In contrary to contemporary ontology, where every unique thing and phenomenon is forcibly categorised and defined by what it is, isntc is actively seeking to define itself by what it isn't and what isn't.
- Alice in Wonderland, Walt Disney Productions, 1951
According to the New York Times, the phrase 'it is what it is' first appeared in a 1949 article of The Nebraska State Journal describing the difficulty faced during frontier-era life in Nebraska:
"New land is harsh, and vigorous, and sturdy. It scorns evidence of weakness. There is nothing of sham or hypocrisy in it. It is what it is, without apology."
The phrase has since seen exhaustive use in politics, business, military, sports, and psychology.Throughout these contexts the phrase is used as a kind of verbal shrug, at best signaling a collective acceptance of an unchangeable situation, and at worst a fatalism of complete resignation. Resigning ourselves to the unquestioned recognition of a perceived reality can lead us into unduly accepting what is malleable as fixed, what is uncertain as certain, and what is changeable as unchangeable.
By creating viable alternatives to the what is - through the what isn't - we can begin to transcend the limits of theoretical criticism and enact applied alternatives.
And so we should endeavour to continually explore what it isn’t (thought to be/as yet..) as a means to realise alternatives to fixed consensus. Each of the following projects are critical speculations and provocations in the it is what it isn’t of things we are all-to-often told "it is what it is"; web search is Google, the internet is Silicon Valley, time is absolute and numerical, the term 'user' is a benign statement, the cost of a product is its price - alongside many other everyday presumptions and presuppositions.
Each project is directly shared here from its original source first posted to Instagram by @_ted_hunt - where future examples will continue to challenge the tendency of resigning ourselves to unchangeability.
- Ted Hunt, 2021