26th June 2009

Proposal No. 26

The Integral Accident

Paul Virilio, the cultural theorist and urbanist, developed the idea of the ‘integral accident’. This being where with the invention of modern technologies come the accidents associated with them. Railway locomotives produce the railway accident. The car produces car crashes, and so on. He goes on to say:

‘The first deterrence, nuclear deterrence, is presently being superseded by the second deterrence: a type of deterrence based on what I call ‘the information bomb’ associated with the new weaponry of information and communications technologies. Thus, in the very near future, and I stress this important point, it will no longer be war that is the continuation of politics by other means, it will be what I have dubbed ‘the integral accident’ that is the continuation of politics by other means.’ 1

James & Jones would work with Ilya Kabakov, to develop a public project that investigates Virilio’s theory and Kabakov’s ideas on utopia. Kabakov’s public projects would act as a starting point, in particular his writing ‘The Spirit of a Place’ where he believes that:

‘…artists use proposed places exclusively in the capacity as exhibition space for their own creations…the place, no matter what it is, even though it is incredible important, unbelievably authoritative and historically significant, is still just the background and the ‘simple’ area for the erection of his artistic creation.’ 2

By re-examining historical narratives and perspectives, we would investigate the idea and meanings behind public projects developed by artists and authorities and its potential to fail.

1. From Ctheory Interview With Paul Virilio ‘The Kosovo War Took Place In Orbital Space: Paul Virilio in Conversation with John Armitage’

2.    Ilya Kabakov, ‘Introduction, Public Projects, or The Spirit of a Place, Milan, Edizioni, Charta, 2001

James & Jones


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