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This issue of LEA is a co-publication of Copyright © 2011 ISAST Leonardo Electronic Almanac Volume 17 Issue 1 August 2011 ISSN: 1071-4391 ISBN: 978-1-906897-11-6 The ISBN is provided by Goldsmiths, University of London

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editor in chief Lanfranco Aceti lanfranco.aceti@leoalmanac.org co-editor Paul Brown paul.brown@leoalmanac.org email managing editor John Francescutti john.francescutti@leoalmanac.org Web art director Deniz Cem Önduygu deniz.onduygu@leoalmanac.org editorial manager Özden Şahin ozden.sahin@leoalmanac.org editorial assistant Ebru Sürek ebrusurek@sabanciuniv.edu editors Martin John Callanan, Connor Graham, Jeremy Hight, Özden Şahin editorial board Peter J. Bentley, Ezequiel Di Paolo, Ernest Edmonds, Felice Frankel, Gabriella Giannachi, Gary Hall, Craig Harris, Sibel Irzık, Marina Jirotka, Beau Lotto, Roger Malina, Terrence Masson, Jon McCormack, Mark Nash, Sally Jane Norman, Christiane Paul, Simon Penny, Jane Prophet, Jeffrey Shaw, William Uricchio contributing editors Nina Czegledy, Susan Collins, Anna Dumitriu, Vince Dziekan, Darko Fritz, Marco Gillies, Davin Heckman, Saoirse Higgins, Jeremy Hight, Denisa Kera, Frieder Nake, Vinoba Vinayagamoorthy executive editor Roger Malina Leonardo is a trademark of ISAST registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Offices. All rights to the content of this issue reserved by Leonardo/ ISAST and the copyright holders.
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editorial address Leonardo Electronic Almanac Sabanci University, Orhanli - Tuzla, 34956 Istanbul, Turkey

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Copyright 2011 ISAST Leonardo Electronic Almanac is published by: Leonardo/ISAST 211 Sutter Street, suite 501 San Francisco, CA 94108 USA Leonardo Electronic Almanac (LEA) is a project of Leonardo/ The International Society for the Arts, Sciences and Technology. For more information about Leonardo/ISAST’s publications and programs, see www.leonardo.info or contact isast@leonardo.info. Reposting of this journal is prohibited without permission of Leonardo/ISAST, except for the posting of news and events listings which have been independently received.

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Transmediation as Betrayal: The Case of the Leonardo Electronic Almanac
When inheriting the history of a publication like the Leonardo Electronic Almanac (lea) it is difficult to stay faithful to historical traditions and at the same time catch up with the evolution of contemporary online media and social networks. Therefore the new LEA is an operation of betrayal inspired by the old tradition – nevertheless a process of growing out of an old skin that was too tight and tattered. Our vision is for LEA to be a place of collective production, not just a repository of articles, but of events and research as well. LEA is changing into an institutional partner able to bring about synergies and collaborations, as well as a publication able to move between speedy productions and high quality endeavors. With the new LEA we did not face only the challenge of re-inventing the magazine and its activities, but more importantly we had to respond to questions that were not only philosophical but also economic. As any contemporary publication that is open access – in the attempt to keep an academic tradition of shared knowledge – LEA is re-born with the help of a community that united around an ideal of shared participation. The following names may not be immediately recognizable to the reader, but it is important to me, both as an academic and as a person who has always believed in the strength of collaboration, to acknowledge their contribution and work. Finally, for their support when things got rough, thanks go to Roger Malina, Gunalan Nadarajan, Nina Czegledy, Meredith Tromble and Paul Brown. A special thought goes to Stephen Wilson, who passed away this year and who I wish could be here today to celebrate another endeavor which he inspired. Perhaps more than resistance what we really need is to attack by moving the art, science and technology world into a range of new partnerships, synergies and collaborations. I have to acknowledge that John Francescutti, Managing Editor, is always right in spotting problems and issues that may arise and has tried his best to troubleshoot despite my impatience to make things happen fast. My thanks also go to Martin Callanan for his editorial work, Vince Dziekan and Jeremy Hight for their curatorial contribution and to Andrea Ackerman who recently joined us. The old framework of LEA as an information tool is still there – but it is more about the possibility of knowing that there is a space for effective collaborations and engagements. As more and more budgets are cut in the arts, and administrators and colleagues challenge us proudly with the notion ‘I don’t do anything for nothing’ or ask for unreasonable fees and percentages – resistance is no longer an option. Lanfranco Aceti Editor in Chief, Leonardo Electronic Almanac LEA is back! And growing thanks to the support of the international community. It may not be perfect but it is born of the energy of emerging international professionals that have dedicated their time and energy to make the new LEA a reality. For this reason, as Editor in Chief of LEA, I plan for it not to become a crowd sourcing tool of exploitation but one of participation and engagement. I wish to thank Özden Şahin, LEA’s Editorial Manager and Curator, who has steadfastly worked and suffered with me through what at times was a very painful process. Deniz Cem Önduygu who has grown to be LEA’s Art Director and Patrick Tresset, Web Architect, who has endured the ‘design drama’ in ensuring that a vision was transformed to reality. I also have to thank Max Novakovic and Selim Kurar, our Web Developer and Web Designer, and Ebru Sürek the Editorial Assistant. I am mentioning the financial issue in order to clarify that the re-vamp of LEA was not an accidental meeting of people who share the same goal of service to the academic community. My guess is that we tend to gravitate towards people that share our ideals and without whom many success and projects would not be possible. Perhaps in this revamp of LEA – based on a negotiation between transmediation and remediation, creation of new content and representation of old themes on new technological platforms – I have betrayed much of its historical heritage, but I hope that Frank Malina’s vision has been respected. These are the people that have given LEA time, effort and dedication – in other words money! If we were to calculate their costs and actually pay them for their time and work – we would not be able to afford to produce the magazine. It is in this context that we should renovate our efforts to build up new frameworks that allow academic collaborative efforts not only to survive but to prosper in a world of international democratized synergies that can resist and move beyond contemporary exploitative frameworks. It is perhaps also important to show that the digital is not just about technology but also about the contemporary politics and cultural frameworks derived from the adoption and usages of such technologies.

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EDITORIAL Lanfranco Aceti ACADEMIC VANITAS: MICHAEL AURBACH AND CRITICAL THEORY
Dorothy Joiner

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COGNITIVE LABOR, CROWDSOURCING, AND CULTURAL HISTORY OF THE MECHANIZATION OF THE MIND
Ayhan Aytes

SOME THOUGHTS CONNECTING DETERMINISTIC CHAOS, NEURONAL DYNAMICS AND AESTHETIC EXPERIENCE
Andrea Ackerman

INVERSE EMBODIMENT: AN INTERVIEW WITH STELARC
Lanfranco Aceti

HACKING THE CODES OF SELF-REPRESENTATION: AN INTERVIEW WITH LYNN HERSHMAN LEESON
Tatiana Bazzichelli

ORDER IN COMPLEXITY
Frieder Nake

TEACHING VIDEO PRODUCTION IN VIRTUAL REALITY
Joseph Farbrook

ELECTRONIC LITERATURE AS A SWORD OF LIGHTNING
Davin Heckman

ATOMISM: RESIDUAL IMAGES WITHIN SILVER
Paul Thomas

PROFILE: DARKO FRITZ
44 Lanfranco Aceti, Interview with Darko Fritz 50 Saša Vojković, Reflections on Archives in Progress by Darko Fritz 52 Vesna Madzoski, Error to Mistake: Notes on the Aesthetics of Failure

COLLABORATING WITH THE ENEMY
Shane Mecklenburger

NEXUS OF ART AND SCIENCE: THE CENTRE FOR COMPUTATIONAL NEUROSCIENCE AND ROBOTICS AT UNIVERSITY OF SUSSEX
Christine Aicardi

THE AMMONITE ORDER, OR, OBJECTILES FOR AN (UN) NATURAL HISTORY
Vince Dziekan

THE CONTEMPORARY BECOMES DIGITAL
Bruce Wands

MISH/MASH
Paul Catanese

LEONARDO ELECTRONIC ALMANAC HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE
Craig Harris

SIPPING ESPRESSO WITH SALMON
Carey K. Bagdassarian

THE MAKING OF EMPTY STAGES BY TIM ETCHELLS AND HUGO GLENDINNING: AN INTERVIEW WITH HUGO GLENDINNING
Gabriella Giannachi
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ARS ELECTRONICA 2010: SIDETRACK OR CROSSROADS ?
Erkki Huhtamo

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ACADEMIC

Michael Aurbach and Critical Theory

VANITAS
Critical Theory’s Secret 2010 Plexiglas and Metal, 48.3 × 58.4 × 58.4 cm © Michael Aurbach Photographer: Bill Lafevor

A B S T R A C T

In a satiric series of sculptures, Michael Aurbach uses laughter to lampoon the excesses of the contemporary scholarship known as critical theory. Spun from psychology, linguistic hermeneutics, and philosophy, critical theory, in Aurbach’s view, tends to deemphasize art objects, substituting fatuous speculations for straightforward analysis. The Critical Theorist (2003) is a fantastical contraption on a metal table, each element of which is a visual joke. Reliquary for a Critical Theorist (2005) parodies the tradition of containers for relics. Two Plexiglas “books,” C’est Nothing and Deux Nothing (2009), continue the notion of vacuity. And Critical Theory’s Secret (2010) imitates a safe. It’s empty, however, mocking the notion of an underlying meaning.

D orothy Joi ner
Lovick P. Corn Professor of Art History LaGrange College LaGrange GA 30240

To lampoon Socrates’ obsession with the realm of ideas and concomitant disdain for the pedestrian world of ordinary experience, Aristophanes has the philosopher of The Clouds (423 bc) live ludicrously suspended high up from the earth in a basket. The purpose of the Greek playwright’s spoof – indeed, the central aim of comedy – is, in the words of Nathan Scott, “to remind us of how deeply rooted we are in the tangible things of this world.”

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Aligning himself to this morally sanative tradition, in which “laughter is corrective” , sculptor Michael Aurbach holds up to ridicule the fatuitous contemporary scholarship known as Critical Theory, the dernier

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Critical Theory: C’est Nothing, Deux Nothing 2009 Plexiglas, 30.5 × 22.9 × 30.5 cm © Michael Aurbach
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cri of trendy academics. Wafting like Socrates in his basket above actual art objects or literary texts, the
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Photographer: Bill Lafevor

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critical theorist substitutes speculative psychobabble, Aurbach asserts, for straightforward analysis and commentary. Echoing the “high language” that Aristophanes ironically maintains as necessary to “high thoughts” , Critical Theory is elusive and resists formulation. Employing a polysyllabic vocabulary, proponents spin intricate lucubrations derived from Freudian psychology, Kantian philosophy, and Chomskyesque linguistic hermeneutics. Stars of the “discipline” include, among others, Jacques Lacan, Roland Barthes, Michel Foucault, and Jacques Derrida. Now is the moment to get rid of art altogether. A Aurbach inaugurated his satirical series with The Critical Theorist (2003), a fantastical, Rube Goldbergesque contraption on a metal table. Discharging their imaginary contents into an oversized pot – “it’s all cooked up” – a trio of meat grinders bear telling labels: “Essence of Derrida” (whom the New York Times labeled “an abstruse theorist”); “Extract of Foucault” (Derrida’s teacher); and “art.” But don’t worry; this latest addition is slated for imminent obliteration. Other ingredients “season” this scholarly stew. Five valved faucets contribute “Fragrance,” “Distillate of Deconstruction” (fancy word for analysis), together with FD&C coloring, i.e., the prescriptive titles of commercial food colors: “yellow #5,” “blue #1,” “red #40,” – all artificial, of course. Next, strainers serve as “Fact Removers.” Who needs the truth? Condiment dispensers termed “spin cycle” accent the scholarly garbage disposal, alias “Object Disposal,” pulverizes artifacts, while the “Art Evaporator,” a tea kettle, eliminates any residue. Aurbach’s wit becomes even more trenchant at the end of this erudite little production line. A wooden book on the conveyor belt opens to display a vibrator nested in potpourri (the French word for “rotten” is not without significance here). Egocentric and finally unfruitful, Critical Theory is a kind of learned masturbation. Aurbach resumes the visual burlesque with additions to the series. Reliquary for a Critical Theorist (2005), a spare Plexiglas box with a pitched roof parodies the millennial Christian tradition of ornate containers designed to hold saintly relics. The sculptor’s “reliquary” is, however, free of adornment; and, like Critical Theory, empty. In a meaningful detail, the gable roof is “unhinged,” just like those espousing the “theory.” A second box replicating the first but exactly half the size, as though sliced down the middle, bears the title Reliquary for a Second Generation Critical Theorist (2005), reminding us of Homer’s dictum that sons are rarely similar to their fathers; “most are worse.” It is notable that all the Plexiglas pieces were fabricated for the artist, who otherwise insists on making his own work. But because Critical Theory has so devalued the art object, who cares if it is hand crafted or not? The use of clear Plexiglas, a friable, glass-like material, brings to mind other associations as well. Frequently depicted in Dutch still-lifes of the 16th and 17th centuries, glass spheres allude to the brevity of life, a reminder of the vanitas theme, that earthly goods are all transitory. Man’s life and his pleasures are as
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hype. And a meat cleaver, “the Cutting Edge,” underscores that conversance with Critical Theory’s jargon confirms any academic’s position in the intellectual avant-garde.

The Critical Theorist 2003 Mixed Media, 7.5 × 6.5 × 8 ft © Michael Aurbach Photographer: Bill Lafevor

volumes – the first titled C’est Nothing; the second a witty French-English pun, Deux Nothing (2009). Aurbach’s tabula rasa nods respectfully, of course, to Magritte’s The Perfidy of Images (1928–29), in which the well-known caption, “Ceci n’est pas une pipe,” confounds the relationship between the words and the meticulously rendered briar pipe above. Critical Theory’s Secret (2010), a Plexiglas cube with a non-functional door and a calibrated dial lock, imitates a safe. A vitrine like that enveloping its forebears accents its mock value. But nobody has the combination, and why bother? There is nothing inside.

evanescent as bubbles, the image proclaims. A memorable example is the glass sphere sequestering an amorous couple on the central panel of Hieronymous Bosch’s The Garden of Earthly Delights (1505–1510), a vivid illustration of the Netherlandish proverb: “happiness and glass are both soon broken.” Equally empty and devoid of substance, Aurbach derides, is Critical theory. Those uninitiated into the intellectual gymnastics of Critical Theory will scratch their heads and wonder at the vehemence of Aurbach’s satire. Others inebriated by this “skein of owlish verbal irrelevancies” quote Roger Kimball – will puff up in wounded vanity. A third, more levelheaded group will laugh out loud at the burlesque.

5 – to

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The artist’s jab at pseudo-scholarship continues with two Plexiglas “books” within a vitrine, like heirloom
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REfEREncEs And notEs
To appreciate how apt are Aurbach’s excoriations, one need sample only two examples from Kimball’s book The Rape of the Masters (2004). The first is by Martin Heidegger, who might be termed, in Aurbach’s words, a “first generation critical theorist.” The philosopher romanticizes Vincent van Gogh’s A Pair of Shoes (1886), which sets two worn, hob-nailed, anklehigh leather shoes center stage against a dun-hued ground. Waxing eloquent about “the peasant woman” to whom the shoes belong, the philosopher speaks about “the accumulated tenacity of her slow trudge through the far-spreading and ever-uniform furrows of the field swept by a raw wind.” He imagines her “trembling before the impending childbed and shivering at the surrounding menace of death.” poetic and heart-rending, Heidegger’s observations have little to do with van Gogh’s painting. The shoes were in fact the artist’s own, those he wore when he set out for Belgium as a hopeful young evangelist. on a presumed pun between the name “Boit” and the French “boîte,” “box,” or sometimes “brothel.” His argument becomes even more hysterical when he alleges that the capital “E” of Edward represents the male organ, whereas the little “e” of boîte stands for the clitoris. Perhaps Professor Lubin is most creative, nevertheless, when he maintains that the circonflex over the “i” of boîte indicates the omission of an “s,” the initial letter of the word “sperm.” tinue?
1. Nathan A. Scott Jr., “The Bias of Comedy and the Narrow Escape into Faith,” in Comedy: Meaning and Form, ed. Robert W. Corrigan, (San Francisco: Chandler Publishing Co., 1963), 102. 2. Benjamin Lehman, “Comedy and Laughter,” in Comedy: Meaning and Form, ed. Robert W. Corrigan, (San Francisco: Chandler Publishing Co., 1963), 162. 3. Frogs (405 B.C.), line 1058. 4. The Iliad, II, line 276. 5. Roger Kimball, The Rape of the Masters: How Political Correctness Sabotages Art (San Francisco: Encounter Books, 2004), 14. 6. Martin Heidegger, “The Origin of the Work of Art,” in Poetry, Language, Thought, trans. by and with an introduction by Albert Hofstadter, 33 (New York: Harper &Row, 1971) quoted in Roger Kimball, The Rape of the Masters: How Political Correctness Sabotages Art (San Francisco: Encounter Books, 2004), 150. 7. Meyer, Schapiro, “The Still Life as a Personal Object - A Note on Heidegger and van Gogh,” in The Reach of Mind: Essays in Memory of Kurt Goldstein, ed. Marianne L. Simmel, 205 (New York: Springer Publishing Company, 1968), quoted in Roger Kimball, The Rape of the Masters:

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Though wrong-headed, the philosopher’s musings are anodyne, whereas other commentaries are downright ludicrous, such as Professor David Lubin’s “deconstruction” of John Singer Sargent’s The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit (1882), clearly the work of a “second generation” scholar. Rather than a charming group portrait of four upper middle-class children in their elegant Paris apartment, Lubin reads the girls as “his [Boit’s] servants, his domestics, and even, at the level of submerged sexual fantasy, as his harem, his congregation of wives, his jolies fillettes du bordel/ maison/boïte”. Lubin bases this incredulous assertion

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Need I con-

In holding academic balderdash up to ridicule, Aurbach is true to the mission of the comic. He pulls Socrates’ high-flying basket down from “Cloud-Cuckoo-Land” did Bishop Butler in the 18th century, that “everything is what it is, and not another thing.”

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to earth where it belongs, reminding us, as

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However poetic and heart-rending, Heidegger’s observations have little to do with van Gogh’s painting. The shoes were in fact the artist’s own, those he wore when he set out for Belgium as a hopeful young evangelist.

How Political Correctness Sabotages Art (San Francisco: Encounter Books, 2004), 152. 8. David M. Lubin, Act of Portrayal: Eakins, Sargent, James (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1985), 110–111 quoted in Roger Kimball, The Rape of the Masters: How Political Correctness Sabotages Art (San Francisco: Encounter Books, 2004), 93–94. 9. Aristophanes, Birds, (414 B.C.), line 817. 10. Roger Kimball, The Rape of the Masters: How Political Correctness Sabotages Art, 89.

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Some Thoughts Connecting

Deterministic Chaos, Neuronal Dynamics and

Aesthetic Experience
And rea Ackerman
Independent artist, theorist, psychiatrist New York, NY 10001 Cell: 917.554.9506 aa@andreaackerman.com www.andreaackerman.com

A B S T R A C T

The apparent randomness of deterministic chaos is differentiated from stochastic randomness and linked to natural processes, time’s irreversibility and the creation of meaning. Current neuroscience research strongly suggests that chaotic dynamics govern the physiological functioning of the brain/mind. The brain/mind is conceived as a multi-attractor system functioning at a far from equilibrium state poised for instantaneous state changes and transitions. Chaotic itinerancy has been suggested as a process by which chaotic transitions among attractors may be made and dynamically integrated in a multi-attractor chaotic system such as the brain. The article outlines a theory suggesting that the general characteristics of aesthetic experience are determined by the chaotic dynamics of the brain/mind and by the dynamics of chaotic itinerancy. Two examples, a novel by W.G. Sebald and the installation art of Jenny Holzer are described in terms of this new aesthetic theory.
Image 1. For Chicago, 2007, Jenny Holzer, 10 electronic signs with amber diodes 5.9 × 749.6 × 1,630.3 cm. Installation: Jenny Holzer, Fondation Beyeler, Riehen/Basel, Switzerland, 2009 Text: Under a Rock, 1986 © 2007/2010 Jenny Holzer, member Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY. Photo: Lili Holzer-Glier (Used with permission.)

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Randomness is not a single concept. There are kinds of randomness and degrees of randomness. One form is the classical, traditional, true, statistical, stochastic, unbiased randomness, the randomness of pure chance, pure noise, total unpredictability. Another form is the apparent randomness occurring in deterministic chaos. True stochastic randomness is independent of system history and insensitive to initial conditions. It has no state configuration or attractor towards which it tends. It is associated with inorganic, artificial, mechanical or electronic processes, or with external impingements from outside a known closed system. When thought of in contrast to the absolute determinism of Newtonian mechanics, it is associated with free will, equality of all directions but like Newtonian physics, it is associated with the reversibility of time. Under certain conditions, especially when randomness is novel, it may be experienced as a sense of freedom, as interesting or pleasurable; but the extended experience of pure randomness lacks complexity and tends towards boredom, engendering eventually, a sense of meaninglessness. Although true randomness has an important place in the understanding of fundamental processes, the presence of purely random processes has been overestimated and its impact overrated; this is in part because the pseudo-randomness of deterministic chaos is difficult to differentiate from true stochastic randomness. Specialized mathematical tests, such as the method of surrogate data are required to differentiate stochastic randomness from the apparent randomness of deterministic chaos.

Systems characterized by deterministic chaos transform - appear more random in chaotic phases and more deterministic in periodic or static phases, even though a set of simple recursively iterated equations describe their dynamics. In chaotic phases the attractor explodes, bifurcating repeatedly, wildly multiplying, only to suddenly quiet down again into a single limit cycle which then bifurcates again. The “random” chaotic phase of deterministic chaos is a fractal, a strange attractor, containing an infinite number of possible trajectories through which the system cycles while creating its own unique history. The trajectories of neighboring initial points, exquisitely sensitive to initial conditions, rapidly diverge after a few (mixing) iterations. Psychologically, the dynamics of deterministic chaos induces a sense of time’s irreversibility, a sense of unique history (choices occurring at attractor bifurcation points), leading inexorably to experiences of meaning and value. The dynamic complexity and (practical) unpredictability of deterministic chaos generates a sustained interest in us and often engenders a deep feeling of beauty. While stochastic randomness may play certain roles in brain development and functioning, current research in neuroscience and artificial neural networks suggest that deterministic chaos better describes the physiological dynamics of thought processes in the brain. Biological neurons have chaotic nonlinear dynamics and the dynamics of biological and artificial neural networks are described experimentally by fractal/ strange/chaotic attractors. The brain integrates in real time vast amounts of information across numerous brain regions without the need for a central controller; this global integration is the functional result of the dynamic interactions within the brain. The chaotic dynamics of certain small-world networks satisfies both the requirements of local and global processing and suggests how local neural networks are synchronized and synchronized/integrated with the global network. cognition depends critically, not only upon the brain’s dynamic synaptically (physically) connected Hebbian networks, but upon the emergent fluid synchronization and desynchronization of neuronal groups in the brain, the traces of which are manifest in the electroencephalogram (EEG). electrical or chemical mechanism of synchronization remains unknown, however some researchers suspect the poorly understood gap junction that electrically couples neurons may play a crucial role.
Image 2. Left, one of 60 EEGs showing the spatial pattern of amplitude from the olfactory cortex of a rabbit as it recognized a scent. The shape of the EEG waves do not identify the scent. Right, the spatial pattern of amplitude across the cortex displayed as a contour plot does uniquely identify the scent. The red contour is the highest amplitude; successive contours represent the lower amplitudes. 1991, Walter Freeman, “The Physiology of Perception” Scientific American 264 (1991): 78–85, archived in Walter J. Freeman Neurobiology Full Manuscript Archives, http://sulcus.berkeley.edu/FreemanWWW/manuscripts/wjfmanuscripts.html, Licensed under Creative Commons License: Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic. © W.J. Freeman.

2 3 4 5 6 7 Experimental evidence indicates that

SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE FOR CHAOS IN THE BRAIN
Over twenty five years ago, Walter J. Freeman implanted electrode arrays in the olfactory bulb of rabbits, exposed them to different smells and trained them to discriminate each unique smell. He recorded the EEGs during these experiences and mapped the synchronous functioning of the olfactory bulb’s neuronal assemblies within the space of the electrode array. The chaotic dynamics of the olfactory bulb’s neuronal assemblies were not apparent in the EEG tracings, but the transformation of the EEGs into topographical maps revealed the presence of chaotic attractors. The baseline state of the bulb, a low amplitude, chaotic attractor almost instantaneously transforms into a more distinct, more regular, more coherent, almost-quasi-periodic toroidal chaotic attractor upon exposure to a particular learned smell. Learning stimulates a small group of neurons (feature detectors) which recruit associated neurons, in a selforganizing process, constructing a synchronous assembly, the attractor. The spatial map of each unique smell attractor has the appearance of a topographical contour map of a hilly landscape and is stable

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If chaotic dynamics governs the physiological functioning of the brain, it then, according to the connectionist view of the brain/mind duality, determines the nature of mental experience. To understand the characteristics inherent in the dynamics of deterministic chaos is to understand the characteristic dynamics native to the brain, native to the mind and native to aesthetic experience. Evidence for this inference is that the exploration of chaotic dynamics as it functions in the brain/mind and as it is fundamental to the nature of our experience, is an important theme in contemporary art.
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Image 3. Left, contour plot from bulbar EEG’s exposed to sawdust scent. Middle, after the animal learned to recognize the smell of banana. Right, re-exposure to sawdust led to the emergence of a new sawdust plot. The change shows that bulbar activity is dominated more by experience than by stimuli; otherwise, sawdust would always give rise to the same plot. 1991, Walter Freeman, “The Physiology of Perception” Scientific American 264 (1991): 78–85, archived in Walter J. Freeman Neurobiology Full Manuscript Archives, http://sulcus.berkeley.edu/FreemanWWW/manuscripts/wjfmanuscripts.html, Licensed under Creative Commons License: Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic. © W.J. Freeman.

and synchronizing/desynchronizing neuronal assemblies that exist in states hovering at or near critical points.

caused a similar increase of local gamma oscillations in the EEG, but only consciously perceived words induced a transient long-distance synchronization of gamma oscillations across widely separated regions of the brain. The early, transient, global increase of phase synchrony of oscillatory activity in the gamma frequency range is proposed as the critical process mediating the access to conscious perception; it was also noted that baseline EEG desynchronization drastically facilitated the stimulus-specific synchronization of neuronal responses. synchronization increased saliency, selected relevant

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Synchronization may be essential to making perceptual experiences conscious and in the creation of consciousness itself. Sensory neurons show welldefined stimulus preferences, such as for direction and orientation of a stimulus bar. In one experiment, a single moving stimulus bar, whose direction of motion was intermediate between the preferences of two sets of neurons, led to a pronounced synchronization of the two sets. containing synchronized signals had a higher probability of further processing and conscious perception than responses lacking synchronization. In experi-

30 In these experiments,

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In another experiment, responses

input, suppressed irrelevant input and tended to lead to further processing and conscious perception. Early synchronization, especially of global long-distance oscillations was associated with conscious perception. From these kinds of experimental data, some researchers hypothesize that synchronization fulfills the requirements postulated for the “binding mechanism” a term used to refer to how the brain/mind integrates aspects of experience into one continuously updating whole. ness proposes that the simultaneous firing of select neuronal assemblies leads to neuronal synchrony, by triggering looping activation in associated cortical

over months; it is modified only when a new smell is learned. Freeman concluded the bulb’s baseline chaotic attractor has special properties allowing almost instant dynamic flexibility after minimal perturbation, enabling it to switch abruptly from one spatial pattern to another, “easily [fulfilling] the most stringent timing requirements encountered in object recognition”, timing requirements which are too stringent for synaptic transmission and axonal conduction.

THE ROLE OF SYNCHRONIZATION
Synchronization has been shown to be an emergent property of a networked population of weakly coupled limit cycle oscillators (neurons) whose frequencies are probabilistically distributed over a narrow range. Synchronization emerges spontaneously when the system’s behavior follows some simple rules:

ments of binocular rivalry in cats, neurons mediating responses of the eye with the conscious information increased their synchronization upon the presentation of a rivalrous stimulus and neurons driven by the suppressed eye input decreased their synchrony. In one experiment on humans, EEGs were recorded

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during the processing of visible and invisible words in a delayed matching-to-sample task. Both consciously perceived and non-consciously perceived words

31 32 One interesting model of conscious-

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if an oscillator’s phase is ahead of the group it speeds up a little if an oscillator’s phase is behind it slows down a little each oscillator is influenced only by the frequency of the whole system and not by individual oscillators.

Freeman, followed by others conclude that neuronal networks construct attractors which are encodings of experience; synchronization/desynchronization appears to be the key mechanism of the near instantaneous shifts from one attractor to another, from one mental experience to another (the stream of consciousness). The exact electro-chemical mechanism of synchronization in the brain is not known, however it is an area of growing theoretical and experimental research.

If a few oscillators happen to synchronize, their combined, coherent signal rises above the background activity and amplifies the signal. This positive feedback loop leads to a rapidly accelerating percolation effect and global synchronization, excluding only oscillators with frequencies too far out of range. The emergent global synchronization represents a phase transition of the network, just as freezing is a phase transition of water. tion, the system has special properties; the geometry is fractal, the capacity to transfer information throughout the system is maximal and the system state is relatively resistant to external perturbation. The brain may exploit these critical point properties to maximize processing efficiency – constructing chaotic attractors
Image 4. Phase Portraits of the olfactory system. Computer model time extrapolations of the very brief recorded EEGs. Left, the overall activity of the olfactory system at rest. Right, during perception of a familiar scent. Both structured but irregularly coiled trajectories reveal that brain activity in both states is complex with some underlying order that is chaotic. Truly random trajectories would eventually cover the entire state space in an overall scribble. The more regular circular/ toroidal trajectory on the right indicates that during perception of a specific learned smell, olfactory EEGs are more ordered, more nearly periodic, than during rest. 1991, Walter Freeman, “The Physiology of Perception” Scientific American 264 (1991): 78–85, archived in Walter J. Freeman Neurobiology Full Manuscript Archives, http://sulcus.berkeley.edu/FreemanWWW/manuscripts/wjfmanuscripts.html, Licensed under Creative Commons License: Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic. © W.J. Freeman.

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circuits that eventually amplifies one loop over the others in a recursive process. The interacting reentry loops reinforce and compete with each other, with the dominant loop(s), whose selection is biased by the prefrontal cortex, becoming conscious.

CHANCE AND CHAOS
Chaotic dynamics also allows the brain/mind to take advantage of chance experience. Some chaotic attractors are stabilized by noise. In a chaotic system, noise may function to jog a system trajectory out of one basin of attraction into another. Noise may also serve to make shifts in the system trajectory, by recruiting new neurons into synchronization.

new type of attractor as an itinerant attractor. It is a singular continuous nowhere differential (scnd) function, which means that although it is continuous, it is not absolutely continuous, it is not necessarily smooth, and is subject to abrupt changes in direction, as in a saw-tooth or stepwise function. (Tsuda uses the fractal Cantor set as the paradigmatic scnd function for his theory.) In chaotic itinerancy, a dynamical rule for linking orbits emerges. This rule gives rise to a causal relation among memories. The numerical calculations demonstrated that the memories close to each other are likely linked. When one wishes to obtain a certain memory state as an output of a network but has only incomplete information regarding this memory, it is necessary to search in memory space with only this partial knowledge. A random search follows chance... A search with chaotic itinerancy, on the other hand, simply follows a dynamically changing rule created in the network, which provides a dynamic relation among memories. Thus the memory in question is output after several linking stages. Then a “trace” such as that consisting of an attractor ruin is a representation of memory and the memory trace is manifested through the transition process. Here the transition process, that is, the linking process of ruins, is reasonable. In other words, memories are realized only when they are linked to each other.

local to global. These characteristic dynamics facilitate mental experience important for aesthetic experience such as fluidity of thinking, ambiguity, resonance, complexity, and inspiration. In particular, ambiguity is related to complexity and itinerancy, resonance is related to local and global synchronization and inspiration likely related to extensive global synchronization. Chaotic itinerancy may allow art, as an itinerant attractor, to transform attractor ruins, experienced as unresolved conflicts, haunting thoughts or preoccupations and may form one basis for the transformative properties of art. Each instance of chaotic itinerancy induced in an artwork’s audience is unique because of sensitive dependence of initial conditions; these instances will exist within a bounded population or distribution of responses. An artwork as an itinerant attractor has a basin of attraction, that is, positions from which the audience may evolve their experience of the artwork – their trajectories either becoming entrained in the artwork/attractor, or repelled away, unaffected. An artwork that is new and original may not immediately evoke a chaotic itinerant process; new attractors need to be constructed (learned). Once constructed, the artwork/attractor may evoke the constructed brain/ mind attractor almost instantaneously. One may conceptualize the range of low to high art as falling along the continuum of attractors, with the experience of lower art forms characterized by simpler attractors, point, periodic, limit cycle, periodic or quasi-periodic toroidal and the experience of the highest art forms, characterized by the true complexity of chaotic itinerant attractors.

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The brain is thus conceived as a multi-attractor system functioning at a far from equilibrium state poised for instantaneous state changes and transitions. Chaotic attractors are the operators that perform the computations of the system and one central computational mechanism is synchronization/desynchronization of local and global neuronal assemblies. These computations are postulated to include consciousness, memory, imagination and aesthetic experience.

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TSUDA’S THEORY OF CHAOTIC ITINERANCY
A theoretical and evocative mathematical theory of more complex brain/mind computations such as associative memory has been proposed by Tsuda.

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POSSIBLE TYPES OF ATTRACTORS IN THE BRAIN
Researchers are exploring the possible chaotic dynamics for these complex brain/mind computations. Using computer modeled artificial neuronal networks different forms of attractors have been tested for their capacity to simultaneously retrieve multiple associations. Retrieval using fixed-point attractors works if only one memory pattern is retrieved at a time, but cannot achieve the simultaneous retrieval of multiple patterns; retrieval utilizing synchrony of limit cycle attractors leads to errors if the simultaneously retrieved patterns have commonly shared features, but a network of chaotic model neurons has the capacity to keep “several memory patterns…simultaneously active and separated from each other by a dynamic itinerant synchronization between neurons. Neurons representing shared features alternate their synchronization between patterns, thus multiplexing their binding relationships.”

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He describes a process he calls chaotic itinerancy

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that begins to link, for the first time, possible chaotic mental experience. Chaotic itinerancy is a process by

dynamics of the brain/mind with a sense of real lived which chaotic transitions among attractors may be made and dynamically integrated in a multi-attractor chaotic system such as the brain. It is suggested as a mechanism for the stream of consciousness, free association, memory, creative thought, and imagination. In a multi-state, multi-attractor high dimensional system, such as the brain, each state corresponds to an attractor consisting of a multiplicity of attractors with riddled basins. (A single basin of attraction is the set of points in phase space from which a system will eventually be entrained into the attractor trajectory, but a riddled basin, occurring in a multi-attractor system, is a basin that at every point has points of another attractor’s basin arbitrarily close. A map of a riddled basin might look similar to multicolored marbleized paper.) While strong attractors have more strongly defined basins and remain disconnected from each other, the chaotic attractors in the brain must be weakly stable to allow transitions from one basin to another, one attractor to another. Certain types of weakly stable attractors, when destabilized by small, nearby perturbations, transform into new attractors, leaving behind traces of their original structures. The remains of the original attractors Tsuda calls attractor ruins. As this process iterates, the destabilized system evolves to a collection of attractor ruins and itinerant orbits connecting attractor ruins. Tsuda refers to this
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CHAOTIC DYNAMICS OF ART
A successful work of art can be conceptualized as a kind of reification, an embodiment of an (itinerant) attractor. It is an integrated output of a process of chaotic itinerancy within the artist, which when experienced by an audience, induces within the audience a corresponding process of chaotic itinerancy. The characteristics emergent in the brain/mind governed by chaotic dynamics are: sensitivity to initial conditions, the capacity for almost instantaneous state transformation (i.e. point to periodic to chaotic, synchronous to desynchronous, etc.), the capacity to carry simultaneous signals without interference, the capacity to remember past state configurations, and the capacity to propagate on all levels of brain organization from
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Deterministic Chaos Attractors = trajectory system state tends toward. Point, limit cycle (periodicity 1) = a stable, periodic orbit with periodicity 1 that repeats exactly the path with each orbit cycle. Periodic, limit cycle = 2, 3, or more countable orbits through which the system oscillates (periodicity 2 or greater). Quasi periodic, toroidal = system oscillates through trajectories which almost but not exactly repeat themselves as a spiral form on the surface of a torus. Chaotic, strange, fractal = follows a quasirepeating orbit within a bounded set, but never re-visiting the same exact point, sensitive dependence on initial conditions, trajectories of close initial points eventually diverge radically. Chaotic attractor – sensitive dependence on initial conditions

Aesthetic Experience Artwork as attractor experienced interiorly by artist, output as artwork, then induces attractor in the audience. Happens instantaneously or gradually. If attractor not evoked, artwork is not “successful”. Low to high art parallels types of attractors, point to chaotic, with most complex high art experience – chaotic.

THE RINGS OF SATURN AS ITINERANT ATTRACTOR
The Rings of Saturn, a novel length narrative by W. G. Sebald, written entirely from the point of view of the narrator’s inner experience, exquisitely embodies Tsuda’s process of chaotic itinerancy. In a text interspersed with dull, uncaptioned, blurry, greyish reproductions (suggestive of images, originally exterior, but now directly output from the mind’s eye to paper) the narrator’s psychic process, memories, associations, thoughts, and dreams, replete with their linked emotional and bodily experiences, is recounted, accumulating a sense of interconnected, complex, and scalable intimacy with the world. One pluripotent psychic moment, continuous with the next, suddenly inflects, following an apparently unrelated trajectory, but later revealing deep, idiosyncratic connections on a mysterious and infinitely complex surface, reminiscent of the riddled basin of an itinerant attractor, so that every point, every psychic experience is arbitrarily ... in her office there was such quantities of lecture notes, letters, and other documents lying around that it was like standing amidst a flood of paper... a virtual paper landscape had come into being in the course of time, with mountains and valleys. Like a glacier when it reaches the sea, it had broken off at the edges and established new deposits all around on the floor... her response was that the apparent chaos surrounding her represented in reality a perfect kind of order, or an order which at least tended toward perfection... whatever she might be looking for amongst her papers or her books, or in her head, she was generally able to find right away... street... so, I too found the familiar city... an utterly alien place.

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Sebald reifies the structure of the mind, the structure of his narrative and the structure of a work of art as a strange attractor or chaotic itinerant attractor in at least two instances in his book. The first instance involves the narrator’s affectionate description of a colleague’s office:

Experience individualized, time and context dependent and exact experience unpredictable within a certain envelope

close to some other point or experience, moving predictably, then seemingly unpredictably, creating a continuous wandering path in the mind. Chaotic itinerancy allows the narrator to ramble without warning or introduction, unmarked by punctuation, from past to present to future, from geographically near to far, from fictional to historical, from his own utterances to those of others, knowing that the reader’s mental path is intertwined with his own, following it in a crisscrossing path. Sometimes a gentle phrase such as “ I could not help thinking…” or “….just as…” signals that the permeable boundaries between two memories, their riddled basins of attractions arbitrarily close to one another, is about to be crossed. ... I can remember precisely how, upon being admitted to that room on the eighth floor, I became overwhelmed by the feeling that the Suffolk expanses I had walked on... had shrunk once and for all to a single, blind, insensate spot... a colorless patch of sky framed in the window... I could not help thinking of the scene in which poor Gregor Samsa, his little legs trembling, climbs the armchair and looks out of his room, no longer remembering... the sense of liberation that gazing out of the window had formerly given him. And just as Gregor’s dimmed eyes failed to recognize the quiet

Complexity levels

Continuum from low art to high art, low complexity to high complexity i.e. point attractor, to chaotic (fractal/strange) attractor. High complexity art has infinite points of experience, and associations within a bounded range.

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The second instance occurs later in the book: … I was on Duncan heath once more in a dream, walking the endlessly winding paths again and again I could not find my way out of the maze… as dusk fell I gained a raised area… And when I looked down from this vantage point I saw the labyrinth – a pattern simple in comparison with the torturous trail I had left behind me, but one which I knew in my dream with absolute certainty, represented a cross-section of my brain… Although in my dream I was sitting transfixed with amazement… I was at the same time out in the open… as though I stood at the topmost point of the earth within a foot of the very edge, and knew how fearful it is to cast one’s eye so low…

Complexity, itinerancy Oscillator network synchronization local global Noise/randomness stochastic resonance – noise may stimulate chaotic attractor and synchrony Time irreversibility, system history irreversibility, path choice Chaotic itinerancy

ambiguity

resonance inspiration random noise may produce meaningful associations, stimulate creative thought, imagination

Unique system history, choice creates meaning, value

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Memory intrinsic to experience

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JENNY HOLZER’S LED INSTALLATIONS AS CHAOTIC ATTRACTORS
Jenny Holzer’s projections on public surfaces from buildings to ocean waves and her animated LEd sculptures are visually spectacular examples of chaotic dynamics. In her works, texts stream at varying velocities, usually almost too fast to read, while reflected lights and backlights flash stroboscopically at different frequencies, creating the sense of fires flaming and hearts beating, in an alternately synchronized and desynchronized rhythm. Although the Truisms texts are intentionally provocative clichés, these and Holzer’s other texts, because of their emotional and value laden references, have the character of private thoughts. One example is, “YOUR OLDEST FEARS ARE THE WORST ONES” themes of violence and abuse is: “I AM CRYING HARD THERE WAS BLOOD NO ONE TOLD ME.” work is constructed to instantly induce an experience/ attractor in the viewer by overwhelming perceptual stimulation with rhythms and frequencies that relate to fundamental mind/body rhythms. When the LEd displays stop moving the mesmerizing effect instantly disappears, a sign that the temporarily induced attractor and synchronization have also disappeared. In some displays there are two separate but related overlapping word streams, each distinctly decodable, possibly reflecting that they are being processed, as hypothesized by Tsuda, in a multi-attractor chaotic system with riddled basins [images 1, 5]. The viewer is able to perceptually discriminate these streams because one is brighter and one is duller; one becomes conscious – achieving global synchronization and the other remains preconscious or unconscious unless the viewer’s mental focus intentionally shifts. (Holzer’s setup in these displays is quite similar to the experiment on binocular rivalry, synchronization and consciousness in cats and the related experiment with visible and invisible words in humans described The study of the role of chaotic dynamics in the brain/ mind is in its infancy; however these findings suggest a general theory of aesthetics that warrants further elaboration. In addition, as digitally based computers do not natively process information using chaotic dynamics, knowledge of the chaotic dynamics of the brain/mind will impact the future development of computers and artificial intelligence. These advances in information technology and aesthetics will change our environment and in an iterative, interactive, evolutionary process may lead eventually to an increase in the human mind’s capacity for complex thought, in fact they probably already have. ■ above.) Paradoxically, Holzer’s spectacle, in temporarily mesmerizing the viewer and quickly inducing an overwhelming experience, also inhibits association or itinerancy, rather than facilitating it; the beautiful and repetitive over-stimulation of the displays does not allow the mind to wander anywhere else until after exiting the installation. This restriction of mental association may be related to the resistance to irrelevant stimuli (both internal and external) that experimental evidence suggests occurs in certain states of global synchronization such as focused attention. Normal focused attention is fluid, transient and in the viewer’s control. If the viewer lingers long enough in Holzer’s web of hypnotic, pulsating lights, the initial pleasure of the spectacle becomes tinged with an uncomfortable sense of mental constriction that subtly recreates the traumatic restriction of the mind to repetitive preoccupations that occurs after experiences of torture and abuse – experiences that constitute a major subject of Holzer’s work.
Image 5. MONUMENT, 2008, Jenny Holzer, 22 electronic signs with red, white, and blue diodes; 493.5 × 146.8 × 73.4 cm. Installation: LIKE TRUTH, Diehl + Gallery One, Moscow, 2008, Text: Truisms, 1977–79; Inflammatory Essays, 1979–82 © 2008/2010 Jenny Holzer, member Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY. Photo: Vassilij Gureev (Used with permission.)

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and another related to her favorite

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CONCLUSION

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REfEREncEs And notEs
1. Michael Small and Chi K. Tse, “Detecting Determinism in Time Series: The Method of Surrogate Data,” IEEE Transactions On Circuits and Systems—I: Fundamental Theory and Applications 50 (2003): 663–672. 2. Danielle Bassett, “Small-World Brain Networks,” The Neuroscientist. 12 (2006): 512–523. 3. Danielle S. Bassett, Andreas Meyer-Lindenberg, Sophie Andreas Achard, et al. “Adaptive reconfiguration of fractal small-world human brain functional networks.” PNAS. 103 (2006): 19518–19523. 4. Olaf Sporns, Dante R. Chialvo, Marcus Kaiser and Claus C. Hilgetag. “Organization, development and function of complex brain networks.” Trends in Cognitive Sciences 8 (2004): 418–425. 5. Olaf Sporns and Jonathan D. Zwi, “The Small World of the Cerebral Cortex,” Neuroinformatic 2 (2004): 145–162. 6. Olaf Sporns and Christopher J. Honey. “Small worlds inside big brains.” Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 103 (2006): 19219–19220. 7. Duncan J. Watts and Steven H. Strogatz, “Collective dynamics of ‘small-world’ networks,” Nature 393 (1998): 440–442. 8. György Buzsaki, Rhythms of the Brain (New York: Oxford University Press), 2006, 111–175. 9. Walter J. Freeman, “The Physiology of Perception,” Scientific American 264 (1991): 78–85, archived in Walter J. Freeman Neurobiology Full Manuscript Archives, http:// sulcus.berkeley.edu/FreemanWWW/manuscripts/wjfmanuscripts.html 10. Walter J. Freeman, “Origin, structure, and role of background EEG activity. Part 1. Analytic amplitude.” Clinical Neurophysiology. (2004) 115:2077–2088 archived in Walter J. Freeman Neurobiology Full Manuscript Archives, http://sulcus.berkeley.edu/FreemanWWW/manuscripts/ wjfmanuscripts.html. 11. Lucia Melloni, Carlos Molina, Marcela Pena, David Torres, Wolf Singer and Eugenio Rodriguez, “Synchronization of Neural Activity across Cortical Areas Correlates with Conscious Perception,” The Journal of Neuroscience 27 (2007): 2858–2865. 12. Wolf Singer, “Consciousness and the Binding Problem,” Annuals of the New York Academy of Sciences 929 (2001): 123–46. 13. Giulio Tononi and Gerald M. Edelman, “Consciousness and Complexity,” Science 282 (1998): 1846–1851. 14. Francisco Varela, Jean-Philippe Lachaux, Eugenio Rodriguez,and Jacques Martinerie. “The Brainweb: Phase Synchronization and Large-Scale Integration,” Nature Reviews | Neuroscience 2 (2001): 229–238. 15. Hiroshi Fujii and Ichiro Tsuda, “Neocortical Gap Junctioncoupled Interneuron Systems May Induce Chaotic Behavior Itinerant among Quasi-attractors Exhibiting Transient Synchrony,” Neurocomputing 58–60 (2004): 151–157. 16. Walter J. Freeman and Christine A. Skarda, “Spatial EEG Patterns, Non–linear Dynamics and Perception: the Neo– Sherringtonian View,” Brain Research Reviews 10 (1985): 147–175, archived in Walter J. Freeman Neurobiology Full Manuscript Archives, http://sulcus.berkeley.edu/FreemanWWW/manuscripts/wjfmanuscripts.html 17. Walter J. Freeman and Bill Baird, “Relation of Olfactory EEG to Behavior: Spatial Analysis,” Behavioral Neuroscience 101 (1987): 393–408, archived in Walter J. Freeman Neurobiology Full Manuscript Archives, http://sulcus. berkeley.edu/FreemanWWW/manuscripts/wjfmanuscripts.html 18. Walter J. Freeman, 1991. 19. Walter J. Freeman, “A neurobiological theory of meaning in perception. Part 1. Information and meaning in nonconvergent and nonlocal brain dynamics.” International Journal of Bifurcation & Chaos. 13 (2003): 2493–2511, archived in Walter J. Freeman Neurobiology Full Manuscript Archives, http://sulcus.berkeley.edu/FreemanWWW/ manuscripts/wjfmanuscripts.html 20. Richard Sole, Susanna Manrubia, Bartolo Luque, Jordi Delgado and Jordi Bascompte, “Phase Transitions and Complex Systems,” Complexity 1996. 21. Steven Strogatz and Ian Stewart, “Coupled Oscillators and Biological Synchronization,” Scientific American (December 1993): 102–109. 22. Steven H. Strogatz, “Exploring Complex Networks.” Nature. 4 (2001): 268–276. 23. Richard Sole et al, 1996. 24. Philippe Faure and Henri Korn. “Is there chaos in the brain? I. Concepts of nonlinear dynamics and methods of investigation.” Life Sciences. 324 (2001): 773–793. 25. Henri Korn and Philippe Faure, “Is there chaos in the brain? II. Experimental evidence and related models,” C. R. Biologies 326 (2003): 787–840. 26. Robert Kozma, Marko Puljic, Paul Balister, and Bela Bollobas and Walter J. Freeman. “Phase Transitions in the Neuropercolation Model of Neural Populations with Mixed Local and Non-Local Interactions.” 2004, http://lecture. berkeley.edu/wjf/DO_NeuropercBC92,367-79.pdf, 1–27. 27. Chris Langton, “Computation at the Edge of Chaos: Phase Transitions and Emergent Computation”, Physica D 42 (1990): 12–37. 28. Wolf Singer, 2001. 29. Ibid. 30. Ibid. 31. Lucia Melloni, Carlos Molina, Marcela Pena, David Torres, Wolf Singer and Eugenio Rodriguez, “Synchronization of Neural Activity across Cortical Areas Correlates with Conscious Perception,” The Journal of Neuroscience 27 (2007): 2858–2865. 32. Wolf Singer, 2001. 33. Giulio Tononi and Gerald M. Edelman. “Consciousness and Complexity,” Science 282 (1998): 1846–1851. 34. Jaap M.J. Murre, Gezinus Wolters and Antonino Raffone, “Binding in Working Memory and Long-term Memory: Towards an Integrated Model.” Handbook of Binding and Memory: Perspectives from Cognitive Neuroscience, 221–250. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006. 35. Richard Sole et al, 1996, 13–26. 36. Henri Korn and Philippe Faure, 2003, 787–840. 37. Antonino Raffone and Cees van Leeuwen, “Dynamic synchronization and chaos in an associative neural network with multiple active memories,” Chaos 13 (2003): 1090–1104. I would like to thank my father, Abram Ackerman, for his generous support, without which this work would have been impossible. 38. Philippe Faure and Henri Korn, 2001, 773–793. 39. Henri Korn and Philippe Faure, 2003, 787–840. 40. Mark D. McDonnell and Derek Abbott, “What Is Stochastic Resonance? Definitions, Misconceptions, Debates, and Its Relevance to Biology,” PLoS Computational Biology 5 (2009): 1–9. 41. Ichiro Tsuda, “Toward an interpretation of dynamic neural activity in terms of chaotic dynamical systems,” Behavioral and Brain Sciences 24 (2001): 793–847. 42. Ichiro Tsuda, “Hypotheses on the functional roles of chaotic transitory dynamics” Chaos 19 (2009): 015113–1 – 015113–10. 43. Tsuda, 2001. 44. Winfried Georg Sebald, The Rings of Saturn, translated from the German by Michael Hulse. © Copyright Vito von Eichborn GmBH & Co Verlag KG, Frankfurt am Main, 1995. English translation copyright © 1998 The Harvill Press.”The Harvill Press, London, 1998, 3–5. (Used with permission.) 45. Ibid., 8–9. 46. Ibid., 171–173. 47. “Jenny Holzer – Truisms”, Stuart Collection, University of California, San Diego. 48. “Jenny Holzer – Projections”, http://www.jennyholzer.com 49. Ibid.

AcknowLEdGEmEnts

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An interview with Lynn Hershman Leeson

Hacking the Codes of Self-representation
A B S T R A C T

Tati ana Baz z i ch el l i
Aarhus University Dep. Information and Media Studies Helsingforsgade 14 8200 Aarhus, Denmark tati@trick.ca www.networkingart.eu www.tatianabazzichelli.com

Every society goes through transitional states of socio-cultural transformation, what anthropologist Victor Turner dubbed liminal phases (Turner, 1982). These are potentially fertile areas of rewriting and hacking of cultural codes, a cultural limbo where individuals are “betwixt and between”. People experiencing these liminal states are not anymore who they were before, and not yet what they will become. They work in a critical space-in-between, a fluid territory in which to play with the structure of representation, hacking the codes of self-representation, and recombining them into something unpredictable. In this free, active, experimental space, new cultural elements and new combined rules can be introduced. It is in these instances that technology is used with artistic, cultural and political goals. The joint action of different subjectivities which show how it is possible to create the first step in redefining powers and hierarchies; in terms of dismantling and opening social, cultural and sexual categories. Lynn Hershman Leeson has transformed the idea of art into a corporeal practice necessary for a critical redefinition of reality. Her artistic work since the 1960s can be seen as a liminal zone, where to understand the transformation of the social itself. Through her artificially constructed alter egos, active both in real and virtual life, cultural symbols are recomposed according to unedited modalities. Gender power structures, the representation of subjectivity, or the artificial construction of identities; all these have found perfect balance in her works. Lynn Hershman Leeson created a critical reflection putting her body on the performance stage through more than thirty years. Starting in the 1970s with the creation of the multiple personality Roberta Breitmore and continuing through her works to this day with her film !Women Art Revolution (premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival last September). The works

This interview with Lynn Hershman Leeson reflects on the meaning and impact of her artistic activity since the Seventies, an important resource for understanding the socio-cultural transformation in the fields of art, technology and body-politics of our present. Today more then ever, we are experiencing the mixing and crossing of virtual and real worlds; dynamics of social networking and net-based participation are influencing not only a small group of experts, but everyone with access to technology. Through the art of Lynn Hershman Leeson, it becomes possible to access a critical space-in-between, a liminal state of performativity, in which to redefine powers and hierarchies, to question the meaning of identity, and to hack the codes of self-representation. As a “cultural infiltrator”, Lynn Hershman Leeson opens up a critical interstice in the everyday life to a constant redefinition of ourselves.
CybeRoberta 1995, Lynn Hershman telerobotic doll, programming and fabrication by Palle Henkel, Colin Klingman, edition of 2. © lynn hershman 1993

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stress the cultural implication of gender in daily life thereby rewriting the codes of both art and technology. Dynamics of interaction, dialogue and collective exchange acquire a particular relevance in her works. This interview reflects on the meaning and impact of Lynn Hershman Leeson’s activities, which constitute fundamental resources for understanding of key aspects of contemporary culture. Today more then ever, we are experiencing mixing and crossing of virtual and real worlds, and dynamics of social networking and artistic creation are influencing not only a small group of experts, but also everyone with access to technology.

than drawing or painting, I wanted to do something that encompassed all of culture during that era. That is why Roberta expanded into a lived experience, as well as a documented experience, and all of those experiences were talking to each other. Later Roberta became three other women, the multiples. I wanted to have three, because in science they always have to proof things three ways. It was also a beginning of a viralization. You create something and you brand it as something, and then you make three others, and you send them out, and see what happens with those. It was a matter of infecting the environment with multiples, like a virus. Between 1995–2000, Roberta transformed into the CybeRoberta, which is an interactive artificial intelligent sculpture on the web. In 2006 Roberta Breitmore developed into a character

When Roberta went out in the early seventies she didn’t know who she was meeting – if she was going to be invited into a prostitution ring, if she was going out with some murderer or serial killer.

Your early works date mid 1960s, and since then you have been working as an artist playing with the structure of cultural representation, the construction of female identity and artificial alter egos. Projects like The Dante Hotel (1973–74) and the very well known Roberta Breitmore (1974–78) anticipated later artistic investigations into identity and self-determination. Who was Roberta Breitmore in the 70s? Roberta was a construction of a personality that was objectified. We looked at all the varying factors that make something a human or that collect an identity. It was a time when women, particularly women artists, were beginning to realize they had no history. You weren’t taken seriously and there was a stereotype construction. It was also around the time when we got to the first step of the equal rights amendment, that would eventually be passed, giving women rights in the UsA. Women were becoming conscious of who they were. Roberta was a kind of portrait of how culture represents the identity of women. A stereotypical identity: a beauty, a blonde, what you look like, what your history is, what your construction is, what you constrictions are, what you are limited by. So, rather
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in Second Life, another Roberta, who is very much like the first Roberta that goes out into virtual space. Essentially Roberta was living in virtual space in the seventies, a fictional space. So those remnants exist to make the new Roberta more resonant. You defined Roberta Breitmore as an “interactive vehicle used to analyze culture”. What was the result of this analysis? If you would create Roberta today, how would you represent her? Well, you can’t go back, but essentially today you could run the Roberta software through Second Life or any other virtual space and track it. You could track the people that you meet and the exposures you have, and all the effects of that. I don’t think it is necessary anymore to do that. Roberta still lives in Second Life and many people can become her, they can go out there as her avatar. But the Roberta in Second Life is completely different from the Roberta of the seventies. The one in Second Life doesn’t face dangers. When Roberta went out in the early seventies she didn’t know who she was meeting – if she was going to be invited into a prostitution ring, if she was going out with some murderer or serial killer. In Second Life
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you can always escape. You don’t have to reveal as much, physically. It is all done on a second meta-level, which is much safer because you can log off. Roberta even had personal counselling with a psychotherapist for about six weeks: he knew she was wearing a wig and all this makeup, but he didn’t know it was an artwork. Everything was happening in a fictional space, but it was for real. Many of your performances and installations since the seventies have opened the concept of art, bringing it into daily life. That was something that was very present in the early Avant-gardes and in the later ones, i.e. Fluxus. But with your works, art was able to reach not only a selected audience, but people in the city, common buildings, streets and unusual stages. I am thinking about the Floating Museum (1974–78), which was a pioneer project for that time. Recently, you brought art into Second Life, with the project Life Squared. Again, we have a connection between art and life, even if this happens in Second Life. What did this new experience add to the early networking in Real Life? This new experience in Second Life was very different
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from the early ones, which connected art and life in the seventies. But I didn’t invent the idea. It happened during the Russian Revolution and Grotowski and Kantor brought theatre into life. At the time, something like the Floating Museum was completely radical to do in the UsA. When we started the project in Second Life it was moderately radical. It was absorbed in a way where it doesn’t have an impact in real life. It’s dealing with a very narrow group - Like Fluxus dealt with Fluxus artists, Second Life deals with Second Life people, and it really doesn’t go beyond that. It’s very limited. We tried to bring our project out of Second Life in 2008 with No Body Special, but not many people knew about it and it wasn’t advertised much. In the Floating Museum we managed to involve around 400 people from all over the world. It was very active and exciting at that time, there was a good reaction, people liked and they didn’t expect it. The same happened with The Dante Hotel. One person even called the police because he didn’t understand that it was a work of art and he thought that the waxes in my hotel room were real people. The project in Second Life started when Stanford University took care of my archive. I wanted to make my archive accessible, and be
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in a library. So I talked with Henry Lowood (Stanford Humanities Lab) and we decided to try the Second Life project to see if we could convert it into something accessible for a broader public. We started to work on two projects: The Dante Hotel and Roberta Breitmore, to recreate and re-enact them in a virtual space. The two projects were connected in Second Life with the avatar of Roberta living in the Hotel. We thought to expand the Roberta project into the virtual Dante Hotel to create a new narrative environment. Thousands of people responded in Second Life, but it was merely a space of interaction for the sL public, so in this sense, a very limited experience. In 2005 you wrote: “As each new technology enters a society, something is sacrificed. Perhaps it is the notion of what privacy means”. Today we are living interconnected between diverse social networks and we are getting used to a daily identity theft. In your project No Body Special (2008), you combined photos on Flickr, gps traces on Google Maps and interventions in Second Life. Could you tell us more about that? The project No Body Special started because some museums in San Francisco wanted to create an event, which could interconnect them with each other. It involved museums like the sfmomA, the UCBerkeley Art Museum, the Pacific Film Archive, the de Young Museum, Hess Art Collection, Berne, New Langton Arts, the San Jose Museum of Art, and the Stanford Humanities Lab. But I think it really didn’t work because there was not much support other than for the idea. There was no money, no advertising and no structure. The idea was to make a linking system between the museums, where things from one museum would cross over to the other. I used GPs tracking to map the way people went trough the city and posting images taken by surveillance cameras on Flickr. It worked, but on a very small scale, and nobody really understood it or knew about it. All the museums had different publicity departments and nobody took charge or knew what to do about it. Today you would rather think that because of the social networks, more people are potentially open to possibilities of major interaction and participation. You can address more people than was possible for the Fluxus performances in the sixties.
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Maybe now people are more ready to interact online than to go out in the streets and do something collective. What do you think? In the future I’ll be working with people who understand these media better. We could design things specifically, that will create global sparks around different things we are doing, including mapping systems. Among these projects is of course my new film about the !Women Art Revolution. Here, the outtakes are more important that the film itself. It shows a way to redefine what a document is and what outtakes are, by finding ways to use mobile technologies, mapping system and linkage systems, to bring information out in a broader sense. Let’s speak about your film !Women Art Revolution. Could you tell us more about it? The movie is a history of women artists, which I’ve been shooting since 1968. I have collected three hundred hours of footage to make a film of 85 minutes, and what do you do with the left out films? The film has an overall history, but different narrative strategies could be brought from the remixing. So much is about remixing and re-conceptualizing what your narrative is, and having the entire material out to be re-cut in varying ways and shapes. At the moment, I have a piece in South Korea, called An Emotional Barometer. It started four years ago and it consists of a face that you can text message any subjects. She collects tags on various issues – like Obama, the war, anything at all – and her facial expressions react to the collected emotions portrayed by many people. This way you can feel globally how people are thinking and feeling about various matters. Again it’s taking a broader idea of a network that will create patterns that inform the entire planetary structure that we are living in, rather than a private personal perspective. Among your activity as a media artist, you are also a film and video director. What is the thread that connects films like Conceiving Ada (1997), Teknolust (2002) and Stange Culture (2007) with your upcoming film about the !Women Art Revolution in the 1970s? The films are all about loss and technology. Ada Lovelace invented computer language, but was never credited and was basically erased from history. Teknolust is about artificial intelligence clones: the bots
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that escape into reality and interact with human life, in effect a symbiosis between technological life and human life, and how the two can marry. Strange Culture again was about misidentity, where the media created a fictional character that they blame this crime on, rather than the actual person. All of these works are about erasure of identity and how technology adds to it and creates it. And how you can defeat that. In many of your projects, you have been a “cultural infiltrator”, managing to rewrite the codes we use to represent ourselves and our identity constructions. I think about the fake art curators you created in 1968–72 to write about your artworks and be to able to organize your first exhibits as a woman artist. Do you think social networks could be an effective territory exploring the unpredictable, the cultural “Trojan Horses” – or better, social hacks – as a strategy for art? I think many people are already using the social networks to playing with identities. But the point that matters is not really to create a hoax, but a hoax that has meaning, that is really able to change things. So far what we have seen have been pranks, rather than something that goes beyond the first surface. There is a lot of potential to do that, infiltrating almost like a spy. You said that the real gift for humanity is that each generation can re-create itself. In which way could the American feminist movement of the 70s inspire the new generation of women (and men) working with art and self-representation? I think it already has. I think most of the art that you see today, whether is by Matthew Barney or Camille Utterback, or even Cindy Sherman. All the artists now are dealing with the ideas that were put into the mix in the seventies. They are remixing ideas about identity place, collaboration, social structures and change. Stanford University is taking care of the archive of materials collected since the seventies – hundred of hours of film and hundreds of pictures, which will be available online when the film is released. ■

REfEREncEs And notEs
Brooke Kellaway, Dunstan Christopher, eds., Lifen. Life to the Power of n (San Francisco, Hotwire Productions, 2008). Meredith Tromble, ed., The Art and Films of Lynn Hershman Leeson: Secret Agents, Private I (University of California Press, Henry and Art Gallery, University of Washington, Seattle, 2005). Victor Turner, The Anthropology of Performance (New York, Paj Publication, 1986). Victor Turner, From Ritual to Theatre: The Human Seriousness to Play (New York, Performing Arts Journal Publications, 1982).

AcknowLEdGEmEnts
This interview is realized during a Visiting Scholarship at Stanford University hosted by the Stanford Humanities Lab, obtained through a partnership agreement between the Danish Agency for Science, Technology and Innovation (dAstI) and the Human Sciences & Technologies Advanced Research Institute (H-stAR) at Stanford University. The interview is part a PhD Research at the Department of Information and Media Studies of Aarhus University. Special thanks to Lynn Hershman Leeson and to Henrik Bennetsen, Associate Director of the Stanford Humanities Lab.

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Electronic Literature as a Sword of Lightning
Davin H ec km a n
Humanities Division Siena Heights University 1247 E. Siena Heights Drive. Adrian, MI 49221, USA davinheckman@gmail.com

Milton’s Devil as a moral being is as far superior to his God, as one who perseveres in some purpose which he has conceived to be excellent in spite of adversity and torture, is to one who in the cold security of undoubted triumph inflicts the most horrible revenge upon his enemy, not from any mistaken notion of inducing him to repent of a perseverance in enmity, but with the alleged design of exasperating him to deserve new torments.

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— Percy Bysshe Shelley

I love electronic literature because I hate computers. I know it sounds crazy, because everyone who knows me surely must think that I love my computer. I’ve been active in online publishing for about

numbers and does what it’s told. Yet, we are often told things like “Social networking will bring the end of capitalism!” or “Kids are more information savvy than any generation in human history!” If techno-capitalism is a religion, the computer is its word made flesh, here to free us from our sins and lead us into utopia. And so, when I approach the altar of the god-machine, whether it is in my office or in my home, rather than pray, the spirit of revolt seizes me. Sometimes I want to pull its plug. Sometimes I want to pretend it is not there. Sometimes I want to break it, slam its head in a door, toss it down a flight of stairs, and kick it out a window. But how better to break the computer than to subvert its purpose, to make it the vessel of the human? Now, I am not talking about using the computer as a tool. I am not talking about using a computer to facilitate activities like communication or relaxation, sexuality or scholarship. Facilitation is the virtue that leads to efficiency and interdependence. I am not talking about smoothing over the bumps of daily life or salving
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10 years. I served as a tech editor for the journal Rhizomes, a founding editor of Reconstruction (which was initially described as an “online cultural studies community”), and recently responded to Jason Nelson’s call to help launch Netpoetic. So confessing my irrational hatred for a thing that I rely upon everyday must come as a surprise to many of you who are reading this. And to be fair, there is more to my antipathy than meets the eye. I don’t really hate particular computerized gadgets; rather, I hate the love of the thing. Underneath what you see is a tangle of circuits, twitching with an energy that is slowly burning our world to a crisp, soldered together by some poor underpaid person in a sweatshop, and running on highly technical (and often hidden) languages. For all this human sacrifice, a computer is still just a machine. It just crunches

This essay analyzes the humanistic potential of digital poetry in the age of new media. By way of Percy Bysshe Shelley’s “Defence of Poetry,” theories of the posthuman, and the tradition of Marxist critique, this essay aims to identify an occasion for hope within the new media arts. Reading electronic literature through Shelley’s metaphor of poetry as a “sword of lightning, ever unsheathed, which consumes the scabbard that would contain it,” Heckman analyzes the ethical dimensions of literature against the backdrop of technocapitalism and instrumental theories of the human. The essay concludes with a discussion of intersubjectivity, politics, and love.

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the embittered psyche. I am talking about using the computer itself to transmit truths that are contrary to its own nature – I am talking about the ultimate and original hack – I am talking about poetry. In order to better understand this, we need to first understand the origins of our crisis. To get beyond the various hymns that we mistake for blasphemies (The death of God, the end of history, the death of the author, and the death of the human), we must first revisit the problem. While many revel in the various clichéd perversions that can be found with equal ease at the shopping mall, on TV, or in your inbox, we have to accept that a revolutionary gesture is only revolutionary if it revolts against something. The only kings that can be overthrown are those that are enthroned. And the only revolutions worth having are those that have the potential to fail. To do this, I am going to look back to the past, towards the origins of techno-capitalism (Which, in its own way, is transgressive). Second, I will advance a definition of poetry (Another sin). Third, I am going to do this by way of Percy Bysshe Shelley’s “Defence of Poetry” (Which, as sad as it is to say, is yet another violation of the order of things). The method we will use will be the opposite of “common sense,” which some will regard as “nonsense,” but which I hope might be “uncommon sense.”

humanity, and advance the world’s potential through a break with history and a pursuit of radically new ethics based on becoming rather than tradition. Nietzsche writes, “I teach you the Superman. Man is something that is to be surpassed.” into an ethical system for a larger moral community, this conception of the posthuman is a future-oriented system of value that is uninhibited by moral attachments rooted in nostalgia for the past, but is geared towards the apprehension of the greater good through any means that are readily available. To be reductive, it is a doctrine of progress with no apologies – a moral imperative to transcend humanity through human effort. Taking its cue from Nietzsche’s rejection of essential moral truths that can be taken for granted is another posthumanism, one that describes the simple facts of being. For Heidegger, this conception of subjectivity is outside of the Enlightenment notions of the self, which present the subject as a coherent and rational entity whose being is bound to the clearly delineated human body. The phenomenological approach to subjectivity rejects essentialist notions of the self, instead offering up an image of subjectivity based on knowledge as experience of the self. Heidegger discusses this notion in the relationship between the worker and the tool: Hammering does not just have a knowledge of the

Instead of presenting a clearly delineated model of the person as contained within the tidy confines of the body, this alternate discourse of subjectivity suggests that what one thinks of when one considers oneself might include a variety of everyday items and experiences, from hammers to chairs to ideas about the world. This model of the person considers subjectivity as an ongoing process with no clear boundaries, and takes into consideration the very real fact that at times a person’s subjectivity is capable of migrating out of the body and into clothing, other people, tools, or any other potential site for meaning and identification. This messy configuration is simply a part of being in the world. Interestingly enough, these developments in philosophy are paralleled by changes in science and the understanding of the brain, along with the accelerated development of media in the twentieth century. As Peter Conrad observes, “The body has been curiously rewired in the twentieth century, routing all erotic sensations through the head.” is a conception of consciousness put forward in the sciences, which presumes a certain level of rationalism as the basis for experimentation. Without rehashing the entire history of poststructuralist critiques of Modernity, I’d like to point out the relationship uniquely postmodern vantage point of contemporary theories of the posthuman. As Mark Poster explains, The problem with Enlightenment, modernist, and Marxist deployments of “reason” concerns the association of reason with a configuration of the subject as autonomous and implicitly male, as a neutral, contextless “transcendental ego” capable of determining truth in a way that associates truth with ontological specifications.

This conception of the posthuman, arriving by way of scholars like Althusser and Foucault, allows scholars total agency in the critique of dominant paradigms by offering up a model of subjectivity which exists contrary to the humanist conception and its claims to truth and authority. The conception of the posthuman is a strategy to critique any sort of foundationalism or fundamentalism by simply rejecting the subjectivity of its adherents outright. The discourse of the posthuman makes its particular appeal to scholars and activists in radical positions who did not want to see old systems of power simply replaced with new ones. As a result, traditional notions of subjectivity had to be rejected altogether in order to maintain a consistently liberating theoretical position. For scholars of race, class, and gender, the posthuman subject would offer a new hope for a conception of the person that was never to be determined by coercion, but instead by radical subjectivity. In this conception, posthuman claims to “citizenship” or rights are governed not by the rigid (and potentially dangerous) Truth of the humanistic order, but by individuals acting in community to implement anti-essentialist practices – the notion of the “person” itself democratized. For scholars like N. Katherine Hayles and Donna Haraway, the posthuman promise is that people will be liberated to conceive of more inclusive notions of the person unavailable under the rigidly demarcated notions of the human. In “A Cyborg Manifesto,” Haraway writes of the benefits of “leaky distinctions”: Many branches of feminist culture affirm the pleasure of connection of human and other living creatures. Movements for animal rights are not rational denials of human uniqueness; they are a clear-sighted recognition of connection across the discredited breach of nature and culture. Biology
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To extrapolate this view

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Complementing this view

To begin, I would like to offer here an alternate definition of “posthumanism” and how we have arrived at it. The conventional take on posthumanism goes as follows: Through science and/or theory, humanism has come to an end. What exactly this means is not clear. To look to Nietzsche’s ubermensch (sometimes translated as “superman”), the posthuman may refer to those individuals that are able to exceed the limitations of
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useful character of the hammer; rather, it has appropriated this useful thing in the most adequate way possible. […] The less we stare at the thing called hammer, the more actively we use it, the more original our relation to it becomes and the more undisguisedly it is encountered as what it is, as a useful thing. The act of hammering itself discovers the “handiness” of the hammer.

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Undoubtedly the promoters of utility, in this limited sense, have their appointed office in society. They follow the footsteps of poets, and copy the sketches of their creations into the book of common life. They make space, and give time. Their exertions are of the highest value so long as they confine their administration of the concerns of the inferior powers of our nature within the limits due to the superior ones. But whilst the sceptic destroys gross superstitions, let him spare to deface, as some “personal,” capitalism introduces an “impersonal” technique. If the good things in human life are art, love, and friendship, capitalism is an empirically codified system of alternate priorities. It isn’t necessarily fashionable to do so, but I am inclined to argue that posthumanism did not begin with those disenchanted by Modernism; it began with the ritualized disenchantment of industrial capitalism. It can be tracked to the moment when human agency was displaced in favor of a philosophy of order that led from the industrial revolution towards globalization, corporate personhood, and the triumph of technocentric culture. If we see this, then Shelley’s critique has much to offer contemporary critics seeking to understand electronic literature. According to Deleuze and Guattari, the utopian possibility is embodied in the posthuman potential of the “Body without Organs”: You never reach the Body without Organs, you can’t reach it, you are forever attaining it, it is a limit. People ask, “So what is this BwO?” But you’re already on it, scurrying like a vermin, groping like a blind person, or running like a lunatic; desert traveler and nomad of the steppes. On it we sleep, live our waking lives, fight - fight and are fought - seek our place, experience untold happiness and fabulous defeats; on it we penetrate and are penetratIf we look at the development of capitalism, we can leap off of Hayles and ask the question: If posthumanism is a product of the capitalism of the postwar period, might we trace its origins back further through the history of capitalism? It is doubtful that the critics of capitalism were inspired simply by an academic desire to calculate the values for things by different formulae. It is logical to believe, and Shelley affirms this, that critics were concerned with what capitalism was doing to people. If relationships can be said to be
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If the good things in human life are art, love, and friendship, capitalism is an empirically codified system of alternate priorities.
and evolutionary theory over the last two centuries have simultaneously produced modern organisms as objects of knowledge and reduced the line between humans and animals to a faint trace re-etched in ideological struggle or professional disputes between life and social science. and limitations for its liabilities. This conception of the posthuman as an opportunity explains that we have already marched partially down the path and have already experienced our personhood as compromised; if we fully embrace this notion rather than resisting it, we will open ourselves up to a generally inclusive and theoretically sound worldview. Of the various discussions of posthumanism, Hayle’s is the most appealing because, although it is romantic in its own way, escapes romanticism by correctly noting its material origins. And though Hayles does not go back far enough, it is along these lines that I would like to proceed. If the three stories told here – how information lost its body, how the cyborg was constructed in the postwar years as technological artifact and cultural icon, and how the human became posthuman – have at times seemed to be feared and abhorred rather than welcomed and embraced, that reaction has everything to do with how the posthuman is constructed and understood. Though Percy Bysshe Shelley is hardly the first to complain about the relentless progress of capitalism, and though his language is occasionally loathsome to contemporary critics, myself included, who prefer the proprietary language which has been invented in the last decade or so, it is hard not to see the relentless process of taking the sweetness of art and transforming it through market devices. Anticipating McKenzie Wark’s discussion of the Hacker class and the Vectoralist class by nearly 200 years (and Marx by a couple decades), Shelley writes:

of the French writers have defaced, the eternal truths charactered upon the imaginations of men. Whilst the mechanist abridges, and the political economist combines labour, let them beware that their speculations, for want of correspondence with those first principles which belong to the imagination, do not tend, as they have in modern England, to exasperate at once the extremes of luxury and want. They have exemplified the saying, “To him that hath, more shall be given; and from him that hath not, the little that he hath shall be taken away.” The rich have become richer, and the poor have become poorer; and the vessel of the state is driven between the Scylla and Charybdis of anarchy and despotism. Such are the effects which must ever flow from an unmitigated exercise of the calculating faculty.

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To be fair, Wark’s Hacker Manifesto is quite self-consciously positioned within the history of this debate, and his renewed focus on capitalism is utterly necessary in that it poses the same questions to the socalled new economy. is not in his critique of capitalism, rather his text is a thread which connects the poet of the 19th Century to the poet of the 21st Century vis-à-vis a developing capitalism.

A truly posthuman era would embrace animals, intelligent computers, robots, cyborgs, clones, and assemblages in the family of persons. And, as Hayles’ How We Became Posthuman argues,

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ed; on it we love... The BwO: it is already under way the moment the body has had enough of organs and wants to slough them off, or loses them.

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Sloughing off the coherence of the bounded consciousness of the Enlightenment subject, the Body without Organs is nomadic subjectivity; radically open to the meanderings of our awareness. Current custom would suggest that we situate this sentiment within the “posthuman,” yet the differences between
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In other words, we have already become posthuman through the discourse of cybernetics; it is now a matter of seizing the moment by taking advantage of posthumanism’s benefits and setting the parameters
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Shelley’s “humanist” intent and Deleuze and Guattari’s alleged “posthumanism” might not be so far apart. Poetry, as Shelley defines it, is not simply a particular form of literary writing, rather poetry exists in all of those writings which seek to elevate human virtue, the chief of which is “Love: or a going out of our own nature, and an identification of ourselves with the beautiful which exists in thought, action, or person, not our own.” outdated nonsense, we would do well to reflect upon this passage in light of recent criticism, which makes an uncannily similar point. According to Alain Badiou, love (which he distinguishes from simple desire or submission) is the process through which “the Two” experience “disjunction” in its very “unicity.” other words, Badiou’s love is the union between two people by which their difference is experienced as a truth. Reflecting back on Shelley, poetry is a chief means by which readers can encounter this process of love that is an interpersonal unity experienced precisely through the knowledge of that which exists outside of the self. It disrupts the narcissistic tendency of the Self, validates the subject position of the Other, and establishes between the two a relationship which is marked by the truth of this event. Taking another note from Deleuze and Guattari, poetry seeks to do more than simply to improve moral relations between the individual and society. The poem provides a deeper experience of potentiality. Shelley explains, “All high poetry is infinite; it is as the first acorn, which contained all oaks potentially.” is also indeterminate in character: “Veil after veil may be undrawn, and the inmost naked beauty of the meaning never exposed.” sword of lightning, ever unsheathed, which consumes the scabbard that would contain it.” ourselves against the simplistic equation of love with desire, holding Deleuze and Guattari’s excessive description of subjectivity to Badiou’s rigorous defini40 LEONARDOELECTRONICALMANAC VOL 17 NO 1

tion of love, Shelley’s humane mission is shockingly relevant in today’s critical milieu. The key difference is that Shelley seems to understand one thing that many contemporary theorists seem reluctant to admit: Poetry exists to preserve what is human. Not as an appeal to tradition, but as a commitment to love. So serious is this crisis, that Shelley’s “Defence of Poetry,” if it is read at all, does not need to be preceded, as it was in its day, in order to be grasped. Shelley’s “Defence,” initially appeared as a rejoinder to Thomas Love Peacock’s satirical essay “The Four Ages of Poetry,” which, to paraphrase, suggested that since there were already a bunch of good poems, poets should spend their time in useful service to capitalism. And, given the strange nature of the information economy, service to capitalism can be conceived in the broadest of terms. So “corrupt” have our “manners” become, so threatened are “the energies which sustain the soul of social life” find it. So dire is our situation that many critics and poets alike have internalized the spirit of capitalism and embraced “posthumanism,” not as a sad consequence of capitalism, but as an ideology to be embraced, that the arts have surely suffered. As with “postfeminist,” “postracial,” and “post-marxist” ideologies, which have declared gender, race, and social class prematurely, passé, posthumanism has attempted to subject humanism to the same fate. I cannot help but imagine that our literature and art have suffered as a consequence of this new ethos. My purpose is not to quibble over semantics. If one prefers one term to another, it is of little consequence. The key, however, is to view poetry through its proper framework. This proper framework need not be conISSN 1071- 4391 I SB N 978 -1-9 0 6 897-11- 6

ceived of in essential or absolute terms, for what I am after is not something that can be empirically known, after all. Rather, I have benefited in my reading of electronic literature by looking back to Percy Bysshe Shelley’s “Defence of Poetry,” not as some academic exercise, but because poetry needs to be defended, and too few are willing to issue such a defense today. If more people thought of poetry in these terms, perhaps we would make better art (or maybe we would make art better). Maybe poets would be better poets, or maybe readers would be better readers. In the face of improved efficiency, it is nice to look forward to, as much as a post-historical person can be reasonably expected to look forward to anything, the possibility that an excess of communication, an experience of authentic humanity, might shatter the utility of the interface and leave me looking into the soul of another person. Even if none of these things are true, I need to believe, as I sit in front of my computer, that poetry in any form is a sword of lighting, which consumes whatever tries to contain it. ■

1. Percy Bysshe Shelley, “A Defence of Poetry,” in The Selected Poetry and Prose of Percy Bysshe Shelley, ed. Carlos Baker (New York: The Modern Library, 1951), 512. 2. Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra, translated by Thomas Common, (New York: The Modern Library, 1950), 6. 3. Martin Heidegger, Being and Time, trans. Joan Stambaugh, (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1996), 69. 4. Peter Conrad, Modern Time, Modern Places (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1999), 605. 5. Mark Poster, Critical Theory and Poststructuralism: In Search of a Context (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1989), 5. 6. Donna J. Haraway, “A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century,” in Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: The Reinvention of Nature (New York: Routledge, 1991), 152. 7. N. Katherine Hayles, How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature and Informatics (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999), 291. 8. Percy Bysshe Shelley, “A Defence of Poetry,” in The Selected Poetry and Prose of Percy Bysshe Shelley, ed. Carlos Baker (New York: The Modern Library, 1951), 514–15. 9. See: McKenzie Wark, A Hacker Manifesto (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2004). 10. Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism & Schizophrenia, trans. Brian Masumi (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1988), 150. 11. Percy Bysshe Shelley, “A Defence of Poetry,” in The Selected Poetry and Prose of Percy Bysshe Shelley, ed. Carlos Baker, (New York: The Modern Library, 1951), 502. 12. Alain Badiou, “What is Love?” translated by Justin Clemens, Umbr(a) no: 1 (1996): 48. 13. Percy Bysshe Shelley, “A Defence of Poetry,” in The Selected Poetry and Prose of Percy Bysshe Shelley, ed. Carlos Baker (New York: The Modern Library, 1951), 513. 14. Ibidem. 15. Ibid., 505. 16. Ibid., 506.

11

But before we reject such talk as

12 In

16, that we really need poetry wherever we can

13 It

14 It is radical: “Poetry is a 15
If we guard

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PROFILE

Home, 2002, Darko Fritz, advertising billboards placed close to the borders, installation view: Croatian-Slovene border, Motel Ježevo project, curated by Nada Beroš, from the Migrant Navigator project

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INTERVIEW WITH DARKO FRITZ
Lanfra nco Acet i
Associate Professor, Sabancı University Visiting Professor, Goldsmiths College aceti@sabanciuniv.edu Darko Fritz’s work through its personal and social aesthetics obliges us to analyze both the technological determinism of contemporary times as well as the contradictions of contemporary aesthetics trapped in the conflict of real versus virtual. Lanfranco Aceti: What’s going on with you in these days? Any particular shift or new ideas and projects that you are working on? Darko Fritz: I’m wearing many hats, all of them as a freelancer. I’ll expose a few of my identities shortly here, and later focus on my art practice. So, as a researcher, I became a member of the International Association of Art Critics (AICA) last week, and two days ago I came back to Amsterdam after a short visit to Bremen, where I shared views with computer-art pioneer Frieder Nake and his team on the CompArt project and database on early digital art. Next month I am about to conclude the first phase of my fromscratch research on the beginning of the computergenerated art in the Netherlands (supported by Fonds BkVB, Amsterdam), that maps the field and consists of a chronology, bibliography and list of participants, institutions and networks. I hope this research on computer-generated art in the Netherlands will someday become public in a more visible form then the planned short text format, as was the case of my years-long research of New Tendencies international movement and network that resulted in bit international. [Nove] Tendencije – Computer and Visual Research (Zagreb 1961–1973) touring exhibition and publication project realized with Neue Galerie, Zkm and mIt press
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The Future of Nostalgia, 2002, Darko Fritz, horticultural unit, 9 × 9 m, installation view: Volksgarten, Linz, Talking the City, Transpublic, from the Migrant Navigator project

since 2007, and concluded this year. This week I saw the working copy of the Nove Tendencije one-hour documentary film directed by Vladislav Knežević and produced by Croatian Radio and Television, to which I’m participating. The film is shot in the environment of the bit international exhibition in Zkm, Karlsruhe that I curated, and includes some historic photo and film footage that I discovered in different archives. It will be broadcasted next year. As a curator I’m preparing a new season of the grey) (area - space of contemporary and media art in Korčula, Croatia, a micro-scale summer gallery and related non-profit association, that I have run since 2006. Also, in two weeks I’ll close my selection of contemporary Croatian video art for the CologneOFF 2011 - videoart in a global context. Concerning my work as a graphic designer, the finalization of the voluminous monograph of architect Igor Franić will be in two months. Next week I’ll receive the ULUPUH Annual Award for the exhibition design of the 100 Years of Croatian Theatre Costum and Stage Design 1909–2009. The printing of the PLN, a portfolio of computer-generated prints from 1969 by Vladimir Bonačić published by the Museum of Contemporary art Zagreb is is going on this days. I initiated the publishing, and worked at entire production process in close relationship with both the Museum and the bcd cybernetic art team (who holds the copyright) and wrote one of the introductory texts on Bonačić’s work, and made the graphic design of the portfolio. As an artist, I can’t attend the opening of the exhibition of sound works produced at Croatian Radio and Television that happens today (21st Dec 2010) in Split, where
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my work I_AM_STILL_ALIVE.HTML from the Internet Error Messages project is on display. Over this year I was preparing two new art projects: one is a collaborative open-end art-science boat-travel research project that I initialized, Adriatic Time Capsule, that takes into consideration olive oil culture alongside other topics related to the Adriatic as part of the Mediterranean region and a notion of the time capsule and political context of its creation. Another project that will also examine possible scenarios of the future bears the working title South Zagreb - Unfinished Modern Project. The project is based on a reexamination of an urban plan for South Zagreb (now New Zagreb) from the 1960s and its partial realization. It will consist of a gallery and video installations and AR (Augmented Reality). As both projects depend on external funds, I hope something will be realized within the next several years. Meanwhile, I’m developing several new works for the on-going project Internet Error Messages that began in 2001. As my answer serves to introduce my range of interests and daily activities, I would like to express two things: firstly, that I don’t find myself as an all-rounder, and secondly I am critical of phenomena of microspecializations as preferred and often forced modus operandi in the corporate, academic and art worlds. I find my work filling the gap between contemporary art and media art and culture. As you can see from my activities, there is an interest for a closing period of Modernism in the 1960s and its reflection in contemporary world.
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balance at the battlefield between humanities at one hand and corrupted science on the other, a science that got aligned with corporations, governments and the military machine long ago and that count people as consumers and voting entities. Luckily for the
End of the Message, 1995, Darko Fritz, installation view, Obsessions: From Wunderkammer to Cyberspace, Rijksmuseum Twenthe, Enschede, curated by Bas Vroege, from the End of the Message project

systems. Education systems and mainstream media around the world actively advocate amnesia, serving partial contents. Information becomes infotainment. Not hard-to-discover fakes such as September 11 happen in front of our eyes and politicians don’t take a stand. The word ‘opportunism’ in many dictionaries does not provide the reader with the negative context of the word. In the Western world the databases with consumer behavior data seem to be most valuable nowadays and corporate world freely and openly playing with them. On a slightly different topic, is the lack of content the consequence of a rhizomic society based on the instantaneous lack of engagement in a self glorification through digital existence? Being in the database becomes the ultimate affirmation of being – despite the content… The sovereign media, whose tactics are sometimes used by artists, do not care about who will actually pick up the signal and don’t consider it as a problem. On the other hand, emptied content can be artistically fruitful as well, opening the space of freedom and resistance, with many historic examples such as Malevich’s White on White or unspectacular works of the art of the 1960s spinning up to contemporary practice. Recent developments in blog culture and social networks bring similar questions to the extreme, but not willingly or artistically. Such lack of engagement and focus on trivia is welcomed by dominant political power structures, in the context of amnesia that I mentioned before. As in the case of documents that Wikileaks has exposed, over the last ten years it become obvious growing gap in our society of missing links between important information on display, but hardly anyone dares to seriously dig and analyze the content within the documents. It’s so sad that Wikileaks got global exposure only after getting involved directly with the Us military and not before. In Western arts and humanities we witness competition

reputation of the science, there are still a few honest scientists out there, but the overall situation is alarming. Things are not great on the humanities side either. Most of the academics from the field are determined by education and university label, corrupted in their positions-hungry and carrier-minded power plays. Pseudo-revolutionary content that is produced in academic frame balancing neoliberal powers only for the sake of the status quo is another subject that exceeds the frame of this interview, I guess. Same critique as for humanities goes for recent pseudo social engagements in contemporary art that shout Revolution and social justice! (a trend still echoing Documenta X, 1997) but thinking of the next invitations for some biennale and higher prices of their white-cube projects. It seems that these databases have become a fundamental element of contemporary society – with the state and corporations attempting to ensure

I hope you don’t mind but I wanted to ask what is humanity’s fixation with databases? Is it the constant desire to own, almost in a sexual possession, in order to affirm one’s existence as a demigod able to dispense life and death? At the global power stage, the humanities slowly started to fade away in the 20th century alongside the idea of the Modernism. The making of an archive and / or database is quite like the writing of history – in most cases it tells more about the historic circumstances of when it is written and who wrote it than relevant facts about its subjects. Critical analyses of the databases structure, as well as of its metadata and searching methods, are becoming important and an element of comparative literature studies (or part of critical theory) of today. Appropriating equal rights for using scientific tools and methods and related technologies, participants in humanities realized the cultural value of databases, and in practical terms that is a better way of protecting their territory to get their hands on databases instead of others doing it for them and manipulating databases as they wish. I find that it creates a new
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their own existence by owning people through databases. I am wondering if an aesthetic call for the destruction of databases today would be similar in its impact to the call of the Futurist for the destruction of museums and classic art. Fortunately, art still allows us to think freely and shout such ideas. I hope we get over the fascistic area of political correctness that, for example, could result in the works of the Marquise de Sade – if he was a living contemporary – to be censored and never published. The same could be for the Futurists’ ideas you are referring to. I find radical ideas attractive such as the one you proposed. It seems that exposing the true facts about some databases (as its misuse in Facebook for example) doesn’t do the work. So, we must think of other options, and some destruction may be included alongside other more constructive solutions. On the other hand the idea connected with destroying museums – erasing the history and starting from scratch (like Futurists, or Zero movements from the 1960s) is maybe not as productive at this time. We are facing a global amnesia of great achievements of the world’s different civilizations. Instead of destroying I opt for revalorization and reconstructing database
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Illegal immigrants’ dis.information, 2003, Darko Fritz, on-line project, 10 web sites, each 11 html pages. Machine-made collages of text and links, randomly collected from the web and later organised as homepages, contain partial and confusing information [i.e. disinformation] underlying administrative chaos concerning immigration. Archives: http://darkofritz.net/projects/migrant/home.htm from the Migrant Navigator project

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We can just imagine how some other field, such as solar energy, could benefit from that amount of investments and resources in artificial intelligence.
of participants and institutions driven by capitalistic value-system as well: presence in archives and databases expressed in numbers, academic points and numbers of quotations as points of reference trying to represent the content provided. Most of the art, academic and scientific content is not displayed in the public domain without some sort of payment, regardless if they have been subsidized by public funds. In most cases it is necessary to have gatekeepers in arts, but I support ones who take content into consideration, not the metadata about the author or institution behind it. 204_no_content is a subtle and impressive critique of all that surrounds us – do you believe that we are moving toward a society of the vacuum, within which there is no longer content and its context but only the medium with its data based message? I still have a hope that this process will not win in this race. Just now I have seen on the Huffington Post an article titled Top Secret America on the use of databases to collect information on American citizens… My first thought was: “As if we didn’t know that already.” And the second focused on the end of democracy as a consequence of the end of privacy… Is the ‘piracy’ of databases the next step in order to free humanity from the enslavement of the current simulacrum of democracy? The project Web 2.0 Suicide Machine by moddr & Fresco Gamba opens up this question in a constructive way; offer users a way to erase their profiles on social networks. The mask of fake privacy protection was unveiled and Facebook succeed to stop the project. Exposure and appropriation of the misused technologies are the first steps toward resistance to the current simulacrum of democracy, as you nicely formulate it. As showed back in the 1990s by Critical Art Ensemble and others, analogue civil disobedience only (as street demonstrations) doesn’t work anymore, the combination of digital and analogue is the option – as well as finding new unpredictable flexible solutions of tactical media. I find most important the simple fact that social environment is not given to us, but that is
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End of the Message [archives - live!], 1995–1997, Darko Fritz, triple video projection Beta SP transfer to DVD, 60 min, projection 3 × 12 m, installation view: BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead, curated by Sarah Cook, 2005 from the End of the Message project

construct built by people. As we considering it as such, we can freely continue to construct and deconstruct and reconstruct it or build it again. Is the supercomputer a reality? And if this supercomputer will be an ‘artificial reality being’ will it be the liberating cyborg of Donna Haraway or will it be the enslaving servant of contemporary oligarchies in a permanent and cyclical preservation of postpostmodern society as Paul Virilio could consider it? I guess that known tension between techno-utopia and technophobia will continue as the way technology continues to be made and used in such diametrically opposite directions. The question reminds of the issue of who invents and who builds technology. Halfcentury long massive researches on AI with enormous funds (it will be fun to calculate actual investments in total) showed in fact so little results. Up to the agenda from the 1960s we were supposed to live among liberating supercomputers. Now in the 21st century we know that is not the case. We can just imagine how some other field, such as solar energy, could benefit from that amount of investments and resources in AI.
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Corporate and government imaginary futures around the world have been exploiting techno-utopia hype for over half a century. Strangely enough they still find it efficient nowadays, and even more strange is that some people can believe in it. My last question is about the aesthetic of failure. If all of the controls would fail and the supercomputers died a sudden death – would we go to its funeral? I am thinking if our dependence from the machine would be such that the loss would undermine our biological survival. I’ll like to offer an art installation for its grave. I’ll not complain if we’ll go back to nature and low tech. I’m preparing myself for such a scenario by running the gallery on an isolated island and doing the research on both olives and early computers – to be ready to get some food from the sea and build a computer when necessary. ■

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Archives in Progress [Projects 1987–2007], 2007, Darko Fritz, 12-channel video installation, part of the installation view, Ring Gallery, Croatian Artist Association, Zagreb Photograph: Boris Cvjetanovic

into existence and its relationship to the future. The archivization produces as much as it records the event. This is also our political experience of the so-called

Reflections on ‘Archives in Progress’ by Darko Fritz
Saša Vo j kov i ć
Without really dovetailing to Jacques Derrida’s Archive Fever, in his Archives in Progress, Darko Fritz examines the technical mechanisms for archivization and for reproduction. the multiplicity of regions in the psychic apparatus, this model also integrates the necessity, inside the psyche itself, of a certain outside, of certain borders between insides and outsides. This outside can also be understood in Manuel Castells’ terms, as a culture of “real virtuality”. presupposes a collapse of a symbolic environment on our everyday reality. While the experience of reality has always been virtual because it is always perceived through symbols, the specificity of the system in question is that here, reality itself (that is, people’s material/symbolic existence) is entirely captured, fully immersed in a virtual image setting. In other words, a
First published in Darko Fritz (ed.), Archives in Progress [projects 1987–2007], HDLU, Zagreb / Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art Rijeka, 2007

new media”.

recircumscribed and recircumcised, whereby the limits of what lends itself as a storage place or “home,” becomes extended and redefined. The symbolic network based on technologies of representation and communication lends itself to a multiplicity of universes. Archives in Progress demonstrate that the question of memory is not a question of the past. Derrida argues that this “is a question of the future, the question of the future itself, the question of response, of promise and of responsibility for tomorrow. political power without control of the archive, Derrida adds, if not of memory. Effective democratization can always be measured by this essential criterion: the public’s participation in and the access to the archive, its constitution and interpretation. Accordingly, due for “reality” itself. As a result, and as Darko Fritz’s work shows, social discourse becomes reflective in triple sense: it can be traced on the level of the media texts, the level of the public sphere, and our memories affected by both. A culture of real virtuality brings about the mixing of tenses to create what Castells calls a forever universe, a ‘timeless time’, and this is exactly the way Darko Fritz uses media technology – to escape the contexts of its existence. Media texts affect the mnemic archive, but the archivization process is affected by the combination of electronic images, printing, and writing; all this becomes a prosthesis to our mnemic reserve, or hypomnestic technique as Derida calls it. Archives in Progress echo Derrida’s concepts because Fritz’s work shows that the archive is not only a place for storing and conserving an archivable content of the past, but just as Derrida asserts “the technical structure of the archiving archive also determines the structure of the archivable content even in its very coming
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3 As a result, the mnemic scars can be

4 There is no

to their capacity to expand the techniques for storing and producing memories, Darko Fritz’s media texts have a significant role to play in the remaking of future histories. ■

1

Taking into account

2

The culture of “real virtuality”

REfEREncEs And notEs
1. Jacques Derrida, Archive Fever: A Freudian Impression, transl. Eric Prenowitz, (Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 1996). 2. Manuel Castells, The Information Age: Economy, Society and Culture Vol. 1–3 (Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 1996–1998). 3. Jacques Derrida, Archive Fever: A Freudian Impression, transl. Eric Prenowitz, (Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 1996), 17. 4. Ibid., 36.

mechanism which operated implicitly, as the hidden foundation of our lives, now, with the new technology, becomes explicit. The emergence of the previously concealed “symbolic order” has crucial consequences
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204_NO_CONTENT, 2007, Darko Fritz, horticulture unit, 3.6 × 31 m, 2220 cactusses Echinocactus grusonii [each cca. 18 cm diam.], vulkanic lava, desert send installation view: El Efeque, Fuerteventura, Canari Islands, Deambulatorios de una jornada, en el principio y el proyecto Tindaya [Wanderings of a day, in the beginning and the Tindaya project], curated by Nilo Casares, from the Internet Error Messages project

Types of failure as defined by WWW.institute-of-failure.com AccIdEnt / mIstAkE / wEAknEss / InABILItY / IncoRREct mEtHod / UsELEssnEss / IncomPAtIBILItY / EmBARRAssmEnt / confUsIon / REdUndAncY / oBsoLEscEncE / IncoHEREncE / UnREcoGnIZABILItY / ABsURdItY / InVIsIBILItY / ImPERmAnEncE / dEcAY / InstABILItY / foRGEtABILItY / tARdInEss / dIsAPPEARAncE / cAtAstRoPHE / UncERtAIntY / doUBt / fEAR / dIstRActIBILItY

their animal, ‘pre-civilized’ state. Although completely different when it comes to the final consequences on humanity, those two phantasms entail one thing in common – the impossibility to disconnect present-day humans from their evolutionary new technological environment, an environment that should bring them to the final resurrection or to the final end.

decides to pinpoint the emptiness of the global digital database (204 no contEnt, 404 fILE not foUnd), the exhaustion of its resources (503 oUt of REsoURcEs), the hidden rules according to which the system accepts or rejects our actions (406 not AccEPtABLE), the existence of different systems and their structural incompatibility (405 UnsUPPoRtEd mEdIA tYPE), as well as invisible trajectories and movements within the system itself (302 moVEd tEmPoRARILY). Through those actions of decontextualization of system messages, Fritz erases the illusion of their functionality; he turns them into what they actually are – ornamental screens whose purpose is to

Notes on the Aesthetics of Failure

Error to Mistake

Technology and machines are not created ex nihilo; they are the children of imperfect humanity. Human obsession with machines hides the desire to create all we are not – perfect, flawless and eternal. This race to create mechanical-beings-we’ll-never-be has been used as a tool in inter-national political fights for dominance many times in the past. Nevertheless, as Slavoj Žižek has noticed, the cold war between the UsA and UssR became unnecessary when it came to the creation and perfection of super-computers. According to him, this is primarily because computers entail a permanent lack, a permanent mistake in their own essence that will provide enough room for future more

Ves na M a d zos ki
SKOR - Foundation for Art and Public Domain Ruysdaelkade 2 NL-1072 AG Amsterdam The Netherlands madzoski@gmail.com http://madzoski.synthasite.com

“One day in the near future anthologies of 20th century inter-office memos might be as treasured as the correspondence of Virginia Woolf and T. S. Eliot.” — J. G. Ballard, A User’s Guide to the Millennium (1996)

developed and more perfect models. This immanent imperfection of a brain-machine became its structural condition that guarantees its development and future. Nevertheless, humanity wants to stay blind and deaf for this and chooses to believe in the perfection of machines, being surprised every time when the sysDetail from 204_NO_CONTENT, 2007, Darko Fritz

Two dominant scenarios of the future of humanity have marked the (post)modern century behind us. According to the first, optimistic one, we will reach unimaginable evolutionary peaks due to technological perfection; this disciplined and orderly functioning of machines will bring humans to the final state of evolution where the body never leaves the coziness of the pre-natal state of fullness and happiness. The other

tem shows its holes and mistakes. Darko Fritz’s series of works entitled Internet Error Messages takes for its subject those glitches, delays and crashes, cracks and gaps in the ‘perfect’ system of technology-based everyday life at the beginning of the 21st century. Fritz decides to displace those functional messages out of their ‘natural’ technological environment and questions their real function. In the original environment, those messages have the function of showing us the possibility of the system to communicate with us, delivering messages about its internal processes. Through the selection of particular messages, Fritz
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hide the holes in the system. Fritz decides to take them ‘out’ and put them back in an ‘unnatural’ natural environment, using land and flowers to replace pixels and electronic signals. Their new form is ephemeral; it lasts until the organic matter lives, showing us the ‘true’ transient order of things as juxtaposed to the promised eternity of the technological universe. They become a part of the landscape, assembled for the gaze coming from above, forcing us to re-examine our godly position in creating and managing the usual environment of machines.
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First published in Darko Fritz (ed.), Archives in Progress [projects 1987–2007], HDLU, Zagreb / Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art Rijeka, 2007

scenario gives a more concerned view on the technological advancement and supremacy, haunted with the images of Earth’s exhausted natural resources that will put humans a few evolutionary steps back – to
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302_MOVED_TEMPORARILY, 2004–2005, Darko Fritz, horticulture unit, 3.5 × 40 m installation view: intersection Ulica Hrvatske bratske zajednice + Av. Većeslava Holjevca, Zagreb, from the Internet Error Messages project

In his decision to use both analogue and digital machines and systems, Fritz wants to establish a connection between the two, testing their ability to communicate with each other but at the same time showing us the speed of change and the abandonment of technical tools in just a matter of months. Fax messages were a dominant way of communication just a decade ago. Today, they already function as tombstones of previous times, allowing us to perceive their aesthetics not any more as functional but as purely visual pleasure. In his actions of sending fax messages to different art institutions (series of works entitled Fax.nl), Fritz not only underlines this, but he also tests the art system and the way it defines and recognizes works of art. The failure to recognize them as such means their erasure from the dominant narrative of art history and their exchange value becomes zero. This way, it becomes clear that the system is not an entity that exists by itself; it depends on and is made out of the human beings who have the power and agency to accept or reject things as art or something that is not. Those visual expressions that I dare to name the aesthetics of failure function as a constant reminder that things might and do go wrong, and the failure of a machine to fulfill its promises of bringing us perfection and eternal happiness becomes the condition of its actual existence. Stripping them off of their functionality, Fritz shows the lacks those messages try to hide, warning us of the ongoing processes in highly bureaucratized present-day societies to transfer all decision-making to machines as being dangerous in
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its essence. The distribution of power to a machine that makes mistakes and has no empathy with the smashed human being on the other side belongs more to the other, pessimistic scenario of the future. The possibility to become a statistical error needed for the functioning of every system does not sound comforting at all. As the lucid quote from the beginning of this text reveals, it seems that the fax and email messages we exchange today might be the way for some future generations (in the optimistic scenario) to decipher the essence of our existence. And Fritz’s work shows that this cannot be done without acknowledging the ones considered to be mistakes – empty, blank spaces in the technological memory. ■

404_FILE_NOT_FOUND, 2003, Darko Fritz, horticulture unit, 2.5 × 25 m, installation view: Forum, Zadar, Artistexture / Zadar Uživo 03, curated by Iva Radmila Janković, from the Internet Error Messages project

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NEXUS OF ART AND SCIENCE
The Centre for Computational Neuroscience and Robotics at University of Sussex
MULTIPLE HETEROGENEITIES
The phrase ‘Artificial Life art’

The author explores the relationships between science and art that have developed at the Centre for Computational Neuroscience and Robotics (CCNR) of the University of Sussex, which harbours an internationally renowned, leading research group in Artificial Life, Cognitive Science and Evolutionary Robotics. The aim is to establish whether and how interdisciplinary art-science practices at CCNR may lead to novel forms of knowledge production. Using fieldwork material as well as bibliographic and web resources, it showcases a number of initiatives and realizations. It also examines how individual researchers may understand, conceptualize, and justify, their experience and practice at the art-science junction in Artificial Life. This paper derives from the author’s PhD research project, of which a main focus has been to investigate interdisciplinary practices in the field of Artificial Life, which cross over the ‘two cultures’ divide. Artificial Life art [1] is a predominant case of such interdisciplinarity crossover in the field of Artificial Life in general, and in the Sussex research group in particular.

Christ ine A i card i
Honorary Research Associate Department of Science & Technology Studies University College London Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT c.aicardi@ucl.ac.uk

sounds as though it labels such a specialist niche that one would expect to find a high level of homogeneity behind it. There is homogeneity, but to a very limited extent only, in the sense that Artificial Life art, as part of Artificial Life, relies on a broad range of biology-inspired synthetic processes. Artificial Life artworks otherwise come in a widely heterogeneous multiplicity of forms. They may come as musical, visual or multi-media productions, as artefacts, installations or interactive man-machine performances, and belong non-exclusively to the soft (virtual), hard (robotic), or wet (chemically-produced) categories. The diversity is such that art historian Ingeborg Reichle and critical art theorist Mitchell Whitelaw have both felt the necessity to categorize Artificial Life art (and neither included

2 is deceiving. It

Artificial Life music in the scope of their inquiry) prior to discussing it. Reichle identifies “three tendencies in media art which utilizes technologies of artificial life sciences in very different ways”, while Whitelaw presents the practice of Artificial Life art “through a simple typology based on four of its prominent techniques and tendencies”. With such similar sorting criteria, we could have expected them to come up with parallel typologies. Yet although they overlap, they do not converge.

and philosophy), are attempting to establish novel forms of knowledge production. I have thus chosen to organize my inquiry into the art-science nexus of ccnR around another, more productive for my purpose, set of categories, transversal to those of both Reichle and Whitelaw: artists’ motives. Since Artificial Life art is foremost Artificial Life, it is worth asking what distinguishes it from non-artistic Artificial Life realizations. It is, in many cases, the lack of constraint from scientifically accepted empirical data. But my fieldwork perception has been that, more fundamentally, the distinction tends to be located in the authors’ motives – a view supported by Artificial Life artist Ken Rinaldo: “Artificial life artworks could be considered as a subgroup of artificial life research in that most
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I will follow neither. I do not come to Artificial Life art from an art studies perspective but from a science and technology studies perspective, and my overall aim is to question how interdisciplinary practices at ccnR, crossing over science and art (and technology,
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A THICKLY NETWORKED CONFIGURATION
artists are more concerned with the creation of an aesthetic as opposed to testing theoretical biology. Which is not to say that the techniques utilised by artists do not result in real artificial life, or that artificial life researchers cannot find a visual or behavioral aesthetic in their research. Still, motivations often differ between the two groups.” The Sussex Artificial Life group organised the fourth EcAL conference in 1997, and although it was customary to have arts exhibits of sorts at Artificial Life conferences, mostly with participants displaying their realisations on the side of the sessions, EcAL 1997 went further: it was the first Artificial Life conference to involve the actual curation of an exhibition of art-science collaborations, Like Life, sponsored by the Arts Council England. Australian performance artist Stelarc, known for his provocative explorations of human body-machine interfaces, was invited as a keynote speaker. This led to his doing a residency with coGs/ccnR in early 1998, initiating a series of artist-inresidence internships. There is no special provision for providing artists-in-residence at ccnR with financial support, in the form of a stipend or otherwise. But as members of ccnR, they have some office space, access to computers, to the Robotic Lab, to the Creative Systems Lab, and more generally to all the facilities of the university. They are welcome to sit on courses, participate in reading groups, organise seminars, etc. For resident artists, a major benefit seems to be the stimulating confrontation with perspectives different from their own. Paul Brown, artist-in-residence since 2000 and visiting professor since 2005, says that he used to be very much into the abstract computationalist paradigm but ccnR has converted him to embodiment. Australian computer artist Jon McCormack, who was in residence at ccnR for a couple of months in 2001, remembers that the variety of the population was both amazing and exciting ; he himself shared an office with a biologist doing research on bees’ trails and enjoyed the interaction. Norwegian visual artist Sol Sneltvedt, whose fascination with brain dynamics and the flux of mind states led her to meet professor of neuroscience and co-director of ccnR Michael O’Shea, writes: “It’s a long time since that first Life and Mind seminar I attended and a steep learning curve. I’ve audited many courses including: Artificial Life, Non Symbolic Artificial Intelligence, Object Oriented Programming and Generative Creativity. I’ve organised many events on and off campus including ‘Forms of Life’ at Lighthouse in Brighton. As well as attending a huge number of seminar groups and lectures including The History of Cognitive Science, Alergic, e-Intentionality, COGS and of course Life and Mind, who I created an art event for […]. I’ve also made some great friends and am working on some fascinating projects […].” “O’Shea bravely invited me to become an intern at the Centre for Computational Neuroscience and Robotics (CCNR) at the University of Sussex. During this time O’Shea would answer my zillion questions and arrange for Tom Smith computational experiments that resulted in a pilot and a plan for visualization of brain activity.” has insisted on its experimental nature, and observed that all of the nine projects selected for reporting in the art-science journal Leonardo at the end of the first round of fellowships among them Sneltvedt and O’Shea’s Mindscape project, “were long-term intense collaborations in which directions and possibilities emerged as a vital part of the process. They were genuine ‘research’ projects.” pre-dated the introduction of the fellowships

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and me to carry out

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And the range of artists’ motives reveals a deeper heterogeneity, hidden behind the more perceptible heterogeneity of forms. My plan is certainly not to investigate the full spectrum of possible motives for doing Artificial Life art that can exist at ccnR. Motives hardly ever come in isolation but are rather intertwined, and can be implicit as much as explicit. I will concentrate on motives that I find most relevant to the goal of my inquiry, and they fall into two broad categories. One motive is critical questioning; art motivated by critical thinking in the conceptual art vein is more likely to re-think existing forms of knowledge production than, for instance, art primarily motivated by such first-degree fascination as some Artificial Life scientists experience through their creations. Another motive is art as research method; a driving motive for interdisciplinary projects that involve artistic research methods is to investigate possibilities of novel knowledge production practices. But before I start exploring empirically these two broad categories of motives, I will survey yet another order of heterogeneity in the art and science nexus of ccnR, that of the sites where Artificial Life art is produced and performed by ccnR collaborators. It will add yet another dimension to the multiple diversity of Artificial Life art and highlight some of its crossbreeding potential. It will also broaden the location of my enquiry to encompass a myriad of connected nodes in the environment of ccnR. I will call this configuration the ‘Sussex neighbourhood.’

Overall, what is on offer is an enabling interdisciplinary environment, for the artists to appropriate and eventually to develop into collaborative projects. British conceptual artist Anna Dumitriu, artist-inresidence since January 2007, has given an exemplary illustration of such an appropriation, leading to project development, when taking stock in her blog of the two years she had already spent at ccnR:

11 The Mindscape project

programme, but the award allowed Sneltvedt and O’Shea to develop and refine their plan, and to assemble an interdisciplinary team of neuroscientists, computer scientists and artists. For Sneltvedt in particular, the award meant that she “could devote [her]self to full-time work in the up-to-date space [they] had established in the ccnR laboratory.”

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Another major funded collaboration was the international, highly interdisciplinary DrawBots project on computational creativity, that ran between 2005 and 2008 on an AHRc grant in excess of £300,000.00. DrawBots was brought about by Brown’s close and long-lasting upstream collaboration with scientists and philosophers at ccnR and coGs. so far, Dumitriu’s collaboration with philosopher Blay Whitby and neuroscientist Luc Berthouze has led in 2009 to the “Emergence of Consciousness” project, funded by Arts Council England. Artist-in-residence internships are one component only of the institutional backbone nurturing Artificial Life art at Sussex. The traditional route of research degrees is open to art-science projects. This was for instance the case with generative musician Alice Eldridge, who graduated from the EAsy (Evolutionary and Adaptive
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The result is undeniable in terms of collaborative projects that have secured substantial grant awards from public funding bodies. Sneltvedt and O’Shea’s collaboration led to their successful application in 2003 under the first round of Art and Science Research Fellowships programme run jointly by the Arts Council England and the Arts and Humanities Research Council. Anthropologist James Leach, who had the role of ‘attached observer’ to the programme,

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Another important component of the institutional backbone sustaining Artificial Life art at Sussex is the Creative Systems Lab, a structure set up in 2003 within the school of Informatics to encourage projects at the intersection of art, science and technology. It serves as a forum for researchers and students, many of whom were members of ccnR and coGs, interested in using computers for creative processes and Systems) masters’ programme run by ccnR in 2002. Adaptive music systems were the topic of her masters dissertation (comprising both text and sound tracks) and she went on to do a DPhil at ccnR, entitled “Collaborating with the Behaving Machine: Simple Adaptive Dynamical Systems for Generative and Interactive Music”. Another example is Sam Woolf, whose EAsy dissertation in 1999 was “An interactive installation artwork: The Sound Gallery”, a work of Artificial Life art that made use of reconfigurable hardware technology to achieve interactive and adaptive behaviour. Woolf went on to do a DPhil in Interactive Art, which involved Artificial Life ideas and techniques, in the Sussex school of Informatics; one of his supervisors was a member of the Artificial Life group. Woolf and Eldridge both followed the EAsy masters’ programme before pursuing their doctoral studies. Their individual cases are corroborating some findings of the project “Interdisciplinarity and Society: A Critical Comparative Study”, led by Andrew Barry, Georgina Born and Marilyn Strathern between 2004 and 2006. Their case study of art-science at University of California Irvine (UcI) and its masters in Arts, Computation and Engineering (AcE) showed that interdisciplinary degrees at masters’ level, which accommodate students with artistic and creative profiles alongside scientific and engineering profiles, are a key component for an inventive and productive university-based art-science. Music is indeed an important dimension of Artificial Life art in the Sussex neighbourhood. Gartland-Jones was instrumental in convincing the University management that they needed a new interdisciplinary degree crossing over art and science, and in setting up a pioneering undergraduate degree in Music Informatics as a collaboration between the Music department and the school of Informatics. The degree was successfully launched in 2003 and has been running since. Its present convener is a member of the Creative Systems Lab, and teaches on the MSc in Creative Systems. Such interactions should be fertile grounds for the development of interdisciplinary projects at the intersection of Artificial Life and music, as well as for the development of collaborations between artistic forms and currents that do not easily mix. An indicator that new research possibilities may emerge through these practices. In 2007 it started offering a MSc in Creative Systems. The curriculum and targeted audience are comparable to that of Irvine’s AcE graduate programme. The Creative Systems Lab was an initiative of musician and computer scientist Andrew GartlandJones when he embarked in 2001 on a DPhil “on the application of adaptive computing techniques to algorithmic composition and generative music.” looked for a supervisor, it was not out of chance that Gartland-Jones contacted one of the founders and leaders of the Sussex Artificial Life group: the latter has a background in music and strong connections with the world of generative music. interactions is the recently set up interdisciplinary music/sound research seminar series, InterMus, aimed at “all those with an interest in research on music and sound”, be they from Informatics, Psychology, Music, Media and Film, Neuroscience, Creative Systems, Engineering, Mathematics, Physics, Acoustics, or other disciplines. Launched in May 2009 by two members of the Music Informatics group, it is advertised through the InterMus mailing list, but invitations are also circulated through various regular ccnR’s mailing lists, showing the interest of the Artificial Life research group for InterMus. Indeed, the second term of Intermus seminars, which has only just started as I am writing, opened with a talk by a member of the Artificial Life group; while the second of the two seminars in the first term, held in June 2009, featured two presentations, one by a member of the Creative Systems Lab, the other one involving ccnR current artist-in-residence Anna Dumitriu. Although Blip proved quite resilient, the disadvantage of voluntary sites is often their volatility. In 2007 and 2008 Blip’s activities were limited to participating in the first two editions of Loop, Brighton newly launched digital arts festival. By then, the initial group of volunteers had dwindled to two, who were increasingly absorbed into other projects. Blip has now gone dormant, “unplugged but not junked, and we’d be happy to talk to anybody who has the time and energy to power it up once more.” make up for volatility. Other non-academic voluntary sites propitious to Artificial Life art-science practices have appeared in, or come to intersect with, the Sussex neighbourhood. A software developer who is an ex-coGs student has set up Brighton Robotics, advertised through ccnR’s mailing lists as “Brighton’s only non-academic robotics and A-life enthusiasts group”. Some Sussex ALifers have now joined her group, and have actively collaborated to a recent music/arts performance evening, entitled “Robot Takeover.” by local artists and so they became a unique hybrid of a talk, a show and a night out.”

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Blip was a successful idea. Between 2002 and 2006, it organised more than thirty-five presentations, exhibitions and gigs, as well as four annual Big Blip festivals. The first one was one day long, the second was two days long, and the 2005 and 2006 festivals lasted for a week. The last one had over two thousand visitors.

17, who “rapidly decided Sussex was his home” 18
When he

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Gartland-Jones did not just actively participate in the development of an institutional framework for artscience projects. Outside academia, he collaborated with three other postgraduate students at Sussex University (all three were members of the Creative Systems Lab; one was researching the application and possibilities of Artificial Life in sound synthesis and real time performance and one was doing research on the scientific side of Artificial Life; the last of these students was Sam Woolf who I mentioned earlier; two of them are still at Sussex as of November 2009) to set up Blip: “[…] a forum that would bring together artists and scientists whose practice involved artificial creativity, interactivity, generative and procedural processes, and artificial life. Basically, our idea was to invite people whose work we were interested in to come and speak in Brighton. We also decided to hold the events in city centre bars and show work

21 But multiplicity can

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Like the AcE masters’ degree, the EAsy MSc is in-

terdisciplinary; and although scientific and engineering profiles are largely predominant on the programme, it attracts a healthy minority of artistic and creative profiles. In Woolf’s year only, two other dissertations,

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“Robot Takeover” was a fundraising event for the benefit of another organisation, BuildBrighton, which presents itself as “Brighton’s hackerspace – a collective of like minded people who love to build stuff with electronics.” munity providing a space “for hacking, equipment, machinery and tools” to its members, as well as tutorials and workshops for the public. who founded Brighton Robotics is among the seven

out of a total of twenty or so, were on artistic topics. A quick survey of EAsy dissertations between 1999 and 2005 shows that the proportion of topics falling within the arts and entertainment (gaming, edutainment, etc) categories is about 10%.

23 BuildBrighton is a not-for-profit com24 The young woman

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connection is through its Director Dumitriu. Another connection is through its Head of Ethics Blay Whitby, long-time member of coGs staff. The last connection is through its Head of Robotics Paul Granjon, low-tech ironic robotic artist whom many in the Sussex Artificial Life group became acquainted with through “Art, Body, Embodiment”, an interdisciplinary symposium held over two days at University of Sussex in March core members, as well as a recent EAsy graduate, freelance web-developer, who “is very interested in the potential of artificial life and bio-inspired computing.” becomes available, they want to experiment with it and push boundaries. This is how they define themselves: “The IUR is a hub for researchers and artists working experimentally and deeply engaged with their specific research areas. We present our research through performative and experiential methods, engaging the public and new audiences.” Their research translates into performance events that can take place in a variety of settings: art galleries in the fine arts tradition, but also universities, festivals, businesses, participatory workshops, etc. tions between the Institute of Unnecessary Research and the Sussex neighbourhood are multiple. One 2005.

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sites to open-ended inquiry into the interdisciplinary collaborative process itself, thanks to an environment that, being overall much less constrained by accountability than academia, is under less pressure to produce well-defined prior research goals and accompanying assessment criteria. Open-ended inquiry into the interdisciplinary collaborative process itself was for instance an important outcome of a project organised by Blip. The initial idea was “to encourage local artists and scientists to collaboratively develop an installation” for Big Blip 04. ent this case in some detail, because it anticipates my examination of critical questioning and knowledge production as motives for engaging in Artificial Life artistic projects. The Blip organizers solicited local communities for “enthusiastic, open-minded artists, scientists and technologists who could make a commitment to working collaboratively for up to twelve weeks. […] Participants had to have some free time during the day to attend workshops at the University of Sussex and the University of Brighton. We offered training, equipment and support.” by Blip, by ccnR and by the Centre for Research and Development in the Faculty of Arts and Architecture at University of Brighton (about which more is below), as well as by the Arts Council England. It involved two ccnR Artificial Life researchers and three artists, who together acted as co-ordinators and mentors, two Brighton-based artists, and three graduate students (scientists and engineers), from the EAsy MSc programme. It resulted in two installations. The first, corresponding to the initial brief, was an interactive installation involving eight low-tech custom-made robots in a display cabinet, entitled There Does Not, in Fact, Appear to Be a Plan. Clutch, the second, was an unforeseen last minute product of the collaborative process. There Does Not, in Fact, Appear to Be a Plan did not fulfil the artistic goals that the team had
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A material example of the role that non-academic, voluntary sites of art-science practice can play for university-based art-science is the recruitment of Anna Dumitriu by the Sussex Artificial Life research group: she first came across members of ccnR through Blip (in her own words: “[…] a great forum for artists, scientists and members of the public interested in new forms of art that explore[d] generative and procedural processes, interaction, emergence and artificial life, and I’ve spent many a wonderful evening at events they’ve put on […] as far as I’m concerned Blip [were] doing some of the most interesting art stuff that happens in Brighton”). Her residency at ccnR was set up in the first place by one of Blip organisers.

25 The latter gave a talk at the first ever social event

organised by hackUS, University of Sussex Informatics society. The evening program also featured a repeat of a talk given at “Robot Takeover”, “Do you want a robot lover?” by coGs philosopher and ethicist Blay Whitby, and a live interactive music generation performance.

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Another non-institutional site intervening both in academic and non-academic settings is Dumitriu’s Institute of Unnecessary Research, which she founded in 2005. The Institute of Unnecessary Research starts from the premise that artists are innovators, and as soon as a new piece of technology or a new medium

30 I would like to pres-

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A doctoral student of the school of Informatics, who is an interactive new media artist member of the

As well as different styles of artistic expressions, these sites may also lend themselves better than academic sites to open-ended inquiry into the interdisciplinary collaborative process itself.

Creative Systems Lab, pointed me towards a less obvious way into which such sites may play a valuable role for university-based art-science. She felt that the institutional environment of academia had an impact on her as an artist. In her opinion, she was much more relaxed and informal in her relationships to other artists out of the PhD context. This led to different forms of collaborative productions. Different sites are socially governed by different rules of conduct, tacit ones no less binding than explicit ones. And as certain sites encourage types of social behaviours that would feel inappropriate in other settings, my interlocutor’s experience was that this had an impact on the art she produced; she was not the same artist in and out of the institutional context. Non-academic voluntary sites may thus offer a useful complementarity to academic institutional sites as they may motivate different styles of artistic expression. As well as different styles of artistic expressions, these sites may also lend themselves better than academic

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set out to achieve since most of the project allocated time was spent getting the robots up and running, and Clutch was formed as a desperate one-sided effort by the unhappy artists to make the whole enterprise work as art, to the dismay of the scientists and engineers in the group: “Clutch was a visually arresting piece: the display cabinet was taken apart, the robots switched off and the velcro covered foam cubes scattered on the floor. This installation was filmed for display on a monitor at the Big Blip 04 and then the participants reconstructed There Does Not, in Fact, Appear to Be a Plan.”

munication across cultures, frictions between individuals, the initial anger and incomprehension provoked by Clutch in some of the scientists, disagreements on the set-up of the installations, the participants all ended up with a positive outlook on the project. For instance, one of the scientists commented: “I initially found the artists’ satisfaction with Clutch utterly beyond my comprehension. Upon reflection though I think the video has significance in that it captures aspects of the scientific process that don’t make it to scientific journals. Firstly, the murky issue of results that don’t conform with a desired hypothesis. Secondly, the lonely romance of the road to implementation.”

The case of the Blip project illustrates that voluntary sites at the margins of academia (this particular project brought together academic and non-academic resources) may be nurturing grounds for interdisciplinary practices possessing a real autonomy from their parent disciplines, both in terms of their objects and of their modes of knowledge production. My survey of the sites available for the production and performance of Artificial Life art in the Sussex neighbourhood reveals their heterogeneous profusion – some short-lived, some more permanent, some institutionally driven, some voluntary and grass-root, some purely academic, some in the professional artistic circuit, some part-amateur – and the more or less transient configurations that they associate into. Such a profusion may appear bewildering, especially in its extra-institutional richness, unless we remember that the University of Sussex is located in the city of Brighton. Artificial Life at University of Sussex is embedded in a very dynamic and experimental city in the artistic domain. of Brighton Faculty of Arts and Architecture, which

We cannot expect all the sites of Artificial Life art production in the Sussex neighbourhood to give rise uniformly to interdisciplinary practices that could lead to novel forms of knowledge production. But their profusion reveals a thickness of networking between art, science and technology that marks a dense, durable and continuous engagement, as well as the will to sustain it and keep it as diverse as possible. A conclusion of Barry et al.’s analysis of the art-science case in the “Interdisciplinarity and Society” project, reached by comparing university-based art-science (especially University of California Irvine) and project-based commissioning (British programmes), was that “it is the scale, duration and continuity of university-based art-science that affords ambition.” art in the Sussex neighbourhood, ramifying around a strong and durable academic base, presents such a configuration. I have a last couple of comments in relation to Barry et al.’s art-science case study. First, they point that university-based art-science is fragile (largely due, in their view, to the inadequacy of academic research evaluation procedures). networking characterising Artificial Life art at Sussex introduces a measure of robustness in the face of precariousness. It ensures that when some links are severed (for funding shortages, job redundancy, etc), the overall network is more likely to resist. The second comment concerns the approach Barry et al. have adopted. By comparing non-British university-based art-science and British program-based commissioning, they leave in the shadow the question of the relationships between these two forms of institutional art-science. reveal that there are, as may be expected, connections between the two. University-based art-science seems well positioned when competing for awards by funding programmes, thanks to the budding of projects upstream of funding opportunities, as was the case for

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A joint paper recounting the whole enterprise was presented at the AISB (Artificial Intelligence and the Simulation of Behaviour) 2005 convention. The paper aimed “to explore the relationship between scientific enquiry and artistic practice and stimulate new critical debate about this emerging cultural hybrid.” structure adopted in its writing was itself part of the authors’ inquiry into the interdisciplinary creative process they had experienced, as it weaved thirdperson factual accounts of the project and design of the robot technology with first-person subjective comments by the participants on the collaborative process and its end result, a narrative structure which for the authors “echoes the tension between practical constraints and creative ideas that was very evident in the collaborative project and that is at the heart of much artistic and scientific practice.” emergent (in the complex systems sense of unpredictable) outcome of the project, which initially affronted the scientists as they took it as a rejection of their hard work and personal involvement in the project, was meant by the artists “not to belittle what was achieved in that project; rather, Clutch was meant as a commentary about the working process between two different practices.” the project failed in its initial goal, it achieved other things. Despite technical difficulties, problems of com64 LEONARDOELECTRONICALMANAC VOL 17 NO 1

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The positive outlook could have been for the show only, but it seems that the participants remained convinced by the value of their original concept, and they have kept the collaboration going, to try and bring their idea of an interactive installation to fruition. An important conclusion reached by one of the mentoring artists was that the project was “a good case study for further discussion surrounding the pros and cons of collaboration. The question today is no longer ‘why collaborate?’ but rather ‘how might one collaborate?’”; for him, despite a common goal that could have ordered and directed the development of the collaboration, the project had instead explored collaborative practice “as a dynamic learning system with multiple feedback loops.”

33 The

38 It benefits from the proximity of University

became in 2005 the Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning through Design (cEtLd), and its worldclass Centre for Research and Development (cRd). For instance, Sneltvedt, ex-ccnR artist-in-residence,

42 I think that the thickness of

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has since become member of staff at cRd; Dumitriu is a research student and visiting tutor at cRd, where she has been pursuing a part-time Fine Art PhD since before she joined ccnR; and another cRd staff member, Sue Gollifer, course leader for the MA in Digital Media Arts among other things, who like Paul Brown is a veteran of digital art, was a Blip adviser. Gollifer has since become adviser to Dumitriu’s Institute of Unnecessary Research. delocalisation of cyberspace and the ‘global village’, Real Life localisation still clearly matters.

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Clutch, the

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To conclude on the case of the Blip project, I have just shown that the main two motives for engaging in collaborative art-science projects, which the reflexive inquiry into the project draws special attention to, are (1) critical questioning and (2) investigating the interdisciplinary creative process as such. These are two major stepping stones towards attempting to establish novel forms of knowledge production practices.
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the Mindscape and DrawBots projects. What is more, the kind of informal and plastic networking encouraged by an enabling environment such as the Sussex neighbourhood may be instrumental in bringing about institutionally funded longer-term research projects. I will now turn to exploring empirically two broad categories of motives (ideal types really since they hardly ever come in isolation) driving Artificial Life art in the Sussex neighbourhood: critical questioning and knowledge production.

ing with artists, “he felt that his collaborations haven’t really benefited his career, which is more reliant on publishing papers etc, but since he has published so many now he is freer to follow his interests in both art and science […].”

even if it involves interesting science; or presenting as art a product of scientific experimentation) raises problematic issues that should not be dismissed. Her critical engagement with science works at multiple levels, many of which embodied in the Institute of Unnecessary Research (IUR) that she founded in 2005. She is very clear that the term ‘unnecessary’ in the name ‘Institute of Unnecessary Research’ is a meaningful choice and that it should not be equated with ‘useless’. ‘Unnecessary’ in the IUR’s name aims at questioning the objects of science: “it’s about the nature of epistemology, going beyond the boundaries of what is normally researched.” running throughout Dumitriu’s work. For years now, a major research interest of hers has been ‘normal flora’, the bacteria and moulds that humans co-exist with, but which are classified neither as pathogens nor as beneficial. around eight kilograms of an average adult human body weight, being more numerous on one’s finger “than there are people in the world” and making up around 99% of total bacteria, they are highly underresearched because “considered to be of no medical or commercial interest”, i.e. of no scientific interest. For Dumitriu, one of their interests is precisely that “epistemologically they are important, they’re about where we draw the line in terms of research.”

from her private domestic environment (a lab coat in her closet, her chairs, her bed sheets, her cutlery) as it links her work “to the traditional women’s domain.”

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51 At an event organised by the IUR at University of

Sussex in May 2007, Dumitriu was wearing a lab coat

on which she had stitched in whitework embroidery

Returning to critical questioning as a motive for bringing in, and doing, art in the Sussex neighbourhood, I have found that although art as critical engagement could target many different issues, science in its many dimensions was a major topic. This particular strand of questioning addresses issues as diverse as the

52 the microscopic images resulting from a culture of
a bedspread inspired by a screen-projected light

normal flora that she had sampled from the same lab

coat, and she was enrolling visitors to help her crochet microscopy image of normal flora from her own bed. As was the case on this occasion, Dumitriu’s use of traditional crafts is not only feminist critique but also a way to engage the audience in her performances: “[…] especially in non-gallery spaces, like hospital foyers and schools: they are a way of allowing the audience to enter complex ideas in a manner that creates dialogue rather than closing it down. There is a kind of respect amongst the public for skills like embroidery and that allows a way into my work.”

ART AS CRITICAL ENGAGEMENT
Critical questioning is in my experience, frequently put forward by artists themselves as a driver for their work, as well as identified by scientists (those I have questioned at the very least) as the number one motive, beside personal development, for having artists around. That critical questioning and personal development should be the most popular motives among Sussex Artificial Life scientists for engaging with art is hardly surprising: critical questioning cultivates reflexivity, a cardinal virtue of the Sussex Artificial Life research group important element of personal development in the eyes of its community.

aims, objects and nature of science, scientific method, or public engagement in science. It is very much a science and technology studies kind of questioning, but pursued through vehicles (art and performance), attitudes (playfulness and irony predominantly), and a general methodology (practice of the very science under questioning), that we in science and technology studies are usually unfamiliar, and possibly uncomfortable, with. I will focus on Anna Dumitriu’s case to illustrate my point. Not only is she exemplary of this brand of critical engagement with science, but her involvement with ccnR is enduring. At the time of my writing, she has been artist-in-residence there for three years already, and looks as if she intends to continue. To start with, despite the versatility of her skills, she

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This is a strong theme

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As such, and despite constituting

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In terms of public engagement, one of the main aims of the IUR is to disseminate “innovative research, […] through participatory art and performance, to diverse audiences.” native approach encapsulates an explicit critique of traditional approaches to the public understanding of science that encourage scientists to explain their work to the public in a one way mode of communication. This tradition underestimates in their view the public’s awareness that hidden agendas can lurk behind information dissemination. By contrast, “The IUR engages with the very nature of what constitutes scientific research through artistic practice, directly widening participation in those debates as well as bringing about a deeper appreciation of contemporary scientific research. […] The IUR demonstrates that we all can and should debate about
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, which as such is bound to be an

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54 For members of the IUR, their alter-

Sussex Artificial Life scientists did not feel that collaborating with artists was a career booster. For Phil Husbands, a founding and leading member of the Sussex Artificial Life group, a major factor in his choice of coming to Sussex in the first place was the tolerance that the University was showing towards this type of interdisciplinarity, while it tended to be frowned upon elsewhere. When interviewed by Dumitriu for her blog, O’Shea, another founding professor of ccnR, had a similar appreciation of the impact on a scientist’s career of engaging in artistic interdisciplinary projects. He told her that although he really enjoyed collaborat66 LEONARDOELECTRONICALMANAC VOL 17 NO 1

positions herself deliberately as an artist, not as a hybrid of artist and scientist, and taking this stance is for her a critical move. Although she admits to belonging through her working practices to the narrow band at the blurred intersection of art, science and philosophy, she believes that art, like science and philosophy, is not autonomous or value free but culturally situated. As a result, both artistic and scientific products are situated in culturally specific contexts of conception, and she feels that displacing artefacts from their contexts of conception (for instance, exhibiting into a scientific context an artefact primarily conceived as an art piece,
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‘Unnecessary’ research at the IUR also questions the politics of science from a public engagement perspective, as well as from a feminist critique perspective. The feminist critique in Dumitriu’s work is apparent in her deliberate juxtaposing of traditional feminine crafts like embroidery, crochet, baking, porcelain painting, with scientific skills seen as more typically masculine, such as cutting edge biology laboratory techniques and digital media mastery. domestic ordinary is apparent in her subject matter of predilection (“Normal flora are kind of domestic and everyday”

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Life scientists in the Sussex neighbourhood regularly engage in, for instance through philosophical debates around the epistemological status of simulations, or through the enactive research programme. Occasionally, some of them pursue this reflexive examination through artistic rather than philosophical engagement, even though they may have no formal artistic background. At a public art-science event co-organised the direction of research, its ethical implications, and what exactly science should be.” they were themselves bacteria; the second, ‘Cybernetic Bacteria 2.0’, combines in real time “the chemical communication of bacteria and the live data streams of our own digital networks […] to generate a brand new artificial life form.” by Dumitriu for the Life and Mind seminar group in October 2008, a ccnR PhD student was exhibiting a piece called Visualization, the computer visualization of a simulated Artificial Life agent with which the audience could interact by modifying three of its parameters – introducing a perturbation, altering the agent’s simulated environment, changing the visualizing method – with no knowledge of what the agent was

observers can try to pick apart what this model is. Meanwhile the Agent and environment is itself changing in ways outside of our control. Each way of viewing the system, each perspective, provides different insights into what it is that is happening. But what is truly part of the system and what is an artefact of our perspective? In this sense, this installation represents the scientific process.” When I questioned the author on how he had come up with the idea for this piece, he explained that his PhD project was investigating theories about minimal environmental conditions necessary for the apparition of life processes. As part of his research, he had built a model and programmed it. Running the resulting simulation, he found that it was doing what he wanted

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Germane to the critique of traditional approaches to public understanding of science, is the critique of science communication in general. Unsurprisingly, Dumitriu denies the objectivity of science and questions its narratives: “The whole way scientific experiments are written up, in the passive tense, reinforces this illusion of objectivity. I want to write up my research in the first person (or third person, in terms of collaboration).” Collaborative exchange is a strong theme of her work. Her artworks and performances, the events in which organisation she involves herself into, are overwhelmingly the result of interdisciplinary collaborations. But her interest in networking through communication, through exchange of information, goes way beyond interdisciplinary human networks, to include the non-human. Part of her work on normal flora bacteria could be depicted as ‘conceptual art meets Actor Network Theory’. Starting from the premise that the billions of different bacteria that we have in and on our bodies spend their time communicating messages between themselves, exchanging bits of dnA, talking to our cells, talking to the bacteria of the people around us, etc, her “big hubris” as she describes it is about getting the bacteria to exchange information with humans and computers. This has led to the ‘Cybernetic Bacteria’ project, “an ongoing transdisciplinary investigation [that] brings together an artist, a philosopher, a microbiologist, an artificial life programmer and an interactive media specialist, to investigate the relationship of the emerging science of bacterial communication to our own digital communications networks”. The first artwork in the series, by Dumitriu, involved humans communicating with bacteria as if
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On yet another level, Dumitriu’s fundamentally collaborative and interdisciplinary approach to research (I deliberately use the term research without epithet, as I would be seriously hard put to neatly categorize it as scientific, artistic, or otherwise) represents a critical engagement with scientific methodology: “[…] Suzi Gablik writes about ‘connective aesthetics’, working in this dialogical way, as an inherently feminine methodology. I do think that scientific methodology is something that was for the most part decided without women’s participation […] As self-organising, adaptive and evolving, I have a conceptual basis for something that is a completely natural way of working for me: to feed off people, and then to give back. I feel strongly that it’s not about the artist using the scientist or vice-versa to their own ends. The end is not pre-determined and it should benefit everyone.”

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Her idea of what art-science collaborations ought to be is close to that defended by the Blip project participants in their post-project reflexive analysis, where they draw an analogy between the collaborative process and the biological phenomenon of symbiosis, to denounce parasitic collaborations, “[…] for example, scientists using artists as ‘decorators’ or ‘illustrators’ of their scientific project, or conversely artists using scientists as technicians to implement their ideas”, in favour of “mutualism, where both entities require each other for survival”.

We can explore the assumptions that constitute a particular framework, or bounding container, but we cannot escape the fact that we always operate within some framework: it is an epistemic necessity.
meant to represent. The following notice accompanied the installation: “Adapted from a scientific work-in-progress, this instalment demonstrates the challenge of investigating and visualizing complex systems. By perturbing the Agent, by manipulating the environment of the Agent or by changing the method of visualization,
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it to do, but as it did so, he was confronted with the realisation: Now what? What did it mean? How to interpret the results? And it had taken him a couple of weeks, tweaking the parameters of the simulation like he was allowing us to do with the installation, to start figuring it out. What I found striking about this interactive installation was that it was bringing to attention many layers of issues related to representaVOL 17 NO 1 LEONARDOELECTRONICALMANAC 69

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My research project has shown that the critical questioning of research methods is something Artificial
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tion and interpretation in science, with an efficiency and an immediacy that a paper in the philosophy of science tradition could never rival. The strength of the message was reinforced by the fact that, like most of the participants, I fiddled with the simulation before I read the notice. In Artificial Life art, the critical questioning of visual representation addresses art as well as science. Dumitriu’s laboratory-based work on normal flora is part of her PhD in Fine Art research, “A PracticeBased Investigation into the Relationship of Normal Flora Microbiology to Philosophical Notions of the Sublime”, whose aim is to “interrogate the possibilities of scientific imagery as art – its allegorical, expressive, and social character” and to bring her findings to bear on the conceptualization of the sublime in aesthetic theory. both art and science, addressed trough the issue of containment, is central to the work of Jon McCormack who was artist-in-residence at ccnR for a short period in 2001. This aspect of McCormack’s work has been analysed by Jon Bird, Artificial Life researcher at ccnR and co-founder of Blip, in an essay entitled “Containing reality: Epistemological issues in generative art and science”. concerned with ‘the conceptual and metaphorical

exploratory modelling in AL and generative art can increase our awareness of the influence of our prejudicial nature and how these prejudices are embodied in the artificial systems we construct.”

especially, were asking the same questions that he was asking as an Artificial Life scientist, or very similar. Another ccnR researcher said that on some occasions he had experienced big connections with artists, on big questions, which had led to the generation of new ideas. This is also, and paradigmatically, the case with researchers, whose training and skills enable them to bring both an artistic and a scientific perspective to their research projects – like Alice Eldridge, or Jon McCormack. frame problem in visual culture (a problem common to artistic and scientific visual representations), Mc-

This passage broadly delimits the part explicitly devolved to art as research in the DrawBots project. It was the production of machine-created art, of which an outcome would be a large-scale art installation of a group of DrawBots, inscribed in a methodological framework that drew on aesthetics and art theory for ideas about artistic autonomy, uniqueness of the experience of art, computational ‘meta-media’ as privileged artistic experimental vehicles, precedence of process over object, possibility of signature-free processes, assessment of artistic content, etc. The passage also points at the interdependence of the scientific and artistic frameworks. Indeed, it is necessary to construct a continuous theoretical metaframe (with for instance, on the one hand, the idea that an artwork can display creative autonomy, and on another hand, that creative autonomy is a hallmark of living systems) to underlay the two distinct contexts, one scientific and one artistic, that frame the research. Without this continuous meta-frame, the project would be inconsistent.

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Bird here defends the role of art in Artificial Life, as a critical instrument for reflecting on the black boxing of unwarranted assumptions and cultural biases in the models designed by Artificial Life researchers, be they scientists, artists, or both.

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Beside his own investigation of the

ART AS RESEARCH METHOD
I have already pointed out that critical questioning, and investigating the interdisciplinary creative process as such, were both stepping stones towards attempting to establish novel forms of knowledge producing practices. They were also the two motives for engaging in collaborative art-science projects, which the reflexive study of the Blip project that I presented earlier insisted on. The study report concluded that: “Arts-science collaborations […] have the potential to be mutually beneficial to both artists and scientists, enabling them to generate and explore more creative opportunities than would be possible alone.”

Cormack has suggested a number of themes that are open to an artistic mode of research through generative processes, like “the role of subversion; mental models of understanding for the artist and audience; the computational sublime.” use of art as research method through a few projects into which members of the Sussex neighbourhood have got themselves involved. DrawBots was one such project. This three-year interdisciplinary project, which brought together computer and cognitive scientists, philosophers, artists, and critical art theorists, had an array of objectives attached to it, combining those of individual researchers from different fields to those common to the group. The main overall goals were: “[…] the production of machine-created art and the exploration of whether it is possible to develop (minimally) creative artificial agents and the research has two, mutually dependent, contextual frameworks. One concerns methodologies for making an agent that has the potential for manifesting autonomous creative behaviour. The second concerns methodologies for recognising such behaviour. Another emphasis is attempting to place this work in an art historical context.”

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The question of visual representation in

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Let us illustrate the

pher who specializes in philosophy of mind, cognitive science, and philosophy of art, collaborated on the construction of such a theoretical base for DrawBots, while a post-doc at ccnR over the period 2005–2007. In a paper entitled “Aesthetics and Cognitive Science” published in 2009, Stokes explores a general research strategy called ‘expansionism’, which rests on the two theses that: “First, the creation and consumption of art involves the exercise of the same cognitive capacities used to negotiate the environment and engage with conspecifics. […] Second, expansionism suggests that these capacities are extended in novel, artspecific ways when engaging with artworks […].”

67 Dustin Stokes, a philoso-

60 Bird explains that McCormack “is

meaning of the bounding container in visual culture, particularly in relation to concepts of the natural and the real’ […] McCormack focuses on the constraints that framing devices have on images, or representations, that they display”, in art as well as in science. the conclusion that: “We can explore the assumptions that constitute a particular framework, or bounding container, but we cannot escape the fact that we always operate within some framework: it is an epistemic necessity. McCormack’s work vividly illustrates how
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Bringing art into Artificial Life as a research method that can be complementary to and mutually beneficial with science, is a motive widely shared in the Sussex neighbourhood, by scientists and artists alike. This is often the case, for instance, when collaborative projects spring from the encounter of individual researchers of different sensibilities who find they are interested in converging research issues. A ccnR researcher, co-founder and co-organizer of Blip, explained that what attracted him to collaborating with artists was that some strands in art, in generative art
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But Bird goes further, and builds from there to reach

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His exploration of expansionism highlights the mutual theoretical importance of aesthetics and cognitive
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remains. There is considerable historical evidence that humans are inept at recognising new creative behaviours amongst themselves. […] It is only recently that humans have been able to acknowledge creativity in other animals so how will they recognise creativity when it emerges from an alife agent?” science, and leads him to defend the following conclusion: “Purely scientific accounts of cognition neglect cultural facts that figure importantly in the cognitive environment. Purely philosophical accounts of aesthetic experience neglect the contingencies of cognition and perception. This, finally, is the basic moral of expansionism: the explanatory goals and resources of both aesthetics and cognitive science should expand to include those of the other.” Another project, in which art participated as complementary research method to science in an attempt at developing “an interdisciplinary collaborative approach to problem solving” ed Interdisciplinary Research Cluster (IRc) “Designing physical artefacts from computational simulations and building computational simulations of physical systems-designing for the 21st century”, set up by professor of computer science Mark d’Inverno and artist To finish with DrawBots, the quoted passage outlining the project indicated that an art historical perspective was brought in alongside the theoretical and methodological contexts framing the research. In practice, the research was such organised that three inter-related interdisciplinary teams collaborated. The task of the ‘Art and Science team’ was to evolve a robot that could demonstrate creative drawing behaviour. That of the ‘AI and Cognitive team’ was to “provide a theoretical base to the project and examine its implications for the fields of AI, Alife, philosophy, creativity and cognition.” That of the ‘Art Theory team’ was to “relate the project from the perspective of art history and critical theory”. at the MutaMorphosis: Challenging Arts and Sciences conference “Through Jane Prophet’s background in ALife […], the work of Mark d’Inverno in multi-agents systems […] and, moreover, through collective and sustained inquiry, Neil Theise became familiar with the notion of self-organising agent systems. […] It became clear to the CELL team that the most productive way to model stem cells in the adult human body was as a dynamic system of self-organising computational agents. […] What no one could have predicted at the outset of the CELL project was the massive impact that the collaboration would have on all members. For example, it led Neil Theise to radically change the conceptual framework he
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uses for thinking about stem-cell behaviour, moving from his practice of looking at stained 2D slides to having a clear conceptual model of dynamic interaction and self-organisation.”

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The aim of the IRc was “to further investigate the potential of interdisciplinary research especially in the context of agent-based and interactive systems in design” ‘performative’ approach, where they define ‘performative’ in the following manner: “The term ‘performative’ is applied to diverse activities, ranging from science to curation, and it is used to signify ‘the constitution of meaning through an act or a certain practice’ […].”

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This passage reveals how in the DrawBots project, where history was not itself the main focus of the research, historical research methods were integrated into an overall framework of interdisciplinary research. DrawBots is exemplary of interdisciplinary practices that bring together a large diversity of research intersections – between art, science, philosophy and history.

77, in what cluster members characterize as a

is that following Bird’s suggestion, the IRc adopted the cybernetic model of Ashby’s homeostat (Ashby, one of the historical figures of British cybernetics whose inheritance is reclaimed by the Sussex neighbourhood) to drive the prototype. There were good methodological reasons for doing so, but the authors have pointed that they had a conceptual reason as well. They quote science and technology studies scholar Alan Pickering, theorist of non-modernity, who has written about Ashby’s homeostat as a device illustrative of the performative ontology whose idiom sees the world as “a lively place full of agency – not something static and dead, sitting around waiting to be represented, as the representational idiom suggests.” that “[u]sing a homeostat control system is also apapproach to problem solving.”

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Their approach, very much a heuristic process, is labelled as ‘performative’ because “both the goals and solutions develop over time through an openended process of trial-and-error.” defence that it may be “the only viable option when trying to design systems with even minimal agency which respond to the environment in which they are situated. This is because it is not often possible to define in advance all the significant parameters of interactive systems and their environments and consequently it is hard to predict the behaviour that will result from system-environment interactions.” their view, all sorts of ill-defined complex systems fall into this category, like in the areas of “global warming, urbanisation, immigration and terrorism” the relevance of the ‘performative’ approach.

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Expansionism, as developed by Stokes into a general framework for interdisciplinary practices across aesthetics and cognitive science, is clearly an attempt at developing a theoretical framework for novel forms of knowledge producing practices.

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, was the EPsRc and AHRc-fund-

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They argue in its

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propriate because it is illustrative of the performative

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Jane Prophet.

is accounted for in a paper co-authored by d’Inverno, Prophet, and ccnR researcher Jon Bird who was an active member of the IRc. the experience of the Wellcome Trust-sponsored cELL project, a collaboration between Prophet and stem cell researcher Neil Theise aimed at discussing new theories of stem cell behaviour:

74 It run for a year in 2005/2006 and 75
The IRc followed from

How does the IRc’s report generalise the importance of art for the ‘performative’ approach to design of agent-based interactive systems? The authors use the empirical evidence of artistic contributions to research in the cases of cELL and Net Work, to vindicate the position of digital artist and art theorist Simon Penny,

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86 on the value of artistic methodologies for agent
design: “An artwork, in my analysis, does not didactically supply information, it invites the public to consider a range of possibilities, it encourages independent thinking. So building an interactive artwork requires more subtle interaction design than does a system whose output is entirely pragmatic, such as a bank automat. […] I have emphasized the relevance of artistic methodologies to the design of social agent systems. Typically, artistic practice embraces an open ended experimental process which allows for expansive inventive thinking. Artistic practice emphasises the cultural specificity of any representational act, acknowledging that
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An outcome of the IRc was to produce a simulation prototype of Net Work, a proposed large scale interactive art installation in Herne Bay, UK, aimed at giving the public an understanding of self-organised processes. tion was almost an accessory outcome of the IRc, as although the cluster had started with a general idea of the kind of issues they wanted to explore, there was no real focus or schedule, and after a while it was felt that “it would be best to actually build a physical artefact that had computational and generative elements.” Work prototype, in relation to the thesis about nonmodernity that I have developed in my doctoral thesis,
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70 When DrawBots was presented end 2007 71, it was explained that:

[82] The production of the Net Work simula-

“With 15 months of the project still remaining the team are cautiously optimistic that their goal of evolving minimally creative behaviour will be met. However the very significant problem of how to recognise and acknowledge such behaviour
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meaning is established in the cultural environment of the interaction, not in the lab. It emphasises the embodied experience of the user. And it emphasises the critical importance of the ‘interface’, because the interface of the agent, like an artwork, is where communication finally succeeds or fails.”

research to attempt to investigate the notion of conscious experience from a philosophical point of view, inspired by perspectives of embodiment (Varela, Thomson and Rosch, 1992) and situatedness (Brooks, 1991) in evolutionary robotics and neural network learning systems. An outcome will be a new performance artwork using sensory and movement deprivation (e.g. blindfolds, physical restraints etc) and augmentation to reflect physical developments in the human body (from infancy to old age). It will create an embodied representation of how experience might be constructed, through physical interaction with the environment and other performers, and the emergence of shared beliefs.”

theory of Francisco Varela and Humberto Maturana. The philosophical background also reflects Theodor Adorno’s notion of ‘Negative Dialectics’. The installation embodies the enactive approach, showing that human beings are inseparably connected to their environment.”

handle on the art-science phenomenon, they propose to understand it as having its genesis “in the mutual interferences set up between three broad and related genealogies: 1) conceptual art and post-conceptual art, including performance, installation, public and activist art; 2) art and technology movements; and 3) certain developments and debates around the computational and bio sciences and technologies.” Artificial Life art in the Sussex neighbourhood certainly supports the idea of interwoven genealogies, and the three isolated by Barry et al. are all present in my material. Likewise, it brings support to the claim that Artificial Life has older and more hybrid roots than its generally accepted history would have it, and gives weight to artist Paul Brown’s suggestion that in the 1970s, himself and other pioneers of electronic arts were doing Artificial Life before it was ‘invented.’ Only a hybrid history of Artificial Life, reaching further in time than the 1980s, further in space than North America, and weaving together a rich set of concurrent historical strands, can account for the diversity of Artificial Life in general, and for the multiple heterogeneities of Artificial Life art in particular. Only such a hybrid history can explain why so many artistic movements, some antagonistic to others, are

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Akin to the IRc’s ‘performative’ approach, the value of artistic ‘performance as research’ is defended by artist and computer scientist Alice Eldridge. experiences of designing, and interacting with, generative systems for man-machine musical improvisation have led her to defend the view that embodied artistic performance deserves to be investigated as a valid alternative knowledge producing practice: “It seems possible that by playing with these systems in musical and other artistic ways, we may gain insights into their behavioural dynamics which evade us when we sit staring at the computer screen. If these insights led to the generation of testable hypotheses, we could begin to take seriously increasingly common propositions of ‘performance as research’. There are things you can only learn about someone by dancing with them.”

Dumitriu is basing new work involving locative technologies and bio-sensing on the same enactive theoretical framework funded project, a collaboration between University

97 My analysis of

88 Her

94 as part of a 3-year EPsRc-

of Sussex departments of Sociology and Informatics entitled “Supporting Shy Users in Pervasive Computing”, started in October 2008.

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Such projects underline the connection existing, in the Sussex neighbourhood, between performative artistic research and other interdisciplinary practices that cross over analytic philosophy of the mind, continental phenomenology, neuroscience, technology and sociology, widening further the interdisciplinary scope of the Sussex enactive research programme, which possesses the kind of disciplinary autonomy that can foster novel forms of knowledge producing practices.

This passage makes it clear that artistic performanceas-research intersects with the idea of first-person methodology, of phenomenological pragmatics, that some enactivists at ccnR call for.

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Enactive Dialectics, an enactive video installation, is another performance-as-research project in the enactive framework. This resulted from the collaboration of Dumitriu with artists John Holder and Pia Tikka. I was first introduced to the latter’s work when she gave a presentation of her doctoral research “Enactive Cinema: Simulatorium Eisensteinensis” at the “Between life + mind + art” event co-organised by Dumitriu for the Life and Mind seminar series in October 2008. Enactive Dialectics was presented in October/ November 2009 in Katowice (Poland), as part of the second exhibition of the e-MobiLArt (European Mobile Lab for interactive media Artists) initiative: “The project ‘Enactive Dialectics’ investigates human enactment within an environment through an embodied and situated approach. The work is inspired by the current interest in enactive cognitive sciences, which emerged from the autopoiesis
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The IRc’s ‘performative’ approach, as well as the idea of performance-as-research presented by Eldridge, strongly resonates with the phenomenological strand of research, especially the enactive research program, which is a distinctive feature of the research conducted at ccnR. ness”, a recent all-Sussex collaboration between

MULTIPLE GENEALOGIES
To conclude on the art and science nexus in the Sussex neighbourhood, I would like to don the historian cap. The multiple heterogeneities (of forms, sites, motives) of Artificial Life art that I have experienced in the Sussex neighbourhood are congruent with Barry et al.’s conclusion regarding art-science in the “Interdisciplinarity and Society” project, that “[w]hile art-science is a practical, intentional category for artists, institutions and funding bodies, it forms part of a larger, heterogeneous space of overlapping interdisciplines thrown up at the intersection of the arts, sciences and technologies […].”
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thus represented in Artificial Life. For instance, the genealogy linking Artificial Life art to Modernism can be traced back through early computer arts to the systems art movement and early 20th-century Constructivists like Kasimir Malevich. linking Artificial Life to post-modern conceptual art is multiple, as it follows the many negations that, according to Barry et al., Conceptualism has defined itself through – “negation of material objectivity and the primacy of the visual […]; negation of art’s commodity form […]; and negation of the philosophy of art’s autonomy […]”, which resulted from the generalised critical questioning of art “as object, as site and as social relation”: these are all present in my case study
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90 “Emergence of conscious-

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Dumitriu, philosopher Blay Whitby and neuroscientist Luc Berthouze, is an example of collaborative project based on performance-as-research that borrows explicitly from the theoretical framework of enactivism: “The project draws together rigorous practicebased artistic methodologies and scientific
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of Artificial Life art in the Sussex neighbourhood.

A hybrid history might also give a better grasp on the strand of Artificial Life art that intersects with the agenda of cognitive science on high level cognitive

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1. ‘Art in an Artificial Life research group’ would be more appropriate, as not all artworks and performances make actual use of Artificial Life methods, but I will go on using the phrase ‘Artificial Life art’ for the sake of convenience. 2. In this particular instance I use it in its proper sense, restricted to art that actually involves Artificial Life methods. 3. Ingeborg Reichle, Art in the Age of Technoscience: Genetic Engineering, Robotics, and Artificial Life in Contemporary Art (Wien: Springer-Verlag, 2009), 168. See also: Mitchell Whitelaw, Metacreation: Art and artificial life (Cambridge, London: The MIT Press, 2004), 20–21. 4. Ken Rinaldo, “Technology Recapitulates Phylogeny: Artificial Life Art,” Sixth Annual New York Digital Salon, Leonardo 31, no. 5 (1998): 374. 5. For a thorough discussion of the idea of ‘neighbourhood’ in defining the perimeter of a research community, see Christine Aicardi, Harnessing non-modernity: a case study in Artificial Life, PhD thesis, (London: UCL, 2010), 163–210. 6. It was especially so since at the time COGS had not yet been dismantled by University of Sussex management, and housed many biologists and psychologists; the population diversity shrunk significantly after COGS was split and its computer science component became Informatics. The dismantling of COGS has been unanimously lamented by all my informants who had been acquainted with the former COGS. 7. Tom Smith was then a DPhil student at CCNR, working on the evolvability of artificial neural networks for robot control. 8. Michael O’Shea and Sol Sneltvedt, “Mindscape: An Attempt to Visualize the Workings of the Brain,” Leonardo 39, no. 5 (2006): 455–56. 9. Anna Dumitriu’s blog, January 14, 2009, http://web.mac. com/annadumitriu/SOA/Blog/Entries/2009/1/14_Review_of_Past_two_years.html (accessed November 19, 2009). 10. They were part of a special section dedicated to the Art and Science Research Fellowships program in Leonardo 39, no. 5 (2006).

11. James Leach, “Extending Contexts, Making Possibilities: An Introduction to Evaluating the Projects,” Special Section: Arts and Science Research Fellowships – Arts Council England and Arts and Humanities Research Board, Leonardo 39, no. 5 (2006): 447. 12. Michael O’Shea and Sol Sneltvedt, “Mindscape: An Attempt to Visualize the Workings of the Brain,” Leonardo 39, no. 5 (2006): 455–56. 13. Another collaborative project Brown has collaborated to at CCNR is the historical project that gave rise to Phil Husbands, Owen Holland and Michael Wheeler, eds., The Mechanical Mind in History, (Cambridge, London: The MIT Press, 2008). 14. Music tracks and the full text of Alice Eldridge’s MSc dissertation are downloadable from the EASy publications pages, http://www.informatics.sussex.ac.uk/research/ groups/easy/publications/msctheses2002.html (accessed November 24, 2009). 15. Andrew Barry, “Interdisciplinarity and Society: A Critical Comparative Study: Full Research Report,” in ESRC End of Award Report, RES-151-25-0042, (Swindon: ESRC, 2007), 30. See also: Andrew Barry, Georgina Born and Gisa Weszkalnys, “Logics of Interdisciplinarity,” Economy and Society 37, no. 1 (2008): 38–42. 16. EASy web site, University of Sussex, list of MSc theses, http://www.informatics.sussex.ac.uk/research/groups/ easy/publications/msctheses.html (accessed November 27, 2009). 17. Andrew Gartland-Jones died shortly after, in 2004, at the age of 40. 18. Phil Husbands, Tribute, Memorial website, “In Memory of Andrew Gartland-Jones”, 2004: http://www.atgj.org/ drew/tributes.htm (accessed November 19, 2009). 19. Intermus private archives, University of Sussex, announcement and programme, https://lists.sussex. ac.uk/mailman/private/intermus/2009-May/000002. html, and https://lists.sussex.ac.uk/mailman/private/ intermus/2009q4/000009.html (accessed November 20, 2009.

20. Jon Bird, Guest Book, Memorial website, “In Memory of Andrew Gartland-Jones”, 2004: http://www.atgj.org/ drew/guestbook.php?start=30 (accessed November 25, 2009). 21. Blip website, “Blip Unplugged”, http://www.blip.me.uk/ (accessed November 25, 2009). 22. Held on 30th October 2009, “Robot Takeover” was “featuring live performance coding music by TOPLAP, the 55th Flotilla (rum and bass and nautical dubstep with an (un)theremin!), interactive art, real robots, electronics demos, robot dancing and talks by Blay Whitby ‘Do you want a robot lover?’ and Seb Lee-Delisle” (extract from its advertisement on Facebook). 23. BuildBrighton, home page, http://www.buildbrighton.com/ wiki/Main_Page (accessed November 25, 2009). 24. BuildBrighton, subscription page, http://www.buildbrighton.com/wiki/Subscription_Information, (accessed November 25, 2009). 25. BuildBrighton, “The Community”, http://www.buildbrighton.com/wiki/The_Community, (accessed November 25, 2009). 26. Informatics_alergic_list Digest 57, no. 17, email message to author, November 24, 2009. The event took place on 27th November 2009. 27. The Institute of Unnecessary Research, welcome page, http://web.mac.com/annadumitriu/IUR/Welcome.html, (accessed November 25, 2009). 28. Centre for Research in Cognitive Science, University of Sussex, “ART, BODY, EMBODIMENT, A COGS Interdisciplinary Symposium, University of Sussex, March 14–15, 2005”, http://www.sussex.ac.uk/cogs/1-4-3.html, (accessed November 25, 2009). 29. Anna Dumitriu’s blog, “DrawBots”, February 22, 2007, http://web.mac.com/annadumitriu/SOA/2007-2008/ Entries/2007/2/22_DrawBots.html, (accessed December 11, 2009). 30. Jon Bird, Bill Bigge, Mike Blow, Richard Brown, Ed Clive, Rowena Easton, Tom Grimsey, Garvin Haslett, and Andy Webster, “There does not, in fact, appear to be a plan: A collaborative experiment in creative robotics,” in Proceed-

functions like creativity, by investigating such issues as the role played by the pioneering research program in creativity and cognition first set up in the 1970s in Great Britain by Ernest Edmonds, early computer artist in the constructivist tradition who, incidentally, collaborated to the DrawBots project. to Brown:

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“At the time PhD research opportunities were not available within mainstream art education, so several of the [Slade] EXP students […] went on to pursue PhDs under Edmonds’s mentorship and were among the first visual arts students to achieve this award in the United Kingdom.”

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Here is a historical strand that may provide a major connection between early generative computer art (part of which later developed into a facet of Artificial Life art) and the cognitive science inquiry into creativity. ■

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ings of the Symposium on Robotics, Mechatronics and Animatronics in the Creative and Entertainment Industries and Arts, AISB’05: Social Intelligence and Interaction in Animals, Robots and Agents, ed. Tony Hirst and Ashley Green, 58 (Brighton: SSAISB, 2005). 31. Ibid., 59. 32. Ibid., 61. 33. Ibid., 58. 34. Ibid., 59. 35. Ibid., 63. 36. Ibid., 63. 37. Ibid., 62. 38. For instance, the Brighton Festival, running since 1966, is the 2nd largest arts festival in the UK after Edinburgh, while the Brighton Festival Fringe, running alongside the main Festival since 1967, is the 2nd largest fringe festival in the world, also behind Edinburgh; Brighton has by all means a long history of attracting artists; 39. The CETLD is a five-year partnership project between the Faculty of Arts and Architecture of the University of Brighton, the Royal College of Art, the Royal Institute of British Architects and the Victoria and Albert Museum, funded by the HEFCE (Higher Education Funding Council for England). 40. Research staff and research students webpages of CRD, University of Brighton, http://artsresearch.brighton. ac.uk/ (accessed December 10, 2009). Anna Dumitriu’s blog, “Replacing Humans with Robots”, April 19, 2007, http://web.mac.com/annadumitriu/SOA/2007-2008/ Entries/2007/4/19_Replacing_humans_with_robots.html (accessed December 10, 2009). Blip web site, http://www. blip.me.uk/ (accessed December 10, 2009). 41. Andrew Barry, “Interdisciplinarity and Society: A Critical Comparative Study: Full Research Report,” in ESRC End of Award Report, RES-151-25-0042, (Swindon: ESRC, 2007), 30. For further discussion of the inadequacy of academic research evaluation procedures, see Christine Aicardi, Harnessing Non-modernity: A Case Study in Artificial Life, PhD thesis, (London: UCL, 2010), 211–319. 42. Andrew Barry, “Interdisciplinarity and Society: A Critical

Comparative Study: Full Research Report,” ESRC End of Award Report, RES-151-25-0042, (Swindon: ESRC, 2007), 30. 43. Gisa Weszkalnys, “Mapping Interdisciplinarity: Report of the Survey Element of the project ‘Interdisciplinarity and Society: A Critical Comparative Study’ (ESRC Science in Society, 2004-06)” (2006), http://www.geog.ox.ac.uk/research/technologies/projects/mapping-interdisciplinarity. pdf (accessed May 20, 2010), 22: for university-based artscience, the selected case studies were the ACE program at UC Irvine and SymbioticA, a science-art lab at the University of Western Australia; for funding programmes, the selected case studies were the Arts Council England/ AHRC Art and Science Fellowships programme and the Wellcome Trust Sciart programme. 44. For an in-depth discussion of University of Sussex CCNR’s moral economy, its virtues and values, see Christine Aicardi, Harnessing non-modernity: a case study in Artificial Life, PhD thesis, (London: UCL, 2010), 163–210. 45. Anna Dumitriu’s blog, “Replacing Humans with Robots”, April 19, 2007, http://web.mac.com/annadumitriu/ SOA/2007-2008/Entries/2007/4/19_Replacing_humans_ with_robots.html (accessed December 10, 2009). 46. Alexandra M. Kokoli, “Normal Flora and the Bacterial Sublime: An Interview with Anna Dumitriu”, in n.paradoxa 20 (2007): 10. 47. Ibid., 5. 48. Ibid., 5–6. 49. Ibid., 7–8. 50. Ibid., 5. 51. Ibid., 11. 52. Anna Dumitriu in n.paradoxa 20, (2007): 7–8: “In historical terms, around the time of the Enlightenment when the ‘gentlemen scientists’ were out and about calculating the age of the Earth and suchlike, the highest form of achievement for a woman was considered to be an aptitude for whitework embroidery. This is white on white embroidery and you can hardly see what you are stitching but these women would work with candlelight, straining their eyes, hunched over their embroidery hoops, corseted.”

53. Alexandra M. Kokoli, “Normal Flora and the Bacterial Sublime: An Interview with Anna Dumitriu”, in n.paradoxa 20 (2007): 7. 54. Blay Whitby and Anna Dumitriu, abstract, “The Institute of Unnecessary Research: public engagement in science through art and performance”, in programme of 4th Annual Science and the Public Conference, Science and the public: uncertain pasts, presents and futures, University of Brighton, 13–14 June 2009, (2009): 52, http://www. bton.ac.uk/sass/research/conferences/Science_and_Public_abstracts.pdf (accessed December 14, 2009). 55. Ibid. 56. Informatics_alergic_list Digest 58, no. 5, email message to author, December 8, 2009. Anna Dumitriu, The Normal Flora project’s web site, “Cybernetic Bacteria 2.0”, http://web.mac.com/annadumitriu/NF/Cybernetic_ Bacteria_2.0.html (accessed December 11, 2009). 57. Alexandra M. Kokoli, “Normal Flora and the Bacterial Sublime: An Interview with Anna Dumitriu”, in n.paradoxa 20 (2007): 9. 58. Jon Bird, Bill Bigge, Mike Blow, Richard Brown, Ed Clive, Rowena Easton, Tom Grimsey, Garvin Haslett, and Andy Webster, “There does not, in fact, appear to be a plan: A collaborative experiment in creative robotics,” in Proceedings of the Symposium on Robotics, Mechatronics and Animatronics in the Creative and Entertainment Industries and Arts, AISB’05: Social Intelligence and Interaction in Animals, Robots and Agents, ed. Tony Hirst and Ashley Green, 65 (Brighton: SSAISB, 2005). 59. Alexandra M. Kokoli, “Normal Flora and the Bacterial Sublime: An Interview with Anna Dumitriu”, in n.paradoxa 20 (2007): 6. Informatics_alergic_list Digest 58, no. 5, email message to author, December 8, 2009. Anna Dumitriu’s research student profile at CRD, University of Brighton, http://artsresearch.brighton.ac.uk/research/student/dumitriu (accessed December 15, 2009) 60. Jon McCormack, Jon Bird, Alan Dorin, and Annemarie Jonson, Impossible Nature: The art of Jon McCormack (Victoria: Australian Centre for the Moving Image, 2004), 40–53.

61. Ibid., 41. 62. Ibid., 52. 63. Jon Bird, Bill Bigge, Mike Blow, Richard Brown, Ed Clive, Rowena Easton, Tom Grimsey, Garvin Haslett and Andy Webster, “There does not, in fact, appear to be a plan: A collaborative experiment in creative robotics,” in Proceedings of the Symposium on Robotics, Mechatronics and Animatronics in the Creative and Entertainment Industries and Arts, AISB’05: Social Intelligence and Interaction in Animals, Robots and Agents, ed. Tony Hirst and Ashley Green, 65 (Brighton: SSAISB, 2005). 64. I have developed the idea of ‘voluntary hybrid’ to qualify such researchers who exhibit a form of ‘inner’ interdisciplinarity, in Christine Aicardi, Harnessing non-modernity: a case study in Artificial Life, PhD thesis, (London: UCL, 2010), 163–319. 65. Jon McCormack, Jon Bird, Alan Dorin and Annemarie Jonson, Impossible Nature: The art of Jon McCormack (Victoria: Australian Centre for the Moving Image, 2004), 74. 66. Paul Brown, Bill Bigge, Jon Bird, Phil Husbands, Martin Perris and Dustin Stokes, “The Drawbots,” in MutaMorphosis: Challenging Arts and Sciences Conference Proceedings (2007), http://mutamorphosis.wordpress. com/?s=drawbots (accessed November 1, 2009). 67. Ibid. 68. Dustin Stokes, “Aesthetics and Cognitive Science,” in Philosophy Compass 4, no. 5 (2009): 715, 718. 69. Ibid., 715, 727. 70. CCNR, University of Sussex, webpage of the DrawBots project, http://www.informatics.sussex.ac.uk/research/ groups/ccnr/research/creativity.html (accessed January 20, 2010). 71. MutaMorphosis was held in Prague, Czech Republic, November 8–10, 2007; details about the conference and full proceedings are available online: Mutamorphosis, http://mutamorphosis.wordpress.com/ (accessed January 7, 2011). 72. Paul Brown, Bill Bigge, Jon Bird, Phil Husbands, Martin Perris and Dustin Stokes, “The Drawbots,” in MutaMorphosis: Challenging Arts and Sciences Conference

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AcknowLEdGEmEnts Proceedings (2007), http://mutamorphosis.wordpress. com/?s=drawbots (accessed November 1, 2009). 73. Jon Bird, Mark d’Inverno and Jane Prophet, “Net Work: An Interactive Artwork Designed Using an Interdisciplinary Performative Approach,” in Digital Creativity 18, no. 1 (2007): 11. 74. Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, details of grant EPSRC ref. EP/C513789/1, http://gow.epsrc. ac.uk/ViewGrant.aspx?GrantRef=EP/C513789/1 (accessed December 16, 2009); 75. Jon Bird, Mark d’Inverno and Jane Prophet, “Net Work: An Interactive Artwork Designed Using an Interdisciplinary Performative Approach,” in Digital Creativity 18, no. 1 (2007): 11–23. 76. Ibid., 13–14. 77. Ibid., 14. 78. Ibid., 12. 79. Ibid., 11. 80. Ibid., 12. 81. Ibid., 21. 82. Ibid., 15. 83. Ibid., 15. 84. Andrew Pickering, “Cybernetics and the mangle: Ashby, Beer and Pask,” Social Studies of Science 32, no. 3 (2002): 413–437 quoted in Jon Bird, Mark d’Inverno and Jane Prophet, “Net Work: An Interactive Artwork Designed Using an Interdisciplinary Performative Approach,” Digital Creativity 18, no. 1 (2007): 11. 85. Jon Bird, Mark d’Inverno and Jane Prophet, “Net Work: An Interactive Artwork Designed Using an Interdisciplinary Performative Approach,” in Digital Creativity 18, no. 1 (2007): 15–16. 86. Simon Penny is the founding director of the ACE program at University of California Irvine, a main art-science case study in Barry et al.’s investigation in “Interdisciplinarity and Society.” 87. Simon Penny, “Agents as Artworks and Agent Design as Artistic Practice,” in Human Cognition and Social Agent Technology, ed. Kerstin Dautenhahn (Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company, 2000), 412. 88. Jon Bird, Mark d’Inverno and Jane Prophet, “Net Work: An Interactive Artwork Designed Using an Interdisciplinary Performative Approach,” in Digital Creativity 18, no. 1 (2007): 18. The neural network model used by Eldridge for her Fond Punctions improvised audio-visual performance served as a basis for the implementation of the Net Work simulation prototype. 89. Alice Eldridge, “Cyborg Dancing: Generative Systems for Man-machine Musical Improvisation,” in Third Iteration: Proceedings of the 3rd international conference on generative systems in the electronic arts, ed. Troy Innocent, Paul Brown, Jon McCormack and Peter Mcilwain, 140 (Melbourne: CEMA, 2005). 90. CCNR’s phenomenological strand of research is explored in Christine Aicardi, Harnessing non-modernity: a case study in Artificial Life, PhD thesis, (London: UCL, 2010), 211–319. 91. Anna Dumitriu, The Emergence of Consciousness project’s website, http://web.mac.com/annadumitriu/EoC/Home. html (accessed November 19, 2009). The passage reveals some of the influence that CCNR has had on Dumitriu. When I first met her in March 2007, early in her residency, she was only just starting to discover Varela; plus although she saw how CCNR could nourish her work, she was not convinced of what she could bring them. 92. For instance, T. Froese and A. Spiers, “Toward a Phenomenological Pragmatics of Enactive Perception,” Cognitive Science Research Papers 593 (Falmer: University of Sussex, 2007). See also Christine Aicardi, “Harnessing Non-modernity: A Case Study in Artificial Life”, PhD thesis (London: UCL, 2010), 211–319. 93. e-MobiLart, European Mobile Lab for interactive media Artists, “ENACTIVE DIALECTICS: A Composition For Two Chairs”, http://www.media.uoa.gr/~charitos/emobilart/ exhibition_pl/enactive_dialectics.html (accessed January 26, 2009). 94. Anna Dumitriu, email message to author, January 29, 2010. 95. For details of the projects, see University of Sussex, Supporting Shy Users in Pervasive Computing project’s web site, http://www.informatics.sussex.ac.uk/research/ projects/shyness/Supporting+Shy+Users+in+Pervasive+ Computing (accessed January 2, 2010); for more on Anna Dumitriu’s contribution, see Anna Dumitriu’s web site, “Shyness and Ubiquitous Computing”, http://web.mac. com/annadumitriu/AD/Shyness_Project.html (accessed January 2, 2010). 96. Andrew Barry, Georgina Born and Gisa Weszkalnys, “Logics of Interdisciplinarity,” in Economy and Society 37, no. 1 (2008): 38. 97. Ibid. 98. Paul Brown, “From Systems Art to Artificial Life: Early Generative Art at the Slade School of Fine Art,” in White Heat Cold Logic: British Computer Art 1960–1980, ed. Paul Brown, Charlie Gere, Nicholas Lambert and Catherine Mason, 286–287 (Cambridge, London: The MIT Press, 2008). 99. Paul Brown, “The Mechanization of Art,” in The Mechanical Mind in History, ed. Phil Husbands, Owen Holland and Michael Wheeler, 274–275 (Cambridge, London: The MIT Press, 2008); Mitchell Whitelaw, “The Abstract Organism: Towards a Prehistory for A-life Art,” in Leonardo 34, no. 4 (2000), 347–348; Richard Wright, “From System to Software: Computer Programming and the Death of Constructivist Art,” in White Heat Cold Logic: British Computer Art 1960–1980, ed. Paul Brown, Charlie Gere, Nicholas Lambert and Catherine Mason, 119–139 (Cambridge, London: The MIT Press, 2008). 100. Andrew Barry, Georgina Born and Gisa Weszkalnys, “Logics of Interdisciplinarity,” Economy and Society 37, no. 1 (2008): 38–39. 101. Ernest Edmonds’s research program has been running to this day, currently as the Creativity and Cognition Studios at University of Technology Sydney. 102. Paul Brown, “The Mechanization of Art,” in The Mechanical Mind in History, ed. Phil Husbands, Owen Holland and Michael Wheeler, 281 (Cambridge, London: The MIT Press, 2008). My thanks go to all in the ‘Sussex neighbourhood’ who have given me some of their time and suffered my questioning with admirable forbearance. They have been invariably responsive, enthusiastic, and good company. A special thank you goes to Anna Dumitriu, who read many of my drafts and offered her insightful comments in return, and to Paul Brown, who gave me some essential keys to understand digital art from a historian’s perspective. Thanks go also to the anonymous referees for their helpful suggestions and criticisms. The doctoral project from which this paper derives was funded by a +3 award from the British Economic and Social Research Council, grant number PTA-030-2005-00199.

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Paul Catanese
Associate Professor of Interdisciplinary Arts Columbia College Chicago Interdisciplinary Arts Department 916 S. Wabash Ave, Suite 203b Chicago, IL 60605, USA pcatanese@colum.edu http://www.colum.edu/interarts/ http://www.paulcatanese.com/

PRELUDE
In grain brewing, mash comes early in the process – its raw, messy, problematic, unresolved – but fermentation requires it, thrives on it. With this metaphor in mind, I keep thinking about mishmash in the art process: about chaos and rigor. I’m finding that I’m simultaneously attracted to mishmash (a confused mixture) and a bit annoyed because it’s a noun – too
Figure 1. Visiting Artist Laboratory, Central School Project Artist Community, Bisbee Arizona.

languid – just not the verb I want it to be. In a description of the theme for this edition of LEA, the editors provide a particularly revealing definition; offering us that, among other things, mishmash is: “…not necessarily undertaken in an orderly and organized manner…”

Mish/Mash
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There is a gulf between the implications of chaos and a haphazard undertaking; one implies cosmology, the other: untidiness. The complexity of mixing things together can be grand in scale, mesmerizing, protean – but also painful, rife with dead-ends, and uneven: wildly swinging between the startlingly rapid and agonizingly slow, a syncopated staccato so jarring, forwards and backwards are often indistinguishable without further examination or inquiry. Of mishmash,
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one can ascribe seemingly paradoxical traits: a mode of forming questions, a lens for meta-cognition, a gambler’s dilemma, a rehash of monkeys and typewriters, a ludic blossoming of multimodality, or perhaps the most devastating: an arbitrary wheel-spinning. So how do we convert mishmash into something more active and potent, while embracing its divergent characteristics of disorganized and meticulous? How can we make harnessing chaos less about realizing the financiers’ dream of successfully applying Parrando’s Paradox – a ratcheting strategy for success by alternately playing two losing games – and more about developing rigor through experiment that integrates iteration and reflection? Can an injection of punctuation – from mishmash to mish/mash, be enough? I’d have to say its doubtful, but I’ll admit that I prefer the latter, since it points in a direction that attempts to provide a framework to the confused mixture. I want to disrupt and detach the word mishmash from its formal definition enough to indicate it also represents a continuous process of examining, arranging, combining and hybridizing concepts and techniques – and not just an isolated roll of the dice, arbitrary hodgepodge, or confused mess. I am here to argue for mish/mash, and hopefully by refocusing the lens by which we examine the term, can allow it to possess a new connotation of vastness, possibility, and the entropic. Several years ago, I began considering that the intellectual space and process of developing installation, which provides a great deal of malleability, itself began to require extensions to its conceptual topology. It occurred to me that I crashed into a similar problem earlier in my practice with regard to the conceptual topology of theater and browser-based installation; I began to require additional dimensions in order for the manifestation of the artwork to embrace a discussion of the threshold between complex and intractable. I considered my visual aesthetics and the role of drawing, sketching and notation as an instigator and analyzer of form within my work – a process that I seated within experimentation, but rarely explored as an outcome or manifestation. This wasn’t the only force acting on my thoughts, because I was also becoming more and more involved in artist residencies, which I have come to regard as one of the more important activities for my practice. A pivotal fellowship at the Kala Art Institute in Berkeley provided me with With that conceptual starting point in mind, I began experimenting with how I might integrate my familiar domain of the digital through subtractive Computer Numerical Control (cnc) industrial processes (e.g. laser etching/cutting, routing/milling, water-jet) into a printmaking process. It seemed that cnc, as a good intermediary between the raw space of digital thinking, which itself provides permeability among virtualized forms, and propulsion into the physical world could pair well with printmaking as an outcome. Since I am also attracted to the (somewhat) fixed nature of a print alongside the contrasting ephemeral nature of digital practice (and installation for that matter), the slow ephemerality of printmaking seemed an interesting foil to traditional definitions of creating art in a fleeting domain. New, old, or ancient: media instigates hybrid practice. In my own work, this injection reinforces existing disruptions to disciplinary orientation and provides a complex refiguring of the ephemeral, a changed relationship to artifact and terrain.
Figure 2. Horizontal cnc Milling Machine at the Prairie Center of the Arts in Peoria Illinois, in the process of carving a 20 × 20 inch aluminum plate for use as a relief printmaking block.

INTRODUCTION
proximity to printmaking. As I worked on programming individual black and white pixels into animations for Digital Cornell Boxes within the confines of reverse engineered Gameboy Advance handheld game systems, the proximity to letterpress printing, assembling handset type and the printmaker’s notion of the matrix hinted at conceptual and practical implications for a potential new direction.

INTERDISCIPLINARY ORIENTATION
I’ve been thinking about the theme of this issue: mish/ mash, and that it is a useful device for discussing how interdisciplinary practice with digital tools is central to my work. It’s also relevant to a discussion about how this framework for thinking integrates within my teaching. Since creating and teaching art are intertwined, it is important for me to introduce that I teach in the Interdisciplinary Arts department at Columbia College Chicago, which fosters dialog between the fine, performing and media arts. It’s a graduate department, with two MFA programs and an MA program. In terms of facilities, we have everything from computer laboratories, a sound studio, electronics fabrication, laser cutting, video editing, installation laboratories, space for performance as well as letterpress, offset, intaglio printing, papermaking and bookbinding – and the conceptual desire to mix all of these (and more) together. The faculty and students share a passion for conceptual thinking that leads creative decision making as contrasted with strictly disciplinary-oriented choices driving outcomes. We share a commitment to the idea that interdisciplinarity is a defining characteristic of contemporary art practice. a necessary prerequisite for those artists who will shape the future of creative practice. It’s an invigorating department – certainly a good Petri dish for incubating mish/ mash. Beyond a particular temperament, a receptive environment is necessary for mish/mash as it is fragile in its earliest stages. Like the mash from grain brewing, its rawness is its potential.

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performing, media and fine arts practice, so engaging with this idea was compelling. I started thinking about an invented term: handmade media – imagining a host of archeological media projects that would define its boundaries: steampunk mechanical televisions, homebrew capacitors and nimbly woven core memory. For a starting point that I could test immediately, I decided to look beyond my familiar studio processes and techniques. I considered that although there are extensive papermaking facilities in the department, I hadn’t actually made paper before and decided that addressing this would become part of a series of experiments to play with the notion of handmade media. My initial tests involved simply learning about the process, about the tools, the studio, the fibers – and it occurred to me that everything about the creation of paper was essentially wet. For someone who often works with or engages electronics, that seemed like an instant challenge, which is why I began writing
Figure 3. Over-beaten abaca paper with el-wire inclusion.

carry light short distances. At this moment, I am experimenting with building a new series of tests with fiber optics in order to determine which combination of paper fiber and cable diameter compliment one another well enough to assist in the functional aspect of the fiber optics to more successfully survive the pressing process. Simultaneously, my colleague who teaches papermaking in the department, Melissa Potter and I, have been discussing ways to combine aspects of our practices to make new opportunities for students. In preparation for offering a workshop on sound and paper that would invite ways to consider how those two ideas are potentially resonant for one another, we began thinking about what possible devices we could have

lists of all of the different electrical components that I thought could possibly survive a trip through the

HANDMADE MEDIA
One of the mfA candidates in our department, Daniel Mellis, wrote an interesting article for the Journal of Artists Books a few months ago that was a working model for establishing an AnsI code for a handmadeness scale. Incorporated with his article is a remarkably well thought-out insert that includes all of the materials required for building a handmadometer, a quasi-slide rule / paper-based computing machine for calculating how handmade a given object is. This idea was immediately intriguing to me. Though he developed the scale with handmade books in mind, I couldn’t help but consider the juxtaposition of the handmade and the digital; about how the handmade is often thought of as existing beyond or outside of media. I am also very interested in the notion of an emerging post-digital materiality that can be found in
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6000PsI press which is critical to the process of making ethereal, gossamer sheets of paper. A few components stood out: nitinol, magnetic dust, copper coils, and the one I eventually settled on: electroluminescent wire. Readily available, easy to power, and easy to wire up, the phosphor coated solid copper core of el-wire is thickly wrapped in a heavy plastic sheath that protects it during the pressing process. The initial tests were relatively successful, resulting in still-functioning el-wire embedded as an inclusion in handmade paper. Building on the early success, an additional round of experiments combining el-wire and fiber optics to re-distribute lines of light as points of light throughout the paper had mixed results. Since fiber optics are highly susceptible to high-pressures, pressing introduced minute fractures that greatly diminished the ability of the fiber cables to reliably
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Figure 4. Handmade speaker / microphone from cast esparto & abaca fiber paper.

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students make in an afternoon. Though we have interest in the sound that paper can/does make, performing with sounds of amplified paper, or paper based instruments, we wanted a demonstration to integrate media at a fundamental level – which is where the notion of handmade media offered a way forward. Coupled with the fact that I think it is a bit of a rite-ofpassage into the media arts to learn how to solder up a contact microphone, and that I have seen students learn how to in an afternoon and be making artwork with these devices by evening, I wanted the students to engage in a similarly immediate process. That being said, piezos didn’t survive the pressing process to become electronic inclusions so well (not a big surprise there, though piezo films probably would make it through ok). Once Melissa and I started talking about the possibilities of cast paper – that’s when it popped out. Since winding copper coils is no more difficult than soldering up a contact microphone, a roll of 32AwG enameled copper wire and a rare earth magnet later, we ended up with a quick prototype of a handmade speaker / microphone – a relatively straightforward device that offers a great deal of flexibility, variation and experimental potential. This interaction typifies the interplay between scholarship and experimentation as a dialogue between thinking and making, where sharing and collaborating function as a form of concentrated questioning, an energy exchange, a playful inquiry – a mish/mash.
Figure 5. Livescribe digital pen in action; on left, micro-dot pattern is in focus at center.

DE-TETHERING DIGITAL PRINTMAKING
I have been working with developing methods for integrating industrial cnc processes within a digital printmaking workflow for several years. Currently, I am in the process of co-authoring a book on this subject with Dr. Angela Geary, who teaches at Northumbria University, to be published by A&c Black in 2011. My initial workflow has been to use a Wacom tablet with
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THE VISITING ARTIST LABORATORY
custom drawing software to generate a host of different output formats: g-code for cnc mills, AI & Pdf for laser cutters, and a custom XmL format that is flexible and allows me to convert drawings into future formats that I might want to explore. My drawing software is pared to precisely the tools I need to make marks, and because it is tailored to the types of drawings I make, it allows me to work very rapidly. Those drawings can then be carved in steel, routed in wood, laser etched, scribed into copper, scribed through hard or soft ground on copper or zinc and then bitten with acid, or turned into intaglio and relief printmaking plates in a number of other ways. I continue to use the workflow previously described for the many advantages that it provides me. However, a more recent workflow involves working with a digital pen; in this case, the Livescribe – one of several products that integrate a ball-point pen with a miniature camera that is able to collect accurate x/y data when used with a specialized paper printed with a unique non-repeating micro-dot pattern. By gaining access to the raw x/y data collected by the Livescribe, which dovetails with my existing digital printmaking workflow. Now I have access to a digital printmaking process in which the drawing aspect is de-tethered. The de-tethering has become important for me - as the space of drawing - and the space of my installations have begun to move into the natural environment. For my process, the effect of this residency has been immense. A suite of new problems, questions and trajectories erupted from this period of inquiry. The laboratory reframed the role of reflection and illumination in my work, introduced the gentle buoyancy of balloons as a welcome partner in establishing surrogate vision, scale-models of drawings viewed from the moon, and other raw mish/mash demands further exploration in an upcoming residency in June 2010, at the Goldwell Open Air Museum, just outside of Death Valley. Actions, time-events, performed and re-performed moments, experiments and variants, will unfold. Drawing is a trace of gesture and kinetic action, indicator of future motion and trajectory, it provides notation for performance, but also records, as field notes, it is evidence of action. In 2009, I was invited to a summer residency at the Central School Project Artist Community in Bisbee, Arizona. It was a unique opportunity where I was provided space and time to work. The level of engagement with the community was very useful; the studio remained an open environment in which visitors could drop by at any time. Conversations erupted at any moment, work in process, processes in process, notes, sketches, scribbles, mistakes, all were examined and in view. Some visitors might ask many questions, others just watched – or would even lend a hand. It was a curious space – an emptied third-grade classroom in a giant elementary schoolhouse built in 1905. Time worn oak wood floors, original slate chalkboards, twenty foot ceilings, huge antique cylinder-glass windows and a view of desert mountains, rich with copper ore and blossoming ocatilla greeted me each day.

CONCLUSIONS
I have always been interdisciplinary. Breaking creativity into subdivisions is a learned construct; and while the magnetism of disciplinary orientation, with the convenience of established answers and traditions is alluring, mixing things together is in itself a rigorous practice. It is unsettling to be disoriented, and challenging to engage in willful disorientation. There are components of studio practice that require discovery through iteration. Experimentation in this regard refers to the cyclical structure of making, observing, reflecting and renewed making. The rigor exists in the process. This also allows for play and variation. It provides a framework for creating a mess – and then learning from the eruption through close examination and reflection, like a bubble chamber. It is primarily additive, and can generate a great number of directions from a respectively small set of givens. Systems created do not have to work; parts of the systems do. Running a broken machine can still perform though it may not function. Each artist will interpret the usefulness of experiment as well as the balance of experiment within their practice as compared to other elements (theory, history, profession, craft, material, isolation, performance, public interface, technical, collaborative, etc.) I do not suggest that the experiment is the artwork, though it can be. I do suggest that in my case, experimentation defines the studio; that studio, becoming open, within the context of residency, provides engagement and rupture. The studio as open laboratory transforms experiments into performance. Perhaps here I will take a moment to refine mish/mash again – an invitation to the unresolved, the performance provides witness to unfolding action. Handmade paper with electronic inclusions, cast paper microphones and speakers, de-tethered digital printmaking, the open studio as performance – all of these experiments, these snapshots of moments within an unfolding process exist in the wilderness of hybrid art practice, and embody my personal vision of mish/ mash. Additionally, they exemplify the hybridization of process that erupts from integrating art and teaching practice, the influence of collaboration, and the importance of artist residencies as a manner of accessing expanded perspectives. ■

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SIPPING ESPRESSO WITH SALMON
A B S T R A C T

Complex systems require, for their full description, a language commensurate in complexity. The application of mathematical language to systems such as ecosystems or ritual systems demands a psychological distancing in order to apply the math in the first place. The resulting sensorial disembodiment precipitates yet another flavor of the mind-body separation.

away at the material every evening after dinner. One day his son asked him what was up. “Entropy,” replied Jerry, “entropy.” “Entropy,” repeated his son, but it wasn’t a question. “Yeah,” said Jerry, “I just don’t get it.” The kid pondered for a minute and pointed to the family pickup out the window. “You know our truck, Dad?” Jerry followed his son’s finger to the clunker and nodded. “If entropy didn’t exist,” explained the boy, “our truck would all by itself turn clean and neat and shiny and all brand new.” —

others with that background, I was eventually drawn to biology and the workings of the Earth’s ecosystems. But to genuinely hold the living land – to pull it back into our heads and hearts – any descriptive language for it must match in its complexity the complexity of the land itself. It’s taken me a long time to learn this. Because scientists, like real estate brokers but perhaps more unwittingly, also celebrate the Grid. I’m trying to understand our excuses for that. Thinking about Jerry has also got me thinking about René Descartes. Such musings always point in his direction. Had Descartes played soccer he might have quipped, “I play soccer, therefore I am.” Or, “I take a tumble in the hay with Marie every Tuesday afternoon, therefore I am,” if that were indeed the case. But the man was a philosopher and so, “I think, therefore I am.” — “More absinthe, René?” Descartes tilts his glass and Jerry pours them each another hit of the green liquid. “Merci,” says the philosopher. He’s pondering a wealth of new information. “Tell me again, mon ami, this entropy idée of which you so eloquently speak …” “Well that’s how it is, man,” explains Jerry, “that’s how it goes. Entropy rules.” While completely unconvinced, Descartes nods to in-

Carey K . B a g d a ssar i a n
The College of William and Mary Department of Chemistry Williamsburg, Virginia 23187 ckbagd@wm.edu 757-221-2556

Jerry’s storefront is a mess. Stuff is scattered in the window – an axe, woodcarving knives and gouges, leather scraps, a couple of sun-bleached souvenir t-shirts, all for sale. There’s a bench piled high with magazines and old books that he pulls in at night against the weather. It props the door open during the day, and there’s a workshop in the back. Jerry’s a master woodworker who stands by his craft for life, be it a new cabinet or a repair. He’ll tell you he’s been living up North here for three decades, and he’ll tell you also that he’s been battling entropy ever since. When his son was eight years old, Jerry was taking courses at the local college. Chemistry among them, he’ll tell you, but no matter how hard he tried he just couldn’t wrap his head around it. Jerry would slug

Jerry’s got me thinking. Specifically, he’s got me thinking about the Grid, the certainty of rectilinear space, of north-south-east-west. When British explorers came to the New World, they straightaway christened it with the Grid. Want to head west, young man? Just follow the compass clean and straight in that direction. The land’s contours, its waterways and gorges and mountains, its eloquence in communicating paths of least resistance, were all ignored as unessential to understanding, appreciating or traveling it. No surprise that centuries later John Hildebrand suggests, “Perhaps we have lost the language to describe a landscape beyond the terminology of real estate brokers.” I’m a scientist trained to study the physical world through the language of mathematics. And, like many
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dicate his attention to the argument. He’d never heard about entropy until bumping into the woodworker in
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this Parisian café and bar. Descartes’ eyes shyly follow the admirable bottom of a woman as she slips off her stool. “Look, everything just turns into slosh,” Jerry insists. “What order? More like disorder. What clockwork universe? You’re nuts, amigo.” Descartes contemplates Jerry’s features. In any case, the well-groomed Frenchman thinks to himself, my facial hair would never degenerate into such travesty. “Non. Ce n’est pas possible,” he retorts. “I am not, as you say, nuts.” René pulls hard at the absinthe and counters. “There is a rational system for thought and for the Heavens. A discernible and permanent celestial precision, so to speak. This – and he swept his arms to indicate all of it, the café, the street, the city of Paris, Europe, the stars – this never winds down.” “Why the hell not?” Jerry responds. “Maybe some of it does, some doesn’t,” he reckons as he reaches for his new friend’s empty glass. Another dialogue unfolds under the café’s decaying rain gutter. With the force of a tiny recoiling rifle, a spider attacks a huge beetle again and again. Shiny brown-black in the streetlight and crying out in desperate chirps, the beetle fights for its life with two legs not tangled in the web. Descartes insists on picking up the bill. Tomorrow he’ll visit the Musée de l’Homme where his skull is preserved for eternity. “Don’t need to see that,” Jerry responds when asked to come along. — There is something serious here, and I’m grateful to David Abram’s extraordinary The Spell of the Sensuous for this and so many other insights. Descartes’ senses – his sight, his bodily and sensual connection to the world – told him that the sun rose to bring the day.
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Its daily travels took it across the sky. But Descartes’ intellect – his science via Copernicus and Galileo – assured him that his senses were in complete error. The Earth was doing the moving, not the sun. And so, for Descartes, as for many Enlightenment thinkers as the Sciences took hold of their imaginations, an essential tension divided the senses and the mind. The vying demands of polar dictates can result in creative release of that tension. Competition between entropy and energy, the former pushing to disorder and the latter to energetic minima, provides scores of familiar examples of such release, like ice melting to a different state of matter. Descartes’ resolution to his own confrontation with two alternatives – mind or body – was unilaterally in favor of the mind’s supremacy. A creative third solution was not his to offer. He dismissed as inessential the senses and body. Not too many miles from Jerry’s store, night comes to a lake as I again wonder what rendered the land so vacant to the Western soul that our longing led us to a transcendent God. As part of the puzzle, it starts to make sense that people when exiled must take their gods with them in their wanderings. It helps to have a god no longer tied to the land. A god no longer embodied with the geographical, faunal or floral features of a particular and unique place. A hidden, portable god: relegated and withdrawn to the everywhere heavens. Perhaps this propelled the symmetrical believe that all things worth knowing are hidden. Why shouldn’t all longing turn us to the starry night and to the invisible, away from the forests and rivers? Our fascination with things unseen and unfathomed by our unaided senses have illuminated the extremes: from the atom and its even smaller constituents to the black holes of spacetime and the dark matter holding it all together. We

practice a science of the hidden. And its most sublime language is that of mathematics. Physics, specifically theoretical physics with its extraordinarily sophisticated mathematical apparatus, is considered the crowning achievement of the scientific enterprise. Even sequencing the entire human genome pales compared with the genius coalesced into fundamental equations, an obvious example being E = mc2. Encapsulating the universe so simply is profoundly mind-boggling and exquisitely seductive. Mathematics is a wonderful thing, elegantly explaining both the massive cosmological and the invisible atomic and molecular worlds. It can hold perfectly the story of the physical universe: A one-to-oneness between language as descriptor and the described, the language being just right. Not surprising then that math is hailed as the music of the spheres, the language of the cosmos and, if you have the bent in that direction, the language of God. Mary Oliver recalling Leo Frobenius in her Blue Pastures: “It was first the animal world, in its various species, that impressed mankind as a mystery, and that, in its character of admired immediate neighbor, evoked the impulse to imitative identification. Next, it was the vegetable world and the miracle of the fruitful earth, wherein death is changed into life. And finally … the focus of attention lifted to the mathematics” of the heavens. And mathematical logic is assumed by scientists to animate the universe equally brilliantly at all levels of its organization, from the profoundly microscopic to the astronomically cosmic and everything in between. It’s this in-between place that troubles me as we run Frobenius backwards by bringing the mathematics of the heavens to the vegetable and animal world – when we bring that compact language and its clean

logic to things far more complex and intertwined than mathematics was ever meant to describe. A feeling of profound rightness – of beauty – emerges when mathematical analysis engages the physical world, the world of chemistry, biochemistry and molecular biology. But when that same mathematical thinking is turned upon the land, onto ecosystems and their integral unity of plant, animal, earth, water and sky, there needles in me the taste of the manufactured. Shouldn’t it strike us as odd that a language constructed to quantify the mechanical sweeps of planetary motion is asked also to hold the complexity of the biosphere? I’m not so thrilled to place the living and the dead in the same box. Descartes’ wildly successful coordinate system, his mutually perpendicular axes of rectilinear space, made possible the mathematical description of the physical world. Without it, Newton’s classical physics, Einstein’s theories of relativity, and quantum mechanics would have been impossible. It’s also of note that Descartes once spared an opponent’s life in a duel. But he didn’t tumble in the hay with a woman named Marie. Her name was Helène and she lived in Amsterdam. Perhaps it’s not worth speculating whether he’d reenvision his “I think, therefore I am” had their daughter, Francine, lived past the age of five. — Jerry and René Descartes are contemplating the contours of the latter man’s skull. “René, let me get a picture of both of you, eh?” says Jerry. “Just turn a bit more…” Jerry figures he’ll pin the image up in his shop. Be a great conversation piece, maybe Photoshop-in some antlers. “Hey, René!” Understandably absorbed by the skeletal remnant of himself, Descartes is slow on the uptake. “Both of us?” he asks. “A portrait of you and me, then?”
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“No, you and your skull, man.” “Ah, oui!” The ramifications delight the philosopher. Jerry fiddles with the camera’s settings. “Yeah, that’s it. Step to the left, turn your head more …” Click! Later, the ambassadors of chaos and order are back at their café. Before they start drinking, Jerry says he’ll pay though the dollar sucks against the Euro. Better that than letting René dig into his money belt for those gold coins again, which the slippery bartender had accepted as appropriate currency the other night. “This machine” – Descartes is examining the marvel that is Jerry’s camera – “is quite extraordinary, non? It paints with light, you say?” he asks. “Yeah. It’s all right.” Jerry shrugs. “Yeah, for now. It’ll go to crap in a year or

two.” “Ah, your entropy again, yes?” René hands Jerry back the camera. Built-in obsolescence was never part of Descartes’ world, Jerry realizes. So he simply shrugs again and says, “Nah, it’s just made badly.” The philosopher bolts up and knocks back his chair. “Voila! There we have it!” Descartes gulps triumphantly from his glass. “All imperfections are simply our own,” he continues. “No product of the truly rational mind can be flawed, and had the design and construction of this instrument been well executed … it would have been perfect.” Jerry shakes his head. “It’s all just an entropy blitzkrieg, man,” he insists. glory.”

Clockwork stalemate, and they click their glasses to it. On a cloth napkin, Jerry’s sketching a new design for a dresser and the alcohol loosens Descartes’ memories of his dead daughter. Somewhere a dragonfly snatches away a mosquito fallen into a cool lake just as a fish rises for it. — Mathematical models were first introduced to describe predator-prey dynamics in the 1920s. And so, the biology of the food web, the who-eats-whom-of-it, expressed in the language of physics. A famous example features the snowshoe hare and Canadian lynx duo. I’ve never seen a lynx chase down a hare, but I can write down equations for the hunt. We practice a portable science done from a distance: its equations are created and solved far from the phenomena that motivated their creation. It’s as if

am saying is this: Our scholarship needs a lot more wildness if it’s to meet the wildness of the living world anywhere near halfway. A living organism is embedded as both predator and prey into its surroundings of other organisms – it eats and is eaten. Other levels of organization network the organism and the land through biogeochemical processes and their poorly understood feedback loops. Moreover, all living things and their evolution over eons have reciprocally modified and are modifying, sometimes dramatically, their environments. For example, by using hydrogen sulfide emitted from deep-sea vents as an energy source, the tubeworm Lamellibrachia luymesi detoxifies the local environment thus making it hospitable to other life forms. But the tubeworm itself survives only through an intricate symbiotic chemical feedback loop with bacterial consortia, which in turn support the nutritional needs of several species of marine animals. The problem is that the deep-sea tubeworm L. luymesi cannot be teased away from the whole; its relational ties to the rest of the ecosystem cannot be withdrawn without violating the system’s inviolate self. Or a little closer to our own warm, fuzzy, mammalian selves: Where lies the delineation between a beaver and the rest of the ecosystem? Does the beaver include that tree being gnawed at? And when the tree falls, must we consider the newly diverted rivulet of water that destroys a nest of baby field mice? How about the Giardia I suffer by stupidly drinking water from that new stream? The boundary between beaver and surroundings is fluidly dynamic. Or, really, there is no boundary at all. In an ecosystem, everything revolves around everything else. There is no center. However, the thermodynamic mainstay of energy and matter flows across system-surrounding divisions was not designed for that kind of complexity. But to practice science, one must focus somewhere. Otherwise, how to begin?

“And it is … reliable? Yes, that is the exact word: reliable.” “Non. It is all irrefutable reason in its mathematical

Where lies the delineation between a beaver and the rest of the ecosystem? Does the beaver include that tree being gnawed at? And when the tree falls, must we consider the newly diverted rivulet of water that destroys a nest of baby field mice?

the two, the mathematics and hunt, are not living in the same room. And distance – whether spatial or by severing my fundamental identification with the hunt, either as a predator or prey – is absolutely necessary for me to write down those predator-prey equations. That distancing must be forced upon me – precisely in order to do the science without acknowledging the conflicts between my senses and intellect. Without that distance, I would too clearly know that I’d reduced something so vibrant, powerful, and profoundly archetypal to a sterile abstraction. Without that distance, I wouldn’t be able to write down the equations. The mathematics and the hunt cannot live in the same room. In of itself, mathematical analysis of predator-prey dynamics is beautiful, rich and challenging. But when language in its own richness doesn’t match the complexity of the phenomenon being described or communicated, we’re left with caricature. All that I

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An ecosystem’s dimension of wildness spirals the imagination. And wildness is the dimension most absent from mathematical language. If mathematics as we’ve come to understand it over the centuries could contain the complexity of the biosphere, my senses and intellect wouldn’t be strangling each other. The models wouldn’t smack like bloodless footnotes on the primary text. To pull out of an ecosystem that part reducible to mathematical analysis – for one can always do that – is the fake comfort of understanding a great deal about the bath water in which the conveniently forgotten baby was bathing. The language we cast over the Earth, with its animals, and plants and rivers is not its own. And so, to remain felicitous to the scientific enterprise, we’ve pulled ourselves from the Earth’s wild energies. Sadly, our abstracted language of mathematics with its terrific intellectual rewards made that all the easier. Like Descartes before us, we’ve fashioned an either/ or choice: Either abandon the language or disembody ourselves from the living land in order to do the science. — In Totem Salmon Freeman House describes the salmon ceremonies that spiritually charged the Klamath River and its tributaries. Separated from each other by both language and long miles of river, the Yoruk, Hupa and Karuk people there developed an exquisite system of ritual commensurate with the land’s complexity and their own collective livelihood. With the annual return of king salmon to the Klamath, the Yoruk living near its mouth took a single symbolic fish. Spiritual elders ritualistically consumed this first salmon. The ensuing ceremonies established a firmly proscribed delay on general fishing, thereby allowing the salmon to work their way upstream to spawn and
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to feed the Hupa and Karuk. In the meantime, Yoruk runners set out for Hupa villages with news of the salmon’s return. After ten days of prayer following the arrival of salmon to their stretch of river, the Hupa started fishing. Furthest upstream in the Salmon River tributary, the Karuk, also informed by runners, retreated to the surrounding hills for thanksgiving while the elders conducted their ceremonies. Only then did they return to fish the river. The tiniest details for constructing fishing dams were encapsulated in ritual. The confounding dimensions of human imagination notwithstanding, I’m wondering about the role of selforganization in establishing ritual. Self-organized systems are not engineered; they achieve their dynamical patterns without foreknowledge or recipes on the part of any boss as to the final outcome. As I sit with my laptop very far from the Klamath, far in geographical and historical distance, I find myself thinking that I can model this thing. The whole enchilada, I mean, salmon and people. At first it seems that tackling the actual harvest, the percentage of salmon taken from a year’s run, would be simple enough. But that percentage must optimize for maximal salmon return the next year while nourishing people this year. So, the equations couple fish and humans from the get-go. Then there’s the lag factor. How many days do you wait after the first salmon appear before harvesting? OK, I can deal with that. But how far upstream do salmon travel in that time? What fraction spawn successfully? Gotta optimize for the lag factor as well. Hmm. OK. Best case scenario: My model gives the harvest percentages and lag factors the Yoruk, Hupa, and Karuk established through self-organizing exchange with the land and with each other. Man, it’s pulling me in. But the thing’s getting complicated. I need another espresso to keep rolling.
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Oh, why the hell not? I’ll just transport myself in a time machine to the Klamath River 150 years ago. Notebook and pen in hand, I’ll follow the progress of salmon and ritual as both travel entwined upstream. — At the water’s edge near a Karuk village, I cool my feet in the river. Salmon touch against my skin. My notebook sits at the ready by my side in case there’s anything else to jot down. But I think I’ve got all the field data I’ll need. The village is at work, fish are smoking on willow skewers and the holy gift of food animates the air as several men dismantle the fish dams. My sleek laptop is tucked with plenty of padding in an old-school canvas backpack along with a solar-panel battery charger: I’ve come prepared to develop and work the mathematical models. A little blue and black butterfly like batik cloth somersaults around my head. René Descartes and Jerry are with me. Both are wearing dark sunglasses against perpetual hangovers. We finish off the fish we’ve been munching. René’s downright ravenous. “The peasants are working hard, non?” he says pointing to a group of women a ways downstream. “Don’t be such a bonehead,” Jerry mumbles. “Merde,” objects the philosopher, “I was only sympathizing with their labor.” He wipes his nose on an embroidered handkerchief and swats at a fly. “Jeez, I need to get my sorry ass back home,” says Jerry, which is exactly what Descartes and I are thinking. Jerry doesn’t do too well far from his tools and craft. Damn, I used to like these guys. Even Descartes seemed human enough when sauced. “Can you two just shut up a minute?” I bark, even though nothing’s been said till now. Two guys walk into a bar. One’s a devotee of reason, the other of chaos. But the joke’s on me. Straddling
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their extremes, I’m looking for that third solution but am armed with a language unyielding to it. What’s a scientist to do? I’ll ‘fess up. These two bozos were supposed to figure it all out for me. While the company isn’t, the salmon’s good. A young Karuk man walks over to offer us another and goes back to his work. So much for keeping a low profile. We wolf down the fish. “You know,” I say for no reason at all through my salmon-full mouth, “there’s like a hundred billion neurons in a human brain.” While Jerry just nods, probably knowing that already, Descartes stares hard at me. The batik butterfly settles on a nearby sun-hot rock. The three of us, like idiots, simultaneously extend fingers to the creature. I’m thoroughly delighted as it cautiously walks over and chooses my perch. It uncurls its long tongue and probes, possibly for sweat and certainly not because I’m the best man here, no matter what I’d like to think. René’s pacing about, scratching his thinking head and holding it between his palms from the exertion. “Ah!” he exclaims. “My skull then, these neurons… that is what fills its cavern? C’est magnifique! Those neurons together becoming mind!” “Easy there, cowboy,” I say, “sit down.” “One hundred thousand neurons ...” René continues his mulling, ignoring me. “Billion,” I correct him, “billion. Not thousand.” “Ah! One hundred billion! Mon Dieu!” I inform him that a chunk of soil has that many microorganisms. “But ...” “But nothing,” Jerry finishes him off. “Sit down already,” he says. “Mes amis,” begins Descartes, but instead he shakes his head at our American 21st century rudeness and starts walking upstream along the river. “Some nut-job, eh?” Jerry says to me.
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“Well, you started this,” I remind him. “What? What’ya mean?” he demands. “Yeah, just look back to the start of this story. In the beginning was chaos... you know what I’m talking about.” Jerry stands up. “I’m just a woodworker, man,” he says. “That’s all. I make things with my hands. I like doing that. I’m good at it. Spare the crap personality you got slapped on me, capiche?” He heads upstream as well and catches up with Descartes. A quick breeze agitates the reeds by the water, and Jerry runs his hands along their tops. He and René continue their stroll upriver. I lie back to exhale. We three don’t sit too well on the land. I’ve got work to do though and, sitting back up, I take out my laptop and turn it on. That burst of I’m-Booting-Up music doesn’t sit too well on the land either. I keep an eye on my antagonists. They’re maybe a couple of hundred yards away, René and Jerry, and they’re talking and gesticulating and shaking their heads. Probably just arguing again, I figure. After fiddling with my computer for a few minutes, I shut it down and slip it back into its pack. Wanted to check the news before I got down to work. Forgot that there’s no Internet. What an odd pair, Descartes in his seventeenth century finery and Jerry in jeans and a flannel shirt though it’s way too warm. I stuff my notebook and pen into the pack as well. What are those two so excited about?

I lie back down. What I want so much is to love this – the river, the salmon, the butterfly, the human rituals – to love it all easily, naturally, and without turning my longing into another project for personal growth. But my mind is telling me to model the damn thing already, to write down the equations. It’s trumpeting that everything remains a void until stamped with its cognitive seal of existence – even as my body knows that any equations I’d scribble here by the river, any computer codes I’d attempt, would wrong the river, the salmon, and the rituals I’ve witnessed. My body lives in a Diaspora of the mind’s brewing. Oh, René, what have you and your buddies done? Something’s going on. René’s on his feet and very excited. I stand up for a better look. From his satchel, he yanks something out, looks like his notebook from here, and he frantically shakes the rest of the bag’s contents onto the ground. What’s he looking for? A quill? Ink? Whatever it is, he can’t find it. René flings his arms up in desperation, and I start off upstream at a run. Jerry grabs a pen from his pants pocket. He and René high-five to it like the world’s best buds. What the – ? Composing himself with a single deep breath and cracking his knuckles, René writes something in his notebook. Can’t be more than a sentence or two. He hands the book to Jerry who nods and punctuates their collective enthusiasm with another high-five. The bastards. And before I start begging to see what’s written, René and Jerry turn into fish to join the salmon run. —

Morning comes. I look at the river. I look at my laptop and notebook. I time-transport them back to my university office in the future. When I get back there myself, I’ll work the equations in air-conditioned splendor. There, in my office, my intellect will be shielded from any sensual embodiment in the land. My mind will deny the mutinous complexity of my body’s experience. There, in my office, with hardly a nod to its obvious wildness and creativity – talk of self-organization notwithstanding – I’ll demand that the entire biosphere fold neatly under the vestigial mechanistic paradigm to which an atom or chemical reaction is amenable. Or better yet, I’ll work the equations in a café. There, I’ll forget the land as the equations and computer code smoke and mirror me with their own special seduction. I’ll model the thing with well-mannered equations and saddle it with formulaic and algorithmic computer codes to explain its dynamics. I’ll corral it into reproducible and therefore ultimately predictable outcomes. I’ll snuff the thing of its wild glory. And I’ll sip espresso with my computer and reminisce over vague memories of salmon, knowing fully that a science of the embedded won’t be forthcoming under the fluorescent machine-buzz of electric lights. All my longing for a new language will retreat to subterranean consciousness, nagging me no longer. I’ve already got the taste of espresso in my mouth. But it’s not quite time to go home. I stay by the river and catch another fish, hoping it’s not Jerry or René. —

Nothing’s changed in my office. Big surprise. There’s my laptop and notebook. Guess I had good aim. Air conditioner’s full on. A stack of mail, probably tons of email to delete. It’ll all wait. The raven feather I brought back sets off nicely against the brown fakewood furniture. As I’m about to kill the office lights and head out to the café, I spy a piece of paper resting on my chair. Obviously torn from a notebook, the paper’s of heavy grade and well made, with a greenish stain like grass on one corner. Two sentences are written on it in ballpoint but with a neat flourish of elegance. One’s in French, the other is its English translation. I take the notebook page with me. It reads Discourse on the Intelligence of Soil. Q. E. D. ■

AcknowLEdGEmEnts I am grateful for a residency at the Tofte Lake Center where this work was conceived and for a supporting grant from William and Mary’s Environmental Science and Policy Program. I thank Elizabeth Mead for our ongoing dialogue and her flood of ideas.

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An interview with Hugo Glendinning

The Making of

Empty Stages
by Tim Etchells and Hugo Glendinning

Gab ri el l a Gi annach i
Professor in Performance and New Media Director Centre for Intermedia College of Humanities Exeter University Thornlea, New North Road Exeter EX4 4LA, UK

A B S T R A C T

In this interview to acclaimed theatre photographer Hugo Glendinning, Gabriella Giannachi discusses with him the making of his latest work, Empty Stages (2003–11), a documentation about empty stages, touching on his collaboration with UK theatre company Forced Entertainment and Tim Etchells, who co-authored some of the images,as well as photographic methodologies and reflections about emptiness, absence, presence and performance.
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Figure 1. Centre Point, 2009, Hugo Glendinning and Tim Etchells, photographic media, Copyright Tim Etchells and Hugo Glendinning.

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Empty Stages (2003–11) is both a work and a documentation about empty stages. How did the idea of shooting Empty Stages emerge? What attracts you about an empty stage? The first time that I shot an empty stage was when Forced Entertainment were doing a workshop based on King Lear – a kind of research project – in Sheffield. The location was a very small theatre originally built by Hugo Glendinning has been working as a photographer for over 20 years. His work stretches across the cultural industries from fine art collaborations in video and photography, through production and performance documentation to portrait work. He has collaborated with most leading British theatre and dance companies and is regularly commissioned by the Rsc, National Theatre, Royal Opera House and many West End producers. His photographs are in a number of monographs and edited volumes, including Tim Etchells’ Certain Fragments (Routledge 1999); Adrian Heathfield’s (ed.) Small Acts – Performance the Millennium and the Marking of Time (Black Dog Publishing 2000) and (ed.) Live – Art and Performance (Tate Publishing 2004). He has collaborated with numerous artists, including Paola Pivi, Tim Etchells, Yinka Shonibare, Matthew Barney, Franko B, and Martin Creed. He lectures regularly in the Uk and abroad and is currently AHRc Fellow in the Creative and Performing Arts at the University of Exeter. a Victorian industrialist as a present for his daughters. By 1998, when we did the work on Lear, it was being run by an amateur dramatics group. The project itself never came to anything... it informed subsequent shows but was never intended as a completed work itself. It was one of their early clown pieces, a clown Shakespeare. The space they were rehearsing in, this ‘toy’ theatre, with full curtains and a very high platform stage, had something in excess of what we were doing in it. We were trying to find a way of presenting Shakespeare through a filter that one might call ‘the child’s experience’. We were breaking it down, even though we were still using all the constituent parts of the text. We soon realised that in fact the space was doing this to us. So I took some pictures of the space and, later, we went back to it and shot skeletons and other things to see if we could build it into one of the educational dVd-Roms Forced Entertainment were doing at that time. The empty picture was needed so that the figures from the other shots with perforFor Tim I think the fascination with the Empty Stages comes primarily from his work with Forced Entertainment – there’s an impulse in his work with the company to view or underline the idea of the stage as a kind of container – a volume of to be filled either literally or imaginatively in the performance. Many of the performances come back to this idea – the empty Largely at the time we thought that a kind of innocent stage, like the children’s stage, or working men’s clubs, was the territory we should be looking at. Tim wrote some great stories on his blog on The Guardian [1 December 2009] about those initial visits to working Later in 2001 or 2002 Tim [Etchells] and I began a conversation about new photo projects that weren’t really based on performance but around theatres themselves. That was when this photograph of the children’s stage in Sheffield was cited again. Subsequently we worked on Adrian Heathfield’s exhibition on liveness at The Tate Modern. We were given a space as part of that and we thought we should do the Empty Stages. mance elements might be moved about the space using Photoshop. frame or container of the stage... a space of potential. At the same time both of us have spent a lot of time over the past 25 years staring at empty stages waiting for something to start or happen. So even before we started photographing the Empty Stages series, we’d have spent many hours with them, wondering what might happen on them, waiting for performers to show up, waiting for the lights to be ready or the sound to get fixed. I think we were both drawn to the stages again as spaces of imagining. That’s such a through line in the work Tim’s done in any case and goes back to several of the other collaborations we’ve done – the cdRoms Nightwalks and Frozen Palaces, the cardboard sign photographs and so on.

Figure 2. Frozen Palaces, 1997, Hugo Glendinning, photographic media, Copyright Hugo Glendinning and Forced Entertainment.

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men’s clubs. People’s idea of who we were and what we were doing was so distant from what we were actually doing. One person thought we were thieves who were casing the joint. On another occasion we remembered a stage because we had done a shoot in a ballroom. And the guy who owned the venue insisted there was no stage there and never had been. One bar man who couldn’t imagine that we had not been sent by some greater authority insisted that our boss should have called his boss to arrange the visit and that he couldn’t let us in unless our boss called. We chose spaces that were not fully functioning theatre spaces but had multiple functions. They were very rich for the way they were used. In fact they were not used to present people saying things or doing things, but to store ping–pong tables and chairs. They were just another space for stuff to be stuck in. And part of the comedic value of what we did was down to what was left on the stages. How have you been you collaborating with Tim Etchells in this project? In an artistic and conceptual sense it is a complete collaboration even though in a practical sense I have shot most of the photos and I always look after the details of production, technical work on the images and so on, since that is not really Tim’s area at all. We’ve arrived at what you might call a house style though, based on how I shot the first stages… it became obvious to me after shooting a number of the early stages that if I didn’t shoot them in an incredibly neutral way, the meaning got skewed. So I have to be dead centre of whatever the space is – not necessarily the stage, but I have to find a centre which is, if you like, a point of neutrality and shoot the photo just as it is. There can’t be anything that makes it look like I’m trying to do something, because I noticed that this was giving people all sorts of false readings.
All: Hugo Glendinning and Tim Etchells, photographic media, Copyright Tim Etchells and Hugo Glendinning. Figure 5. Hope and Anchor, 2009. Figure 4. Highgate Wood School, 2006. Figure 3. Globe Theatre, 2007.

Why is neutrality so important in this context? They are such different spaces, and to make them feel like a series we have to use this approach. Now Empty Stages has opened out away from just working men’s clubs. We started to include professional spaces, as well as almost any raised platform. So as the project opened out, in order to pull them all together, we really had to find a way of looking at the pictures that was going to say that these are the same thing and aesthetically sit together. That was the prime motivation for finding a neutral way of doing Empty Stages. How do you choose which stages to photograph? We photograph all of them and we reject a few. There was one in a big garden in Paris, which was being set up for a concert and it looked too close to being something very definite. There was absolutely no ambiguity in it. On the other hand there was a little band set-up in the Hope and Anchor pub in Islington [London], which even had the name of the band on it but it somehow felt abandoned rather than announcing an imminent act. There was a huge absence there. In the case of the photo in Paris, I just felt the soonto-be-function of the space was way too identifiable. I guess we have chucked out more professional spaces than we have transient spaces. Does your presence as a photographer affect the emptiness of the stage you are photographing? I think it does. I try to absent myself from both space and process as much as I can when taking the photos. That’s partly so that almost anybody can do it. If there’s one space we really want to have that we’ve seen, we might even ask somebody else to do it and say you have to do it like this. Though so far we’ve only done that once.

How do you absent yourself? It’s the aesthetic neutrality, finding that centre, finding the one way of looking at all of them which says as little as possible about your position. There’s also an element of cloak and daggers about it, because the stage does it for you, it keeps reiterating its emptiness and that helps to get rid of you. When you look at the photos later, when you’re no longer there, do you feel your presence in the photo? I don’t feel my presence, but I can see choices, because even within this position of neutrality, or the supposed position of neutrality, there are many choices to be made when photographing a stage. So the choices I made when looking at the stage are visible to me. For instance, looking at this proscenium arch here [in British Library where the interview was held on 2 December 2009], do I want to see the brick wall and the pillar? Do I want to include the proscenium arch? Maybe I could have no proscenium at all here. You know, there are an awful lot of different framing decisions especially when you are dealing with something that is a frame itself, this double framing draws attention to the act. And often what I suggest to Tim, if he’s got a good enough camera on him, is to shoot wide and crop later. But I never crop my own pictures. I’ll have probably taken 5 or 10 pictures, and within that I’ll have given myself a little bit of leeway to be wrong at the time, so if I’m convinced it’s a certain picture I will pull back a little bit and go forward a little bit, just to give myself an alternative framing. I think the best photos that I do are those where I don’t see myself. But I almost always see Tim. And then I try and iron that out by using Photoshop to make his presence disappear or at least coalesce with mine.

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Figure 6. King’s Head Pub, 2009, Hugo Glendinning and Tim Etchells, photographic media, Copyright Tim Etchells and Hugo Glendinning. Figure 8. Lantern Theatre Sheffield, 1998, Hugo Glendinning and Tim Etchells, photographic media, Copyright Hugo Glendinning and Forced Entertainment.

You talk about the photographer as a witness. What do you feel you witnessed in these works? Yes, but I think that the witnessing at the moment of taking the picture is probably less important than the subsequent witnessing when you start looking at the picture, choosing it and looking at it again and again. I think of my old school, for example, Highgate Wood School – a lot of empty, green, plastic chairs, which were the same green, plastic chairs that I sat on 30 years before I did the picture in 2006. The school had the same clock, the same speakers. The weird thing

about that is, of course, that I sat in that space and witnessed all sorts of things, and when I stood there, I knew that I had been there and I knew I had seen things. So there was an element of me saying I am still here and it is still here. And it is still here in such an analogous way to my own memories that it’s a kind of proof that it happened. I had been on that stage, I had acted on that stage and all sorts of other things happened there. So for me it was like saying it’s still got a solidity and a reality, even though everything I ever did in that space or experienced in that space is

distant memory now. So taking the picture fixes things in a way that almost nothing else does. And when I look at that photo it gives me a huge amount of space to wander. The experience of the Empty Stages is very like the experience of live art. Whenever I watch live art, as opposed to tV and cinema, I’m very conscious of my movement, in my head, in and out of the actual performance space. Sometimes I’m with it, sometimes I’m within myself, and sometimes I lose what the perfor-

mance is because I’ve started thinking about something else. And it’s not something that you do nearly as much in cinema, where you’ve got this fast cutting rhythm. I think the Empty Stages give you a kind of photographic space that’s like the experience of being in a live performance, where you can imagine, wander in that space forward and backwards in time. You were saying before that the act of witnessing, so to speak, is constructed later at the point of looking at the images. It is to do with the very small amount of time that I generally spend taking the photographs, and the fact that I haven’t spent an awful lot of time in those spaces on the whole. Normally people want you out as quickly as possible. So I generally experience it afterwards. All the technical things you have to do to shoot a photograph take over at that point. Afterwards, when you look at it, then you can decide what that photograph is and when you’re editing you can choose which is the best picture and which allows the kind of thought travel that I described before, which gives you that space to move back and forwards and imagine possible worlds.

Figure 7. Lantern Theatre Sheffield, 1998, Hugo Glendinning and Tim Etchells, photographic media, Copyright Hugo Glendinning and Forced Entertainment.

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Figure 9. Munich, 2004, Hugo Glendinning and Tim Etchells, photographic media, Copyright Tim Etchells and Hugo Glendinning.

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Figure 10. Nightwalks, 1998, Hugo Glendinning, photographic media, Copyright Hugo Glendinning and Forced Entertainment.

So Empty Stages doesn’t only contain traces of the past, but also possibilities for future use? There’s one, which technically I don’t think is a very good empty stage, because we’ve never really shown it with Empty Stages, but it is an empty stage. It was the Bloody Mess empty stage in Frankfurt. And at the end of Bloody Mess there is just tinsel and crap and everything all over the floor, and I just took a picture of it because it was there. And there’s also a line towards the end of Bloody Mess. Rob and Richard, the 2 roadies, are grumbling about things and say somebody’s got to clean up this mess. And you look at the picture

you feel that somebody’s got to clean up the mess sometime. There are many instances where you think actually there is going to be a roadie, or there’s going to be a cleaner, or there’s going to be somebody who is going to come on here and move stuff around. And in a way for many of them that’s the first performance I imagine in the future, some bloke or woman has got to mop the mess, and shift all the chairs back into the auditorium. And I absolutely see those acts as performances.

Recently, whenever I’ve been doing live work, I’ve been trying to get in early to shoot technicians walking around stages, because they do an amazing choreography of looking at lights, pointing at things. There was one recently at Sadler’s Wells and there were about 15 technicians walking across, walking back and forwards, looking at things, pointing at things, getting ladders, putting ladders away, it was total choreography and on a stage that was about to contain 4 major choreographic works. I took loads of pictures of them. There are a few that are good and interesting. But in a way those technicians are part of the story of the

Empty Stages as well. They look like dancers. There’s one where there’s a little huddle of guys and women talking to each other, and then there’s one over here. And it’s such a narrative gift. You’ve got a bunch of technicians not talking to the other one, who’s looking. But those sorts of things, and being in theatres, increases your awareness of the potential for stories to happen that aren’t necessarily just plays.

Figure 11. Nightwalks, 1998, Hugo Glendinning, photographic media, Copyright Hugo Glendinning and Forced Entertainment.

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Figure 12. People’s Palace, 2003, Hugo Glendinning and Tim Etchells, photographic media, Copyright Tim Etchells and Hugo Glendinning.

What are the technical difficulties, if any, for shooting the Empty Stages? The biggest problem is with verticals and convergence of perspective. Now that perspectives can all be fixed in Photoshop it’s not such a big issue, but it can still look a little wrong if it’s not done properly And the other thing is that generally you will need a tripod because the stage won’t be lit, so humping around not just a camera but a tripod, or finding something solid to put a camera on in order to get the picture if you’re there without a tripod, can be difficult. Many of the provisional stages will also disappear themselves, so there’s a double disappearing act with these little podia that have been put there in often a

really dumb place to give some sort of presentation, with a mike plonked on them. Not only is there a great absence of anything happening on the stage, but you also know that very soon that stage will be absent. It’s going somewhere else. But that’s also true of some of the working men’s clubs that have been smashed and knocked down since we photographed them. Would you say that there’s something theatrical, a performative happening on these stages? Or is it something that happens in your photographs afterwards? Some of them are. There’s a lot of chair choreography going on, which is very theatrical. One of the very early ones, the People’s Palace in Mile End, which, built in the 1930s, is part of Queen Mary Westfield College, was an early attempt by the Royal Ballet to bring ballet to the working man and woman. The space is now used as a lecture hall or even an examination hall. Somebody had started clearing the chairs away and when I arrived there was nobody there. The chairs had been half cleared in quite a disorganised way. They hadn’t actually been doing it row by row. They’d been doing a few chairs at a time. And you could see how they’d done it and how they’d left it, with no explanation of why it had been left half-finished. The narrative there is entirely theatrical. And there are so many occurrences like that through the Empty Stages. How are you going to compose the photos for the public? What kind of architecture are you going to build? Most recently we’ve decided that we should show them by shying away from a grand gesture and do it in white frames with white borders so you have enough How are you going to order them alongside each other? I don’t really know. We looked at an order for this show in Lancaster (2009) and because I didn’t get a chance to go to this space I didn’t know how it was going to hang. So we did do a suggested order, but I said they didn’t have to keep to it. Because in this case it’s a set of 15 pictures and that pretty much covers all the kinds of stages from provisional/temporary to a professional set of a traditional play. There’s one opera that I shot in Compiègne in France, which was very definitely a set on a stage, albeit a slightly strange one. And then there’s the Globe Theatre, empty in the winter with rain, which you know what it’s going to be.
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Figure 14. Tech-Dance Sadler’s Wells, 2009, Hugo Glendinning, photographic media, Copyright Hugo Glendinning.

something about a smaller scale, a 12 by 16 print, where the actual print size is about 12 inches across. There was something in that quietness, that modesty and that reframing, the double reframing, that really helped to push it back and just make a whole quieter thing, rather than pushing it into your face and say look at me. So I think, again, that this was a good way of neutralising too much statement, because I think you just need to be quiet about it.

Figure 13. Platform Theatre Morecambe, 2009, Hugo Glendinning and Tim Etchells, photographic media, Copyright Tim Etchells and Hugo Glendinning.

space round the image to let it breathe, in a box frame, which is, again, another kind of proscenium, if you like. Prior to that we had done a few big prints with no borders, and actually it felt a little immodest. There’s

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Those are the very solid ones that are just themselves in a way. And then you can run down through the more provisional stages, the stages that are used for other things, the stage that is in a room that used to be a station, the stages that have dinner tables in front of the stages, that have a lecture theatre in front of them, and so on. You know, there’s a kind of descending order of functional distance from theatre. And then there’s also these functionally-specific but very peripheral stages, or moveable stages like little podia, the movable boxes used to raised athletes for the award ceremonies, and things like that. So in 15 pictures you can pretty much cover yourself – but we have maybe 100 or so pictures now. And we’d

certainly want to have little runs of change, so that the generics of the stage types don’t become too clear, but stay quite fluid. When you photograph an event, generally speaking, do you think you change the event that is occurring in the act of photographing them? It’s such a philosophical question. I know the answer can only be yes, but to try and say this has changed because I took the photograph and whether it’s the existence of the photograph that changes things, or the taking of the photograph that changes things, and exactly how, I couldn’t tell you. But just at a philosophical level, I would say yes, absolutely. ■

AcknowLEdGEmEnts We graciously acknowledge the AHRc whose funding of Hugo Glendinning’s Fellowship in the Creative and Performing Arts made it possible to shoot Empty Stages.

Figure 15. Theatre de Compiegne, 2003, Hugo Glendinning and Tim Etchells, photographic media, Copyright Tim Etchells and Hugo Glendinning.

Figure 16. Two Lovers - Cardboard Signs, 1992, Hugo Glendinning, photographic media, Copyright Hugo Glendinning.

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COGNITIVE LABOR, CROWDSOURCING, AND CULTURAL HISTORY OF THE MECHANIZATION OF THE MIND
Ay ha n Aytes
Communication and Cognitive Science University of California San Diego aaytes@ucsd.edu In November 2005, Amazon Web Services started a web-based labor market where workers from across the world can choose and complete human intelligence tasks (hits) designed by corporate developers. Labor required for fulfilling HIts varies: finding and matching information and images, translating text, transcribing audio, tagging images, answering surveys or visiting a blog. The amount of pay for each HIt ranges from one cent to several Us dollars.

mainly UsA based businesses by providing a worldwide workforce. Amazon branded this service as the Mechanical Turk, borrowing one of the names of the Automaton Chess Player invented in the 18th century by Wolfgang von Kempelen as a metaphor for the kind of relationship the service establishes between the cognitive labor force and the seemingly automated complex tasks. In both cases, the performance of the workers who animate the artifice is obscured by the spectacle of the machine. Kempelen’s Turk was constructed and presented in 1770 at the court of the Empress Maria Theresa of Austria. The machine gave the impression that the pipe-smoking Turk mannequin, controlled by a sophisticated mechanism under the cabinet, could play serious chess against human opponents. However, the machine was actually manipulated by Kempelen’s chess master assistant who was hidden beneath the pseudo-mechanism. The Turk was exhibited for over 84 years in Europe and the Americas and attracted famous challengers such as Napoleon Bonaparte, Charles Babbage and Benjamin Franklin.

that myth. As in every technical media, it carried the inscriptions of discursive traditions and formulations that defined its cultural system of significations. This Automaton Chess Player, for the most part, conveyed a reflection of the desire to imitate and expand the human mind, which has been the main project throughout the history of the mechanization of the mind pursued by many notable figures including Pascal, Leibniz, Babbage, Wiener and Turing. This attribute would suggest the reading of the chess playing automata as a text that is constitutive of its visual, mechanical and performative system of referents that are centered on the major philosophical debate of its time: the Cartesian mind/body duality. Cultural ambivalence toward the Cartesian duality was the common motivation for most automata projects of the 18th century. mechanist rejection of the Cartesian separation, its

2 Mainly fueled by the materialist,

critics claimed that the functions of the mind and the soul dwelled in the body, and they emerged as a result of the interactions between the parts of the human body, which was imagined as animal machinery. This mechanistic view transformed not only the cultural attitude toward living creatures, but also machines, as

AUTOMATA, AUTONOMY, ALTERITY
Amazon’s virtual workshop emulates artificial intelligence systems by replacing computing with human brainpower. This human/machine assemblage powered by an “artificial artificial intelligence” platform represents a crucial formation on a global scale as it facilitates the supply of cognitive labor needs of
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it suggested that machines were also living beings. The reciprocal relationship between the animation of machinery and the mechanization of life was explored through the experimental apparatus of humanoid and animal automata and popularized through the debates instigated by their public exhibition in Europe. The 18th century automata performed their role
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Kempelen’s Turk is a significant representation of the techno-mythological idea of autonomous machines as it is a “mythic distillation of technical processes and machines.” also the language that made it possible to explicate
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The Turk was not just a machine but

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mostly as simulations of the anatomy and physiology of living beings. For example, one of the most prominent automata exhibited in European courts was The Writer, which was constructed with life-like materials such as leather, cork, and papier-mâché. Even its skeletal structures were designed with the assistance of a surgeon. an impression of the tenderness of living things. Built by Jacquet Droz, a Swiss watchmaker, The Writer was able to inscribe any message of up to 40 characters. It once wrote Descartes’ pronouncement, “I think therefore I am,” continuing with “I do not think…do I therefore not exist?” other hand, formulated his question with a different emphasis, “Can I (the mind) exist without the body?” To this question, it gave two answers simultaneously: “yes” and “not yet.” The actual answer was “not yet,” as The Turk was indeed controlled by a human operator. However, the deceptive “yes” response was still valuable as a philosophical game. This particular function of the Turk clearly mirrors Descartes’ utilization of the idea of animal-machine as a philosophical war simulator. tesian idea of animal as machine and transforms it into machine as animal. As a result, Kempelen’s automaton constructs a full conceptual circle out of the Cartesian duality, machine as animal as machine. The Turk’s apparatus, in contrast with other automata of the 18th century, did not act like a mere clockwork but gave the impression of a self-regulating system that could counter external actions within the symbolic logic of chess. As historian of technology Otto Mayr suggests the mechanical, political and economic ideas of self-regulating systems influenced the Enlightenment ideas of liberal autonomous subjectivity and democracy, in contrast to the idea of clockwork universe, which was the political universe of autocratic feudalism. The Turk’s articulation of the idea of the self-regulating system by means of the symbolic
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universe of the chess game was partly enabled by the cultural alterity utilized in its performance. Until the 19th century, in Europe, the term Turk was used interchangeably with Muslim, referring to the subjects of Ottoman Empire, while the Ottomans never considered themselves as Turks as the term was used to denigrate the nomadic tribes in Anatolia. On the other hand, in the European imagination, chess as the proto-war simulator was introduced and mastered by the Orientals and epitomized their military power, until the spectacular halt of the Ottoman army in the Battle of Vienna in the preceding century. Therefore, the simulation chess-playing automaton had a double significance in the articulation of the idea of the Cartesian autonomous mind: first, by the possibility of the abstraction of the key functions of the mind from the body, and, second, by the potential of putting that into the service of European colonial powers emancipated from the perennial threat of the Oriental. The first layer of this experimentation is related to the peculiar coupling of the concept of autonomous mind with the body of Europe’s “other” that mobilizes the negating potential of the automaton behind its mask, or the cultural alterity, thus harboring the heretical attempts of rationalist ideas under the alien turban of The Turk. This trickery indeed has its own history. Since the introduction of Byzantine and Muslim clocks and automata during the medieval period and until early modernity, the European conception of oriental automata functioned as a composite alterity by combining the unknown world of automata with the unknown world of the Oriental.

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The idea behind this creation was to impart

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Kempelen’s Turk, on the

6 of the simulator in the example of the

Since the introduction of Byzantine and Muslim clocks and automata during the medieval period and until early modernity, the European conception of oriental automata functioned as a composite alterity by combining the unknown world of automata with the unknown world of the Oriental.

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As a mirror image, however, it reverses the Car-

pre-modern ontological dichotomies as they were projected onto the outer margins of the European cultural universe. conceptual ecology that helped sustain the foundational ontological dualities such as known/unknown, sacred/profane, natural/unnatural, moral/immoral, human/inhuman or life/death, but without corrupting their separate lines of categorical contestations. Similarly, Kempelen’s chess-playing automaton and its mysterious source of mind power carried varying meanings. Mainly, the ontological alterity of The Turk for its credulous audience operated between two opposite ends, the mathematical and the metaphysical explanations of its intelligence. Some members of the unsuspecting audience such as “One old lady, in parISSN 1071- 4391 I SB N 978 -1-9 0 6 897-11- 6

ticular, who had not forgotten the tales she had been told in her youth…went and hid herself in a window seat, as distant as she could from the evil spirit, which she firmly believed possessed the machine.” the other hand, the idea that this spirit may as well be a mechanical operator was already among probable explanations. The 17th century saw Leibniz’s proposal of a universal symbolic language or algebra of thought. In fact, since the expansion of the commerce in Leibniz’s time there was a search for a universal language that would allow European traders to communicate with the people in the new colonies. Lebniz’s universal language could be manipulated by a logical calculation framework that was called calculus ratiocinator; the precursor model of modern computing. Chess is a perfect example for such symbolic systems, and when
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This projection provided a fertile

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Medieval Christian theology utilized this association in order to symbolically annihilate Islam by assigning the religion and its subjects to the “mindless” mechanical world of gears. became a secure interface for the investigation of the
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8 However, this connection also

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STERILE ARTIFICE
The Turk spoke the language of the symbolic via chess, it entered “the world of the machine.” The techno-mythical object that replaced mechanical automata in the 20th century is based on a different formulation of the human machine assemblage. Robots, in contrast to automata, do not perform by means of their outside appearance but mainly by their utilitarian functions in accordance with their role in the industry for highly automatized production conditions. tion has become a social and economic idea, because the automatic machines are designed to imitate or replace human functions. The artificial intelligence project has been a significant part of this project but has not been very successful in replicating a variety of tasks that can easily be completed by humans. Amazon’s Mechanical Turk is a product of a recent instance of such failure. After several futile and expensive attempts of the Poe’s rejection of the possibility of a “pure machine” enabled him to imagine that the solution to this puzzle included a very particular type of human machine assemblage, which was also a direct challenge to the idea of autonomous subject. As James Berkley argues, Poe’s “vision of subjectivity hence implied a quite different relationship between organism and environment than had the subject of liberal humanism” and, hinted at “the possibility of transcending the conventional limits of the individualized human subject.” Berkley’s argument suggests that becoming post human is a function of a mimetic behavior; however, he seems to ignore the role of the Orientalist depiction of the Turk as the interface of this mimetic transfer. Nevertheless, Poe’s essay is significant as a reflection on a prominent theme in the American psyche, especially with the evocation of terror and anxiety caused by the emergence of post human embodiment and subjectivity. artificial intelligence (AI) programs enlisted by Amazon. com to find duplicate product pages on their website, the project engineers turned to humans to work behind computers. This was the first motivation to build Mechanical Turk (MTurk) before opening it up to private developers in return for a commission from each completed Human Intelligence Task. Amazon’s virtual workshop maintains a transient, task-based and limited-time relationship between the worker and the requester and does not support a direct communication between the parties. Approximately half of the workers, or “Turkers”, are from the UsA with the other half from over 100 different countries. A majority of the non-UsA Turkers are from India, representing 33% of the overall workforce. MTurk has recently gained some attention in the UsA media, particularly after the economic crisis, through the stories of people who use MTurk in order to replace income from a recent unemployment. Although the kind of income that could be produced in MTurk may not entirely compensate for an income lost from a traditional full-time job, many Turkers still see it as a convenient and flexible work that could pay $8-$15 a day. For example, Tamara Wilhite, a technical writer and science fiction novelist living near Dallas, Texas, started working on MTurk after her husband lost his job. In a radio interview conducted by Marketplace (produced by American Public Media), she says MTurk “(…) is very useful as a supplemental income. That’s something that I do after I put my own children to bed, who are 3 and 6 years old. I would not use this as a replacement to a job.” also uses MTurk for an extra income while looking for a full-time job in construction: “Most people sit and play around on the computer, play different games all day long, and they get nothing for it. At least this, you get a little bit in return.” Mago’s case highlights the unregulated nature of the emerging global cognitive labor market and evokes the Gastarbeiter (guest worker) program of the economic wonder years of postwar Germany in terms of its interest in temporary global workforce. The German Gastarbeiter program has been a prominent model for establishing immigration without rights legislative system and it has recently inspired UsA lawmakers during the fiery political debate on immigrant worker program (H-1 visa) for the UsA Information Technology (It) industry. iter program initially allowed only male workers from Yugoslavia, Greece, Spain and Turkey on a temporary immigration status. These men were required to work up to 80 hours a week, supplying the labor needs of the booming post-war German industry at a much lower minimum wage than that of the domestic labor, exploited in a state of exception outside of the normal legislations, rights and union protections. A similar kind of state of exception through the formulation of an unregulated labor market as a main
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tasks were rejected by the requesters. According to Mago, requesters do not give any credible reason for their rejection. In addition, even the payments for accepted works are most of the time delayed, a matter that appears to affect many other Indian Turkers. Rajesh Mago does not work for MTurk anymore and, in retrospect, he concludes “MTurking was kind of addictive as I always challenged myself to test and experiment and work for low-paying HIts thinking that I will be able to make decent money. But, MTurk requesters are pretty smart; they had done more R&d than me and were sure that they would get the work done at the lowest rates or for free!”

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Not surprisingly, the chess-playing automaton faced the first major challenge to its coveted secret of modus operandi in its encounter with a real calculating machine. Edgar Alan Poe argued that the chessplaying automaton could not operate without the manipulation of a human agent, based on a thorough comparison of Charles Babbage’s calculating machines with The Turk’s performance. Poe concluded that “(t)here is then no analogy whatever between the operations of the Chess-Player, and those of the calculating machine of Mr. Babbage, and if we choose to call the former a “pure machine” we must be prepared to admit that it is, beyond all comparison, the most wonderful of the inventions of mankind.”

15 Through the concept of robot, the automa-

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Mark King (Manchester, nY)

CROWDSOURCING AS AN UNREGULATED GLOBAL LABOR MARKET

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On the other hand, workers from countries such as India or China appear to be mostly interested in MTurk as a primary income source, although some of them find MTurk undervalues their labor. For example, Rajesh Mago, a computer freelancer from New Delhi criticizes MTurk in his blog as follows: “…they call the assignments posted by their requester as HIts (Human Intelligence Tasks). So, is the human intelligence worth cents only? LOL! I know no one is forcing anyone to do these assignments but yet it doesn’t justify the usage word “intelligence”– a mockery of human brain.”

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The Turker community seems to have varied responses to the claims of exploitation through this crowdsourcing system. Some UsA based Turkers oppose those claims as they state that their interest in MTurk is solely motivated by the novelty of the experience.

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Mago states that he completed more than 10,000 HIts working for a few hours a day for MTurk through 2008. He earned $572.62. His HIt approval rate was 98.2%; in other words, about 2% of his completed
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constituent of the network economy is currently under way for cognitive labor, enabled by the process of disembodiment of information, which is a creation of postwar cybernetics. One of the main products of the cybernetic discourse is the decontextualized construction of information with significant presumptions that can perhaps be seen as ideological, for example, an Anglo-American preference for digital information over context dependent analog information. Carolyn Marvin has suggested that this preference

has become much more attractive to the neoliberal agenda within the context of the post 9/11 risk society and its fear rhetoric. As a result, the crowdsourcing apparatus, I would argue, clearly presents itself as an immediate solution with its sterile cyber sweatshop that filters cognitive labor from the culturally, politically and biologically contaminated bodies of the global south. The MTurk outsourcing model is also an expression of the global labor market as a platform for determining the value of standardized cognitive tasks. However, some of these tasks create value only when they are fulfilled by a multitude of people, such as surveys where the statistical accuracy requires a certain level

of variety in the responses of participants. These two factors, the standardization of cognitive tasks and their significance as collective data, are crucial for the crowdsourcing paradigm as it transforms the consideration of the value of a task by the skill level of individual workers into value created by the variance produced in the kind of solutions within a particular cognitive task. From the requester’s perspective, the uniformity of responses is not a desired quality and something to be avoided. This aspect of crowdsourcing concurs with the ideological premise of digital information with its emphasis on sterile and uniform environment because MTurk maintains a lab like sterility of the requester control room by means of rigidly defined algorithmic tasks designed to valorize the mapping of the variations of the paths taken in that algorithmic labyrinth. This process transforms cultural diversity into a factor that enriches the data and creates the core value of the mapped information, i.e., information as described by the anthropologist Gregory Bateson, “the difference that makes the difference.” Bateson’s argument in his influential work, Steps to an Ecology of Mind, was crucial in reformulating the Cartesian mind-body duality into an embodied cognition framework. Bateson’s view has an emphasis on the tools we use as extensions of our bodies and thus our cognitive processes and establishes the mind as the

efficiency of their labor and thus their livelihood. We also need to consider the fact that the processes that inform MTurkers’ tasks are the culture producing algorithms that feeds the production and consumption cycle of the networked economy. However, the inherent effect of this application is to create neatly classified, systematized bits of culture. This is the source of the innermost paradox of the system, a gradual reduction of the difference that defines the economic value of its products by approximating the unpredictable variety of tastes, expressions, metaphors and conceptual affinities into singular ontologies. Although this convergence into a singular ontology is a reflection of one of the main goals of the MTurk system, that is, teaching machines to accomplish tasks the way humans do, MTurk apparatus also teaches humans how to think within an algorithm. The net effect of this would be the approximation of the natural and the algorithmic languages into a homogenous third space. One way to consider this third space would be in terms of the Marxian concept of alienation. MTurk divides cognitive tasks into discrete pieces so that the completion of tasks are not dependent on the cooperation of the workers themselves, but organized from the outside by the interaction modules that are compatible with MTurk’s operation platform. By the elimination of the cooperation aspect of the cognitive work, the labor power becomes a “variable capital” in the Marxian sense because the labor power needs the activation and organization of the capital in order to create value. I think the atomization of the cognitive labor environment is only one aspect of the alienation that needs to be considered in the case of MTurk. Another effect of MTurk’s particular cognitive task flow design is its algorithmic nature that could be considered in relation to the externalization of reasoning through mental representations and operations taking place on the
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mainly means an “ideological call for born-again unity in a clean and rigidly uniform world, a world more like ours than anyone else’s.” Precisely because of such ideological implications, the network Gastarbeiters

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Crowdsourcing reverses this relationship if we maintain the object/subject dichotomy; the machine becomes the processing center of the system extending toward individual human minds.
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innermost core of the cognitive process and the body and the surrounding artifacts as the externalities that define the demarcation lines. Crowdsourcing reverses this relationship if we maintain the object/subject dichotomy; the machine becomes the processing center of the system extending toward individual human minds. As a result of this integration, workers of the apparatus not only produce information for the desired algorithm, but are, in turn, produced by the algorithm, disciplined by its process flows into a particular mode of problem solving that eventually determines the
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REfEREncEs And notEs
human/machine interface. Since the algorithmic language that is used to define human intelligence tasks operates on the interface of this intelligence translation process we also witness the extension of the protocol, the paradigm of the network control apparatus into human cognitive processes.
1. Jean-Claude Beaune, “The Classical Age of Automata: An Impressionistic Survey from the Sixteenth to the Nineteenth Century,” in Fragments for a History of the Human Body: Part One, ed. Michel Feher (New York: Zone, 1989), 431. 2. Jessica Riskin, “Eighteenth-Century Wetware,” Representations, no. 83 (July 1, 2003): 97–125. 3. Ibid., 102. Lord Capulet, the father of Juliet after she opposes marrying with Count Paris against her father’s wish: And then to have a wretched puling fool, A whining mammet, in her fortune’s tender, To answer ‘I’ll not wed; I cannot love, I am too young; I pray you, pardon me.– (Romeo and Juliet Act 3 scene 5, lines 184–188) William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, (Murrietta, CA: Classic Books Company, 2001). 11. From the 1784 book Inanimate Reason about the Turk and artificial intelligence 12. Jacques Lacan, The Ego in Freud’s Theory and in the Technique of Psychoanalysis, 1954–1955 (Book II) (XX: W.W. Norton & Co., 1991), 47. 13. James Berkley, “Post-Human Mimesis and the Debunked Machine: Reading Environmental Appropriation in Poe’s ‘Maelzel’s Chess-Player’ and ‘The Man That Was Used Up’,” Comparative Literature Studies 41, no. 3 (2004): 357. 14. Ibid., 358. 15. For the playwright, Karel Capek who popularized the concept in 1920, the Czech word robota, which means drudgery, serf labor or servitude, was more preferable over the word labori, or worker. Robot is a cognate word with arbeiter, the German word for worker. Their IndoEuropean root Orbh means deprived of free status or bereft of father. 16. Non-USA workers do not need to pay tax to U.S. government for their income. Incomes of the USA based workers are taxed if the total annual amount earned from a requester exceeds the IRS tax-reporting threshold, which was $600 in 2008. 17. http://marketplace.publicradio.org/display/ web/2009/06/30/pm_turking/ Joel Rose, n.d., “Some turn to ‘Mechanical’ job search | Marketplace From American Public Media.” http://marketplace.publicradio. org/display/web/2009/06/30/pm_turking/. 18. Ibid. 19. Rajesh Mago, n.d., “Review of Mturk after working with them as Worker | PC tips and tricks.” http://www.pctipstricks.com/my-review-of-amazon-mturk-after-workingI would like to thank Nick Dyer-Witheford, Lisa Nakamura, David Golumbia and Trebor Scholz for their encouragement and guidance in the early stages of this project. part-time-as-worker-for-few-months/. 20. Jacoby Tamar, “Guest Workers Won’t Work,” http://www. washingtonpost.com. March 26, 2006. 21. Carolyn Marvin, “Information and History,” in The Ideology of the Information Age, eds., Jennifer Daryl Slack and Fred Fejes (Norwood, NJ: Ablex Publishing, 1987), 49–62. 22. Gregory Bateson, Steps to an Ecology of Mind (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 459. 23. Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Empire (Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 2000), 294.

CONCLUDING REMARKS
If the network is the assembly line of cognitive labor, as suggested by Hardt and Negri, then the Mechanical Turk is its model labor market. As the network shifts the object of control from the bodies to the collective mind, the Mechanical Turk achieves this objective by foreclosing the collective cultural production to cognitive workers by atomizing them in the assembly line and by confining them to the algorithmic language of the machine. The two aspects of alienation designed into MTurk clearly undermine the cooperative aspect of immaterial labor as claimed by Tiziana Terranova, Hardt and Negri been very interesting projects addressing the lack of cooperative action on MTurk. For example, Irani and Silberman’s Turkopticon is a program that aggregates the feedbacks of workers on the tasks and fairness of requesters and ranks them based on a scoring system. TurkersTalk is another MTurk talkback apparatus and a very promising platform for cooperation which is hosted by Talkshoe, an online community call service that provides tools for groups of people to interact by audio recordings, chats and video conferencing. ■

4. Gaby Wood, Edison’s Eve: A Magical History of the Quest for Mechanical Life (New York: Knopf, 2002), 8 5. Georges Canguilhem, “The Role of Analogies and Models in Biological Discovery,” Scientific Change: Historical Studies in the Intellectual, Social, and Technical Conditions for Scientific Discovery and Technical Invention, from Antiquity to the Present, ed. A. C. Crombie (New York: Basic Books, 1963), 510. 6. Here, I consider the concept of simulation not as mere imitation “but rather the act by which the very idea of a model or privileged position is challenged and overturned” as defined by Deleuze. In other words, the simulation of automata inheres in its materialization a crucial volatility, a perpetual effort to test the perceived stability of the present status of the known universe. 7. E. R. Truitt, “ ‘Trei poëte, sages dotors, qui mout sorent di nigromance’: Knowledge and Automata in Twelfth-Century French Literature,” Configurations: a journal of literature, science, and technology 12, no. 2. Literature Online (2004): 167. 8. Kathleen Biddick, “Dead Neighbor Archives: Jews, Muslims, and the Enemy’s Two Bodies,” in Points of Departure: Political Theology on the Scenes of Early Modernity, ed. Julia Reinhart Lupton and Graham Hammill (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2011). 9. Lorraine Daston and Katharine Park, Wonders and the Order of Nature, 1150–1750 (New York: Zone Books, 1998), 92. 10. These automata were also called mammets whose etymology is traced to Mahomet or Muhammed. The term was also used as a humorous term of rebuke to young women in English Renaissance drama as in the words of

AcknowLEdGEmEnts

23 and many others. However, there have

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INVERSE EMBODIMENT
Lan f ran co Aceti
Associate Professor, Sabancı University Visiting Professor, Goldsmiths College aceti@sabanciuniv.edu
EAR ON ARM, London, Los Angeles, Melbourne 2006 Photographer: Nina Sellars STELARC

An interview with Stelarc

Lanfranco Aceti: Let’s start with a controversial question: what is left of cyborgology today when we are actually looking at an artworld that is in total flux with bio-art, nano-art, data art and an infinite recombinatory matrix of disciplines in which art is the definition of human creativity? Stelarc: Well, there are a few contentious issues mentioned ha, ha. The Cyborg, the art world, the human and what constitutes creativity are all problematic in defining – and in doing. What’s meaningful is to understand that the discourse of the cyborg has diversified from the manga, military and medical constructs into a multiplicity of possibilities, meanings and operations that have become simultaneously more extended and also more internalized. Cyborg constructs become modes of interrogation about what a body is and how a body operates and becomes aware in the world. Arts practice is understandably fascinated by the aesthetic and conceptual possibilities of contemporary media and this is expressed with installations using Robotics, AI, AL, Medical Imaging, the Internet, Tissue Engineering and Nanotech. New technologies generate unexpected information and images of the body and its world. It’s not so much that technology enables but rather that it destabilizes and generates more uncertainty, anxiety and consequently more creative solutions to unpredictable perplexing problems. Do you think that it makes sense to continue thinking of the cyborg as a liberating entity – loosely quoting Donna Haraway – that will defeat the oppression of corporate and military social structures? Or would it be better to acknowledge the cyborg’s inability to autonomously self-repair and self-improve, therefore being a creature that is increasingly dependent on these corporate and military frameworks for engineering, genetic and biochemical upgrades? Certainly the construct of the cyborg needs to be positioned in social and political spaces of discourse. And Donna Haraway articulates particular insights that are important. In this age of gene mapping, body hacking, neural jacking, organ switching, organ printing, gender reassignment, prosthetic augmentation, avatar surrogates and telematic embraces we are all resigned to be repaired and re-engineered by medical and corporate institutions that are regulated by political bodies with particular social and sometimes cultural agendas. To autonomously self-repair and self-improve is not something we do adequately as biological bodies. And what determines our identity is no longer our presence or location but rather our connectivity. The body is not identified or experienced any longer by its presence but rather by its ABsEncE. If the body recedes it does so not because of the irrelevance of the physical but because of becoming massively embodied in a techno-apparatus and because of its complicity with code. The body is now a fluid and floating signifier whose meaning is unstable and constantly being recoded and reconfigured. The body becomes simultaneously a zombie and a cyborg. The cyborg is not the alien other, but rather this particular body. The cyborg is no longer a body without organs. The cyborg is no longer an idea but an actualization. We are all becoming extended operational systems that mesh meat with metal and that interface brain signals with silicon chip circuitry. We can now remotely project and remotely control. We all experience telematic embrace. We all experience telepresence and telexistence. Our bodies are accelerated, our senses are accentuated and our cognitive capabilities are amplified. What’s also interesting at this time is that flesh is circulating. The body becomes composed of the organs of the
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other, the face of the other, the hands of the other. Dead bodies need not decompose, near dead bodies need not die. We are living in an age of excess and indifference. Of printed flesh. Organs will be printed. Organs will be in excess. Organs Without Bodies. Of organs awaiting bodies. There is now a proliferation of biocompatible components in both substance and scale that allows technology to be attached and implanted into the body. Hydraulic hearts circulate blood without beating. Ova are fertilized by sperm that was once frozen. There is now the possibility that the skin cells from a female body will be re-engineered into sperm cells. The face of a donor body becomes a third face on the recipient. Limbs from a dead body can be attached and reanimated on a living body. Cadavers can be preserved forever with plastination whilst comatose bodies can be sustained indefinitely on life-support systems. Cryogenically suspended bodies await reanimation at some imagined future. The dead, the near-dead, and the yet to be born now exist simultaneously. What becomes meaningful now is not only to ask what is alive, but what is dead. The boundaries are blurring between the living, the partially living, the dead, the near dead and the cryogenically preserved. This is the age of the cadaver, the comatose and the chimera. The cyborg is the chimera, the recombinant body that performs with mixed realities. Meat, meshed with metal, managing data streams in virtual systems. The politics and boundaries of the body have been stretched today to such an extent that it has become a battleground for exo and endo technologies. Jean Baudrillard decried the transformation of the body and its invasion – I personally see it as a normal process of evolution with social and political connotations. From an art practice and aesthetic perspective what are your conceptual underpinnings? Like you, I share the acceptance, rather than Baudrillard’s unease, at the body’s invaded and augmented
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boundaries. What is human about the biological body is not only its genetic and physiological repertoire of behavior but that it is an inscribed social and cultural creature that can communicate and collaborate in a multiplicity of media. The body is part of a dynamic and often unstable system of interactivity between other bodies, social institutions, cultural conditioning and its instruments and machines. As such the body is not isolated or insulated from modulation and even modification. At a time when we question public surveillance of the body, we realize the necessity for a more adequate internal surveillance system. The body is an excellent host for technology if that technology is biocompatible in both scale and substance. Its cellular structure, its empty spaces and its circulatory system enable the implanting and embedding of micro and nano scaled sensors and machines. So this unease that if we penetrate the boundary of the skin that we somehow expose and endanger the self or what it means to be human is somewhat simplistic. What wireless media allow us to do now is to perform beyond the boundaries of our skin, to project our human presence to people in other places, to perform with Augmented and Mixed Realities. In fact the body now has an extruded self, it performs remotely and virtually and it increasingly experiences itself as fragmented and distributed. . Subjectively, the body experiences itself as a more extended system, rather than an enclosed structure. The self becomes situated beyond the skin. The body is emptied out. But this radical emptiness is not through a lack but from the extrusion and extension of its capabilities, its new sensory antennae that generate abstract information and its increasingly remote functioning. The body experiences its actuality neither all-present-in-thisbody, nor all-present-in-that-body, but partly-here and projected-partly-there. An operational system of spatially distributed but electronically interfaced of bodies and bits of bodies ebbing and flowing in awareness, augmented by alien agency. What I refer to as Fractal
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EXOSKELETON Ljubljana, 2003 Photographer: Igor Skafar STELARC

Flesh. This process of extrusion, of becoming an extended and remote operational system sees a radical emptying of the body which accompanies an amplified absence. One caused not through a lack but rather from an excess. We have become Split Bodies, simultaneously possessed and performing bodies – partly zombie and partly cyborg bodies. And the body itself now becomes a prosthesis to enable its avatars – an Inverse Motion Capture System. What is needed then is not a Second Life but rather a Third Life where avatars are able to actuate surrogate bodies and perform in the real world. Embodied artificial agents proliferate and become more animated, operational and interactive. What I’ve referred to as Phantom Flesh. If we analyze the recent evolution of contemporary art how do you envisage the future artistic practices that may develop from the blurred boundaries that define artistic practices and creativity today? There has always been a curiosity about alternate areas of creativity. In the early seventies I noted that the future role of the artist would be as a “genetic sculpISSN 1071- 4391 I SB N 978 -1-9 0 6 897-11- 6

tor”, considering the redesigning of an obsolete body. There is a theoretical interest about how technology that was once external, is now becoming biocompatible both in scale and substance. There has been an interest in the idea that we may be able to re-colonize the human body with nano-sensors and nano-bots to augment the bacterial and viral populations already in our bodies. We need to detect pathological changes in chemistry, temperature and abnormal cell-growth. As an artist, I’m interested in constructing actual interfaces, experiencing them and thereby being enabled to meaningfully articulate. My ideas need to be authenticated by my actions. So I’m uncomfortable about merely speculating. It seems so inadequate. Having said that I’ve been considering the idea of Inverse Embodiment. The idea that since all technology will be inside the body, we could reconstruct the body from the inside out, atoms up. There is the possibility of engineering endo-sensors, endo-machines and endo-architectures in cellular spaces. Why engineer and construct external to the body? The body can become a host for all its technologies.
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The concept of inverse embodiment is a very exciting thought, particularly if framed within the context of consciousness and identity. If we would be able to build the body atom up how do you think consciousness would be determined? Or even better, do you think that it would reside – as believed in medieval times in a particular organ, or it would arise from a combination of cellular patterns? And are these patterns – speaking speculatively – random or actually determinable? Re-engineering a body inside out, atoms up might be a more effective, incremental strategy. And a modification of its physiology and sensory apparatus would result in an adjusted and extended operation and awareness in the world. It would not be meaningful and it would probably be misleading to suggest that consciousness resides anywhere, even in the brain. Consciousness is a characteristic of an operating and interactive body, one that is positioned in a social and cultural history. (To be an intelligent agent, you need to be both embodied and embedded in the world). Insects and animals with a different optical and sensory As you can see I am talking of an inverse embodiment not only of the flesh but of the soul as well… In a way it would be a response to Paul Virilio and apparatus would experience the world in diverse ways. Redesigned and re-engineered humans might not only see and move differently but have an alternate experience of time and space, affecting their interaction with others and the technological terrain they inhabit. We have evolved soft organs to better operate in a biological world. Perhaps now we have to engineer additional organs to better interface and operate with our media and machines.

The more and more performances I do the less and less I think I have a mind of my own nor any mind at all in the traditional metaphysical sense. This body is profoundly obsolete, empty, often absent to its own agency and performs largely involuntarily.
the idea of humanity as a perfect creation of God in no need of further developments… I admire many of Virilio’s observations about technology, but as an evolutionary architecture, the biological body is quite inadequate, not very robust, soft and easily damaged, susceptible to infection by microorganisms and the body malfunctions often, with a limited longevity. What it means to be a body has always been a biological, social, cultural, and technological construct. But we do need to go beyond Platonic, Cartesian and Freudian constructs of internal minds and selves. Of the skin as a bounding of the self and as a beginning to the world. Nietszche asserts that there is no being behind the doing, and Wittgenstein says that there is no need to locate thinking inside the head. The more and more performances I do the less and less I think I have a mind of my own nor any mind at all in the traditional metaphysical sense. This body is profoundly In this context do you think that we are talking of a replica body of what is already there – only this time created by man? Or there are different expectations. Is the inverse embodiment a tool for construction of a totally different human? Initially the idea of Inverse Embodiment would be to engineer a more adequate internal surveillance system to detect pathological changes in chemistry, temperature and abnormal cell growth. To repair and make more robust the body as it is. A higher metabolic rate is thought to be one primary factor in ageing. To extend a body’s longevity it might be possible to better monitor, regulate and stabilize the body’s metabolic rate for the body to live faster and to live longer. Controlling the rate of free radical production, reducing and repairing the damage they cause might be a capability best engineered inside out, atoms up. But why perpetuate the present body by repairing and making it more robust? Why not question the very design of the body itself? Why a body with this particular form and these particular functions? Must bodies be born? Must they die? Humans are curious and creative. What it means to be human is perhaps not remaining human at all…

SPLIT BODY: VOLTAGE-IN / VOLTAGE-OUT Ljubljana, 1996 Photographer: Igor Andjelic STELARC

obsolete, empty, often absent to its own agency and performs largely involuntarily.

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AMPLIFIED BODY, LASER EYES AND THIRD HAND, Tokyo, 1985 Photographer: Takatoshi Shinoda STELARC

If we are to speculate further – and I know you don’t really like to prognosticate – what do you believe are the new frontiers of contemporary art? What else do you believe may there be awaiting us to surprise and challenge preconceived and worn out systems of production? Oh, just to say that arts practice, given its parasitic nature, will appropriate and be sustained by any new media, technology or system that generates surprising information and images. What’s interesting about art is that there is a willingness to mess with new media. To entertain the accident. To be enamored by the ambivalent and the uncertain. To allow for the slippage that occurs between intention and actuality. To undermine and expose new technologies. And to appropriate and morph systems into new operational and aesthetic possibilities. Given the strategies of art, to be asked to predict particular areas of aesthetic experimentation is not so meaningful or so necessary. Art and science collaborations have been going on for a while now and not always with positive results. These are complex human interactions that usually succeed based on the will of personal more than institutional cooperation. What would be your successful recipe – as an artist – in order to foster these forms of creativity? Well, sci-art projects can be problematic, especially at institutions that want to authenticate arts practice within the realm of research. What often happens is that artists do poor science and scientists do inadequate art. An artist in a white coat working in a lab
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neither guarantees meaningful research, nor provocative art. Certainly there have to be constraints in using bio-hazardous material in doing bio-art that need regulation and control. Getting ethical clearance for a particular bio-art project though becomes a contentious issue as there is often a collision between artistic intent and institutional concern and alarm that is not so easy to resolve. If the EAR ON ARM project, 2006 had been done within a university research context, it would have been unlikely that ethical clearance would have been given. Doing surgery on the artist? Possible problems with infection? An extra ear on your arm? Not possible! Likewise BLENDER, 2005 (a collaboration with another artist Nina Sellars) would have been
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banned from going ahead. Doing surgery on 2 artists’ bodies? Surgical risks? Using the extracted biomaterial as part of an installation? I don’t think so! Anyway, that’s not to say some interesting and possibly provocative projects cannot be realized within institutions. And in the real world the artist is always constrained in some way or another. Fortunately, there will always be some programmers, engineers or surgeons who will assist artists, even though they may not understand their raison d’être or how it can possibly be art. They’ll do so because they’re intrigued with the idea and are interested in the artist as a person and a creative other. Should artists do the inadvertent, unexpected, the accidently and even the inappropriate? Perhaps.
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BioArt will become simultaneously more seductive and unsettling when artists can engineer, and you can caress, partially living teratomas with throbbing flesh, slimy skin, limbs that twitch, eyeballs that blink and orifices that sigh. These lumps of tissue, hair and teeth will be more potent objects to interrogate issues of aliveness, the transgenic, the pathological, the monstrous and what it means to be human.

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Looking back to your career you have been closely associated with cyborgology but there has also been an element of performance to your work parallel to the dramatic and ground breaking re-interpretation of sculpture and installation in biological terms. Would you consider your artistic practice as being influenced by new materials but at its core still a ‘classical’ art practice? Although most of my art activities have been performative, these actions were framed by sculptural and installation concerns. With the earlier Suspensions, the body was seen as a sculptural medium, the stretched skin a kind of gravitational landscape. The performances had no shamanistic, yogic or transcendental intent. The suspended body counterbalanced by a ring of rocks, suspended on an outcrop of rocks at the seaside, or hung between two buildings on East 11th Street in nY were all imagined as sculptural works within certain spaces and situations. The AMPLIFIED BODY, LASER EYES and THIRD HAND performances occurred within interactive installations that were modulated by EEG, EmG, EcG and other body signals whilst the Third Hand was actuated by abdominal and leg muscle signals. Intimate and interactive interfaces have been a performance concern. Given that the body has become this hybrid chimera of biological, machinic and virtual systems that increasingly performs in Mixed Realities, more intimate interfaces are needed so that the body can seamlessly slide between these different modes of operation. All of these projects have not been constrained and contained by any one media. Rather there is a conceptual continuity of concerns that sometimes are better expressed with diverse media and alternate artistic strategies. The PROSTHETIC HEAD, 2003 (a kind of digital portrait of the artist) has also generated the WALKING HEAD, 2006 (a kind of robot portrait of the artist) and the PARTIAL HEAD, 2006 (a tissue-engineered portrait of the artist). Recently, there have been other embodiments such as the ARTICULATED HEAD, 2010 (as part of the Thinking Head project at Uws) and the FLOATING HEAD, 2010 (a collaboration with nXI Gestatio in Montreal). The Prosthetic Head was also an installation at the Kinetica Art Fair, 2011 as an interactive hologram, using the Musion system. The recent INTERNET EAR project, realized for Biotopia, 2011 (curated by Morten Sondergaard with technical realization by Mogens Jakobsen) involved soft casts of the Ear on Arm with
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implanted microphone, located in gallery spaces in Aalborg, Paris and Moscow. When visitors speak into the ear, the speech recognition system interprets what is said and speaks the words aloud in all of the gallery spaces simultaneously. There was also a website where people elsewhere could click on the ear and input text for the text-to-speech engine to speak. The installations resulted in a cacophony of circulating voices, visually displayed and acoustically modulated with feedback. For this internet installation sculptural, computational and audio-visual techniques were required. And a present project involves engineering an insect-like MICROBOT, with webcam attached, that is robust and small enough to climb up my tongue and into my mouth. I just have to remember not to swallow ha, ha... ■

notEs
The Thinking Head project is one of three Thinking Systems Special Initiatives jointly funded by the Australian Research Council (ARc), and the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council (nH&mRc) for the years 2007–2011. It is administered by the mARcs Auditory Labs at the University of Western Sydney, with participating universities in Australia, Denmark and the UsA. Stelarc is Chair in Peformance Art, the School of Arts, Brunel University West London and Senior Research Fellow, mARcs Auditory Labs, University of Western Sydney. He was awarded the Hybrid Arts Prize at Ars Electronica in 2010. His artwork is represented by the Scott Livesey Galleries in Melbourne. BLENDER Melbourne, 2005 Photographer: Stelarc STELARC & NINA SELLARS

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ORDER
in Complexity
Fri eder Na ke
University of Bremen nake@informatik.uni-bremen.de Order in complexity. Yes, of course, when confronted with a complex situation, we usually search for order. Otherwise we have no chance to make sense out of the situation. We make sense, and it seems we always want to make it. Sense is not there to discover. It requires our activity. It is a construction. “Stop making sense!” Remember? But, as humans, we have no choice. It is our condition. “Stop making sense” therefore sounds beautiful and is a nice challenge. But the next moment, we start thinking about what sense there could be in stopping to make sense. Making sense could be interpreted as looking for order in complexity, or as creating a new semiotic layer on top of the given. A new layer of signs – is this not the essence of sense? In some way, however, order sounds boring. Order – that’s the police. The law. Complexity – that is society. Capitalist society to be more specific. The state installs its police in order to curb and control complex relations between and inside social groups and classes. But the state is the state of the ruling classes and is, therefore, pursuing their interests. Or rather, the state
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is an instrument of the classes in power to defend them against the masses. (Rather old-fashioned, is it not?) Is this of any relevance here, on the virtual pages of an electronic journal? Not really, in some way, but really in some other. Mish mash. This and that. You sit at your home desk and look out of the window, where you see young girls on horseback. Those mighty animals, full of energy, could, in one sudden strong, elegant, and chaotic outbreak of their innate wildness kill the little girls. But instead the horses behave in the tamest, almost timid way, waiting for the next stupid command by the hand or leg of the girl on their back. It is as if the horses wanted to show the little humans that they have learned their lesson and how intelligent they are. Order in complexity. Mish mash. When George David Birkhoff, the Us-American mathematician, developed his theory of aesthetic measure (between 1928 and 1933) – what may have been his personal feelings, I wonder, looking out of the morning window by my home workplace. the formula, M = O / C, as an expression of aesthetic measure with the inherent intent to quantitatively interpret O (“order”) and C (“complexity”), may have been exciting. But mustn’t such a step have been depressing at the same time? The reduction from the exciting complexity of a work of art to just one number denies and negates that complexity for the sake, literally, of some strange order. Bold and depressing. Sensory and sensual complexity in perceiving, vs. symbolic and logical simplicity. Connected in cognition? Was Birkhoff aware of the radical reduction his formulae meant? Ever since Alexander Baumgarten, aesthetics has been about sensual perception, not about art or beauty. this view. The art of Birkhoff’s time, of the late 1920s

de Chirico, Magritte, Picasso, or Matisse, to name at random just a few, whose names come to my mind. (In parentheses, I want to add how sorry I am for not being allowed to include small reproductions of works of these artists, due to copyright regulations. It is hard to accept for a scientist.) Can we seriously believe to be able, in each of these cases, to come up with quantitative definitions of order and complexity that would make any sense? Not less than such operative definitions of the abstract and empty terms “order” and “complexity” are required if we want to make more sense out of the empty formula, O / C . When we are engaged in a conversation about a given image, we may offer good, sometimes convincing, sometimes not so clear interpretations of what we observe in the image as “order” or “complexity” and as the relation between the two. But conversation is one, and a formula is different. Relentlessly it requires quantity and number. Measure! Don’t talk about values, apply the yardstick. The request of the formula stops the enlightening discourse. A cut through the relation between subject and object, and a cut through the relation between subjects, therefore. I once believed in aesthetics of the object. The subject in contrast stood for emotion. And an aesthetics soaked by emotion was Nazi Germany’s aesthetics. Max Bense taught us in his exciting way never again to trust emotion. I have long given up on this. But there are moments when I wonder. George Birkhoff applied his pale theoretical approach towards an aesthetic measure, e.g., to a large collection of polygons. You find ninety of them reprinted in Barrow. the square via the swastika (place 41 for its measure of 0.33) down to a triangle with concavities (-0.17). Not many listened to Birkhoff. But he sparked some debate, and his ideas get taken up once every ten
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The act of defining

3 Their aesthetic measures range from 1.5 for

2 We all know this and, perhaps, even share

and early 1930s, was art by Mondrian, Klee, Schwitters,
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Figure 1. The first 15 of 90 polygons, whose aesthetic measure Birkhoff evaluated in 1933.

years, it seems. Research. Invention. Publication. Order and police. Mish and mash. Thirty years after its publication, the general Birkhoff formula was given a new interpretation in terms of Shannon’s measure of the statistical information content. some believed in such heroic attempts. But heroes are heroes insofar as they must lose. In the end, they must be defeated, if only by betrayal. So the heroic time of the Stuttgart school of aesthetics of the object has gone. The term, information aesthetics, however, has re-appeared in a totally different meaning. We also see aesthetic computing, computational aesthetics, and similar terms. Their meaning now is more of an attitude, a pragmatic approach, and recognition that algorithmic means have entered the world of noncomputability. Weird in some way. Only the computable counts in the world of digital media. However, digital culture does not only appear as a culture of the computable. It is, at the same time, an event culture and a place for fun. Mishmash. Order in chaos. In 1968, computers were still bulky, large, and extremely expensive. They were still machines in the strict sense of the word. There was probably not a single private individual in the world who would afford buying a computer. The idea of doing this would have been as crazy as buying any other factory machine. A private individual would have not only needed a large pile of cash, and a large air-conditioned room. Almost as indispensable would have been a skilled technician to look after the machine. The idea that such a huge machine could one day be carried around by a child under any weather condition would simply not have appeared. From all aspects, the computer was a machine, and private people don’t usually think of buyThe London event stood for the spectacle character of digital media: noise, lots of people, fun, kids. IcA explicitly mentioned the arts in the exhibition’s title even though the concept of art had to be pushed to its limits to fit for the massive display of machinery in the gallery rooms of IcA. It should be noted that the New York Museum of Modern Art showed, as an event of
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art, “The machine as seen at the end of the mechanical age” at the same time. In Zagreb, an entire series of manifestations was started at exactly the same time and lasted until 1973. During five years, a group of dedicated museum people and artists generated several exhibitions and symposia, and published a bilingual magazine of high quality, bit international. Although the curators used the term “visual research” instead of “art”, their manifestations stood in the tradition of the New Tendencies movement of European concrete and constructive art that had staged exhibitions in Zagreb and elsewhere in 1961, 1963, and 1965. At the geographic fringes of the mainstream of art, computer art was accepted into the traditional world of art without any hesitation. Looking back in history, it appears that, in 1968, the event character and the research character of digital media surfaced at two different European places at ing machines. Nevertheless, in hindsight, the roots of digital media were laid in the mid 1960s. The year 1968 did not only lend its name to the youth rebellion that set the final end to post-war society, it also brought two events that gave a glimpse of the new coming world of digital media. These events were the exhibition “Cybernetic serendipity. The computer and the arts” in London’s Institute for Contemporary Arts (IcA), and the symposium “Tendencies 4. Computers and visual research” in the Galleries of the city of Zagreb. Digital media need for their fruitful development the tension and contradiction of algorithmics and aesthetics. This is the tension of the computable and the perceivable, of the brain’s and the senses’ work. When computer art later left behind the form of paper work to be put up on a wall, and became an interactive installation, it gained the dimension where the computer was needed inherently, and not just as a convenience. The traditional phase of computer art was necessary to run experiments and get acquainted with the situation of creating a piece of art without touching the material. It was necessary to gain enough experience and learn from critique. But only in the interactive dimension the computer’s innovative potentials were
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tapped and released. They are found in the rapid repetition of the same structures with constantly changing concrete parameter values. Order in complexity. Incidentally, the early ink-on-paper-in-frame phase of computer art must be considered as the McLuhan period of computer art. content on its predecessors before it matures to the point of its own adequate contents. “The medium is the message” was McLuhan’s slogan for this. In the interactive installation, forms of art emerged that need the computer to allow for expressions otherwise not obtainable. With a word of Max Bense’s, such expressions may be called die präzisen Vergnügen (precise delights).

4 5 In Germany and, perhaps, a few other places,

6 A new medium relies in

7■

REfEREncEs And notEs
1. See: George D. Birkhoff, Collected Mathematical Papers (New York: American Mathematical Society, 1950). 2. Alexander G. Baumgarten, Aesthetica (Hamburg: Meiner, 1988), 1750–58. See: Alexander G. Baumgarten, “Theoretische Ästhetik” Lateinisch-deutsch, übers. und hrsg. von Hans Rudolf Schweizer 2, Aufl, in Philosophische Bibliothek, Band 355 (Hamburg: Meiner, 1988). 3. John D. Barrow, “Art and Science – Les Liaisons Dangereuses?” in Art and Complexity, ed. J. Casti and A. Karlqvist (Amsterdam: Elsevier Science, 2003), 1–20. 4. Claude E. Shannon and Warren Weaver, The Mathematical Theory of Communication (Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1963). (Shannon’s article was written in 1948). 5. Rul Gunzenhäuser, Ästhetisches Mass und ästhetische Information. Einführung in die Theorie G.D. Birkhoffs und die Redundanztheorie ästhetischer Prozesse (Quickborn: Schnelle, 1962). 6. See: Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media: the Extensions of Man (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1964). 7. Max Bense, Die präzisen Vergnügen (Wiesbaden: Limes Verlag, 1964).

the same time. Is it too far-fetched to claim that this date marks the incubation of digital media? Media, that share properties with traditional media, but that also rely for their existence on the machine of computation.

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Teaching Video Production in Virtual Reality
Joseph Far brook
Assistant Professor of Art Interactive Media and Game Development Worcester Polytechnic Institute 100 Institute Road, Worcester, MA 01609-2280 http://www.wpi.edu http://farbrook.net

Educators teaching narrative video production courses immediately face many inherent limitations while using classic methodology. For example, if a student production team wanted to create a dramatic narrative involving medieval castles with actors in period costumes, or a chase sequence with automobile collisions, they would be blocked by the difficult logistics of creating such visual effects. Although shooting and editing professional quality video has recently dropped dramatically in price, budgetary constraints place limits on costumes, sets, props, equipment, travel, etc. Good actors are hard to find (many students opt to forego actors altogether), convincing special effects are difficult or impossible to create (such as rocket ships and explosions), outdoor location shots are subject to the cooperation of the weather, and indoor shots are limited to space availability. Students with big story ideas are immediately directed to keep their productions limited in scope and to not attempt more than they can feasibly do from within the confines of a low-budget production. As a result, many student narrative ideas must be excluded from the realm of possibility. Commercial Pc video games and on-line multiplayer video game platforms open an immediate portal into the creative possibilities of animated video productions, shot within the near limitless expanse of virtual reality. Tools such as the Secondlife client (secondlife. com) offer relatively strait-forward and uncomplicated tools that can be used to create characters, costumes, props, sets, and lighting. Alternatively, because Second Life itself is a pervasive virtual universe populated by a great many digital object venders, it is possible to purchase the aforementioned items at very reasonable prices. Moreover, amazingly well-crafted houses, castles, cities, towns, space stations, and under-sea worlds are readily available for shooting ‘on location’. Animated video may be seen as a way to overcome many of these limitations, as visual elements are limited only to what can be drawn or else rendered in a 3d animation program. This comes with its own set of production challenges as cell drawing and painting is a field unto itself and computer generated 3d modeling and animation is extremely time consuming in terms of both learning the software tools as well as the actual production of the animated sequences. Moreover, students must spend much of their time concentrating on how to make characters walk and move in a convincing manner before even beginning to set upon the task of telling a story. This technology creates a tremendous barrier between story idea and final video Using the video production technique of Machinima, students turn their computer monitors into cameras and recorders. Video clips are assembled in standard video editing programs such as Premier or Final Cut Pro, with voice-overs, sound effects, and scene transiVOL 17 NO 1 LEONARDOELECTRONICALMANAC 143

output. But there is yet another way for students to apply the video graphic techniques that they learn in video production courses.

A B S T R A C T

Teaching video production using video game technology and a method of live manipulation of digital puppets and props offers new possibilities for narrative, without shifting focus away from storyline and dramatic content, due to technical hurdles. This production technique known as Machinima has been steadily gaining in popularity and prominence due to the relative ease and speed in which small production teams can learn to use video game software in this new way and quickly create professional quality animated movies.

Actors and production crews need not even be in the same physical location to work together, as they can literally be in different parts of the world while meeting on a virtual set. The newest versions of video games such as Half Life, Unreal, and Crysis come with level editors, providing access to a virtual sandbox with a complete set of models, characters, and environments available for use.

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tions added in a similar fashion as classic video productions. Using this method, students can concentrate more fully on telling a story, free from budgetary and logistical restrictions. Many of the techniques learned in Machinima production translate easily into classic video production as well, providing an effective hybrid of teaching and learning tools.

itself as well as the evolution of the eye of the audience. Yet this new medium by no means makes it any less important, nor does it offer any substitute for the mastery of the techniques that a good movie-maker applies when telling a story. The basic structural elements, the tropes, the style, the visual allegories, and the Mise-en-scène must always be considered. For

simulated three dimensional environment, as seen through a computer rendered view. This requires that a computer must be able to generate these views quickly enough to make use of ‘the persistence of vision’ effect and give the illusion of fluid motion. The technology to do this along with its cheap commercial availability has been largely developed by the video game industry. They have capitalized on the creation of something to do while in virtual reality: shooting enemies. In 1996, id Software released Quake, which was the company’s first truly 3d videogame, essentially allowing the player to look anywhere and go anywhere.

movies made with a video game engine of any kind. Later that year, ILL Clan released Hardly Workin’, a Machinima created with the Quake II engine with entirely custom made models and environments, which visually rivaled many of the 3d animated movies of that time. Two years later, the Academy for Machinima Arts and Sciences was formed and the first Machinima Film Festival was held. In 2003, Machinima broke into the mainstream with a number of notable films airing for a wide audience. Fountainhead Entertainment produced a music video for the group Zero 7, In The Waiting Line, which entered into standard rotation on mtV. They also released a stunningly beautiful Machinima Anna, created with freely available software Machinimation, and featured complex weather and light effects. Rooster Teeth Productions released the first episodes of Red Vs. Blue, a soon-to-become very popular comedy series that has been running for multiple seasons up until and including the date of this writing. Another notable series is The Strangerhood, also by Rooster Teeth productions, which uses the video game The Simms 2. This series is a parody of popular culture and television shows. Creating a dramatization based on true events, Alex Chan released The French Democracy in 2005 using the video game The Movies. This film is a reenactment of the incidents that triggered the riots in France in 2005. Chan felt that the media did little to explain the cause of these riots and wanted to reveal the racial and cultural discrimination in France that contributed to the unrest. This film was perhaps the first use of Machinima as means of political activism. In 2007, Douglas Gayeton released My Second Life: The Video Diaries of Molotov Alva, a fictional documentary Machinima series filmed in the on-line world of Second Life. High production value and a philosophical self-reflexive storyline contributed to the compelVOL 17 NO 1 LEONARDOELECTRONICALMANAC 145

NARRATIVE AND NEW MEDIA
“Omnipresent and culturally privileged, narrative gains much of its power from its ability to change forms easily and repeatedly. However different the media that serve as a given story’s vehicles – however distinct the oral, written, illustrated, or film versions of a particular narrative – we readily recognize the story’s ability to be translated into different forms and yet somehow remain the “same” story.”

this reason, using video game technology as a vehicle for filming in virtual reality lends itself well as a tool for narrative video instruction.

HISTORY
“...id Software also chose to keep in the extremely A good narrative video production course will likely begin with an introduction to the history of the medium. Much of video history may be intertwined with film and animation history, perhaps beginning when Peter Roget presented his paper ‘The persistence of vision with regard to moving objects’ to the British Royal Society in 1824. be followed by a number of films and videos that respected scholars have considered seminal to the canon of motion picture history. A certain number of these might be picked out and screened by the class as a whole and would be considered a ‘must see’ by the instructor. Although filming in virtual reality has a relatively short history, there are nevertheless a number of films that are considered important milestones in this medium and could offer a useful chronological perspective of its development. The history of shooting films in virtual reality is intrinsically tied to the history of virtual reality itself, and more importantly, the availability of virtual reality to the masses. Virtual reality, in a visual sense, could arguably be defined as a computer generated space in which viewers can look in any direction in a
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popular demo recording feature. Players began to record multiplayer deathmatches with a more cinematic flare. And at this point a critical shift occurred – the viewpoint of the player had become the viewpoint of the director. ”

1

Today’s movie-watching audience is not the same people who ducked when watching the Lumiere Brother’s film of a train coming toward them. ern audiences have not only grown to accept entirely computer-generated characters in animated movies, there is even fear among some that such characters will one day replace real actors. Audiences are able to react emotionally to computer-generated characters and follow the story narratives as easily as they would when viewing movies made using hand-drawn or cell-animation. Typical members of media-watching audiences have also become used to the view-angles, camera movements, and general virtual reality look of 3d video games. For these reasons, it has become an acceptable idea to extend the use of video games beyond the original intent of the game makers, and turn them into a medium for the creation of movies. The threshold of acceptability has been crossed, both in terms of technological advancement of the medium
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Later that year, a group of players calling themselves ‘The Rangers’, used Quake to create a short narrative film called Diary of a Camper. The story consisted largely of a single player’s technique of hiding in one place as a means of defeating a large group of enemies, with the dialog typed in by the actor/players during the recording. This was considered to be the first popular ‘Quake Movie’ as it was called at the time, with many similar movies quickly following. As video game technology got better, the production value of the animated movies also got better, and hackers began to make their own software utilities to better convert video games into useful filming environments. The term ‘Machinima’ (or machine animated cinema) was coined by Hugh and Anthony Bailey in the year 2000, coinciding with the launch of their new website, Machinima.com. The term was used as a way to define
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2. Costumes and Props In most cases, costumes are permanently attached to the available character models although certain

PREPRODUCTION
ling quality of this work. In 2008, Ian Chisholm mixed together two different video games (Half Life 2 and Eve On–Line) to create Clear Skies, and a year later Clear Skies 2. Superior voice acting, stunning graphics, and professional camera work brought the medium of Machinima to a new level of quality with the release of these two films. Put together, these two films equal the approximate running time of a full-length movie. Commercial media companies began using Machinima techniques as well. In late 2006, Comedy Central aired “Make Love, Not Warcraft”, episode 147 of the animated series South Park. This episode uses Machinima in many of its scenes as South Park producers created a satirical look at the mmoRPG (Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game) World of Warcraft by Blizzard Entertainment. Several professional movie houses have been using Machinima film making techniques as a way of pre-visualizing complex computer generated animation, although examples of these scene tests may not be publicly available. Stephan Spielberg used a modified version of the game Unreal, for previsualizations of A.I. Artificial Intelligence as did George Lucas for the later episodes of Star Wars. 1. Scouting locations This translates either into choosing which video game (or games) to use as a base environment or backdrop, or in the case of shooting video in online multiplayer games, one must literally scout locations in virtual space much in the same way that one would do this in physical space. Online worlds such as Second Life, Eve On Line, or World of Warcraft have virtually hundreds of square miles of environments to choose from for shots that could be used for filming on location. Even most stand-alone (offline) 3d video games have many miles of interesting terrains, cities, buildings, rooms, and other interior and exterior spaces to choose from. It is also possible to create a location from scratch using elements provided by the game makers and assembled with level design editors that are provided with such games as Unreal, Half Life, Crysis, and others. In the case of Second Life, all of the virtual world elements are created by users, so there are new locations being generated every day. “Need a fire fight? Game engines are good at them. How about a sweeping vista? Not a problem. How about a gigantic battleship swooping from the skies, firing plasma charges from its cannon, crewed by the ghosts of those who died to its guns, whilst below a thousand Vikings battle their way up a mountain pass? No worries pal. Would you like fries with that?”

games allow for customization. Many online games offer a character editor, making it possible to choose the features and appearance of your character from a fixed set of possibilities. Second Life offers complete customization with clothing and skin that can be user created or available for purchase from other users. Generally props follow similar guidelines, and for the more intrepid, it is possible to actually custom create props, clothing, and characters in a professional 3d modeling program such as Maya or 3d Studio Max and import them into Pc games such as Unreal or Half Life. It is often quite a bit of work to create custom models and doing so is perhaps beyond the scope of most small scale virtual reality video productions, similar to how building furniture or a house is beyond the scope of traditional small scale video productions. Often, Machinima producers will mix custom made and prefabricated elements in their productions. 3. Camera and sound equipment Essentially the computer or television screen is the camera in a Machinima production. Ways of recording the screen include wiring the video output from a game consol or a computer directly to a standard video camera in order to record it. Using the telecine method, one can even aim a video camera at an Lcd screen and record it directly, although the visual quality will certainly suffer. There are a number of software tools to record the computer screen without using a video camera at all. Perhaps the most popular for windows machines is FRAPS, due to its ease of use, high quality and frame rate, as it is made to tax the computer processor as little as possible. For Apple computers, Snapz Pro works very well as a screen capturing software tool.

6

In a traditional narrative video course, preproduction concerns might consist of creating a general plan, writing a script, drawing storyboards, rounding up the talent and the production crew, etc. With respect to these items, creating videos in virtual reality is essentially the same, but other pre-production concerns differ somewhat or must be translated for this new medium.

5

There are many thousands of other Machinima examples readily available for screening in a narrative video course (most are archived at machinima.com) although because the roots of this medium grew from amateur and first-time film makers, there is much critical analysis and sorting work yet to be done if a proper canon of Machinima films is to be assembled. Although the history of Machinima is relatively short, the technique is maturing rapidly. The workflow and the methods used to create these movies is very similar to that of traditional video, much more so than the production techniques of either film or animation.

Even most stand-alone (offline) 3D video games have many miles of interesting terrains, cities, buildings, rooms, and other interior and exterior spaces to choose from.

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A ‘player’ becomes the camera by concentrating fully on framing the recording screen for the best shot, using the standard movement controls on a keyboard, mouse, or gamepad. It is also possible to script camera movements in many video game editors, similar to attaching the camera to a dolly, crane, or complex rigging. A number of Second Life users have created various camera scripts and rigs for the purpose of Machinima. Generally it is not advisable to use the native sound coming from the video game unless the video movie references the game itself. It is much easier to overdub all of the audio in a video editor, as this provides a much greater level of control and precision. The problem of lip-synching the characters to the overdubbed voice track can be solved in several ways. Certain video games (such as Half Life or The Movies) provide tools (or tools are available online) for inputting voice and getting the character’s lips to move accordingly, and the effort involved with doing this can range from very little to extremely labor intensive. Another possibility is to use Reallusion’s Crazytalk software, which uses a still image of a character and turns it into a talking animation with very believable realism. This is accomplished by inputting an image file, an audio/ voice file, and the corresponding text. The software wraps the face image onto a talking 3d model for very realistic results. Another technique that is often used is to have the character’s mouth not visible or partially obscured, and to move another part of the body to indicate that the character is talking. This technique has been used with great success in the filming of Red Vs. Blue (see above), which uses video games Halo and Halo 2. The character’s faces are covered completely by helmets and visors and are filmed nodding their heads up and down when they are speaking. Other gestures could be used to indicate talking such as hand or body movements, as long as the voice and movements are synchronized, keeping the illusion convincing. Most of the considerations and techniques of story telling using traditional video are exactly the same for Machinima video production. Shooting from interesting camera angles; framing the scene; keeping track of lines of sight; paying attention to the continuity; lighting the scene and characters effectively; can all be taught and critiqued much in the same way as traditional video. At this point, video instructors can really screen movies and animations from many different sources and talk about the various techniques used to convey a narrative and how it might be applied to Machinima productions. This is really the crux of teaching video production in virtual reality, as the final stories can either be effective and powerful or suffer from the same flaws and pitfalls of other forms of film-making. In this way, Machinima is more akin to traditional video production than it is to cell or 3d animation. Animation techniques often include the pulling and stretching of characters to exaggerate weight, motion, or communicative gesturing. Animators can manipulate every shape and texture of the film frame, similar to drawing or painting. On the other hand, Machinima is filmed live and in real-time, with human actors directly manipulating ‘digital puppets’, shooting scenes over and over until the right take is recorded. Actors must work
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4. Video format Generally the raw video files will be stored on a large hard drive. Using recording software like fRAPs, it is already possible to film in Hd quality, depending upon the speed of the processor in the ‘camera’ computer. Hard drive data storage has dropped sufficiently in price to rival the cost of storing video on digital videotape cassettes. A marked difference between traditional video and Machinima style movie making is that Machinima does not actually require using a video camera at all, and so the usual concerns associated with these devises can be eliminated. together and coordinate in a synchronized fashion, following a script and a director. Due to the fact that Machinima can be filmed in a networked environment, it is possible for each of the actors to physically be in a different location (and anywhere in the world), meeting together on a set in virtual space. This makes it possible for student groups from across the globe to collaborate on videos, with hardly any extra pre-planning as student groups that are in the same location. It is possible for production teams to enlist the services of ‘extras’ from within online communities such as Second life. Extras can be in charge of creating their own clothing, or wear digital copies of clothes Effects such as floating in space, breathing underwater, flying through the air, walking on clouds, or walking through walls are easily achievable. Fire, explosions, rain, snow, or burning meteorites can be created and easily switched on or off. Although all of these options are available, as with traditional video, a good narrative still relies upon the effective development and communication of a good story. In this respect, instructing in either medium is much the same.

POSTPRODUCTION
Once the Machinima video clips are shot, they are treated in much the same way as with traditional video. Video files must be logged and sorted; editing decisions must be made as to which shots should be kept and which should be discarded; several rough cuts of the movie will be assembled; beginnings, middles, and endings will be decided. Although in contrast to traditional video production, it is likely that the entire audio track will have to be overdubbed after the video has been recorded. In this way it is like animation, where audio timing and synchronization becomes challenging and important. Fortunately, modern digital video editors make it possible to easily move audio clips in small increments of time so as to easily align them with their visual counterparts.

PRODUCTION

passed out by the costumer. It is even possible to pay these extras at the end of the day (with real money or other forms of compensation such as valuable digital objects) from directly within the online environment. Often, most members of a Machinima production team will decide to film in the same physical location such as a computer lab. This makes it possible to see and hear each member, creating a ‘back-channel’ means of communication while engaging in the digital puppetry. Besides being able to use audible signals for timing cues and synchronized motion, the cameraperson can provide immediate feedback while the scene is being filmed. Oftentimes it is useful to script the camera to move the same way every time the film shot gets rehearsed and repeated. This removes possible filming mistakes and so makes one less factor to consider while performing the scene. It can also be very challenging to move the camera smoothly when using a keyboard or a mouse. As with traditional video production, it is possible to film the same scene from multiple angles by having more than one person log in to the game environment as a ‘camera’ character.

Some of the technical pitfalls that are virtually nonexistent in Machinima video are problems such as clips that were shot out of focus, clips that need color correction, bright light spots that blow out detail or color, bleeding of red tones, interlace issues, blurring of action shots, differences in tape stock or quality, or unwanted background noise from wind and traffic. On the other hand, Machinima clips can suffer from problems such as a character’s feet not connecting to the ground properly, unexpected reductions in frame rate, lack of emotion in character faces, unrealistic body
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postures, and unconvincing gestures. Each medium has its own strengths and weaknesses and so must be dealt with accordingly. As mentioned previously, dialogue is done in postproduction (as well as lip-synching if Crazytalk is being used). One of the limitations of Crazytalk is that it uses a still picture of a character to create the talking animation. This makes it impossible to have the character moving, walking, or driving while talking. A way around this problem is to take a picture of the character against a green surface and use traditional greenscreen techniques to remove the background area. Now a moving background can be composited with the talking character to give the illusion that the character is moving while talking. There are a number of subtle video effects that may be added with a video editor or visual effects software while in post-production to soften the digital look that is rendered by many game engines. The focus can be softened slightly, motion blur can be added, and timebased effects can be added. The addition of a lush mixture of environment sounds can add greatly to the realism of a scene. Adding subtle room reflection echoes to the character voices can add believability to the space of the virtual environment. Although still maintaining futuristic connotations, virtual reality has begun to seep its way into common everyday experiences. Whether this experience manifests itself while playing 3d video games, or talking with a friend in Second Life, or experiencing a simulation for learning purposes, computer generated living spaces are being integrated into the physical world. No longer does virtual reality need to be necessarily associated with the act of donning special goggles, wearing sensory suits, or standing in a multi-screened projection room (cAVE). Internet, writing an email, or talking on a cellular Machinima video production techniques will likely beIn addition to the usual venues that feature animated films (both online and offline), there are a number of large film festivals that have had specific categories for Machinima, such as the Sundance Film Festival. Additionally, there are a growing number of festivals that are for Machinima only. Will a full length Machinima production one day win an Oscar? Certainly this is possible. When the right production crew makes a Machinima that has all of the elements and emotional impact as other award winning professional films, there is no reason why it could not be awarded similarly. Computer animated movies have risen to this very level of prominence in a very short time and Machinima is not far behind. It was not long ago that the idea of a computer animated film winning such an award seemed like an impossibility, but now this is commonplace. Over time, as virtual experiences become more commonly integrated into everyday life, like using telephones, time spent in these spaces will be included in the narratives of visual media in all forms (similar to how common it is to see an actor in a movie using a telephone). The subject matter of Machinima narratives may change to reflect this. Rather than using Machinima as a way to represent physical reality, it may simply become a recording of the time that one normally spends while in this virtual reality. Machinima and live action film may be commonly mixed together. An example video narrative might involve a protagonist waking up in the morning (live action), spending a few moments online in a virtual environment while talking to his boss (Machinima), driving to work (live action), and spending the rest of the day talking to colleagues both in physical space and virtual space (mix of Machinima and live action).

REfEREncEs And notEs
1. Rick Altman, A Theory of Narrative (New York City, NY: Columbia University Press, 2008), 1. 2. Paul Marino, The Art of Machinima (Scottsdale, AZ: Paraglyph Press, Inc., 2004), 20. 3. Although this is the most popularly referenced title, it is actually incorrect. The correct title of this article is included in the following reference: P. M. Roget, “Explanation of an Optical Deception in the Appearance of the Spokes of a Wheel Seen through Vertical Apertures,” Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London 115 (1825): 131–140. 4. Paul Marino, The Art of Machinima, 4. 5. Christopher Harz, “The Holy Grail of Previs: Gaming Technology,” VFXWorld Magazine, January 31, 2006, http:// www.awn.com/articles/machinima/holy-grail-previs-gaming-technology (accessed December 1, 2010). 6. Hugh Hancock and Johnnie Ingram, Machinima For Dummies (Hoboken, NJ: Wiley Publishing, Inc., 2007), 11. 7. CAVE: Cave Automatic Virtual Environment. For more information on CAVEs: Kay M. Stanney ed., Handbook of Virtual Environments: Design, Implementation, and Applications, (Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2002).

THE FUTURE OF VIRTUAL REALITY AND NARRATIVE VIDEO

come just another aspect of traditional video production. In the future, when one refers to traditional video, Machinima will likely be included. Teaching video with this production technique allows for many new possibilities in narrative choices, creates a bridge between traditional video and animation, and introduces students to a technique that is gaining prominence and popularity in professional studios. ■

7 It is more like surfing the

phone. Extending our presence into a computer-generated space might be considered a natural outcome of advancing graphics technology. As long as there is something compelling to do in this space, we will spend time there.
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ATOMISM
Figure 1. Burnished silver captured with an Atomic Force Microscope, 2010

RESIDUAL IMAGES WITHIN SILVER

In this short article I want to present the think-

Paul Th omas
Associate Professor School of Art College of Fine Arts University of New South Wales (cnr Greens Rd and Oxford St) PO Box 259 Paddington, NSW 2021, Australia

ing, processes and references that I am currently researching in my practice. This research connects to my early work that stems from an interest in residual spaces, subconscious meanings and the objectification of the world via perspectival space. This latest work entitled “Atomism” (refers to the theoretical approach that reduces things down to their independent elementary components) focuses on pattern and randomness as a network for becoming. The work will explore human perception in the recognition of patterns that emerge from randomness. Katherine Hayles suggests “seeing randomness not simply as the lack of pattern but as the creative ground from which pattern can emerge.”

1

The emergence of pattern from randomness allows for the world to be “seen” as more than it “appears”. Potential insignificant realizations can be explored with greater freedom. The recognition of patterns embodying presence from randomness is not to be understood as an isolated act but linked to a holistic environmental system or ecology. In “Atomism” a post biological human perception of the world created through a machinic interpretation of data is part analogue and part digital. Historically a presence created out of pattern can be seen now in contrast to the computer where pattern replaces presence. defined by a perspectival objectification of the world. What complicates the recognition of presence or pattern from randomness is the perspectival point of view. The point of view separates the seer from what is seen or felt. Hayles point’s out when linking pattern to presence in the non-material space of the computer that ‘cyberspace defines a regime of representation within which pattern is the essential reality, presence an optical illusion.
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2 These perceptual experiences 3 are still

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Silver will be the selected substrate researched at a nano level for structural and metaphorical reasons exploring its potential for reflection, refraction, pattern and randomness. I was initially interested in Silver for it properties to act as a mirror, based around its role in the objectification of the world through renaissance perspective. Fillipo Brunelleschi used polished silver is his 1425 peephole device that was credited with the birth of perspective. In the device the polished silver was used to replace the sky in his painting of the baptistery. As Brunelleschi’s biographer Marinetti points out, after having witnessed the device, “where the sky had to be represented, that is to say, where the buildings of the painting were free thus the clouds seen in the silver are carried along by the wind as it blows.” for perspective to deal with nature was not necessary for Brunelleschi. Therefore the residual image of the sky reflected in silver of Brunelleschi’s painting became by default the perspectival way of perceiving and objectifying nature. The silver is also a mirror, in this case a mirror that captures what perspective cannot. Thus even what is in excess of perspective’s vanishing point is brought into its hegemonic screen. Retrospectively, we might today see in the burnished silver the harbinger of virtual reality and of photography; though, of course, this is exactly Lacan’s point about the psychology of the mirror and, by inference, of perspective itself. Brunelleschi’s demonstration established a new spatiality, which inaugurated the hegemony of the virtual over the actual. Perspectival space was the new real. Seurat based many of his experiments in colour on the findings of French chemist Michel Eugène Chevreul. Chevreul was instrumental in identifying the effects of colours proximity to one another in his work on the restoration of tapestries. He noticed that the colours in the tightly gridded space of the tapestry affected each others value so colours needed to be mixed against their surrounding to determine the correct colour value. In Seurat’s painting (“A Sunday on La Grande Jatte”, 1884–1886) the forms emerge from
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camera and the various viewing devices. The camera obscura, stereoscopic viewing device, Phantascope, Telescope, and the Kinematoscope are all examples of a form of scopophilia. Secondly the connection is in the material quality of Silver. Silver when dissolved in nitric acid and processed was seen to turn black and grey when exposed to light. The relationship of Silver to pattern and randomness in the history of art is evident through photography with the emergence of an image from the reactions of photons hitting each grain in the film stock. In looking at the grain I was drawn to the work of George-Pierre Seurat around 1884. In these paintings and preparatory drawings we can see the concepts of becoming and presence are worked through an array of coloured dots of paint and graphite textures forming patterns that coalesce in the eye. Seurat’s paintings point to a time where matter was unstable, highlighting “the atomic movements at the deep structure of nature.” window through which the distance between us and the world of atoms is calibrated to give the world presence. What can be seen in Seurat’s work is resonant here with the clinamen where the independent swerve of atoms are working in a void that takes place beyond our perception.

the chaos that is presented by a border of chaos that surrounds the image. These contextual and conceptual processes are manifesting in my research via initially scanning polished silver to explore its atomic pattern and to discover if anything is lost in the process of reflection at a nano level. Dr Thomas Becker from the Nanochemistry Research Institute, Curtin University gathered data using the Scanning Tunneling and the Atomic Force Microscopes of silver samples to form the basis for the pattern/randomness visualization. The silver was initially burnished and scanned, then heated to give the sample a smooth surface needed for detailed scanning with an Atomic Force Microscope. “Atomism” will be developed as an art installation in partnership with Kevin Raxworthy. The installation will use vision-tracking software to identify where the user is looking on the projected visualised silver data gathered from the Afm. The viewers’ gaze will activate semi autonomous atoms demonstrating a cloud like swarm intelligence. The cloud will form the basis for the viewer to perceive a potential ‘thing’ from an interaction with the atoms. In a similar manner, the photons stimulating the atoms in the polished silver of Brunelleschi’s peephole experiment were absorbed and then instantly repelled giving the viewer an experience of random patterns of clouds. The work “Atomism” is to be reflective, evolutionary as the data is processed and remediated forming an intimate nano experience for the viewer. ■

1. N. Katherine Hayles, “How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies,” in Cybernetics, Literature, and Informatics (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1999), 286. 2. Ibid., 36. 3. Jens Hauser in his paper “Still, Living: Staging the Ephemeral between Nature Morte and Art Involving Biotechnology” defines that remediation in the name of the real is split between two contrasting areas of investigation, Immediacy and hypermediacy. 4. N. Katherine Hayles, “How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies,” in Cybernetics, Literature, and Informatics (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1999), 36. 5. Antonio Manetti, The Life of Brunelleschi (University Park: The Pennsylvania State University Press, 1970), 44. 6. Paul Thomas, Reconfiguring Space (Saarbrücken: VDM Verlag Dr. Mueller e.K., 2009), 36. 7. Colin Milburn, “Tactical Atomism,” in Art in the Age of Nanotechnology, ed. Vashti Innes-Brown, Chris Malcolm, and Pauline Williams (Perth: Curtin University Press, 2010), 6–18.

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The need

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The paintings construct the

AcknowLEdGEmEnts
I would like to acknowledge the collaboration of Kevin Raxworthy in the construction of installation and Thomas Becker at the Nanochemistry Research Institute, (nRI) Curtin University of Technology.

6

The perspectival space was made real partly through the reflective qualities of Silver mirroring nature to the viewer. The creation of Brunelleschi’s illusion in the peephole device is part of a genealogy with the first
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Cost of Opportunity is a project that creates a series of diamonds as artworks. The Gunpowder Diamond will be produced entirely from carbon found in .223 Caliber assault rifle ammunition.The gunpowder is safely neutralized in a laboratory and the carbon it contains is isolated. Future proposed art-diamonds include the Road-kill Diamond from NineBanded Armadillos killed on Texas thoroughfares and the Superman Diamond from a 1983 cellulose acetate film print of Superman III (wherein Superman crushes a lump of coal into a diamond). A monetary value for each diamond is to be determined at a live auction, generating funds for

future diamonds in an ongoing series of stones made from various culturally charged materials. The project explores personal and cultural valuation, materiality, and the way market pressures have altered the definition and function of art. Multiple attempts to secure research funding reveal the limits of interdisciplinarity and institutional aesthetics, inspiring the artist, Shane Mecklenburger, to steal the diamond once exhibited, a plan he has yet to reveal to his collaborator.

Collaborating with the Enemy
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Sh ane Meck l enb urg er
Assistant Professor of Art & Technology The Ohio State University www.shmeck.com

Carbon pellet after gunpowder de-nitration. Courtesy of the artist

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As the man who acts must, according to Goethe, be without a conscience, he must also be without knowledge; he forgets everything in order to be able to do something; he is unfair toward what lies behind and knows only one right, the right of what is now coming into being as the result of his own action. — Friedrich Nietzsche in Joseph Kosuth’s Double Reading

THE PROCESS
The cafe looks nearly empty. I’m taking notes as my colleague, organic chemist Dr. Justin Youngblood, explains the process. Suspend the gunpowder in acetone, which dissolves everything but the explosive activator nitroguanidine. Filter out large, insoluble nitroguanidine, then evaporate off the acetone, leaving nitrocellulose and detergents. At this point the nitrocellulose is very similar to early celluloid cinema and photographic film. With nirates removed, what’s left is mostly cellulose and detergents. Boil this in concentrated sulfuric acid, removing hydrogen and oxygen as water. Centrifuge out the water and leftover sulfuric acid, along with any leftover soluble detergents. What remains is principally carbon. We need eight ounces of dried, safe carbon from the gunpowder so that a manufacturer can apply the extreme pressure and temperatures necessary to produce a .2 to .29 carat colorless diamond, entirely Suspend the nitrocellulose in a buffer of phosphate salts to balance pH, add tetrasodium EdtA and reagents dithiothreitol and methylviologen. Boil for several hours. Dithiothreitol removes nitrite salts while methylviologen maintains dithiothreitol in an active state, ensuring the reaction will continue. Evaporate the water and nitrite salts. Our gunpowder de-nitration process was based on a patented process originally developed as a safety precaution for military testing and training sites with large quantities of “scrap nitrocellulose” leftover from gunfire. As Dr. Youngblood explains the process to me, I wonder what he might say if I were to mention that I’m thinking of stealing the diamond once it’s on display. I understand what the theft represents for me in the context of the project, but I can’t be certain how my collaborator would react. He and I aren’t dividing profits or sharing ownership. Perhaps he’d think it was funny. I can’t risk telling him. I began to consider making diamonds as artworks after a conversation with Chicago Artists Jonathan Liss and Kristen Andersen. We were discussing The School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s location on “Jeweler’s Row”, a historic diamond district dating back to 1872. I walked past these jewelry stores every day on my way to graduate courses at sAIc. One course from the carbon in .223 Caliber assault rifle ammunition. The word “GUNPOWDER” is microscopically laser-etched into the cut diamond as an identifier. The diamond is then sent to the International Gemological Institute to be rated for carat, color, clarity and finish. from his hair entitled Last I’m Perfect.

Magid signed a contract to transform her own remains into a round cut, one-carat diamond, to go in a gold ring setting when she dies. Her project, Auto Portrait Pending, is currently “awaiting a Beneficiary.” can artist David Murray made a diamond from the Of All The Art I Made Turned Into A Diamond.

1 In 2005, Jill

2 Ameri3 When

ashes of 24 of his art projects in 2010, calling it 85 % I learned that a real diamond could be grown using diamonds had an aesthetic potential beyond selfportraiture.

any carbon source, it became clear that manufactured

PRECEDENT
The diamond manufacturer LifeGem has been in the
Dr. Justin Youngblood’s Chemistry Lab. Courtesy of the artist

that made a powerful impression on me was taught by Justin Cooper, Noelle Mason and Benjamin Bellas of the group i.e., tracing practices that hinge on Collaborating with the Enemy. In another, Gregg Bordowitz of Critical Art Ensemble described a crisis in which art theory itself has transformed into a commodity by market pressures. An art school in a diamond market seemed a pregnant synchronicity. Diamonds and art both dwell in popular imagination as symbols of emotion, desire, investment, wealth and taste. They are equally mythologized
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business of manufacturing diamonds from the cremated remains of your loved ones and pets since 2001. Having already manufactured a certified “Beethoven Diamond,” their latest high-profile venture uses a lock of hair gathered during Michael Jackson’s infamous Pepsi commercial accident: The Jacko Diamond. The few artists who have exploited this new medium have used it almost exclusively for self-portraiture. In 2002, Marc Quinn made a 1.2 carat yellow diamond

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as emerging from exertion, expense and sacrifice. Both are rare luxury commodities, whose value is determined by careful manupulation of supply and inventory within highly self-contained markets. In both cases demand is similarly constructed through marketing mythologies of scarcity and uniqueness. Cost of Opportunity is a series of diamonds produced from culturally charged materials, in which the Gunpowder Diamond is the first. In Cost of Opportunity, diamonds symbolize both markets and the art object in general. In what ways do we assign value? What are the limits of the market and the art object? What is gained and what is lost when art becomes a commodity? What are the effects of market pressure on society and art? How are the many forms of value we ascribe now conflated: monetary, emotional, moral and aesthetic?

Magid and Quinn’s humility distinguishes them from Damien Hirst, the artist with whom diamonds are most easily associated. I’ve only seen the infamous diamond indulgence For The Love of God (2007) in pictures. I saw Hirst’s work in person for the first time at Galería Hilario Galguera in Mexico City. Spending time with Sacred XVII (2005), a vitrine with a dagger impaling a lamb’s heart, I understood it as an embodiment of the popular dagger-through-the-heart tattoo design. When I’ve confronted mortality, I haven’t arrived at the cynicism emanating from Hirst’s work. Cynicism is a symptom of depression, so Hirst comes across as unintentionally sad. An art-diamond references the inescapable commodity status of contemporary art. Wax poetic on the transformative power of art, but in the end markets reduce it to a dollar figure. When introducing works of contemporary art to urban youth, one of the first questions I invariably receive is “how much is it worth?” it to momentarily resist market pressure. That moment passed and Conceptual Art was canonized, consumed and reissued as currency: the Neo-Conceptual. Like the early 1970’s, the world is reeling from a period of failed economic and military policies. At a time when the art of resistance is more relevant than ever, work that resists market pressure receives little attention. Now that the Guggenheim has paid $70,000 for a “limited edition” of Tino Seghal’s performance Kiss, it appears Pop ate itself, went to bed, then got and had Performance for breakfast. “People nowadays know the price of everything and the value of nothing,” Oscar Wilde observed. Opportunity both reflects and participates in this state of affairs through what I call preemptive commodification. Since art so frequently ends up serving as an investment, the subject matter of all art (even art that was never intended to be bought or sold) is the market. Cost of Opportunity is a site-specific installation and performance, concluding with a live art auction wherein the value of each diamond is determined. The project uses a commercial gallery, auction house or ‘art store’ as a material, using the market for its own purposes and inverting the standard relationship in which work is manipulated by the market.
Jeweler’s Row, Chicago. Source: 2009 Google Maps: Madison & Wabash Street View

6 Cost of

PREEMPTIVE COMMODIFICATION
I called the diamond manufacturer six times and sent two proposals before getting through to their president to approve the project. After the fifth unsuccessful call, I decided to look for other manufacturers. There were several, but these companies could only produce colored or semi-opaque diamonds. LifeGem was the only manufacturer that could produce a clear, colorless diamond. Since the objects must read immediately as what they are, real diamonds, only colorless would do. The self-deprecating twist in Quinn’s At Last I’m Perfect is that it’s not perfect. It’s yellow. This may represent perfection in Quinn’s eyes, but I interpret the yellow as an admission that no one is perfect. In the contract for Auto Portrait Pending, Jill Magid has stipulated that the “impurities” of her own carbon material should determine the final color of the diamond.

Exchange value is the common baseline for evaluation in Late Capitalism. If art is now inseparable from the market, is it possible for art to fully differentiate itself from any other product?

4

Pop and Conceptual Art asked the same question from opposite directions, demonstrating the way capitalism had permanently altered the definition and function of contemporary art. Pop surrendered completely to the market culture. It made the seduction of economies an art form, and evidence of Pop’s success continues to be emblazoned on every imaginable object and surface. The repeating collage of comic book panels, film stills, classic products and celebrities is arguably the identifying product pattern of the late 20th Century. For Conceptual Artists of the 1960’s and 1970’s, favoring ideas over objects was a form of resistance; the work was deliberately harder to buy and sell, allowing

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Nitrocellulose created from gunpowder de-nitration. Courtesy of the artist

‘PREDICTED QUALITY OF DELIVERABLES’
On the sixth call to the diamond manufacturer LifeGem, I went for broke. I pitched the idea with everything I had and the receptionist caved in. She passed my proposal to Dean VandenBiesen, President of the company. Two e-mails later, I had him on the phone. VandenBiesen told me his manufacturer could make a diamond from any dry, safe carbon material. I sent him a proposal I’d submitted to the University of North Texas for a Research Initiation Grant, which would ammunition that is easily purchased in the U.s. No less irrational than war profiteering or pollution, hyper-consumption is another hallmark of contemporary U.s. culture. Americans eat over thirty million slices of pizza each day, ‘absurdifies’ this high-calorie, low-nutrition comfort to children. “Originality (creative[sic]/uniqueness/ingenuity); The University Research Office evaluates internal grant proposals from various disciplines side-by-side. Proposal reviewers often work in entirely different disciplines from the proposals they evaluate. When I learned that a colleague’s cancer research grant proposal was funded, he told me that compared to the size of his research budget, the university grant was a drop in the bucket. It might cover portion of a grad student’s salary for one semester. If I received the grant, it would cover more than 80 percent of my toMeasuring dithiothreitol for de-nitration. Courtesy of the artist

los who have met their end on Texas thoroughfares. The armadillo is the state animal of Texas, but before the mid-1800’s, armadillos were not found in the U.s. Since about 1850, the Nine-Banded Armadillo has rapidly expanded its habitat North of the Rio Grande.

8 It’s believed that these “undocumented immigrants”
of natural predators.

cross the border in large numbers due to the absence

There’s a refreshing degree of transparency in the granting process and evaluator responses are returned to the grant writer as constructive feedback, whether or not the proposal is approved. Reviewers use a form with checkboxes for “Hi” / “Med” / “Lo” in a range of categories, generating a score out of 100. Proposals are rated for:

10 and the Pizza Diamond

food, which, like other fast foods, is heavily marketed

Research Significance (merit/advancement in knowledge); Research Design (soundness/feasibility); Predicted Quality of Deliverables (research product/publication); Broader Impacts (contributions to society/diversity/learning)” To an artist, these are like border-crossing signs: “Now Leaving Apples (subjective/poetic/expression); Welcome To Oranges (objective/ measurable/‘deliverables’)”

tal project budget. However, given the choice between a semester of graduate work to find a cure for cancer or making a Roadkill Diamond, I must admit that I’d U.s. civilians account for 5% of the world population and 40% of all the handguns owned worldwide, the basic ingredient in the armed society is gunpowvote to cure cancer too. It seemed odd for such far-flung disciplines to compete for funding. I learned that proposals were once evaluated separately within each discipline, but this made them vulnerable to intra-departmental politics. The cost of external peer review is prohibitive, so inter-departmental evaluation was their best compromise.
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fund three diamonds: one from gunpowder, one from road kill, and a third from pizza. Road kill is a daily reminder of the increasingly conflictual relationship between human systems and ecosystems. Every day a million vertebrates are killed on U.s. roads alone, according to estimates by the U.s. Department of Transportation. Diamond will consist entirely of Nine-Banded Armadil162 LEONARDOELECTRONICALMANAC VOL 17 NO 1

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and

der. The historic relationship between gunpowder, ownership and wealth creation made it a natural choice for the first installment in the project. A “sword into ploughshare” gesture, the Gunpowder Diamond is made entirely from powder in common assault rifle

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The Road Kill

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I shuddered to imagine myself evaluating the “Predicted Quality of Deliverables” in a Physics proposal. “Originality” represents 8% of the total score. I suspect this category may have been included for the sake of creative proposals. This is ironic to me, as I’m convinced originality is a myth. The fairy tale of originality is useful, like the idea of a unicorn. It helps people tell stories. There’s also a section on the form for open response to the strengths and weaknesses of the “Research Plan”. In the strengths section, my evaluator wrote “This is original.” It’s the only category in which I received a “Hi” rating from the evaluator. Research Significance, Predicted Quality of Deliverables, and Broader Impacts were all “Lo”. Research Design was rated “Med”. In the weaknesses section was the sentence: “Who owns the diamonds that are created by University funds?” I couldn’t help laughing out loud. I’d spent pages describing the project as a challenge to the precise assumptions about labor, intellectual property and valuation that were implied in my evaluator’s question. When I read the response in a meeting with the Research Office, we all laughed out loud. When I showed the evaluator’s response to artist colleague Jenny Vogel, she told me how, once upon a time, the unicorn named Chris Burden received a similar response.

to buy $500 worth of lumber, no problem.”

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© Chris Burden. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery Napoleon d’Or, Chris Burden, April 6, 1981 Musee National d’Art Moderne, Centre George Pompidou, Paris, France Napoleon d’Or was a performance that I executed in Paris consisting of casting in gold a miniature Napoleon. The lost wax process used a plaster mold that I had prepared in England before my arrival in Paris. I chose the image of Napoleon because I feel that the French people regard the Napoleonic era as their most glorious hour. After the audience was assembled, the gold was placed on the top of the small plaster mold and heated to the melting point with a welder’s torch. The mold was then swung vigorously in a circular pattern, forcing the molten gold into the mold. After several minutes the mold was broken open and the gold Napoleon was placed on a stand for viewing by the audience. Relic: Gold figure (from Napoleon d’Or), and diamond and cubic zirconium (from Diamonds are Forever) on base. Case: 8 × 22 × 10 inches, Collection: Judy and Stuart Spence, Sunland, California Diamonds are Forever, Chris Burden, April 28 - May 28, 1981 Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, England Immediately upon my arrival in England, I was taken to the diamond district in London, where I used the entire materials budget allocated for my project by the Ikon Gallery to purchase a 1/4 carat diamond and an identical but valueless cubic zirconium., The 3,000 square foot basement exhibition space at the Ikon Gallery was painted black and all light leaks were sealed. I constructed a miniature spotlight from a car radio antenna in order that the suspended “diamond” would shine in the dark. Viewers were admitted to the pitch black space and could make their way toward the shining star with the aid of a handrail. For security reasons, I hung the cubic zirconium in lieu of the actual diamond, which I kept in my pocket at all times. Relic: Diamond and cubic zirconium (from Diamonds are Forever), and gold figure (from Napoleon d’Or) on base Case: 8 × 22 × 10 inches Collection: Judy and Stuart Spence, Sunland, California

Burden’s fairy tale has a happy ending. The Centre Pompidou ultimately approved funding for his materials. My proposal, however, was declined. Before I applied, I sought out advice to see if it would be a good idea to apply for a university grant to make a series of art-diamonds. I consulted a colleague, painter Vince Falsetta. “Vince, is this too crazy? Would the university ever fund the manufacture of a series of art-diamonds?” Vince’s reply: “I don’t know any painters who weave their own canvas.” In the past, he explained, painters had received the very same grant funds for canvas. No one ever asked who would own the paintings created with university funds. When my evaluator raised the question of ownership, it became a turning point for the project. If work is produced on a grant and not commissioned, who actually owns it? I had simply assumed that I would, but apparently, by virtue of my materials, this had been thrown into question for my evaluator. Up to that point, the notion of ‘stealing’ a diamond I’d created as an artwork hadn’t occurred to me. The reviewer’s question challenged an unexamined assumption on my part: that what I made with a grant would be mine. I thought it would be interesting for the project to engage this question directly. It’s a compelling mystery whether or not Burden I envisioned a ‘theft’ that would pay homage to pulled off an elaborate heist-as-art in Diamonds Are Forever. Maurizio Cattelan entertained no such ambiguity when he broke into Galerie Bloom in Amsterdam in 1996. He and his accomplices removed the entire contents of the gallery, from artwork to office equipment. He then displayed the boxed-up stolen goods as Another Fucking Readymade for De Appel gallery’s Crap Shoot group show. Cattelan noted afterwards that he would never have done this in New York, where he’d have likely done jail time. Galerie Bloom
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a check to the jeweler.

which sits beside the zirconia in the collection of Judy and Stewart Spence as a relic of the performance. Diamond ephemera.

12 Burden kept the diamond,

13

WHO OWNS THE WORK?
In 1981 the materials budget for Burden’s performance Napoleon d’Or included $500 worth of gold. He was to melt the gold with a welder’s torch and cast it into a mold of Napoleon in front of the audience. The purchase of gold as an art material caused a stir at the Centre Pompidou where the performance was to take place. Burden later remarked, “If I’d asked them
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Napoleon d’Or’s sister performance: Diamonds are Forever, also from 1981. Prior to Napoleon d’Or, Burden procured a diamond and a similar cubic zirconia for a show sponsored by Ikon in the UK. At the exhibit, Burden placed the zirconia on display, keeping the actual diamond in his pocket. After the show, Ikon’s board met to figure out if it should pay the jeweler for the diamond or if Burden had swindled them. After what Burden described as a “brouhaha”, Ikon wrote
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Another Fucking Readymade, 1996 © Maurizio Cattelan. Courtesy Marian Goodman Gallery; New York

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rainforest deforestation continues at an alarming rate. Nigeria doesn’t contain a large percentage of the world’s rainforest, but the Un reported that from 1990 to 2005 it lost 79% of primary rainforest to deforestation. in the study. Nigeria now has the most endangered untouched rainforests in the world. A few kilos of undergrowth is a small price to pay for a diamond made from such a vanishing treasure.
Gunpowder carbon dissolved in sulfuric acid. Courtesy of the artist

Youngblood and I both take a similar approach to overcoming challenges with limited resources. Chemistry was my worst subject in high school, but he patiently tutored me in each step so I could help perform most of the de-nitration myself. We had to perform the de-nitration steps in multiple batches, and for this he enlisted undergraduate lab assistants to help. I’m thinking of telling Dr. Youngblood about the theft

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This was the worst deforestation rate

WHO IS THE ENEMY?
summoned the Amsterdam police, but ultimately chose not to press charges on condition that he do a show at their gallery. When Nancy Spector commented on the satire in Cattelan’s work, he responded, “Comedians manipulate and make fun of reality, whereas I actually think that reality is far more provocative than my art. […] If you think my work is very provocative, it means reality is extremely provocative, and we just don’t react to it. Maybe we no longer pay attention to the way we live in the world.” contained system. Thanks to my first evaluator’s misunderstanding, I’d found the essence of the project: an interactive performance to negotiate the value and ownership of the diamonds themselves. Each diamond would be accompanied by a performance: a live art auction in which the value of the diamond is negotiated and determined by auction participants. I made a new selection from my list of carbon materials, shifting the focus from the U.s. to Africa. The Gunpowder Diamond remained, alongside the Rainforest Diamond and the Devalued Currency Diamond. Before it was suspended in 2009, the Zimbabwean Dollar traded at 150 billion Zwd to one Us Dollar. In I revised the proposal and re-submitted it for a different university Research Enabling Grant designed to enable activities for which “funds are demonstrated to be unavailable”. I proposed that diamonds made with University funds will be sold at auction to cover the cost of a second set of diamonds. The work becomes a self-sustaining system designed to run indefinitely from an ever-expanding list of culturally charged carbon materials. An auction is a kind of interactive performance in which participants negotiate market value. This is precisely what the project required to become a self166 LEONARDOELECTRONICALMANAC VOL 17 NO 1

part. I’m generally up-front about everything and subterfuge is new creative territory for me. It makes me uncomfortable, but I’m afraid it might jeopardize our collegiality. If I do it without telling him, would he think I used him? That would be worse. At one point, when we were working in the lab, we discussed writing up the results of our experiment for a journal. I was already writing this article, but I held my tongue about it. Maybe I’m writing this as a public confession in the hopes that he’ll run across it. It reminded me of the Collaborating with the Enemy course by Cooper, Mason and Bellas. Dr. Youngblood isn’t the enemy. If there’s an enemy here, it’s me. Like Burden and Cattelan I suppose I’m playing the cartoonish villain, laboratory and all.

Considering challenges and setbacks I’ve faced in other collaborations, I’ve been awestruck with the ease of my collaboration with Dr. Youngblood. Collaboration can be tricky business, especially across far-flung academic disciplines, but Dr. Youngblood has been generous and dedicated. We met in 2009 when I was searching for a chemist to help me with my Gunpowder Diamond idea. He appreciated the gesture and immediately began working on a solution. In a few weeks he performed all necessary research, sifting through patents for gunpowder de-nitration processes dating back to the 1800’s. He said it was fun.

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MARKET SOLUTIONS

Dr. Youngblood and I both served as Peace Corps Volunteers in 1997 but did not know each other. I was a Volunteer in Bolivia for two years. He served in at the same time as a Volunteer in Swaziland. At a conference on science and the environment in South Africa, he became inspired to work as a chemist to improve the global ecosystem. My experience in Bolivia taught me that money can’t solve long-term problems. Only people can. For this reason Peace Corps doesn’t provide access to largescale funding to Volunteers. We were integrated with a community to find locally sustainable solutions. Dr.

Zimbabwe, this could purchase four eggs. Zimbabwe has a small diamond mining industry centered in the Marange diamond fields. Marange does not technically produce “conflict diamonds” or “blood diamonds” – diamonds mined in war zones and sold to finance armed conflicts – but in 2008 soldiers forced villagers to mine diamonds in Marange and that year 200 Marange miners were killed by the military. While referencing this situation, a diamond made from Zimbabwean Dollars would also generate something of relatively stable market value from a currency literally worth less than the paper on which it’s printed. In spite of rising concerns and awareness, primary
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OPERATIONALIZED AESTHETICS
There are some details to work out. I have little skill as a thief. It’s an inside job though, so I don’t expect breaking and entering. I have time to consider both the crime and the crime scene because LifeGem’s diamond manufacture process “grows” the diamond over a nine-month gestation period. For a company selling reincarnation, this comes across like clever marketing. Each diamond will cost $3000 to manufacture, and while the project was moving forward I still had no funding. I arranged a meeting to learn more about the grant evaluation process. When I mentioned this to someone, they accidentally let slip that one of the two evaluators for my new proposal was a close colleague. Evaluators are supposed to remain anonymous. She was standing there when she was accidentally exposed as my evaluator. In an otherwise smooth and collegial professional association, it was awkward and unexpected. I understood why the Research Office had switched to inter-departmental evaluators, this time it hadn’t worked. I knew she was partial to the project, so I tried to joke about it. It was still weird. She gave the project high marks in the final evaluation, but the other evaluator, coming from another discipline, saw little value in the proposal and gave it low scores. Evaluators must discuss score disparities and try to find a middle ground. Since neither of my evaluators would budge, the gulf between the two sets of scores was extreme – aside from the “Originality” category. I didn’t get the grant. I did my best to revise the proposal according to the advice I received and submitted it a third time at the next grant cycle. I reinstated the Roadkill Diamond and removed the Rainforest Diamond and Devalued Currency Diamond in favor of the Superman Diamond. Last year, photographer Paho Mann reminded me of a scene from the 1983 movie Superman III in which our hero crushes a lump of coal into a perfectly cut diamond. Superman is the perfect foil for the enemyartist-evil-scientist, so I conspired to imprison him in
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At our meeting, the Research Office advised me to submit the proposal a third time and revise it again to make it more accessible to non-artist researchers by “operationalizing” my concept. “Show what you’re doing that hasn’t been done before” and “what someone can learn from this that they didn’t know before”. I was also encouraged to clarify how the project “solves a problem”. When explaining what distinguishes art from other disciplines, I like to quote media artist Osman Khan when he said “art doesn’t solve problems, it creates them.” propose problem creation to those whose livelihood and sense of purpose depends upon problem solution. After doing it three times, I’m convinced that creative activity may sometimes include research, but creative activity itself is not research, as defined by other disciplines. The Research Office requested that I submit recommendations for how the internal granting process can be made more relevant to creative projects. I felt motivated to advocate for creative practices like mine that engage with institutional market pressures. I’m working on alterations to the grant application and evaluation form to clarify the different standards by which creative projects must be evaluated. As an interdisciplinary artist I can’t help noting the irony that as a result of my creative practice I’m now enthusiastically demarcating the boundaries between disciplines.

18 It’s an absurd performance in itself to

Gunpowder de-nitration reaction. Courtesy of the artist

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DIAMOND ICEBERGS
a diamond. Since gunpowder becomes similar to celluloid film at one point in our de-nitration process, we can also make a diamond from a cellulose acetate film print of Superman III. Bulletproof Superman symbolizes U.s. creative destruction, protecting and policing the world in “a never-ending battle for Truth, Justice and the American Way”. mythologies back to us. In the proposal I didn’t mention how difficult it is to acquire a 35mm print. It’s illegal for individuals to own them unless they’re the public domain. Studios lease the prints to distributors for a theatrical run, at the end of which they are generally destroyed. I was certain I’d eventually get a print, but I had to gamble that my proposal reviewers would be unaware of the logistical challenge presented by the law. In the proposal evaluation, under the section “Weaknesses of the Research Plan”, one reviewer wrote, “Art based research is a relatively new approach in educational research. In this case, the pieces are all in place for a solid arts based research project, but sometimes the applicant lacks the correct terminology to frame his ideas in a traditional research proposal format.” I still have no idea what the correct terminology might be, but I was close enough, since the evaluator urged “other reviewers to keep in open mind the research potential in arts based projects such as this one” and the grant was approved for funding. All it needs is a unicorn. ■ My favorite example took place in January 2009 when Harvard physicist Isaac Silvera’s research team melted a diamond. By applying a powerful laser and 40 million atmospheres of pressure, they were able to melt the diamond without turning it into graphite first. While slowly reducing the pressure and 50,000-degree heat, chunks of solid diamond began to unexpectedly float on the liquid diamond surface like ice on water. The implications of this discovery read like an astrophysics velvet painting: Planetary scientists have long speculated that seas of liquid diamond might account for irregularities in the magnetic fields of Neptune and Uranus, where high pressure conditions could maintain large bodies of the liquid. diamond seas of Neptune. suggests that “diamond icebergs” might drift upon the enacts the media cycle that repackages and sells our The aesthetics of science sometimes come across to me like exaggerated caricatures. There appears to be a Minimalist efficiency and rigor to the way Dr. Youngblood works and thinks. Theoretical physics can sound like Absurdist Theater. Biotechnology alternates between Surrealist nightmare and Romantic utopia. Scientific research investigates the nature of life, death, thought, reality, and the senses; such dramatic subject matter reminds me of Cattelan’s observation that reality is more provocative than his fictions. The more we frame scientific activity as something restrained, emotionless and empirical, the more expressive drama seems to burst from its seams.

REfEREncEs And notEs
1. Richie Budd, “Marc Quinn, Young British Artist, at GossMichael Foundation in Dallas,” Fort Worth Examiner, July 30, 2009, http://www.examiner.com/contemporary-artin-fort-worth/marc-quinn-young-british-artist-at-gossmichael-foundation-dallas (accessed March 15 2010). 2. Jill Magid’s Official Website, “Auto Portrait Pending,” 2005, http://www.jillmagid.net/AutoPortrait.php (accessed January 4, 2011). 3. Extra Extra (artist-run space) Website, “A Diamond Is Forever,” October 3, 2010, http://www.eexxttrraa.com/ events_diamond.html(accessed January 5, 2011). 4. Mary Ann Staniszewski, Believing is Seeing: Creating The Culture of Art, (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1995). 5. Claudia Steinberg, “The Traceless Art of Conversation – Tino Sehgal at the Guggenheim Museum,” Goethe-Institut, March 2010, http://www.goethe.de/kue/tut/fab/aus/ en5763400.htm (accessed January 4, 2011). 6. Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray (London: Ward Lock and Co., 1891). 7. Sandra L. Jacobson & Terry Brennan, “Wildlife crossings toolkit,” UC Davis: Road Ecology Center, (2005),http://escholarship.org/uc/item/8s98c80z;jsessionid=D7E358B59 93FCC9972E8F317F80230AE (accessed January 4, 2011). 8. Raquel Avila, “The Biogeography of the Nine-Banded Armadillo (Dasypus novemcinctus),” (San Francisco State University Department of Geography, 1999), http://bss. sfsu.edu/geog/bholzman/courses/fall99projects/armadillo.htm (accessed January 4, 2011). 9. “Gun Ownership,” The Economist, April 30, 2008, http:// www.economist.com/displaystory.cfm?story_id=11117412& (accessed January 4, 2011). 10. “Pizza Palates Changing,” Convenience Store Decisions, June 1, 2009 http://www.csdecisions.com/pizza-palateschanging/(accessed January 4, 2011). 11. Hugh Stoddart. “Arts: Flying in the face of art.” The Independent, 25 Mar. 1999, http://www.independent.co.uk/ arts-entertainment/arts-flying-in-the-face-of-art-1082859. html (accessed January 4, 2011). 12. C. Carr, On Edge: Performance at the End of the Twentieth Century, (New Hampshire: University Press of New England, 1993). 13. The Spence Collection Official Website, “Chris Burden, Diamonds are Forever,” http://www.spence.net/collection/artwork.php?artid=65 (accessed January 4, 2011). 14. Maurizio Cattellan & Nancy. Spector, Maurizio Cattelan, (London: Phaidon Press, 2003). 15. United Nations IRIN, “Zimbabwe: Soldiers are the New Illegal Diamond Miners,” January 20th 2009, http://www. irinnews.org/report.aspx?ReportID=82477 (accessed January 4, 2011). 16. Brian Latham & Fred Katerere, “Smuggled-Diamond Revenue Flows to Mugabe’s Zimbabwe Before Vote,” Bloomberg, December 28, 2010 http://www.bloomberg. com/news/2010-12-28/smuggled-diamond-revenueflows-to-mugabe-s-zimbabwe-ahead-of-2011-election. html (accessed January 5, 2011). 17. Global Forest Resources Assessment, United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, (2005). http://www.fao.org/ forestry/fra/fra2005/en/(accessed Jan 4, 2011). 18. Osman Khan, “Networth,” Annual Design Review, ID Magazine, (2005). 19. “Intro,” The Adventures of Superman: The Complete First Season, DVD, directed by B. Reeves Eason, Lee Sholem (1952; Burbank, CA: Warner Home Video, 2005). 20. Isaac Silvera, “Diamond: Molten under Pressure,” Nature Physics, No. 6, (2010), 9-10. http://www.nature.com/ nphys/journal/v6/n1/full/nphys1491.html (accessed January 4, 2011). 21. John Messina, “Oceans of Liquid Diamond May Exist on Neptune,” PhysOrg.com, Janury 18, 2010, http://www. physorg.com/news183044315.html (accessed January 4, 2010).

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A Superman Diamond re-

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Notes on Demonstration Exhibition

The Ammonite Order, Or, Objectiles For An (Un) Natural History
Vin ce Dziekan
Deputy Associate Dean (Research) Faculty of Art & Design Monash University Melbourne, Australia 900 Dandenong Road, Caulfield East, Vic 3145 Australia vince.dziekan@monash.edu www.vincedziekan.com
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The demonstration exhibition, The Ammonite Order, Or, Objectiles for an (Un) Natural History (2008–09) explores a non-deterministic relation between digital mediation and spatial practice that supplants the primacy of real objects present in gallery space. The outcome of a research residency in London, the theme for this work evolved out of imaginatively projecting a fictive ‘correspondence’ between two local personages: the architect George Dance (the Younger) and naturalist Charles Darwin. Drawing implicitly upon a creative curatorial impulse in order to pursue this narrative fabula, the exhibition space unfolds as a multidimensional installation that combines physical elements with an accompanying set of media content. The exhibition promotes a model for a different type of aesthetic experience through defamiliarising how the art object is modulated at the intersection of the exhibition.
Figure 1 The Ammonite Order (The Darwin Room), 2008, Vince Dziekan.

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Revolving upon notions of coincidence and synchronicity, the work reevaluates the status of objects in the exhibition’s evanescent realm. Enamored with the idea of the museum as a ‘haunt of the muses’, the exhibit employs the formal languages of ordering and display as means for making the sources of inspiration intelligible.

– in which the interpretive role of the gallery guide is called upon to supplement the primacy of ‘real’ objects present in gallery space – is inverted. The more ‘freeform’ approach adopted in this case contrasts with prevailing museological attitudes and the ideal of reinforcing a coordinated sense of narrative space. Through creating an unpredictable and open-ended aesthetic experience, the viewer is invited to actively participate in meaning making by intuiting possible associations between the constituent parts of the exhibition left at their disposal. The exhibition was the direct product of a research residency, hosted by the Slade School of Fine Art, London in early 2008. During this time I was provided with a studio at their research centre, based at Woburn Square in the middle of the grounds of the

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The creative work entails an open conceptual play drawing upon a variety of elements – categorised as discrete collections of installation ‘props’ and media ‘samples’ – that comprise the exhibition’s inventory. These forms gain added force through their recycling and recombination. Collectively, these motifs establish an iconography that operates across the exhibition’s interconnected, narrative structure. The exhibit sends out contradictory signals: the appearance of order and proportion associated with its measured use of architectural space is confounded by the disorientation of its intertextual narrative. ing its ‘exhibitology’ on a non-deterministic relation between digital content and spatial practice, the conventional expectation placed upon digital mediation

The exhibit sends out contradictory signals: the appearance of order and proportion associated with its measured use of architectural space is confounded by the disorientation of its intertextual narrative.

Younger), and on the east-side one commemorating Charles Darwin. investigate what other associations might arise from this coincidental relationship. Subsequent investigation led me to imagine the possibility for a fictive ‘correspondence’ between these two figures and how that might express something of the spirit of intellectual curiosity and challenge that characterised the age (In Dance’s case this was expressed in architectural form, whereas for Darwin this would draw upon techniques gleaned from his earlier studies in geology, stratigraphy formulation of his theory of evolution).

plan’ of animals exerted an important influence on Darwin’s still formative evolutionary views during the latter’s studies under him at Edinburgh University. collection, my imaginative projection of the possible

University College London. The university played an important part in establishing Bloomsbury’s reputation as the intellectual centre of London during the nineteenth century. Along with the British Museum – which was founded in 1753 to house the collection of Sir Hans Sloane – the area become notable for its numerous literary and artistic associations; the legacy of whose contributions are marked today by plaques that adorn the facades of many of the Georgian brick terraces that front onto the gardens and squares in the area. The genesis of creative ideas for the resulting work was inspired by numerous experiences during this formative period. Most directly, the concept was set in motion by my passing observation of a particular pair of such markers, which I would pass on my regular route to the studio each day. There along Gower Street (the primary thoroughfare connecting the British Museum to the south with the collection of university colleges) I encountered two plaques diametrically facing each other: on the west side, a plaque marking the residence of George Dance (The

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Their proximity compelled me to

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Bas-

6 From my subsequent ruminations amongst the

asynchronous relationship between the naturalist and the architect Dance found emblematic expression in the form of ammonite fossils. with inventing the architectural style known as the

7 Dance was credited

‘ammonite order’, so described because of its fitting of volutes shaped to resemble fossil ammonites atop fluted columns and capitals.

4 and classification leading up to the revolutionary

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While not operating properly as a curated exhibition The museum itself is an expression of this attitude and the Enlightenment’s prevailing quest to make sense and order of the world through expository techniques that classify, order and arrange. covery that the site marking where Darwin had lived when he moved to London now housed the university’s Grant Museum of Zoology carried with it added resonance. The basis of the collection dates back its establishment in 1827 by Robert Edmond Grant, whose controversial investigations into the ‘unity of
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– in the conventional sense of an exhibition involving a selection of works by different artists collected together under an editorial theme or guiding principle – the exhibition nonetheless draws implicitly on the curatorial impulse in order to creatively pursue this narrative fabula tion space. During my residency, a number of exhibitions taking place in London proved informative and inspirational on a variety of levels. John Soane Museum in London offers a particularly

5 Therefore, my dis-

9 and how it would unfold in exhibi-

10 Of these, the Sir
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Figure 3 The Ammonite Order, Carte-de-visite (The Darwin Room), 2008, Vince Dziekan.

idiosyncratic example of the synergies that can exist between architectural and curatorial aspirations. Following in the wake of the establishment of the British Museum, Soane – who was an understudy of Dance before becoming a Neoclassical architect of some repute in his own right and Professor of Architecture at the Royal Academy – transformed his private residence on the fringe of Bloomsbury to accommodate his obsessive collection of objects, works of art, models and assorted curios. These suites provide the stage for “Soane’s all-pervading desire to establish a Pantheon of architectural inspiration.” to inspire and promote the union of painting, sculp-

11 Conceived

ture, architecture, music and poetry, Soane’s described his encyclopedic private collection as “studies for my own mind and being intended similarly to benefit the artist of future generations.” labyrinthine monument, Soane’s personal quest acts

12 Through erecting this 13

as a museological expression of the spirit of the age.

In one sense, my project develops as something of an anamorphic version of Soane’s museological expression; as if it were ‘formed again’ through a distorting mirror. tion’s thematic exploration of its own ‘medial’ nature – its ‘inward facing’ attitude that playfully explores the manifestation of concepts in material and virtual form – and self-reflexive tendency to its coordination in exhibition form, which might properly be described as ‘mannerist.’ approached as the primary medium through which the artwork assumes shape and form (this inverted relationship to the items displayed in the gallery is betrayed by referring to these components as ‘props’ and ‘samples’). The resulting exhibition concept operates as a multidimensional, polyphonous installation that combines elFigure 2 The Ammonite Order, (Dance), 2009, Vince Dziekan, (ISEA2009: Belfast).

of this mixed discourse between objects and media created by their overlapping as part of the distinctive exhibition experience. The prevailing sense involves the viewer actively in forming interpretive meaning from co-incident encounters within the exhibition space with these fragments: between the syncronisation of two events, or two objects made to coexist in the same location.

14 This motivation is reflected in the exhibi-

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In so doing, the ‘exhibition’ has been

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Structurally the exhibition’s scenographic design proceeds from a series of parallelisms. Twin gallery spaces are set up, formally organised in an identical fashion. Upon entrance into either gallery, the viewer is faced with a small square framed panel presenting the detail of an architectural façade [Figure 2]. A black or white circle masks the centre of each image. Continuing past this screen, the viewer enters the main body of the gallery. A set of discrete elements
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ements of physical installation with an accompanying set of media content. The fabula unfolds as a product
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responsibility for making meaningful connections is handed over to the viewer). As a result, the status of objects is undermined and their role as objectiles assumes ascendance.

best be described as polyphonous. In terms of its scenography, the exhibition design is characterised by the presentation of discrete elements existing on physical and virtual dimensions simultaneously. Exposition develops through the coordination of space and time. The installation strategy is intent upon creating formal and thematic ‘mirrorings’ that provide bridges between the works collected within each self-contained gallery, or by extension across the identically set out rooms. Further, the viewer’s decision-making is involved in creating composite arrangements, as their synchronous viewing of any of the given ‘props’ present in the gallery space is overlayed by media content being viewed on the hand-held device. This juxtapositonal form of ‘split-screen’ viewing has a disorientating effect where whatever degree of undivided concentration that is lost is compensated by imaginative projection. Increasingly sophisticated strategies around presentation have undoubtedly transformed the contemporary museum. Changes to techniques of exhibition practice impact on the character of aesthetic experience. The exhibition provides the arena for this dynamic to be explored. In closing, this exhibition has been approached as a model that promotes a different type of aesthetic experience through defamiliarising the relationship that presently exists – for the most part – between spatial practice and digital mediation. Russian formalist Viktor Shklovsky introduced his essay ‘Art as Technique’, (writing in 1916) by asserting that as perception becomes habitual, it becomes automatic. He goes on to champion the rejection of traditional culture and how artistic forms associated with those conditions turn seeing and thinking into conventional exercises: The purpose of art is to impart the sensation of things as they are perceived and not as they are known. The technique of art is to make objects
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This reconceptualisation of the objectile is derived from architect/philosopher Bernard Cache’s critical response to the influence of digital technologies on methods of production and representation, proposing a shift from the understanding of the architectural image derived from the pictorial arts to a problematic of dynamics and variability. “Objects, which are those solid parts of our actions, behaviour that is itself fluctuating.”
Figure 4 The Ammonite Cycle 6, 2008, Vince Dziekan, (storyboard visualization of portable media content: motion graphic, 320×240p, 60secs; designed for delivery via iPod).

18 Cache determines that 19
According to

are but a moment of densification in the folds of our Boyman

jects are not stable but may undergo variations, giving rise to new possibilities of seeing’. Accordingly, images ‘are connected through a logic where the whole is not given but always open to variation, as new things are added or new relations made, creating new continuities out of such intervals or disparities’. My subsequent application of this concept in curatorial design emphasises how the art object is modulated at the intersection of the exhibition. The exhibition acts as the surface or plane of coincidence that governs the parameters for the viewer’s interaction and subsequent interpretation with the objectile as a non-standardised object (precipitating a new kind of objectivity from the interrelation of the virtual artwork with the subjectivities, intuition and imagination of its viewer). Serving to open up further interpretative license by inducing the viewer’s active involvement in meaning making, the exhibition’s construction places added emphasis upon how syntax and discourse occurs across its physical and virtual dimensions. exhibitology demonstrated by this exhibition could
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, Cache envisages: ‘a universe where ob-

are organised in the space. A square framed unit is hung on a side wall perpendicular to a similar unit presented upward facing on a low plinth. Each of these frames contains a roundel: the wall units presenting an emblematic image of skull and antlers, whereas the sculptural frame presents a disc-shaped print resembling a plaque [Figure 3]. This sculptural unit is aligned along the central axis of the gallery with a long table occupying the far end of the space. On its surface a series of panels resembling chessboards are arranged. A narrow opening in the connecting wall between the two galleries is situated directly opposite the framed prints; their line of vision bisects the space laterally. The formality of the display exudes an overwhelming impression of proportionality. The quality of this spatial practice – its highly schematic arrangement alluding to a Neoclassical sense of rationality and geometric simplicity – is confounded by the exhibition’s associated digital mediation. It has become a commonplace in conventional museological practice that physical elements presented in display are often
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supplemented by the application of portable media to provide written, audio or multimedia (audio/video) commentary designed to add to the viewer’s appreciation and understanding. This approach is indicated with the introductory images first encountered upon entrance to the galleries. Their accompanying wall labels direct the viewer to supplementary information provided on the accompanying iPod media player prepared specifically for the exhibition. But while in this first instance access to this collection of media is predetermined (the media content supplementing the viewer’s engagement with the apparent artwork), the relationship of the remaining content is not prescribed. Throughout the rest of the exhibition there are no overt signs announcing the direct correspondence between any given item from the physical inventory with the remaining array of media content – a series of motion graphic pieces creating composite arrangements by superimposing a selection of specimens from the Grant Museum’s natural history collection [Figure 4]. As a result, the viewer is left with total freedom to access this content how and as they see fit (the
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‘unfamiliar’, to make forms difficult, to increase the difficulty and length of perception because the process of perception is an aesthetic end in itself and must be prolonged. Art is a way of experiencing the artfulness of an object; the object is not important.

2. While narrative describes the part of a literary work that is concerned with telling the story through the account of a sequence of events in the order which they happened, narratology focuses critical attention to the art or process of telling a story or giving an account of something. For the purpose of this article, the qualification between narrative and narratology underpins their translation – and resulting distinction between – exhibition and what might be construed as “exhibitology” in order to centre on the “installation as a medium for narrative expression: combining objects in a specific way to make a “story’ out of loose ‘words”” (Bal 2001, 162). Bal acknowledges the powerful tradition of the narrative mode in “museal discourse” and how this aspect “allows for extending from the specific, literalised sense of the role of the museum to a broader partly metaphorical sense, in which the museum postures or exposes” (Bal 2001, 164). See: Mieke Bal, Looking in: the art of viewing (Amsterdam: G+B Arts International, 2001). 3. The architect George Dance (1741–1825) lived at 91 Gower Street, while Charles Darwin (1809–1882) lived at 12 Upper Gower Street, now the site of the Darwin Building, which houses UcL’s Department of Genetics, Environment

5. In her overview of shifting cultural attitudes to collecting and exhibiting during the nineteenth century, Celeste Olalquiaga posits that: “The nineteenth century’s reification and obsessive collecting of nature was really the culminating point […] of a cultural process that had started more than four centuries before. Characterised by culture’s separation from the organic world (and the latter’s ensuing artificialization), this gradual severance established the beginning of the modern era in the broadest sense, distinguishing it from both the classical and the ‘dark’ ages, where nature and culture were inextricably bound. In most astonishing production, the Renaissance ‘wonder chambers’ where massive compilations of natural specimens and artificial objects were mixed without care, offered a visual staging of natural history next to which nineteenthcentury dioramas pale. Immersed in a perspective of the world that saw in both organic and human creations the physical manifestation of a mysterious cosmic force, the ‘age of wonder’ anchored all transcendental implications to their earthly correspondents in such a way that, for almost three hundred years, things enjoyed an unprecedented autonomy as purveyors of the enigmas of the universe.” Celeste Olalquiaga, The Artificial Kingdom (New York: Pantheon Books, 1998), 210–11. 6. Robert Edmond Grant (1793–1874) was the first professor of Zoology and Comparative Anatomy in England. Upon taking up the chair at the University of London in 1827 began to amass skeletons, mounted animals and specimens preserved in fluid as a teaching collection. Including many extinct species (including the Tasmanian tiger or thylacine, the quagga, and the dodo), Grant’s original specimens as well as those of the comparative anatomist Thomas Henry Huxley (who became an energetic advocate of Darwinian evolution) form the basis of The Grant Museum of Zoology and Comparative Anatomy’s collection today. Through his work on marine invertebrates, including sea sponges and mollusks, Grant established homology between these simple creatures and mammals, controversially suggesting that all life shared a “unity of plan” (as espoused by radical ideas by his French contemporaries, the zoologists Jean-

Baptiste Lamarck and the Etienne Saint-Hilaire). 7. Ammonites are an extinct group of marine animals of the subclass Ammonoidea in the class Cephalopoda, phylum Mollusca. While outwardly resembling the Nautilus, ammonites are more closely related to the subclass Coleoidea that includes octopus and squid. The ammonite’s distinctive spiral, coiled shape has lead to their mythological and symbolic interpretation. 8. In the Classical architectural tradition, orders establish a visual language or lexicon likened to the grammar or rhetoric of literary or musical compositions. Influencing other Neoclassical architects in England, including most notably John Nash, Dance applied the “ammonite order” to his celebrated design for the London’s Shakespeare Gallery in 1789. 9. According to Umberto Eco, fabula are “narrative isotopies” (Eco 1979, 28) or manifestations of the discursive structure of a text. Derived from textual analyses of Russian Formalist literary critics (including Viktor Shklovsky and Roman Jakobson), fabula relates to the elements that make up a story such as the “logic of actions or the syntax of characters, the time-honoured course of events. It need not necessarily be a sequence of human actions (physical or not), but can also concern a temporal transformation of ideas or a series of events concerning inanimate objects” (Eco 1979, 27). See: Umberto Eco, The Role of the Reader: Explorations in the Semiotics of Texts (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1979). 10. Collectively, these instances mark out the conceptual and formal extremes of museological practice, ranging from the “period” displays found in the British Museum’s Enlightenment Galleries and the Soane Museum to the latest temporary, site-specific transformation of Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall by Doris Salcedo. In terms of spatial practice, inspiration was derived from formal principles applied to the design of the exhibition, The Return of the Gods: Neoclassical Sculpture in Britain in the Duveen Galleries of Tate Britain. Also of interest was the integral role that digital mediation played in sustaining the curatorial fiction of The Martian Museum of Terrestrial Art, which transformed

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By exercising the liberty afforded its conceptualisation as an ‘artwork’ that blurs the distinction between fact and fiction, this creative work aims to raise the proposition that the integration of real and virtual through the art of exhibition offers a demonstration of how the nature of aesthetic experience associated with the multimedial museum might take shape. ■

REfEREncEs And notEs
1. The use of the term museum (derived from the Greek Mouseion – as shrine, seat or haunt of the muses) to refer to a place designed for the public display of knowledge is closely associated with the Enlightenment movement and came to prominence in the 18th century. The Age of Enlightenment is characterized by intellectual and philosophical developments based on the belief in the power of human reason. The Enlightenment acts as a central model for many movements that emerged in the modern period (i.e. the founding of the discipline of art-history by Johann Joachim Winckelmann). Reductionism and rationality are recognized as distinctive modes of Enlightenment thinking that stand in stark contrast to attitudes espousing irrationality and emotionalism. Represented in design terms, geometric order, proportionality and restraint are seen as expressions of Enlightenment virtues.

and Evolution and the Grant Museum of Zoology. Somewhat fortuitously, the realization of this work anticipated bicentenary celebrations marking the birth of Charles Darwin in 2009. 4. The term stratigraphy refers to the processes by which sedimentary deposits form and how those deposits change through time and space on the Earth’s surface. This particular field of geological study was pioneered by the Dane Nicholas Steno in the seventeenth century. Steno’s ‘Law of Superimposition’ provides a theoretical basis for this field by describing how sedimentary layers are deposited as a time sequence by observing two principles: Original Horizontality (which describes the way in which layers of sediment are initially deposited) and Lateral Continuity (which recognizes that sedimentary deposits initially extend laterally in all directions). Reference to Steno’s Law adds an intertextual dimension in the resulting exhibition.

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the galleries of the Barbican Centre into an imaginary museum conceived by and designed for extraterrestrials. As elaborated by the curators: “Display conventions are used to provide structural order and are supplemented with interpretive materials where the Martian curators consider objects need additional contextualization. While labels, illustrations of objects in their imagined context and an audio guide serve to further explicate the Martians’ beliefs about the role and purpose of contemporary art, they also reveal erroneous interpretations and unorthodox readings of the objects on view.” Francesco Manacorda and Lydia Yee, “Introduction,” in Martian Museum of Terrestrial Art (London: Barbican Art Gallery, 2008), 10. 11. Stefan Buzas, Sir John Soane’s Museum, London (Berlin: Ernst Wasmuth Verlag, 1994), 8. 12. Ibid., 16. 13. In early 2001, contemporary architect Daniel Libeskind produced a personal exhibition that drew inspiration from this idiosyncratic exemplar. Evoking something of the same spirit that compelled Soane earlier, Libeskind is quoted as stating: “I believe that the connection between drawing and building, between models of the mind and materials in space, between tradition and the future, is the core of the practice of architecture.” (Online: http://www. soane.org/archive.html#g2). Libeskind used the exhibition, titled Drawing a New Architecture, as an opportunity to install a series of conceptual drawings and miniature models arranged in response to Soane’s own collection, scattering them throughout like the architectural fragments found elsewhere in the museum. Libeskind’s decision to exhibit his work at the Soane Museum attests to a shared interest of how display and exhibition space is mediated through design. 14. Anamorphosis relates to distortions that require the viewer to use special devices or occupy a specific vantage point to reconstitute the image. There are two main types of anamorphosis: perspectival or oblique examples date from the early Renaissance, whereas mirror or catoptric anamorphoses are more commonly associated with the Baroque period. Etymologically, ‘Ana – morphosis’ comes

from the Greek words meaning ‘formed again.’ 15. Mannerism describes a period of European painting, sculpture, architecture and decorative arts encompassing most of the sixteenth century. Stylistically, it reacted to the harmonious ideals associated with the naturalism of Italian High Renaissance. In contrast, the early Mannerists – exemplified by Parmigianino’s Self-portrait in a Convex Mirror of 1524 – employed exaggerated forms, manipulated irrational space and unnatural lighting to heighten the artificiality of their representations. In reference to this ‘mannerist’ tendency of the exhibition, I am relating an equivalent kind of ‘knowing’ distortion of techniques and tropes associated with museological display. The most influential proponent of the exhibition as art form was the Belgian artist Marcel Broodthaers. Employing the eagle as the symbol of his fictional Musee d’Art Moderne, Broodthaers writes: “There is a mirror decorated with an eagle – a late eighteenth-century antique – that belongs to a museum association in Ghent. An official mirror, if that’s the phrase, which reflects the virtual image of those eagles whose multiple heads recount the history of arms as an aspect of art. This is a mirror of misunderstanding. Even though Jupiter’s messenger perches on top, it’s a trick mirror.” Marcel Broodthaers, “Ten Thousand Francs Reward,” in Broodthaers: Writings, Interviews, Photographs, ed. Benjamin H.D. Buchloh (Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press, 1988), 47. 16. Coincidence is the noteworthy alignment of two or more events or circumstances without obvious causal connection. The word is derived from the Latin co- (‘in’, ‘with’, ‘together’) and incidere (‘to fall on’). Often linked with claims of psychic phenomena, the psychoanalyst Carl Jung developed his theory of synchronicity as a way of accounting for the existence of coincidences and other supposedly anomalous phenomena. The idea of synchronicity – which Jung also described as “acausal parallelism” – is that there exists an underlying relationship to synchronous events is intricately structured in its own distinctive way and contrasts with deterministic principles which a cause precedes an effect.

Intriguingly, Jung resorts to an analogy of the Wunderkammern to underscore the only relative validity of causality and the bias promoted by a scientific world view when considering the acausal connection between events: “[…] to grasp these unique or rare events at all, we seem to be dependent on equally ‘unique’ and individual descriptions. This would result in a chaotic collection of curiosities, rather like those old natural history cabinets where one finds, cheek by jowl with fossils and anatomical monsters in bottles, the horn of a unicorn, a mandragora manikin, and a dried mermaid.” Carl G. Jung, Synchronicity: An Acausal Connecting Principle, translated by R.F.C Hull, Bollingen Series (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1969), 6. 17. Architect/philosopher Bernard Cache (1995) theorises the idea of a technologically integrated, quasi-object open to the possibility of unpredictable variation from drawing upon the possibilities offered by parametric modelling for nonstandard production of forms through computeraided design. Cache recognizes how these systems enable unique objects to be fabricated by modifying the parameters of their calculation. With the advent of digital technologies, “from the mould we move towards modulation. We no longer apply a preset form on inert matter, but lay out parameters of a surface.” Cache distinguishes between objects created from varying the coordinates of their surface (‘subjectiles’) or volume (‘objectiles’). Bernard Cache, Earth Moves: The Furnishing of Territories, transl. Anne Boyman, ed. Michael Speaks (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 1995), 96. 18. Cache interprets the architectural image as an expanded visual document. He states that: “In the elaboration of an architectural project, the image is the series of documents that starts with the location plan, leads to sketches, and ends up with the building plans.” The formal elements of inflection, vector and frame enable the idea of image to be expanded: “they are no longer only documents but are any visible object, and in particular those objects that are involved in aesthetic endeavour.” Leading to a conclusion that the image is granted wider meaning: ‘designating

thereby anything that presents itself to the mind, “whether it be real or not.” In this way, we pass from visible objects to visibility itself.” Bernard Cache, Earth Moves: The Furnishing of Territories, transl. Anne Boyman, ed. Michael Speaks (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 1995), 2–3. 19. Ibid., 96. 20. Ibid., ix. 21. Mieke Bal articulates museal discourse as “set of semiotic and epistemological habits that enables and prescribes ways of communicating and thinking that may be of use to others participating in the discourse,” while syntax operates through meaningful juxtapositions that “impel the subject to connect the presence of the object to the past of its making, functioning and meaning.” Mieke Bal, Looking in: The Art of Viewing (Amsterdam: G+B Arts International, 2001), 164 and 166. 22. Viktor Shklovsky, “Art as Technique,” in Literary Theory: An Anthology, ed. Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan, Second Edition (Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2004), 16.

AcknowLEdGEmEnts
The author acknowledges the support of the Outside Studies Program (osP) of Monash University and the Faculty of Art & Design. Special thanks to the following people and organizations for their cooperation and assistance in the realization of The Ammonite Order: The Slade School of Fine Art, Susan Collins (Head, scEmfA); The Grant Museum of Zoology, Natasha McEnroe (Museum Manager); the International Organizing Committee of IsEA2009, Kathy Rae Huffman (Curator), Kerstin May and Cherie Driver (University of Ulster); Feargal O’Malley (Exhibition Officer), gallery staff and volunteers at Ormeau Baths Gallery; Apple Uk; Chris Feil (Apple Australia); Warren Fithie, Joel Collins, Mario Milici and colleagues (Faculty of Art & Design, Monash University).

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lack of archival quality is disappearing. One tragedy is that much of the early work that was not archival has disappeared or deteriorated. One major landmark in this evolution is the Computer Art & Technocultures Project, which was a partnership between Birbeck College and the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. It was funded by a three-year grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRc). The team consisted of Nick Lambert, Jeremy Gardiner and Francesca Franco at Birbeck College and Douglas Dodds and Honor Beddard at the V&A. The project had many components, and was inspired by the acquisition of the Patric Prince archive by the Victoria & Albert Museum. Patric Prince is an art historian and collector of digital art. She documented and followed the evolution of the art form, and curated a

of the first digital art pioneers, along with 40 works of 21 pioneering artists, including Jean-Pierre Hébert, Manfred Mohr, Vera Molnar, Mark Wilson, Stan VanDerBeek, Roman Verostko, and Edward Zajec. The three examples above demonstrate that digital art is finally getting noticed and celebrated by the contemporary art community. However, it still receives major support from the digital art community, as opposed to the contemporary art world. The gratifying aspect of this is that the digital art pioneers are finally having their day in the sun and being recognized, collected and exhibited. The vast majority of younger digital artists are not being “ghettoized”, for lack of a better word, as the pioneers were. Rather than exploring uncharted territory, emerging artists are drawing upon the work created by the pioneers and making contemporary art. One of my concerns as a writer, curator and art historian, is that we fill in the huge gap in the lineage of digital art, as well as celebrate younger artists exploring creativity across all media. Roger Malina uses the term “new Leonardos” and I fully agree. We are beginning a new renaissance, but this time it is a global one that uses technology to connect individuals on various levels. To conclude, I would like to refer to one other quote from the below article. “While the line between digital art and contemporary art is blurring, digital technology has fundamentally changed not only the way art will be created in the future, but also the way it will be perceived, exhibited and distributed. Technology has caused a blending of art and culture worldwide. In the past, schools of art were established by small groups of artists in specific geographic locations. The Internet and widespread availability of digital tools have allowed international artists to create and share their work and ideas about digital art.” There is no question that digital art and contemporary art are merging. One important aspect is the evolution of the art experience from the museum and gallery into our daily lives. Mobile technology is one of the “next waves” of social interaction and the expression of personal identity. In the case of the artist, it is their creative persona that is now available globally. The question that we need to ask is how the contemporary art establishment will embrace these technological changes, as well as change along with it. While it is vitally important
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THE CONTEMPORARY BECOMES DIGITAL
B ru ce Wa nd s
Artist, Musician, Writer, Curator Chair, MFA Computer Art, School of Visual Arts Director, New York Digital Salon In 2003, I wrote an essay that was published in the siggraph Art Gallery catalog titled “The Digital Becomes Contemporary.” A lot has happened in the digital art field in the past eight years, and this essay will examine some of those changes as they relate to the relationship between digital and contemporary art. A complete version of the original article can be found below. So, where do we stand in 2011? The first few sentences from 2003 state that, “We are at a special and paradoxical moment in the development of digital art. Now that it is finally gaining widespread public and critical attention, digital art is also being quickly absorbed into the world of contemporary art. The next generation of artists and critics will not look at making art with a computer as something extraordinary or unusual. This phenomenon is already quite apparent in galleries in New York and abroad.” In terms of being at a special and paradoxical moment, that is still the case. As technology evolves, so does digital art. New forms of digital art are gaining widespread popularity, such as digital sculpture and interactive art. One excellent example of the evolution of digital sculpture
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retrospective exhibition for the sIGGRAPH Art Gallery in 1986. Her archive consists of over 200 original artworks and a large collection of books, catalogs and memorabilia that document the history of digital art. The goal of the project was to trace the development of computer-based art from the late 1970s to the 1990s and took place from 2007 through 2010. Some of the outcomes of the project included academic is the Digital Stone Exhibition, which toured China in 2008 and 2009. The exhibition featured four artists, Bruce Beasley, Jon Isherwood, Robert Michael Smith and Kenneth Snelson. The concept of the project was to merge digital sculpture technologies with traditional Chinese stone carving. As such, it became a cross-cultural event and expanded the global reach of digital art. Another interesting facet to this project is that it combined rapid prototyping, which is decades old, with Chinese stone carving, which is thousands of years old. The exhibition traveled to four venues in China including the Today Art Museum in Beijing, Duolun Museum of Fine Art in Shanghai, Artmap Gallery in Wenzhou and the Jinese Gallery in Chongqing. In addition to the large hand-carved stone sculptures, there was an additional component called “e-Form.” Curated by the four primary artists, the work of thirty international artists was showcased. The creative work included digital artifacts, rapid prototypes and many other examples of digital sculpture. The acceptance of archival digital prints has been a relatively smooth process, and the skepticism that was originally directed at digital prints because of their
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presentations at several conferences, panel discussions and a conference and exhibition. One panel was done in conjunction with the New York Digital Salon titled “Technocultures: The History of Digital Art – A Conversation” and included digital art pioneers Kenneth Knowlton, Margot Lovejoy, Kenneth Snelson and Lillian Schwartz. In July of 2009, Digital Pioneers, by Honor Beddard and Douglas Dodds was published and accompanied the Digital Pioneers exhibition at the V&A, which was held from December 2009 – April 2010, and included works by Frieder Nake, Georg Nees, Roman Verostko, and British artists Paul Brown and Harold Cohen, among others. The project concluded with two symposia, “Decoding the Digital” held at the V&A and “Ideas Before Their Time – Connecting the Past and Present in Computer Art” at the British Computer Society. Bringing us up to the present moment, “Drawing with Code” will open at the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum in Lincoln, mA in February of 2011. Curated by George Fiefield, the exhibition will feature works from the collection of Michael and Anne Spalter. Included in the exhibition with be an image by Ben Laposky, one
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for creative expression to evolve, we must avoid the pitfalls of commercialism in art and look at creativity as existing beyond the creation of objects and moving into the evolution of an aesthetic experience, whether it be in a museum, gallery or on a mobile device. ■

THE DIGITAL BECOMES CONTEMPORARY
Bruce Wands Chair, MFA Computer Art, School of Visual Arts Director, New York Digital Salon

digital prints was one of the first methods used. Ken Knowlton and Leon Harman were two early computer art pioneers at Bell Labs. In 1966, Billy Kluver, along with Robert Rauschenberg, organized a series of events in New York City called Experiments in Art and Technology (EAT) in which artists used technology in their creative practice. Exhibitions in the late 1960’s like Cybernetic Serendipity at the IcA in London and

The New York Digital Salon has since evolved into a venue for international artists that includes all forms of artistic expression created with computers and technology, including prints, installations, sculpture, disk-based media, animation, digital video, Web sites, performances, and music. The last five years have seen a literal explosion in the presence of digital art in galleries and museums. In 2001, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art exhibited 010101: Art in Technological Times and the Whitney Museum of American Art opened BitStreams and Data Dynamics. The Brooklyn Museum of Art Digital Printmaking exhibition in 2001 traced the history of printmaking, ending with a focus on digital printmaking methods. While the line between digital art and contemporary art is blurring, digital technology has fundamentally changed not only the way art will be created in the future, but also the way it will be perceived, exhibited and distributed. Technology has caused a blending of art and culture world-wide. In the past, schools of art were established by small groups of artists in specific geographic locations. The Internet and widespread availability of digital tools have allowed international artists to create and share their work and ideas about digital art. The 2003 sIGGRAPH Art Show is returning to its roots with an emphasis on digital prints, sculpture and the growing impact of digital video and animation. This point of view confirms that we are stepping back from focusing on the tools and looking through them into the art. While there are still many new technical frontiers to explore with digital art practice, we are still only at the beginning of creating an entirely new form of contemporary art. We must remember that its power is based on the art that preceded it, not the technology. This year’s sIGGRAPH Art Show pays tribute to that history and the future of contemporary art. ■

Digital Stone Exhibition and related links http://digital-stone.net/ “Digital Sculpture:Ars Ex Machina” by William V. Ganis http://www.sculpture.org/documents/scmag04/sept04/ rapidproto/sept04_rapidproto.shtml “La sculpture numerique” by Christian Lavigne http://www.sculpture.org/documents/webspec/magazine/ wsenglis.shtml “Fluid Borders: The Aesthetic Evolution of Digital Sculpture” by Christiane Paul http://www.sculpture.org/documents/webspec/digscul/ digscul.shtml Computer Art & Technocultures http://www.technocultures.org.uk/ http://www.technocultures.org.uk/symposium.html http://www.nydigitalsalon.org/webcasts.php Drawing with Code http://www.decordova.org/art/exhibitions/current/drawingwithcode.html

The Machine as Seen at the End of the Mechanical Age at the Museum of Modern Art in New York held promise for those pioneers who saw the creative potential of computers. In the early days, mainframe computers were only accessible to engineers and it was difficult for artists to get access to these machines. During this time, computer art was experiencing the same fate that photography and video art

First published in the SIGGRAPH 2003 Art Gallery Catalog - copyright 2003 Bruce Wands

We are at a special and paradoxical moment in the development of digital art. Now that it is finally gaining widespread public and critical attention, digital art is also being quickly absorbed into the world of contemporary art. The next generation of artists and critics will not look at making art with a computer as something extraordinary or unusual. This phenomenon is already quite apparent in galleries in New York and abroad. While galleries like Postmasters and Bitforms specialize in new media art, numerous other galleries in Chelsea exhibit similar work, but do not make the distinction that it is new media art. Another growing trend in New York is for artists to display prints along with new media as an integral part of the exhibition. The return to the object is due in part to the recent widespread availability of archival printing methods. Museums are also in the process of refitting to accommodate the next wave of contemporary art. The Museum of Modern Art in New York has closed for two years to update its galleries and the Stedelijk Museum of Modern Art in Amsterdam is planning a major renovation for 2004. For those of us who have followed the sIGGRAPH Art Show for many years, this acceptance of digital art by the contemporary art world is refreshing, but also raises many questions. Digital art has operated outside the art establishment for many years and this has allowed it to remain relatively free. Digital art originated as a product of the creative experiments of artists and engineers in the early days of computing. The use of the AscII character set to make

suffered when they first began to develop. There were considerable technical problems, not only from the hardware point of view, but the software did not have the sophistication it has today. The archiving of the digital art was also difficult. The continual changes in operating systems and software upgrades made preserving digital files difficult. The real revolution in digital art came in the 1980’s with the development of the IBm Pc and Macintosh computers. The development of machines that artists could afford and the creation of paint systems with full color capabilities brought new life to digital art. Artists like Barbara Nessim used output from a Macintosh LaserWriter as the foundation for her paintings. Photography was also used as a method for making digital prints. Photos were initially taken directly off the screen and film recorders were later developed to get high resolution photographic images out of the computer. Digital printing methods were still being developed and archival printing methods have only recently become widespread. The early 1990’s saw the development of interactive multimedia and the tremendous widespread public acceptance of the Internet. This caused the art community, as well as the general public, to focus on net art and interactive installations. As a reaction to the all electronic sIGGRAPH Art Show in 1993, the New York Professional Chapter of Acm sIGGRAPH held the first New York Digital Salon at the Art Directors Club. This was an exhibition of approximately 50 prints. The exhibition was one of the first digital art exhibitions in New York since the 1960’s and was favorably received.
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Leonardo Electronic Almanac
Cra ig H a rri s
LEA Founding Executive Editor Member of LEA Editorial Board craig@kolmon.com As Leonardo Electronic Almanac “rekindles” I can’t help but be both nostalgic about the past and hopeful about the future. In looking back to when Leonardo Electronic Almanac (LEA) was founded I think of the challenges that the field faced in terms of communication, networking, and collaboration. So much was happening at the intersection of art, science and technology in the early 1990s, yet much of it was taking place in isolation, disconnected from other relevant and related activities. There was a clear need to raise the profile of work on a global scale, and to identify ways to improve interdisciplinary communication and collaboration. The leadership at Leonardo/ the International Society for the Arts, Sciences and Technology (IsAst) set on a path to play an important role in addressing these issues for its community.
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Historical Perspective
The environment was quite different twenty years ago when the seeds of Leonardo Electronic Almanac were being planted. The journal Leonardo, launched in 1968, was well established as the premier field resource for those working at the intersection of the arts, sciences and technology with over twenty years of history (http://www.leonardo.info/leoinfo.html). Leonardo’s Executive Editor and then IsAst Chairman of the Board Roger Malina and I, in my role as the IsAst Executive Director, were looking out towards the next twenty years, pondering the challenges and opportunities, to develop a long term strategy that would support the growth and evolution of the field, and create a sustainable organizational model so the work could continue long into the future. We wanted to ensure that our vision was comprehensive and long term, and we were seeking a new publishing partner whose goals were in alignment with that vision. We needed to build upon the great foundation already established, and create a comprehensive, integrated publishing approach that would supplement the existing journal with a plan to include books and electronic media, if we were to effectively respond to the needs of the field and a rapidly evolving global environment. Today there are some significant differences in the field – the remarkable blossoming of the Internet across the globe, the accessibility of the Internet by diverse communities, and the fluidity and availability of information – all solidifying the web as a crucial resource for both communication and research. My goal in writing this historical perspective is to provide background about the issues surrounding the creation and evolution of LEA as an emerging component in Leonardo/IsAst’s publishing perspective in the early 1990s, to highlight areas where the grand experiment set out to address the identified needs, and to explore areas where aspects of our vision remain to be realized. The journal Leonardo shined as a critical field resource and forum for articles about a variety of topics by different authors. Periodically thematic issues would assemble different perspectives and vectors into a particular topic of interest, such as the special double issue on Visual Math (Leonardo Volume 25 Numbers 3 & 4, Guest Editor Michele Emmer). It was clear that the field would benefit from probing more deeply into specific topics that would only be possible by publishing single author books, in the context of a curated book series that would establish a body of research and historical documentation in that domain just as the journal had been able to create in periodical form. It was also evident that electronic publishing utilizing the Internet would be critical as the third prong
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in a three-prong publishing approach. The field was evolving quickly – quicker than the journal or book print media could serve effectively alone, given the extended development time from submission, review, development and publication. Major developments in technology, discoveries in science, and artistic creations were bubbling up all over the globe, and there needed to be a faster track mechanism for information exchange. New resources needed to be developed for both increased and improved networking. The field needed a repository for archives of content so people could quickly and easily find out what was going on where, and the host entity needed to be a reliable, definitive and long term source for the most current information. Now nearly twenty years later there are nearly forty books published in the Leonardo Book Series (http://www.leonardo.info/isast/leobooks.html), representing an incredible body of work, complementing in hard copy books what the journal Leonardo continues to this day as the most long standing and respected juried field journal. Similarly Leonardo Electronic Almanac has become established as a key field resource, complementing the journal and the book series. In the early 1990s Leonardo/IsAst was supporting an email-distributed text newsletter, FineArt Forum, informing people about field activities through a compilation of event calendars, notices and opportunity listings – mainly identifying conference, symposium and festival opportunities, some with very short notification and submission timelines, making it impossible to effectively use the hard copy journal as a forum to convey that kind of information. FineArt Forum was founded by Ray Lauzanna in the mid-1980s, and Leonardo/IsAst become involved in that project later in that decade. Paul Brown spearheaded the ongoing development of this important initiative well into the 1990s, and Nisar Keshvani continued to develop the electronic newsletter. Nisar followed my tenure as
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Executive Editor of Leonardo Electronic Almanac in 2001, leading a new wave of LEA’s evolution as Editorin-Chief. (A great historical piece about the origins of FineArt Forum can be found at http://www.keshvani. com/print/features/ray.htm.) Judy Malloy was curating Words on Works, a collection of profiles of artists’ work, which also was distributed by Leonardo/IsAst in text form electronically, with some of those profiles appearing periodically in the hard copy Leonardo journal. Both of these initiatives served important functions on behalf of the field, but it was evident that the need was greater than what these two initiatives could service alone. Not only were there more and better ways to communicate this kind of information and improve accessibility, but there was increasing expectation among our constituencies that significant presence on the web was essential if the resource was to be viable. People were seeking more ways to have direct exchange around the globe, and it was clear that we needed to respond effectively to this evolving terrain if we were to remain at the nexus of this activity in the future. There needed to be a highly developed web-based aspect to our publishing paradigm to complement the ongoing hard copy publications, and it needed to be more than an electronic newsletter for information dissemination, and more than a simple “listserv” for bidirectional communication. Very little was present on the web at that time that provided the kind of information that we perceived as being essential to effectively support the field. There needed to be an easily accessible forum to present in-depth articles as well as regularly updated event calendars, notices and calls for papers, exhibition and performance opportunities. The field needed an online Gallery to present current work; a comprehensive, ever growing archive; a variety of reference bibliographies to serve as a source for research and networking purposes. A database identifying work that was taking place around the world, educational resources and op190 LEONARDOELECTRONICALMANAC VOL 17 NO 1

portunities needed to be created to facilitate access and to support growth of the field. The few initiatives that could be found on the web mainly served the needs of individual locations (universities or media art centers), or they were local or regional in scope; there were no international projects serving our field as a totality, and certainly no initiative that could carry the credibility, name recognition and longevity that the Leonardo/IsAst brand had to offer. There were no models to emulate, and we were forging new territory in the field and on the Internet. Similarly, there were very few examples of subscription based electronic journals or newsletters, and it was going to be difficult to establish a subscription base that would support the initiative. The common mindset was that everything on the Internet should be free, so it was always needing to be subsidized through other IsAst activities and contributions. We always struggled to find a balance between supporting the field through free access, and trying to support the developing project to simply be able to afford continuing to do it. In that terrain it was perhaps a bit easier to get visibility for the activity than it is today. In a way though it was like a lonely voice trying to shout loudly in the middle of a dense forest hoping that the voice would carry far, as opposed to today, which might be characterized more like trying to shout and be heard above many other voices shouting at the same time. We knew that we had to establish an integrated publishing approach across media and platforms – journals, books, web resources, etc. The goal was to establish an independent electronic publication, not simply serve as an accessory or enhancement to the hard copy journal. We wanted to create a link between the journal Leonardo and the Leonardo Book Series, and a multi-faceted approach to content development was designed to utilize the best of what each format had to offer, with each appropriately supporting the other. In addition to having its own editorial and curatorial
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The goal was to establish an independent electronic publication, not simply serve as an accessory or enhancement to the hard copy journal.
focus and agenda, the electronic forum could develop content that would serve as a feeder for either the journal Leonardo or the newly established Leonardo Book Series. Similarly, the electronic journal could serve as a forum for discussion and collaboration rising out of topics addressed in the hard copy media and create an ongoing exchange. With this kind of integrated publishing model in mind, we decided that an important component to have in the mix to attain long term success and sustainability would be a significant publishing partner that was committed to the vision. Merging the joint histories, good will and resources of Leonardo/IsAst and a significant academic publishing partner would add credibility and thrust to the initiative, and that began a formal association with mIt Press that has lasted for twenty years. So Leonardo Electronic Almanac (LEA) launched in 1993 as Leonardo/IsAst and mIt Press’ on-line subscription-based journal dedicated to providing a forum for those working at the intersection of art, science and technology. Material was contributed by artists, scientists, philosophers, technology developers and educators. LEA provided direct access to informaISSN 1071- 4391 I SB N 978 -1-9 0 6 897-11- 6

tion on new activities, artists and organizations in the international art community, taking advantage of new developments in technology on the web as they evolved and as resources allowed, providing a venue for contributors to utilize text, hypertext, still and moving image, and sound to illuminate their activities. LEA provided a forum for artists to present their work, to solicit input from peers, and to facilitate development of new work. The extreme variable bandwidth and access across the globe created significant issues of concern about access, speed, and multimedia resources. For the first several years of operation we continued to distribute a text email version of LEA while we built a comprehensive web site. We were initially quite restricted as to the size that an email message could be due to Internet mailer constraints, and we slowly allowed the text newsletter to grow in size and scope. I remember having several probing conversations with Roger Malina, where concerns were expressed about the limited accessibility to the Internet in many parts of the developing world, and how important it was to continue providing an email distributed version of whatever we created or risk excluding people from access and participation. There were similar concerns about access if we created a web site with a lot of graphics that would require even modest bandwidth access to the Internet. As a result, the design of LEA evolved incrementally, and its origin as a text-based, email-distributed document was still evident in the early years of LEA’s evolution. Also in 1993 we created a hardcopy book, the Leonardo Almanac: International Resources in Art, Science and Technology, using the material collected in serial fashion through our various email newsletter activities, in addition to solicited information, some components relating to Leonardo/IsAst’s society activities (e.g. Speaker’s Network, IsAst Artist Prize winner profiles,
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Words on Works profiles, bibliographies on a variety of topics developed in part by Judy Malloy as part of the Leonardo Fine Art Science Technology database and archive initiative), and a detailed survey assembled and organized into a group of human and technological resource tables. This was to become the foundation for creating the electronic version of the Leonardo Almanac (http://leonardo.info/isast/leobooks/books/ harris.html) (IsBn: 0-262-58125-6). We were exploring ways to take things that existed in hard copy form that could be tremendously more effective on the Internet, and move them into LEA. The vision for implementing some of these features included creating an online searchable and configurable database that would make it easier for people to find out what was going on, search for what they needed, make contact with those who were active in areas of mutual interest, allow people and organizations to create and update their own profiles, and solicit information, collaboration and networking opportunities on an as needed basis. At the time creating an interactive, self managing database and active social community was extremely complicated and expensive to develop, and as a result we were not able to move that aspect of the vision forward. Today, however, this kind of direct social community resource exists as off the shelf software from a variety of vendors, and linking something like that into the rest of the LEA resource assets is a much more viable activity. I hope that this provides an opportunity to move that part of the vision into reality, as I continue to believe that there is a definite need that Leonardo/IsAst could address. I would like to see a variety of resources develop in the next period of LEA’s evolution:

organizations all should have profiles online that clearly indicate the kind of work taking place and opportunities available. They should be able to easily update their information, and the community should be able to easily search through the data. Those of you who remember the hard copy Leonardo Almanac may recall the many pages of tables that attempted to do that in a book form. (Example 1) Clearly this kind of activity needs a web-based approach to remain current and be easily accessed; and people need to be in control of their own information – both to ensure that it is accurate and to establish a sustainable model for collecting the information.
Example 1. Leonardo Almanac Organization Tables

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Individual Profiles: individual artist and group artist profiles should exist in a similar kind of environment – showing work, soliciting information, offering opportunities, and notifying about exhibitions and performances. This could exist as part of or independent from a curated online gallery. In the hard copy Leonardo Almanac there was a discipline table illustrating individuals’ engagement in various fields, similar to the organizational discipline table. That was a useful and informative way of perusing information. (Example 2) In both the organization and artist profile sections there could be an interactive map that could be used to assist orientation for those looking for people in particular areas to work with, or if one is traveling and interested in finding out what is going on in the area where they will be visiting. An interesting current example of this kind of activity is the New Play Map (Example 3) (http://www.newplaymap. org) that The American Voices New Play Institute at Arena Stage is currently developing to highlight
Example 2. Leonardo Almanac Individual Discipline Tables

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Organization Profiles: media arts facilities, research institutions, educational institutions, corporate entities working in related fields, nonprofit service organizations, galleries and performance

where new work for the stage is being created in the United States. People can add to the map, look for specific activities and explore the trajectory of the development of a new work for the stage. This
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evolution. I look forward to seeing how Lanfrenco, CoEditor Paul Brown and the rest of the team take LEA to the next level, putting their own stamp and vision onto the project. Leonardo Electronic Almanac rekindles now in a very different Internet landscape. Issues of access and bandwidth may still be a part of the complexion, but access to the Internet is so vast, and connection speed has evolved such that an electronic publication doesn’t really have a chance of survival now if it doesn’t employ multimedia resources in a significant
Example 3. American Voices New Play Institute New Play Map – visualization of a new play’s development journey. © 2011 Washington Drama Society, used under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0) license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

one of the factors that supports Leonardo/IsAst’s longevity as a force in the field in all of its activities. It isn’t just about accumulating and assimilating resources, and it isn’t there simply serving to document what is going on. By continuing to be involved directly with the various constituencies Leonardo/IsAst helps to drive the field forward and encourage networking and collaboration in ways that wouldn’t otherwise likely take place. So in the end it will only continue to succeed and serve the field if the international community responds to the Leonardo engagement with equivalent force and intent. As Leonardo Electronic Almanac relaunches and enters a new era of engagement, I look forward to a similarly active heightened response from the international community. I toast to the next twenty years, and certainly hope that I’m around to see where it is then. ■

way. It is noteworthy though that today many of the same questions are still being asked by any organization seeking to remain relevant in the new technological era:

is an evolving project that recently launched, but it illustrates the kind of online interactive mapping referred to here.

some of the information in that book would be limited in its long term use. It was just as clear that the kind of web-based, interactive forum was the natural platform for long term use and sustainability.

» » »

How does an organization engage their constituency using the available electronic resources? How does an organization create a critical mass of engagement, interest and activity to establish a sustainable community? How does an organization establish a viable economic model that makes it possible to survive, thrive, respond to current needs and continue to evolve?
Craig R. Harris, ed., The Leonardo Almanac – International Resources in Art, Science, and Technology (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 1993) Michele Emmer, ed., “Visual Mathematics,” Leonardo Volume 25 Numbers 3 & 4 (Oxford: Pergamon Press, 1992) Nisar Keshvani, fAf_15 Commemorative CDROM Interview with fAf Founder Ray Lauzanna, fAf editors virtual roundtable (http://www.keshvani.com/print/features/ray.htm, 1999) Lanfranco Aceti, ed., “Mish Mash”, Leonardo Electronic Almanac, issue, 2010 (Cambridge: The MIT Press and Leonardo/ISAST, 2010) David Dower et al, New Play Map, The American Voices New Play Institute at Arena Stage (http://www.arenastage.org/ new-play-institute/new-play-map/, 2011)

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Research Bibliographies: the topical bibliographies that we published in 1992 would translate well into an online research resource, and could exist as something that people could update, add to and refine so that the entire community could benefit from the cumulative archiving of relevant sources. Naturally people can do their own searching today on the Internet to hopefully find things that might serve their needs, but having a field initiative and credible source is exactly the kind of activity that differentiates the Leonardo brand. At that time we included bibliographies on Computer and Electronic Music; CyberCulture; Fractals; Gender, Art and Technology; Multimedia; Television and Society; Video Art; Virtual Reality; and a General Art, Science and Technology bibliography. We knew when we started this grand experiment that we were embarking on an activity that would take several years to develop content, create effective multimedia resources, build credibility and establish an audience. It is heartening to see that nearly twenty years later the project is still alive, evolving, and serving the field in important ways. As the new LEA Executive Editor Lanfranco Aceti indicates in his introduction to the issue that launches the next era of this important initiative, “LEA aspires to be a place where speed and slowness meets.” (Mish Mash, Leonardo Electronic Almanac, issue 1, 2010) (http://www.leoalmanac.org/ index.php/lea/entry/mish_mash1/) Responding to the needs of immediacy in a rapidly changing world, maintaining a connection with the past to retain a historical perspective, and providing a forum for delving deeply into issues to support long term evolution of the field, are all critical aspects that were present as we created LEA, and a perspective that influenced all periods of its
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REfEREncEs And notEs

Now there’s a challenge to be visible among the many different web-based publications, galleries and discussion groups. The competitive challenge requires rising high above the din and be relentless and omnipresent. There still is a need for that reliable and credible source – the nexus that provides the credible editorial focus – the dependable resource that maintains a strong connection with the history, the historical perspective that comes from four decades of watching, documenting, commenting, and engaging with artists, scientists and technologists on a global scale. The active engagement with those working in the field is a key feature of the grand LEA experiment, and remains
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These ideas were part of that original hardcopy Leonardo Almanac that were always part of our long term vision. It was evident even when it was published that
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Ars Electronica 2010
Er k k i H uhta m o
University of California Los Angeles Department of Design | Media Arts Broad Art Center, Suite 2275 Box 951456 Los Angeles, CA 90095-1456 erhuhta@ucla.edu After the Ars Electronica 2010 festival was over, the press office triumphantly touted in its communiqué: “90,227 visitors at the greatest Ars Electronica Festival since 1979.” For someone who has visited the festival every year since 1989 (with only two exceptions), it is easy to simply reverse the statement, and claim that this was the poorest – or to put it more nicely: the most mediocre – Ars Electronica of the past twenty years. Reality never fits neatly within such polarities, so explanations, and perhaps amendments, are needed. True, the setting was unusual. Instead of the customary venues distributed throughout the city (The Brucknerhaus, the ok Center, the Ars Electronica Center, the Art University, etc.), the organizers had taken an unique opportunity and brought practically the entire festival into a single location, a massive industrial complex that until the previous year housed a cigarette factory. The Tabakfabrik Linz was originally founded around 1850. In its present form, largely designed between 1930–35 by Peter Behrens and Alexander Popp, it is considered a monument of modernist architecture, and a landmark of the city.
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Sidetrack or Crossroads?

The move was a gamble that produced very mixed results. True, the logistics must have been formidable, partly because the infrastructure, including the allimportant It structure, was in no way in place to house a major arts festival. The venue’s uncertain status (its future use was under debate) also caused limitations. Although the labyrinthine corridors and halls looked – and even smelled – as if the workers had moved out the day before, I heard that even such simple and necessary acts as hammering nails to the walls were strictly regulated. Considering the formidable challenges, and the limited time in which the transformations had to be made, the organizers had performed wonders. An ample entrance area had been created, and the factory yard turned into a food and beer court. Obviously the local promotional machinery (including the jungle drum) had worked well. Although it would be interesting to know by what kind of mathematics the organizers determined that there were over 90,000 visitors (by the total ticket sales?), the Tabakfabrik was indeed crowded, particularly during the festival’s first weekend. The vast majority of the visitors were local townspeople, from young families with babies to grandmothers and grandfathers. Many of them seemed to have been attracted by the unique opportunity to have a peek at the well-known building complex, which was open for the general public for the very first time. Another attraction was the outdoor food court that offered a kind of Octoberfest ahead of its schedule. Indeed, downing beer and tasting local specialities in this special location was a pleasant experience, in spite of the variable weather. The real problem of the festival was what should have been the center of everything: its artistic and intellectual offerings. Perhaps preparing the venue
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had been such a time-consuming undertaking that the organizers had simply ran out of energy to think about what to exhibit. There may have been a bit of panic: the Tabakfabrik was so large that filling it in a satisfactory way was very difficult. This may partly explain the prominent presence of a kind of trade fair or “Messe.” True, the theme was “Repair,” but one may still ask what commercial exhibits of house insulation companies have to do with electronic arts. Just a few short weeks before the festival was supposed to begin, there was no detailed information about the program available on its website. Snippets started appearing after I (and probably others) started repeatedly asking for it, and reminding the organizers that they were running the risk of losing their international visitors who had to make their travel arrangements (several non-Austrian people I know decided to stay away for this reason). The cold fact is that there was very little extraordinary, ambitious, and challenging work on display; something that would have warranted the long and costly trip to Linz. Ars Electronica had turned into a very local town festival, offering next to nothing for international professionals, electronic art fans and insiders looking for cutting-edge art, media and technology, as well as high-level intellectual debate. Interestingly, this was implicitly confirmed by the press office’s final communiqué that focused on figures, but did not mention anything at all about the contents of the festival. I remember numerous highlights from the Ars Electronicas I have attended during the past twenty years, but I have hard time recalling even a single truly important experience from the 2010 festival. I saw no exceptional and path-breaking performances. The conference, once again chaired by Derrick de Kerckhove, lacked energy and originality, and was mostly poorly attended. The exhibitions suffered from the
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limitations of the venue, so video documentations too often took the place of the works themselves. Interactivity was rare – “don’t touch” signs were common. Even the Golden Nica winner Eyewriter, an innovative eye-tracking device (but not an artwork), could not be tried personally (this was done without problems at the crowded Japan Media Arts Festival in Tokyo in February 2011). The creator of another prize winner, the astonishing remote-controlled robot named Dirk, told me that the organizers had asked him to submit just a video documentation. He refused, and brought the robot to the festival on his own. Pushing its shopping cart around the factory area it became a central attraction. Countless baffled visitors tried to find out if it was a real robot, or a human being posing as one. Ars Electronica has always had to dance the tightrope between local interests and international relevance. Local politicians and businessmen provide the money, and expect something in return. In 2010 they received plenty, I think, seeing the townspeople appreciate their investments. The international relevance of Ars Electronica, however, was put in serious jeopardy. As a small, but telling, sign, most of the festival’s long-term international supporters, those who have helped to make it what it is, were not even invited to the Prix Ars Electronica Gala, the main social gathering of the festival. They were left outside to their own devices.
The robot Dirk by Electric Circus at the Ars Electronica 2010. Photograph: Erkki Huhtamo

festival organizers should look into the mirror and ask themselves some serious questions. Whom are we serving? Are we concerned about advancing the cause of the electronic arts on a superior and truly international level (as during the festival’s glorious past)? Or are we content with degenerating into a popular but artistically and intellectually lame/tame local mass event, serving Bier, Wurst, and a little bit of electronic arts on the side? ■

While preparing for the next edition, which is unlikely to take place again at the Tabakfabrik (so I hear), the
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