[-empyre-] introduction here -

Hi - I'd like to introduce myself. I work in new media, particularly text,
video, executables, and sound. The first URL below is my main site
directory; the second includes work that might be disturbing to some
(therefore it's in a hidden directory). The third is an older mirror site
at Australia National University. I was the second writer-in-residence for
the trAce (sic) online writing community; the fourth URL leads to some of
the collaborative projects we did.

http://www.asondheim.org/ http://www.asondheim.org/portal/.nikuko
Trace projects http://trace.ntu.ac.uk/writers/sondheim/index.htm

My work is based on the interstices between formal systems and
consciousness; I've always been fascinated by coding of various sorts. In
the 70s I was working on text manipulation programs that would contradict
what the writer or reader was attempting; I also wrote, at that point, an
article on 'hierarchical structuring,' based on what I saw then as a
fundamental structure - immersive and definable levels interacting. A
definable level is atemporal coding and transformations - for example 2+2
= 4; an immersive level is experiential, time-dependent, and fuzzy (in
several ways) - for example, the _process_ of 2+2 = 4. Immersive levels
can be codified into definable, and vice-versa; the result is a hierarchy
(later holarchy, or 'tangled' hierarchy) of processes.

In this manner, I worked with both structure and its experience -
something that has been with me constantly, and is at the heart of
codework. I consider codework _not_ to be programming art, but to be the
problematic of the interstices of structure and experience - both the
experience of the bones and the bones of the experience. Codework
generally leaves a _residue_ - which may be parts of the written program
or its manifestation; there may be peeled layers (i.e. jodi and view
source) or rather permanentlly hidden layers (i.e. my compiled .exe in
visual basic).

All of this is compounded by self-referentiality, which always contains a
residue - for example "letters" is different than "word" even though both
might be considered tautologies.

Part of my work deals with bodies in relation to this, the extrusion of
bodies into and throughout code, and vice versa. The body is always
already a culture object of course, but the opposite is also true, that
symbolization/code is always already embodied.

Embodiment and desire are interrelated; embodiment, as Husserl and others
have pointed out, is intentional (at least consciousness is); I think the
body is always tending-towards, rather than homeostatic (Ashby's and
perhaps Freud's model). Disruption, dis/comfort, the 'dirtiness' of
sexuality and 'dirty' language - all of these play important
socio-political roles, roles of the intermixing/interbreeding of codes and
substance, somewhat neatly covered in the beginning sections of Kristeva's
Powers of Horror.

And arousal toys with death, the breakdown of the symbolic order; I've
developed a word, 'defuge,' to indicate this post-breakdown or cathexis -
defuge, for example is what happens when a particular pornographic image
no longer 'works' for you, or when you've repeatedly tried to read a
novel, and then start finding the beginnings 'stale.'

It's out of all of this that I'm working - code/body/language/culture/
politics, inextricably woven. And it's also an _escape_ from my inability
to do hard science or mathematics - as if the humanities offered an easy
way out.

(Robin Williams on television the other night talking seriously about
wanting to be an astrophysicist or molecular biologist; instead, like
myself or the Marx brothers, developing talking into and out of any
situation - )

I've been a bit sick, sorry for getting going late - and hope this is ok -

- Alan

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