Book 1 continued:
In art, the problem of both success and failure rests on judgement. A judgement of either success or failure is by definition based on an expected outcome, either achieved or missed. In either case the assumption behind the judgment is not challenged. However, if judgement is postponed, the possibility of a third option arises, a position that that wavers between the two: the shaky territory of the provisional. The provisional allows for a mitigated success; something that holds together, just, but contains its own failure within it. It holds the door open to uncertainly, to multiple attempts, to self-doubt. It acknowledges the very human possibility that this is one of many tries at solving the problem on hand, and that this attempt is not necessarily the best but merely the most recent.
page 17 & 18
Modernism and the entire project of modernisation of the developed world has tried to write itself as a success story, a series of improvements and developments in the direction of Betterment. However nowhere is the dubiousness of this claim more evident than in the increasingly dysfunctional relationship between the Western individual and the so-called Natural World. The black and white barometer of success-or-failure is useless here, as our mandate to subdue the world has evidently not been an unmitigated success, but nor can it be said to have failed completely. We occupy an ad-hoc middle ground cobbled together from our inherited roles of protector, exploiter, owner and consumer. A provisional space that can be neither tolerated, nor addressed, by the dominant cultural model and subsequently exists as an ongoing state of crisis. If art, as we claim, sits alongside life as a testing ground for ideas and things, there is some possibility that the things tested and trialled could educate life in the subtle mid-ground of the mitigated success and the partial failure.