[-empyre-] A Post-Futurist or a Neo-Baroque perception?

stamatia portanova stamatiaportanova at yahoo.it
Tue May 12 01:22:34 EST 2009

Hello Tim

I am really looking forward to reading your new book. The subject of Baroque philosophy, mathematics and aesthetics in relation to digital technology I consider very interesting, especially with reference to Leibniz (the inventor of calculus and one of the first to talk about the possibility of a binary digital system as a mathematical way towards perfection...). In fact, what fascinates me about this particular philosopher is the continuous 'split' between a rationalist personality aiming towards absolute perfection and aspiring to find the best system to scientifically reach it, and the awareness that perfection and closure are mathematically impossible and only accessible by God (the keeper of all geometrical truths), while the world is still pervaded by the mists of irrationality and confusion (at least for our perceptions and thoughts), and only 'approachable' through the differential calculus of infinitesimals with no end... In short, the double
 tendency towards linear rationality and irrational folding, which is the same incredible coexistence between digital binarism and calculus, I think is worth exploring. To me, this suggests a strong link between Leibniz and Whitehead, a philosopher who was very much influenced by Lebnizian monadism, and the ontological crystal of rationality/affect..

The passage from cinematic to digital aesthetic is one of the subjects I am also currently thinking and writing about. I think that digital media propose us a different compositional modality. In fact, in my work, I don;t refer so much to the modalities of perceptual transmission and reception of images by cinema or multimedia (which is also an important argument), but more to the image as 'idea', as something that actually catalyzes the use of different technologies and the appearance of different compositional possibilities, according to the different image that 'pushes ad pulls' the creation. So, cinematic and digital images for me are two different ideas, while also becoming two different technical realizations. In this sense, I think of the cinematic idea as linked to a possibility of abstraction (or, even better, 'extraction') and re-composition of durational units (shots) through montage, into a sort of cinematic relativism. In short, all this is
 not so different from Deleuze's concept in his Cinema books. This possibility to extract and compose is then realized by the cinematographic apparatus (the technology, the setting, the actors, the director, the audience...), in different ways: movement-images, more focused on the temporal causality of actions, what Whitehead also defines as the 'causal efficacy' of perception, and time-images, emphasizing the qualitative aspects of the image, its sinking into a virtual, non-linear temporality similar to the thick present of Whitehead's 'presentational immediacy'. It is this last aspect of cinema, that works as a counterposition to its linear modality of projection.
At the same time, if we look at digital images (I'm concretely thinking here of digital video as a genre, and also to its relation with the dance image, in dance for the camera), the compositional idea seems more related to the discrete and the numerical (as D.N.Rodowick shows in his book The Virtual Life of Film). A Cartesian system of coordinates where everything is decidable according to mathematical operations (as often digital video makers, like Antonin De Bemels, a young artist whose work I really like, often do in the montage phase). This digital composition in its turn is related to different 'interactive' conditions of spectatorship, which appeal, as you suggest, to 'non-linear temporal folds of coexistent positions and postures not sharing the same world or point of view'. 

I think that underlining how technical modes and systems of composition coexist, are actually initiated and realize, different 'ideas', can be very useful to give us the sense of a 'Baroque' technology that very much resides in the between of reason and affect. Its 'strain' is in this sense already extended, before arriving to the screens, in-between the very limited space of digital bits, and the wide algorithmic calculations possible (and not predictable) between them. Gregory Chaitin is an interesting mathematician who talks about the 'virtuality' of the digital in intriguing terms. And for me, again (at the risk of being repetitive), I think Whiteheadian philosophy is the place to go back to, in order to explore how rational thought fosters its own affects and its own sensations. From this point of view, we could say that digital technology, in its abstract-concrete, can be related to the coincidence between sensation and thought, which philosophers
 from Leibniz to Whitehead and Deleuze, conceptualize. And here, the conceptual (rather than the theoretical) perhaps reaffirms its own importance into the picture, if we consider it more as a further, more abstract feeling, a grasping of ideas, than a simple laying out of intellectualizing systems.

thanks for giving me the opportunity to think about these things!


--- Lun 11/5/09, Timothy Murray <tcm1 at cornell.edu> ha scritto:

> Da: Timothy Murray <tcm1 at cornell.edu>
> Oggetto: Re: [-empyre-] A Post-Futurist or a Neo-Baroque perception?
> A: "soft_skinned_space" <empyre at gamera.cofa.unsw.edu.au>
> Data: Lunedì 11 maggio 2009, 06:30
> >Stamatia,
> I am intrigued by your references to the Baroque or
> Post-Baroque.  In 
> my new book, Digital Baroque: New Media Art and Cinematic
> Folds 
> (Minnesota), I place renewed consideration of the Baroque
> in the 
> context of theorizing new media, particularly in relation
> to its 
> inscription in and, I think, resistance of the mechanics of
> cinematically grounded projection and the derivatives of
> Euclidean 
> geometry (with hints of chronology and metrics).  My
> primary thesis 
> in the book is that new media provides the opportunity for
> a 
> conceptual shift from linear visual projection to
> non-linear temporal 
> folds of the kind you seem to describe in relation to
> affect or that 
> Ashley tonight references in terms of the Kentridge
> installation.  Of 
> course, this argument is very much in dialogue with Gilles
> Deleuze's 
> work on the fold in Leibniz and, most particularly, with
> his emphasis 
> on coexistent positions/postures that may not necessarily
> share the 
> same world or point of view.  But the theoretical
> background need not 
> be appreciated for us to understand how techno innovations
> in 
> movement and motion solicit a rethinking of spatialization
> and shared 
> perception.
> One of the fruits of this week's initial discussion of
> critical 
> motion practice has been its evocation of critical and
> temporal 
> events whose interrelations, touchings, and brushings
> excede, 
> compound, or confuse the rationalizations of systems and
> their visual 
> projections.  As Ashley suggests in her account of
> Kentridge, this 
> does not mean that projection vanishes, but that the
> overlappings in 
> space and time of digital coordinates and technobodies
> extends the 
> paramaters of the artistic "strain," as delimited
> by the screens of 
> projection and its histories.
> I'm very much looking forward to seeing how this
> fascinating and 
> intense conversation progresses throughout the month.
> Best,
> Tim
> >As someone who really enjoys working with concepts, I
> like to take 
> >writings, practical works, historical eras and
> manifestos as places 
> >where interesting critical and theoretical discussions
> potentially 
> >linger. Post-futurism for me is a concept, in the same
> way Baroque 
> >(' and Post-Baroque') are. In fact, if we
> consider things just at 
> >their 'significational', or
> 'representational' value, even the old 
> >Futurist manifesto could have been dismissed as already
> >outfashioned, (in the same way as all proclamations
> about art and 
> >its more or less democratic meaning can be). But if we
> judge things 
> >in this way, we might miss the possibility to discuss
> some of the 
> >most interesting cultural, aesthetic, political ideas
> suggested to 
> >us..
> >
> -- 
> Timothy Murray
> Director, Society for the Humanities
> http://www.arts.cornell.edu/sochum/
> Curator, The Rose Goldsen Archive of New Media Art, Cornell
> Library
> http://goldsen.library.cornell.edu
> Professor of Comparative Literature and English
> A. D. White House
> Cornell University
> Ithaca, New York 14853
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
> http://www.subtle.net/empyre


More information about the empyre mailing list