Thursday, April 02, 2009

Eternal Objects of Desire

An old article from the Forties, "Techniques of Photographic Art," is frequently sampled from and remixed into an essay on Edward Weston by Hollis Frampton in a new collection of his writings titled On the Camera Arts and Consecutive Matters, just published by MIT Press. A sample of the sampling:
An intuitive knowledge of composition in terms of capacities of his process enables the photographer to record his subject at the moment of deepest perception; to capture the fleeting instant when the light on a landscape, the form of a cloud, the gesture of a hand, or the expression of a face momentarily presents a profound revelation of life.
The idea of recording a subject seems odd to me. Rather, embodying an experience with a hand-held camera-as-prosthetic capturing not so much "the fleeting of an instant" but the movement (and energy) of an Event seems more appropriate. This "intuitive knowledge of composition" that comes with the artist-medium's operating system is never to be underestimated and can can be employed across all of the arts. Today it feels like it has less to do with seeing or "being in the right place at the right time." It is not a mater of clicking in sync with Nature as it [the creative environment] performs miracles in front of the camera that the photographer just happens to sense is about to "take place" so that they can then capture the moment. The art experience is not camera-ready. The readiness potential of any creative experience is generated by the artist who intuits their next compositional act by simultaneously and continuously generating their ongoing remixological performance wherein they reveal what it means to always become a postproduction medium.

Developing a mobile chorography that aesthetically composes with the camera-as-prosthetic is how an artist synchronizes their body / image making apparatus with the creative process of becoming a postproduction medium. It involves designing a customized inner choreography that can surf-sample-manipulate from the Source Material Everywhere. This is the environment that network culture connects us to. Our D-I-Y inner choreography that converts source material into memory and memory into what Joyce may have referred to as "meme-more-me" (image writing) requires that artists evolve a signature style of their own, one that directly relates to their "capacities" of processing the unconscious generation of aesthetically manipulated source material, particularly as it relates to their capacity to in-form themselves via proprioception, affect, memory banking, image (risk) investment, chora writing, remixological inhabitation, etc. To do this, I set out over the spring break to experiment with a Flip (see below).

Immediately after sampling from the old article above, Frampton writes:
Somewhere in a book whose name I have forgotten, Alfred North Whitehead proposes to correct two items of vulgar terminology. What we call things, he says, we should in fact refer to as Events. A little more or less evanescent than ourselves, things are temporary, chance encounters and collocations between and among particles of matter or quanta of energy, each of which, engaged in a journey through absolute space and relative time, has compiled a history that is not yet finished.

Contrariwise, what we call ideas should, according to Whitehead, be renamed Eternal Objects, since their perpetuation, while owing something to such events in the universal history of matter as this present mind which thinks or deciphers, and this absent hand which writes, are, once formulated, independent of local frailties of matter, standing at once within and without it.
Finally, Frampton ends this short section on Whitehead and the philosophy of an emergent camera arts by writing:
An Eternal Object, furthermore, is more than what is to be inferred from the static description of an Event; it is a behavior conducted by an Event, or, perhaps, it is an Event's notion of how to get other Events.
As artists who play with and against the camera as a prosthetic aesthetic in search of some loose concept of freedom, what is the Eternal Object of Desire and what does it mean to succumb to an engendering Event?

While in Portland this week, I had this idea that I would ride on an old bus and create an almost drill-like visual effect by nestling a Flip HD mino camera into the palm of my hand as I rocked my way through the city streets.

Drill, baby, drill. The image is no longer in my head. Instead, it saturates my nerves until the image itself explodes into the white heat of illumination.

On a different, less rickety bus several hours later, but jamming with a yellow pull cord that, in close-up, breaks or strips the image of any conventionally conceived fluidity or continuity of experience per se and creates an alternative visual rhythm as line in space, one that then has the potential to become painterly or lyrical or conceptual in style, I hit the record button and run with the Event:

Scraps of a life. Herky-jerky embodiment of the experience as vibrating medium. Bulldozing through history every other moment a speed bump a mud puddle a pothole over-trammeled. Twisting to the simultaneous beat of a city performing (its daily ritual -- an act of perpetual recovery).

Crossing the bridge as if in transition into some other life, everything turns black and white or, more appropriately, gray, even though I am capturing everything in color.

My inclination as to what to do with all of this gray matter and philosophical drilling?

To speed up and loop the visual rhythms so that they create a smooth smudge of experience for the rest of the duration.

To create a very listenable soundtrack that turns the digital sputtering into illumination.

To locate the deep interior shot that projects the experience in the first place.

To underwrite the visual with the poetic in subtitled formation.

Is this what it means to intuit a new phase of life?

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Sunday, March 29, 2009

Nouveau Medias

Now that Immobilité is about to have its premiere exhibition which will coincide with the launch of the Immobilité website, I will most likely spend the next few weeks posting entries that look into how this new artwork relates to both my past literary and digital artworks as well as some of my current theories on remixology, postproduction art, and hybrid processes.

For example, this interview with Rick Silva was conducted just as I was finishing principle shooting of Immobilité in Cornwall in late summer 2007 but was for some reason delayed in getting published by Rhizome:
RS: How does writing influence your artmaking and vice versa?

MA: Writing is where it all begins. Writing, for me, is like hacking into virtual space and shaping the world I live in. It can even be prophetic, as Burroughs says. Not in the sense of writing down "I will win the Lotto tomorrow" and then it happens (although that’s cool too — drinks are on me!). Rather, by intuitively tapping into the creative unconscious, one can oftentimes reveal an image of themselves in the world that they may have never visualized before. I can do this by writing. Others draw, or paint, or play sax.

Look at my character in GRAMMATRON, Abe Golam. GTRON turned ten years old this past June. I wrote it as a multimedia hypertext in 1993-1997. The story of GTRON takes place way in the future and is partly about a cyborg-narrator (Golam) who was once part of a net art scene that collectively hacked itself into the mainstream art world and changed art history. But this was 1993, before anyone really had a clue that that would actually happen six or seven years later (I’m still waiting for the film "2000: The Year Net Art Broke"). Abe Golam, it ends up, was the first net artist, albeit a fictionalized version of one that precedes what we now know of as the early history of net art.

Of course, in my current Foreign Film Series, writing is still at the core of my project as the narrative is driven by the subtitles which reveal the disappearing persona (protagonist) who hovers over the scene. For example, in the first film, "My Autoerotic Muse," this invisible protagonist obsesses over the web cam performance of a very well-to-do European writer who lives on Central Park West and uses her web cam performance as source material for her research. This is all revealed in the subtitles, even though we spend long moments throughout the film looking at her web cam image ourselves.

RS: You also have a background in filmmaking. Could you talk about your use of (moving and still) image and text?

MA: As an undergraduate, I studied with Alain Robbe-Grillet, a major figure in the French Nouveau Roman literary movement and who also was then securing his reputation as an experimental filmmaker. He wrote very erotic books, was the principal collaborator on Resnais' Last Year at Marienbad, touched off a wave of artist-generated theory, and his own films, like Glissements Progressifs du Plaisir, were very influential on my impressionable mind back then. At 19, I decided that I would leave the University of Florida, where I was studying creative writing and literature at the time, and move to L.A. to study film at UCLA so that I too could make my erotic art films. Very naive, yes? But I learned a lot while at UCLA and made some life-long friends including Nile Southern who has helped me direct the cinematography on the Muse film. It took me 25 years, but now I am making my foreign art films, although not as movies per se, rather, I see them as unique works of moving visual art that are adapting to the changes taking place in network culture. Most people who will be reading this interview know exactly what I am talking about, that is, what is the difference between cinema, digital narrative, net art, video art, VJing, and mobile blogging? Recognizing the differences while simultaneously blurring them into a hybridized art practice that I call "postproduction art" is where a lot of contemporary art and writing is shifting to these days. I have been working in all of these areas for the last 25 years and yes, there's a difference in technology and even methodology between the genres and formats, but going back to your previous question, I am able to shift between these media and mediums quite fluidly because at root, I approach them as a writer, a hacker, a semiotic codeworker.

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