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Daniel Rourke (M, 32)
London, UK
Immortal since Dec 18, 2007
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All things would be visibly connected if one could discover at a single glance and in its totality the tracings of an Ariadne’s thread leading thought into its own labyrinth.
- Georges Bataille
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    From sjef
    A Basic Introduction to...
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    The thing modelled
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    From Robokku
    Temporal hypertext
    Rourke’s projects
    Polytopia
    The human species is rapidly and indisputably moving towards the technological singularity. The cadence of the flow of information and innovation in...

    The Total Library
    Text that redefines...

    Start your own revolution
    Catching up with the future. All major institutions in the world today are grappling to come to terms with the internet. The entertainment...

    What happened to nature?
    How to stay in touch with our biological origins in a world devoid of nature? The majestic nature that once inspired poets, painters and...
    Now playing SpaceCollective
    Where forward thinking terrestrials share ideas and information about the state of the species, their planet and the universe, living the lives of science fiction. Introduction
    Featuring Powers of Ten by Charles and Ray Eames, based on an idea by Kees Boeke.
    In one of the most uncanny revelations in science fiction, the protagonist of H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine awakes from his anthropic slumber: the museum is filled with artefacts not from his past, but from his future. From here the very notion of history, of memorandum, retrospection and the artefact is called into question. The Time Traveller has become lost not in space, but in time, and nothing will ever be straightforward again.

    Like the Time Traveller I too am a wanderer of ancient museums in unfathomable lands. From my perspective, having just visited The Tate Britain’s 4th Triennial exhibition, history and future have coalesced, time has become space and space time in the most explosive of reversals. For I have seen the Altermodern, a series of new works by roving, mainly British, artists.

    If Altermodern’s curator, Nicolas Bourriaud, is to be believed, the time for Altermodernism is not now, but everywhen. Starting from the Latin alter, for ‘other’, Bourriaud’s insistent exhibition spreads outwards, not like the spokes of a wheel or the branches of a tree, but like a spider’s web, it’s silken threads tending to overlap, to bind in globules of infinite stickiness. In the literature for the Altermodern exhibition, Bourriaud uses phrases like “the struggle for diversity”, “a positive experience of disorientation” and “trajectories [that] have become forms” to characterise a mode of ‘modern’ art wrapped in a cocoon of its own definitions. The modernist museum has long since crumbled - so Bourriaud suggests - leaving us to mistrust its linear notion of progress; to deny the inevitability of cultural (r)evolution. In its place arose postmodernism’s looped perspective of time and the artefact, where the narrative journey through the museum became like an acid-trip of self and meaning.

    But postmodernism too was a dream (or maybe Bourriaud’s nightmare) destined to destroy itself. Our schizophrenic humanism has become globalised and, like the internet’s digital cobweb, grows in complexity by the nanosecond. Into his Altermodern maelstrom Bourriaud has cast a series of works orchestrated with this complex network in mind. As one ponders the Altermodern museum (The Time Traveller’s Tate Britain perhaps?), one encounters a voyage through Liquid Crystal landscapes; a fictional archaeology and the concrete head of a God; the lost desk of Francis Bacon, corrupted by digital transmission; a series of animatronic heads, depicting an artist in chorus with himself; a nuclear plume of soldered cooking pots; a gigantic accordion; an epileptic hashish bar; and a brand new global language for the Altermodern generation.

    Walead Beshty’s Fedex Sculptures was a favourite exhibit of mine. Unimposing, cracked glass boxes sit on the Fedex packaging that housed them during their delivery to a Los Angeles gallery. The glass boxes became ‘sculptures’ not through the physical craft of Walead Beshty, but through the sheer, brute force of their trans-Atlantic journey. In their revealing, the damaged boxes ask us to question the notion of identity through movement. Their original mishandling by Fedex caused them to exist as artefacts, yet from now onwards they will be handled with the care given to every ‘refined’ work of art.

    Aligning the walls of an adjoining gallery, and kept in the same space as Charles Avery’s God-like, concrete Aleph, is a row of textualised photogravure prints. The prints are of principal photos from history, called up by the bluff of artist Tacita Dean. Through a kind of hypertextual transfiguration Dean’s surreal and often very witty annotations incite a violent conversion via the rhetoric of cinema. Once again, time becomes space and space time as the two-dimensional celluloid moment is sent reeling in filmic antithesis.

    Elsewhere in Tate Britain’s 4th Triennial, Marcus Coates develops the iconography of shamanism to its Altermodern conclusion. Wearing the carcass of a badger on his head and with a stuffed hare poking from his Adidas tracksuit, Coates attempts to appease the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Indigenous animism meets modern monotheism in this short video-work by the artist.

    As one wanders through Altermodern one is lead to question the specific location of certain works or exhibits. Works by artists such as Peter Coffin, Loris Gréaud, Katie Peterson, Seth Price, Lindsay Seers and Spartacus Chetwynd demonstrate signs of cause and incident that extend far beyond the gallery walls. Altermodern denies the linearity of modernism, passes through the hall of mirrors fabricated by postmodernism and emerges as a process rather than an identity; as a chain of causes, the effects of which are still playing themselves out - somewhere, somewhen - on a globalised planet. Like the future museum in The Time Machine, Nicolas Bourriaud’s Altermodern switches around the arrow of time and sticks its finger in Einstein’s cosmic eye. Like The Human Genome Project or the interwoven pages of Wikipedia, Altermoden places us outside of ‘the now’, remoulding modern culture as an explosive momentum rather than a stationary moment.

    Whether one runs screaming from the monstrous figure of Altermodern or simply tweaks its nipples in defiance will largely depend on the kind of Triennial experience you desire. Don’t expect to grasp Altermodern on its first, second or even tenth viewing. Just try and remember The Time Traveller’s dilemma as you ponder and hope - beyond all hope - that your future does not become Altermodern’s past.

    Altermodern runs at The Tate Britain, London until the 26th of April : www.tate.org.uk/britain/exhibitions/altermodern

    Please go to artshub.co.uk to read the article in its original location
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    This slice in hyperspace follows on from these past posts:
  • How things 'become': The infinity of definition
  • The Archaeology of 'The Book'
  • hypertext/?="The Metaphor is the Message" (Part I)

  • ...and is a direct response to this post by Robokku:
  • Temporal Hypertext

  • Time is important in the definition of any model, hypertextual or otherwise. At the moment I am interested in how new technologies allow us new ways to see, to realise the world around us. This constant re-definition of our realities can actually add temporality to mediums which previously had none.

    Modern technology has allowed art historians to 'look' at paintings with new, multidimensional, eyes. Shine certain wavelengths of light onto a Picasso painting and it becomes possible to read marks under the surface of the paint. What's more, apply several different wavelengths of light to the same painting and multiple layers, painted by the artist at various different times, become visible.

    In a sense, once an available technology has re-examined the painting its process is more obvious: the non-temporal becomes temporal. Each layer is like a snap-shot of the artist's process, their vision, even their 'mistakes'. The laser/x-ray imposes a kind of hyper[textu]ality upon the painting which previously was unavailable (but not absent - only hidden). Of course this causes the art historian to weep with joy, but it also causes an exponential explosion of interpretation from that moment onwards. Any further examination of the painting now occurs in hyper-reference. The painting can never be seen as merely 2-dimensional again.

    The example I have given can be extended to countless other mediums and medias. Film has its cutting room floor / multiple editions. Ancient manuscripts have their palimpsestic layers, just as the painting does. In fact palimpsest is THE word to use here, as it applies to all medias.

    Examine the outside of an old brick building and very often you will find the outline of a window that was bricked in, a foundation that no longer leads to an out-house, or a patch of brickwork that had to be fixed. Even the photograph has had its dimensionality extended. These are remnants of temporality, just like the layers under the painting: the word is a palimpsest, and I've grown used to using it often.

    Now here's the bit which leads back to my original post. and acts as in answer to Robokku's questions...

    How does/can this palimpsestic awareness apply to the future of information/expression? The internet contains copies of its former self, hidden not so far from view. Wikipedia has its history section and google has its cache. The Internet Way Back Machine allows ghostly simulacra of webpages to be pulled out of the deep freeze. My 1998 homepage is alive, somewhere.

    But is this layering of information the same as a palimpsest? I am not sure. Binding time together with human reality are the narratives that anthropomorphises it. Follow the xray-defined marks under the painting's surface and you can actually see the former brushstrokes of the artist, layer after layer, hour after hour: time is made real in the narrative story of the artist's action.

    This kind of narrative arc does not really exist in internet archives. The user is taken out of the equation and all that is left is a username editing the entry on 'Defenestration' for the 12th,17th or 26th time. A ghost of personhood can be seen, but it is far inferior to the powerful force of just one single hidden Picasso brushstroke.

    How can we infuse our new metaphors with these narrative dimensions?

    I linked to a Seed magazine conversation in my Archaeology of the Book piece that NEEDS to be read (or watched) again and again. Please come back after the layers have realigned themselves and add some layers of your own to this (or Robokku's) post.
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    Perspective makes the single eye the center of the visible world. Everything converges on to the eye as to the vanishing point of infinity.

    ~ John Berger, Ways of Seeing

    The perceiver's position in an architectural, or merely physical space, determines the dimensional imperatives of that person's mental qualia. It is interesting to note that each viewer of a rainbow stands at the centre of their very own optical illusion; that light, once split into its component colours, streams - within the constraints of nature - upon a mathematically defined axis, of no more or less than 42° relative to each perceiver's location. There is no definitive rainbow, indeed no absolute dimension from which one could view a rainbow, a horizon or simply a piece of architectural design. The ethereal qualities of light juxtaposed upon an infinity of possible perspectives extends interpretation into the realm of chaos. Throw into consciousness the essence of 'what it is like to be' (known in philosophy of mind as 'qualia'), and human caprice may very well define the clarification of any meaning as a pure impossibility.

    In art, the act of interpretation grows newer tendrils of abstraction by which to strangle anyone vivacious enough to attempt to verify it – yet attempt to we must. I intend to show that the application of consciousness upon the interpretation of art is what defines it. This definition, in contrast to the kind of definition for words one might find in a dictionary, will not dwell arrogantly upon the assumption that art (or words for that matter) can be 'defined' at all. My definition of the word 'definition' from now on will be to 'add new dimensions and qualities to the universe itself in the examination and multiplication of qualia, thereby giving reality a greater clarity'.

    That the human universe can be defined at all is ultimately a consequence of consciousness. To 'give reality greater clarity' is merely to multiply the 'what it is like to be' or the 'beingness' of any entity or concept. The more these kinds of being are multiplied, the more ways there are to perceive the universe and since the universe itself is nothing but perception, consciousness (in all its forms) may very well take credit as the creator of 'the real'. Just as a greater number of pixels gives an image a higher definition, so any multiplication of 'being' within the universe brings a higher definition to what has 'become'* . That which is perceived may be thought to be a minor segment of a text, a play of light on a skyscraper or a wavelength of colour in a rainbow – what in fact consciousness perceives is a universe being given better clarity in the very act of its perception. An exponential autopoiesis of 'becoming':

    A poem should not be but become.

    ~ Charles Bernstein, Rough Trades

    That kinds of being can multiply is nothing special. Nature itself has blindly found, over the past few billion years of evolution, many new ways in which to 'become' itself. The application of amoeba 'being' lends a different definition to reality than bat 'being'. A bat, in turn, has a sonar 'beingness' utterly distinct from any human, and thus must experience a very different universe from ourselves. Where human consciousness wins out over other types of ‘being’ is in its application of language. Language, in this sense, can be understood as a virus:

    From symbiosis to parasitism is a short step. The word is now a virus. The flu virus may once have been a healthy lung cell. It is now a parasitic organism that invades and damages the lungs. The word may once have been a healthy neural cell. It is now a parasitic organism that invades and damages the central nervous system. Modern man has lost the option of silence. Try halting your sub-vocal speech. Try to achieve even ten seconds of inner silence. You will encounter a resisting organism that forces you to talk. That organism is the word...

    ~ William Burroughs, The Ticket That Exploded

    ...and like any parasitic virus, language, and its forms, multiply and subsume their host – hijacking its nervous system for their own ends. Consciousness is subsumed by language, therefore the human universe is defined through language, just as part of a bat's universe might be said to be defined through sonar (or sound). To aid in the multiplication of language forms; to bring greater clarity to a universe, humans must apply their language 'being' within reality. Art can be seen as language in a broad sense, but in this essay I will concentrate on those modes of language which apply most fervently to the art of poetry: writing, reading and becoming.

    Here an admission of restraint must be given: in order to throw so many broad terms into my examinations (i.e. art, consciousness, form, language, writing, reading, becoming, etc.) I am tightening the very tendrils of interpretation which threaten to choke me. To ignore the limitations of my own analysis would be to contradict myself, and therefore to void each word as I wrote it. Therefore I will attempt to utilise the methods of one for whom the constant redefinition of his own negation of definition was second nature...

    In his 1977 essay 'The Death of the Author' Roland Barthes argues that writing destroys all traces of the writer. This classic post-modern position assumes ownership of a text to be that of culture itself, finally labeling the writer as an instance of language. "Life" says Barthes, "never does more than imitate the book, and the book itself is only a tissue of signs, an imitation that is lost, infinitely deferred.". The multiplicity of emergent meanings for a text allows readership to become the ultimate act of understanding, thus finally, giving the reader a broader, more holistic power over a text's meaning:

    Thus is revealed the total existence of writing: a text is made of multiple writings, drawn from many cultures and entering into mutual relations to dialogue, parody, contestation, but there is one place where this multiplicity is focused and that place is the reader, not, as was hitherto said, the author.

    ~ Roland Barthes, The Death of the Author

    According to Barthes, the clarification (or 'becoming') of a text involves acknowledging dimensions beyond the plane of the text as expedited by its writer. The topology of writing suddenly loses its Cartesian dimensionality: the constituents of meaning have exploded:

    For the present we can say that creativity is not only the fresh perception of new meanings, and the ultimate enfoldment of this perception within the manifest and the somatic, but I would say that it is ultimately the action of the infinite in the sphere of the finite – that is, this meaning goes to infinite depths.

    ~ David Bohm, Unfolding Meaning

    * (Of course this means that any absolutely defined digital camera image would have to be made up of an infinite resolution of pixels – "I'd like a camera with at least ∞ megapixels please" – true 'becoming' would have to be plotted on an exponentially divergent curve. All infinitesimal steps in clarification are worthy of acknowledgment simply because true definition is infinite.)

    (This piece was originally posted on my site, www.huge-entity.com some months ago.

    For those of you who are interested, read Part II of this piece here:
    The Codification of Artistic Species...)
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