Wayne W. J. Lim: Aesthetics, Disobedience & the Hyperrestrained Order

Advisor/tutor: Rachel O'Reilly

Arnhem, June 2017


My thesis examines the symbolisms and means of aesthetics in namely, different forms of civil disobedience (starting from Thoreauvian); state-employed aesthetics; and lastly aesthetic (in) disobedience against Neufeld’s definition of aesthetic disobedience. This investigation is done so by applying primarily using Michel Foucault’s notion of a disciplinary society, Gilles Deleuze’s controlled societies and the hyperreal image of the photogenic state/society. Singapore is used as an example of this amalgamation which I call a hyperrestrained order or society, where three states and conditions are analyzed as essential elements for a hyperrestrained society, first being the school as obedience-time (an obedient society); second is the military camp as disciplined-time (a disciplined society), and lastly the factory/corporation as useful-time.
Furthermore, a hyperrestrained society is refined by the seamlessness in the mobilization of mass obedient, citizenry bodies from one occupied time and space (enclosure) to another that results in a desultory population. What the highlighted states and conditions reveal — through an organized, meticulous management and fail-proof governance of the state apparatuses — is a hyperrestrained society. Finally, this condition reveals the deprivation of the exercise of (aesthetic) imaginations against state/economic/ideological regimes — a crisis of imagination.
The purpose of this dissertation ultimately stems from searching for a possibility to think beyond the current status quo, assuming a situation of an all-encompassing ironclad governance. Can the symbolic act of aesthetic disobedience or the symbolism behind utilizing aesthetics/art in forms of (civil) disobedience be turned into strategic use of time, as disobedience -time in a hyperrestrained society?
Keywords: aesthetics, art, time-space, disobedience, civil disobedience, state apparatus, governmentality, freedom of expression, crisis of imagination, obedience-citizenship, disciplined society, controlled society, hyperrestrained order.