[-empyre-] Week 1: Intersubjectivity

Murat Nemet-Nejat muratnn at gmail.com
Mon Jul 13 06:33:03 AEST 2015

"As the *interfacing* occurs between human and computer, the idea of
intersubjectivity is canceled out, since the computer, if understood as a
digital entity, lacks the ability to subjectify itself as Agamben argues:
“digital dispositifs are before all else instruments that engender
processes*” (2010) in relation to users."

Hi George,

Thank you for your clear description. In one crucial way I will disagree
with you and suggest an alternative, a different way of approaching
intersubjectivity: not only does the computer as a digital entity *not *lack
the ability "to subjectify itself," au contraire, the digital (particularly
in the web, but necessarily only there) embodies a doubled, a radicalized
subjectivity. The web that the user is interfacing with is an absolute
other, an unknown, regardless of what we may or we think we do glean from
it. To this otherness is added the programer's (the digital artist's, etc.
) otherness the user is interacting with.

My problem with Agamben here is that he is only focusing on the multiplying
effects of the user's subjectivity in the interacting  (which is obviously
so), but he is ignoring the existential subjectivity of the internet as a

I think, underlying my distinction, and the arguments that may flow from
it, is an attitude (or a question) relating to technology in general: does
humanity totally controls (or understands for that matter) the technology
it creates or if technology has the inherent ability to go beyond the
limits of, to transcend that understanding.


On Sun, Jul 12, 2015 at 8:06 AM, george sabau <george.sabau at gmail.com>

> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> / Comments …/
> Part two of my intervention continues with a short comment to the
> first half of my text… While Subject is an essential concept, commonly
> used in conjunction with its counterpart, Object – Intersubject on the
> other hard is only rarely used, perhaps because it doesn’t pair up
> quite as well (sic) with Interobject.  One may also appeal to
> wordplay, setting up the rapport between inter- and intra- take for
> instance the pair Internet/Intranet; we can now speak of a link
> between the two concepts at hand Intersubject/Intrasubject.
> The term dispositif was used here in its French spelling, since an
> equivalent does not exist in English dictionaries, having been
> replaced by the term apparatus or device; although I should add that I
> have lately noticed an increased use of the term dispositif in the
> field of relationships and influences between art/media/technology in
> order to promote a kind of unlimited eclecticism, where the exemplary
> esthetic model is the installation.
> I should reveal that the theoretical text that I have been working on
> since 2010 and that I hope to complete in 2020 has as its main topic
> the emergence of eclecticism in old and new media – here, I consider
> the installation model as constructed through various dispositifs,
> whether these may be material objects, artifacts, immaterial software,
> interacting gadgets or subjects. Therefore, I speak of dispositifs as
> those “minimal bits of meaning” which structure an esthetic construct.
> There is certainly another theoretical possibility, while an artistic
> practice already exists, where small analog or digital dispositifs are
> presented in the exhibition context as autonomous works; we may thus
> have enough reasons to argue for the framing of yet another esthetic
> genre, which we may simply call dispositif – as one would use the
> terms installation, sculpture, performace. Either way, the history of
> art makes note of numerous such analogue or digital dispositifs – from
> the famous triptychs from Renaissance cathedrals, such as the Isenheim
> altarpiece, to Duchamp and his Rotative plaque verre (1920), and from
> there on to the cinematographic dispositif, to video dispositifs, to
> digital or virtual examples from the sub-genre of “interactive
> dispositifs” such as The Legible City (1991) by Jeffrey Shaw, and the
> many other autonomous esthetic constructs that are not parts from an
> Installation.
> George Sabau, multimedia theorist
> July, 2015
> On Fri, Jul 10, 2015 at 5:32 PM, george sabau <george.sabau at gmail.com>
> wrote:
> > Interactive Dispositifs
> >
> > New media is a relevant, conclusive, and encompassing syntagm, although
> an
> > extremely prolix one; which is why one might prefer to think of related
> > practices as operations based on digital dispositifs instead. (I use here
> > the French term, rather than the English quasi-equivalent device or
> > apparatus.) In this regard, the term inter-subjective can only become
> fully
> > operational in relation to the term inter-active. Although interactivity
> is
> > an essential feature of any given digital system, its meaning is in turn
> > contingent on the term-concept interface. As the interfacing occurs
> between
> > human and computer, the idea of intersubjectivity is canceled out, since
> the
> > computer, if understood as a digital entity, lacks the ability to
> subjectify
> > itself; however, as Agamben argues: “digital dispositifs are before all
> else
> > instruments that engender subjectifying processes” (2010) in relation to
> > users. Therefore, the most creative contributions emerge on the side of
> the
> > observers / spectators, inevitably leading to intersubjective
> relationships,
> > both as acts of reception and interpretation, as well as in
> > authorial-creative processes.
> >
> > Even though the forms of expression that interactive dispositifs may take
> > are not manifold, they are nonetheless highly personalized; I’m referring
> > here to art works made on disk support – cd.rom, d.v.d. – which may also
> > include projections and displays, as well as network pieces – net.art,
> web
> > art – or analog-digital pieces, which would fit under the eclectic
> category
> > of installations. In this context, it would be hard to speak of various
> > degrees of intersubjectivity, except to the extent to which there is a
> > higher or lower degree of interactivity, which leads us to a top three in
> > participatory density. It thus becomes evident that a maximum of
> > interactivity belongs to Internet-based forms of expression, followed by
> > works made on disk formats, and by installations with fewer interactive
> > capabilities.
> >
> > Certainly this “plain text” (I like it …) is based on a selective
> > bibliography, which is nonetheless also consistent with the exhibition
> > practices that have been at work for several decades in the kinema ikon
> > atelier.
> >
> >
> > George Sabau
> >
> >
> > On Wed, Jul 8, 2015 at 5:18 PM, Ileana Selejan <ileanasel at gmail.com>
> wrote:
> >>
> >> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> >> Following-up on our previous post: for this week's discussion we're
> >> pleased to introduce Horea Avram (RO/CA) and George Sabau (RO). Dr.
> >> Avram is a professor at Babeş-Bolyai University in Cluj, where he
> >> teaches classes on new media art and related topics; he is a prolific
> >> writer & brilliant theorist who has also worked on various exciting
> >> curatorial projects, which he might be tempted to elaborate upon in
> >> this present context. Mr. Sabau is the founder of kinema ikon ca.
> >> 1970, the oldest experimental arts group in Romania. As a teacher and
> >> mentor, he has been a formative figure for several generation of
> >> artists and experimenters. You can read more about their history and
> >> current work here  http://kinema-ikon.net/ ... Extended biographies
> >> below.
> >>
> >> George Sabau, multimedia theorist, born in 1937 in Arad (Ro.).
> >> University BA in Aesthetics. Researcher at the Art Museum of Arad and
> >> professor at the Highschool for Fine Arts. Founder (1970) and animator
> >> of the atelier kinema ikon. Author of experimental films, video-art
> >> and co-author of hypermedia works on cd-roms, which participated at
> >> international exhibition of digital art. Theoretical texts on cinema,
> >> video and multimedia published in anthologies, catalogues, and various
> >> art magazines, including Intermedia, issued by kinema ikon. AICA
> >> membership. A promoter of the theoretical fiction with application in
> >> multimedia installation. (2015)
> >>
> >> Horea Avram is Lecturer at the Department of Cinematography and Media,
> >> Faculty of Theatre and Television, Babeş-Bolyai University, Cluj,
> >> Romania. Doctoral studies in Art History and Communication Studies at
> >> McGill University, Montreal. He researches and writes about new media
> >> art, representation theory, technology and visual culture. His most
> >> recent publications include “Augmented Reality”, Encyclopedia of
> >> Aesthetics, Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2014; “The
> >> Visual Regime of Augmented Space”, in Theorizing Visual Studies:
> >> Writing Through the Discipline, James Elkins (ed.), New York:
> >> Routledge, 2013. He publishes essays in: M/C Media and Culture
> >> Journal, International Journal of Arts and Technology, Kinephanos,
> >> Ekphrasis, Idea. Art + Society, Arta, etc. Independent curator since
> >> 1996. He has curated most notably for Venice Biennale in 1999.
> >> _______________________________________________
> >> empyre forum
> >> empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au
> >> http://empyre.library.cornell.edu
> >
> >
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au
> http://empyre.library.cornell.edu
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