Saturday, October 20, 2007

Transient Appearances

"Last night I was in the Kingdom of Shadows..."

"It is terrifying to see, but it is the movement of shadows, only shadows. Curses and ghosts, the evil spirits that have cast entire cities into eternal sleep -- come to mind -- and you feel as though Merlin's vicious trick is being enacted before you..."
The above is from a review of the Lumiere program at the Nizhni-Novgorod Fair on July 4, 1896, and is signed "I. M. Pacatus" -- a pseudonym for Maxim Gorky.

Gorky feels haunted by "[a] train of shadows" whose "[s]trange imaginings invade your mind and your consciousness begins to wane and grow dim..." Basically, he is falling into a cinematic trance and if he were capable back then of tapping into his creative potential as a remixologist, he would have used that trance state to autohallucinate (envision) another world (within our world). But how could he? Could anyone watching films for the first time in 1896 proactively envision an alternative reality that borrows from cinematic reeltime while anticipating the oncoming of digital culture's "asynchronous realtime"?

In the essay "(De)realizing Cinematic Time," Mary Anne Doane writes:
For the term "real time" can only take on meaning when there is the possibility of an "unreal time," the time, for instance, of an edited temporal flow, which is capable of reducing days to minutes, years to an hour.
She goes on to suggest that "[g]iven the viewer's heightened knowledge of the manipulability of the visual image -- its status as a simulacrum with no origin or referent -- time rather than space becomes the residence of the real." It has "a much longer history, an examination of which can elucidate the embrace of the seemingly contradictory attributes of continuity and instantaneity by the concept of real time. It is a history which coincides with that of the intensification of capitalism and its investment in a commodification inseparable from the notion of innovation -- it is the pre-history of real time." What Gorky saw as "a vicious trick" is not the result of some sleight of hand but rather the (de)realization of an emergent form of creative potential manifesting itself as cinema, one bound by its inseparable attachment to the apparatus.

The contemporary remixologist, an artist-medium melding with the apparatus in asynchronous realtime, innovates / remixes / manipulates / commodifies, that is, they trade in images, the way jazz players intersubjectively jam with each other by trading licks.

The process of envisioning, part image capturing, part hyperimprovisation, part trading/jamming, and part articulating a heretofore unimagined rhetorical drift running parallel to ones ongoing pseudoautobiographical narrative, spurs the remixologist on so that they continually and instantaneously play to play using indeterminacy and fringe-flow sensation as the roots of a practiced methodology (this kind of autohallucinatory performance is the live A/V artist's version of "method acting").

The hyperimprovisational play improvised by the live A/V method actors drifts inside an embodied durée where punctual present smudges with just-in-time past. Just-in-time past is a space of time where you have both "been there, done that" and are on the verge of another compositional breakdown -- no longer able to distinguish between the two. You're acting so fast, so methodically, in effect becoming the body-image in rhythmanalysis, that you turn into a kind of postproduction medium.


(editing cracks the dice -- spills the beans -- splices the scene)

Which leads us to the question that all experimental remixologists are programmed to ask:

"Is it happening?"

The answer is YES.

This is happening. This is happening too. And this.
"No one can possibly know what is about to happen: it is happening, each time, for the first time, for the only time." -- James Baldwin
Yes, it is happening.

But "Is it happening?"

Yes, it is happening. It's totally unreal.

Maybe the difference between 1896 and 2007 is that back then, you got freaked out by the question.

Now we just tap into our creative potential to innovate new work(s) that further programs the environment we find ourselves performing in.

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