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<nettime> The Wrong Direction & The Right Direction
Alan Sondheim on Fri, 27 Nov 2009 20:10:34 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> The Wrong Direction & The Right Direction

The Wrong Direction & The Right Direction

We've taken the wrong direction. This is the big illumination today. We're
doing it all wrong. Dance, jazz, improvisation, sports - just about any-
thing requiring the body - is already outdated, useless. Why choreograph
when prosthetic bodies twist with infinite possibility? Why improvise when
programming can set instrumentation to any degree of facility? Tuning a
physical instrument is exhausting, useless; it's never sufficiently accu-
rate. Spending hours in the dance-studio - ultimately for the purpose of
spectacle - is meaningless, when sufficiently detailed avatars can enact
anything whatsoever. Theatrically, cinematically, the same is true: an
avatar can move untowardly, can memorize thousands of pages of script,
hits the mark every time, requires no nourishment or pandering. I'm seri-
ous - my life has taken a wrong turn, too much physical labor. All that
does is kill you, wears the muscle out. On the other hand, programming
clearly increases the longevity of brain power. Wait, I'm not done. Today
you can program mistakes as well, make things more human than human. If I
sit here as I do and work on intonation with one or another instrument,
I'm clearly wasting my time. If Foofwa repeatedly stretches his body to
the limit, hour after hour, he's participating in a vanishing art - no
wonder dance is in a crisis, splitting into ballet on one hand, obscenity
on the other! And Azure's singing? Why bother, when there's an app for

The realization is as follows: we should be living a world of fantasy, not
indulging in blood, sweat and tears. Without wanting to appear callous,
I'll just say it - that's for the other fellow. If our virtual prosthetics
twist as we desire, the other fellow has extracted the materials holding
the software in a physical bubble projecting our good lookings for anyone
to see, hear, taste, touch, smell. We've buried the physical in the physi-
cal, and that's how it should be. The future moves from wires to optics to
the air itself; we keep track of the few and fetishized physical elements
with embedded technologies of all sorts. We didn't have to build these of
course - they just arrived. Now I know what you're thinking - this is the
same old story of labor below, beauty above (isn't that the case with the
human body?), but it's augmented, prosthetically, by market and creative
forces driving human aspirations for anyone who can afford a computer. And
certainly for those of us still physically laboring, ourselves, at impos-
sible and incomprehensible perfection - we should move into the 21st
century, embrace nothingness, enter realms of pure imagination - in other
words, survive in the real, play in the imaginary. The digital-eternal
always keeps dirt, decay, and even technological obsolescence away from
inherent beauty. (Obsolescence, in fact, is only a matter of reconfigura-
tion.) We'll still eat (for a while) and excrete (for a while); we'll
still breath (for a while). But these are no longer determinative as they
once were, and for all we know, we might already be cycling through vaults
of pure virtuality, locked into the appearance of infinity, of our own
free will, and once upon a time. Let it go! Foofwa, Azure, myself and many
others, are giving up the practice and praxis of body; we're about to
embark on a journey that would have been inconceivable, were it not for
the analogic and digital labor of countless others. We'll send messages
and images back, works of art far in advance of anything you might imag-
ine, and we'll charge nothing. For we're always present elsewhere by
virtue of the virtual, and require very little for the apparent embodi-
ments of a thought so pure that it dare not be named. Look upon our works
and be astonished; join us and forget the trivia of species already lost
to the planet; search out destinies that have always been intended; and
meet our makers in ourselves. The physical was never there in the first
place; now we've voluntarily given up even the thought of it. We live in
an infinite universe, creating and joining the universal Mind. Our gods
are with us, you shall hear from us again.

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