Re: [-empyre-] response to Angela and bye bye


Thanks for your questions.

A review of all of the relevant non-dualistic eastern philosophies is beyond the scope of viractualism as I have developed it thus far. But, yes I think that viractualism is a characteristic product of the Hellenistic consciousness influenced by non-binary tendencies of Oriental thought. Personally, my guiding avatar into viractualism has been Janus - the two-faced Roman God who faces both directions simultaneously. Janus is similar to the ancient Egyptian God Aker, a two human-headed deity who surveys the western and eastern gates of duat (the underworld). As Janus has eyes on both sides of his head, a Janus-like viractual model would be able to see on every side. Hence he is the symbol for viractual dehabituation, open-mindedness, and for taking an even-handed view, as Janus was able to look backward into the past as well as forward into the future. Moreover he represents a question that has two sides to it.

The reason that I have chosen Janus as the guiding presence in viractualism is that the one-directional explanatory mode of cause and effect does not fully pertain to my argument in that I do not put forward arguments which purport to explain one phenomenon as the monolithic result of another in a one-to-one relationship. Rather with viractuality I put forward discursive suggestions, as is the province of culture. Moreover, in janusian thinking opposites and antitheses are proposed as being simultaneously valid. This appreciation of valid antithetical simultanaities is very useful in reaching nonreductive synthetic conclusions concerning the whirr of information processing which takes place within the aesthetic viractual body. Viractual constructs integrate opposites and antitheses and in this respect differ greatly from typical dualistic thinking; the tendency to formulate concepts in terms of two exhaustive categories (in viractuality?s case the actual and the virtual).

Dualistic causality, bolstered by the seductive powers of linear narration (hence appearing clearer in terms of its authoritative explanatory closure) appears unsophisticated to me in the realm of viractuality. Indeed, particularly in the realm of viractualism, the post hoc ergo propter hoc (after this, therefore because of this) logical error of assumed causality is notoriously ticklish.

Thus in order to author an explanatory yet non-reified investigation free from the deceptive certainties of conjectural cause and effect, and instrumentally place the emphasis on viractual capacity, I find it necessary to examine viractuality from two directions at once: one direction starting with an inquiry into the larger philosophical and technical concepts of viractualism (what might be referred to as the metaphysics and technological ideology surrounding the details); and also from the other direction, through the examination of specific viractual artistic events and details. This dual method is still searching for a dynamic equilibrium of equivalents, not a disanalogous mechanical cause and effect historicism, which often thwarts the radical newness of artistic enterprise in an effort to historicize and make what is radically new familiar and comfortable by placing viractuality into a smooth, evolutionary continuum where vanguard art is made to seem to have evolved out of the past, thereby mitigating its newness by homogenising differences into a false perception of sameness. In this sense then, my study of viractuality strives to be an addition to the developing field of cultural analysis through its multiform and interdisciplinary aesthetic approach to techno-cultural phenomena, located in a medley of media with a view towards exposing previously unarticulated viractual promulgations.

But yes, the East is an important topic because what has happened in my view to our visual tendencies with immersion. The immersive perspective, if we can still use that word "perspective" anymore, pulls us out of the locked-in Renaissance point-perspective and its inert view which is deeply encoded unconsciously into Western society and Western visual expectations of a horizon-line and vanishing-point. Within viractuality the horizon-line and vanishing-point are unmistakably exhausted tropes which are no longer needed. Indeed the horizon-line and vanishing-point within virtual space appear to me more and more only as an inappropriate habitual holdover from the Cartesian mentality which has nothing to do with the specificity of virtuality. The space of viractuality is an emergent space of vast all-overness and spread-outness quite remote from the customary Western pinched perspectivist mentality.

I think the point is that this choice of consciousness can now be recognized as a convention of limiting parameters and is no longer an expectational given attached to a value of precision. Cartesian perspective within virtuality is now a goofy artistic propensity without any sense of truth or rightness. This bogus quality of perspective within virtuality can be used as a positive value within viractuality. A multi-gendered god(ess) expands the boundaries. Probably what we are discussing is a sense of viractual feeling experienced within the scope of a vast range; be it cultural, digital, or even natural. As we gain experience and sophistication by moving more and more through vast areas of aesthetic input, we are no longer satisfied with boxy, constrained, framed aesthetic data. Rather we desire viractual data which we can feel that we can enter into. We desire aesthetic data which at least on some level surrounds us in all-directions. Then we want to be sensitive to that data and respond to it profoundly. This entails the question of visuality, but it also entails questions of peripheral cognition. And this field of peripheral cognitive-viractuality, a field of artistic endeavor laced with the juicy strands of imaginative and visionary optics, I believe, is a field that is now open wide to artists with the advent of virtuality, or more specifically with the advent of what I have called "viractuality"; the meeting place between virtuality and actuality.

Here we might speak of a personal sense of viractual beauty in relationship to visualizations of the infected mutant. But perhaps instead of the concept of beauty we are here talking about the notion of attraction. Perhaps beauty doesn't work after all as a meaningful value in viractual art. Perhaps what we are all trying to set up instead are situations of viractual attraction. Seduction, quite obviously, is an important element in setting up such a domain, particularly in the realm of viractuality. That is why I find Gregory?s proposal for a nuetered non-sexed viractuality abhorant. That too is why the notion of the techno-sublime is an interesting one for me. It interests me in terms of viractuality because it contains in itself the dialectical opposite of its attractiveness - as it contains an aspect of horror too. Without an element of horror there is no sublime function, no sublime beauty, if you like. With the viractual sublime you have an attraction and a repulsion at work simultaneously which can only be fully embraced with the utilization of the conscious element of cognitive dissidence. Such a viractual consciousness yields a very enticing and complex emotion.

Certainly we cannot use the word viractual in any homogenetic fashion. There are too many levels and types and aspects to viractuality. However, I believe we in general are drifting away from the preference towards a viractuality which is valued in terms of its harmoniousness and more towards what François Lyotard called the technological sublime. This technological sublime contains a notion of viractuality connected to a more expansive art pedigree; a sensibility more fully stated through all manner of post-digital art created along the lines of what I have elsewhere connected to the lineage of viractuality.

Anyway, my time is up. Sorry that I did not develop a longer response to Gregory Little?s last letter, but I am with you as he takes over and will try to appropriately respond as I am able. It has been fun for me tossing around my ideas of viractuality. I hope I have not been too verbose, too introspective and too articulate here and that I have bored you. I know most people have a limited intellectual span for this kind of examination and that what people want are accounts of my sexual adventures. {^_~} Such criticism does sting me, much the way that drop of scalding olive oil had the check of sleeping Eros.

Viractually Yours,
Joseph Nechvatal


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