[-empyre-] viractualism 2

2nd greetings all empyralists. As I said in my first post, over the next two weeks I want to try to talk with you about what I am calling viractualism. Here are some more of my thoughts on the emerging of viractual art. I have one more batch in store, which I will send you Monday night. I look forward to your comments and questions.

Best Regards,
Joseph Nechvatal


The emerging viractual arts are rhizomatically diagonal as they transpire, at least partially, in deep digital space - and in a sense secure a subterranean viractual space for us to enter if we ask them to. For example, relevant to the emerging viractual arts is that under recent epistemological scrutiny is what Jacques Derrida has described of as logocentrism: the once held distinctions between subjectivity and objectivity. Today, with heightening telematic and viractual connectivity, these logocentric distinctions are breaking down under the pressure of telematic (and immersive) art technologies.

For my impending work I am developing the idea of OvOidism. OvOidism is about a certain mode of being in the ready position of unconscious excessive - a sort of sullied Epicurean Hellenism (simultaneously antediluvian and post-human) which is created through the mixing of virally infected testicles, ovaries, breasts, bums, eggs, fruit and eyes. For me, OvOidism depicts that we are becoming the benumbed and disproportionate genitals of our virtualizing machines. In OvOidism the love/hate unconscious genital/machine combat cannot be reduced to the sum total of our repressed fears. For as Heidegger pointed out, technology is at its inception never strictly technological but metaphysical. So OvOidism is about pondering the future capability of viractuality while tracing its roots to hoary mythological times.

However, technological consciousness provides the substructure from which a new viractual art is emerging. Specifically, this emerging viractual art is predicated in the telematic and the immersive. The telematic/immersive is the construction of a convincing transactional singleness beyond the realm of the corporeal; a realm which suggests a world of connectiveness which spans from many to many - united rhizomatically into an expanded hyper- viractual unity. Here the corporeal heavy weight of the body takes on a lightness of being.

Of course, the emerging viractual arts are hyper. The strategy of hyper-anything includes principles of networked connections and electronic links which give multiple choices of passages to follow and continually new branching possibilities. The hyper telematic/immersive suggests that the viractual body is but the temporary hardware housing a vast and luminous software immateriality. In this realm of discourse the viractual corporeal is a complex compendium of multiplicity and distribution which adds up to a total-art work (gesamtkunstwerk ) - though an undiagramic one.

By identifying an individual's hyper-real presence in a vaporously technologically stored set of bits, the post-modernist existential concept of the logocentric individual has been supplanted by the fabulated electronically produced simulacrum-persona. This quality of phantasmagorical replacement has formulated a new understanding of phallocratic existence which Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari have called schizoid. According to them, being is now inseparable from a technologically hallucinogenic/schizoid culture. With telematic connectivity this understanding of viractual consciousness has become central to the post-industrial arts and now supplies our hyper society with a rich metaphorical tool with which to understand itself.

In our viractual age - given our heightened condition of maximizing data-flow - once fixed logocentric identities based on Euclidean spatial distinctions are being continuously transposed by malleable, telematic, computational, and immersive configurations of self-awareness as the borders of the conventional logocentric object/subject relationship computationally bleed. Hence viractual hyper telematic immersion - with its insinuated inside-omni-everywhereness insight - is becoming the pertinent concept for the recognition of being in terms of viractuality.

Salient to this consideration is what I take to be a significant development in the emerging viractual arts. This late development is the blending of computational virtual space with ordinary viewable space and objects. Such a blending indicates the subsequent emergence of a new immersive topological cognitive-vision which I call "viractual space"; the space of connection betwixt the computed virtual and the uncomputed corporeal world which merge. With the increased augmentation of the self via micro-electronics feasible today, the real may co-exist with the virtual and the organic fuse with the computer-robotic.

But even more than viractuality, it is the principle of non-logocentric telematic immersion as applied to the emerging viractual arts which interests me, as I find electronically fabricated worlds only superficially connected to technological means - and more properly concerned with ideals of self-transcendence.

The fundamental change in aesthetic perception engendered by immersion, a perception which is connected to the ideal of total-immersion in virtual space, identifies certain shifts in ontology which are relevant to a better understanding of the human being. This understanding was achieved through a broad inquiry into the histories of Virtual Reality, philosophy, and the visual arts and has lead to the formulation of an aesthetic theory of immersive consciousness indicative of immersive culture.

A primary subject of the emerging viractual arts is immersion then: an experience identified as the indispensable characteristic of Virtual Reality. The understanding of immersion to the emerging viractual arts informs encounters and concepts of virtuality and hence "viractuality". To sufficiently address this subject in a scholarly fashion, I researched, found and accumulated aesthetic and philosophic examples of immersive tendencies, as found within the histories of art and philosophy, which subsequently contributed towards the articulation of what I have come to call "immersive consciousness". As a result of formulating such an immersive consciousness, a good deal of the basis for the questioning of the Western ontological tradition has been found in the Western tradition itself when we look with new eyes and ask new uncertain questions.

This emerging viractual activity however is deeply rooted in the past. Indeed, my active presupposition for looking into immersion was that there have been manifested, during certain moments in time, ideas of immersion which approach what we know today as the virtual and the "viractual". These moments also are suggestive of disembodied experiences and expectations notable to virtuality, "viractuality", and particularly to Virtual Reality.

Immersive spherical thinking, as stimulated by the immersive spherical perspective, today opens up a territory of signification and possibility for the creation of emergent hybrid and deterritorialized meanings. With immersiom, meaning in art - and in life - advances by seeing more clearly the underlying assumptions of excess inherent in the immersive outlook, by facing up to the radical implications of those assumptions, and by purging the emerging viractual arts from conventional ways of thinking.

Certainly the space of cultural has dramatically changed with the revolution in technology brought about by the rapid development of the networked computer. The Internet has created a new geography of relations that could only be imagined as little as twenty years ago. And of course, art cannot help being of its time and place, but the interesting question to ask about art that deliberately comments on its time through the use of the latest technological innovations is what makes it more than mere commentary? What makes it art? As Goethe put it, "only the mediocre talent is always the captive of its time and must get its nourishment from the elements that time contains." The insistence that art reflect only the tangled realities of high-tech life is a temptation that most digital artists, in my view, should resist.

This pertains to the emerging viractual arts in that encounters with immersive computer simulation, one may assume, might create an opportunity for personal transgression and for a vertiginous ecstasy of thought and hence excel the assumed determinism of the technological-based phenomenon inherent (supposedly) in our post-industrial information society.

Indeed, it seems to me that as human psychic energies are stifled and/or bypassed by certain controlling aspects of mass informational technology, such a hyper hybrid ecstatic phenomena will most likely increasingly break out in forms of what I call "spherical thinking" - an immersively dimensional thinking which may result in immersive art. Immersive art is art which attempts to include everything of perceptual worth within its domain ambiently but coherently and accordantly in an overall enveloping totality that is concerted, continuous, and without overly evident frame or border).


Warm Regards.
Joseph Nechvatal

home page: http://www.nechvatal.net



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