4. Each subject exists at a not-insignificant remove from equilibrium in the Facebook Polis. The addition of friends known and unknown; the multiplying of relations around a particular node or series of nodes — that is, the development of severals within a multiplicity, each with its own intensity; the steady release of new technologies or interfaces; all of these and more push the expression of the space and its myriad produced subjectivities to disequilibrium. The steady rhythm of signal modulation that is one’s wall (dermis) offers the illusion of an equilibrium or homeostasis to soothe what is otherwise the stress of the system.
5. Virilio’s stereoscopics of “here” and “now” are not so much spatiotemporal coordinates on or off the network, but rather qualities of relation(s) in changing modes of embodiment. This suggests they each provide differential modes for *breathing*, either artfully inspired or expired. The Facebook Polis offers one such potential “now” for breathing as a form of political action.
6. Today we are all “creators,” all able to see ourselves extended into the data networks of the ludic-synthetic. In other words, all complicit in the creation of a new mirror — a slightly kaleidoscopic mirror, mind you — but one that captivates us like Narcissus long beyond that mirror phase of childhood. Like the two-way sort used in clinical psychology, however, this new era of the interactive is at once mirror and screen, at once opportunity for enclosed self-contemplation and open performance. For we all know what lurks behind the silvering of this new mirror in the Facebook Polis and that is the gaze: sometimes manifest as benevolent glance and sometimes as cold, clinical, unblinking stare. Always performance.
Narcissus never suspected that Echo was swimming below the surface of the pool, but we know better.
7. This blur between mirror and screen is perhaps best understood in the language used to describe it: “one-way mirror”, “two-way mirror”, “one-way glass” and “two-way glass” are all used interchangeably, two sets of complete opposites in recombination to express the same concept. The fragmented subject only finds confusion in its attempts to articulate its relation to the interface; even with this 2x2 matrix the concept eludes us. Political action in the Facebook Polis must consider both the material element of this membrane between gesture and vision as well as its relative opacity in approaching the speed of light — the panoptic space is obsolesced by our very reflection.
posted in no particular order, these aphorisms are the beginnings of a microbook-in-progress for Delere Press, a boutique e-book publishing venture by Jeremy Fernando and Yanyun Chen
But the story is not finished. I run as fast as I can — through the crowd, away from the crowd, around the corner. I duck down an alleyway, past the old truck symphony installation, till I find a point of refuge, a quiet clearing at the periphery of the Distillery District. I stand there, panting …
(What the fuck did I just do?)
A few minutes later I loop back to the site of performance — the site of rupture. Already the crowd has mostly dispersed, wandering elsewhere in the Nuit Blanche festival. I slip on some overclothes and a toque, and continue the cleanup efforts already underway. None of the pedestrian passers-by appear to recognize me.
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Joseph Weissman: “Becoming imperceptible perhaps relates to this glimpse of a body of pure light and our reaction to it — our turning-away from one another and from ourselves, our disappearance into ourselves and into the vortex of capital and technology. Our spectrality is perhaps a symptom of our terror at discovering what we are becoming. We are haunted by the future.”
“Hill strapped five video cameras to his body so that the actions of each limb and of his head were recorded as he embarked on a solitary journey through semi-wild terrain whose destination seemed at once to be, and to be blocked by, the expanse of water which he entered as the piece ends.”
(thank you chris myhr and google for our collective remembering)
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In 1994, Los Angeles Times art critic Christopher Knight wrote:
“Hill’s earliest installation attached the video medium directly to the artist’s own body, while paradoxically keeping most of that body from view. “Crux” was made by strapping five portable cameras to the artist’s torso and extremities, with the lenses aimed down at each foot, out at each hand and up at his head. Hill, rigged in this fashion, set out to explore the grounds of a ruined castle in a wooded area of Upstate New York.
“For the installation that resulted, five monitors are attached to a gallery wall in a monumental, cruciform shape. The reference to a crucified figure is plain, even though the images on the screens show only the artist’s head, hands and feet; glimpses of an earthly journey through an autumnal, ruined place are seen in the background.
“Like carvings of the crucifixion from certain regions of Southern Mexico, which also show only these five extremities affixed to a cross, the body is pointedly absent from Hill’s “Crux.” Its absence conveys an unexpected power: You know the physical body is the source from which these arduous pictures of worldly experience were made, but only the loci of human consciousness and suffering are apparent.”
“Not only is vision visceral and embodied; it is also distributed all over the body. Small screens are arranged in the form of a cross; the artist has been crucified, pinned like a butterfly to the gallery wall. The five screens show, respectively, his face, his left and right hands, and his left and right feet, as he thrashes his way through the underbrush and down to the shore. We see only in close proximity: we only see what’s right in front of his eyes, his hands, and his feet. All the while, we hear “labored breathing, the rustle of leaves.” Crux explores the connections between prehension (“the act of grasping or seizing”), apprehension (“the ability to … become conscious of, as through the emotions or senses”), and comprehension (“the act or fact of grasping the meaning, nature, or importance of”). Seeing and thinking, as much as grasping and walking, are actions that involve some sort of physical exertion: a pressure, a displacement, a transfer from one point to another. The eyes look, the hands seize, the feet traverse; each of these motions carries the others along with it. In Crux, the body is divided among five different screens, just as that body is differentiated into separate actions, separate organs, and separate senses. A primordial synesthesia gives way to fragmentation. But Crux is also about the continuing resonance among these fragments, the way they answer to, and relay, one another” (emphasis in original).
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In a world of art objects and showings and corporate/corporeal communications, finding out unexpectedly that one’s work has already been “completed” 25 years earlier can seem to highlight the “shortcomings” of that later work, or at least strike a heavy blow to the artistic ego.
Gary Hill beats the Department of Biological Flow to market!
But if we are looking at process as process, then we can only find in this discovery a sort of perverse excitement. What is it about the very different processes, histories and contexts in which we and Hill were/are situated that allowed each to arrive at very similar stopping points in their nomadic wanderings? Put differently, without succumbing to essence is there still something of a “truth-in-approximation” that can be found in the intuitions and prehensions of independently acting processes?
Or is the idea of “independence” the problem here, as if we weren’t already walking/swimming/circling in the same matrixial ecology? Indeed, as Brian Massumi suggests, “the past and future of any particular node have already unfolded elsewhere in the network.”
Or is it simply a noisy coincidence?
1. Given the “collective/connected intelligence” of the contemporary wired world and the knowledges of our local networks of artists and thinkers, why did it take almost two years to learn about Hill’s piece?
2. Why does Hill refer to Crux as a “video installation” and why do we refer to Kino-Gait No.3 as a “performance”?
3. How can we comprehend the similarities through difference?
4. When such a rhizomatic outcome emerges, does one continue “passing through” this menhir on an “independent” trajectory or does one rather return to a certain arborescence and follow Hill’s trajectory for a period, perhaps weaving the two journeys together?
Nonsense Lab was dubbed the unofficial name of the studio space that hosted Sean Smith for the inaugural Artist/Scholar-in-Residence at the University of Western Ontario's Department of Visual Arts during 2011-2012. The title is a tongue-in-cheek homage to the Sense Lab, a program space for research-creation founded by Erin Manning and Brian Massumi in Montreal.
This blog originally documented Sean's engagement with students in the elective Visual Arts course "Toward a Kinoderm Aesthetics," other activities and initiatives with the UWO and broader London communities while in residence during the fall 2011 semester, and progress on work for the exhibition D S NFORMAT ON: Threnody from the Vision Machine, held January 12-26, 2012 at the ArtLAB Gallery, John Labatt Visual Arts Centre.
Today it continues to share emergent processes with various networked communities, as well as offering a rough curatorial exercise of inspiring artworks that engage similar thematic trajectories.
Much of Sean's current work emerges from the Department of Biological Flow, his ongoing experimental dialogue of research-creation with Barbara Fornssler. Spanning performance, installation, text, image, poetry and motion capture, their consideration of biological flow develops processes to a state at which they have just ceased to be fragile enough for one's imagination to take over and build upon the framework.
While the focus of their practice often concerns the aesthetics and politics of surveillant optics in urban spaces, they also intend to bring a more multisensory approach to their processes of research-creation -- along with generous helpings of humour.