Jordan Crandall on Sat, 12 Apr 2008 22:21:30 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> On the Conductive

the Conductive: a sketchbook
jordan crandall

Conductives are vehicles of obscene enjoyment, in you more than you know.

A conductive is a signal conduit, erotically-charged, that exists
somewhere between action and thing.  It has no body of its own, but rather
exists in terms of the energies and materials that it channels.  Yet it
has agency:  like a conductor, it influences the outcomes of the phenomena
that it carries.

The conductive harbors compositional forces and delineations.  It sets
forth a dynamic of form.  It contains organizational principles and
procedures, which are able to influence the timing, movement, and
composition of actors and parts (human or nonhuman), to the extent that
spatial, social, and somatic effects are generated, however illusory or

Conductives give permission, while sustaining an undercurrent of
prohibition.  In this way they maintain both enticement and anguish:  the
anguish of temptation.

The conductive does not program in a determined way.  Rather, it sets the
stage.  It is a string of enactable capacities that does not produce
specific actions and forms so much as shape object/action tendencies.  It
conjures up space, engendering protocol and social conduct, but in such a
way that unforeseen qualities, objects, and actions will emerge.

Conductives are time-bound, providing calibrating infrastructures through
which things move, or beat, rhythmically.  They have a spacing function,
which involves rhythm and temporal alignment, or calibration -- the
calibration of desires.  Yet they also signal and modulate through a
dynamic of intensification and discharge:  they stabilize, accumulate and
strengthen, lock in resonation with one another; they also discharge
excess energies, as well as diverge or differentiate, generating new
openings and fields of tension.

Conductives exist at multiple levels of organization and stability.  When
they intensify -- cross a certain threshold of organization -- and are
enacted in practice, they can eventualize forms.

The conductive generates excitations and teases out material objects
indirectly.  It agitates entities or parts until they are overcome with
their own abundance, prompting accumulations and discharge-forms.  It also
generates appeals:  libidinous attractions that solicit
resonation-lockings, erotic groupings as quasi-forms, wet and sliding.

Within this appeal is bundled an element of horror:  concealed death.

Conductives are partly formulated, partly emergent.  They are generated
collectively and polyrhythmically -- emerging from the interactions of
various forces and practices, and out of individually- and
collectively-acquired patterns of response.  The conductive "cooks"
structuration in a weak or strong way, depending upon the libidinous
energies that fuel it, and the material forces and parts that it is able
to mobilize.

When conductives reach a certain degree of stabilization, they can be
replicated or applied as templates.  This happens in an emergent sense, as
when a certain move or gesture propagates across a community, gaining
strength and adhering in a dance move or social protocol.  It entails a
form of knowingness that is not necessarily the same as knowledge:  a
critical mass of affective transmissions that begin, over time, to bond a
community and set the stage for a shared practice, intensifying the
accumulation of knowledge, technology, and materials.

The conductive mobilizes carnal secrets -- enticing combinations of
calibrated sensation.

Conductives form strings of distributed energies, channels, points, which
have the potential to stabilize, differentiate and pattern such that they
can be "read," but this is only one of the apprehension modes that they
solicit.  They contain intelligible order but more primarily, they
modulate flows.  They maneuver between the affective and symbolic
registers, or between sensation and concept.  They involve resonance as
much as representation; living presence as much as formal presence.

Conductives traverse the body, trafficking between the intensive and
extensive realms of experience.  They are structural-sensorial phenomena,
erotically-fueled, that act as motors and motivators for knowing.

Ultimately, no one can control the conductive's manifestations and
effects:  it seems to take on a life of its own, like the silly pop tune
that you can't get out of your head, propagating across a community and,
at least at some level, developing social bonds.  The conductive takes
root to the extent that it resonates with something "in you":  that
potential excess of the self that always has the possibility of spilling
over its bounds.  It is something like a sensorial motif, a propagating
pattern that generates excitations and structures disposition, yet at its
core is meaningless.

Conductives are trajectives that go nowhere in particular.  They do not
represent so much as engender.  They operate through transversal mixings,
redistributions of energy and meaning.  They modify potentials (whether
intentional or emergent) and reconfigure them in ways that might result in
amplification or dampening.

To glimpse the workings of the conductive, one does not look to it as an
object, but rather looks to the things with which it functions in
combination, and to the things with which it transmits intensities.  One
looks at compositions (aggregates, assemblies); transformational processes
(transmissions, flows); and the ongoing translations between multiple
levels of organization, or higher order and lower order states.  One
avoids the form/content bifurcation and the signifier/signified duality,
as well as the oppositions real/artificial, nature/culture, body/other. 
What emerges instead is something like a distinction between form and
substance -- or matter, content, and expression.

The conductive offers a primordial, animal thrill, though always infused
with a cultural prohibition:  a volatile, time-bound cocktail consumed
with restraint, intoxicating and alerting.  We drink but we can drive.

If there is a politics of the conductive, it exists in the realm of
competing formats and rhythms, embroiled in the struggles for systems

The conductive is not operational, not algorithmic, yet it passes through
computation and its logics.  Or rather, computation passes through it. 
Since it can always be disrupted and transformed by way of its
instantiation in practice, it is not a mechanism of control.  A phenomenon
that can only exist within open-ended, emergent forms of space, sociality,
and governance, it exists at the close of the panoptic paradigm.

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