his life of work remains unchanged: contributions to culture – high or low – should be taken seriously, whether that be banal everyday television, comics, Paul Smith, Welsh nationalism or the climate activism of Greta Thunberg.</p> <p><italic>Dr Samantha Owen, Faculty of Humanities, Curtin University</italic></p></abstract>ARTICLEtrue Thematic Section “Eisenstein, Bogdanov, and the Organization of Culture”: Guest Editorial Introduction Science Meets Cultural Data Analytics<abstract><title style='display:none'>Abstract</title><p>For developing Cultural Science as a research field and practice it is worthwhile reconsidering the ways to approach the study of large corpora of digital content and data. In this context, Digital Humanities (DH) has been a success story in the academic world. However, we argue that it is better to consider DH as a transitory phenomenon that needs to be developed into more specific research fields, while at the same time it could benefit from being extended towards an even more multidisciplinary science. To achieve this, it is vital to first transcend the artificial division of cultural inquiry into the qualitative analysis of idiographic phenomena and the quantification of nomothetic phenomena. It is furthermore important to surpass the dichotomy of specific versus general as research objects; for example replacing this with the notion of the semiosphere as a research object, defined as the ‘smallest’ functioning element of culture by Juri Lotman. In this perspective, the singular cultural unit is always conditioned by the whole of the semiosphere, while the whole can be always changed by the singular, both in line with classic hermeneutic inquiry and recent notions of complexity science. Further, the label of ‘humanities’ in DH is at the same time both too large and too restrictive. We instead argue for a study of meaning-making practices in human society, but without confining ourselves to traditional humanities scholarship, but rather, learning from new developments in systems biology, evolutionary economics, complexity science and many more. We think that this new transdisciplinary field of study can help define the scope of the <italic>Cultural Science Journal</italic>. Indeed, it has already found practical application in a variety of ‘post-DH’ collaborations in ‘Cultural Data Analytics’, often with the aim to explore the dynamics of meaning-making practices by computational means and by looking at a spectrum of materials (textual, sonic, visual, multimodal, etc.) both regarding the <italic>longue durée</italic> and in real-time applications, if not anticipating the future.</p></abstract>ARTICLEtrue Bogdanov, ‘Science and the Working Class’ Bogdanov’s Sociology of the Arts<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p>Aleksandr Bogdanov’s theory of culture has been outlined in a number of key works on his life and work.<fn id="j_csj-2021-0018_fn_001" symbol="1"><p>See Sochor (1998); <xref ref-type="bibr" rid="j_csj-2021-0018_ref_040">Mally (1990)</xref>; <xref ref-type="bibr" rid="j_csj-2021-0018_ref_056">White (2019b)</xref>.</p></fn> The purpose of the present article is to situate his ideas on the social function of the arts within the framework of his theory of culture. I point out that, whereas in his general theory of social consciousness Bogdanov acknowledged his indebtedness to Marx, he considered that in respect of the arts he had improved on Marx, who had viewed the arts as a mere “embellishment of life”. I argue that for Bogdanov, “proletarian culture” was not the working class “mentalité” of his time, but a state of mind that with the assistance of his brainchild, the Proletarian Cultural-Educational Organization, would evolve in the direction of a collectivist, “all-human”, culture. I explain that the didacticism of this approach antagonized a number of writers of proletarian origin. This article is based on works by Bogdanov, few of which have been re-published in post-Soviet Russia and most of which are not available in other languages. It will enable culturologists and other scholars to include Bogdanov in the history of the sociology of the arts, an exercise that has hitherto been impeded by Soviet censorship of his works, under-tuition of the Russian language, and a scarcity of relevant translations.</p></abstract>ARTICLEtrue Bogdanov’s Concept of Culture: From Workers’ Circles to the Proletkult Movement<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p>This paper analyses the historical genesis of Aleksandr Bogdanov’s conception of proletarian culture. In particular, the author deals with Bogdanov’s activity during his exile in Vologda, his organization of the <italic>Vpered group</italic>, and the debates over cultural politics amongst Russian Marxism in emigration. The systematic focus of the paper is on the concept of culture as based on the material and non-material capacities of the comprehension and the working and living conditions of the worker. The role of art in a system of culture is another important systematic focus of this analysis.</p></abstract>ARTICLEtrue Bogdanov’s and Proletkult: An Adaptive Systems Perspective<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p>If one accepts (following <xref ref-type="bibr" rid="j_csj-2021-0012_ref_017">Poustilnik 1995</xref> and <xref ref-type="bibr" rid="j_csj-2021-0012_ref_018">1998</xref>) that Aleksandr Bogdanov’s intention in using the term <italic>podbor</italic> over <italic>otbor</italic> aimed at defining the process by which the ‘system in its environment’ comes into and continues in existence, one is also constrained to accept that such systems are active agents in the definition of self. Systems that create and maintain themselves in this way actively ‘assemble’ or construct themselves in reference to the nature of their relationship with their environments, rather than passively surviving in relation to environmental conditions. By extending this interpretation (of the choice of <italic>podbor</italic> over <italic>otbor</italic>) to the proletariat, as an individually and collectively adaptive system, it becomes possible to visualize the Proletkult as a conscious project to create an environment where it (the proletariat) could construct and adapt itself as a politically active, relevant and dominant class, thereby placing creative and cultural workers in the forefront of radical social change.</p></abstract>ARTICLEtrue Montage for Immersive Cinema<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p>The formal, cinematic language specific to immersive motion pictures is an area of cinema theory that has been neglected up until now. This paper investigates a new language of cinematic montage specific to immersive cinema, somatic montage, while it examines historical precedents in the sciences, arts, and cinema of the twentieth century. We propose somatic montage as a model for developing new poetic structures in time-based works that inhabit a three-dimensional, architectonic space – a space of embodiment, motion, perception, and participation in the reception of a work of art. In this paper, we consider cinema as a four-dimensional artwork conceptually engendered by the principles of hyper-dimensions, the outgrowth of scientific discoveries made at the turn of the twentieth century. The expanded cinema mediums of fulldome cinema, immersive video and film installation, virtual reality, and extended reality, when approached as four-dimensional cinema space, allow for a spatialized, non-linear juxtaposition of the cinematic elements. Somatic montage is presented here as an extended, supra-dimensional notion of what Sergei Eisenstein called the ‘disjunctive method of narration’.</p></abstract>ARTICLEtrue as Film vs. Knowledge as Photo: Alternative Models in Early Soviet Thought<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p>While Lenin considered human knowledge to be similar to a mirror-like reflection of the object, Aleksandr Bogdanov emphasized the creative role of the subject in organizing the world. On the basis of some textual evidence, it is possible to describe the epistemologies of the two most influential Russian Marxists at the beginning of the twentieth century using the two metaphors of photography, on the one hand, and cinema, on the other. In particular, while discussing Einstein’s relativity, Bogdanov considers sense organs, memory, and all the apparatus of human knowledge ‘as a certain kind of cinematographic device’. Sergei Eisenstein deems that cinema is ‘an excellent instrument of perception … for the sensation of movement’. Although it is difficult to find compelling proof of exchange and influence, this is an actual ‘tangential point’ between Bogdanov’s and Eisenstein’s ideas on human knowledge.</p></abstract>ARTICLEtrue Bogdanov and Sergei Eisenstein on Emotions: The Affectional, the Theory of Expressiveness, and the Emotional Script<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p>In <italic>Empiriomonism</italic>, Aleksandr Bogdanov introduces the term ‘affectional’ that he borrowed from Richard Avenarius but revised in the light of William James’s theory of emotions. The ‘affectional’ is an index of energy balance between suffering and pleasure. Employing Bogdanov’s revised notions of affectional as an element of any organization or complex, Sergei Eisenstein develops the principles of expressivity. He sees emotions as an organism’s embodied reaction to its interaction with the environment. Eisenstein proposes a notion of an emotional script, which is a narrative of a prospective viewer telling what has impressed him. Aleksandr Rzheshevskiy, a scriptwriter of Eisenstein’s never completed ‘Bezhin Meadow’ (1937), became an ‘emotional scriptwriter’ in practice. The paper investigates the relations between Bogdanov’s notions of the affectional, Eisenstein’s theory of expressiveness, and the emotional script as conceived by Eisenstein and realized by Rzheshevskiy.</p></abstract>ARTICLEtrue’s ‘Cinema of the Masses’ Points: Aleksandr Bogdanov and Sergei Eisenstein Revisited<abstract><title style='display:none'>Abstract</title><p>In the newly founded Soviet Union, Aleksandr A. Bogdanov and Segei M. Eisenstein, each in his own way, struggled to make sense of the world by means of the most recent findings in the sciences. Both were driven by a desire to describe the universal laws of organization that would embrace the dynamics of the human mind and society, mutually, in arts and sciences. Bogdanov, a leading theoretician of political, economical, cultural, and educational revolution, is today also recognized internationally as one of the pioneering systems scientists of the early twentieth century. Eisenstein began to establish an international reputation thanks to the originality of his films and his eclectic theoretical writings that have remained a rich source of continuing discoveries for film scholars. I propose that both of these thinkers, in their own right, and by way of their common synergy, can contribute to a systemic understanding of today’s complex world and its cultural reflections.</p></abstract>ARTICLEtrue Bogdanov and Lenin on “Things-In-Themselves”<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p>Questions on the theory of cognition formed one of the focal points in the dispute between orthodox Russian Marxists and Aleksandr Bogdanov and his followers. Bogdanov was an adherent of Mach’s theory, which abandoned Kant’s concept of “things-in-themselves” (<italic>Ding an sich</italic>) outside the cognizing subject. According to Mach and Bogdanov, there is no need to duplicate human experience in appearances given in the senses and things behind these appearances. The orthodox Marxists, Lenin as well as Plekhanov, insisted that Kant’s concept of things-in-themselves should be retained, but in a modified form: the things-in-themselves do not form a limit to our knowledge, as Kant (allegedly) thought, but turn into “things-for-us” in the everyday processes of material and scientific production. Both solutions, the Machian and the orthodox Marxist, have their problems. In the Soviet era, Lenin was depicted as the winner of the dispute. But a closer examination of Bogdanov’s arguments shows that he actually found some weak points in Lenin’s conception. However, this does not mean that Lenin’s critique of Bogdanov as a subjectivist in his theory of cognition was groundless.</p></abstract>ARTICLEtrue Bogdanov’s Tektology: A Proletarian Science of Construction<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p>Russian Darwinism developed without Malthus – without the struggle for existence. There is a remarkable link connecting the understanding of the Russian Darwinists of ‘natural <italic>podbor</italic>’ as ‘fine-tuning’ by nature and Aleksandr Bogdanov’s concept of tektological <italic>‘podbor’</italic> (‘assembling’) as the universal mechanism of the construction of any organization. Bogdanov’s conception of the universal phenomenon of ‘organization’ as an expedient combination of active elements and his attempt to construct a collective tektological ‘personality-organization’ possessed a conceptual creative power and influenced the work of the Soviet Constructivists. Conceptions of ‘assembling’ similar to those expressed in <italic>Tektology</italic> provided Constructivists with a scientific rationale, projects and terminology for their experiments in a new ‘production art’. They constructed expedient and functional art objects from a tektological point of view – as organizational art objects. Tektological ‘<italic>podbor</italic>’ – ‘assembling’ as a universal mechanism for construction – provided the Constructivists with a real method for constructing an expedient art-object by way of a ‘cinematic assembly’ of the elements.</p></abstract>ARTICLEtrue in Action: The Systemic Concept of the Environment in Aleksandr Bogdanov<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p>This paper discusses the novelty of Aleksandr Bogdanov’s approach, which combines the systemic perspectives employed in his <italic>Tektology</italic>, the general science of organization (1913–1922). In this work, Bogdanov places particular emphasis on the concept of the environment and situates the process of ‘organization’ in a shared social context. The interaction among social agents, and between them and their contextual surroundings, implies a cybernetic relationship. The environment is, in fact, regarded in terms of both its influence in shaping human living conditions and its plasticity in being transformed by human labour for specific purposes. Likewise, in <italic>Tektology</italic>, Bogdanov considers not only the social context but also biological and ecological systems that foster an emergent relationship between organisms and their environments. On the one hand, the environment favours biological organisms best adapted to its conditions; on the other hand, the environment is seen as a portion of space (ecosystem) in which populations live and continuously modify the biogeochemical conditions of that system. By referring to biological, ecological and cognitive levels of cybernetic organization, I argue that Bogdanov’s <italic>tektological</italic> polymorphic idea of the environment embraces different dimensions of the systemic discourse, and can also be useful in understanding the process of knowledge creation underlying the idea of a proletarian culture.</p></abstract>ARTICLEtrue