[-empyre-] materiality as a dynamic process / the autonomy of the artist / augmented reality

José Carlos Silvestre kasetaishuu at gmail.com
Thu Sep 3 18:56:16 EST 2009

On Thu, Sep 3, 2009 at 5:11 AM, Gabriel Menotti
<gabriel.menotti at gmail.com>wrote:

> Dear all:
> Thanks for all the contributions! I think we had some very nice
> developments of the initial idea, and will try to sum them up, trying
> not to stray to far from the screens. =)
> >  A medium device, in layman's
> > terms, means a device which produces, stores, transmits, or provides
> access
> > to content of some kind; and this content is informational, or
> immaterial. [José Carlos]
> store/transmit/provide access: these are precisely the terms in which
> devices seems to behave more like spaces than objects - or better,
> more like architectures than mechanisms. what does that implies to
> their materiality?
> if the informational content has a different nature than that of the
> medium device - one as a presence, the other as a kind of openness
> (for lack of a better term) -, what hinders us from appealing to
> dichotomies such as channel/message, background/figure, etc?
> through other perspective: thinking of materiality as a dynamic
> process, in what is it different from information itself?

Good questions. Katherine Hayles has proposed a very interesting way to
tackle these tensions in On How We Became Post-Human. First, with a
dichotomy between inscription and incorporating practices - inscription
pertaining to the possibility of disregarding the material basis and of
having the message flow unaltered between different instances (for example,
how text can be reproduced), and incorporation pertaining to a dependency on
the materiality and the performative specificity of its enactment (say, the
waving of a hand, or learning how to type). According to Hayles, both
practices are not opposed as much as they are interdependent, in a dynamic
relation. It is a distinction already implicit in Merlau-Ponty, applied to
the problems of media and technics. She also draws a "semiotic square"
consisting of the dichotomy presence-absence, on one axis, and
pattern-noise, on the other, proposing a space in which the material
(presence-absence) and the informational (pattern-noise) can be thought of
intertwined: the implicit consequence being that either pair, taken in
isolation, has become insufficient.

About your provocative reading of media devices as architectures: yes,
indeed. Media assume transmission through space and/or conservation over
time: from the birth of writing, whatever we might mean by that, and even
moreso later with the domestication of the horse (and thus the birth of the
messenger), media have reconfigured our relationship with both space and
time, as a matter of affordances and as articulation. Maybe we should even
look at your question the other around - not how the relation of media with
spatiality and temporality affect the experience of its materiality, but how
the materiality of media affect our experiences of both space and time. I
think the parallel discussion on Artverts finely touches these issues;
"creating a temporary intersticial canvas" as a political gesture about
public/private space is a clear-cut example of what I am trying to say.
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