Jana Vanecek

Hypomnemata – Virus werden

Hypomnemata in: Wissensorte. Eine Publikation als Ausstellung MTR | Zürich | 2018 | S. 76-81 | ISBN 978-3-952-47416-7

With the attempt to “becoming a virus“ in combination with the practice of writing hypomnemata, Jana Vanecek invents her own method of interpreting and encircling the topic of “Places of Knowledge“. Hypomnemata are notebooks or exercise books. In antiquity, and especially in late antiquity, they were used by the Stoics, among others, to write down what was thought, read, seen, aphorisms, quotations, etc. They were memory aids and guides for living in one and thus made an important contribution to subjectification. They are to be distinguished from diaries insofar as they are not to be understood as reports of the experience, but as material memory of things read, thought and heard that could be used as an instrument of self-reflection and self-constitution. Foucault pointed out the importance of hypomnemata in several of his texts (e.g. L’usage des plaisirs. Gallimard, Paris 1984; Le souci de soi. Gallimard, Paris 1984). While in his early writings the human subject was in the foreground as an effect of power or specific power techniques, Foucault writes here for the first time about self-care and the possibility of influencing one‘s own objectification. […]

As a counterforce to the discursive determinants of the subject, the quality of one‘s own experience is brought into the field here. Seneca and Marc Aurel in particular enabled the selfwriting and the practice of “writing“ to make a consistent self-view possible, which resulted in positive design possibilities for the self. Jana Vanecek adapts the practice of hypomnema and combines it with the method of “becoming a virus” or writing like a virus. This method is described in the following words: »As a virus, I would reprogram cells [quotations, fragments, terms] from read host organisms [text passages from books, scientific papers] so that they could be used for the production of others Viruses [subsequent sentences, thoughts in the reader]« (p. 80). The revision and assembly of different types of text and
thoughts in connection with viruses unfold a fascinating density of associations and poetry of language. Here, statements on the reproduction of viruses are combined with a criticism of normative gender constructions; Neanderthals are related to Putin‘s third re-election; the figures of chimeras, tricksters and witches appear; Factory workers and techno-pirates are linked to evolution; War metaphors and the molecular gaze are covered; Chance, gambling, compositional techniques in music and the Fluxus movement are discussed as well as chaos and chaos research. The respective headlines for this potpourri of sparkling textual gems (“Undoing Anthropocentrism by becoming a Robot-Hacker“, “Mutation-loving luminaries and techno-pirates“, “Zero is not the beginning - but language is a virus“ and “Coding and rewriting”) refer to the respective contexts and are congenially complemented by historical drawings of various viruses. The viruses act here, as the author herself writes, »as a hub of various disciplines. Often they form the figure who takes up the circulating discourses in those specific spaces of knowledge - consisting of disciplinary, media or cultural paradigms and schools of thought - and brings them to negotiation. That figure who not only mediates between the discourses and spaces of knowledge, but who actually shifts the discourses.« (p. 77) In her contribution, Jana Vanecek not only negotiates the topic of viruses and the topic of the publication “Places of Knowledge“ in a very independent way, but also by combining the writing of hypomnemata and the method of “becoming a virus.“ she designs a writing practice that is not only entertaining and extremely poetic, but can also be understood as transdisciplinary.

Text: Sønke Gau (Art- and cultural scientist, curator and art critic)