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Tom Sherman on Wed, 10 Nov 1999 18:41:48 +0100 (CET)

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ACCORDION STRUCTURES  [ports, vorts, horts, -orts]

Tom Sherman

There is a sexy sense of fragility in the electronic, digital culture. 
Coupling is necessary.  Being and remaining aloof is too risky.  This
vulnerability is reflected in our tentative, shifting identities.  It's a
sketchy existence at best...such a shaky cognitive in-firm-a. 

People are trying to charge attractive magnetic sites, where eyes are
drawn, sucked into the quicksandish ooze of attractive images.  Portals
are the sites of general communal interests: water, food, shelter,
companionship.  The vortals, vertical portals, are where social selves are
transformed into individuals.  The vortals are intimate spaces, the
private rooms.  Then in hortals, the re-flattened vortals, the temporarily
definitive selves are let out into a more spacious uncertainty, like range
animals, encouraged to collect and cultivate their own cohorts and cults,
to reestablish societal integration, within concealed limits. 

In other words, the human development scenario is now regulated and paced
by technology.  People alternate between introversion and extroversion,
exercising their instincts when facing accelerated cycles of self
definition and disintegration.  They reestablish, then reject, social
ties, rediscovering the feeling of belonging, then escaping commitments,
vanishing into thin air... 

Restraint, not tight bondage, is in order.  The gap is always where it's
at, even if it's tethered at both ends.  The objective is to grab people
and hold them without letting them know they are captured, permitting them
to move around in a loop, struggling without too much discomfort. 
Appropriate or sensitive containment should provide all the trappings of
being held.  Give them the illusion of choice.  They must think they can
unplug or escape whenever they want, but of course they can't without
terminating themselves.  This is like being completely immobilized by
television at the end of the day, holding the remote, scanning, roaming
the channels...being completely exhausted, yet unable to hit the power
button, to kill the television and by extension, oneself, ending one's
engagement with the 'world.'

Thus people experience the feeling of being restrained by a firm embrace
of their consciousness--not a comforting embrace, but an embrace,
never-the-less. The somewhat comforting, uncomfortable sense of being
held.  Arrested. Industrial-strength belonging. 

In vortals people are rediscovering the feeling of belonging--then before
things get too chummy, they are redispersed, sent on their way...hortaling
out into another void... 

We value the vacuum or draw of empty space, as we move out into an area of
low pressure, where our ideas are extracted, drawn like the wind,
depending on the prevailing conditions or circumstances. 

We are talking about the development, the manufacture of an essential
frontier:  reverse-engineering a private space. 

Portals, vortals, hortals and subsequent -ortals.  We move through an
expanding and contracting spatial labyrinth, an accordion-like sequential
structure for harnessing human development.  Ports, vorts, horts and

We witness the oscillations of animal magnetism (attraction, confusion,
boredom, rejection, repulsion...) in these accordion structures of
augmented human development. 

Tom Sherman


*Excerpts of this text will be used in upcoming performance works by Nerve
Theory, the collaborative identity of Bernhard Loibner and Tom Sherman. 
For more information on Nerve Theory, visit the All.Quiet website: 

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