The Art of the Accident: Paul Virilio and Accelerated Modernity  

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"The Art of the Accident: Paul Virilio and Accelerated Modernity"[1] is a text by Steve Redhead.


In fact, ironically, ‘Towering Inferno’ images probably were rife in the minds of many of the watchers of the 2001 ‘event’ or ‘accident’. In Virilio’s book Ground Zero he has explicitly claimed that as the September 11 twin towers attack was being ‘broadcast live many TV viewers believed they were watching one of those disaster movies that proliferate endlessly on our TV screens’ and that it was only ‘by switching channels and finding the same pictures on all the stations that they finally understood that it was true’. Aesthetically ‘9.11’ was taken as an ‘art of terrorism’ in some quarters. Virilio quotes the avant-garde electronic composer Karlheinz Stockhausen as saying it was ‘the greatest work of art there has ever been’. Seemingly unknown to Virilio, the Brit-artist Damien Hirst, too, claimed those responsible for September 11 should indeed be congratulated because they achieved ‘something which nobody would ever have thought possible’ on an artistic level. The event was in Hirst’s view ‘kind of like an artwork in its own right…wicked, but it was devised in this way for this kind of impact’ and ‘was devised visually’.

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