[-empyre-] Starting the Second Week / Adeena Karasick and Alan Sondheim

Adeena Karasick adeenakarasick at cs.com
Wed Nov 9 09:26:09 AEDT 2016

Well here goes -- 
some thoughts about play and power
on this auspicious eve

A Juiced-up Jewy Jouissance of Multi-Media Dialectics

If according toWittgenstein’s Tractatus, the rulesof language are analogous to the rules of games; and if for Lyotard meaning isconstructed through libidinous play, and for Baudrillard,the notion of the “real” is a play of simulation and images, media poetics, reminds us how communication itselfis a massive, multipart and global algorhythm a celebratory praxis of pulsing plays,appelées (callings), pulls, pliespliés of hyper-spatial interplays, re/p/laced in plaisir. For the past 3 decades,I’ve been consumed with a sense of “linguistic play”, a play that leads not to “paralysis” but –because each luxuriant letter, phrase, meme is saturated with ideological codes,intertextually drenched palimpsested systems, must be read as an ever-shiftingpolitical social or gendered logospace of ambi-valence.
Recently,I was working in collaboration with vispoetic media artist and theorist, Jim Andrews,using dbCinema, a graphic synthesizer, where 'brushes' sample from a set ofspecified images. Essentially using them as 'paint', they are fragmented,palimpsested, bifurcated highlighting the construction of memory, meaningproduction, the materiality of language and the ever-recombinatory swirlingnature of communication; forgrounding how language is always-alreadyintertextatically layered and proprioceptively received. 
Drawing on two distinctbodies of work, Salomé: Woman of Valor, (the libretto from myOpera; re-visioning the apocryphal figure through a feminist, Kabbalistic lens)and Checking In (a listing of fauxFacebook status updates), its seductive swathes of color texture, image typographiesare synecdochic of how meaning unveils itself as an ever-spiraling space where“Origin” is unlocateable; and everything’s a re-articulation of are-articulation, an erupting in an irrepresentable present non present orresonant present that continually escapes itself. And as such, puts into play a kinda Lyotardian dissimulation; alibidinous “freeing-up” of structures for maximum potentiality of expression; highlightinghow through a plurality of regimes, “phrases” maintain their own rules,criteria and methods, and how meaning-making is always an anti-hegemonic playof signification
As outlined by Avraham,Abulafia, 13th C. Kabbalistic mystic, in his Science of theCombination of Letters, we are instructed to play inside the language, using ancientpractices of recombinatoric alchemy; gematriatic (numerological) substitution, combination,and through lettristic “skips” and “jumps” slippage, meaning is infinitelyre-circulated. According to Kabbalistic thinking, we are “commanded to permute and combine theletters; focus on them and their configurations, permutations; combineconsonants into a swift motion, which heats up your thinking and increases yourjoy and desire so much, that you don’t crave food or sleep and all otherdesires are annihilated. And nothing exists except the letters through whichthe world is being recreated; through a continual process of constructing andre-constructing borders, orders, laws, mirrors, screens, walls; through acaterwaulery of lolling scrolls brawling sprawls of extracted maculatesbracketed tracks, hacked fractures.
And this play is never merely “free play of association”, 
frivolous or free-floating but like in Wittgenstein’s Sprachspiel,  
always already operates through certain identifiable structures, codes,logics, idioms.  And communicationnecessarily becomes a praxis of palimpsest and dissemination, generating acontiguous infolding of meaning –
Theseinfinite (algorithmic) openings, though overwhelming are not equal to no choice at all, but rather -- swirling through Hebrew, Aramaic, Englishand Yiddish, multiple creators, aesthetics, histories and codes, is synecdochic of howlanguage is always between multiplecultures and traditions, renditions and re-codings – how meaning slips betweendifference, appliance, appearance, and never possesses some portable anduniversal context. But rather as Wittgenstein’s description of a“language-game,” meaning “consist[s] of language and the actions into which itis woven.” And functioning through friction transgression, invasion,contradiction, ambiguity, thrives on rhetorical strategies of ornament andexcess, heterogeneity and paradox, hybridity and desire. 

Date: Tue, 8 Nov 2016 09:24:59
From: Murat Nemet-Nejat <muratnn at gmail.com>
Reply-To: soft_skinned_space <empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au>
To: empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au
Subject: [-empyre-] Starting the Second Week / Adeena Karasick and Alan Sondheim

----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------

The origin of the computer involved the decoding of"enigma," a mystery—a desire to penetrate the impenetrable, theveiled, violating the inner sanctum of an enemy in a time of war. Demobbed, ina time of "peace," the computer became as aggressive tool ofseduction, offering algorithmic possibilities for happiness and ease/ or obeisanceand abjection. (I hope by the end of the day we don't discover that DonaldTrump is the apotheosis of this virtual existence where a lie is equal to truthand being "bored with success" is the coin of the realm.)

 Both ADEENA KARASICK and ALAN SONDHEIM are intensely attunedto the deep effect of the computer in contemporary life and culture. Whileembracing and even ingesting its pervasive presence and adopting its tools totheir poetic/artistic purposes, each in her or his way carries out a rear guardaction against it, in essential ways redefining or critiquing its nature.
Worddance of a womanof valor—Salome: Canadian poet, performance artist and librettist ADEENAKARASICK is acutely attuned to the seductive impulse that lies at the heart ofthe computer. But she transforms its hostile functionality to an ecstatic danceof feminist (religious) empowerment and sensual self affirmation. Against an ideaof infinity embedded in algorithmic proliferations, she posits a counternarrative—the infinity the 13th century Kabbalist Abulafia (the contemporary ofthe Sufi poets Rumi and Yunus Emre in Anatolia) saw within a play/dance of language.That's the way Karasick describes it: " For the past couple ofdecades, I’ve been consumed with how a sense of infinite linguistic play leadsnot to paralysis'... [But] its seductive swathes of color texture, image typographies aresynechdochic of how meaning unveils itself as an ever-spiraling space where“Origin” is unlocateable [italics myown]." Karasick returns to the unlocatable mystery atthe origin of the computer.   
"Artist, writer, and musician, working in entangled media," ALANSONDHEIM is inherently suspicious of the ability of the computer finally toreveal the secret embedded in the enigma. Rather, he sees it as a series problematiccodes full of holes, created and combined, proliferating into ever largersystems. Yet the gaps remain, and humanity, culture remain entangled with them.In their skepticism of a final "localized" meaning, Sondheim and  Karasick are similar to each other; but, tonally, extremely different. For her, thecontinuous change with "unlocatable origin" is ecstatic. His ismelancholy, infused with a sense of catastrophe and dissolution. His work is acontinuous meditation on endless human entanglements with codes and the woundsthey inflict. Here is how he describes it: " I have been working withcomputers for decades, and specifically with virtual worlds and motion capturefor the past fifteen or so. I developed the notion of 'codework' to indicateworks in which code is presenced on the surface, but problematic - works inwhich meaning uneasily inhabits distinctions among 'worlds of the work' andprogram-spaces. Of course the distinctions themselves are problematic andentangled among many other things, such as the body, abjection, and 'dirt' inthe mix. In motion capture, I've worked with altered software and mapping,producing distorted avatars and avatar behaviors. In virtual worlds, I've beenworking with concepts of gamespace, edgespace, and blankspace...."

To know more about Sondheim's vast work, one can read theinterview "Surging Towards Abjection: an Interview with AlanSondheim" in The Rain Taxi (http://www.raintaxi.com/?s=Alan+Sondheim+Interview).
I hope the members of the list will participate in thediscussions around the works of these two artists.   

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