ETERNAL SUNSHINE Minsheng Museum

Marc Lafia ETERNAL SUNSHINE
Minsheng Museum Dec.19th 2011-January 25th 2012


Marc Lafia’s Eternal Sunshine transforms the virtual space of online social networks into a large scale interactive installation. This vivacious work involving video, sculptures, and audience participation brings together a number of techno-social concerns that have been central to Marc Lafia’s long career as an artist, filmmaker and information architect — in particular, his interest in how our environments are programmable, how we are all part of an elaborate program that is as real as it is virtual. In Eternal Sunshine, designed for the Minsheng, he presents the network as a condition in which we create new senses of ourselves, of history, time, desire, love and loss.

Eternal Sunshine is constructed around an imaginary swimming pool which helps to set the scene of a warm summer afternoon. Strewn around the pool are lounge areas, a ping pong table, video monitors, an open microphone, electric guitar, and other activity stations including a series of ad hoc questions listed on a blackboard that encourages audience feedback. Surveys ask audience members to list their favorite books, films, vacation spots, and emails. Free refreshments, art and dance classes, karaoke sessions and popular magazines are provided as a way to retain the audience and encourage them to customize the space to fit their own expressions, needs and tastes. While this open recreational space is fun and relaxing, it is also a laboratory, a place to inventory people’s likes and dislikes, their fears, pleasures, intimate longings and desires. In one corner of the room we see signs, ‘more happy music’, ‘more sun’ ‘evacuate’. These signals suggest that this enjoyable place is actually pre-designed, a software program beyond our control. The signs also suggest that the environment is continually being optimized and personalized. In fact museum staff will update any requests of the participants, whether it is to play their favorite songs, change the color of the lighting or add their favorite flavor refreshment, all in effort to streamline the eternal sunshine of utopia. Eternal Sunshine employs art as an event and uses networks, both private and public, to affect a cultural space that produces in the end, what we know as globalization.

The mood changes in the hallway leading to the back room of the exhibition. Here along the two walls are a series of prints of subtitles taken from Chinese, French and Japanese films which explore how subjectivities have changed over time and generations and, more importantly, how globalization constructs a post-national subjective condition. This dialog between film, history, memory, and society is further explored in Double Fantasy, Lafia’s double channel video love letter to China. In this work distinct cultures prior to globalization look at one another via cinematic montage. The juxtapositions lead to a series of productive misrecognitions, phantasms and mirroring. Actor Jia Hongsheng in Beijing believes John Lennon to be his father; Jean Luc Godard argues that Mao’s red book is the way to social change for Paris; the Beatles go to India and seek Maharishi to transform their consciousness; and John and Yoko lay in bed in Amsterdam for seven days to inspire peace. Here each culture is a promise to the other for a better world.

Further in is yet another video by Lafia, Hi How are You Guest 10497, which brings us back into a contemporary moment, where we live inside cinema, inside the network, and where one can reach out across global networks to connect to other ‘private’ spaces. The video portrays the network life of a young woman. In her solitude she remains connected — however ethereally, however precariously — to the world around her. Here we begin to sense that the world has become one global network where identity is always and already expressive, always and already enmeshed in the web of becoming. Another video expresses contemporary society’s continual search for even greater stimulation. Raindrop Ecstasy, a three channel musical video is filmed on a rainy night in New York City. Four young people find themselves quietly in search, against the obvious, for an ultimate experience. As they follow their instincts, like animals on the prey, they are drawn into a Karaoke bar, where under the colored lights they see themselves, as if in a dream, mirrored on a large screen singing The Magnetic Fields kaleidoscopic song ‘Take Ecstasy with Me.’

All of the works Eternal Sunshine critiques to the new cultural order as an ecstatic artifice. In this order, mediated by personal computer networks normative values are reproduced as consumable objects and the individual’s identity is played like a pawn. On the other side we see the community and transcendence that the global network inspires. On the other side we see how yesterday’s dystopic, brave new world looks utopic today and how concepts such as open, transparent, distributed, non-hierarchical, and participatory promise inclusion and empowerment yet have in turn exploited the individual’s desire for the sake of benefit.

Marc Lafia is a New York City based artist, filmmaker and information architect whose work explores the expansive possibilities of the photographic image. His varied online works include, This Battle of Algiers a commissioned work from The Tate Modern and The Whitney Museum of American Art, The Memex Engine, or Lara Croft Striped Bare by her Assassins Even exhibited at The Walker Art Center and Georges Pompidou, Ambient Machines which premiered at the Rotterdam Film Festival and the SFMoMA and Variable Montage exhibited at the Central Academy of Fine Art, Beijing.

In his many feature films including Exploding Oedipus, Love & Art, and Confessions of an Image as well as his numerous computational films, he probes what it is to construct an image, to forge systems of representation, to re-write our viewing benchmarks as we move from analog to digital. Many of these works have been exhibited in seminal exhibitions on Net Art and Future Cinema including Net Condition and Future Cinema at the ZKM, Germany, the ICC Tokyo, Node-L, Canary Islands Biennale for Architecture, 2007, and other international museums, art centers and festivals.

Marc has taught in the graduate schools of Stanford University, the San Francisco Art Institute, Pratt Institute of Design, and Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. He is currently teaching at Columbia University, NYC. He has also won numerous awards as an information architect, music video conceptualist.

Empires (voice over)

Intro

with the enlightenment and the french revolution a new consideration of the relations of man was put forward, it was the idea that reason and science would produce a new order of men, not based on titles, nor wealth, or lineage, not religion, but on reason and science. there would be liberty, fraternity and equality not for all, yet, but as a lever for now to contest power. Over the next century the enormous energies of these new ideas dismantled the old hierarchies, creating new wealth, new business, new nation states and a very new sense of the public.

With industrialization this larger public had moved away from the land and was now a wage earner living in cities vying for rights and power. seen from one vantage they were a rabble to be feared and contained, from another a mass to be inspired to fight wars and to build a new industrial society. Through scientific management, through the study of nature and machines this new man would be looked at and studied to organize and manage.

in the last century the idea of managing the public has become increasingly fine tuned and in a radically new turn the public would now be done away with and in its place we now had individuals.

individuals who now had no sense of what society they were part of, if any.

this is a film about the idea of the individual, the individual who no longer sees him or herself as part of a public.

in the past, society was a natural order that flowed from the divine king and those in the network of the king who produced the kingdom. From the very beginnings, families and clans were knitted together as they roamed and herded together the land in small units of micro societies. All of this changed with agriculture, with land bound productivity, specialization and accumulation emerged producing great cities, kingdoms and war machines. But in all of these there was an order, a well defined place and role for each man. A role managed and looked over by various elites.

With the idea of the public gone, the society of individuals, individuals who believed they shouldn’t be a part of any social, political and moral norms, who felt, if they were part of those things they’d be controlled and enslaved by them, woke up to see themselves as the 99 percent, as individuals without politics. they had let others manage their politics through representative government and they would now have to learn and create a new sense of political being. the very last thing they wanted to do, as this was supposedly the job of the technocrats, the scientific managers, the elites and experts they thought they had put in place to do these jobs.

the elites they thought they had done away with, long ago, the elities to them were managers in a meritocracy and if they failed they would be replaced, this was a new social contract, so they thought, but the elites had gamed the system – they could not fail because if they did we all did.

the public had not become free in becoming individuals, they simply, naively had lost any levers to power.

how then to find these levers, to create a new politics, a new sense of society.

1.
if the twentieth century put an end to the idea of collective society,
the idea that scientific management and social engineering could
produce a new man, a new civil order, a society owned by all, the 21st
century promised we would flourish in our differences, each with our
own taste. products and solutions would be customized for our unique
needs. in satisfying our own needs we would create a public. a society
of individuals.

the new calculations of accommodating difference would do away with
the nightmares and exclusions that had produced mass society, nations
states, ethnic conflicts. it would be an end to the tyranny of unified
culture, an end to totalitarianisms.

we would now be free atoms, distinct and discreet nodes in a network.

with the new science of chaos theory and complexity, with better
understanding of nature, unlike the brute rationality of early science
we would find live ourselves self organizing in a series of rolling
plateaus, each finding its own order but most importantly each
resulting not from a command outside but from the will of individuals.
we would participate in a consumer culture of one to one, where power
flowed from our choices. the self interest of each of us would produce
a world rightly ordered by our choices in a free market place.

without an outside, a managerial elite or government edict that had
pushed for and succeed in creating a liberal society, we would now let
things find their own order, from the ground up. our desires would be
expressed by a purchasing power, it would be our vote and the market
would continually adjust to accommodate the desires we expressed. we
could all now be winners using the network effects to scale up to
success, a success each of us had agency to produce.

there were no larger structures to trump agency. if you could make i you
would make it.

yet it was precisely this elevation of our differences to the
exclusion of our commonalities that took away our power. we were now a
society of individuals without a society.

we were soft machines controlled by our own on board computers and all
our needs and wants seen through the rich data mines of the hundreds
of traces we entered into networks everyday.

we believed machines neutral and objective and that in indexing these
traces we possessed and produced knowledge. we believed that market
forces and desires would shape a world that had reason unto its
own. there was no power, there were only attractors that formed and
shaped as a result of these monitored transactions.

but this was a trap as we could not see the larger picture. as we had
given up and had no new models to express ourselves collectively.

2.
in 2011 there were revolutions all over the world. it was a coming to terms to the 20 years that had passed since the fall of the berlin wall in 1989.

it was clear that freedom had won. in 2001 with the attacks on the world trade towers it was precisely freedom that had to be defended, and it was this freedom that allowed for assertion of more might more brutality.

it was not just this freedom that asserted itself but the freedom of markets, of the flow of money, of a logic of money, of the conquest of high finance.

as the human being becomes more and more the study of science he becomes the object of science. he sees himself as a system. made up of so many component parts, so many desires.

each if understood and scientifically managed properly could lead to order.

but when order, once understood as equilibrium, was only a manner of dialing it in, adjusting it, order now was conceptualized as disruptive and volatile.

if society were to act like nature, and be chaotic, and disruptive,  business and finance, corporations and nations and people would now have to embrace this new natural law of volatility of self organization, and it would be the basis for a new politics.

from libertarians to anarchist to neo conservatives the law of volatility was welcomed it was only all those in the middle who didn’t like it.

this was the 99 percent.

a society of individuals without society

if the twentieth century put an end to the idea of collective society,
the idea that scientific management and social engineering could
produce a new man, a new civil order, a society owned by all, the 21st
century promised we would flourish in our differences, each with our
own taste. products and solutions would be customized for our unique
needs. in satisfying our own needs we would create a public. a society
of individuals.

the new calculations of accommodating difference would do away with
the nightmares and exclusions that had produced mass society, nations
states, ethnic conflicts. it would be an end to the tyranny of unified
culture, an end to totalitarianisms.

we would now be free atoms, distinct and discreet nodes in a network.

with the new science of chaos theory and complexity, with better
understanding of nature, unlike the brute rationality of early science
we would find live ourselves self organizing in a series of rolling
plateaus, each finding its own order but most importantly each
resulting not from a command outside but from the will of individuals.
we would participate in a consumer culture of one to one, where power
flowed from our choices. the self interest of each of us would produce
a world rightly ordered by our choices in a free market place.

without an outside, a managerial elite or government edict that had
pushed for and succeed in creating a liberal society, we would now let
things find their own order, from the ground up. our desires would be
expressed by a purchasing power, it would be our vote and the market
would continually adjust to accommodate the desires we expressed. we
could all now be winners using the network effects to scale up to
success, a success each of us had agency to produce.

there were no larger structures to trump agency. if you could make you
would make it.

yet it was precisely this elevation of our differences to the
exclusion of our commonalities that took away our power. we were now a
society of individuals without a society.

we were soft machines controlled by our own on board computers and all
our needs and wants seen through the rich data mines of the hundreds
of traces we entered into networks everyday.

we believed machines neutral and objective and that in indexing these
traces we possessed and produced knowledge. we believes that market
forces and desires would shape a world that had reason to be of its
own. there was no power, there were only attractors that formed and
shaped as a result of these monitored transactions.

but this was a trap as we could not see the larger picture. as we had
given up and had no new models to express ourselves collectively.

Art and Instructions


Art and Instructions
MoMA talk 1

Readings
Images
Themes of the week

As the French sociologist Pierre Bordieu wrote, one can learn more about the world around us by looking at networks and connections, rather than by simply looking at images.

In our first time together let’s think together about the following.

What and where is the experience of art?

What is to purchase a work of art and see it here in the museum?

What is to do you think collect works of art?

How does a critic talk about a work of art?

Why do we care about art?

1.
Where do we begin? Here we are, not only at MoMA but with ourselves, what we don’t know, what we wish to know.

Welcome As we are here at the MoMA – we should talk a bit about its inception – its raison d’etere – as we know, one of the outstanding issues for the Museum of Modern Art is how to present its collection. How to tell the story of Modern Art. There is no absolute way. No one way through the story.

a concrete assemblage of heterogenous elements
montage nuanced and unpredictable

(What drives all this is the artists. There work. The modern has been driven by intense self-reflection, interrogation, towards an expression of the moment, of life, of living, of form, of shape. At one point, art was synonomous with painting, when one mentioned art there talking about painting.
From the outset MoMA and its founder Alfred Barr had a broader sense of art and thought of the arts as
Painting and Sculpture, Prints and drawings, Film and Media, Photography, Design
A pattern, a rhythm, a gesture that puts on the now.
a new understanding of the universe is required for better use of the environment; gyorgy kepes on ‘art and the public environment’ which called for appreciation of modern industrial man’s need for aesthetic satisfaction in the environment.
They say that a computer does not feel like a toaster or a vacuum cleaner; it feels like a medium that is now taking its place beside other media like printing, film, radio, and television.
Work described includes interactive computer pieces, Web sites, film animation, digital photography, virtual reality pieces, performance, video installations, interactive video installations, and art generated by computers themselves using formulae provided by the artist-programmer.

2.
How might a generation take hold of art and make it their own, to express themselves in it, by it, through it.

Computers 4 defining qualities: procedural, participatory, encyclopedic, and spatial properties
The memex and the potato garden
This, by the way, is an excellent example of the Deleuzean distaste for essentialism: you’ve never going to be able to come up with a set of necessary and sufficient conditions to define “courage”: much better to investigate the morphogenesis of warrior and soldierly bodies and see if there are any common structures to those production processes. How are the warrior and the soldier different actualizations of the virtual multiplicity linking political physiology and geopolitics?
Deleuze shows in great detail how Ideas have a complex internal structure, being composed of series of singularities. The triggering of a bifurcator is called by Deleuze an “Event,” which unleashes an “emission of singularities,” that is, that provides for a new set of attractors or patterns of behavior. The self-differentiating process by which Ideas spread throughout the virtual, is named differentiation by Deleuze, in contrast to differenciation, which names the process of actualization, for example, the “incarnation” of the Idea of “a” society in one particular actually existing society. The series of singularities in an Idea are arranged in “inclusive” disjunctions, so that they are “compossible,” even those that when actualized would be “incompossible,” that would preclude each other. Thus actualization or differenciation is the construction of “exclusive” disjunctions, the selection of a series of singularities whose actualization precludes the simultaneous actualization of others, which would then have the status of the “road not taken.”

The signifier is not the determinant of what is signified, for the significations of the text change with the placement of the text in con-text.

Let us now see how the 1960s Deleuzean terminology can provide the basic concepts for a transcendental geophilosophy. We can see that an actual system might, say, oscillate at one frequency within a certain range of parameters, and at another frequency within another range. The actual behavior of the system, its oscillation at frequency #1 or #2, would be a trait, while oscillation frequencies #1 and #2 would be the actualization of virtual attractors, a selection of a divergent series that actualizes a certain set of virtual singularities, and the transition between #1 and #2 would be an Event, an actualization of a virtual bifurcator, the selection of a different series of singularities.

What makes this
art historical notion of period style – applied to the practice of connoisseurship
a period style is a special form of coherence
style conceived as being generated collectively and unconsciously
Style as defined by Roland Barthes in ‘Painting Degree Zero’
Style as defined by Deleuze in ‘Proust’
What is the relationship between Event – Style – Event is a similar thought as Barthes puts forward as writing –
Barthes here clears the ground for his subsequent research, which would be a history of writing, a history of literary language that is never reduced to the history of language or to the history of styles but instead explores the historicity of the signs of literature
The details of style–word choice, syntax, punctuation–are simply surface manifestations of something already going on at a level hidden within language. Such multiple levels of language, as well as the increasing import of stylistic significance, are exemplified in Barthes’s own style. Whenever Barthes encounters a word with double meanings, says Michels, he retains both meanings in the word, much as Derrida does with deconstruction. Michels sees this, however, n ot as a deconstructive move but as a move toward experiencing reality (which is not behind words so much as hidden by them). It is, says Michels, as though “both meanings were winking at the other” (159). Unlike Derrida, Michels believes Barthes is attempting to get at that meaning; it exists, however, not in the language itself but “in that wink” (159); it is a meaning inexpressible through words. As the term wink implies, we can catch only a momentary glimpse of this multiple meaning. Barthes refers to this transitory moment as a “momentary escape into Being” (160). This escape into Being is what Barthes means when he talks about style–not the unique signature of a specific author, but the “pleasure of the text” that transcends language. “Language experienced at this level,” adds Michels, “produces the ecstasy of an immediate encounter with reality” (156). Language becomes not the reflection of reality, nor, as postmodern theory is often interpreted as claiming, reality itself, but, rather, the ecstatic ex perience of reality. At this juncture, Barthes’s argument–if not his style–has transcended the initial question Kimball and Michels separately address: whether postmodern writing is representational–that is, a mimetic recreation of reality–or simply a self-referential exercise in nihilism. The experience Barthes postulates, the pleasure of the text, is neither that of a reality beyond the text, nor of an abstract discourse, but the reality of the text itself.

M. conditions of possibility
It is composed not of units but of dimensions or rather directions in motion. It has neither beginning nor end, but always a middle (milieu) from which it grows and overspills. It constitutes linear multiplicities with n dimensions having neither subject or object, which can be laid out on a plane of consistency, and from which the One is always subtracted (n-1) … The rhizome operates by variation, expansion, conquest, capture, offshoots. … the rhizome pertains to a map, that is always detachable, connectable, reversible, modifiable, and has multiple entryways and exits and its own lines of flight.

“complexity theory,” to use the popular name for scientific research into self-organizing material systems.

In analyzing the material formation of dominating bodies in terms of their formation of “territories,” domesticated areas in which stereotyped reactions can be implanted and procedures developed to exploit them, the empirical geo-philosophy of Deleuze and Guattari aims by contrast to summon forth “a new earth,” a new relation to the creative potentials of material systems to form free bodies.

3.
‘While the general context of the art-experience is set by the artist, its evolution in any specific sense is unpredictable and dependent on the total involvement of the spectator.’
Roy Ascott, ‘Behaviorist Art and the Cybernetic Vision’

Setting up patterns of behavior, emotion and thought that are unpredictable.
Modern Art takes a turn to initiate a dialogue

He is searching for new ways of handling ideas, for more flexible and adaptive structures to contain them; he is attempting to generate new carrier waves for the modulations of contemporary experience and he is searching the resources of technology to expand his repertoire of skills. Roy Ascott, ‘Behaviorist Art and the Cybernetic Vision’

Turing helped pioneer the concept of the digital computer. The Turing Machine that he envisioned is essentially the same as today’s multi-purpose computers. He described a machine that would read a series of ones and zeros from a tape. These ones and zeros described the steps that needed to be done to solve a particular problem or perform a certain task. The Turing Machine would read each of the steps and perform them in sequence, resulting in the proper answer.

This concept was revolutionary for the time. Most computers in the 1950’s were designed for a particular purpose or a limited range of purposes. What Turing envisioned was a machine that could do anything, something that we take for granted today. The method of instructing the computer was very important in Turing’s concept. He essentially described a machine which knew a few simple instructions. Making the computer perform a particular task was simply a matter of breaking the job down into a series of these simple instructions. This is identical to the process programmers go through today. He believed that an algorithm could be developed for most any problem. The hard part was determining what the simple steps were and how to break down the larger problems.

For example, interactive media technologies transform the viewer of art into the user of art and allow for new constructions of meaning that Foucault could have never imagined.
Inversely, if an analog artwork, such as a sculpture or a building is planned and designed on a computer before it is crafted, is not the final artwork, even in its analog, physical form, at least partially digital? With the introduction of computers into the production process of art, much artwork becomes a digital/analog hybrid. The act of digitizing an artwork may occur at any point in its production. Digital art is always already a reproduction, thus the appellation (re)production.
From cave paintings to multimedia exhibits, artists have always applied technology to present some meaningful symbolic form. Thus, art and technology have always been in some way entwined.

Heidegger, in his essay, “The question concerning technology,” attempts to uncover the essence of technology, which is not itself technological. In doing so, he discusses the relationship between art and technology. For Heidegger, art and technology are unified in the notion of techne (Heidegger 1977). In techne, technology is a poesis, or a bringing-forth, a way of revealing modes of being. However, in modernity, techne is separated from art, becoming technology. The essence of modern technology is enframing, or calling-forth (challenging), the ordering of the world through technology. We come to see the world as standing-reserve, to be used for technological purposes, i.e., coming to see things in the world, especially nature, as being at the service of some instrumental activity. Thus, challenging-forth is the act of seeing nature as standing-reserve for use by technology. “Enframing means the gathering together of that which sets upon man, i.e., challenges him forth, to reveal thereal, in the mode of ordering, as standing-reserve” (Heidegger 1977, p.20). The result of enframing is realized in the modern application of technology in the separation of art and technology. “Enframing conceals that revealing, which, in the sense of poiesis, lets what presences come forth into appearance” (p.27). In other words, art is removed from means of revealing; i.e., art is disassociated from the process of bringing Truth out of concealment. The ultimate answer, for Heidegger, is to reunite art and technology in techne. The creation of technology then becomes reunited with the creation of art, restoring revealing to a means of discovering Truth. Thus, in essential ways, art and technology are entwined historically. However, as Heidegger notes, this relationship has changed over time, as modern technology has become the dominant means of revealing, through enframing and art is relegated to a secondary position of revealing modes of truth.

The Art “Electronic art conveys a notion of reality, nature, space, and our existence in these which differs absolutely and qualitatively from the tradition” (Claus 1999). Animation was one of the first applications for computers. Huitric and Nahas (1999) outline their personal experiences with the development of computer technologies dedicated to art. Beginning in 1970, the authors became involved in using computers for creating artwork. Early computers had poor resolution. The authors recall using a computer in 1975 whose resolution was 70 x 56 pixels (or 3920 dots) (Huitric and Nahas 1999). By comparison, the computer on which I am currently working has a resolution of 1024 x 768 (or 786,432 dots), which is 200 times the resolution. Aside from technical progress made within the field of computer animation, this medium is qualitatively different from analog forms of moving pictures. Moving pictures work through the rapid sequence of still images, the transition between which the eye cannot perceive. Cartoon animation operates on the same principle. Many stills are drawn and photographed in sequence. Digital animation reduces the frames to the changing color of pixels (dots) on the screen. As stated earlier, a contemporary computer may have 786,432 dots on the screen. Computer animation is thus the rapidly changing the color of each dot. The frame is no longer the entire screen, now the screen contains hundreds of thousands of frames, each one a pixel, so small as to be indiscernible to the human eye. The images are thus deconstructed into myriad tiny frames, which change at speeds indiscernible to the human eye. This alters the way animated features are produced. The image is no longer as important as the motion. As Benjamin (1968), describe photography and film as the fragmentation and reassembly of an image as a new logic of frames, digital images represent a radical extension to that logic: the image is dissected into hundreds of thousands of discreet fragments, reassembled according to the logic of pixels-as-frames.

**“The digital image unites the possibilities of painting (subjectivity, freedom, irreality) and of photography (objectivity, mechanics, reality)” (Weibel 1999).

Conclusion The logic of digital (re)production of art is qualitatively different than the logic of mechanical or manual production of art. Digitization transforms the ontological status of art from analog, physical entities into digital, symbolic representations of art that are virtual. As analog art forms become mechanically reproducible, they begin to lose their “aura.” Digital artworks are replicable, produced to be reproduced ad infinitum, without degradation. The logic of digital (re)production insists that digital and digitized images are interactive and infinitely reproducible and manipulable; they never had an “aura.” The painting exists in space and time; it is a physical entity; matter constitutes it. The new media exhibit exists out of space and time; it is a virtual entity; bits constitute it. Analog art is representation with a referent. As a sequence and algorithm of ones and zeros, digital and digitized art is representation without a referent. The addition of computers into the production process of art has implications for its content as well as its (re)production. While digital technologies applied to the production of art open new doors of creative possibilities, they close others. In adopting computer technologies, the artist transforms the production of art from a skill-based endeavor into a knowledgebased endeavor. Artistic vision becomes enframing.

It’s a matter of highspeed feedback, access to massive databases, interaction with a multiplicity of minds, seeing with a thousand eyes, hearing the earth’s most silent whispers, reaching into the enormity of space, even to the edge of time. Cyberception is the antithesis of tunnel vision or linear thought. It is an all-at-once perception of a multiplicity of view points, an extension in all dimensions of associative thought, a recognition of the transience of all hypotheses, the relativity of all knowledge, the impermanence of all perception. It is cyberception that allows us to interact fully with the flux
and fuzz of life, to read the Book of Changes, to follow the Tao. In this, cyberception is not so much a new faculty as a revived faculty. It is us finding ourselves again, after the human waste and loss of the age of reason, the age of certainty, determinism and absolute values. The age of appearance, the Romanticism of the private, solitary individual – essentially anxious, alienated, paranoid. Indeed paranoia, secrecy and dissimulation seems to have been embedded in all aspects of the industrial age. In our telematic culture, instead of paranoia we celebrate Telenoia: open-ended,inclusive, collaborative, transpersonal networking of minds and imaginations.

From here let’s return to the pleasure of being here, and where art once was.

Seeing Photography

                                                                                      Daniel Boudinet. Polaroid, 1979

As seen on the inside cover of Roland Barthes’ ‘Camera Lucida’.

This photograph was the first photograph, I photographed. It was as if seeing photography. Through reading the book, I read and here photographed photography.  To see  photography is to open an extraordinary  vista.

‘Strangely, the only thing that I tolerate, that I like, that is familiar to me, when I am photographed, is the sound of the camera. For me, the Photographer’s organ is not his eye (which terrifies me) but his finger: what is linked to the trigger of the lens, to the metallic shifting of the plates (when the camera still has such things). I love these mechanical sounds in an almost voluptuous way, as if, in the Photograph, they were the very thing–and the only thing–to which my desire clings, their abrupt click breaking through the mortiferous layer of the Pose. For me the noise of Time is not sad: I love bells, clocks, watches–and I recall that at first photographic implements were related to techniques of cabinetmaking and the machinery of precision: cameras, in short, were clocks for seeing, and perhaps in me someone very old still hears in the photographic mechanism the living sound of the wood.’

 

 

 

In a Word

How we understand words over time can be extraordinarily telling. How we understand them across cultures equally insightful. Just what is in a word.

Take 3 examples, I was walking back from taking my young boy to school when down the street I saw a colleague from my teaching days. he was the chair of his department and had hired me to teach in that department. he was soon pushed out by a woman who was having an affair with a student. it became a prolonged lawsuit, he left. he then went through a nasty divorce forcing he and his wife to sell the house, and take apartments nearby, each with a room for their teen daughter. When I had seen him last he had just spent 6 weeks with 2 others sailing across the Atlantic on a small boat, a dream of mine, only to tell me he was with a nasty racist skipper who gave him no peace. He is a very congenial man, very tempered. As I said hi, he did not break a stride, lead on by his dog and the strong morning sun. as my head turned following him, crossing perpendicular to me, catching the light, I asked him as he passed, ‘how are you? how’s life.’ With out breaking a stride he said, ‘good. how’s yours?’ I found this phrasing quite beautifully odd, as if life is not yours exactly, but something given to you, and you from a certain vantage speak to it, live it, and if you can observe it. This so contrary to our sense that our lives are the life we make, we are our life we imagine.

I was watching a news piece on Macao, the Chinese gambling island, where the average stay is 5-7 hours. The Chinese government is trying to make it more than a gambling casino, adding swimming pools and theme parks, in an effort to turn the place into a longer destination site. At the close of the piece the reporter mentioned said, ‘though it may take some time to for this desire to become a reality, for now visitors to Macao are happy to come and test their fortune.’ To test their fortune, not to make a fortune, not to gamble money but to test the fortune they have, fortune as good luck, fortune as a state outside their being, something larger, something in the cosmos.

I’ve been reading the Adventures of Marco Polo, a must read, akin perhaps to Caesar’s, Conquest of Gaul, where in Polo describes, which he often does in the most succinct and descriptive manner, not unlike Caesar, the relations and customs of people he meets, the men and woman in the towns and provinces he is traveling through, or in Caesar’s case warring. In city after city he often tells us of the practices of the numerous soothsayers, astrologists, fortune tellers and augurs these cities have. The great Khan whose employ Polo was in had legions of them. Their role included reading lives and fortunes in the sense that the above usage of these words gave me. In my third example Polo uses the term ‘to wife’ not the wife as a role but a verb, a relation of action, to wife him. A man finds a wife to wife him.