Stereoscopic Reality

Beijing 080808 - Courtesy of Google and partners

Paul Virilio, Open Sky, p. 37 (emphasis in original):

How can we really live if there is no more here and if everything is now? How can we survive the instantaneous telescoping of a reality that has become ubiquitous, breaking up into two orders of time, each as real as the other: that of presence here and now, and that of a telepresence at a distance, beyond the horizon of tangible appearances?

How can we rationally manage the split, not only between virtual and actual realities but, more to the point, between the apparent horizon and the transapparent horizon of a screen that suddenly opens up a kind of temporal window for us to interact elsewhere, often a long way away?

Unless, like Marvin Minsky, we deny the importance of 'analogue' optics and so of the horizon of appearances, we must now absolutely question the stereoscopic nature not only of the 'relief of appearances' and of the third dimension of space, but above all of the fourth dimension, the temporal relief brought about this time by the split between spatial and temporal proximities, the relief of a world in future overexposed to the optoelectronic amplification of its depth of field.

On the one hand, I think that Virilio overstates the decline of the local here in favour of the now of instantaneous electronic transmissions on a planetary (and superplanetary) scale. The relentless persistence of the local and what Virilio refers to as "small scale" optics was brought sharply into focus for me this summer with the HomeShop: Games 2008 project organized in Beijing by Elaine Ho. While it is easy to consider HomeShop as simply an alternative art space, it is in fact just such an attempt to navigate this stereoscopic reality with the tools at hand, whether those tools are art, sport, the screen, or the intersections of embodied tracings and disembodied electronic documentation.

That said, Virilio's broader point about an emergent stereoscopic reality merits serious consideration: how does one live stereoscopically?

How do we negotiate a politics in this stereoscopic existence? Increasingly, the multitude seems to be the answer, as much as we struggle to define and breathe life into the concept.

How do we engage a sporting practice that doesn't neglect the body in favour of the interface?

Perhaps most importantly, how do we love stereoscopically, simultaneously in the here and now?

Bird\'s Nest

Is it a matter of smooth and striated, the curiosities of nomadism set against the rich diversities of State living?

Yes, and no.

The "large scale" optics that give rise to the shrinking and disappearance of extension also bring with them new forms of striation, new forms of sedimentary living. Put differently, circulation through the network does not necessarily imply a smooth or nomadic existence; it may instead signal a State living that is not that of the nation-state but rather that of polar inertia and an emerging Empire.

Again, how do we navigate and negotiate this "grey ecology"?

As McLuhan suggested, perhaps schizophrenia is a necessary consequence of media literacy.


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  1. sportsBabel » Black Star says:

    [...] is an odd relationality that constitutes this place we call time. I am always learning [...]