Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Myspace, Meatspace, Anyspace ("Whatever"?)

Excerpt from an email from a prominent French critic to moi:
[...] makes me think first about Bergson's speculations on the body as "center of indetermination." If that is what you mean by the artist as unconscious medium whose nerve-scales "scintillate" when creating art in the passion of the moment, then your own blog-art (as you call it), specifically Passagen-Work, has special resonance for me. One can see in both the literary collage methodology of Benjamin's Passagen-Work and your own blog "remix" of Benjamin's sensibility, the teleportation of a kind of "digital Any-Space-Whatever" (to bastardize Deleuze), one that taps into the underlying potential of the "non-place place" of practice that de Certeau investigates when considering narrative, or every story, as a travel story. "Cut and past(e) as you go" you say, or perhaps quote DJ Spooky who I must admit I have never heard of. But your post-Burroughsian cut-up method, if I may call it that, especially in GRAMMATRON, though perhaps even more so in Passagen-Work (even though the former is so much more the epic than the latter!), points to the sustainable forms of écriture I still find possible, possible because they point to the cinematographic grammatization of the new media apparatus' creative potential (that word again!), which must make perfect sense to you since your own literary sensibility, like Benjamin before you, is playfully taking into account the way our bodies become contaminated by technicity itself and - through acts of unconscious mediation (?) - attempt to jam (like a jazz musician high on the adrenalin rush of live performance with overstimulated colleagues who push him to the limitless beyond!) - with the phenomenological dimensions of a spectatorial synthesis one cannot help but become while engaging in this process of infraempirical embodiment.
While I must admit I never exactly thought of my early or recent net art work in these terms, I do see why a good deal of my work resonates with those who love to flirt with the ideas of post-structuralism and everything that has and will come after it. It's true that when making GRAMMATRON (soon to celebrate its 10-year anniversary) I was well aware of the fact that academia was becoming totally hot over the connection between hypertext and deconstruction, and that even in the title itself, I was locating a memorable neologism that suggested a link between Derrida's "Of Grammatology" and the machinic aspects of recombinatory writing's unconscious apparatus. Still, GTRON, and Passagen-Work some nine years after it (and with many net art works, museum installations, artist writings, and VJ performances in between), were never about the narrativization or aestheticization of a particular theory. For that, you can follow some of the work of N. Katherine Hayles (for example, Writing Machines , which I admit I have not yet read) who has found electronic texts much more accessible to the flirtations of academic theory (some might go so far as to say that these electronic texts were designed ("dressed up"?) for theoretical readings). Non, Le GRAMMATRON is much more about the influence of the rival tradition in literature and as part of its investigation looks to see what happens when this non-tradition tradition finds itself unconsciously using "cyberspace" as its metamediumistic co-conspirator in the act of creative composition. This metamediumistic tendency in the rival tradition of literature goes way back (Sterne's "Tristram Shandy" seems most relevant here), but also includes my own writer friends like Sukenick, Federman, and Acker, as well as my undergrad teacher Robbe-Grillet, some of the cyberpunkers, and yes, Burroughs.

Benjamin is another story altogether.

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