RE: [-empyre-] viractualism 2

Greetings Joseph:
First, thank you for your fascinating introductory posts.  The issues you
raise are of great importance to my work, as I am sure they are to many
others on this list. Your use of language is, as always, intriguing, highly
inventive, and resonating with an odd clarity!

I have really one question/observation/issue that I would like to share at
present, related to the relationship between your visual work and your
theories of viractualism; the question is of "representation" and
viractuality.  It seems to me that, in reference to a continuum between the
corporeal and the virtual, your "paintings", (I think of them more as unique
prints, although I understand that in terms of scale and substrate they
reference painting), as paintings within the trajectory of western art
history, fall toward the virtual end of the spectrum.  They deal with
"images" of viral attack, "representations" of code, genitalia, OvOidism:
their surfaces have more to do with Morris Louis or Ad Reinhardt's "no
hand", surfaces, highly immaterial, or Magritte's cerebral surfaces than
with highly corporeal painters like Delacroix, Pollock, DeKooning, Keifer,
whose works fall further toward the "corporeal" end of the spectrum, as
physical, highly textured, objects--the potent actuality/corporeality of
your paintings is not actual, it is manifest through representation, as
image, by machine, a few steps removed.  The actual role of the objects:
canvas, scale, supports, rectangle, is inherited from modernist painting.
How do these rectangular, illusionistic paintings work, at the object,
actual level, to break down Derridian logocentricism?
I greatly admire your dissertation on immersion, and wonder how you
interpret/facilitate levels of viewer immersion with your paintings?  And,
finally, do you have any plans to work with other technologies in the end
product of your work, like HMDs, interactivity, projection, sculpture,
performance, augmented reality; or are these means "temptation(s) that most
digital artists, in my view, should resist.?"

These are my questions, and I ask them because they are always so present in
my own mind as I design my own work and look at that of others: the tensions
between immaterial means and the viscerality of medical imaging, porn,
gaming; the relationship of painting to virtual reality (I was a painter
before I, in 1990, put down the brushes for the "promise" of VR) and the
potentials of viractuality.
Thank you again!

Gregory Little

-----Original Message-----
[]On Behalf Of Joseph
Sent: Sunday, November 03, 2002 4:12 AM
Subject: [-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

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

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

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