Re: [-empyre-] PATINAGE and TURNBABY by Babel
I questioned whether there is a viable thing called the "virtual" in the
sense that the notion of the "virtual" belongs to that set of ideas
associated with "realism" in representation (eg: virtual reality). As the
debate over the past decades in this area has shown representation is at the
best of times a problematic issue, with representation existing as a highly
contingent and culturally dependant discourse. Ever since the advent of
phenomenology it has been impossible to talk about a representation without
treating it as an instance of cultural moment and recognising the
problematic that exists in the spaces between the many modes the
representation can take (often simultaneously).
Virtuality as a concept has been promoted and elaborated within a community
that has been largely unaware of the more subtle arguments that have
occupied cultural theorists during the same period it has emerged. The
notion of the virtual has been developed within a context where the
relationships between value and representation, perception and
culturalisation, have been overlooked. It belongs to that same problematic
family of ideas that includes the "total work of art", "total cinema" (eg:
Imax type systems, surround sound, etc) or the "true" photograph.
All of these representational technological systems (virtual reality
included) draw their rationale from the idea that it is possible to create a
more "truthful" or more "real" representation of something. That the real is
an incredibly difficult concept to elaborate due to it being such a motile
thing, shifting from context to context, is simply not noticed. What is then
proffered is a simplified and reductivist vision of the "real" in an effort
to find the lowest common denominator (consensus). This of course does not
exist, although the hegemonic representational strategies that dominate the
popular imagination (Hollywood, Cartesian geometry, linear narrative, etc)
are then evoked as a "common" representational language in its absence,
marginalising difference and the diverse approaches to representation and
discourses on the "real" that are possible.
The Cartesian dualism and explicit materialist determinism that underpins
the concept and development of the virtual, as an idea and as an actual
representational system, is quite clear and it is in this sense that I would
argue that there is no such thing as the virtual except perhaps as a
marketing term or as another element in the McDonaldisation of culture.
On 07.03.05 16:20, "Barbara Lattanzi" <email@example.com> wrote:
> At 04:13 PM 3/6/2005, Simon wrote:
>> I would question whether there is a viable thing called the "virtual".
> Well, thanks for calling me on that, Simon. And I assume that you are not
> agnostic, but rather, expressing that the term is too vague to be useful.
> For me, Chris' comments are right on target, foregrounding the durational
> aspect that the interface in itself sometimes (paradoxically) masks. Jim
> also referenced duration in his earlier comments when, as I remember, he
> described interaction as what makes this experience of variable (and, by
> extension, "nondivisible") duration possible.
> And Helen's citing of FurtherStudio-Live, also picked up on by Chris,
> combines idea of nondivisible duration with dependency on an open
> communication channel being experienced by multiple people.
> thought experiment:
> Create an interactive video work on the Net that is to be experienced only
> once, by a single person who is not the same person as the one who made
> it. Further, the "interaction" is designed to immediately shut down the
> communication channel between the interactor and the system... Is that
> work interactive? Would it even matter during the one time it was
> experienced? For example, maybe it has happened to me that my computer has
> gotten a virus that causes a particular action from me including shutting
> down the computer and reformatting the computer hard-drive. This would be
> an interactive work experienced only once....etc. Nondivisible duration is
> suddenly interrupted/shifted into terminally-boring mechanical time because
> a communication channel (between me and system and between me and others),
> that should be open and ongoing, has been broken.
> On the other hand, if I am sitting at the computer, on a clock, to make
> money, a viral attack could be seen as an interface and liberation into the
> physical, somatic realm. Note that I am not saying "back" into the
> physical... Rather, it becomes a stark and sudden revelation of the
> So, maybe it is the articulated back-and-forth movement - pointedly
> nonhierarchical - between physical and network temporalities that is
> productive in developing a materialist aesthetic of the interactive video.
> empyre forum
Professor, Fine Art, Art and Design Research Centre
Sheffield Hallam University, UK
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