[-empyre-] viractualism 3

3rd salutation empyralists. Here are some more of my thoughts on the emerging of viractual art. I?ll be off-line for the next 3 days - however I should answer Gregory Little before that, I hope.

Best Wishes
Joseph Nechvatal


Immersion's fundamentally spherical, all-over perspective of dynamic thresholds cast a fraction of art on its course since the Fin-de-Siècle. This marginal tendency has now amply flowered in the emerging viractual arts as art practice began shifting VR away from its initial paean to illusionistic trompe l'oeil. Moreover, with this immersive vision there is a shift to a more conscious peripheral mode of perception which entails a deautomatization of the perceptual process (whereby more emphasis is placed on what is on the edges of sight and consciousness) thus presumably adjusting the immersant up to an expanded and fuller consciousness. This emphasis on the peripheral utilizes the Deleuzian broad scan; Deleuze's non-linear dynamic conceptual displacement of a view along any axis or direction in favor of a sweeping processes in space/time. Hence immersive vision may acquire an increasingly computational-like encompassing range useful in expanding the customary field of view - which is 160° vertical by 180° horizontal - outward so as to increase situational awareness.

Similarly, expansive simulation technology (when used in the creation of electronic-based art) will promote an indispensable alienation from the socially constructed self necessary for the outburst of such ecstatic experiences/acts. Inversely, electronic technology will enable the contemporary emerging artists to express ecstatic reactions in ways never before possible. Thus, this ecstatic counteraction might provide a phantasmal defiance aimed against the controlling world's blandness. This aesthetic philosophy might provide, then, a fundamental antithesis to the authoritarian, mechanical, simulated rigidities of the controlling technical world.

The emerging viractual arts, when postulated from the previously described immersive slant, promote various theories of consciousness which themselves have been discussed as being emergent rather than representational. Indeed Sigmund Freud identified an artist as one who offers insights into an emergent consciousness as consciousness emerges from within the unconscious realm.

The terminology consciousness means verbatim with knowingness. But that is not all there is to it as applied to art, for consciousness in art seems to be ultimately like a web woven in the mind/body of various silken-strands spun forth from interlacing states of unconscious desire which semi-automatically control the paradigmatic creation and reception of art. This definition coincides with R. G. Collingwood's definition of consciousness, in paradigmatic art terms, as that which is a "kind of thought which stands closest to sensation or mere feeling" as "transformed into imagination". Indeed unconscious desires shape the paradigms which contour intentional expressions in art through the subtle powers of sublimation when the sexual desires of the libido are turned into cultural ones via the mediation of the artist's ego. The question of how unconscious desires are manifest in conscious cultural production and interpretation will be one of the minor themes of the emerging viractual arts. This is a non-problematic working assumption in that even those which maintain that art is fundamentally a materialistic, social, and conscious product acknowledge that the role and function of art is located in its power to transformtionally change consciousness.

Certainly it is true that hidden in us and in connected computer space there is something so large, so astounding, and so pregnant with the darkness of infinite space that it excites and frightens us and thus returns us to the experimental and to a state of stimulating desire and perceptual restlessness.

From my point of view, the emerging artists who are or will be working with
the power of telematic/immersivity are embarking on a new vanguard phase of artistic awareness in which total immersive involvement is the primary characteristic. This means for art an emergent reconception within which philosophic problems of consciousness are forgrounded. This entails a rich and diverse practice - for indeed even now the concept of art itself is pantheoristic. But in my use of the term emerging art (based on my activities as an artist) I understand emerging art to be fundamentally an extravagant activity expressing in a symbolic language the desire for joy.

For me, philosophy is a method of understanding and technology a method of doing art. I should establish that the pantheoristic definition of emerging art which I am upholding here, and which I find requires reiteration as artists move increasingly from organic materials to the use of electronic and synthetic ones, is basically that supplied by Susanne Langer in her book "Feeling and Form" where she determines that "art is the creation of forms symbolic of human feeling". Curiously, in answering the question of how art feels, Ms. Langer proposed that the symbolic space created in painting was not real but virtual.

The emerging artist's work then is the electronically aided creation of unfamiliar emotive abstractions of enjoyment. The significant cognizant value of abstract artistic symbols is that they may confer flickering ideas which exceed the interpretant's former understandings with unaccustomed emotive possibilities and scintillating expressive values which may be characteristic of even deeper inner pathos and jubilant non-logocentric unfamiliarities. And this is as it should be, for the technique of art is to make our understanding of both perception and history at first unfamiliar, particularly when attempting to increase our comprehension of, and neurological feeling for, telematic/immersive data-space and its vast powers for handling complex and abstract information.

Thus the central issues of the emerging viractual arts fall necessarily on and between ideas concerning consciousness, philosophy, telematic/immersive/ viractual space, art, joy, sexuality, myth, cognition, information-technology and metaphysical states of placement and quintessence in the formation of a theory of viractual connectivity that, I believe, is important for artists and theorists today.

Amicable Respects.
Joseph Nechvatal


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For my proposal for an intimate funerary monument commemorating the dead at the World Trade Towers site, see: http://www.eyewithwings.net/nechvatal/911/911.html





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