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Appendix 1

The Flaming Steam Iron

In its challenge to temporary space, the flaming steam iron is prototypically Neoist. When kindled by the Neoist, the glue on the iron's surface melts and deflagrates in a jet of flame. The static form of the iron reveals a tension with the amorphous glue and its processual state. A hybrid of processual and static form, function and material, the iron takes precedence over its surrounding space, thus reinforcing the space of Neoism as the superimposed unit.

In order to reconstruct its rhetoric, it seems useful to differentiate four basic dimensions of the flaming steam iron, the dimensions of form, the process on the iron's surface, surrounding temporary space and the Neoist herself. The industrial form of the iron harmonizes with the usually rectangular temporary space intruded by the Neoist, but it contradicts the Neoist in her nature as a processual organism.

The Neoist and the process on the iron's surface however are not only paralleled, they directly interact with each other. We find a double structure here: flame and iron are in the same spatial relation as the Neoist and surrounding space, and Neoist and space stand in the same physical contradiction as flame and iron.

Material entities, the iron versus the Neoist, are juxtaposed to formal entities, industrial form and surrounding space versus the Neoist as an organism and the flames on the iron's surface. By its blatant presence, the interaction of Neoist and iron surpasses other interactions within the surrounding space. Neoism as the metaspace of the Neoist's appearance is thus the fifth, implicit dimension in the perceptive field of the flaming steam iron.

The correspondence of Neoist, flaming glue and Neoism alienates iron and temporal space, and, since its form is detached from the process on its surface, the unity of the iron as such. When the iron is lightened, the temporal context collapses; the object dissolves, the surrounding space is alienated.

The flaming steam iron, we could summarize, bears the following characteristics:

  1. It goes beyond simple visual experience. Since its beginning, Neoism has depended upon invisible elements. In a systems context, invisibility, or invisible parts, share equal importance with things seen.
  2. Its potential dynamic is only limited by the superimposed space of Neoism.
  3. It is concrete and not symbolic, it is what it is.
  4. Despite its processual character, it is stable as such, as a mechanism. Since its object function is temporarily limited through the amount of remaining glue, it destroys the supposedly stable condition of its surrounding space.
  5. Hence temporary space as a static context estranges itself.
In a comment on his "Ideal Gift" action from January 1991, a Neoist affirmed these observations:
"The flaming steam iron is not to be regarded as an object. The range of factors affecting it, as well as its own radius of action, reaches beyond the space it occupies. It merges with a superimposed space in a relationship that is better understood as a 'system' of interdependent processes. These processes evolve without the Neoist's empathy. She becomes a witness. Such a system is not imagined, it is there."
It is 'there' insofar as it is not symbolic, we could summarize, and in its open character, it is stable as such: it has metabolism, it regulates itself.

General Systems Theory proposes to classify systems as dynamic or static, indetermined or determined, temporary or time-independent, complex or simple, visible or invisible, stable or unstable, open or closed. Organisms are open systems; they change their components and interact with their environment. This metabolism stabilizes the system, since it compensates entropy. Like Neoism, the flaming steam iron is a simultaneously open and closed system: it interacts with the Neoist, the elements within the surrounding space (hence potentially Neoist) and the metaspace of Neoism as such. Nevertheless the volume of the flame is limited by the iron's surface and the surrounding space. The material entity of the iron and the temporary space are thus marked as subordinate systems to be absorbed by Neoism.

In their occupation with discursive formations and their opposition against humanist metaphysics of presence, Systems Theory and Neoism reveal superficial similarities. The fundamental difference lies in Neoism's refusal to impose certain discourses on others, to hypostatize notions like "system" and "structure" or project so-called "biological" observations onto 'social' spheres. On the contrary, Neoists have demasked, and consequently overcome, 'biology' and 'society,' 'life' and '*death*' as ideological constructs.