META exists at the crossroads of art and science and of culture and nature. Tracing the uncommon threads between common topics, META presents its readers with views into the abyss of visual information and with experiments in associative reading. META invites you to browse according to taste.
You may ask, â€œwhat?â€ An archive, a Wunderkammer, a magazine guided by methods of research, collection, preservation, reprint and the linking of topics at their META level.
You may then ask, â€œwhy?â€ To play with information in all its astatic glory. META refrains from attempts at categorization, taking a gamble on dynamic navigation! META eschews the linear in favor of surprise. Each visit starts with a random welcome and ends with an even more random exit.
TIMOTHY J. ATTANUCCI (1979) was born in Boston, Massachusetts and studies German literature at Princeton and the Humboldt University, Berlin. For META, he contributes his musings on the irony mark in No Irony.
DAVID BETH (1974) is a writer and esoteric explorer, and the sovereign Grand Master of the Ordo Templi Orientis Antiqua. Learn more about his Gnostic involvement in XI. ARS DE REXâ€”Sexual Magic, the Art of the King, where he is interviewed by Ailen Roc.
SUMMER BRENNER is an accomplished writer of poetry and fiction, based in Berkeley, California. Her writing has extended beyond the borders of print into performative and musical realms, and she is also involved with literacy and community projects targeted at youths. For META, she reads from her critically acclaimed novel and discusses her motivation for the project in Driving I-5.
OLAF BREUNING (1970) is a Swiss artist, living in New York and working in photography, video, sculpture, installation and drawing. For METAâ€™s mini interview series, he shares some of his favorite things in accompaniment to a selection of photographic works. See Mini Breuning.
Illustrations by William Buchina
WILLIAM BUCHINA (1978) is an illustrator with a penchant for portraits of political tyrants. In addition, he is a graphic designer and creator of illustrated guides to English grammar. Some of his work is viewable here. He currently lives and works in New York. See his work in The Body of the Event.
DAVE BUNNELL (1952) lives in the small gold-rush era town of Angels Camp, California. This professional spelunker and photographer worked on an Imax film about caves, somewhere beneath Mexico. META interviewed him for Far Beyond Stalactites and Stalagmites.
PETRA CORONATO is probably the only author in the world who didnâ€™t only read Alexanderplatz, but also swept it. She is the owner of tongue tongue Hong Kong, a company founded in 1993 with dependences in Berlin, Vienna and Zurich, which recycles fiction profitably and unpunished to this day. In 2006, she commenced the ongoing photography project The Poetry of Document.
Writer Jeffrey Croteau is the Manager of the Library and Archives at the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library in Massachusetts. Read another of his articles on American Masonic groups, ''Brotherly Deception'' published in Cabinet Magazine here. For META he co-authors a discussion on ritual and fraternity for the article Daughters of Job.
MICHELE DANTINIâ€™s (1966) work is characterized by its handling of trans-cultural practices and their socio-environmental implications. A widely translated essayist and performative lecturer, he holds a position as Professor of Contemporary Art History at the UniversitÃ del Piemonte Orientale, Italy. See Chronicles of Deaths Foretold.
PAULINE DOUTRELUINGNE (1982) lived in Beijing for four years, where she co-organized the 2006 Borderline Moving Images Festival. She lives in Berlin and curates projects that bridge European and Asian art. For META, she interviewed Chen Wei in Archeology of the Future.
GEN DOY is Lecturer at De Montfort University. She is the author of Picturing The Self, Drapery and Black Visual Culture. For META, Doy discusses the sensual politics of photography in the works of Claude Cahun.
Ferrante Denise Palma
DENISE PALMA FERRANTE (1975) is a multi-disciplined artist living and working in Berlin. She is also a self-declared anti-religionist. See Timkat 2009.
ADAM FOXWELL is an American audio engineer who has worked internationally, consulting on acoustical room design, sound isolation and mechanical noise control. For META, he presents a study on noise exposure in On the Hunt for Silence in Dubai.
JACQUE FRESCO (1916) is an industrial designer and social engineer, author, lecturer, inventor and Futurist. Based in Venus, Florida, he is developing the practice of Socio-Cyber-Neering. Read the META interview Back to the Futureâ€”The Venus Project.
Dr. BRUNO GLASER is Assistant Professor at the Institute of Soil Science and Soil Geography at the University of Bayreuth. For over several years he has been conducting Amazonian dark earth research from a soil science perspective including soil fertility, sustainability, and archaeology aspects. See Terra Preta .
MARA GOLDWYN (1976) calls herself an artist but does not show anywhere and would never actually introduce herself as such. She has an existential allergy to genres, categories and identity constructs. See Showing the Opposite Side of the Death Machine.
LINDA MAI GREEN (1987) is a photographer and curator based in Berlin. She also co-runs curatorial collectiveÂ Una Tittel.Â For META article A Bridge and Not a Goal, she interviewed artist Serena Porrati.
Artist CAI GUO-QIANG (1957) was born in Chinaâ€™s Fujian Province. While living in Japan between 1986 and 1995 he began to experiment with gunpowder as a medium, gaining international attention. He has gone on to exhibit world wide and to produce large scale pyrotechnic art works. See On Explosions.
Sculptor PATRICK HILL (1972) has exhibited widely in the US and internationally as an important representative of the contemporary Los Angeles art scene. David Kordansky Gallery provided META with images of Hillâ€™s work for Patrick Hillâ€”Sculpture, Associated.
ASDF Makes founder DAVID HORVITZ (1983) is a man of many ideas. One could say this American artistâ€™s medium is the Internet, though it may be more accurate to say that he works in interactive projects. See ASDFâ€”Read On.
RUA MINX is Donna Huanca (1980), an artist who deals with clothing as shelter, transportable homes for nomads and cultural and genetic traces. Her various projects have received a range of support, from the Dallas Museum of Art to StÃ¤delschule, Frankfurt; from the Incehon Womenâ€™s Biennale Korea to British Vogue. She launched METAâ€™s downloadable artist piece series with Mask Maker.
Artist PIETER HUGO (1976) has spent his whole life in Cape Town, South Africa, though travelled extensively pursuing his characteristic brand of documentary photography. A 2002-3 residency at the Beneton Group Communication Research Center, Fabrica, also led to work with Colors magazine. In 2006 he was awarded first prize in the World Press Photo competitionâ€™s Portraits section. Welcome to Nollywood explores a recent project carried out with the Nigerian film industry.
Idnert B. Zlatan
ZLATAN B. IDNERT is an audio engineer who has worked in the fields of modelling for outdoor noise propagation, building acoustics and ground borne vibrations. He has widely consulted on acoustical engineering projects. See On the Hunt for Silence in Dubai.
JAN KEMPENAERS (1968) is an artist and documentary photographer based in Antwerp. He creates mute images of semi urban-places. Regardless of geographical context, his photographs speak powerfully to the post industrial condition and of the technologized human subject. See Spomenik, the Monuments of Former Yugoslavia.
TAO LIN (1983) is an American poet, novelist and short story writer. He is the author of Shoplifting from American Apparel, Eeeee Eee Eeee, and Bed, as well as two poetry collections, you are a little bit happier than I am, and cognitive-behavioral therapy. Linâ€™s second novel, Richard Yates, was published in September 2010.
See Tao Linâ€™s Crossword Puzzle.
TAMMY LU is a Canadian artist who makes drawings and artistsâ€™ books. She is the cover artist for the New Metaphysics philosophy series published by Open Humanities Press. See more of her work here. For META she did the drawings for METAphorism.
DAVID MAISELâ€™s (1961) photographs chronicle the complex relationships between natural systems and human intervention. His work is included in many permanent collections, such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Maisel lives and works in the area of San Francisco. See Blooming Souls.
Alison Malone is a photographer and educator who uses both audio and visual documentation to explore subcultures that are overlooked and often misunderstood in American society. View additional work here. For META her photographic series of the same name inspired the article Daughters of Job.
SERGEY MAXIMISHIN (1964) photographed for the Soviet Military Force Group on Cuba from 1985 to 1987. A learned physicist, he worked in the scientific and technical expertise laboratory in the Hermitage Museum and has gone on to become an award winning press photographer.
See The Dostoevsky of Photography.
CONNIE MENDOZA (1971) is a media artist, working between Berlin and Barcelona. Fata Morgana and Other Optical Phenomena discusses her film, in which Mendoza travels back to her birthplace to trace the complex relationships of her childhood to Chilean history and space travel, thereby producing images that mediate the perception of time as a highly subjective matter.
Apostolos Mitsios (1979) is a Greek psychologist, working as a systemic psychotherapist by day and as a freelance writer, preferably, by night. A former contributing editor at online design magazine yatzer.com, he is currently collaborating with the Projective Fairy Tale Test Society in Greece as well as various magazines all over the world. For META article, Death of a Performance, he interviewed artist Esther Ferrer about her intervention at the Cemetery of Art of Morille, Spain.
RACHAEL MORRISON (1981) is an artist, curator, and a librarian at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. She is the creator of an art work and a documentary film about the blind telephone hacker Joybubbles, as she describes in 718-362-9578.
TIMOTHY MORTON (1968) is a philosopher and ecologist, and a teaching professor at Rice University. He also is one of the leading figures in the philosophical movement of Speculative Realism. For META he penned some pithy aphorism on the paradigm shift in metaphysics. See METAphorism.
Architect WILLEM JAN NEUTELINGS (1959) has taught at the Berlage Institute in Rotterdam and Harvard University. His firm, Neutelings Riedijk Architects, is located in Rotterdam. He wrote Spomenik, the Monuments of Former Yugoslavia on Jan Kempenaerâ€™s photo-documentation.
Nikolaj Nielsen is a Brussels-based journalist. For META, Nielsen considers the provocative film "Enjoy Poverty Please" by Dutch artist Renzo Martens in regards to the The Lucrative Business of Chaos and Aid. For more of Nielsen's writing, visit his website.
Andreas Ã–nnerfors (1971) is Associate Professor in the History of Sciences and Ideas based in Lund, Sweden. He has written extensively on organized fraternal sociability in Europe in the context of civil society, cryptology and conspiracy theories. In 2007 he re-enacted a female masonic ritual, contributed to the deciphering project of the copiale-manuscript and commented on the Oslo terrorist Breivik's imaginary world of knighthood in counter-jihadism. Watch a 2012 lecture on "Perceptions of Freemasonry from the 18th century to the Internet" here. For META he co-authors a discussion on ritual and fraternity for the article Daughters of Job.
Yoshua OkÃ³n was born in Mexico City in 1970 where he currently lives. In his often absurd and provocative art, OkÃ³n stages partially scripted scenes using non-actors whose own identities and histories make up the true, underlying story. See Octopus. OkÃ³n founded the artist-run space La PanaderÃa in 1994 and the artist-run space and school SOMA in 2009, both in Mexico City.
LISE PATT is the founder of the Institute of Cultural Inquiry, a peripatetic visual think tank currently headquartered in Los Angeles, CA. Over the years she has treated â€˜collaborationâ€™ as an artist medium, in the development of a non-profit organization that embraces â€˜collective camouflageâ€™ in their ongoing projects. See Inquiry into the Institute of Cultural Inquiry.
KONRAD PETROVSZKY (1977) is a historian specializing in the intellectual history of Southeastern Europe. He wrote a PhD thesis on early modern historiography in Ottoman Europe at the Free University, Berlin. He talks Romania and reenactment in The Body of the Event.
Italian artist SERENA PORRATI (1981) is now currently enrolled in the inaugural year of the MA in Art and Science Program at Central St. Martins in London. She lets META in on her Nietzsche in Turin archive for Linda Greenâ€™s article, A Bridge and Not a Goal.
SUSANNE QUEHENBERGER is a Cultural Studies student at the Humboldt University in Berlin. Her focus is climate change, specifically its potential to bring about societal restructuring and the role of art in this scenario. Since 2007, she has worked as an urban gardening activist. For META, she shares her thoughts on geoengineering in Artificial Skies.
Haitian-born, DC-raised MAX RAMEAU is a pan-African theorist, organizer and founder of the group, Take Back the Land. He has worked on issues ranging from economic development to ex-felons. He discusses the US housing crisis in Desperate Times, Desperate Measures.
MILO RAU (1977) is a journalist, essayist, historian, playwright, translator, teacher, film-maker, blogger, reenactor and director of IIPM (International Institute of Political Murder, or Institute for Theoretic and Artistic Reenactments). See The Body of the Event.
AILEN ROC studied various esoteric fields such as ceremonial Magick, Sexual Magick, Tantra, Astrology, Tarot, the Quaballah and different astral-levels along with Psychology. She is currently working on her own tarot deck and a book combining certain occult fields with elements of psychology. See XI. ARS DE REXâ€”Sexual Magic, the Art of the King.
ALAN SHAPIRO (1956) is a key contributor to the fields of idea philosophy, software engineering and social choreography. At 15, he began studying at MIT and has more recently published a book on Star Trek and given talks at the Transmediale and Ars Electronica festivals. In an interview with META, he explains why â€œBeing against work as it is constituted today is fundamental.â€ See A New Computer Science is Underway.
SITU STUDIO was founded in 2005 while its partners were studying architecture at The Cooper Union. Operating at the intersection of architecture and a variety of other disciplines, Situ Studioâ€™s work has been enriched by close collaborations with geologists, writers, engineers, biologists, activists and artists. See Out of Control.
GARY SMALL, M.D., is the Director of the UCLA Memory and Aging Research Center at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior. He is the author of iBrain Surviving the Technological Alteration of the Modern Mind. See This is Your Brain on Technology.
COSETTE THOMPSON is a French-American human rights consultant and freelance writer based in Arizona, USA, where she directed Amnesty International for many years. Her current interests focus on the contribution of artistic expression to the field of human rights and on the protection of threatened languages. See Sentenced to Read.
van Haarlem Dr. Michiel P.
DR. MICHIEL VAN HAARLEM (1964) is the Managing Director of the LOFAR Foundation in the Netherlands, a part of the ASTRON Institute. The astronomer discusses the next generation of telescopes in METAâ€™s Harmony of the Spheres.
Vanden Eynde Maarten
Belgian-born MAARTEN VANDEN EYNDE (1977) lives and works between Rotterdam, Brussels and Saint Mihiel. His projects span all art media, focussing on topics of ecology, archeology, biology and zoology. In 2006 he founded Enough Room for Space for â€œthe creation of physical, virtual and mental space for cultural initiatives by initiating and coordinating events and residence/research projects worldwide.â€ He enlightens META on plastic in Plastic Reef.
Swedish photographer ULRIKA WALMARK (1970) traveled across North America, Israel, Palestine, Iran, India and South Africa from 2003 to 2007, collecting portraits for her project The person behind the person. She now lives in Berlin.
Artist CHEN WEI (1980) works in Beijing and Hangzhou, incorporating influential objects and happenings from his past into the realities of modern China. He is represented by the Platform China Contemporary Art Institute in Beijing. See Archeology of the Future.
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|This is Your Brain on Technology|
|Daughters of Job|
|Death of a Performance|
|Out of Control: Experiments in Participation|
|Terra Pretaâ€”Amazonian Earth|
|A New Computer Science is Underway|
|Claude Cahunâ€”A Sensual Politics of Photography|
|The Clothing of Nature|
|On the Hunt for Silence in Dubai|
|Far Beyond Stalactites and Stalagmites|
|The Body of the Event|
|Sentenced to Read|
|Spomenik, the Monuments of Former Yugoslavia|
|XI. ARS DE REXâ€”Sexual Magic, the Art of the King|
|Tao Linâ€™s Crossword Puzzle|
|The Art of Showing Art|
|Photography and the Invisible|
|Patrick Hillâ€”Sculpture, Associated|
|Showing the Opposite Side of the Death Machine|
|Desperate Times, Desperate Measures|
|A Bridge and Not a Goal|
|This is Your Brain on Technology|
|The Poetry of Document|
|Stories of Life and Love in Todayâ€™s Actual Arctic|
|Fata Morgana and Other Optical Phenomena|
|The Nine Lives of Kaufhaus Jonass|
|The Harmony of the Spheres|
|Back to the Futureâ€”The Venus Project|
|Inquiry into the Institute of Cultural Inquiry|
|The Lucrative Business of Chaos and Aid|
|Welcome to Nollywood|
|Chronicle of Deaths Foretold|
|The Dostoevsky of Photography|
|Archeology of the Future|
Interview with Alan Shapiro by METAâ€™s Anja Wiesinger
During a visit to Berlin, Alan Shapiro met up with META contributor Anja Wiesinger to share his vision of a pragmatic-utopian enterprise project which operates on friendship and radical program code.
At a talk you gave at the Berlin project space General Public in December 2009, you said that, being an American, youâ€™d pursue your ideas by founding a company. On the other hand, in your text on Cultural Citizenship published in the International Journal of Baudrillard Studies (IJBS), you chide American culture for being too money-driven and criticize the egoistic individualism that stems from capitalist society. This seems like a contradiction to me.
Alan Shapiro: Itâ€™s quantum physics sociology, a double-reality, not a contradiction. In my two essays on America at IJBS (the other one is Re-discovering the Baudreality of America), in my writings on baseball and casino gambling and American Slang, in my book on Star Trek, in what I wrote about Charles Lindberghâ€™s courageous flight, I am laying the groundwork for a new American Studies. American Studies, by the way, is a promising academic field in Germany. I gave a lecture recently in that department at the University of Oldenburg. The founding works of the new American Studies are Alexis de Tocquevilleâ€™s Democracy in America and Jean Baudrillardâ€™s America (and perhaps also the book by Bernard-Henri LÃ©vy).
My double-approach to America of critique and celebration has its precedent in both of these great inspiring works. Both authors criticize American hyper-capitalism and hyper-conformity in the same way that I do. Yet they both see a great hope for human liberation in another dimension of America. Star Trek, baseball, the desert, gambling in Las Vegas, fast food finger lickinâ€™ good, Slang Iâ€™ve no idea what you just said, film as life and life as film, photo snapshots of Niagara Falls, Manhattan skyscrapers engineered by my father Murray Shapiro, driving in the semiotic wasteland of the golden calf neon gods, smash hits on the Chrysler stereo, strip malls parking lots Wal-Marts, heat wave, riding the Greyhound bus, heroic deeds of aeronautics and astronautics, new technologies up the kazooâ€”all understood and written about in a certain wayâ€”this is the positive side of America. DeLillo, Auster, Pynchon, Boyle, and Jason Starr. Philip K. Dick and Samuel R. Delany. I start with what Baudrillard intuited about America, and expand on that.
Regarding what I said about business at the two Berlin events organized by Shintaro Miyazaki and Andreas Lange, respectively, one should not take it too literally. Everything that I say and write is based on the philosophy of deadpan humour. Peter Sellers. Iâ€™m completely serious, on the level, but at the same time not. This is my here sincerity. Thatâ€™s how you deal with a world of Lies, Inc.
When I met Baudrillard at the ZKM (Center for Art and Media) in Karlsruhe in 2004, he told me in a whispering tone that his work is indeed about changing the world, not just criticizing it. And I love him like a father, in the name of the father I proceed, so itâ€™s like he stung me like a bee that day, and in a way now Iâ€™m stuck with this responsibility.
Unfortunately for me, Lyotard, Lefort, Castoriadis, Derrida, Nancy, Habermas, and Kroker all said similar things to me when I had conversations with them. We arenâ€™t going to change the world with a Communist Party or an anarchist uprising on the barricades, so in my essay Play Donâ€™t Work in a Pragmatic-Utopian High-Tech Enterprise, I propose a new interpretation of Marxism. The agency of change would be a sort of Apple or Google radicalized by art, philosophy, and critical social theory. If such a pragmatic-utopian company operated in America, it would then want to connect with all those ecstatic things about America that I write about and engage with: the enumeration listed and iterated above.
So it would be very different from business-as-usual. Itâ€™s a far out utopian vision to be sure. Yet at the same time, it seems to be in the historical cards, it seems to be preparing itself to happen, to dump a phrase-construction from the non-English portion of my mind. The odds against it happening, as Mr. Spock recently reported to me, are exactly 7.643 to 1. Yet the Mets won the 1969 World Series.
I wrote in Play Donâ€™t Work that the two basic principles of the radical pragmatic-utopian high-tech enterprise should be friendship and â€œnot working.â€ There are a hundred different levels of friendship, so who knows exactly what that will mean, it has to be experimented with and figured out in practice. Being against work as it is constituted today is fundamental. Something is deeply wrong with our workaholism, and our structural inability to provide artists and other creative people with a decent living. But I certainly donâ€™t mean that we should not work at all. We should integrate play and work in a new way, as many people already do, and as my daddy taught me. I am quite a hard worker myself.
You suggest a work ethic that is reminiscent of the first new media economic boom of the 1990s. Ten years after the crash of digital technologies, you say that there is a next wave coming. What will be different than before?
No, I havenâ€™t said that at all about work ethic. With all their progressive thinking and practice in certain areas, no major technology company has ever questioned the Protestant work ethic that underlies our cutural and economic system. Since I have seriously read Karl Marx, Max Weber, and Jean-Paul Sartre, it falls to me to be the guy whoâ€™s questioning it. Almost every company in the world today forces its white-collar employees to work well in excess of 40 hours a week. This is primitive and barbaric, as advanced alien civilizations encountered by Captain Kirk or Captain Picardâ€™s Enterprise would say.
Since new media and new technologies are essentially about creativity, I believe that it is possible for a company to take a totally different approach: quality not quantity. Creativity, play, individual freedom, and variety of activities can be worked up into a new connection with productivity. Instead of assuming that only drudge work can achieve productivity. My perspective on virtual reality is also different from ideas about virtual reality that were widely articulated in the 1990s.
Those 1990s ideas tended towards dreaming of VR as an escape from conventional physical, corporeal, and spacetime reality. What we can try now is to take a different approach, that of embodiment. Thatâ€™s why I speak about the virtual-slash-real. I spoke about this at the event in Frankfurt organized by Steve Valk, where dancers from ID_Frankfurt performed while I talked about embodiment in computer games. Thatâ€™s one reason why Iâ€™m very interested in Steveâ€™s Social Choreography, and why I think that dancers and athletes are important for our new conception of the virtual-real. Virtual technologies should enhance reality, not replace it or escape from it. We donâ€™t want to be consumerist couch potatoes.
In your essay Cultural Citizenship in Contemporary America, you talk about the paradox of affluence. Very briefly, it affects the satisfaction of individuals within society. Something that is considered a social advancement loses its value once too many people share the same experience. Like, for example, higher education. What is the point that you are trying to make? Translated into the realm of technology, isnâ€™t this a matter of scalability? The more complex a system is the greater the danger becomes that it is going to breakâ€¦
I took the â€œparadox of affluenceâ€ from the economist Fred Hirsch, his book Social Limits to Growth (a book from 1976, which happens to be the same year as the publication of Baudrillardâ€™s major work Symbolic Exchange and Death). This is about the social or environmental â€œconditions of useâ€ of any good or experience which people desire.
The more people attain to a certain level of professional or vocational education, the less value that education has in the scramble for jobs. The more people acquire homes in the suburbs, the more the suburbs are transformed and gradually attract all the problems and blight of the city. The more tourists flock to a locality, the more that locality takes on the qualities of universal tourism and loses much of what it was. â€œConditions of useâ€ deteriorate as use becomes more widespread.
The search for Cultural Citizenship has limits, and becomes involved in paradoxes of overuse. Economic growth is desirable. We have to figure out how to sustain growth without destroying the planet and ourselves. It annoys me when social critics and green fundamentalists say they are against growth, that is too negative. I am against economic growth in the way that it is currently being mindlessly practiced by the ruling version of monopolistic capitalism.
I think that there is such a thing as green fanaticism, especially in Germany. Plastic is one of the great inventions of the 19th century, and of modern civilization. But the upscale German organic (Bio) supermarket chain named BASIC doesnâ€™t sell plastic bags, only paper and cloth ones. But a paper bag with a handle can easily break and the great stuff you just paid dearly for falls onto the street while youâ€™re walking home.
You are right, Anja, about the importance of the challenge of scalability. This is switching from thinking about the problem of the paradox of affluence to thinking about the solution. We had an aristocratic leisure class, as Thorsten Veblen wrote about in his classic sociological work, then we tried to spread affluence to the masses, and we ended up with McHouses, and the McDonaldization and Disneylandification of all of society.
So the question is: how do we achieve a mass culture of prosperity that isnâ€™t so dumbed down like what we have built up so far? One aspect of searching for the answer is paradoxically that we should investigate what is positive about McDonaldâ€™s and Disneyland, and not be so quick to dismiss them.
Whatâ€™s your approach towards a new computer science?
Alexis Clancy and I have defined 22 concrete software development projects: code to be written primarily in Java and in an extension of Java, projects which, when taken together, would constitute the New Computer Science. We have written the architecture and design of these projects in a first iteration. The next step is to start writing the code and simultaneously deepen the design document. Iâ€™ve written a little bit of new computer science code already, but we would need capital investment from at least two sources before being able to go forward. We would have to be able to pay the programmers on the team.
I studied the History of Ideas at Cornell University. Thatâ€™s my core education. Then I spent 15 years as a practicing software developer. Then I reflected upon what computer science is in the context of the history of ideas, and came to the view that computer science has not yet really taken into account any ideas beyond the 17th century. So-called computer science is not yet a science. So far it is just computer engineering. It is based on 17th century philosophy and scientific method. To bootstrap itself, work on the New Computer Science will proceed in two dimensions. One dimension is the writing of code. The other dimension is the project of the comprehensive rethinking of the entire classification system or categories of knowledge in the West (beginning with the division between the natural sciences and the human sciences). In the contemporary academic-university scene, there is much talk of interdisciplinarity. Yet in one important sense, interdisciplinarity is hypocrisy. If the existing categorization of knowledge is so obsolete that interdisciplinarity is allegedly required, then what is really required is a complete reinvention of the appropriate categories of knowledge. If, in order to obtain valuable knowledge, we need to span several disciplines, that only shows that what we really need is a major project to rethink what the categories of knowledge should be.
The professors who promote interdisciplinarity who have jobs, money, power, and prestige in the existing university system are the watchdogs of the established order (Sartreâ€™s friend Paul Nizan. wrote brilliantly about this in 1932), conservatively resisting the real advancement of knowledge. The goal of the work of the â€œinterdisciplinaryâ€ dimension of the New Computer Science is to establish the path that we will walk that leads to the invention of the new gay sciences (Nietzsche).
Alexis Clancy: For 14 years I have been exploring the one thesisâ€”a correlation between Fermatâ€™s Last Theorem and MÃ¶bius Topologies. More than a decade ago. the Incompleteness Theorems of Kurt GÃ¶del crept in and married themselves to said thesis. And it has all become a matter of Narrativeâ€”the overwhelming question, for me, has come to be: â€œWhatâ€™s the best way to tell a mathematical story knowing, that, in all probability, an ultimate story does not exist?â€ And, drawing mostly on my Irish cultural bias from Celtic symbols that have existed 1500 years BCE right up to the modernist writings of Flann Oâ€™ Brien, I have concluded that this â€œbest wayâ€ is to tell three stories; three origins, three types of number, three types of infinity, three types of Time. Other comparative investigations of indigenous universal models have reinforced this notion.
With specific relation to the â€œNew Computer Scienceâ€ and investigation of Australian Aboriginal Dreamtime models inspired a course of dialogue between myself and Alan that brought forward the â€œThree Clock Paradigmâ€â€”the core paradigm of the New Computer Science. It holds that three clocks of different types running in the same vicinity can instantiate â€œFertile Timeâ€â€”just as the â€œWorldâ€ is instantiated by the three nodes of the Dreamtime model. One of the most important properties of this â€œFertile Timeâ€ space is the capacity for â€œcreative evolutionâ€ within its bounds. Further radical properties are realized when two â€œTime Trianglesâ€â€”two instances of Fertile Time overlap (i.e. in the case of a device running the â€œNew Computer Scienceâ€ and its user) - generating a â€œStar of David Effectâ€ and the instantiation of the hexagonal 7-Spaceâ€¦ A higher synthesisâ€¦
From the point of view of my own research, Niamhâ€™s Gasket is the most important as it represents best how I workâ€”I tend to â€œseeâ€ the mathematics first and then apply extant or invented notation to render the vision in a mathematical expression.
You say that todayâ€™s program code still follows the tradition of early modern mathematics. Are you referring to Descartes?
What we can say for now is that the New Computer Science, no longer an engineering and techie discipline, will be intimately related to art, literature, languages, sociology, psychology, music, dance, ecology, spirituality, theology, mathematics, quantum physics, history, semiotics, and grammatology. The profession of programmer should be redefined from the ground up to include these fields. We are especially interested in the aesthetic and sociological dimensions of software. And we will take a novel approach. Literally novelâ€”literature, narrative, fiction, poetry, dramaturgy, and performance will all have an important status in the rethinking of knowledge, and in the software code, that is the New Computer Science. The technology of resemblance to be realized on the basis of new 20th century mathematics (GÃ¶del, SchrÃ¶dinger, Riemann) provides an alternative answer to the question of how do we deal with the problem of complexity.
Within the existing computing paradigm, in order to deal with a complex problem, you break down the problem into smaller, more manageable parts. This is essentially the Cartesian Method of Descartes. But it is impossible to apply the Cartesian Method to quantum-mechanical generalized complementarities like the wave-particle duality or the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle. Whereas the Cartesian method may work for mechanical systems, it cannot be of much use when we aspire to the creation of something that is living. Our goal in the New Computer Science, similar to the Artificial Life movement, is to create software as semi-living entities.
The more correct approach corresponding to a breakthrough into 21st century science is to identify relationships of similarity, to find SAMPLES or PATTERNS that capture something of the vitality and complexity of the whole without breaking it down in a reductionist way.
We need a new technique that augments the inheritance mechanism of Object-Orientation. In addition to inheritance, we will have analogies or resemblance between the software instance and the â€œblueprintâ€ software classes which furnish the possibilities of what the instance can do. The highest-order analogy, defining the base of operations of this subsystem, is the idea of the software instance having a choice, having existentialist freedom, rather than being determined by available template attributes and data. Choice is inaugurated by Incompleteness. Incompleteness is inaugurated by Choice. Choice is inaugurated by the MÃ¶bius Twist and the Aleph Operator. This is what Alexis has seen: a divine pattern perceived through the perceptual media known as textuality. Incompleteness is at the foundation of the architecture of a radicalized Object-Oriented class inheritance hierarchy. Whereas Descartes and Leibniz (before Deleuze wrote about Leibniz) in the 17th century wanted to deduce a system of knowledge starting from a few certainties (an axiom-based system), WE WILL START WITH INCOMPLETENESS (integrated at an axiomatic level).
Opposing components cannot be in the same place within the model in a given frame. In our frame, there exists, within the field, three further fields which lie outside of our understanding: the two â€œgapsâ€ and the â€œjump.â€ These elements are strictly analogous to Incompleteness. Alexis calls this â€œTopographical Incompleteness.â€ If we decide to populate the â€œgapsâ€ with some other, smaller potentialities, we will find the same thing within the frame againâ€”more pairs of â€œgapsâ€â€”in a sense self-similar, or understood as â€œFractal Incompleteness.â€ Voila.
Whatâ€™s your position on technological implants and cloning?
I am very influenced by the cyborg theory of Donna Haraway, which is a feminist theory. As in Star Trek, life does not have to be biology based. I am very happy to get technological implants in my body, as long as they are really designed for me as an individual, and I am not getting the same device as ten million other people. Am I in favor of cloning? It depends on who is being cloned. Before we ask the question about biological cloning, we have to ask the question of cultural cloning.
In America, most people have the goal just to be like everyone else, to be a cultural clone, based on a set of models and codes and formulae. This is the contemporary version of Tocquevilleâ€™s society of conformism. Letâ€™s become clear first that we are living in a society of cultural cloning before we start to talk about biological cloning. I am totally in favor of biological cloning if the people who we clone are really individuals. I would clone great artists, great scientists, and great writers who really have an important and valuable body of experiences and knowledge in their Dasein. So the life projects of these individuals can be continued, even if they have cancer or something. This position on cloning is shown very well in the recent science fiction film Moon, starring Sam Rockwell.
In your early essay Society of the Instance, you express a fascinating thought: you say that object-orientated program languages like Java, for example, are the new â€œartificial languagesâ€ of seductive powerâ€”what Baudrillard would call a new system of virtualization. In addition, you equate software objects with physical and social objects that curiously â€œcombine a Platonist ingredient (software classes equate transcendental signifiers) and a deconstructionist ingredient (the free floating signifiers, unending, undecidable, auto-referentially recursive discourse in the hierarchical, (deinstituting, subclassing chains)â€. This seems to explain the cultural logic of late capitalism, because you identify the late-capitalist mode of production with instantiation (creating an object of a class): a successor to alienation, reification, simulation, and the spectacle. In other words: the â€œrationalâ€ object escapes its own logic. Why has this seminal essay remained so unknown until now? Do you think that in this double movement lies an emancipative power?
I am not a professor at a university, so I do not have any institutional power or, for example, a university press that publishes my books. When I first started publishing, in the late 1990s, I thought that Arthur and Marilouise Kroker would help me, since they claimed to be working in the spirit of Baudrillard, and it is obvious that I am dedicated to thinking within the space that Baudrillard opened up (although, being of a younger generation, I am more knowledgable about new media and new technologies than he was). I assumed that the Krokers were worthwhile gatekeepers to cyber-cultural academic publication, as they appeared to be. At first the Krokers helped me. They published essays of mine on CTHEORY and in their book Digital Delirium. But after that, they rejected several essays that I sent them, including Society of the Instance.
And CTHEORY has never mentioned the book Star Trek: Technologies of Disappearance to its readers. Not even one time. So the Krokers seem after all to be operating within the usual academic prejudice that Star Trek is too low-brow to be worthy of consideration. Whereas it is really an engagement with Star Trek that is going to get the entire radical cyber-critical theory scene unstuck. Academics like the Krokers have liked their science fiction avant-garde: Blade Runner or the Alien series. I am very grateful to Istvan Csicsery-Ronay, Jr. for writing a lengthy review-essay of my book on Star Trek in the journal Science Fiction Studies.
Yes, of course I think that the Platonist-deconstructionist hybridity that I describe in Society of the Instance is an emancipatory movement. It is the very structure of the commodity-form today, and its reversibility. This is the path to the re-enchantment of the world, undoing the disenchantment, bureaucratization, and iron cage of rationalization that Max Weber talked about.
Do you agree with Paul Virilioâ€™s critical view of contemporary telecommunications technologies as having a destructive effect on spacetime?
One of the major developments in new technology at the moment is the ubiquitousness of cell phones and of personal digital assistants and iPads. I see this as a very negative development for us. Itâ€™s a form of self-surveillance and mutual surveillance, and itâ€™s being done in the context of after September 11, where there is security paranoia about everything. The way that cell phones are being used is that my friends and family and co-workers are keeping track of me and keeping tabs on me all the time. Where am I right now? What am I doing? What am I thinking? Twitter and people reporting what they are doing in the course of a day. Itâ€™s coming to the point where there will be so much of this surveillance information available that anyone can find out where was I between noon and 2 pm the day before yesterday. No secret love affairs anymore.
What would hybrid loveâ€”love among the cyborgs and androidsâ€”look like?
On polysexuality, I would ask the question what is sexual liberation, referring to works such as Marcuseâ€™s Eros and Civilization. My position is that sexuality is a desire, not an identity. I think that this is consistent with Deleuze and Guattariâ€™s Anti-Oedipus, with various science fiction utopian novels, with Harawayâ€™s cyborg theory, and with Judith Butlerâ€™s Gender Trouble. How does the system, invented in the 1970s, of straight-gay-lesbian-bi-trans, hinder the sexual liberation of the majority? How can digital, virtual/real, and virtual reality technologies lead us more towards the perspective of desire? How is the majority already secretly resisting the commodity system (Baudrillard)?
SITU STUDIO is a reserach, design and fabrication firm based in Brooklyn. Their space-altering, site-specific architectural installation reOrder augurated the Great Hall project in the Brooklyn Museum. For reOrder and other projects, see Situâ€™s website.
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