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<nettime> notes for Millennium show on emanents etc.
Alan Sondheim on Fri, 14 Mar 2008 09:45:24 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> notes for Millennium show on emanents etc.

(Final) Frontier

I like to believe I'm working on a frontier and all I can tell you is
what's on the normative side of things; the rest is yet to be seen,
unabsorbed. Once brought in from the Pale, it's of lesser interest, but
beyond the Pale there's nothing but the agony of shadows. Defuge takes
over and the frontier, always an imaginary, shudders and reconvenes.

The videos/choreographies exist between human and human - someone was
there making the original files with motion capture, and someone is at the
other end, watching and using them once again. The virtual is a shadow of
the real, the real is a shadow of the virtual, and within the true world
superimpositions, gestures, and the fading of ontologies characterize what
remains of the fixity of inscriptive practices of the classical and modern

Distinctions are blurred through embedding and filtering. Avatars and
humans - together, emanents - are embedded in online virtual worlds, in
spaces which are simultaneously physical/inert/analog and virtual/mobile/
digital. Every seeing, every being, is a filtering; existence and copula
are interwoven. A current collection of texts is called Messays; in a
Messay, there's no leading sentence, no orderly sequence of ideas, no
summings-up, no conclusions. The essay is to classical narratology as the
messay is to future true world genres which seep into one another, head-
less and tailless - meandering on the one hand, problematic obeisance to
protocols on the other.

What we started with is the body which is inscribed with scars, scratches,
tears, wounds, blemishes, abrasions, cuts, and all other debris carrying
analogic history into the symbolic. What we continued with are tattoos,
incisions, fashion, gesture, languagings, and what continually emerges is
the body harboring technology as self retreats or withdraws, puckers, from
the wild symphonics of externally-applied filters digging ever deeper.

The walk or arm-swing becomes gesture becomes anysign becomes trade-off,
translation, transformation, exchange, interoperability, reified territor-
ialization. One sits at a console and breathes through sheave-skin,
another begins vortex stage-center with flesh-electric, a third wanders
memory of others airless, unbreathing, peripheral wanderings mediated at
mind's back. From the airless, flesh-breathers are attracted, gather,
project and introject, their selves flowing, flooding, abjecting, full of
scent and coagulation.

We take our tiny community of people up and down mountains, in and out of
clubs and iced fields, across the chiasm of cut bodies and body cuts,
mines and other extractive industries across the flesh of land and bodies.
What we bring back is always new, even if only in the slightest detail, a
brush of the hand or turn of the head that was never seen before. And we
keep to our goal of understanding filtering and embedding better than
before, and understanding bodies in the always future anterior world, the
true world of emanents and anysign where we're living, breathing, writing
and wryting, this and any future day.

Almost every avatar you see represented is a composite of two people; if
you see two avatars engaged with one another, the engagement is contiguous
at best, and each avatar is itself a composite. The composites are male
and female; they reflect and murmur other in relation. Two are four, four
are eight, eight are sixteen. Or more, depending on the configuration of
motion-capture, the independence of minds and intentions.

Laplanche and Pontalis, The Language of Psychoanalysis, the Imaginary:

"In the sense given to this term by Jacques Lacan (and generally used
substantively); one of the three essential orders of the psycho-analytic
field" [...]

[...] "Lacan brought forward the idea that the ego of the human infant -
as a result, in particular, of its biological prematurity - is constituted
on the basis of the image of the counterpart (specular ego).

Bearing in mind this primordial experience: we may categorize the
following as falling  into the Imaginary:

a. from the intrasubjective point of view, the basically narcissistic
relation of the subject to his ego;

b. from the intersubjective point of view, a so-called _dual_ relationship
based on - and captured by - the image of a counterpart (erotic attrac-
tion, aggressive tension). For Lacan, a counterpart (i.e. another who is
me) can only exist by virtue of the fact that the ego is originally
another." [...]

Thus simultaneously a space of mirroring and of singular constitution, a
space of a real and an evanescence. In Second Life, objects are
constituted in relation to a well-ordered data-base, without which the
enumeration of potential behaviors, constructions, and wanderings would
be impossible.

"another who is me" - another always is me, neither constitutive nor part-
and-parcel. One leaps on the page to "Incorporation": "Process whereby the
subject, more or less on the level of phantasy, has an object penetrate
his body and keeps it 'inside' his body." Etc. etc., more or less. One
might argue that it is always incorporation, that the world is world by
virtue of _devouring._ I would ask, who pulls the strings, moves the
sensors, whereby one has been two, two murmur one, in these image of
behaviors that are simultaneously inconceivable, and at the root of every

It doesn't stop there; the avatars are the result of filtered behavior,
filtered in such a way that f(n) does not equal 1, i.e. is not trans-
parent, but in fact transforms behavior into caricature that gnaws at the
body, representative and within a primordial gnawing, if you like. (This
filtering occurs in the transmission/reception stage of raw sensor data
turning towards coherent representation. Filtering is mobile, perhaps
system noise, more likely hacking or rupture, the dim imaging of presence
unaccounted-for. Any reception is filtered - I'm arguing for yet another
stage in the communications model, existing in those liminal interfaces
among block-diagram entities and arrows.)

Table 5, Eco's theory of codes in A Theory of Semiotics - the Watergate
(hydraulic) Model interpreted in relation to expression and content
planes. But framed on the left: "Continuum / Light, electric phenomena /
Non-semiotic matter" and on the right: "Continuum / the unshaped continuum
of the position of the water along with everything one can think about it
/ Non-semiotic matter." One discretely cuts surgically within the analogic
which remains impervious, bounding; a discrete cut cuts discretely, con-
structs difference across fissure, that is operates within and constructs
inscription. Isn't the world such an inscription? Let us think of non-
semiotic matter as _dark matter_ to be brought within the fold (pli).

Selves are located, others and an others are located, between these mat-
ters, which are all that matter, out of which the drawing-forth is tempor-
ary at best. Nagarjuna has no position and this positionlessness is as
close as one can get.

The doubled figures within the figures of the avatars you see projected on
the screen, live or in careful reproduction, are uncanny; they appear in
documentary footage to be completely independent, but by virtue of the
sensors are connected, as in Bell's theorem, in such a manner as a frac-
tured _monother_ or entity is produced. Conflicting forces are combined
without effect or affect traveling among them: there is no resolution,
only tearings as the image-monother accommodates them all. Think of the
movements as _catatonic sex-dances_ or rites of passage held in position
precisely by those noisy channels which, parasitic, spew culture in other-
wise dull transmissions. A catatonic sex-dance is a molding or ingestion,
incorporations, of others in order to form selves (an 'adult' is an entity
whose flesh is carved into the semblance of a human being). A dance is
called 'sex-dance' if it is dual; it is also 'corporation-dance,' 'money-
dance,' 'incorporation-dance,' 'culture-dance,' 'death-dance.' Sheave-
skins generate nothing internally but imaginaries; externally, they
generate internals. Think of the monother as worlding, the mapping of
external universes onto, within, small finite spaces which appear coher-
ent, the mapping cohering. The dance, like that of bees, is of course any
communication, established or not, channeled or not; one might think of
beings inhabiting monothers in such a way that their touch is full,
replete, of one another. What you see on the screen may appear both tired
and strange, but it is also a model of the true world within which
monothers characterize life and lives, living, inhabitations, habitus.
(Think of the 'it' in 'one going it alone.')

You have to look for the specific discrete levels, nodes, configurations,
on the expression plane - all of which are moving at high-speed - but you
_must_ look, drawing forth a narrative, which, like all others, is yours
and yours alone and ties, however uncomfortably, the appearance of beings
into Being. You have to see monothers shimmering among modes of existence,
ontologies, for example, movements among rocks and cliffs and movements
among intended rocks and cliffs, deferring among intentional/configured
ontologies, and those which are mute, inert, idiotic. Or divide the cata-
tonic sex-dance into substance-catatonia (misnomer and oxymoron to boot)
and inscription-sex-dance (the same, the other boot, terms booting mono-
thers into the arena).

Now you're getting closer to the relationship among inscription, code,
substance, communication, &tc, and further might bring you permanently,
like a matchmaker.com, into collusion from collocation, where contiguity
and contingency meld and something permanently unnameable emerges, where
Nagarjuna's grasping, samsara, appears:

" When there is a grasping, the grasper
   Comes into existence.
   If he did not grasp,
   Then being freed, he would not come into existence. "

(The Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way, Nagarjuna's Mulamadhyamakakar-
ika, translation and commentary Jay L. Garfield.)

Let them go at that.


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