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Re: <eyebeam><blast> identification/ART

Jordan and all, sorry I have had some downtime on my watch.

        Your brave summation of some of my ideas on "oral logic" and on
screens and trajectories refers to my essays on "What Do Cyborgs Eat?"
and "An Ontology of Everyday Distraction" (I think the reference is
cited on the eyebeam web site and both also in the forthcoming
*Virtualities*)  Oral logic as a way of creating identity or
constructing a self through "introjection" or putting something inside
or around oneself is pervasive and not at all restricted to
cyberculture--though it remains a largely unacknowledged part of psychic
life.  Nonetheless, oral logic seems to predominate in a cyberculture
that loathes, denies, disavows and repudiates the mortal body in many
ways I describe in my essay. I link fantasies of the body eating or
being eaten by the computer to smart drugs, downloading consciousness,
immersion in virtual reality and lots more. I could have added the basic
topological logic of the graphic interface to oral logic, since it is
based on "eating," "being eaten by" icons.  (I have fun with oral logic,
but it isn't as goofy as it may read here.) I suggest a counter-
strategy to the subjection of the mortal body to the computer and the
subordination of human needs and desires to corporate logic. The
counter-strategy is exemplified in an art piece that immerses the
computer with simulated bodily fluids. In this way, information society
should be answerable and responsive to "carbon-based intelligence" and
its needs. ("Immersion is another fantasy I like to take apart, along
with "intuitive" interfaces, etc.)

        Identity is a bizarre concept, since I think most of us do not
believe it is possible to achieve this perfect mathematical equation.
The concept seems to be fundamentally caught in the mirror/observing
eye, appearance/reality model and in a visually based identification
process that forgets other senses and other modes of appropriating and
transforming self and world (such as oral logic). It also suggests that
the self is a unified whole that can be known.

        The visual realm of appearance and mirroring is only one
contributing factor to selfhood. Nonetheless, the emphasis on the human
face and body in electronic art--first video,  now digital art--is
patent. However, I don't believe that the electronic portrait in
closed-circuit video and digital art acts as a kind of mirror.  For one
thing, there is no longer a structuring mirror relation between the body
and the screen. In contrast to the well-known diagnosis that it suffers
from narcissism, I view closed-circuit video art as multiplication and a
fort/da game, that is mostly "fort"--concerned with the loss of one's
own image. Last year at the ICC in Tokyo, I talked about "artificial
death" that is the explicit subject of a whole string of pieces from
video and computer art and on the web.

        Whatever a self is, it is at least partly an invisible and
unknowable generative or enunciative agency. Yet, this agency leaves
traces--aural and visual records, writing, kinetic clues to a "movement
personality," virtual personas on the net, etc.  The death of a good
friend and artist, Christine Tamblyn, of breast cancer on New Year's Day
suggested another way traces are left. Since her passing, my eyes have
been opened to whole networks of people that did not intersect often or
at all while she was alive. (I knew her rather late in the game as a
critic/artist, others knew her in different times and places and as a
artist/teacher, student, performer, lover,  etc.)  I began to think of
people held together through common experiences, memories, telephone,
email, etc. as composing separate layers now somehow linked together
into a far larger network than I had ever imagined. One would think that
such far-flung people would not enact the rituals one expects of tight
knit communities in small towns--including the food brought in and
shared after death--but they did.  Next week we shall have more rituals,
including a retrospective, a performance and a memorial. Volunteers have
come forth to finish her last CD-ROM and to conduct various aspects of
the rites that will extend the dramatic arc of her life beyond its
abrupt and early end. Total strangers have suddenly become co-workers in
this project and my friends. She is the (absent) node that has forged so
many new links, most of them maintained in email and on the web.

         Not to say that the web is not and does not also increasingly
serve commodity exchange.  As for "vehicularizing," I wrote about the
metapsychology of what I now call "proto-cyberspace" while I was living
in Los Angeles.  (I've had puzzled Austrians and Milwaukeans admit they
didn't know WHAT I was talking about--and no wonder.) Spending time so
much time alone in my car spacing out on the freeway (sometimes finding
myself miles away heading in the wrong direction) was only part of the
isolation found in suburbs and malls (oddly enough--but I explain why)
and televison viewing. This isolation calls forth, according Raymond
Williams, television; now networks perform a far more demanding
integrative task with more elaborate and sophisticated ways of
interpellating you and me.) I also theorized the passage of value
through different ontological stages (concepts, images, commodity
displays, built environment, objects, bodies, etc.) and systems of
exchange (sexual-matrimonial, economic, symbolic), keyed through the
television image (and now information) as the virtual common
denominator.  In contrast to my LA experience, I find driving through El
Nino rains over the Santa Cruz mountains difficult to theorize about.

        There is so much I could discuss about identification that I
haven't addressed.  "My week" is nearly over and I have just touched on
a few topics, told a few stories.  I am looking forward to surfing
through all the art links mentioned on the list so far on eyebeam--but
that is a treat that will have to wait.

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