The International Dance and
Arizona State University, Tempe
February 27, 1999
Body and Garden in Zero State:
The disembodiment of the embodied;
The embodiment of the Disembodied.
This presentation will probe the nature of the emerging body/context. This "blossoming" body is primarily driven by science and recent pervasive technologies and techniques.
At this time of world-age change, when the great celestial 2000 year clicks yet again, and as usual, engenders clouds of global doom and even apocalypse, I would propose a vision that, at times, may seema distant mirage, but at other bursts and moments, a fully tangible new "garden" -- a place of mutuality and even exaltation that blooms mid the fires of ArmageddonÕs, superficial and violent surrounding us.
The topological image I wish to propose is that of the new body/context, dominated by inversions, reversals and inside-outedness. These body/context changes are archetypal, and assembled as a whole, represent a new paradigm, a new surface and form. For example, the natural and the human have been displaced, inverted, as if the body were turned inside-out. Both body and nature are combined in a 4th dimensional "Kline Bottle." A Kline Bottle is a mathematical topology where the inside and outside are one continuous surface. Thus in this metaphor, body/nature creates an infinite skin/landscape--a surface for the newly blooming body, an infinite, 4th dimensional, "kline bottle" body. This "body" and its surrounding surface constitutes a new "garden" or zone of potential, an intimate region of mutual exaltation--where nature and the human exalt each other.
But a few of the major forces driving this concatenation are:
The new infinite cosmology--the universe as an infinity.
Life as a universal presence--Mars, intelligent life
DNA--control of life forms, cloning, inside out reversalsDNA controls life--life controls DNA
The computer combined with global communications systemsÉ Desert Storm, O.J., Oklahoma City, Diana, Clinton/Lewinsky, the simultaneous finance globe...
Brain re-forming chemistry alters mind/body relationships
Internal and external robotics--the micro/macro machine
Dream-culture, lucid dreaming and technology-economics... meaning dominates means!
Recent science and technology (with technique) have turned all topological relationships inside out and upside-down. The traditional set of relationships from inside to outside are: psyche (all aspects of the mind), body (all biological and sensory aspects), nature (the not human: the animal, plant and materially formed world), and wilderness (the beyond, the uncontrolled, the unknown). Now, the unknowable wilderness is at our core, surrounded by nature, which is now within the body--all surrounded by the mind and its struggles to form meaning.
Further still, this inversion becomes infinitely extensive becoming the layers of an infinite and continuous surface-- the skin/landscapean intimate and infinite "Garden." (It is now necessary to "return" things to the wild.)
Traditionally, if we looked at the "modern" construct of Culture, we would have seen the difficult interactions between the massive structures of Art, Science, Technology, Language, and Values/Beliefs- or "Religions." Each of these domains of culture was a world unto itself, responding to it own inward needs and developments, interacting awkwardly with each other, and, in many cases manifesting overtly destructive or repressive interactions. Each had within itself, its own complete set of sub-categories and sub-relationships. Science had its own art, its own language, its own technology and techniques, its own science and even its own "religion." Likewise, Art had its own language, its own technology, its own science, its own values, and even its own art.
The large aspects of human Culture have tended, in the last century, toward self-isolation and solipsism. Consequently, each moved in its own gravitational field with enormous internalized momentum. The continuous struggle between contradictory desires surrounding conflicting societal expectations has, more recently, engendered confusion and even cultural stagnation.
Now, however there are three fundamental vectors consisting of vast assemblies of inter-related ideas, technologies and techniques converging toward a transformation of "modern" and even "post-modern" traditional relationships, inverting and reversing them, creating new relationships. They are Techne (the combine of science-technology-technique transformation under way -- most recently, the digital revolution); Ecos (the integration planetary systems knowledge -- the view of the planet and the cosmos as one living intensely interrelated whole, from DNA, to a life-strewn cosmos.); and finally, Mythos (the quest for a structure of knowing, meaningful existence and belonging ). Techne, Ecos and Mythos are all animated by an overpowering information/communication/media burst.
The combined impact of these cultural vectors is to fold cultural consciousness back on itself, to re-form and force the body inside-out upon itself, creating an interference surface in which we can dimly perceive a love, yes LOVE, embedded in our deepest feelings. This overall impact inverts the general intentionally of "modern" alienated culture and is indeed a way into unmarked and open "garden." These developments have the force to flip the underlying negative gravitation, so clearly demarcated by Baudrillard, preparing a ground for another set of potentialities. This drive toward a new paradigm is dominated by a new "relationism" --there is no science without technology or art, there is no art without science or technology, there is no meaning or value without science or art, --all aspects of culture must develop "in relation" to each other.
In the largest frame, the networks and their connected technologies, software and techniques are complex holographic mirrors that do and will reflect and image the largest axiologies of Culture interfering with the presence of the individual psyche, producing a moir-effect or interference pattern that gives rise to new illusions which feedback upon fundamental psychic processes and upon the deep nature of the culture itself. In sum, this combined and complex technological and technical presence combined with its dazzling array of phenomena is the latest means toward the externalization of human consciousness. Networked life inheres the limits and taboos, the potentials and liberties available within the largest framework of human culture synchronically with those of particular individual's psyches. What is most radical is the multifaceted flowing and multidirectional dynamism that inhabits this holistically interactive mesh. At the same time, its deep communicative and expressive power has barely been tapped and is at a very early stage of formation.
This powerful transformation is dialectically balanced by an intense drive for a new intimate poetics-- new forms addressing internal necessities, i.e., redemption, propitiation, liberation, transcendence and ecstasy .These internalized forms reach outward through alternative modes of communication, for example, lucid dreaming, telepathy, trance or gift exchange. This internalized poetic is pulled by the desire to transform the world into an intimate reality. Desire and empathy are combining into sensorial interaction with the near-space, the intimate space of objects/images, relationships and procedures which react to the implacable chill of the mediated and controlled surfaces of mediated-shared culture. This emotional and physical domain is a highly charged, a differently understood ecology--an externalization of the inward body and vice versa, the ECOS or nature is subsumed within the body --the rain forest becomes an ecology of new drugs-- the earth becomes the motherÕs womb.
At this moment, all these emergent relationships are in a state of floating flux--a flickering, if not stroboscopic flashing. We see them in blazing flashes, both inward/outward, like a reflected flash in a transparent window. What we need is to extract the particulars from the structures that are being shown-- to see the larger forms, the archetypal "organisms" of this new reality. This is what I refer to as the "zero" state where one floats among these blinding, seemingly random, stroboscopic flashes. This newly evolving drama is flickering back and forth between the intimate sensorial field of mental life and externalized physical substance, energy and society. . The notion of prime text and original image seem nearly archaic and non relevant concepts in the discourse we are describing, breaking even further the symbol to referent cycle necessary to the concept of property.(This disconnection has definitely ambivalent value, further disrupting the already feeble and dislocated sign to referent relationship.) In this interface we can enter a more flowing relationship between the mind and sensorial physicality, a communicative, interactive multidraft-multidrift "garden" constituting its own new forms, structures and contents. Pre-existing images (photographs, diagrams, paintings, sculpture, architecture, etc.); music and sounds; gestures and touch; do not live comfortably in this new reality. Briefly, they want to be more dynamic, more rapid, more explorative, and inquisitive; they want to be more democratic, more synaesthetic, more polyvalent, more free-associative. In other words, this new framework demands a de-gestalting and fragmentation-- then a re-assembly on another plane of consciousness. It requires entirely new image formulations --dynamic, hieroglyphic and synaesthetic in nature--all in a mutual "inter-relational" mesh.
In the largest frame, the networks and their connected technologies, software and techniques are complex holographic mirrors that are and will reflect and image the largest axiologies of Culture interfering with the presence of the individual psyche, producing a moir-effect or interference pattern that gives rise to new illusions which feedback upon fundamental psychic processes and upon the deep nature of the culture itself. In sum, this combined and complex technological and technical presence combined with its dazzling array of phenomena is the latest means toward the externalization of human consciousness. Networked life inheres the limits and taboos, the potentials and liberties available within the largest framework of human culture synchronically with those of particular individual's psyches. What is most radical is the multifaceted flowing and multidirectional dynamism that inhabits this holistically interactive mesh. At the same time, its deep communicative and expressive power has barely been tapped and is at a very early stage of formation.
As with any new tool set, and woven into its complex set of emergent techniques, is the distorted tendency to concentrate on its effect on the so called objective world and to neglect its extremely complex interactions in the psyche, its world and its expressions. Every new tool opens the way towards inward articulations and realizations and to outward expressions of states and forms of consciousness previously unknown or at least unarticulated.
This provocative condition requires utterly new "choreographs"-- a new kinesthetic and dramaturgy. New artistic/poetic invention fashions and explores, together with the new technologies and techniques, a new vastly expressive, intimate, synaesthetic/multisensory consciousness. Even now, there has evolved a vibrant mesh of actions and events pulled by a tremendous gravitation toward the integration of the senses in synesthesia combined with the desire for higher coherence in 4D consciousness.
My first set of observations surround the more formal nature of time, space and action. Because of the nature of interactions original signals get confused with secondary signals creating a zone of synchronicity among a field of events which are not sequential. The cause-effect reactions get confused, and effect causes, cause. It is difficult to preserve the order of performance scores. Continuous reorganization is required, partially due to attention to multiple reactions, partially in response to no reaction. Hence performance/programming has the feeling of a single discontinuous time zone with radiant branches that fold back on themselves.
The multidraft reality proposed by Dennett becomes palpable and exchanges of the various drafts becomes simultaneous along with a continuous sense of fragmented animation as if one had farmed out different pieces of a single animation to different studios without instructions and then simply assembled them as they came back in any order. (I would like to extend the concept of multidraft to MULTIDRAFT-MULTIDRIFT in this discussion and context.) To add to the complexity, many animations metamorphose slightly or radically, adding to sense of aphasiac synchronicity which nevertheless is distributed and shared- a generalized aphasia. Max Headroom is the patron saint.
The formal structures of space-time experience are extremely volatile and voluble impacting directly on the real-time presence of events in exciting and provocative ways, creating a condition that no one has ever experienced before in any other medium. Event-time and network time interact in such a way that an event which is very fragmented and disconnected is smooth on the net and events which seem smooth in real-time often become disrupted and incoherent on the net. This creates a social heat that is unique.
From perceptual an social time/space reconfigurations, we can dive into the surface, the immediate perceptual surface of pixels and scanning rates that have been thoroughly discussed in terms of their psycho-physiological impacts upon alteration of consciousness. What we have observed is peculiar softening of focus, as if the video/digital surface has become a shallow bas relief, a sense of abstraction or disengagement from the pixillated surface and the presence of a difficult to articulate set of operations that activate this shallow space as if it were a thin lens with its own optics and expressive power. Most interesting is the relationship to mirrors, reflections and windows both at the surface of the image and at a distance, and especially operations at the shallow surface of the image, like drawing and marking. At the other extreme the integration and rebroadcast of prepackaged tapes and images bring a new romanticism, an interesting and nearly mythic nature related to the soft focus concept and "unfinished" gestalt psychology. In all attracting and imbedding the body and mind in a larger symbolic play.
Posed in contrast to this seductive power is the accumulation in the multidraft-multidrift nexus combined with the abstracted soft surface and a sense of general anonomy. This contrast creates a genuine dilemma for the repressed and suppressed libido. The libido can formulate no fixed surface identity as a target for its desire for and violence toward that surface is anonymous and soft-focused. This ensemble dams up erotic discharge. The ego disburses itself as a polyphonic entity unfocused and untargetable. The ego develops many identities all multi-voiced while the libido rages without focal victim.
We can clearly perceive that this framework implies a new politics and a new economics of relationship. It can mean a still further disengagement from typical fabricated political and economic relationships. Unique forms of power can be created and used in genuinely new ways. Reactions to these synthetic and symbolic sources of power will be of great impact as a dialectical interaction evolves between it and other more traditional forms of economic and political relationship.
The life of the Erotic develops other strategies for in the pre and subconscious domains, the networked domain becomes supercharged hence the irruption of violent attacks from nowhere, porno and virtual sex, virtual intimacy, identity experimentation or ego mobility, the super gross, all driven by the dominant incest archetype and developing at its first stage the hyper fragmented stereotype of seduction and aggression-- a pulling together of opposites in an incestual androgyny whose process is alchemical in structure . The network is the crucible and its fractured and aphasiac chaos is the prima materia where new 'hieroglyphic' complexes with ferociously intense conglomerations of meaning live. In this 'hieroglyphic' nexus there are organizations of knowledge governed by understandings of relationships among knowledges; a new "relationism" which will bare its own knowledges and rules.
This communicative, interactive multidraft-multidrift domain constitutes its own structures and contents. It is a reality that demands its own rhythms, sequences, formalisms- its own perceptual apparatus. When looked at with as little prior experience as can be mustered, it is apparent that the pre-existing image (photographs, diagrams, paintings, sculpture, architecture, etc.); music and sounds; gestures and touch; do not live comfortably in the digital environment. Briefly, they want to be more dynamic, more rapid, more explorative, and inquisitive; they want to be more democratic, more synaesthetic, more polyvalent, more free-associative. In other words, the combined networked digital reality demands a degestalting and reassembly on another plane of conscious structure. It requires entirely new types of image formulations which are dynamic, hieroglyphic and synaesthetic in nature.
Our networked and virtual digital experiences permit the melting of signals, both visual and acoustic, into a single commanding electronic framework that is neither visual or sonic. Combined technologies for the reproduction of sound and high quality visual representation integrated with midi connections provide the basis for an integration that can produce extraordinary qualitative sensate experience (virtual realities). Beyond these thresholds lie the domains of directly integrated cyber realities that are at issue now. In this reality the human body, with all its meaning and history, becomes enfolded and engulfed, swallowing all external society and nature in its gravitation- the total inverted and pulled inside-out.
I leave you with the image of a new infinite skin/landscape, a skin-scape both body and nature in one --all eye, all ear, all touch.... all synaesthetic, dynamic--moving; having all sensory powers simultaneously. This skin/scape flows as a dynamic surface of inverted relationships where the wilderness of the unknown or unknowable is the core layer, sandwiched by the inverted layers of body/nature, laminated between outer layers of the mind--- an entasis and ecstasis in one surface. It embodies the disembodied and disembodies the embodied. It is the new "Garden of Mutual Exaltation in we can begin to move from a floating zero point. This "zero point" is transforming us now--in is folding us, turning us inside out, and inverting all things in a new relational total ecology.