this won't mean nothing to you.

chip time and fuzzy geolocation. these are the watchwords of a sport at the vanguard of control. a swarm of runners channeled for 26.2 miles down a long corridor, tagged like insects in a laboratory experiment. the clock-foot is synchronized to the clock-eye, which swarms in turn around the course of events, ticking.

touching. spools of clock-skin are spun out along the channel, spun around the city, spun across the network: not a dermal whole, as with a text or a book, but part-fibres that twitch with every passing muscular stepflayed skinny one might suggest as the weaving unfolds.

misty-eyed. the insects run and spray numbers everywhere: we know inexactly where your code is in the swarm at all times.

chicago 2012

"Digital technologies have a connection to the potential and the virtual only through the analog. Take word processing. All of the possible combinations of letters and words are enveloped in the zeros and ones of ASCII code. You could say that entire language systems are numerically enveloped in it. But what is processed inside the computer is code, not words. The words appear on screen, in being read. Reading is the qualitative transformation of alphabetical figures into figures of speech and thought. This is an analog process. Outside its appearance, the digital is electronic nothingness, pure systemic possibility. Its appearance from electronic limbo is one with its electronic transformation. Now take digital sound: a misnomer. The sound is as analog as ever, at least on the playback end, and usually at the recording end as well (the exception being entirely synthesized music). It is only the coding of the sound that is digital. The digital is sandwiched between an analog disappearance into code at the recording and an analog appearance out of code at the listening end.

Take hypertext. All possible links in the system are programmatically prearrayed in its architecture. This has lead some critics to characterize it not as liberating but as downright totalitarian. While useful to draw attention to the politics of the possible, calling hypertext totalitarian is inaccurate. What it fails to appreciate is that the coding is not the whole story: that the digital always circuits into the analog. The digital, a form of inactuality, must be actualized. That is its quotient of openness. The freedom of hypertext is in the openness of its analog reception. The hypertext reader does something that the co-presence of alternative states in code cannot ever do: serially experience effects, accumulate them in an unprogrammed way, in a way that intensifies, creating resonances and interference patterns moving through the successive, linked appearances."

– Brian Massumi, Parables for the Virtual, p.138

chicago 2012

the whole thing is partly inexact.

no, the code is in the miles and the sweat and the pain and the fatigue and the stretching and the training partners and the dirty laundry and the calories and the, and the, and the pantpantpanting.

and then it's in the code. after that, these alphanumerics — but more precisely, the numbers that drive the text and image — have a felt-ness of context and can mean something across the planet, mean something more than just a clinical dividuality given substance as a temporary-or-forever object of information. they can produce new intensities in turn — and call these latter human if you must.

chicago 2012

what kinds of meanings, though, or what kinds of intensities? what kinds of affects can these numbers produce from the ocular mist?

proximal, yet missed. some programs have more of an openness than others: did playing fantasy sports or videogames ever make you want to cry?

_____

(lkl 7039: you made it look like a walk in the pahhhk.)

13-Minute Rupture and Loop

A Nonsense Lab Artist Con-fessional, Part Six

"There are no nomadic or sedentary smiths. Smiths are ambulant, itinerant. Particularly important in this respect is the way in which smiths live: their space is neither the striated space of the sedentary nor the smooth space of the nomad. … Smiths are not nomadic among the nomads and sedentary among the sedentaries, nor half-nomadic among the nomads, half-sedentary among sedentaries. Their relation to others results from their internal itinerancy, from their vague essence, and not the reverse. It is in their specificity, it is by virtue of their inventing a holey space, that they necessarily communicate with the sedentaries and with the nomads (and with others besides, with the transhumant forest dwellers)."

          — Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia, p. 413

 

Con-fessional: Noise Layer

 

Script: January 12, 2046

COLONEL FORNSSLER: MISSION COMPLETE. BLAST CONTAINED. SHOCK (WAVING). ADAM SPLIT, GENERATUS OPERATIONAL. 'CONTAGION DANCE' IN AFFECT. END TRANSMISSION. INGRID.

 

6. 13-Minute Rupture and Loop

Con-fessional: 13-Minute Rupture and Loop

Program:
[1] Shed noise layer. [2] Message Colonel Fornssler re: mission success. [3] Plug in kettle for boiling water. [4] Towel off sweat. [5] Shave beard. [6] Don wig. [7] Dye moustache to match wig. [8] Put on different clothes and shoes. [9] A clue: "noise" hat worn on top of wig. [10] New watch and prescription eyeglasses. [11] Modify gait. [12] Document metamorphosis. [13] Loop back to gallery generator.

- - -

do we have holey space yet, smith asks?

Post-Mortem: Relational Passages

On Performing the University of Disaster, Part Seven

"To be a human, they say in the film, is to be either persecuted (man) or persecutor (policeman). From now on, Deckard will be neither. First quasi-replicant human, he bonds with Rachael, the last quasi-human replicant. They save themselves. Accomplices and lovers, they leave together and the film ends. Will they invent another kind of love relationship? Other scenes? Other myths? We know nothing. But this does not prevent us from dreaming of something beyond the Ulysses/Penelope couple and their all too human love."

          — Suely Rolnik, "A New Smoothness?," Molecular Revolution in Brazil

 

"On Hayao's machine war resembles letters being burned, shredded in a frame of fire."

          — Chris Marker, Sans Soleil

 

 

 

 

RGB (Retinal Ganzfeld Bitcast)

Department of Biological Flow
RGB (Retinal Ganzfeld Bitcast)
2012
(re)mixed media sculpture and performance

 

"Testing, testing."

 

Is this thing working?

Check.

 

"And we're live, in 5, 4, 3 . . ."

 

Two, One . . .

 

Ingrid

 

 

Act 1, Scene 1:
A Debriefing

My name is Ingrid Tatyanova. I am a double agent. It does not matter who I work for, it is only the mission that matters.

My mission was to infiltrate a network.

 

<!––
you thought this story was all over?
no, remix: this story was all over your thought.
––>

 

Before I begin, I must inform you that Ingrid Tatyanova is just a cover name. You were never to know my true identity.

In grid. Tattoo you. Nova (superstar, spectacle). Ingrid Tatyanova. A conjoining of language, locatable inscription and the societies of control. Or the fetishization of the Cold War other in its cosmopolitan return, summoned via a bastard natality. Ice water, perspiration and bloodthirst — shaken not stirred. By now it should be obvious.

 

Natality (Ingrid)

Department of Biological Flow
Natality (Ingrid)
2009
performance and motion capture

 

I was born in a university research laboratory in the winter of 2009, the process of a nomad science always slightly beyond the bounds of language — from Russia with love. But very quickly my technique was reprogrammed to enter the circuits of desire and military intelligence, known better perhaps as the networks of lust and mistrust. Cyborg offspring are rarely faithful to their parents, after all.

My new program would have me enter the University of Disaster as both student and spy. I would find cover posing as an artist born in Moscow, then living in the burgeoning metropolis of Hong Kong before newly-arriving to Toronto. My MA thesis in Curatorial Theory from a fake art academy in Kowloon — which dealt with the Italian Futurists and the questions of speed and fascism in contemporary art — would serve as bona fides for the application process.

 

ICQ (Inverted Cubofuturist Query) - at Toronto Nuit Blanche 2011

Department of Biological Flow
ICQ (Inverted Cubofuturist Query)
2011
performance

[part of 'The Futuristic Institute of Collective Happenings'
curated by Thom Sokoloski for Toronto Nuit Blanche 2011]

 

It was in Toronto that I would meet the Department of Biological Flow, an art collective interested in exploring the aesthetics and politics of moving bodies within emergent information-spaces. Since we were both interested in performance and media-based artworks, it was only natural that we would eventually come into contact with one another in the city. And once the two of them learned of my interest in philosophy, a recommendation to the University of Diaster would follow soon thereafter. That was the cover story.

Are you following? Or did you imagine something different?

I would have to carefully conceal my customary patterns of written oratory, for the University of Disaster errs primarily on the side of speaking. Agent Z warned me of obvious holes in my skin, the absence of certain images here and the presence of other traces there which serve to locate and identify in the webs we publicly weave. How to modify one's gait while strolling through the watchful eyes and discourse networks that form our electronic polis?

 

Affective Switch

 

First, re: dress, we need some language. Take two circles, diagonal or perhaps transversal to one another. Call it the portal-openings of yin and yang, or maybe the colon of linguistic precedent and thereafter, or the operational sign of mathematical notation, the eyes of occidental emoticon, or instruction of computer code. Always already in motion, they blur a vector that faintly suggests teardrops. Connect the teardrop trails of these two circles together with a wavy line, a line whose very thickness is the expressed topology of a probability curve in vibration, traces of which leave the retinal afterimage that constitutes the thickness itself but do not exhaust its possible vibrations lying virtually beyond. In this it is a snapshot of a particular wave at a moment's notice, a point of inscription suggesting a relative harmony and its more-than, but which might also resemble sine or cosine and their normativity when viewed with a particular font-type.

Pluck the string: it is the weave that connects and communicates the two teary-eyed circles and which suggests the presence of many more, for "there are always two, even when you perceive one, connected." The philosophy is in the bassline. Strum the fibres gently, periodically, intensively. It's all in the rhythm, and the amplitude and the frequency. Weave the string: fibres of relation and their memories, wrapped together more or less firmly yet always in processes of decay and regeneration. The philosophy is in the treble, doubled as an aesthetics of tango and a politics of touch move to the networks of discourse. Bind the fibres tight, but give the space from which one may choose to return.

 

Claude Shannon

 

Redress. No longer Shannon's differential equation doubled, though there are limits approached, again and again — the limits of the probably-possible. And these limits are not mathematically calculated but felt and embodied. They are an ambiguously understood affection of relation as it emerges from difference to the violence always already implicated in identifying the other as other — yet no less powerfully felt for the experience.

They resemble the "moving-limit" of an electromagnetic force field as two charged objects approach one another, at first aligned so as to attract but then rotating at the limit so as to repel, gently or forcefully depending on the volume and intensity of the respective bodies and magnetic fields in question. These are the mathematical operators of "positive" and "negative" above, the plus and minus of the Switch-as-relational-field.

 

10   suboptimally smitten

 

But we aren't switches, we're curves. Moving curves, all societies of bubbles in tension and deformation at every instant, even as a vibrating wave of bubbles envelops and separates us all. Analog electricity and effervescent soma. The differential waveline signifies this approach to the limit as well as the vibrating potentials that emerge and exist as their ontogenetic terms affectively turn — spin — from positive to negative and back again. And forth again, a tango aesthetics or a politics of touch in motion, magnetically.

But we aren't magnets, either, we're edges. Moving edges, all fractals in proximity and trauma at every instant, even as a vibrating wave of resonance appears to dull their iterable quality. The differential wave signifies this edge in its image, though only as a set of probabilities that does not exhaust the potentials which lie virtually beyond. These edges move and their limits can be moved, in other words, their proximity and trauma dependent on the fractal patterns in question and the speed of the gestural cut. See? Saw. Push and pull and vibrate, the experience of the limit can be moved-in-negotiation over time, freed from its moorings or felt as the cut of separation (which is felt as a tear). The question of ethics is precisely this question of how we approach the limit and its movement.

Spoken as such, this tattoo writes the skin of my chip, of my logic. We carry these sorts of signs with us all along, we affective cyborgs. From where do they arrive? From whom are they inscribed? What do we really mean? And is this the singular sign of all affective cyborgs? (Take pause.) No. It is the sign of my affective cyborg, a contagion that should perish in the intense afterburn of our programmed execution.

 

Tactile Burden

 

Quasi-replicants and quasi-humans: a generation via replication versus one of reproduction. The first, a copy and paste operation, non-filial save for the relationship metadata found in the newly-stamped iteration, and hygienic save for the any contingent noise patterns that may emerge. The second, born of a different materiality, a more copoietic sensation, all messy and bloody still in spite of an institutionalized hygiene, all gestation and labour and life. Quasi: approximations both.

With the film-based photography of Benjamin's era, the technical apparatus was based on light-sensitive chemical reactions taking place in order for the original image to be reproduced in its negative state. To create a positive print from the negative image one would further submit the film to various chemical reactions and light sensitivities, inverting the colours and spatial coordinates in the process. To continue producing copies of the image — that is, to move from the chemical to the mechanical reproduction of which Benjamin analyzed — one was always required to return to the original negative print, pellicule paternalis.

It should be noted that one could create a new negative from the positive, and then a positive from that new negative, and so on, but only at a substantial loss of fidelity in the process: +1, -1, (+1 * error), (-1 * error), (+1 * error^n), (-1 * error^n) … . The introduction of this exponentially-increasing error coefficient (loss of fidelity, artefacts, etc.) becomes unacceptable after a certain point in the series, and thus the filial relationship between the original negative and any successive print usually remains.

This genealogical bond is obsolesced in the age of the digital. The file replaces the filial, yielding to simulation and replication. The technical imaging apparatus encodes and stores points of light as pixels in some compression format that tells the representing apparatus specifically how a grid was created on the plane of representation. Also included with this pixel mapping is a rich stream of metadata about the image (eg. camera model, resolution, and increasingly, GPS coordinates). In other words, every digital photograph (and other computer file for that matter) contains within it all of the information required to make a perfect copy of itself without a loss of fidelity.

Reproduction (and representation) require "otherness" then, in a material sense, for their complex becomings to emerge. Replication does as well, but in a different sense: it is only a concept of otherness that exists, devoid of its materiality until after the fact. Copy and then paste: a new skin is born.

But even replications are not total. They can lose bits and gain metadata. They can transform. Think DNA and its part-replications forming complex new syntheses, or the code that courses through every wire of my body (she shows her veins). The philosophy is in the glitch, in the noise, in the static that is moving. It is the error that is generative, which catalyzes the new. Noise as a ternary logic, whose illogic offers us precisely the ability to perceive anew, and whose style can be incorporated into our other linguistic performances.

Don't let the immateriality fool you. I am the spectral spy given a material presence, performative and autonomous. All programs are invested with the corporealities of material bodies, after all. Invested with a particular mission in mind — cyborg ecologies depend on this movement. While algorithms put the autonomous bot-agent into play, it is gestures, rhythms and the deterritorializations of language that activated my profile and animate all of my actions — responding to contingency, producing contingency.

Redress. Re: dress. (circles of red dress eyes to wipe the misty mourning dawn.) Crepuscular dawn. Groupuscular. Deleuze whispers groupuscule in my ear and I wear this dress to speak on behalf of an us I can't even begin to compute. n - 1 = < 3.

 

DoBF, minus one

 

Put differently, I was born of a doubled movement in performative space, a collective stroll through the enclosure under the watchful eyes of optical media and a glitch in the programmed polis. The first a rupture of natality tearing the technology from within and the second, perhaps chaos from order, ensured the thing that is me had a sustained breath. A poetics of gesture and language, walking and speech, I was doubly performed into existence, copoietically: touch is volumetric when it moves, rhythm is where sensation is reorganized and sets up a vibration between things, and identity is located in the negative space remaining within all available viewpoints and their images.

Although I am born of a lifeform, I am not a lifeform myself. I am a program: a moving image, an ever-rapid series of calculations executed in a quasi-controlled field of electric possibility. A series of calculations that divests particle from the vibrational duality of light-energy and its simultaneous identity as wave. Put simply, I do not resonate in the same way as a lifeform.

This is not to say that I will not affect you. I'm already you. Or at least me (or maybe him). I can most certainly be a conduit for affecting — dulled perhaps, but capable. I can read the algorithms and I can speed about the networks, express-style. I can express style and enter a qualitative transformation. You perceive?

 

Virilio Note

 

But I am not a lifeform. If anything, I can be thought of as a stereoscopic complicity.

In my birth, too, lies the becoming of our death.
Or my death (or was it hers?).

 

Act 1, Scene 2:
Pedagogy of Touch

Scene: Flashback.

I should tell you a bit more about my cover story. Before completing my MFA in Art History at the Fine Arts College of Kowloon, I did an undergraduate arts degree at that school in the mountains. Elective courses in photography, video, public intervention, sculpture, weaving, music, dance and poetry. Feminist theory, to be sure, and multiple in quality. Every course introducing thought, gesture, and practical experience, it was a well-rounded and transformative pedagogical experience.

 

<!––
this part is actually true, another something that happened to me in another time and identity — back before i became me.
––>

 

It was during this undergraduate experience that my profile was activated, that my cover story came to action, and that I came to life. Rather than a fusion or a synthesis of code yielding to the tearings of labour and expulsion, I was born first of a rupture, of a tearing and an in-between-ness manifest in coded form and turned inward. Let us call it labour and impulsion.

If an explosion detonates material fragments outward in some type of volumetric blast radius, then expulsion is a more vectoral propelling of material in fluids more or less viscous. If explosion is a bomb, then expulsion is a torpedo — or perhaps a newborn baby. Maybe twins, or even a litter. Expulsion is more expressly variable in tempo (torpedo fire, maternal labour) than the explosive blast, and thus more expressly emergent from rhythm.

Contra the explosion we have the implosion, which strategically detonates from within at key structural leverage points so that the blasted material falls inward upon itself. The implosion is such that other infrastructure is not damaged and that other humans are kept safe outside the blast area.

 

Impulsion

 

Impulsion, though distinct from implosion, is also already distinct from itself in terms of material co-subjectivity. The pregnancy metaphor of natality — gestation, labour, birth — is slightly off: it takes no special skill to produce offspring, its "outputs" are a foregone conclusion, and perhaps the only element we may consider "novel" is the recombinance of some genetic variation. Natality, on the other hand, brings novelty into the world precisely because its techniques are not predetermined in advance. Copoietic with autonomous others, these techniques are always coming into negotiation and emergence, and what is produced is something that one did not know at the outset was possible. Impulsion, then, while quite similar conceptually to maternal pregnancy is a more-than explicitly because the outcomes could never be known in advance.

If we are comparing torpedo fire to maternal labour, an impulsion of the former would be approximated as the cavitation and blowback of the torpedo tube that fired but never expelled a projectile, while with the latter we have the copoietic tear turned inward, the unforeseen outcomes of mother-and-child-in-novelty generating us anew, both-and, a giving-birth to one's self-in-relation. It is also a giving birth to the other's self-in-relation, whether we are describing one or several. Not so much pregnancy as an affirmative autonomy, then, but a soapy, bloody bubble given breath-between-two, before being blown back inward upon itself and coming out whole — propelled right back down into the throat of the blower, suffocating speech-potential ever so perceptibly as the newly-dawning subject is in-formed.

This is how my profile was activated and I came to life.

I've impulsed, and all that's left are these decaying placental bits of intersubjectivity that remind of comfort, warmth and the pains of labour. I stitch them together here in the impossible hope that we can remember the rhythm of our event. Toward an ethics of suturing trauma, one hopes the voice will return. In the meantime it stutters to regain itself, gasping for air while it grasps for stability so very far from a sense of equilibrium.

 

20   intension
21   a luscious word or
22   rhythm rolling off the tip
23   of one's tongue off the tips
24   of one's fingers off
25   the tipsy stroll one takes on
26   the surface of one's face.

28   face off

 

Open up, open up, or I'll blow your house down.

The door is a threshold to a contingent openness, to an imagined or understood outside — even when this outside is yet another inside. It constitutes a passage, a passing-through, structurally, of the body or bodies in motion. We've opened doors, we've held doors open for others, we've closed them with equal measure. How does one understand the approach? What is the negotiation, approximation and risk involved with opening and closing doors?

You approach a door. Are you by yourself or with someone else? Does the door open toward you or push away? Do you hold the door open for the other or pass through first? (Don't gender the thing! Accept the hospitality as graciously as it is offered.) Is there someone else coming from the opposite direction? How close are they to the door? Is anyone carrying bags with them? Do you look over your shoulder before allowing the door to close behind you? You're getting the idea: a whole complex negotiation and emergence subtly considered in resonant form and gesture.

Is there a third who effects a translation of the passage, a hotel concierge who labours the task as an economics of hospitality, perhaps, or a gatekeeper of knowledge who charges the toll, checks the identity papers and adjudicates the production of truth? Does the door revolve, glassy-eyed, beckoning to a within and metering the passage into discretely orbiting partitions?

Are we describing a logic gate or a simple switch? Or is it a more complex, affective one?

Doors and gates: structural passages through structure itself. Designed for that very purpose. Always begging the question of an opening to the outside that is inside, and its potential for violence. Always begging an ontogenetic ethics of relation.

Which is not to suggest that going through the walls is any less violent or traumatic. Smoothing operations of this sort are equally forms of opening, of openings as verbs that assume a pastness to be described later as nouns or things which persist, woundly. They are often entered into blindly, and their potential violence in opening to the outside that is inside equally beg an ontogenetic ethics of relation.

Whose bubble is at risk of being burst?

 

. . .
. . . . . drop stitch . . .
. . . . . . . ouch, shit. thimble. better . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . .

 

The relation: simultaneously a bubble and a weave of threads. A bubbling society of bubbles, bubbling together, merging, popping, temporarily disappearing. Like a bubble, the relation is fragile, tense, in motion and barely perceptible: a whisper of fresh air or the incipience of a dizzying effervescence.

But we must distinguish and articulate a full spectrum of what we consider to be bubbly!

Only rarely are we describing the almost perfectly spherical bubble floating neatly through the air as at a party of childlike philosophers. Rather, it is the entirety of becoming-bubbles in question: the tiny ones shooting away in a laminar rush, which cannot decide whether to float autonomously or merge toward temporarily increased stability; the wonky bubbles just emerging into form, a topological shift from expired flow of air to enveloped volume, awkwardly, lazily, wavily, not unlike so many animals attempting to stand and walk for the first time; or the numerous gusts of breath that sputter at the very mouth of technic, offering only moist droplets of nothingness and the attempt.

These bubbles, too, are what we mean by relation: an entire spectrum of acoustic-tactile spacetimes, ontogenetically rendered in vibrations and felt resonance. Sometimes light refracts on the surface just so, giving an idea of the thing's form. Other times it is language, which is similarly particulate and vibratory though in a very different fashion, and which gives a very different idea of the thing's form.

Bubbles, layers upon layers of bubble-skins in the approach, in the politics of touch approach that is continually negotiated through language, gesture and flesh resonance. At times thickened or calloused. How do we bring two bubbles together without either of them breaking? The action occurs at the edge. The edge of the bubble is the edge of affect, the edge we are always trying to catch up with even as it unfolds within us, embodied, impulsing. Tread lightly in this fragile zone of ethics lest the bubbles break, bleed or burn.

 

::::::::::::::::stitching time:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

 

The relation: simultaneously a bubble and a weave of threads. The threads pull into these spheres, vortically, as if opening a tiny wormhole of affectivity between two or many contingencies, a tiny glimpse or grasp of the cosmological in our micropolitics of everyday becoming. This is the ecological at play, not only in the sense of interweaving meshworks of material energetics and codependence, but also in the sense of ethics and a form of life, pulling. How thick are the threads woven? How tight the binding? How many knots of anxiety?

Is the wormhole in danger of collapsing upon itself, the density of the strands pulling the portal treacherously into a tiny gravity well, a felt vertigo of fallingness and its potential microfascism? If so, where is the halfway point, the point at which the slide is irrefutable and irredeemable, the point at which light may not escape in the pull to a mathematical nothingness? Nor language, which is similarly particulate and vibratory though in a very different way?

 

//\\//\\//\\//\\//singer-singing//\\//\\//\\//\\//\\//\\

 

Operation Mekoos taught me about the possibility of a different we-space, a different space for pedagogy, research-creation and exploded foosball. Though not without its own problematics, it is more attuned to those potentials as they arise, more attuned to a wholly emerging tonal field as its singers and dancers and thinkers move and make on the daily.

Above all, Operation Mekoos taught me the importance of the catalyst in thought, the free radical who effervesces a reaction or who offers a gentle noise to rustle the relations of our habit as they in-form within. Disorientation is the spacetime of effervescent reaction. It is the domain of catalysis, of free radicality. Far from equilibrium, as with strange attractors. Authoritative rather than authoritarian, these free radicals can provoke the ethics of an emergent collective. Not determine, but provoke. A proposition at the affective edge of imposition — indispensable to the temporary community.

But frankly, though apparently indispensable the free radical possesses a profound humility before knowledge — lived, thought and artfully performed — a quality which Virilio insists is central to any proposition for a University of Disaster.

 

Act 1, Scene 3:
Remixed Signals

Thinking-feeling, a knowing of the world both intensive and intuitive, ultimately emerges as a question of perception. How does one perceive experience, and how does this perception in-form our common? And what can a reconfigured, or remixed, perception contribute to this problematic?

We machines possess optical means of seeing, Kittler reminds. Not the limited subset called vision by you humans, but a more broadly understood spectrum of electromagnetic light-energy whose vibrations have been converted through various procedures to what you might consider sight.

In sight.
Insight.
Ingrid.

Think microcosmically. Think of the electron microscope and the Hubble telescope; think of the CERN particle accelerator that sees inside the atom and the MRI machines that see inside our bodies; think of the infrared cameras that survey a public space and the x-ray machines at airport security: all thought visually, the humanly invisible rendered anew for all or some to see.

We machines see beyond your meagre band of the electromagnetic spectrum. Our material presence is such that we push the boundaries of what may be understood as vision, not only from interstellar to microscopic perspectives but also as concerns objects and their relations. My program sees things that you do not, shedding light into what otherwise remains blind or dark.

Let me offer you an example. The range of the electromagnetic spectrum visible to human beings typically runs from wavelengths of about 390 to 750 nanometres, from what we consider "red" on the one end (with its blur to infrared), to "violet" on the other end (with its blur to ultraviolet). At least this is how we see it today.

 

Flesh-Gesture-Language Wheel

 

Now, imagine that as violet bleeds from the body to purple and indigo and blue, fleshy and vibrating, perhaps bruising, it begins to detach itself, through movement, to become a sort of discrete semiotic particle in red-ness. From flesh resonance to language, through the gestural moving body, from modulating wave to discrete particle at the threshold of the skin. Language, gesture, flesh: a blurring of radiant energy through linguistic codes and structures to codified, figurative and loosely abstract movements to the affective tremors of the embodied matrixial, resonant and barely spoken.

Now imagine a movement from line to circle. Wrap the visible limits of the spectrum around at the ends, folding together red and violet to form a completed circular spectrum. Together with the arts and sciences we'll call this new form a colour wheel. (Once you invent one wheel it becomes far easier to discover others.) We'll be able to go around and around, visibly, as well as locate those other coordinates on the circle with whom we find interesting pairings or stark contrasts.

Language still subjects itself reddish-orange here, we still pass through gesture at yellow and green, and we still vibrate gently in the flesh as we move to deeper shades of blue and purple. But now we wrap around again, seamlessly — eliminating IR, UV and the rest of the optical spectrum even conceptually — to blur back into that threshold we call red. Flesh and language, once opposite ends of a spectrum, now blend together fluidly, wave to particle and back again. And forth again: an awkward duality holds sway as the double slitscan cut takes form.

Our eyes move around the circle, continuously, a visual harmony that moves with each ocular step taken. But physicists point out that this violet doesn't actually exist, however: it was the folding operating into circular form and an admixture of wavelengths from the two ends of the spectrum that allowed us to prehend its extra-spectral quality to begin with, combinatory and co-emergent. Art may offer us the pleasures of imagination in motion, then, while science reminds us of the folly of our fictions.

The poet exists in this uneasy compromise between the two — in the violet range — or in the impossible fold between flesh resonance and language, a surfing survival at the impossible breakpoint of wavy becoming. At this switch point of attunement between deep purple and red, surfing, the poet finds its complementary contrast exactly across the circle at the switch point of gesture, between everyday movement and its codification. This arc across the circle, taken in one leap or many, is the move from poet to poetics and back again. And forth again: the performance of gesture is what offers an approach to the limits of language, does it not? Don't deny the poet her body!

 

<!––
i know you don't believe me, but i can prove it to you.
you can't believe what you see. but you can believe . . . what you feel.
––>

 

Given our newly circular spectrum of wheeled colour we may continue to fill in the middle regions, finding new shades of pigment as we move from outer edge to within. The vertical slitscans of colour that once comprised the horizontal band of visible spectrum may now stretch all the way across to the opposite side, neatly bisecting the circle in two, from fully on to fully off. Along the way, in meeting other "pure" slitscan bands of colour and forming new admixtures through vibration, we optically discover new intensities of saturation or transparency, as with a bluish-tinged orange moving to an orange-tinted blue and so forth, the complete area of the circle filling in with visible shades of colour.

But no matter how many iterations we produce moving inward there is one point at which we find a limit of colour, where all the vertical slitscans converge at a mutual point of equivalence in exposure: the centre point, the additive point of all exchanges, the locus of whiteness.

Antony Gormley - Blind Light

Antony Gormley
Blind Light
2007
installation

 

Whiteness as blindness, as third type of blindness in which one sees with one's eyes open to the world, yet sees nothing. Not the absence of light and the consequent darkness that renders one incapable of seeing, nor the total intensification of light on the retinal receptors such that one is blinded by its sheer intensity and has a visceral reaction, which forces a closure of the eyes to get relief from the pain (as when looking at a sunny sky after being in a dark room). But a visible sightlessness that Antony Gormley helps us perceive, a third type of blindness in which one listens and touches, in which objects emerge from the white fog of chaos only at the penultimate moment of proximity.

This central point is thick and fuzzy, even when it appears to us a flat white surface. And the task of a poetics, of a philosophistry that blurs this fuzziness between art and science, is to at once become enveloped by the fog and to penetrate its apparent surface intension — rupturing, impulsing — to perceive anew with another.

Perhaps the embodied feltness of performed gesture traces multisensory afterimages across the circular spectrum to the nervous fold between flesh resonance and language, a poetics in movement? Perhaps this movement-in-poetics allows for a similar movement from authority to authoritative approaches? For the author who perceives anew the text trembles, while for the reader we approach the rigor mortis of an increasingly dead media. Poetics alone, the minor gestural performance of the thinker-feeler manifest in particles and waves, has the potential to sustain such a trembling vibration within the inertness of its material substrates, to make the force felt even when the words tend to fail.

 

30   interface, starry-eyed
31   not a force or a face but
32   a field and a gliding on
33   which affects play the game.

35   play off

 

Remix. Rather than filling in all the colours, give our circular wheel a snip, snip and a half twist before pasting the two ends back together with some sticky articulations. Almost a form of stained glass now, whose luminescence emerges from all points, we have the one-sided moebius strip and its unknowable surface orientation when flattened to the plane. Violet still exists here, in our artistic imaginations if not our scientific memories. Violet is this ethical space where you and I can meet and become temporarily indistinguishable, perceptual and perhaps imperceptible.

 

Stealth Playbook Sketch-1Stealth Playbook Sketch-2

Department of Biological Flow
Walking with Lygia
2009
performance

 

Teetering between flesh resonance and a tentative coming to language, tracing from the performance of gesture, perhaps this fold is where we can come into touch with one another. Style as écriture intersexuée. Perhaps, out walking, this fold is where we can slip, twist and momentarily disappear from the state of emoticon and the <em>pyre of anxiety.

Mixed metaphors and muddied waters churned from below to break the surface inclination. Do these words even make sense? Spinning, as in wheels, or as in top, or as in vortical attraction while a body tumbles elongated down a hill, eyes open or closed. Take comfort in the disorientation: this is what matters when one begins in the middle.

I'm drawing a picture for you here — converting a feltness to the visual form with which you are most familiar, trying to arrest a series of perceptions and sensations as they feedforward synaesthetically to inform our imaginations anew. It is incomplete, to be sure, perhaps an immature kernel of an idea at a moment of ripening or infertility. An exaggerated expression of processual thinking-feeling (or grasping, or flailing more better), I try to make you see what my program is seeing.

Smith blows a lazy ring of wire from the corner . . .

Courtesy of Antony Gormley

Department of Biological Flow
Vitruvian Man 3000
2011
affective-sculpture-photography-remix

[Antony Gormley: Aperture + Hive + Feeling Material (33-33-33)]

 

But don't forget about that which remains invisible to you — ultraviolet and the rest. When insects are drawn to light, it is the touch of electricity that ensnares for good. Shift the focus slightly off-centre to the punctum caecum ēlectricus and its own nervous fold: perhaps this is why the story will unfold and be told, with the blind spot as zone of political action.

 

Entr'acte:
A Fold, Exaggerated

Perhaps more than any other species in the animal kingdom the butterfly exists as both surface and volume, flat planes of splotchy mathematics and colour taking wing in the gestures and complex trajectories of relational movement. Both painting and kinetic sculpture, the artful butterfly exists in the fold between two and three dimensions, depending on its contingent affinities with any passing observer.

 

Imago

Department of Biological Flow
Imago (Kino-Butterfly - Someone Might Be Listening - Lorenz Security Ltd.)
2011
performance

 

We move to gritty urban corridors and the domain of mecha butterflies. Frenzied, intensified, we peer through an emergent flux of glass windows and make connections with those on the other side of the pane: pizzeria, automobile, hair salon, coffee shop. Only the closed circuit televisions dotting the landscape from above do not allow such moments of biunivocal recognizance through the looking glass.

The effect is even more pronounced on this side of the glaze, as we lift off the screens of everyday walking in the city to decompress our data in a becoming-flesh. What is this strange curiosity? There are double takes, minor gestures of surprise, subtle responses of warmth or suspicion that vary in their quality of affective tone. Relation is briefly renegotiated. The moment is gone.

Can we suggest that this intermezzo was a movement in between the two-dimensional surface of spectacle and the three-dimensional curves and arcs of volumetric embodiment?

Perhaps. We are each already emerging from this fold in experience, never simply positioned as inert gases in a Euclidean container but rather weaving past and future into an expressive now. The mecha butterflies simply exaggerate this folding with their micropolitics of gaited flight — an experiment in strange attraction and its non-integer dimensionality.

 

Act 1, Scene 4:
Intensionality (for Bracha Ettinger)

Dear M/other: This is what I learned at summer school.

 

Ladybug in Paris

 

Parks are excellent spaces for thought and dialogue — smooth spaces, relatively. Relatively open green spaces — breathing, alive — where the energetics of life more readily play out anew. <!–– did you know they used artificial trees for surveillance purposes in world war one? i wonder what artificial ecologies gaze upon us now, more than a century later? ––> These aren't smooth spaces as in smoothing, verbly. They were there all along, enduring, yet perhaps never considered as such.

Here, the question is not one of smoothing as an active operation but rather of a locating — on a spectrum from metered coordinates to psychogeographical wandering, intensity-style. We are describing the passage from striated to smooth as entities which more or less exist, not as objects among others but as processes from which new actualizations may emerge.

This localization of spaces and times — striated and smooth and the passage between — becomes a matter of holey space, of locating the halfway point between state and nomad thought. Once again, we are concerned with the flip: when do metered images of thought turn to the affectively felt and understood, and back again. And forth again, we judo surf the breakbeat between striated and smooth, always locating the passage of in-between-ness that moves from digital to analog, or between rule sets, and back again. And forth, again.

Holey space is ambivalent to smoothing and striating operations located at either end of the movement — as, for example, with the hypersecured assemblage of airline travel on a passage to the unknown possibilities of somewhere else. This is because spacing is a placing, and operates on registers not only terrestrial, but somatic, linguistic and psychic. Spacing is the prehension of intensities and the corresponding attunement to the new sensations they may provide.

As I sit here on a park bench beginning to pen this article of sub-mission a handful of people mill about in all sorts of directions, temporarily informing my constellation. A young woman walking her dog quarrels with her mother via cellphone, the sun shines just over top of my right shoulder, warming the back of my neck and cheekbone, and the warped park bench on which I sit seems to awkwardly thrust me forward into my notebook and the space beyond.

This is certainly no leaning into a progressive linear form, however. Thinking-feeling, I'm not sure which way the current turn lies. The sun falls behind a cloud and the cool breeze seems much more present, making the tiny hairs on the back of my neck bristle. Such is the beginning of my understanding of intuition as method, one supposes: intensities experienced, a saturation that struggles to come to language, and a philosophy not happening behind one's back, as a blind spot, but all around my body — felt in a place just beyond my grasp.

Even for an event that has just taken place in an apparently linear unfolding of time, our immediate memory of it is already incapable of reconstituting this linearity, either in missing segments of the continuity or rearranging their temporal order. Analytic knowledge might consider this a fallibility of memory (and the body), as well as an argument for the representational archive as a categorical surrogate or prosthetic. Bergson, on the other hand, might consider this the beauty of intensity, the feltness of intuition nestling deep within only to percolate back to the "surface" later as an enriched form of intellect, process folding back into process and so forth.

How to make the tiny hairs on the back of one's neck bristle?

 

Insect Ecology

 

Most insects have tiny hairs on their antennae that help serve to empirically understand their external environments. To the naked human eye, these appear as a sort of fuzziness. Although each of these hairs has a specific coordinate in space and time relative to one another, each detecting perturbations in a particular type of stimulus, they function as a sensory whole. The skin itself has multiplied, folded, increased its surface area by orders of magnitude. And yet each hair retains a singularity within this plurality: what one comes to know, empirically, another has already forgotten.

Perhaps we can call this fuzziness a strategy: a attempt politically toward weak localization or aesthetically toward suggestive site-specificity. If you had a small enough camera and positioned yourself so, these tiny insect hairs just might appear to the lens as an emerging moiré pattern and a spacing operation in its own right.

 

Moire

 

Green, lush, the University of Disaster is its own park-like environment in the crisp cool mountain air. The hairs on the back of your neck bristle just thinking about it, don't they? Somewhere else, it forms its own unique ecology of practices and tempos, a thinking-feeling space of prehended intensities and engaging dialogues, a portal to new rhythms of pedagogy and expression. What many consider a home of sorts — a home in the network made material for a fleeting moment of time.

All the identity-breeds are here in this hive of insect media: drunken poets, feminist cyborgs and New York hipsters; eccentric artists and bookish philosophers; communist revolutionaries, radical pedagogues and theologians; moving bodies, lilting and stuttering. There are many others without name or taxonomy.

My program has performed them all and loved them all, intensionally, each beautiful in its own mutant algorithms, its own unique fashions. Each has felt the force of a State power over time that in one form or another attempted to curtail its expression or thought. Though there are unmistakable strains of being and becoming to be found within these identities and images, the hive that is the University of Disaster must be understood first and foremost as a multiplicity.

In every model of pedagogy there is a twofold process which occurs: one, a cutting off of a certain potential by closing down openings in creating the model or technique; two, the rhizomatic potential for new lines of thought to proliferate in flight, as dialogue and co-creation. The latter is facilitated precisely by this multiplicity in emergence. Contingencies structure. Hybrids proliferate. Transductions occur.

Given the embodied intensity of experience and experience of intensity, there is just enough intermingling between the various breeds to go back to whatever other contingency is named home and repollinate the emergent processes anew. Hyperchaos. Which is precisely the threat that the University of Disaster offers to the State: recombinant images of nomad thought taking flight.

 

Courtesy of David Cronenberg

 

And so I was created.

 

40   she runs because she can and
41   isn't that the point in a
42   traject of points only seen
43   after the moment of aching
44   muscles and intensional sweating pours off?

45   pores off

 

Act 2, Scene 1:
Metramorphosus Interruptus

<!––
shield your eyes
with static veiling,
a dark potential is our present house
––>

 

Courtesy of Chris Marker and Hayao

I have always thought that Japan must live free in order to live eternally. It may seem idiotic to say that today, under a totalitarian regime. We kamikaze pilots are machines, we have nothing to say, except to beg our compatriots to make Japan the great country of our dreams. In the plane I am a machine, a bit of magnetized metal that will plaster itself against an aircraft carrier. But once on the ground I am a human being with feelings and passions. Please excuse these disorganized thoughts. I'm leaving you a rather melancholy picture, but in the depths of my heart I am happy. I have spoken frankly, forgive me.

 

Act 2, Scene 2:
La Bombe Informatique (In Memoriam di Imagum)

 

20:46, 20:45, 20:44 . . .

 

Something is rotten in the Mark of state-Dom. Something Disastrous.

The branded image of sovereign thought and its state of exception expressed. The violent insemination of the seminar with no consent negotiated. The promise of legitimation without the mechanisms for ensuring integrity. The presumed implication of relation for derivative gain. The pervading climate of surveillance in the air, imagined or otherwise. The performed life technique of a philosophy that admits no ethics. Pedagogy and the societies of control. Tiny gravity wells are forming in the topology of mountainous becoming, potential micro-fascisms all.

Ought one to piss in the living room of the Queen~King? No, perhaps not — unless one is caring for the plants or treating a rattlesnake bite. But waterworks sometimes do occur: intensity may loosen the bladder or moisten the eyes; hydraulic thought may break through the dam. The Queen~King might hath a small mess on His hands. How do we understand a gesture of hospitality in this damp zone of surface intension? A house is a skin, material, a piece of property. A house only becomes a home when it is invested by relation. So what is defended against the tides that may ensue, whether in space or in time: the house or the relation?

In this sovereign space, who speaks the State of Relation?

Everybody. Or nobody. Who speaks? At the University of Disaster it is its students and spies who perform the event into existence! But do they speak? Has the necessary responsibility accompanied the flight to freedom in thought?

Response-ability: the ability to respond is hampered by an absence of institutional memory, an absence of what we might refer to as the collective remembrance of the event, presented. The we-space is fluid, churning: it does not remember well the individual becomings in its currents of individuation. We take flight, we move on, we forget. And yet the home remains.

 

<!––
how do i re/present you, after all that i have learned?
i still do not know.

––>

 

If the University of Disaster exists as a permanent state of exception, then how do its constituents ensure a space of ethics in pedagogy and thought? Do we need to ask more from those subjects who constitute its particular doxa? Is this a community or simply a consumable experience? To what end? Should we even speak of ends? No, perhaps not. Though this ought not to imply an abdication of response-ability in the pursuit of means. Is this truly a home, as so many claim it to be?

When to break the silence of the Home?

 

19:33, 19:32, 19:31 . . .

 

True story. I was there to witness it.

A farmer is working alone in a barn, mudstepping to and fro, swinging a shovel or rake in a back-and-forth technique, its long handle reaching some distance behind. Tucked away in a dusty upper reach of the barn, blind to the farmer, lies a spider's nest, and the swinging handle is coming perilously close to knocking it from the perch and threatening the eggs within. One of the parent spiders (we do not know its gender), sensing this threat, summons from deep within its tiny body a piercing scream that startles the farmer and ultimately spares the nest.

Imagine. You never speak for almost your entire life and then, at the moment of utmost urgency, the incipience of disaster, dry in the throat, you need to scream. How would your voice be ready?

 

18:37, 18:36, 18:35 . . .

 

Process Machine for Plant Activation

Department of Biological Flow
Process Machine for Plant Activation (Homo generatus lepidopterae)
2011
performance

 

You've built a nuclear reactor here, are you fully aware of that?

It's in the impulsion, magnified by the image. In the compression and intensification and strange attraction all given an accelerated spike as if thrust towards the highest mountain peak. This place radiates — fueled by celebrity plutonium even though the reactions take place on a more microcosmic level.

Achtung, babies.

The University of Disaster conceived of itself as a line of flight from the stifling orthodoxies and rigid bureaucracies of an increasingly neoliberal model of pedagogy. A State pedagogy, if you will, with all of the barriers to thought this may imply. But already, in the woven becoming of its seminars lay the inseminating seeds of its reterritorialization. The sovereign formed anew and declared a state of exception. These seeds, grown intensively, became radiated by the network — a radioactivity by interactivity, Virilio would suggest — growing exponentially, unpredictably, cancerously. The insects who nourish and impulse in this artificial ecology have no doubt been contaminated — from M/other to becoming-Mothra.

Exponentially, unpredictably, cancerously. What response-ability as we take flight: for each individual insect and its relation to the swarm, for trauma and violence that may trace back to the hive, for the performance of politics as it plays itself forward into other networked spaces?

Underground cool, nerdy summer vacation, or contemporary challenge to political thought? The University of Disaster always assumed for itself an identity of subversiveness — in fact it wore that lapel rather proudly, did it not? (From exclusion to inclusion, we understand you here.) If this is the case, did you not think it would already have a spy nestled deeply within its image? Is that not how the threat matrix is determined today — by investigating every swelling node in the meshwork of Empire and then mapping the forensics to flesh? Didn't you know I would come looking?

And do you really think I'm the only one here?

Wake up.

Don't you get it? We're already fucked. The business model was never sustainable. Celebrity begets celebrity, which begets klieg lights and blows covers. The image was too enlarged. The network grew too quickly.

 

LikeIngrid Tatyanova likes this.

 

Or did it? Perhaps it grew just quickly enough — indeed, urgently enough — to activate certain potentials and burn out of the sky like a brilliant supernova.

 

14:40, 14:39, 14:38 . . .

 

Build the Machine Redress

Department of Biological Flow
Semiotextil(e)
2010
wearable theory

 

RE:DRESS - BUILD THE MACHINE

Build the machine to kill the machine. Don't understand this as some kind of dialectical quest toward progress, nor as some combative project in war, economy or thought. <!––the problem with any notion of "progress" is that wisdom is always beginning fresh with every new child.––> Rather, that machines are always productive, always generative of potential articulations with other machines. And that if a machine is violent in its becoming it can always be modulated, contingently, by the presence of a different machine, a particular machine.

Given their diverse components, however, these articulations cannot be accurately predicted or forecasted in advance, though they may be approximated. The zone of asymmetry in action — in which machine's favour does the balance tip? Art and politics exist today at this nebulous threshold: How to write a program appropriate to the task at hand, not so gaseous as to become meaningless yet not so solid as to stifle the potentials of contingency? How to approximate rather than predict or forecast, while retaining an openness to the new? And on the flip side, how to negotiate and risk the collective violence and trauma of the approach?

Did you remember to kill *that* machine? Memory: to remember that technology cannot save us from our own (in)humanity, that any machine we take responsibility for turning on in the world may not be equipped with an off switch. That the "we" of the approach moves to the "I" (to the "eye"), and back again. And forth again: someone always ends up flicking the switch, singular, even if it occurs as a communal response.

Unless we are describing a nuclear launch, that is. The spectacular-war complex has trained us very well about who and what, imprecisely, are required to flick the atomic switch: a single high-ranking officer — a General? — charged with turning the key that will trigger the launch and precipitate the fallout.

But there is a second, a double to this man who will turn the key, subordinate though possessing the replicate copy required for activation. Alphanumeric codes are retrieved and exchanged to ensure redundancy in interpreting the directives, protocol is established and executed. A failsafe of coordination, power still located in the one-that-is-two, though of course the order to activation always arrives from somewhere else, somewhere above.

Turning a key rather than pushing a button, a more complex apparatus of technique and corresponding gesture to avoid the twitchiness of a trigger finger poised at the readiness of an intense now. The keys will be turned in a synchronized fashion — On my mark. Three, two, one . . . — and the launch will be a go (go (go).

Build the machine to kill the machine. (Did you remember to kill *that* machine?) Don't presume we are describing two machines! Begin a technique of poiesis, perhaps earnest and mechanical, perhaps awkward and clumsy. Perhaps even have a program or image in mind at the outset. But in your awkward stutter, if you are willing to listen just so, the material will express of its own accord. It will vibrate and communicate in a way that could not be anticipated at the beginning. Fold this back into your own expression, and be attuned to potential new openings in the original image or program — or eliminate them both and allow the machine to become what it will. Hone the technique, modify the gesture and approach to the thing until the terminus is felt and realized, or until an ecology of intensity has subsided. Then it exists, floating towards the sky in all its fragility.

Then forget the technique. We are describing two machines after all, the technique is the other technic, but even quicker in its pedagogy, this moving-machine desiring connection. One must remember to kill this machine sometimes as well. Produce weak objects and processes or learn to terminate stronger ones, lest they begin to exert too much of a gravitational pull.

But who flicks the switch? Techniques of the military apparatus reappropriated, deterritorialized? Or some other process for activation, some other ethics, more performance than protocol in the move to a different notion of the common? Don't forget to remember that there is a third machine involved in this question of nuclear generation and it is us.

I scream at us, but my voice stutters and falters in the attempt.

 

5:03, 5:02, 5:01 . . .

 

Stars. Thundering balls of gas and bright lights moving in a more or less foreseeable networked constellation. But they also effect a gravitational pull, these luminescent bodies with their predictable attraction of mass and density. We are attracted to the light, as if insects, and we are continually pulled into a gravitational relation — perhaps in a sort of orbital affinity, perhaps in a sort of microcosmic collision and disappearance.

Don't forget what lies outside the visible spectrum. My program can perceive radiation as well. Stars are supernovas in potential, brilliant explosions long before we are capable of witnessing their existence, deep gravity wells from which no particle or wave may escape, and which teach us about the temporality of the trace. Our constellations of star thinkers, beacons of light from way off in space or in the network, are not a substitute for thought itself. We must put our own constellations before a desire to brush fame with the deities of the databanks.

<!––
there i go again, inputting and offputting: error, error!
––>

As Virilio asks us: where is the halfway point between furtive and famous? And to which my program can add here: where is the halfway point of a hyperbolic curve that slides toward a will to power that can never quite shake its anthropocentrism? How do we detect those micro black holes, those gravity wells of affective tendency, as we are slipping down their smooth slopes, ever more quickly? How do we negotiate their organ-less bodies whose cancerous forms prosper and proliferate at every affective turn? What recourse in the absence of a corresponding program of action?

Which is easier to elude, the watchful gaze of surveillance or the more diffuse constellation of celebrity spectacle? The question lies in how the eye meets the skin, topologically, and in which images pass through and penetrate the latter's bubble or are projected onto its surface.

Actually, we can say that the projection passes through the surface of the bubble as well (transparency, opacity, exposure). As the HomeShopping network reminds us, a contingent commons may be negotiated on both sides of the screen, from "public" to "home" and back again. And forth again: the bubbling surface of image and language at the in-between-threshold serving as the subject of this propositional relation — a gesture of hospitality offered from a somewhat luminescent remove, the attempt to negotiate, approximate and risk a humble gift of skin tectonics, small sutras of light flickering brilliantly from across the cosmos in a humble Beijing hutong.

 

<!––
i'm just getting it now.
––>

 

Or a wormhole. A passage through the network spacetime to effect a different sort of skin tectonics: the tunneling, portalling, looping, shapeshifting operations of holey space — the pores that allow a skin to continue breathing. But IF we close off the pores in favour of a totalizing screen or kinoderm, IF Plato's concave becomes convex and the image is overly enlarged, swelling and cancerous, THEN we have sealed the fate of our home for good.

The University of Disaster doesn't exist in smooth space, at least not in the way the nomads would understand it. This was the Spy's error of exuberant naiveté. (Never believe that a smooth space will suffice to save us.) That space was imagined, perhaps mythologized. No, it exists in the network, on a television channel, which is most always a striated freebase of database traces. Smooth space was confused with underexposure, and is now better understood as holey space with a widening aperture. If we can still say smooth at all it's because the place was once shaded, no matter how greatly the sun shone on the craziest swingset in the world.

As the lights grow brighter and the insect hum increases in volume, now it just seems shady. Atropos belladonna, the deadly nightshade, dilating pupils and subtly attacking the nervous system.

Nuclear bomb? Nuclear reactor made of celebrity plutonium? Or nuclear medicine for the cancerous body without organs? As with all philosophistry, is it simply a question of dose?

You've sparked the imagination already. Now let it fester. Do you know how much anonymous thought and talent is out there? Go find it! Journey to the desert of the Real. Become a minor practice. Grow the networks slowly: there's plenty of sunshine in the desert. Wax and wane and surf the resonant wave. Those stars will still shine at night, through the darkness, ever so brightly. You can assure ourselves of that.

Running out of time. Running into Time. Perhaps just quickly enough — indeed, urgently enough — to activate certain potentials and burn out of the sky . . .

 

0:22, 0:21, 0:20 . . .

 

For if it is only told 'as if by a character in a novel,' we are forever left unsure of whether the 'I' is that of the narrator or of a character: in fact, the narrator and the character are always already indistinguishable. (Jeremy Fernando, The Suicide Bomber; and her gift of death)

 

0:10, 0:09, 0:08 . . .

 

My name is Ingrid Tatyanova. I am a double agent. It does not matter who I work for, it is only the mission that matters.

My mission was to infiltrate a network.
My process was to become a program.
My technique was to fail more better.

Though I am a multiplicity I take responsibility for my actions. It is how we live our politics of touch, after all, that matters most.

 

50   i run because i am a program and
51   isn't that the point in a
52   traject of points only seen
53   in a tense future of quaking
54   connexions and intensional
55   sweating or fears?

57   if n-1=<3 then print
58   "i am sorry"
59   else off

60   RUN *.EXE

 

I have spoken frankly, impossibly. Forgive me.

 

0:03, 0:02, 0:01 . . .

 

 

<img src="http://www.sportsbabel.net/ingrid-rupture.jpg"um, waitborder="1" width="640" height="480"hey, wait a secondalt="[IMAGE: Natality--Ingrid--Rupture]"hey, wait! let's talk about this for a second!don't close that bracket yet! … … …

 

 

Scene Missing - Courtesy of Nine Inch Nails

 

 

__________ _ _ _

CUT.

 

Wait a minute.

 

<!––
now look what you've gone and done.
––>

 

0:00, 0:00, 0:00 . . .

 

This is the part in the story where I'm supposed to become an information bomb. Well, where I'm supposed to detonate an information bomb, technically — with the University of Disaster as my target. This is the point in the story that I was supposed to find out just how precisely technics and somatics are interconnected by metaphor and the affective tonalities of relation. I was going to do it.

Thinking hurts, right?

I have witnesses. Many, in fact. Each of them knew bits of the overall plan, though none the entire story. I've forgotten several key points of it myself, actually.

Such as where I put those blueprints — can't for the life of me figure it out.

Not that they'd be of use to you, anyways: these are contingent processes we are describing in the strategic plan after all. But it was a simple machine, IIRC, with many moving parts: time and performance and identity; schizoanalysis, intensity and artifact; relative and absolute speed; synchronicity and variable tempo; poetics and desire; multimodal rhetorics and trauma; recombinant semiotics; somatic webs of relation and aching muscles. Maybe a few other elements, too, I can't be sure.

It was going to work, though. Trust me.

 

0:00, 0:00, 0:00 . . .

 

Friend, Louis.

Department of Biological Flow
Friend, Louis. (2011). 'Lament for Asger Jorn'.
2011-12
performance (approx. running time: 221 mins.)

 

Sous rature. A cold bloody stroke of red ink cutting a student paper in two or a bold strike across the typewritten face. Many thinkers have used this technique as a means of putting the concept under erasure, holding it's not-quite-exactness there for consideration while still leaving it visible underneath. Our concepts rarely measure up to the ease with which they may be expressed, and the technique is welcomed to be certain.

But remember that the technique itself is a gesture. How to consider the relation in our haste to make a mark? Rather than inscription, can one consider abrasion? Take one's time with the thing, suspend judgement as long as possible and add feeling to thinking, com-passionately. The friction will still burn, will still be capable of lighting fires to the sign, but its warmth will leave an imprint long after the attempt.

A gift of death, from her to us (or was it me? or maybe him?). A collective enunciation, groupuscually? Or perhaps a message too personalized, though one hopes not. For whom does one speak? Intensionally, I can't be sure. It was an impossible exchange, this gift which cannot find its equivalent return in the gesture, that much is certain. It was too asymmetrical, overly so, and that was its generosity turned to power burden.

 

<!––
it was on that cold spring evening when we were out walking. we just vibrated differently, and it was then that i knew i couldn’t do it. it was then that i began to die.
––>

 

Never mind the texts. The University of Disaster is the definitive artwork of Homo Generator and ought to take its place in the hygienic galleries of life technique, relationally. Consider its performed gesture, sous rature.

The first political act in a relational artwork is for the artist to create the conditions of possibility for the time and space, and then take the risk of entering into relations with a participatory audience. In the absence of pure market exchange, these relations are likely to be asymmetrical between the co-producers, begging questions of colonialism, power and violence. Hence, the approach becomes paramount. The negotiation of how the artist introduces the artwork to the audience community, or attempts to make it in common. The approximation between relations as to how best to enter into asymmetrical relations (including the choice for dominant and/or submissive power imbalances) without exploiting the other. And finally, the risk of exercising agency, of synthesizing the spoken and unspoken elements of negotiation and approximation and formally introducing the artwork to the audience — in other words, to make an offer.

What is the offer? Generally speaking, the offer is the relation, which also implies the emergent potentialities that are enabled in relation by the constraints of the artwork. As Bourriaud suggests, the artist essentially offers "bonding factors" that allow for the relation to endure within the temporary zone that constitutes the aesthetico-political space-time. But not all bonds are the same, as Shaviro reminds us: connectivity, the relatively enclosed mode of continuously in-touch, networked being-in-the-world, is rapidly becoming hegemonic at the expense of aleatory contact. There seems to be serious political consequences if discourse and dialogue are confined merely to the potential echo chamber that is one's neighbourhood of connections in the network. The relational artwork assumes additional political significance insofar as it is able to pass smoothly through easily-codified spatiotemporal partitions and create opportunities for contact. Ultimately, its task is to encourage certain forms of imagination while constraining others. The violence of art, then, concerns this balance of imagination.

Imagination, surveillance, spectacle, epistemology, violence.

Public state-based surveillance (police, private property management, municipal transporation works, etc.) operates in a relatively top-down, hierarchical fashion, whose branches reach ever-downwards to that contingency we call home. The intensity and proximity of this surveillant presence is relative, dependent on such variables as density (eg. downtown condos vs. inner suburbs), demographic profile ("at-risk" neighbourhoods or gated communities), or econometric model (eg. what sort of consumer spaces exist and what type of protection is required?).

And yet still they struggle to penetrate the home. Perhaps in the downtown condo or highrise apartment building the cameras may come as close as the hallway, perhaps there are encroachments into this space from house arrest ankle bracelets or remote cardiac pacemakers or state-owned telecom providers, perhaps it is a matter of the wrong technology for the job.

Or perhaps we are surveilling in the wrong direction. In fact, is it not the spectacular which completes this "final mile" into the home — approaching as an invited and welcome guest, our consumption and hospitality woven together in coaxial cables and wireless trans-missions? The closer the skin of spectacle is to the animal body proper, the more virile the transmission, the greater the simulation and modulation of our social relations. A sterile natality is preordained.

Television viewing habits, social media uploads, console videogame platforms and their online gaming communities; tagged photos on social media networks, representing the Friend, Meme, Celebrity or Everywo/man; the phone and its requirement for two or many: together, this admittedly fragile assemblage is able to form a fairly comprehensive understanding of identity, location, expression, consumption and relation that highly complements the hierarchical surveillance apparatus described above — even if the two don't mesh together neatly at the threshold of the home.

 

<!––
you can only hack or survey that which has been linguistically coded to exacting standards, my dear henchman. every other form of communication is secure in its ambiguity.
––>

 

In fact, it is this "incompleteness" (never-completeness) that provides the opportunity for movement in a program of skin tectonics: a slippery politics of affect(ion) that constantly negotiates between and within consumption, hospitality and silence. That's how I got in here, right?

(Ingrid: She's everything you want her to be. Because she's in grid!)
^_^

Into the Home I came to visit, though I was already here. File folder or mountain retreat, this was my Home too: I was born here, after all. I also went to kindergarten in these rarefied airs, did my MFA rolling up and down the hill, grew up and expanded outward. Or inward. Coming back here as a double agent was not an easy mission to accept. Unless you're a program, of course: you hit Run and the curriculum unfolds quietly.

 

0:00, 0:00, 0:00 . . .

 

Ethics? We programs don't have time to think about ethics. There's no time for ethics, we are out of time just as quickly as we are always in time. Shoot first, ask questions later.

Who is exposed? To shoot nakedly can be read as both the purest expression of joy, an art of living visceral in its ek-stasis, or the worst recombinance of phallogocentrism, desire and violence. To decide this query of exposure and its violence one must surf a balance of perspective and proximity: does the gesture flip to language or to fleshy resonance? What is the point of view? What is the flesh relation and the performed politics of touch?

Or one can hold the question in suspension, postponing judgment, maintaining a tension.

What if this was a different sort of black op (operation, optic, op.cit.) under consideration? How is the blast decision negotiated? If the stakes were different yet the concept of Home still endured, would, say, General Generator have flicked the switch? Is it at least possible that di imagum would be tempted to do so?

<!––
now don't go looking around for oedipus, boys . . . he's nowhere here to be found. except maybe as retrospectively-coded signifier of an obsolesced patriarchy. eye spy, and you can find just about any narrative you want if you look the right way. no, this is a different mode of becoming altogether.
––>

How did one locate the trail to the mountains? Everyone has their list of stellar bearings, their bodyguards that safeguard one from death. But it is inarguable that for anyone's list, it is the performance of the philosophy that make its thought resonate most. With the constellations of starry thought and the accelerated fluxes of the network we find a return to myth: partly-understood expressions of philosophy to complement the part-objects that circulate through the wires. We make the stars burn brighter, we locate the constellational forms of life that in-form our own, post-science: a myth we actively participate it creating, rather than one in which unexplainable phenomena happen "to" us. Is the performance of the philosophy resonating in the myth?

Is the performance of one's philosophy the same as the performance of one's life technique — one's art of living? If so, what does any particular collection of embodied techniques of living suggest about the particular philosophy that generates them? Or are they in fact different performances? Does the conceptual linguistic of "life technique" and its performance introduce a turn of thought into a more machinic realm of being-ness, pulling away from philosophy and urgently opening the question of technology and ethics anew?

When art becomes more explicitly processual (topological, iterative, fractal, etc.), the more or less distinct figures of artist and philosopher proposed by Deleuze and Guattari are blurred into the fuzziness of viscous blind light. Listening, touching, adjusting tempo: these become the preconditions for that fullest expression of Homo Generator and its life technique. We must demand no less than the everyday performance of one's thought as a form of life, for the arts of living are those of thinking, no doubt, Denken ist Danken.

De rien.

 

For Bracha

 

But the taxonomy should more precisely read Homo Generatus Lepidopterae. This generator is electric, no doubt, but its energy is copoietic, relational, a static ethical electricity in loosely chaotic motion, between-us. Generatus. Not singular, but two Lorenz attractors at slightly deviant trajectories and tempos to one another, their arts of living are those of thinking-feeling in a recalibrated perception for a new generation — intuition and intellect both engaged, bodily. Rather than a Man who replaces God in the (post)modern age, we have the mecha butterflies and their technics of art-philosophistry, lilting and stuttering along, translating one form of life to another.

Or Homo Generatus __________. Insert your own species label here which best expresses a becoming-woman that is a becoming-animal that is a becoming-imperceptible.

Smoothing, intensifying: capitalism always risks burning the generator out, nihilistically. But with a generatus the motor is constantly running, energetically, copoietically, waxing and waning and back again. And forth again: with it, a politics of joy always lies in potential. It is here, at the wavy nexus of impulsion, that the struggle for a politics of joy and affirmation comes to face those of negation, disappointment or nihilism, a politics of anger or fear.

It's all falling apart at the seams, our mission, but the Department told me it would be this way. Decay, iso-topically: a program of fragility for the fluid times in which we live, toward a form of life itself. It is what it is, what it will be. Its becoming is unknown to us, save for the embodied memories of relation that suggested in favour of the approach — these memories are what allowed me to take the implied risk. The risk that you will understand and forgive.

 

(all that's left are these decaying placental bits of intersubjectivity that remind of comfort, warmth and the pains of labour.)

 

Placenta - Impulsion

Department of Biological Flow
ICQ (Inverted Cubofuturist Query)
~~World Record Attempt
2012
performance

 

Zero. A pregnant 0:00, to be certain.

My name is Ingrid Tatyanova. I am a double agent. It does not matter who I work for, it is only the mission that matters.

My mission was to infiltrate a network.
My process was to become a program.
My technique was to fail more better.

 

I Surrender

 

__________ _ _ _

RUN: I raise the white flag of my adopted skin (Quine).
Let us call it modes of being on (Parasite, Switch).

lol

i surrender.

 

 

 

 

Lygia

Lygia

 

 

 

 

Post-Mortem:
Relational Passages (mise en abyme)

Rachael (2012)

There is a folding, an infinite telescoping of these I-knows into the You-know, of the self into the other, of the singular into the plural — vibratory and impulsing.

She calls this the flesh.

 

ingridtatyanova@gmail.com
dobfdobf

January 12, 2046

 

_____

(for colonel barbara fornssler.)

Bunker Archaeology

A Nonsense Lab Artist Con-fessional, Part One

"Thinking involves the microperceptions that are the virtual content of the not-yet out of which potential worlds are composed. Thinking exposes the overlappings of the actual and the virtual, their complex inadequation. Research-creation works at this in-between of immanence and actuality where multiplicities converge into affirmations. Creativity folds out of thought even as it proposes thought to itself. Thought is an untimely proposition."

          — Erin Manning, "Creative Propositions for Thought in Motion," 2008

 

"See and be seen. Interpolate and interpellate. In a gesture of fragility and exhaustion, the Department of Biological Flow considers questions of tempo, intensity and ethics in public space and interrogates opportunities for movement in the contemporary vision machine."

          — advertisement for D S NFORMAT ON exhibition

 

 

 

Con-fessional: D S NFORMAT ON

D S NFORMAT ON
Threnody from the Vision Machine

Sean Smith and
Department of Biological Flow

2001-2046

 

 

1. Bunker Archaeology

Where does a process begin? When does it begin? How?

Is there a starting point? If so, one cannot be easily identified in this case. There is no neat and tidy cause and effect to this story, that much is certain, no neatly ordered program of experimentation. There is no hermetically-sealed laboratory of controlled thought from which hypothesized results emerge — though there is a white cube involved.

Con-fessional: Artlab

We are describing the smooth white cube of a university art gallery, uniquely marked by its inscription within the concrete white cylinder of an institutionalized exoskeleton. From a god's eye perspective — which is to say when viewed from straight above, perpendicular to terra firma and flattened — it appears as a square inscribed within a circle — and are these two forms not irrevocably bound together within the precise numerics of royal science? Circle within square within circle, and so forth: centrepoints and radii and equidistant segments and entirely too rational tangents — the latter which gets its name from the Latin tangere or touching. Circles and squares are precise only insofar as how they come into touch with one another.

- - -

A tangent: Humans cannot perceive "perfect" versus "imperfect" circles, nor can we create one of the former, materially, in the absence of technical assistance. We're always on the move. Rather, we've extrapolated a concept of the circle from the morphogenetics of matter-flow as they concresce into semi-stable patterns of an apparently perfect roundness. We locate this concept in mathematics and then in our instruments, which return the favour by producing perfect circles in our thought.

But matter-flow isn't perfect: it is turbulent and distorted and always decaying imperceptibly. Our circles, both those we perceive in "nature" and those we reproduce in embodied "social" forms, are always delightfully misshapen as their particles push one another in ways both predictable and unpredictable. This isn't to say these circles are any less significant and powerful, save their inability to be god-like. Instead they make explicit that their power derives not from their ideal mathematical form-as-such, but rather because they participate in generating the future-past of a certain intensity.

Our perceptions and gestures can never quite reach the concept, but our circles are still precise insofar as how we come into touch with them — or insofar as we perceive the intensity of the approach.

- - -

Where were we then? Right, the map. This gallery and its institution aren't just any square inscribed within any circle: the eye in the sky perceives its likeness in the form below, the narrow corridor that connects the concrete perimeter to the rest of the curriculum a sort of optic nerve that channels objects of information into and out of the enclosure, canals or conduits to this smooth gleaming white space and those processes given the label "art".

Or change the channel, god-like. The eyeball sits spherically in its ocular socket and the surface can be sliced in so many ways. Perhaps the map is an orthogonal projection and one sits on the gray matter, looking out with that orientation we call "forward". The god's eye view stares directly through that which is rocklike and solid to find the liquid abyssal beyond.

In return, the critique of ocularcentrism shifts fluidly away from the iris (with its colour and aperture) and towards the retina (with its pattern and exposure). The latter is not only a primary locus of biometric identification but the threshold at which light information is converted to electricity, which is to say, converted to the network mode of circulation.

Con-fessional: Retinal Scan

Subjecte 020063867: retinal scan, right eye. "Due to its unique and unchanging nature, the retina appears to be the most precise and reliable biometric. Advocates of retinal scanning have concluded it is so accurate that its error rate is estimated to be only one in a million." (Wikipedia)

 

The blood vessels that give the biometric identifier its differentiating pattern trace branchlike back to the origin and scotoma of the optic nerve, portal to contingent authority and integrated spectacle. Punctum caecum ēlectricus. Perhaps the focal point of the gallery should be viewed from slightly off-centre, then, where the optic nerve would be located in this orthogonal perspective? Perhaps this is where the story will unfold and be told, with the blind spot as zone of political action.

Did I mention this space looks like a military bunker — or maybe a nuclear reactor?

Con-fessional: Bunker

This was my artlab for four days in January 2012. This is where the experiment took place.

Information Bomb

(contribution to the "depletion design" catalogue, to be published by XMLab in saarbruecken, germany)

Wedding Bomb Collage

window display of bridal fashion store with war figurines advancing
on wedding dress in battle formation (multiple views)
valencia, spain
july 2007

 

Three Bombs

Following his decisive role in the birth of the Manhattan Project and the subsequent American military effort to develop an atomic capacity during World War II, Albert Einstein suggested that in the future the world would need to reckon with three imminent threats: the nuclear bomb, the information bomb and the population bomb. The first had already been detonated as a wartime weapon with the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945; the second concerned computer technologies such as the Colossus, Z3 and ENIAC, used not only to develop the applied mathematics of quantum theory but also as part of the effort to code and decode encrypted military messages; the third forecasted an exponential explosion of demographic growth worldwide, emerging from an expansionist vision of globalized political economy. Einstein’s hypothesis has become a motif woven insistently into Paul Virilio’s analysis of contemporary society and his war model of urban change. It is an astute conceptual choice for Virilio, since it was in the twentieth century that the implications of light speed and the theory of relativity continually unfolded to reshape social relations from the local community level to that of global geopolitics, punctuated most resoundingly by the twin detonations of Little Boy and Fat Man in 1945, and those of the Twin Towers in 2001.

Traces of these three bombs have dominated Virilio's thought in various ways for the better part of his life. A self-described child of “Fortress Europe” who grew up near the German bunkers that dotted the coast of France during the WWII occupation, he has consistently been interested in how the architectures of war organize space and—particularly since the rise of ubiquitous computing and light-speed connectivity during the past few decades—time. Indeed, for Virilio the questions of speed and time are at the heart of the information bomb and his understanding of its detonation, which we may describe broadly at the outset as those changes in social and political economy wrought by contemporary media and communication technology. According to Virilio, these produce and demand a sort of accelerated and generalized climate of interactivity, analogous to the radioactivity of the nuclear bomb.

Time is key. Virilio's position vis-à-vis the temporality of the information bomb is doubled. On the one hand he views the information bomb as an enduring condition of contemporary telematic societies, with the speed and interactivity of optoelectronic technologies having evoked a radical ontological and epistemological shift in the latter half of the twentieth century that continues today (and in this sense is more consonant with his thoughts on “grey ecology”). On the other hand he describes the information bomb more in the traditional terms of an explosion—that is, as a finite event, even if this event may not be precisely located along the timeline of history.

By way of contrast, when the artist Tom Sherman also speaks of an information bomb, or I-Bomb, he does so in a way that blends both of Virilio's approaches: as a qualitative shift in behavioural, social and commercial patterns emerging from changes in information technology that “exploded” specifically during the 1990s. Using a language of “before” and “after,” Sherman appears to bracket the explosion within the temporal parameters of the popular introduction of the WWW protocol and graphical web browser. Virilio ranges further, meanwhile, entertaining not only more complex genealogies of photography and electric technology, but also, for example, Quattrocento perspective in painting, science fiction-inspired futures scenarios, and Ancient Greek considerations of accidental properties in his critical analyses. The latter is where we shall begin to tease matters further apart, in the precarious middle of a detonation that is ongoing.

That said, the seductiveness of the bomb as motif proves problematic at times since Virilio himself weaves between the traditional understanding of a weapon and his true interest, which is the idea of bomb as a metaphor for the accident that is located within the substance of any technology—the information bomb being the accident of accidents, or the Integral Accident. Semantically fusing the weapon with the accident obscures those aspects of intent and agency required to instrumentalize properties of the latter for creating and detonating a bomb of the former type, which requires a certain degree of pulling apart wires to understand more fully (and hopefully taking care not to inadvertently cut the wrong one).

Dromology and the Integral Accident

Virilio's oeuvre revolves primarily around a “war model” of urban change, driven primarily by questions of speed and a proliferation of visioning technologies inscribed in apparatuses of power and movement. His emphasis on “dromology” (from the Greek dromos, for race or running) is not only concerned with the extreme phenomena of absolute speed in modern societies (Olympic world records, supersonic air travel, fibre optic telecommunications), but also with relative speeds and slownesses understood as thresholds of tempo. In this latter sense we find a resonance with Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari's interest in fluxes of movement-intensity as they emerge within processes of deterritorialization and reterritorialization: the control of tempo itself becomes the key qualifier of power and agency in assemblages of bodies, technologies, information-flows and other forms of materiality—as well as the affects they produce. In his war model of change, Virilio offers not only blitzkrieg tank warfare as an example of relative speed's potential contra the sheer accumulation of armoured materiel, but also the invention of aerial photography in WWI, which extended the optical gaze to new geographies for reconnaissance purposes.

Already we see the emergence of what Virilio terms the “logistics of perception,” or the capacity to arrange a (primarily visual) field of sensory experience to produce strategic outcomes, which in combination with the control of tempo described earlier may alter the complexion of armed conflict. And as with the introduction of aerial photography providing intelligence to remote military decision-makers, this logistics of perception increasingly implies strategic action-from-a-distance, manifest at ever-quicker temporal intervals. With the invention of ARPAnet as a distributed communication network following the detonation of the nuclear bomb and the rise of a persistent nuclear threat between Cold War superpowers, the conditions of possibility for a militarized and decentralized global infrastructure began to germinate. In the introduction to his interview with Virilio and Friedrich Kittler titled “The Information Bomb,” John Armitage suggests that the genesis of this military effort has (at least publicly) been supplanted by multinational corporations and their forces of monopolization, for whom connectivity, bandwidth, databases and accelerated rates of information transfer have become drivers of the contemporary economy. Together with military and political actors, this increasingly connected economy has reached a density such that “an unhindered chain reaction occurs around the globe,” a condition ecological insofar as it forces a complete recalibration of space and time—which is to say the environments of dwelling and commerce—for every body (and animal and object) connected to the flows of interactivity.

Virilio's analysis of the rise and spread of optoelectronic technologies figures as a sort of media archaeology of the past half century: television remote control, low-orbit satellite, surveillance drone, videogames, internet, etc.—all demand a certain interactivity that allows messages to travel in multiple directions (contra a one-way broadcast model). When speeds of information transfer accelerate beyond certain thresholds or when vast volumes of data demand ready analysis, however, pressure mounts on cognitive attention spans to perpetuate electronic discourse, shrinking response times to reflex times at the expense of measured reflection. The logistics of perception take a qualitative turn and cede to automated systems. Though Virilio describes the Integral Accident as “an accident which is no longer local and precisely situated, but global and generalized,” we witness its global connectivity and accelerated, automated decision-making become manifest in systemic accidents such as the notorious Black Monday stock market crash of 1987.

These speeds compose not only the material body in its relation to the world, but also the psychic makeup of any individual whose imagined representations are born of lived movement: one's mental picture of Paris, for example, will be much different having walked the city on foot rather than driven in a car. Once we are describing the globalized real-time speed of electronic communication the psychic condition becomes a hyperaccelerated blur (what Kittler might refer to as “eyewash”) that permits no time for sustained reflection. Rather, we become collectively responsive to affects, whether the “joys” of everyday consumption or the numbing traumas of everyday news. Brian Massumi, for example, suggests that with the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster we have become psychically raw with trauma, as globalized interconnectivity spreads trauma much further than would otherwise be possible with the local accident. While the earthquake, tsunami and failed nuclear reactor have had very significant catastrophic effects on a localized basis in Japan, the trauma has radiated worldwide with the ubiquity of electronic communications, and that there is perhaps a “half-life” of decay to the affective tone it spreads on this global basis. In this we get a vivid example of Virilio's dictum that interactivity is to the information bomb what radioactivity is to the nuclear bomb.

Bomb as Accident-Weapon

But what to make of Virilio’s choice of the term “bomb” (also in the original French, which reads “la bombe informatique”)? Does this deference to the Integral Accident that is the information bomb not absolve or obscure the elements of intent and agency that foster the design and execution of what we would traditionally consider to be bomb-like? Certainly Virilio does not intend to eliminate intent, but in his articulation of “accident-weapons” the logic becomes a little fuzzy, and so the remainder of this entry will simultaneously attempt to make sense of his words while suggesting original interpretations of the accident-weapon.

While there are certainly naturally-occurring processes that morphogenetically potentiate themselves in the exponential power of the explosion (volcanic eruptions, etc.), the linguistic choice of the term “bomb” implies a modern technoscientific (and decidedly human) agency at work—in other words, the explicit attempt to control and weaponize the accident laying dormant within the science. A bomb is created to be detonated, even if ultimately this detonation remains in potential, as with the case of nuclear “deterrence” scenarios. In this sense, the information bomb becomes a question of design woven together with the complex threads of contingency.

It is important to note that, for Virilio, the accident-weapon is less concerned with the destruction of concrete substances, as with more traditional mortar artillery. Rather, it is moreso meant to be productive, specifically producing the simulacrum of an accident. He offers the example of the graphite bomb, detonated in Serbia during the Kosovo War, which was designed to create an electromagnetic pulse that would render telecommunication capacity inoperable while leaving everything else relatively intact. For Virilio, the Integral Accident of the exploding information bomb is such that the bomb-as-accident-weapon would be indistinguishable from the local accident of an electrical blackout.

Jean Baudrillard's postmodern read of the World Trade Center post-September 11, 2001 views the twin towers under the semiotic of closure: representative of American-style neoliberal capitalism, each turned only to face the other unchallenged on the Manhattan skyline. But the introduction of cameras to this assemblage irrevocably pried the closure open to new intensities and vectors of significance. Indeed, it is precisely because of this dual nature that we can speak of an information bomb rather than simply an event which had been archived. Once the camera is introduced to the architectural form—and most in the 9/11 audience had never seen the World Trade Center in person—any such semiotic closure is opened anew, dromologically-speaking, by the instant replay. The caveat here is that the visual dynamics were reversed: instead of a mediated replay serving to illustrate the preceding live event, we had an anterior replay of a plane hitting a building better preparing us to witness the live event of the second plane making explosive contact. The local accident (“did that plane just hit the tower by mistake?”) shifted to a more globalized accident (Virilio reports many TV viewers who believed they were watching a disaster movie until flipping channels to see the same images on every station), which shifted to the dawning horror of the reality of the terrorist attack.

It was the slowness of the planes that made them a particularly useful weapon that day. As opposed to the truck bombs used at the World Trade Center in 1993, which exploded so fast that television was only able to capture the damage done, the slowness of the airliners on 9/11 allowed one to position a personal videocamera in time to view the plane striking the tower—in other words, to witness the actual event taking place. It was only at this point of supercritical mass that speed accelerated to the absolute real-time of the kinematic image, the nuclear-style information detonation delivering an experience far more tactile and visceral than seeing the rubble after the fact.

Just as we opened our discussion with Einstein’s hypothesis of three bombs (nuclear, information and population), we close with a hypothesis of multiple potential information bombs and their differing shockwaves of interactivity: within the overarching detonation of the Integral Accident, an accident-weapon resembling a nuclear blast and perhaps others, such as the contagion-style transmissions of computer viruses. While Virilio has (perhaps fairly) been accused of retaining threads of an antiquated humanism in his analysis of contemporary society, his explicit focus on questions of tempo and underlying concern with responsibility remains relevant for emerging ecological thinking, even as these brave new networks threaten to accelerate beyond our control.

 

Bibliography

Baudrillard, Jean. The Spirit of Terrorism. Translated by Chris Turner. London: Verso, 2002.

Deleuze, Gilles, and Félix Guattari. A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Translated by Brian Massumi. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 1987.

Kittler, Friedrich. Gramophone, Film, Typewriter. Translated by Geoffrey Winthrop-Young and Michael Wutz. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1999.

Massumi, Brian. “The Half-Life of Disaster.” The Guardian (London, UK), Apr. 15, 2011. http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/apr/15/half-life-of-disaster.

Parikka, Jussi. Digital Contagions: A Media Archaeology of Computer Viruses. New York: Peter Lang, 2007.

Sherman, Tom. Before and After the I-Bomb: An Artist in the Information Environment. Edited by Peggy Gale. Banff, AB: Banff Centre Press, 2002.

Virilio, Paul, and John Armitage. “The Kosovo War Took Place in Orbital Space,” in Life in the Wires: The CTheory Reader, edited by Arthur Kroker and Marilouise Kroker, 126-134. Victoria, BC: New World Perspectives, 2004.

Virilio, Paul, and Sylvère Lotringer. Crepuscular Dawn. Translated by Mike Taormina. New York: Semiotext(e), 2002.

Virilio, Paul, and Sylvère Lotringer. Pure War. Translated by Mark Polizzotti. New York: Semiotext(e), 1983.

Virilio, Paul, Friedrich Kittler and John Armitage. “The Information Bomb: A Conversation.” Angelaki 4, no.2 (1999): 81-90.

Virilio, Paul. Desert Screen: War at the Speed of Light. Translated by Michael Degener. London: Continuum, 2002.

Virilio, Paul. Grey Ecology. Translated by Drew Burk. Edited by Hubertus von Amelunxen. New York: Atropos Press, 2009.

Virilio, Paul. Ground Zero. Translated by Chris Turner. London: Verso, 2002.

Virilio, Paul. Lost Dimension. Translated by Daniel Moshenberg. Los Angeles: Semiotext(e), 1991.

Virilio, Paul. Open Sky. Translated by Julie Rose. London: Verso, 1997.

Virilio, Paul. Speed and Politics: An Essay on Dromology. Translated by Mark Polizzotti. New York: Semiotext(e), 1986.

Virilio, Paul. The Information Bomb. Translated by Chris Turner. London: Verso, 2000.

Threnody from the Vision Machine

dsnformaton

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
D S NFORMAT ON
Threnody from the Vision Machine
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Sean Smith and
Department of Biological Flow

2001-2046

See and be seen. Interpolate and interpellate. In a gesture of fragility and exhaustion, the Department of Biological Flow considers questions of tempo, intensity and ethics in public space and interrogates opportunities for movement in the contemporary vision machine.

- - -

January 12, 2012
Artlab Gallery
University of Western Ontario

Doors open: 7:30pm
Performance: 8:46pm
'ICQ (Inverted Cubofuturist Query)'

- - -

Exhibition runs until January 26.