[-empyre-] digital sublime

This afternoon I was lucky enough to attend a lecture by Natalie
Jeremijenko,  first speaker for the series AIM III Luna Park at the Museum
of Contemporary Art Los Angeles.   A spirited invitation to look at the
question of if - how- artists produce empirical knowledge, what counts as
knowledge, and structures of participatory knowledge,  Natalie's thought
experiments are like a chain of engineered information stimulus/response
nodes.  The nodes are located within a digital cache, tangibly actuated off
screen, in real space/time.  A latent content remains ephemeral, diaphanous,
homogeneous, and undifferentiated until, if and when, you encounter the node
and--critically --attempt to interact with it.  The  node structure appears
static until you ask questions of it. Imagine both machine node and the
human as repressed or latent zones  until the desire to know, presumably on
the part of the human, forces release of information as structures of

   The aesthetic of the experiments is so direct it reminds me of Lygia
Clark in the sixties; as Guy Brett remarks, "Clark's address to the
'spectator' was always in the mode of an invitiation to play, complex
thoughts crystallized around a very simple model." ("Force Fields of the
Kinetic", catalogue essay, Museu de Art Contemporanea Barcelona). Natalie's
itinerary, from engineered node to node, discovers passage: you must want to
know, and in wanting to know, you create the map. The information actualizes
within the force of your desire. Is there an objective suite of data sets
beyond the engineered nodes? It is one thing to recognize  massive streams
of data; but to request, is another matter entirely.  Suspicious statistics,
supercilious/nebulous, just out there, stereotyped, idees recus--a zillion
skeined datacodestreams hit us per diem. The offscreen tangible
manifestation of Natalie's projects hazard, not pattern recognition of data,
not data architecture; rather, animation.

Like Lygia with her sensorial hoods,  Natalie takes up a deceptively
emblematic premise, using a life morph, a discrete form (she called it "life
represented not by movement but by STUFF you can fuck with" ) butterfly
wings, breath, touch, skin, spots on a ladybug, and moves quickly, by means
of the human dialectic, into a process structure of participatory knowing.
Jeremijenko's stuff, like multiple inversions in a musical fugue, cuts
through thematic categories, across morphologies.  The stuff is internalized
in us, we animate it in strings of participation, layer upon layer.  The
participatory structure becomes a rendered model of life.  A process
definition, in effect, of the kind of knowledge artists produce.

  Lygia wrote,

"For the first time I have discovered a new reality which is not within
myself, but within the world, I found a Caminhando {Walking}, an inner
itinerary outside of myself.  Before, the Bicho {Animal} emerged within me,
it spurted out like an obsessive explosion - though all my senses. Now for
the first time, withh the Caminhando- it is the opposite.  I perceive the
totality of the world as a unique, global rhythm, which extends from Mozart
to the gestures of beach football."  (also quoted in "Force Fields")

I have been in a meditation about inscape for a long time:  the notion of a
constellated dynamic of ontologic and epistomelogic orchestrations, an
interior topography, within and outside the self, on the borders of the
mixed realities.  Why modes of digital representation make a kind of
participatory mirror, a new rendering of something we are becoming,
something we can't even really see  yet.  That's the digital sublime..

Christina McPhee


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