It is a great deal more interesting to dissolve identity than it is
to pin it down;
discontinuity is far more worthy to be coveted than continuity;
as regards cognition, hybrid and flowing ideas are a lot more fruitful
than established identities;
discontinuity and oblivion of the self are prerequisites for the reinvention
prerequisites for being able to move from one's own position to someone
CYBERSPACE. AN ILLUSTRATION
Here there is neither a physical nor a conceptual space. Here are only
'sites' with nothing between them, no concept of distance, no spaces,
no landscapes, no architecture, no bodies, no sense of touch, no taste,
no smells - nothing. Only interiors without exteriors.
The term 'distance' may be understood both physically - in the most literal
sense - and conceptually, as what makes travel, movement and access to
something a function of time.
Distance creates order. You are in a place from which some things are
nearby and others are further afield. You can move between them.
Distance makes things tangible. You can contemplate a room and establish
what is inside it. Or, if it is blurred or large, you can try to imagine
what it might contain.
Distance creates neutral spaces. Distance implies space between places
from which subjects can see each other and participate in immediate relations.
Distance makes community and proximity possible.
'Surfing': I use the word because there is no other. It is misleading;
I do not surf and I do not experience anything that feels like waves.
I am sitting at a table with a monitor, some light effects and a mouse.
I am in a loop. When I am surfing I always get the feeling that I am not
finding the place where the party is on.
But there is no party because there are no people. The Net creates an
oddly silent and nameless relationship between subject and object because
they are in a vacuum with nothing and no one else present. I tend to forget
several of the places that I have 'visited' - perhaps due to the fcat
that I have actually never been there. The places, that I have 'been'
to, know that someone has 'been' there, but not that it was I. Changing
this state of affairs is not an option; if I speak, no one answers and
I cannot look back or to the side to see if someone else might be there.
There are only point-to-point messages. Symmetrical? No, rather a feedback
loop - lonely interaction. Nevertheless, the messages, that I get, look
pretty much like the messages I get outside the electronic non-place.
They may be:
Inquiring - those that ask for information.
Informative - those that give information.
Imperative or influential - those that cause a change in the receiver.
The dualistic view of man and the dualistic view of the world constitute
some of the prerequisites for the excesses of the science fiction novels
and films of the past few decades; transcendental concepts of 'Cyberspace,'
the virtual, parallel world, the 'metaverse' with its possibilities for
the melting together of body and soul, body and mind - for the cancellation
of the division.
However, the fascination of Internet has waned off. There was no melting
together, no amalgamation, no removal of divisive lines. There was no
perfect communication - on the contrary: there was mainly a moving around
between islands of information - alternating unpredictably between relevance
and irrelevance (the great grid is not owned by us, but by the capital
and by military forces).
'Landscape' means -?
'Light' means -?
'Darkness' means -?
'Face' means -?
'Body' means -?
'Distance' means -?
'Movement' means -?
These are questions, which may be answered solely by the help of academia's
stock of methods. I think the answers will remain locked up safely inside
the dusty buildings.
The questions may also be answered without the use of concepts: decriptive
in an emotional and sensory, perhaps poetic, perhaps rambling and hallucinatory
sense. Similarly, I think the answers will stay inside the greenhouses
and now, again, I have run into a difference.
When talking about art we talk about meaning. Indiscriminately: about
communication, dialogue and emotional and sensory influences. Transcendence.The
beautiful and the sublime. About historical, philosofical and psychological
references. Idealism and materialism. About names that are perceived to
be important - have your pick. About identification, naming and labelling
(thereby perhaps rendering them harmless) conducted by a given order or
power structure in society - eg in the museums (metaphysical junk-yards
- an expression conceived by Robert Smithson). About the artist's subject.
How much does it produce and to what extent is it a product itself? What
speaks through it? About the subject generally, and where did it go? (Etymologically,
'subject' is related to 'subjection.'). About the triangle artist, artwork
and observer - a compulsive idea that revolves around the right of ownership
and the distribution of roles. Or about attempting to unite artwork and
observer in one process of meaning. About the institution of art and about
seeking to be a part of it, to avoid it, change it, or destroy it. About
being affirmative or subversive. About the autonomous and the contextual.
About language, codes and contexts that determine how we read and receive
and how we experience influences through our senses.
In the models, ideas and conflicts described above ways of relating to
art and to the world that are very different in nature are used. There
are two (main) languages, two (main) methods.
There is the cold one, consisting of scientific, scholarly (socializing),
often metaphysical methods, that attempt to create distance to the World
(and to art) in order to analyze it; that is, attempt to take it apart
completely, eg in form and content, in indexes, symbols and icons, denotation
and connotation, the relationship between subject and object. Methods
which, on the basis of their precarious perception of themselves, look
like they were at a distance. Mind over matter. They attempt to outline
an overall chart with well-defined limits through identification and categorization.
Control. Has an examination that did not impact on its object ever been
carried out? Has anyone ever investigated anything without influencing
the result? How do you piece together the fragments to form an image that
can withstand more than mere decipherment simply to be abandoned - dead,
empty, made into words, redundant and trivial? (But then, of course, it
is under control). Anyhow, these ways of understanding things must strive
to be impersonal and anti-social in order to make sense.
And there is the hot, epistemological methods, means that disperse themselves.
They seem to keep clear of - or perhaps pass straight through - any kind
of learned and scientific method and language.They do not acknowledge
delimitations of genres; yet that does not mean they are not subjected
to anything normative. Throughout history they have amassed manyfold habits
and metaphysical ideas, which they do not always reflect on because they
do not occupy themselves much with reflection in a stringent sense; they
sense things and are tremendously productive and expressive and lively.
'Insane' -sometimes metaphorical and metonymical - the terms are circulating
freely. They do not work analytically; they work synthetically - trying
to unite the world. They often concentrate on the detail and move through
it to get to the entirety. They do this because they believe there is
an immediate, raw language, which is pure denotation - and sometimes they
do get nearer to it. They think there are no boundaries or rather, they
think they can move osmotically through all languages and devise their
own passionate or ecstatic ones; they think they are oceanic, they think
they are capable of engaging themselves in the world infinitely - ultimately
without self-consciousness. They strive to be swallowed up by the entirety.
They imagine that everything is proximity.
The 'cold' as well as the 'hot' language can move both vertically and
horizontally. But the deficiencies of both languages are all to clear.
The cold one is stringent, articulated, moves mainly vertically and lets
impressive buildings of thought emerge. But those are not buildings in
which you can live. Here is, again, only interiors without exteriors -
no walls and no body. This is analogous to cyberspace novels' visions
of Internet of the future, consisting of fluorescent, flickering buildings
and constructions made of information.
The 'hot' language sprawls unpredictably; it is intoxicating, subterranean,
sometimes visionary, sometimes ignorant, sometimes without consciousness,
non-linguistic. Translating it is tricky and it is often unintelligible
if placed outside its own context; it works only - and can only be sensed
- if you are devoted and ecstatic. These are states of mind that do not
last - we know that.
This division between analysis and synthesis, the cold and the warm, distance
and proximity, is somewhat similar to the still dominant contrasts between
word an image. This idea is an unhappy misconception; it is a compulsive
boundary and thoughts are probably often guided by it blindfold. This
text is, without doubt, subject to that misconception as well; increasingly,
it moves in circles, returns and mirrors itself - the text is messing
me about. However, the following can hardly be a moot point: when you
look closely and listen carefully you will know that the oral and the
written representation is full of images and that the visual representation
is full of language. There is a difference and a distance, but that is
not the same as if they were diametrically opposed. Perhaps the idea stems
from the contrast between culture and nature, and if you take it a step
further, it may stem from the contrast between body and consciousness
(the mind/body problem).
Inserted: the image as nature and body and words as culture and spirit
A false note seems to be sounding:
I have noted the idea of an affinity or likeness between words and the
distantiated, experimentally objective perception of the world and of
art, and I have claimed that this perception often results in death-like
indifference. It must be due to a misconception caused by patterns or
compulsive ideas that I make these couplings: words - analysis - death.
Perhaps it would be constructive to illustrate yet another distance: the
one that exists between words and text and substitute words with text
and death with bewilderment. This manuscript is perhaps an example of
text - something that is texture, material, hybrid - woven; something
which - I hope - is not perceived as dead, but as explorative and inquiring.
Anyhow: Words are not just words. They have meaning. God's words. Logos.
"In a sense God died the moment Adam threw away the core. And as
what was left of the fruit decomposed into the ground, God's relationship
with the subject decomposed as well. Language now took on a new function:
to find God and to fill the void left behind by his passing."
(Peter Bebergal, "A Meditation on Transgression. Foucault, Bataille
and the Retrieval of the Limit." (Ctheory.net)).
I have described the scientific and the analytic as cold and distantiating
and the synthetic as hot and as something that wants to be engulfed by
the entirety. None of this is certain. The analytic can also be intoxicating
and daunting. It can turn into an out-of-the-body experience that lures
you on and provokes fear. It may well be ecstatic - just like the synthetic.
It may reveal vast, empty spaces in our comprehension of things, and experiencing
this can force your consciousness to focus on existential questions that
may change your life, destroy it or enrich it.
The synthetic is not necessarily hot; on the contrary, it may result in
something completely frozen - in a kind of intellectual as well as emotional
heat death or entropy. It may confine itself to move around blindfold
and horizontally in patterns that encompass everything - thereby blurring
all your bearings in the landscape. The productive may invert itself and
turn into its own opposite.
Top of page
Buchardt Estlandsgade 20, 2. tv., 1724 Copenhagen V, Denmark, Phone +45