Jordan Crandall on Wed, 11 Dec 96 17:34 MET

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nettime: blast5drama


As they are transformed through new technologies, texts and
representations become somehow inhabitable.  Complexes of
drive-thru formats and codes for a reader on the go, they
become scripts, involving their viewers in new roles and
actions.  Both the initiator and result of those actions,
the script is an architecture that provides for
characterizations, environments, and behaviors, while
incorporating them within its structure, if only in the form
of market research.  A script evokes the ways that daily
life is segmented and structured according to the logic of
various institutions, while it registers social and cultural
patterns.  It is a social field and a site of contestation,
helping to "enstage" formerly private spaces and activities. 
It prepares the actor or worker for a repertoire of
emotions, movements, and acts, often cycling through a
readymade inventory, while carrying within itself the
potential for subversion by those very acts.
Between script and action lies "the wig."  According to de
Certeau, "la perruque," whose origins are ancient ("duping
the master"), refers to the ways that traditional workers in
France trick their employers into thinking they are working,
when in fact they are engaged in personal tasks or ways of
making their work less burdensome.  They are not avoiding
work so much as working at keeping up the appearance of
work.  Engaging the wig is a way of disappearing under an
authoritative gaze, momentarily reversing the vectors of
control.  It is not productive per se, but takes place
within "production" as an acting-out, a mimicking of that
order from within.  It indicates the turning point when the
act of doing what is expected or demanded of one--following
the script--crosses over into theater, or when the real
crosses into the acted, not permanently but in oscillation. 
It resists by going through the motions, even though those
motions overlap another production realm, another order,
where they function according to alternate conditions,
expectations, demands.  La perruque is a repertoire of
windows and roles, a conduction zone of multiple orders,
which opens up the script within its very conditions,
generating blind spots within its format.  It
reterritorializes and retemporalizes "control" through
simulation and impersonation.
This radically other form of production takes shape in
conjunction with contemporary staging conditions, where a
global stage or extended factory floor emerges without a
director--at least one no longer constituted by an
omniscient, authoritative gaze, but rather by configurations
of individual capacities collectivized and extended into the
network eye, focused upon remote landscapes as well as
intimate life like a home movie camera, its stagelights
projecting scripts on walls both public and private, its
effects internalized in behavior.  The production, then, is
not directed by an abstract, controlling force, but through
the unstable oscillations between scripts and embodied
actions, which unravel and reform across episodic timelines. 
The bounds of the stageset are not fixed but relative,
transportable, and immanently refigurable--bounding
conditions that temporarily divide roles and spaces even as
they are being structured by them.
A device with which to consider the construction of this
stageset is comprised of the camera obscura ported into a
figure, to the tune of a soundtrack.  This soundtrack evokes
the television soap opera, which calls forth the
exhilaration that one feels when one is on camera--when
actions and emotions are magnified and one is transported
into the higher realms of the image, becoming somehow more
alive, while at the same time downloading dramatic effects
into daily life.  Flipping to a history channel (from
perruque to periwig), the following constructed narrative
unfolds:  During the sixteenth century, the camera obscura,
along with the societal forces that it manifests, institutes
a radical separation of vision and body:  immobile within
its large, dark chamber, the observing body lurks in an
indeterminate state between the small aperture and the
projected plane of the image, neither one of which registers
or provides for its presence.  Factored out of the act of
seeing, it only witnesses what is already there.  The
exterior world becomes known not by direct sensory
experience, but through the mediation of the objective
image.  Bound up within the assemblages of forces that help
to determine this perception are technologies such as the
printing press.  These technologies help redefine the way
information is constructed, bounded, and distributed and the
kinds of viewing agencies and bodies neccessary to register
these formations.  Immersed with embodied practices, the
assumptions, divisions, elements, and bindings of the
publication coalesce into its familiar form:  a set of
scripts, bound and systematized, infused with an illusory
completeness, registering and instituting roles across its
divides.  Intertwined with these forces and practices, the
camera obscura gradually downsizes into a smaller, portable
device, allowing one to insert one's (bewigged?) head
inside, until the device gradually vanishes, as pages and
projections align and a reconstituted body becomes free of
its confines and divisions.  The viewer-reader and the
representation determine each other like dual ends of
lassoes, each linked to incorporating forces and practices
that form their conditions of possibility, as the stage is
evacuated from the landscape.

This project marks the final stage of Blast in its present
incarnation.  From its beginning in 1990, Blast has set out
to explore changing practices of reading, viewing, and
authoring, in terms of a publication.  Blast5 marks a
transition, where these studies will no longer be continued
in such terms.  

For a discussion of "la perruque" see William Bogard, __The
Simulation of Surveillance__, pp. 110-113.  

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