Enfolding and Unfolding: An Aesthetics for the Information Age How many things in your perceptible world are

not only themselves, but the visual, aural, and tactile manifestation of information? Of course your computer screen, your mobile telephone if you have one, and the pages of your books are the visual faces of information. You may gasp with wonder at the stunning effects of blockbuster movies, knowing full well that they are computer generated. Your digital photographs, DVDs, and digital sound recordings reach perceptible form through the mediation of software; you are reminded of this when they are damaged and reduced to jittering bits. Advertisements, recorded music, pictures of celebrities tacked to the wall were information before they arrived to your eyes, ears, and fingers. Your Calvin Klein socks and your ergonomic toothbrush are really market research, materialized in plastic and acrylic. The corn and potatoes in your refrigerator, bred to be hardy and long lasting and selected for the supermarket, are the gustatory expression of information. Your oriental carpet, if you have one, is the visual and tactile expression of algorithms, whether digital (Iranian factories commonly employ carpet-weaving software) or analog (a weaver draws on algorithmic patterns, mental or on paper, when composing a carpet). Realizing that your perceptible world is merely the tips of imperceptible, information icebergs, you may well cast around for something that just Is. Maybe you'll hear your neighbor singing, you'll catch a whiff of asphalt from the road construction, you'll see your dog come into the room. What a relief. This is raw experience, right? But wait - what's that pop song she's styling? Why was your neighborhood scheduled for development? How much did your dog cost? The interactive diagram of the relationship Enfolding-Unfolding that you will find here demonstrates an aesthetic model for the information age. We have long sensed that representation was not where the real action lay in contemporary art and popular culture. Images themselves are increasingly composed of information. Visual images, aural images, tactile images, and even gustatory and olfactory images - tastes and smells - often index not raw experience but information. In general, the most important events in contemporary society do not occur at the level of the image but at the level of information; they are imperceptible. The financial transactions whirling around the globe at satellite speed are perhaps the best example. Information is as old as human society, and information has long underlain aspects of the perceptible world. The differences now are quantitative: more aspects of contemporary society are impregnated by information than ever before; and qualitative: information now is closely intertwined with capital. Information is often synonymous with capital because it consists of those aspects of the world of experience that can translate into market value. But the fact that most images are expressions (explications) of information is only one-third of the story. The carpet weaver daydreams as she works; the person feeding code into a digital loom does too. The agronomist puzzles over factors of longevity and economy, as the hybrid corn rustles in the wind. And of course an army of code-writing drones is named in the credits at the end of digital blockbusters, in type so small it disintegrates into lozenges when the

but experience as the medium of change." The programmer. for now most of what arrives to us as Image. Experience is a plane of immanence. A vast amount of Experience is never unfolded. or in Experience itself. as the universal form of change. Leibniz's principle that the smallest element of matter is a fold makes it possible to conceive of the plane of immanence as composed of infinite folds. and made a mistake that will cause the program to crash. A vast amount of Information remains . So what is experience? It is not necessarily personal experience. left behind because they are knobby or oversized. in Deleuze and Guattari's term: an infinite membrane between the virtual and the actual. information is an expression of experience. the weaver. they are infinite. wrote (or compiled) the software that animates the movie dinosaurs. the carpet to look dodgy. I have chosen the terms enfolded and unfolded (or their Latinate synonyms. not only is the image (in all its forms) an expression of information. only a very few of its contents are actualized. all Images. is exceptional. Like Experience. folded into itself. never becomes Information or Image: like the experience of the corn plant. as mathematics permits. I argue. or experience unfolds into information. Les Glaneurs et la glaneuse (2000). the dinosaur to twitch. or the programmer. and this constitutes experience. a kilogram of potatoes is translated into a price. They unfold to become Image. has already been mediated by Information. They are harvested. or unfolded. Information and Image are also planes of immanence. implicate and explicate) to echo Gilles Deleuze's explication of the Baroque aesthetics of Leibniz. Bombay. How do things that are virtual . the corn. perfectly shaped potatoes translate effortlessly from being simply there to being capital. In Agnes Varda's documentary of gleaners scraping a living from the leftovers of commercial agriculture. The other potatoes. Shanghai. They are selected.that are immanent in Experience . and they are sold.movie is transferred to a DVD.become actualized? They are drawn into being by the magnetic pull of one of the other planes. Charles Sanders Peirce wrote. in activities that remain under the radar of capital. from the infinite expanse of Experience. Experience is the most infinite of these three planes of immanence because all Information. This can happen in two ways: Experience unfolds directly into an Image. To actualize something is to unfold it. though. This kind of direct relationship between Experience and Experience. Mississauga. works your DVD player. I want to draw attention to the vast amount of stuff that remains enfolded in each of these planes of immanence. the weaver. patterns the factory-made carpet. cycle around to be re-enfolded in Experience. the plastic all undergo change. working in Palo Alto. The gleaners collect them for food. In turn. they are smaller infinities. They unfold from Experience to become Information. The actual is thus infinitely enfolded in the virtual. Maybe that person was tired. spoke to a colleague. cannot exist unless there is something to undergo change. also. Some person. are valueless as capital. But in short. took a sip of tea. "Time. to be actualized. We can think of Experience as infinitely enfolded: containing everything.

They may re-enter the cycle. Apartment (2001) by Marek Walczak and Martin Wattenburg. we can understand how Information mediates Experience. and what Sean Cubitt calls the "neo-Baroque" cinema. "As we reach the end of a film like Snake Eyes. social interaction between the Information of database and algorithms and the Experience of thought. difference. beauty lies not in representation but in internal complexity. This Baroque relationship of Image to Information is recapitulated in contemporary computer art. As Third can become First. In example 6. Information has the quality of Secondness. or of being initself and referring to nothing but itself. In information aesthetics. As a triadic diagram. or "struggle. I offer Enfolding-Unfolding as a dynamic diagram of contemporary aesthetic experience. "we should survey the whole plot as if it were a knot garden. which would be the seeking of a correspondence between Image and Experience. And it . Enfolding-Unfolding avoids some of the pitfalls of dualism. or they may lie there like leaves in a pile. This diagram pays attention to the intelligence and grace with which these relationships are enacted. Baroque art." Cubitt writes. It allows us to account for the ways in which they select from each of the three planes: which virtuals of Experience are actualized (unfolded) as Information. and in turn what happens when Experience actualizes Information and Image. programming. a sophisticated work of online art. In example 3.imperceptible because it is not unfolded as Image." In Baroque art. The triadic diagram Experience : Information : Image has traits of Peirce's triadic epistemology. All these art forms invite us to admire not a naturalistic reflection upon Experience but an Information-driven artifice. so all Information and all Images become enfolded once again into Experience." because it is selected from Experience in order to be put to use. Michael Joo's beautiful installation Bodhi Obfuscatus (2005). It is a mediated spiritual experience appropriate to our age. use Image to draw attention to the elegant artifice whereby Information mediates Experience. which virtuals of Information are actualized as Image. Looking at an image. Experience is a vast archive whose contents are almost entirely enfolded. For example. Image has Thirdness. the perceptible Image is the expression or unfoldment of a legible level of information. we experience the Buddha (a 7th-century statue that enfolds the Experience of centuries of worshippers) not directly but through the Information from surveillance cameras monitoring the statue. Experience has the quality Peirce called Firstness. And a vast number of Images are forgotten to experience. the Image results from a playful. Enfolding-Unfolding allows us to evaluate how artworks (and other things) facilitate the flow among Experience : Information : Image. or people who pass away without attaining fame. and viewer interaction. It provides sophisticated tools of aesthetic explanation and evaluation. it does not evaluate art on the basis of its authenticity. because it mediates between Information and Experience. children's drawings on a refrigerator (example 4). it is prefigured by the aniconic art of Sunni Islam. a spatial orchestration of events whose specific attraction is its elaboration of narrative premise into pattern.

and so it allows us to appreciate quiet or barely visible artworks in terms of what they keep latent. Enfolding-Unfolding offers a positive. returns in Panorama Ephemera to his famous film archive. as unfolding is a performative. Example 2. nor fetishize the purity of Experience untouched by information culture. Paying attention to what is left enfolded is similar to a materialist critique. leaving no experience private. The diagram you see here enfolds and unfolds the creative intelligence of designer Raegan Kelly. whereby we evaluate Image in terms of its reference to the Information and Experience that underlie it. but attends to all the Experience that composes the Information and Images that arrive to us. show that private experience. the writing on a Fatimid mosque (example 7) requires the person contemplating it to unfold its meaning. and thus forms private experience to the shape of Information. Paglen goes to great lengths to unfold that world of secret Information and make it available as Image. Kelly was able to translate my ideas and . shows how capital selects only a very few aspects of Experience as relevant to Information. inviting the viewer to attend to the Experience enfolded in the image. for these criteria apply to a dualist model as well. For example. Example 8. surveillance. military bases is an example of how power entirely bypasses the visible. Experience-embracing criterion for criticism: what Experience is privileged. Example 1. Power lies in the ability to make things unfold. social act. It privileges performativity over representation. the stock market. The "critique of representation" evaluates Image in light of Experience but does not account for the crucial mediation of Information. a dualist model. and in turn broadly influences Experience in a feedback loop. circulate. One of my colleagues in this issue. Power is also the ability to hide things in the image. Thus. the forgotten. shows how a totalitarian society is concerned with absolute unfolding. except that it doesn't oppose (true) material and (false) ideal.S.bypasses the modernist criteria of reflexivity and criticality. resisting unfolding can be a political act. thus emphasizing the act of interpretation that is key to Shi'a Islam. and 4. a family photograph. Enfolding-Unfolding also shows that much art is concerned with the nature of en/unfolding rather than with producing images. as can actively unfolding parts of Experience that are usually deemed insignificant. and enfold. Rick Prelinger. in the selection of information and Image? What Information is privileged to unfold into Image? The aesthetic analysis I offer does not condemn Images mediated by Information. Enfolding-Unfolding pays attention to the invisible. The "Black World" of secret U. does not circulate. shows how power disdains the image. Prelinger builds a private story from them. what passed over. a child's drawing of a popular icon. Working against the tendency of other artists to unfold significant Information from the images. yet continues to circulate and has real effects. Trevor Paglen. or what an artwork deliberately leaves enfolded. One of my colleagues in the previous issue of Vectors. time-based. Enfolding-Unfolding also has political implications. intensely meaningful though it may be. Example 5 shows that fame is an index of how many times an event generates movement around the diagram. An audiovisual thinker exquisitely attuned to the expressive capacities of the line.

You will find a text that discusses the example. Information. qualities of playfulness. the hesitation to unfold. ephemerality. inexorability. I hope these will facilitate your understanding of the relationships between Experience. recalcitrance. the brutality of selection.descriptions into moving images that capture the qualities of implication and explication: the magnetic pull of one plane on another. The Unfolding-Enfolding diagram comes to you by way of eight examples. You will also come across my verbal description of how the diagram should behave. the gradual dwindling of an event into stillness. which will allow you to appreciate Raegan Kelly's translation of this description into images and to compare how ideas are unfolded verbally and audiovisually. . and Image and invite you to map your own examples onto it. Kelly is a true animator who understands the nonorganic life of the line.

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