Re: [-empyre-] Is Modernity our Antiquity? who is we? : existential sublime

I'd like to add a quote from Erik's article, actually the conclusion,

'It seems that a deeply rooted belief in technology as a compensatory apparatus, a machine that can transcend the limitations of the merely human, has played a crucial role here. Machines have become not only the mediators of the divine, but in their mythological significations the complexity of the new machineries and their extraordinary transformative powers in society and in the private lives of an ever growing portion of the global population, have become the abstract embodiment of the divine. It is a system of belief that assumes a new 'naturalised' status, in which technology is not seen to be driven by will or interest, but is increasingly regarded as a matter of fact, much like the forces of nature. The enormous popularity of biological metaphors in the speculative writings of new technology protagonists of the mid 1990s [24] testifies to this 'naturalised' status of emerging technologies. Society itself is no longer seen as the interplay of strategic interests, conflict, and power, but is regarded as an emerging property of the interaction of abstract forces that operate outside of anybody's will or interest. However, the projection of this public image has been largely a deliberate affair, driven by a variety of strategic interests, so much is clear post-WorldCom, post-Enron, post-World On-line. As Barthes noted long before all this, myth is depoliticised speech, and the politics have been effectively washed away by the metaphor of nature. The purpose of the naturalisation of the mythical object is to make it appear neutral, matter-of-fact, indeed "natural", and thus unquestionable.'

(Amsterdam, May 2005)


On Mar 7, 2006, at 12:16 AM, Christina McPhee wrote: Hi -empyre-

thank you Aliette for this compliment and, quite accurate casting of this mashing discourse we have on empyre this month...

In this disjunctions and other disjunctions of ideas coming from these different conceptual cultures, there is a REAL cognitive disposition of the differences that give a feeling of knowledge to subtle ideas of each part -inprogress- even they will possibly work self-apart.

To "Is modernity our antiquity"?

one's first response is another question,  who is the  we? which we?

which launches another algorithm of thought, about whose modernism and antiquity and then how about getting past the binaries.

When I was studying painting as an undergraduate there was only one 'we' , the idealized eye of Cezanne. The formal rigor to see every color change as a material affect: no more light, only color, only the data of materiality. Though an ace painter, there was no place in that world for one such as myself to be regarded as other than a nice girl who makes pictures. There was one kind of 'we' and I was generically not it. Therefore there was no 'we' zone, shared space; nevertheless, a Joycean phrase of the time echoed on bad days,

"allgirls is we,

at times"

and (also Anna LIvia here),

'thinking always,

 if I go,

 all go,"

This got me just to the point of disappearance. I'd go.

But in actual fact , my life experience as 'girl' was always 'becoming'.--

I was disruptive, never at one point of a binary (A-B) or the other, loving equally antiquities and modern, not having place in either.


Erasure and silence here but also aphasia, or partial articulation. Partial visualization. Things half scene or seen, as in dreams.

Working through painting I came to 'new' tradition of performance from Ana Mendieta and Marina Abramovic, together with the architectures of memory and trauma in Louise Bourgeois. Nor, neither post-modern nor modern, the 'allgirls' of this group operate in the - between, A-B

They'd introduce a prime place for the imaginative leap, or 'possibly, maybe' (Bjork), existential sublime. an 'other place', pretty scarey but also rich in the moment of waking after nightmare.

Coming up from the dark, or coming up for air, it is as if she/I/ we (this girl / kore) was always getting away from Mom, even the Mother of the New Cathedral of Erotic Misery. Even as Mom (alma mater, academia, new media) hits on pomo or mod, either way, one day one way, the other way the next. She could hang out in the place of x (could be genetic, xx, could be no place) . Probably outside the Cathedral? (I am not sure!)

Critic  John Haber wonders

what happens when art translates visual data into a human landscape.

or the other way, as GH suggests, performance, human landscape into visual data,
on the earthquake fault lines.

I developed a practice of making performance within the landscape using digital media, artifacts transliterated from a machine interface, thereby both giving myself the condition of erasure and disappearance, but also of disruption and provocation at the same time, but at a remove (because the production was artifacts or instantiations of the performances rather than the performances themselves). In connection with a new site study (in progress) on La Conchita

I wrote some notes towards a seminar last December at Humlab, University of Umea (thanks to list members Patrik Swensson and Jim Barrett)

Triangulating between study of the limited range of scientific forecast or remedy, and documentation of the continued local intensity with which the site inspires vernacular sacred gestures, digital media may amplify leaps and elisions between observed ‘fact’ and subjective response, as the sense of place emerges, less through a psychological subject (psyche) than through a pervasive multiplicity of data arrays (a landscape of data). In this regard, the sublime comes into play, since a mathematics of chaos determines the scales of time and periodicity in the always already traumatized place of La Conchita.

I was playing around somewhat mendaciously, or at least with the artifice of, place as a construct of some off-the-screen, sidereal 'presencing' of machine sequences 'as if' they were standins for a transcendental data scape, like the enormous, full on, predictable database of geologic and hydrologic information that supports a certain prediction of more mudslides and death at La Conchita. I conceived of a plan to try video analog editing tools to make 'data' driven disruptions of the straight video shoot, as an allegory of this machine dictation of some reality, some logos coming from somewhere else, off stage, off screen. Just as the way Hiroshima is a character in Hiroshima mon amour, anterior to everything and all memory. Then to punch it all back into digital video negating the mechanics or rather overwriting via layering loops of nonlinear digital editing. It was partly for this reason that I went to Experimental Television Center in New York state to work with the linear analog Jones Sequencer to edit streams of digital video on La Conchita. I desired a 'machinic' edit. (see http://

and a bit more about that grrl (with a few apologies for indulging in some deleuzianisms), I asked the Humlab habitants,

Persephone goes to the underworld, but she returns. She is always en train de something else, becoming, recursively, thereby performing survival in the face of literally crushing adversity and its anticipation. In and out of the ground, Kore generates a topology. Performing its own becoming, and at a remove. Is shooting the evidence, like the hanging of a thing onto another thing, like a prayer flag with a heart onto a chain link fence at La Conchita, at once art and ritual itself? The work desires more than re- presentation, wants presence, in the repeat. Intuitively, the performance of documentation wants both to observe La Conchita and to sublimate its terro(i)r in images that move from the erasure of the community to its recuperation and return. laconchitaprojectstatement.html

This probably deluded aspiration, finds some gloss in a very interesting discussion on the 18 century philosopher Edmund Burke's understanding of the sublime in existential, or at any rate experiential terms, thanks to our guest Eric Kluitenberg.

in "Connection Machines" , his observations are apropos of several themes, scale, time, measuring, and mystical attachments thereto, that go back at least as far, in his account, as the 13th Century, and have their apotheosis in Tesla.

If you 've followed my daisy chain this far, thanks for your patience and indulgence.


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