On Violence - Programme Notes

This composition is inspired by Slavoj Žižek's book Violence, in which he categorizes violence into two main types: subjective and objective violence.

Subjective violence is clearly identifiable by an agent, for example acts of terror or crime, and it is perceived as a clear interruption of the normal state of things. On the other hand, objective violence is violence that is inherent in the social fabric and is hard to see and experience for the advantaged classes or countries.

What Žižek argues is that objective violence is inherent within social "balance" and it is objective violence which triggers acts of subjective violence. Furthermore, Žižek identifies two types of objective violence: symbolic and systematic violence. Systematic violence is manifested through our economic and political systems which, in order to give the idea of a normal smooth running of things, exert systematic violence on large groups of people. Symbolic violence is related to and included within systematic violence but is specifically expressed through language (and other symbolic systems like music). Žižek goes further to argue that the forms of symbolic violence are actually based on and manifested by the symbolic systems themselves.

On Violence attempts to explore the aesthetics of violence and reflect on the different manifestations of violence categorized by Žižek. It also addresses the potential to use technology as a tool to exert violence and as a form of establishing power relations through its capacity to store, manipulate and transfer information.