Re: [-empyre-] superficiality and immersion

>From Christina:

is the net a forest of symbols?  is it a series of ironic discontinuous
moments in artful arrays?  is not each night on the web a traversing of a
reflective screen of one's own mind and heart?  And yet, not completely
reflective:  therein is the feeling of something imminent, some meaning
beyond one's own ken, beyond the contours of face and skin, beyond the

so the beauty of the web:  its kind of beauty a series of ephemeral layers
of possible representations, moving continuously through thresholds like the
layered portals deeper and deeper inside an Egyptian temple like, for
example Luxor:

>From Melinda,

i visualise the web as a 3d plane
>  the revalued x axis of horizontal superficial distance,
> the y axis of vertical depths of knowledge and
> the z axis..the axis through the body, the axis of conscious immersion.
> perhpas what im seeing is a different pattern that emerges in the way we
> think  in conjunction with it is more frenetic as it seeks
> the surface connections, but its dependent on all the axies...

I really like what both of you are saying, this idea that the web can be (at
least artistically) more like a river of thoughts and emotions, that the web
can be a swirling wind of relationships not only between human beings, but
also between human beings and machines, memes, and this strange thing we
call history. I, like both of you, truly believe that the future of the web
is one in which space will be redefined (something that will go beyond
simple navigationable 3d), one in which the bi-dimensionality of the printed
word will be reinvented.

A great friend of mine, the web artist and theoretician Richard Barbeau,
once told me about the recent research being done on the brain
lateralization. I will not get much into this because I know next to nothing
on this subject (apart from what Richard told me), but if this theory of
brain lateralization is right (that the direction of reading, from left to
right or right to left, deeply changes a culture, because reading from left
to right uses mainly the left side of the brain (If I'm not mistaken)
responsible for linear and sequential processes, while the right to left
reading uses the other hemisphere of the brain, largely responsible for the
processing of ensembles. This usage of a particular hemisphere is reflected
in both western and oriental tradition. Westerners putting more emphasis on
the individual, while Orientals tends to favor the group), then the new
reading offered by the web (in all directions and through many spaces) and
the eventual 3d reading that should one day come along will deeply affect
the way we see and understand the world. What will we perceive of the world
if both sides of our barin are used equally? Or at least differently from
today's? I think that the superficiality I've stressed in my statement is
the first proof we have of this transformation. We are becoming superficial
maybe because we are also using the right, more creative, less sequential
side of ouir brain.

As a small follow up to both yesterday's and Melinda's and Christina's
statement, here are a few quotes I find interesting.

The first one is from Gibson's lastest book (All Tomorrow Parties). A great
but also very different book from what Gibson as used us to . A more "fluid"
book whose subject is, I believe, the ephemeral aspect of human presence, a
presence so diffuse and multiplied that one has problems identifying
material things and beings.

-(You know, I can't let you) slide through my hands .
-He sees a beggar seated beneath a jeweler's window. In those windows are
small empty pedestals, formal absences of precious things, locked away now
for the night.
"I seem to have come to believe in the moment myself. I believe we are
approaching one, drawn to it by the gravity of its strangeness. It is a
moment in which everything and nothing will change."

Two other quotes, one from Varela (the source of which I lost)

Varela : Organisms have to be understood as a mesh of virtual selves. I don'
t have one identity, I have a bricolage of various identities. I have a
cellular identity, I have an immune identity, I have a cognitive identity, I
have various identities that manifest in different modes of interaction.
These are my various selves. (.) The idea was the result of suspecting that
biological cognition in general was not to be understood as a representation
of the world out there but rather as an ongoing bringing-forth of a world,
through the very process of living itself.

The other from the well known cognitive scientist Daniel Dennett

Daniel Dennett: Animals are not just herbivores or carnivores. They are, in
the nice coinage of the psychologist George Miller, informavores. And they
get their epistemic hunger from the combination, in exquisite organization,
of the specific epistemic hungers of millions of microagents, organized into
dozens or hundreds or thousands of subsystems.

----- Original Message -----
From: "Melinda Rackham" <>
To: <>
Sent: Tuesday, January 15, 2002 9:11 PM
Subject: [-empyre-] superficiality and immersion

> ollivier
> thank you  for your statement and the great links
> it sparked me off on lots of tangents..but i'll start with
> superficiiality..
> One must be
> > superficial if one is to survive today. In an encyclopedic type society,
> > where knowledge comes from deep and thorough understanding of
> > where information is generated slowly, superficiality is something to be
> > avoided. But in a society where information, phenomena, actions,
> reactions,
> > events and histories are overabundant, over produced and over analyzed,
> one
> > must be superficial if one is to comprehend what is going on.
> i recall reading several years ago that a daily edition of  the ny times
> contained
> more information to process  than a person in the  middle ages was forced
> to confront in thier whole lives.. now while i dont think you can do
> comparisons like thats as it excludes the perhpas more vertical connection
> or even webbedness a person of another era would have with thier
> environment  that we dont have today.. but it was a good comparison as i
> guess i tend to think the info i deal with is "normal" and continuous.
>  but  if technology is a biological/technological  adaptation to the
> information overload which has simultaneously grown with the growth of the
> human race.. and that generates the idea
> that we need to be more interrested in surface than depth these days to
> sense
> of the world... is that saying that depth is not a useful or desirable
> evolutionary survival tool anymore ? or is that coming from the tradition
> the gaze, the stare, the look.? im not sure superficiality and deepth have
> to be played against each other.. rather are they complimantary elements
> comprehension and naviagtion?
> i visualise the web as a 3d plane
>  the revalued x axis of horizontal superficial distance,
> the y axis of vertical depths of knowledge and
> the z axis..the axis through the body, the axis of conscious immersion.
> perhpas what im seeing is a different pattern that emerges in the way we
> think  in conjunction with it is more frenetic as it seeks
> the surface connections, but its dependent on all the axies... like a 3d
> sizemic chart, except the horizontal lines fan out along many planes..or a
> 3d version of those erratic spider web patterns when they give them
> or a neural net where everything is connected and affects everything else.
> perhaps this is the "volume" youtalk about..
> Interesting
> > net art websites treat the text as something to be perceived instead of
> > read, as something to be "felt" and experienced and not as something to
> > focus on. Net art websites truly understand that the web is an
> environment,
> > something that has volume (intellectual, informational and emotional)
> > that one must build one's thought and reflection within this volume.
> > surfing these websites, you are left alone to find your way, to create
> your
> > path, to gather your own information, to process your own understanding.
> And
> > that, to me, is the essence of the web.
> >
> i agree the web is wonderfully filmic, and as a content creator i am
> forward planning to a narrative
> point, a camera stop (especially vrml viewpoints) or a pathway through the
> garden that we want to
> lead the partticipant down, up or along , however subtly it is markered..
> but with the realisation that the viewer is in control of their
> the viewer chooses the perspective.
> and i do think that the global technological information overload has lead
> to a sensory deprivation in the world, perhaps this is where i connect
> what you say again about the web being a feeling space, a place where we
> sensory naviatation. its interrresting that a lot of people who have been
> round the web for a while are being drawn to 3d spaces.. they dont want to
> just look and process text, which is already a virtual experience, they do
> want to felt, and immerse and connect in another plane. my vision for the
> future is similar to yours.. sort of along the lines of mark pesce's
> original vision of the web as a labryinth of connected 3dspaces, rather
> the html version of the web which was designed to share text documents,
> which dominates today .
> melinda
> (just as an aside its also difficult to operate in academic instutions
> value the encylopaedic tradition)
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