Saturday, February 21, 2009

Email: A Dialogue Between the Material and Digital Object

In the midst of spam messages inviting me to tune in to naughty web performances while downing a few Viagra, bureaucratic memos reminding me that it's been five months since I last had my performative filters changed and my idea-engine lubed, and cleverly manipulated info updates on how the crashing economy will effect future budget cuts seriously undermining the Amerikan way of life, it's hard to focus on what is being conveyed in some of the more intellectually inclined missives that make their way into and out of my email box.

To protect the innocent I will not name names, but I am continuing to go public with some short email excerpts I am sending/receiving with active minds in the network. If there are others who follow suit and post portions of their emails, please email me so I can tune in.

Here's an email excerpt that I recently sent to a student seeking advice on an upcoming undergraduate exhibition that mixes ceramics with digital video projection:
There are a few artists I know who mix materials this way. The first one that comes to mind is John Simon Jr. What he and others who attempt to create these complex relationships between the various media set out to achieve, is a dialogue between the elements. Usually, in order for the dialogue to work as an interesting art experiment, that means each has to not only have its own language but also its own content that somehow meshes with the other media/ium it is conversing with.

How does that relate to your ideas in the proposal? I would suggest that there is a dialogue you are projecting but that it sounds more like a representational dialogue instead of what I would call post-productive dialogue.

In a more post-productive dialogue, the complexity would move beyond the representational schema. An example of a more complex and self-contradictory dialogue between the objects, if translated into colloquialisms, might go something like this:

Material Object: Hi, I look like this and I don't move.

Digital Object: Yes, I see that. I can only vaguely mimic your form but at least I can move and am capable of dematerializing any second and, if you think about it, you can't really touch me now, can you?

Material Object: I can touch you but I can't feel you.

Digital Object: You don't *have* to touch me to feel you.

Material Object: What? No need to get touchy about it. Why do you want to be like me anyway?

Digital Object: Who said I wanted to be like you? I can't be like you. Besides, you're too stable. Rock solid. I could never be that.

Material Object: That's true. Here I am. Rock solid. I can exist without you. But can you exist without me?

Digital Object: This is a question I keep proposing. And yet, for some reason, I have an easier time expressing what's going inside of me than you do. [Pause] OK, truth be told, I still need you to exist so that I can continue dreaming.

Material Object: Keep dreaming.

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