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︎︎︎ History and theory class notes from the first year theory sessions with Johan and Yara


Sanford Kwinter through this essay tries to expand and subvert in a way, the idea of conventional formalism, one which describes an emphasis on form over content. He presents the idea of ‘Extended Formalism’ which asks us to reimagine the notion of form, and this in a way blurs the line between form and content. He does so with the use of crisp and loaded language in his text, of which the vocabulary itself speaks a lot. Firstly, with his explanations that use words like coming-to-be, formation, accumulate, appear, emergenc and generative, Kwinter points out the importance of the mechanisms of formation, the ontological aspect of there being various factors responsible for bringing something into being. According to him, a true formalism is a method which demonstrates the process of configuration of these forces into figures of order and shape. Secondly, with his arguments which use words like indeterminacy, continual, dynamic, open, oscillating, computational, transformative, ever changing, and resonance, he brings to our attention the ever ephemeral nature of being, the classical (heraclitus to deleuze, and beyond) idea of Becoming. A true formalism, he proposes, is also a method of diagramming the proliferation of these fundamental resonances.These ideas attack the conventional understanding of what Formal analysis is and they open up a much needed extensive field of questions and possibilities. Formalism remains no longer married to the objects and their physical formal properties, making it fascinating to speculate and pragmatically think of the outcome that would arise after applying these ideas to the contemporary conventional formalistic practice. What would a practice of extended formalism look like When something extends beyond itself into a territory that it openly rejected and never considered a part of itself, it is not only a mere extension. It is a sort of deterritorialization. Kwinter’s ideas before being an extension to formalism, they first and foremost are a rupture, which break down and loosen its understanding in a fundamental way. This loosening of the rigidity then allows for the extension. So Kwinter is also an anti-formalist but it would be horribly wrong to say so.