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

And hello to all of you, I will do my best to follow what has been for me a
very exciting trajectory.  Joseph, thank you so very much for sharing your
amazing thoughts with us.  Your use of language I find nearly extatic, far
beyond accounts of sexual adventures, but existing on a plane of "viractual
reverie".  I have enjoyed this a great deal.  Before I lay out some of my
thoughts on virtual construction, I do feel the need to comment on some
strands still dangling.

I will follow these comments with a second post to introduce my particular


Joseph wrote:
>That is why I find Gregory?s proposal for a nuetered non-sexed viractuality

I think I probably have not been clear enough about the "viractual
condition" I am describing.  I am not describing a state of neutered
sexuality, not a neutrality, not a state of negation, removal, erasure, or
lack....not neutralized...the state I am groping to describe is a state of
"both AND" relative to gender, a location beyond genital-identification, a
place of potential arousal-attraction-stimulation that is not genito-centric
and therefore cannot be called sexual in that it is not focused on climax or
procreation but on decentered stimulation, desire, pain, and joy.  A
construction of self, identity, that is beyond such labels as male, female,
new locations of erogeny other than the genitals, alterior to even the
cutaneous; locations for mind and memory that are not of the brain....but my
only zone of contention with your definitions of viractualism is the
necessity of leaving the body to soar....for me it must happen through the

>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.

again, for me your words are extremely stimulating, poetic, unique,
difficult, and, as I said early, oddly, admirably clear.

Christina wrote:
>The electronic landscape became a liminal arena in which the sense of my
own actual body's pain was not narcotized but rather sharpened so that I
could aestheticize the
experience of violence and memory in terms of a projection into the virtual
realm of electronica.

Christina, are you familiar with "Being Bodies--Buddhist Women on the
Paradox of Embodiment?"  It is edited by Friedman and Moon, and there is an
essay within called "On the other side of attachment", by Michele Martin.
It is so interesting in light of what you say in terms of the body's pain
being sharpened so that it could be understood.
In her Zen meditations she (Michele Martin) is repeatedly haunted by images
of her body as a rack of meat, being hacked to the bone, of pulling flesh.
It is not painful eventually, after several episodes she is filled with
light.  It is not the body that she must leave, go beyond, it is the ego; it
is not the mind that soars, it is the self.

It is through, and with, the attachment, the literality and
hypermateriality, the viscerality, that we slip into the virtual realm, with
OR without technology. There we, fully sentient of every cell and synapse, I
believe, can inhabit the interstitial "viractual span of liminality" that
Joseph cites as "the condition of
being on a threshold between spaces."   For me technology, especially
immersive virtual environments, are ideal locations for this kind of
experience, but so is a Jackson Pollock.

Christina wrote:
This cyborg projection is a kind of narcissistic
double, or golem, whose presence and voicings become a viractual theatre of
partially seen and heard, partially subliminal, content.

Yes, "the cyborg projection...narcissistic double, or golem", that is the
avatar, no?

I will follow with a post, within the next few hours, to introduce my
thoughts on virtual construction.  I will begin with a summation of my
"Avatar Manifesto" of 1998.  It can be found at:

Please feel free to look through my site, my "theoretical fictions" and my
artwork come from the same source and follow the same trajectories.

-----Original Message-----
[]On Behalf Of Joseph
Sent: Friday, November 15, 2002 8:25 AM
Subject: 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.

Viractually Yours,
Joseph Nechvatal


Add photos to your e-mail with MSN 8. Get 2 months FREE*.

empyre forum

This archive was generated by a fusion of Pipermail 0.09 (Mailman edition) and MHonArc 2.6.8.