Selected Courses on Digital Art-UOWM

23 Ιουνίου 2020

Digital Aesthetics: Introduction

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Digital Aesthetics: Introduction
Claudia Giannetti
The early twentieth century saw the formation in various fields of new theoretical approaches sharing a skeptical attitude towards the fundamental certainties that had profoundly influenced occidental culture and science. Towards the mid-twentieth century concepts like truth, reality, reason and knowledge became central in an intensive contest between rationalism and relativism. In the course of this debate, several theories were dissociated from the self-referential character of their scientific disciplines and increasingly placed in correlation with other fields. Examples of metadisciplinary models include the cybernetic analysis of message transmission and man-machine communication or, more recently, postmodernist philosophy and its notion of ‹contaminated,› ‹weak› thinking. [1] This relativism manifested itself in various aspects of art: as an essential component in the process of producing experimental art from the first avantgarde movements onward; in the radical transformation of the forms of art reception; in the tendency to interconnect and establish interchange among various art genres (discernible in interventionist and interdisciplinary works or ‹mixed media›); and finally in the intensified exchange among art, science, and technology. Artistic practice appropriated new media—initially photography and film, later video and computer—and new communication systems—post and telephone, followed by television and Internet. Under this premise, and above all from the 1960s onward, a gradual shift set in away from academic, orthodox positions attempting to confine art to traditional techniques, and aesthetics to ontological foundations.
However, the profound transformations resulting from these new approaches did not invariably meet with understanding, let alone acceptance, from artists. If one further takes into consideration the recently re-ignited controversy about the long-predicted crises of art and philosophical aesthetics, as well the widespread discourse among postmodernist writers which was linked to tendencies in technological and academic theory, then everything does in fact seem to point toward a disintegration of art and aesthetics. Yet a large part of such polemics can be attributed to the fact that aesthetic theory and artistic practice have gone separate ways. Artists’ increasing use of technology is bringing to light a far-reaching and on-going discrepancy between artistic perception, art theory, and aesthetics, which are seen to be notably diverging instead of developing synchronously and congruently. This gulf between theoretical «corpus» and artistic practice culminates in a paradox that without doubt leads to the often proclaimed end of art.
Nevertheless the conviction remains that certain symptoms of transition cannot be immediately equated with the radical disintegration of the fields involved. It is rather the case that new intellectual approaches and modes of experiencing must be found in order to enable the analysis and assimilation—as opposed to rejection—of the contemporary phenomena. One access route to these new forms is shown by the theory and practice of media art, and of interactive media art especially, whose renewing concepts are discernible in the fact that aesthetic the+ory is no longer focussed exclusively on the art object itself, but on its process, on system and contexts, on the broad linkage of different disciplines, and on reformulating the roles of the maker and the viewer of a work of art.
The complex process of transformation undergone by art and aesthetics, as well as the closely intermeshed interdisciplinary relationships, can be understood only by investigating those phenomena and theories which have so far driven forward the syntopy [2] of art, science, and technology, and in the future will continue to do so. It is not sufficient to describe the current state of art by concentrating on its epicenter; instead one must expand the horizon of consideration to adjacent fields and trace the historical developments in which corresponding changes and contemporary phenomena can be discerned. One aim of this hypertext monograph is to work out an aesthetic concept inherently formed by the context and creative experience of interactivity-based works, as well as their presentation and reception. The intention is to show potential paths towards a renewal of aesthetic discourses: paths already smoothed by those pioneers and artists whose tracks this essay follows. In this way various concepts of science, technology, and art are linked with a view to revising the notions of art, aesthetics, and spectator.
Without a doubt the artistic use of new technologies and the specific current forms of interlocking science and art lead to diverse formulations of questions—of practical and formal, as well as conceptual and philosophical nature—to which only future developments will deliver an answer. The «Aesthetics of the Digital» addresses several of these principle questions. Some contain possible answers, others lead to new questions that open up space for further considerations.
Translation: Tom Morrison
Claudia Giannetti
Art – science – art
Deliberations on the connection between art and science have various points of departure. The most general considerations are limited to the assumption of a parallel development. In his writings published in 1970, Werner Heisenberg, who along with Max Planck counts as a founding father of quantum theory, stated that the tendencies towards abstraction in the sciences were comparable with those in the field of art. According to Heisenberg, new artistic and scientific forms can result only from new content, but the converse does not apply. To renew art or to revolutionize science, he wrote, meant to create new content and concepts, and not just new forms. [1]
A question more complex than that of parallels between art and science is the extent to which art influences the sciences. According to Peter Weibel, this question can be answered only methodologically, that is by applying a comparison which views art and science as methods. While science, says Weibel, is distinctly methodological in character, art is generally not regarded as a method: «This is our first claim: art and science can only reasonably be compared if we
accept that both are methods. This does not mean that we declare that both have the same methods. We only want to declare that both have a methodological approach, even if their methods are or can be different.»[2]
Accordingly it would be permissible to view art and science as convergent in the methodological sense. As Weibel sees it, science is influenced by art in regard to its methods, but not by its products and references: «Because any time science develops the tendency for its methods to become too authoritarian, too dogmatic, science turns to art and to the methodology of art which is plurality of methods.» [3] The objective nature exists neither in the framework of the sciences nor in culture regardless of social construction, «art and science meet and converge in the method of social construction.» [4]
This position finds its most radical expression in the science-theoretical contributions of Paul Feyerabend. As a critic of scientific rationalism, he develops new interpretations and connections among the arts and sciences. He is of the opinion that artists and scientists developing a style or theory frequently pursue a secondary intention, namely that of representing ‹the› truth or ‹the› reality. However, artistic styles are closely connected with styles of thought.
That which a specific form of thought understands concepts such as truth or reality to mean is what this form of thought asserts as truth. When one decides in favor of a style, a reality, or a form of truth, then one always chooses a human-made construction. In other words, Feyerabend negates the possibility of absolute rationality and logic in regard to that which is created by the human mind. He asserts that this relativist, and in a certain sense irrational, factor inherent in every branch of science places science in the proximity of art. According to Feyerabend, the sciences are not an institution of objective truth, but are arts along the lines of a progressive understanding of art. [5]
Feyerabend’s line of argument reflects the skepticism that deeply influenced occidental culture and science well into the twentieth century. The aforementioned questions of truth, reality and reason are central components of the contest between rationalism and relativism affecting art no less directly
than science. If the nature of science were to be considered a research method under the premises of reality, plausibility, and dialectics, then whoever attempted to identify these three principles by strictly observing the complexity of the objects would, according to the Spanish scientist Jorge Wagensberg, reach the conclusion that the object resisted the method. The only manner of proceeding would be to «soften up» the method, with the result that «science is transformed into ideology.» «At its core ideology means not research, but faith. It follows from this consideration that one must stop with ideology all the holes which science has itself failed to stop. […] If the knowledge towards which we aspire is ruled not by laws but by world-views, then it would seem expedient to take our leave of scientific methods, and perhaps even adopt principles radically opposed to the latter. Precisely that is the case in art, in a kind of knowledge whose creators have not the least interest in distancing themselves from their creation.»[6]
Of particular relevance to the understanding of a new interpenetration of art and science is the generative nature of either area, which brings forth words or world-views of its own. For that reason, «the worlds of art and science are ideologically no longer opposites,» as Ilya Prigogine states, «the variety of the significates and the basic opacity of the world are reflected in new languages and new formalisms.» [7]
The origins of information theory
The technological revolution received its fundamental impetus from the first industrial revolution in the nineteenth century. By starting up a process of mechanization, the industrial revolution triggered the phenomenon of crises of control. [8] The mounting production levels resulting from mechanization led to the need for control systems to accelerate the flow of information. Researchers began to seek solutions in feedback techniques, automatic control systems, and information processing.
Under the title «On Governors» in 1868, Clerk Maxwell presented the first theoretical study towards an analysis of control and feedback mechanisms, so ushering in the radical transformation in automatic control engineering. By the late nineteenth century, a series of developments and technical innovations were
underway that in the 1940s would serve as the basis of a new theory, namely cybernetics. [9]
The control revolution produced not only feedback techniques and a new hierarchization of media, but also revolutionized the cultural reproduction forms of society. [10] This included areas like communications and art, since the technologies exercised a direct influence on the forms of sociocultural (re)production.
Until then, nevertheless, the themes associated with control mechanisms and automation were discussed in connection with only one common parameter, namely energy. As the basic concept of Newtonian mechanics, energy retained the same position in the natural sciences and in research fields like acoustics, electrical science, and optics. The invariant of ‹mass› similarly occupied a central position in physics. However, as production techniques continued to be improved, so the relationship of human and machine began to change likewise, leading to the emergence of questions about new terms and theories able to make this communication process between biological and technological systems the object of targeted research.
The constitution of two new disciplines: cybernetics and artificial intelligence
That «society can only be understood through a study of the messages and the communication facilities which belong to it; and that in the future development of these messages and communication facilities, messages between man and machines, between machines and man, and between machine and machine, are destined to play an ever increasing part,» [11] was the key idea of the American mathematician Norbert Wiener (1894–1964), which he elaborated in his book «The Human Use of Human Beings. Cybernetics and Society,» published in 1950 after a first technical study «Cybernetic, or Control and Communication in the Animal and in the Machine» of 1948. In 1950 likewise, the British mathematician Alan Turing (1912–1954) raised the question of the feasibility of logical thought by machines. In his essay «Computing Machinery and Intelligence,» published in volume 59 of the philosophical journal «Mind,» Turing proceeds from the basic question with which his text begins: «Can machines think?»
Until the mid-twentieth century no more than a few researchers working in isolation were concerned with subjects such as communication between dissimilar systems (for instance, biological and technical systems), or with the feasibility of technically designing thought machines. In addition to Wiener and Turing their ranks included Charles Babbage, Claude Shannon, Warren Weaver and Hermann Schmidt. However, from the 1950s on these subjects rapidly became two fields of basic research: cybernetics and Artificial Intelligence. [12] The two aforementioned texts triggered a flood of publications containing speculation and analysis on these subjects. In the first three years after 1950 alone, more than a thousand essays published dealt with intelligence and with communication with and between machines. Yet, when Turing published his essay there existed no more than four digital computers worldwide (Mark I and EDSAC in England, ENIAC and BINAC in the USA). [13]Although Turing’s theorem—everything the human mind can do in the form of an algorithm can also be carried out by a Universal Turing Machine—was based on models so far investigated only as a hypothetical experiment, several researchers were inspired to empirically confirm or disprove it by building machines.
The approach of cybernetics—a name derived from the Greek term ‹kybernetes› (steersman)—consists in transferring the theory of control and message transmission, whether in the machine or in a living being, to the fields of communication and machine control. The objective is to investigate the relationships between animal and machine, and in the case of the machine the specific mode of its behavior, as a characteristic of the performance to be expected. [14]
On the basis of the observation of certain analogies between machines and living organisms, the mathematician asserts that no reason actually exists not to make a machine resemble a human being, since one and the other develop tendencies toward decreasing entropy, meaning that both are examples of local anti-entropic phenomena.
Turing likewise conceded priority to the subject of communication. His famous experiment—the imitation
game, as he called it, also known as the Church-Turing thesis or Turing Theorem—for verifying the intelligence of a computer was concerned less with the actual construction of such a machine than with simulating with machines the human capability of communication. Turing was here acting in line with a tradition of measuring the faculty of thought by the ability to use human language. Descartes had already presented the logically semantic usage of language as a criterion for identifying thinking beings. For a long time, the mastery of semantics would remain a basic problem of Artificial Intelligence.
In contrast to that tradition Wiener’s cybernetics sought operational ways of developing a specific language that would enable communication between dissimilar systems, and aimed to adapt semantics to specific goals in the process. Viewed from this perspective, Wiener’s theory replaced the notion of energy with that of information as the elementary parameter of communication, and thus postulated the definition of this new invariant for cybernetic science as a whole, which is a basic prerequisite for understanding the range of the cybernetic approach.
Unlike Newton’s mechanics, which operates with closed systems, information is applied to open systems. In this way it must be seen as a key enabling linkage and communication between dissimilar systems, and between the latter and the external world. ‹Mass› and ‹energy› are directly related to matter in the natural sciences, whereas ‹information› is not conveyed by any substance, but is based on variable properties: Information can be reproduced (duplicated or copied), destroyed (erased), or reiterated (repeated). «Information is a name for the content of what is exchanged with the outer world as we adjust to it, and make our adjustment felt upon it. The process of receiving and of using information is the process of our adjusting to the contingencies of the outer environment, and of our living effectively within that environment.» [15] To this extent, not the possible quantity of circulating information is crucial to the effectiveness of communication, but the degree to which this information is integrated into communication. Along the lines of cybernetics, then,
significant information is not the entirety of all information transmitted, but that information which passes through the ‹filters.›
In the field of information and communication Wiener devoted particular attention to the question of automatons and the development of feedback models. His core interest lay in investigating machines capable of evaluating input and of integrating the stored experience into the further feedback loops. In this respect, feedback is a method of making systems self-regulating, by which the results of preceding activities are re-integrated in the procedural sequence and thus enable runtime corrections to be made permanently. To this end, machines must be capable of learning processes.
Although his approaches and conclusions are very different from those of Wiener, Turing in his essay likewise clearly indicated the necessity of developing systems capable of learning. Devoted to the subject of learning machines, the essay takes as its starting point the principle that «education can take place provided beyond that for the development of interactive, digital systems. This communication channel permits bi-directional information exchange, and therefore also learning processes. On the basis of this method, Turing repudiated the thesis set up by Ada Lovelace in 1842. [22]Using investigations made with the ‹analytic machine› of Charles Babbage, Lady Lovelace had claimed that a machine can do only that which it is instructed to do, and therefore is never capable of producing anything truly new. [23] Turing contradicted this thesis with the question «who can be certain that ‹original work› that he has done was not simply the growth of the seed planted in him by teaching, or the effect of following well-known general principles?» [24] He further pointed out that the machine must be to a certain degree ‹undisciplined› or random-controlled in order that its behavior can be considered intelligent. [25]
Precisely this element of chance was what lent the machine ‹creative› ability, namely the ability to solve problems. Although discrete machines that could pass the Turing Test are feasible, they would succeed not because they were replicas of the human brain but because they would have been programmed accordingly. As Turing himself realized, the basic problem lies in the area of programming. In fact, it was not necessary to wait the fifty years assumed by Turing in order to program «computers, with a storage capacity of about 109, to make them play the imitation game so well that an average interrogator will not have more than a 70 per cent chance of making the right identification after five minutes of questioning.» [26] The programs have been written, and have passed the Turing Test with a high degree of interactivity. One might therefore conclude that the problem is not solely confined to investigating the possibilities of Artificial Intelligence. [27]
Viewed from the contemporary perspective, cybernetics and AI cannot be reduced to solely scientific, economic, or technical interest. Since these theories belong to a socio-technical field in which communication structures, world-views and people-views are formed and transformed, they are concerned with philosophic issues of perception, cognition, language, ethics, and aesthetics. If  information technology is basically working towards the automation of mental processes, then it directly or indirectly reaches into disciplines concerned with human cognition or creativity.
Translation by Tom Morrison

Computational Intelligence

Filed under: ΚΕΙΜΕΝΑ — Ετικέτες: — admin @ 16:45
Computational Intelligence
Michael I. Jordan and Stuart Russell
There are two complementary views of artificial intelligence (AI): one as an engineer- ing discipline concerned with the creation of intelligent machines, the other as an empirical science concerned with the computational modeling of human intelligence. When the field was young, these two views were seldom distinguished. Since then, a substantial divide has opened up, with the former view dominating modern AI and the latter view characterizing much of modern cognitive science. For this reason, we have adopted the more neutral term “computational intelligence” as the title of this arti- cle—both communities are attacking the problem of understanding intelligence in computational terms.
It is our belief that the differences between the engineering models and the cogni- tively inspired models are small compared to the vast gulf in competence between these models and human levels of intelligence. For humans are, to a first approxima- tion, intelligent; they can perceive, act, learn, reason, and communicate successfully despite the enormous difficulty of these tasks. Indeed, we expect that as further progress is made in trying to emulate this success, the engineering and cognitive mod- els will become more similar. Already, the traditionally antagonistic “connectionist” and “symbolic” camps are finding common ground, particularly in their understand- ing of reasoning under uncertainty and learning. This sort of cross-fertilization was a central aspect of the early vision of cognitive science as an interdisciplinary enter- prise.
1 Machines and Cognition
The conceptual precursors of AI can be traced back many centuries. LOGIC, the formal theory of deductive reasoning, was studied in ancient Greece, as were ALGORITHMS for mathematical computations. In the late seventeenth century, Wilhelm Leibniz actually constructed simple “conceptual calculators,” but their representational and combinatorial powers were far too limited. In the nineteenth century, Charles Babbage designed (but did not build) a device capable of universal computation, and his collab- orator Ada Lovelace speculated that the machine might one day be programmed to play chess or compose music. Fundamental work by ALAN TURING in the 1930s for- malized the notion of universal computation; the famous CHURCHTURING THESIS pro- posed that all sufficiently powerful computing devices were essentially identical in the sense that any one device could emulate the operations of any other. From here it was a small step to the bold hypothesis that human cognition was a form of COMPUTATION in exactly this sense, and could therefore be emulated by computers.
By this time, neurophysiology had already established that the brain consisted largely of a vast interconnected network of NEURONS that used some form of electrical signalling mechanism. The first mathematical model relating computation and the brain appeared in a seminal paper entitled “A logical calculus of the ideas immanent in nervous activity,” by WARREN MCCULLOCH and WALTER PITTS (1943). The paper proposed an abstract model of neurons as linear threshold units—logical “gates” that output a signal if the weighted sum of their inputs exceeds a threshold value (see COMPUTING IN SINGLE NEURONS). It was shown that a network of such gates could repre- sent any logical function, and, with suitable delay components to implement memory, would be capable of universal computation. Together with HEBB’s model of learning in networks of neurons, this work can be seen as a precursor of modern NEURAL NETWORKS and connectionist cognitive modeling. Its stress on the representation of logi- cal concepts by neurons also provided impetus to the “logicist” view of AI.
The emergence of AI proper as a recognizable field required the availability of usable computers; this resulted from the wartime efforts led by Turing in Britain and by JOHN VON NEUMANN in the United States. It also required a banner to be raised;
lxxiv Computational Intelligence


this was done with relish by Turing’s (1950) paper “Computing Machinery and Intel- ligence,” wherein an operational definition for intelligence was proposed (the Turing test) and many future developments were sketched out.
One should not underestimate the level of controversy surrounding AI’s initial phase. The popular press was only too ready to ascribe intelligence to the new “elec- tronic super-brains,” but many academics refused to contemplate the idea of intelli- gent computers. In his 1950 paper, Turing went to great lengths to catalogue and refute many of their objections. Ironically, one objection already voiced by Kurt Gödel, and repeated up to the present day in various forms, rested on the ideas of incompleteness and undecidability in formal systems to which Turing himself had contributed (see GÖDELS THEOREMS and FORMAL SYSTEMS, PROPERTIES OF). Other objectors denied the possibility of CONSCIOUSNESS in computers, and with it the pos- sibility of intelligence. Turing explicitly sought to separate the two, focusing on the objective question of intelligent behavior while admitting that consciousness might remain a mystery—as indeed it has.
The next step in the emergence of AI was the formation of a research community; this was achieved at the 1956 Dartmouth meeting convened by John McCarthy. Per- haps the most advanced work presented at this meeting was that of ALLEN NEWELL and Herb Simon, whose program of research in symbolic cognitive modeling was one of the principal influences on cognitive psychology and information-processing psy- chology. Newell and Simon’s IPL languages were the first symbolic programming languages and among the first high-level languages of any kind. McCarthy’s LISP language, developed slightly later, soon became the standard programming language of the AI community and in many ways remains unsurpassed even today.
Contemporaneous developments in other fields also led to a dramatic increase in the precision and complexity of the models that could be proposed and analyzed. In linguistics, for example, work by Chomsky (1957) on formal grammars opened up new avenues for the mathematical modeling of mental structures. NORBERT WIENER developed the field of cybernetics (see CONTROL THEORY and MOTOR CONTROL) to provide mathematical tools for the analysis and synthesis of physical control systems. The theory of optimal control in particular has many parallels with the theory of ratio- nal agents (see below), but within this tradition no model of internal representation was ever developed.
As might be expected from so young a field with so broad a mandate that draws on so many traditions, the history of AI has been marked by substantial changes in fash- ion and opinion. Its early days might be described as the “Look, Ma, no hands!” era, when the emphasis was on showing a doubting world that computers could play chess, learn, see, and do all the other things thought to be impossible. A wide variety of methods was tried, ranging from general-purpose symbolic problem solvers to simple neural networks. By the late 1960s, a number of practical and theoretical setbacks had convinced most AI researchers that there would be no simple “magic bullet.” The gen- eral-purpose methods that had initially seemed so promising came to be called weak methods because their reliance on extensive combinatorial search and first-principles knowledge could not overcome the complexity barriers that were, by that time, seen as unavoidable. The 1970s saw the rise of an alternative approach based on the applica- tion of large amounts of domain-specific knowledge, expressed in forms that were close enough to the explicit solution as to require little additional computation. Ed Feigenbaum’s gnomic dictum, “Knowledge is power,” was the watchword of the boom in industrial and commercial application of expert systems in the early 1980s.
When the first generation of expert system technology turned out to be too fragile for widespread use, a so-called AI Winter set in—government funding of AI and pub- lic perception of its promise both withered in the late 1980s. At the same time, a revival of interest in neural network approaches led to the same kind of optimism as had characterized “traditional” AI in the early 1980s. Since that time, substantial progress has been made in a number of areas within AI, leading to renewed commer- cial interest in fields such as data mining (applied machine learning) and a new wave of expert system technology based on probabilistic inference. The 1990s may in fact come to be seen as the decade of probability. Besides expert systems, the so-called 

22 Ιουνίου 2020

Περί αλλοτινών χώρων (Des espaces autres) (1967), Ετεροτοπίες Μισέλ Φουκώ

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Περί αλλοτινών χώρων (Des espaces autres) (1967), Ετεροτοπίες Μισέλ Φουκώ
Όπως όλοι γνωρίζουμε, η μεγάλη εμμονή που κυρίευσε τον 19ο αιώνα ήταν η ιστορία: ζητήματα ανάπτυξης και στασιμότητας, ζητήματα κρίσεων και κυκλικότητας, ζητήματα συσσώρευσης του παρελθόντος, μεγάλος αριθμός νεκρών, η απειλητική πτώση της θερμοκρασίας του πλανήτη. Ο 19ος αιώνας άντλησε τις βασικές μυθολογικές πηγές του από τον δεύτερο νόμο της θερμοδυναμικής. Η σημερινή εποχή θα μπορούσε να χαρακτηριστεί περισσότερο ως η εποχή του χώρου. Διανύουμε την εποχή του ταυτόχρονου, την εποχή της αντιπαραβολής, του κοντινού και του μακρινού, του πλάι πλάι, της διάχυσης. Βρισκόμαστε, κατά την άποψή μου, σε ένα σημείο όπου ο κόσμος δίνει την εντύπωση λιγότερο μιας μεγαλειώδους ζωής που εξελίσσεται με την πάροδο του χρόνου και περισσότερο ενός δικτύου το οποίο ενώνει σημεία υφαίνοντας τον ιστό του. Θα μπορούσαμε ίσως να ισχυριστούμε ότι ορισμένες από τις ιδεολογικές συγκρούσεις οι οποίες ενέπνευσαν την πολεμική της εποχής μας εκτυλίσσονται ανάμεσα στους πιστούς απόγονους του χρόνου και στους επίμονους κατοίκους του χώρου. Ο στρουκτουραλισμός, ή τουλάχιστον η γενικότερη έννοια που κατηγοριοποιείται υπό αυτόν τον όρο, είναι η προσπάθεια δημιουργίας, με στοιχεία διασκορπισμένα στο χρονικό γίγνεσθαι, ενός συνόλου σχέσεων οι οποίες δίνουν την εντύπωση της αντιπαραβολής, της αντιπαράθεσης, της μεταξύ τους ανάμειξης, ή μάλλον την εντύπωση ενός διαμορφωμένου συστήματος. Στην πραγματικότητα, ο στρουκτουραλισμός δεν συνεπάγεται την άρνηση του χρόνου. Αποτελεί έναν συγκεκριμένο τρόπο διαχείρισης αυτών που αποκαλούμε χρόνος και ιστορία.
Πρέπει να τονίσουμε πάντως ότι ο χώρος που μας απασχολεί σήμερα μέσα από τη θεωρία και τα συστήματά μας, δεν αποτελεί καινοτομία. Ο χώρος από μόνος του, σύμφωνα με τη δυτική εμπειρία, έχει τη δική του ιστορία, και δεν είναι δυνατόν να παραβλέψουμε αυτή την αναπόφευκτη διασύνδεση του χρόνου με τον χώρο. Θα μπορούσαμε να ισχυριστούμε, για να περιγράψουμε πολύ γενικά αυτήν την ιστορία του χώρου, ότι κατά τον Μεσαίωνα υπήρχε ένα ιεραρχικό σύνολο τόπων: τόποι ιεροί και τόποι κοσμικοί, τόποι προστατευμένοι και τόποι ανοιχτοί και απροστάτευτοι, αστικοί και αγροτικοί τόποι (όπου ζούσαν πραγματικά οι άνθρωποι). Σύμφωνα με την κοσμολογική θεωρία, υπήρχαν τόποι υπερουράνιοι σε αντιπαραβολή προς τους ουράνιους και τόποι ουράνιοι με τη σειρά τους σε αντιπαραβολή προς τους επίγειους. Υπήρχαν τόποι όπου τα πράγματα είχαν τοποθετηθεί επειδή είχαν μετακινηθεί με τη βία και, αντίθετα, τόποι όπου τα πράγματα έβρισκαν τη φυσική θέση και ακινησία τους. Αυτή ακριβώς η ιεραρχία, αυτή η αντίθεση, αυτή η διασύνδεση των τόπων αποτέλεσε αυτό που μπορούμε να αποκαλέσουμε σε γενικές γραμμές μεσαιωνικό χώρο: ο χώρος της φυσικής θέσης (localisation).
Αυτός ο χώρος διευρύνθηκε από τον Γαλιλαίο. Διότι το πραγματικό σκάνδαλο στο έργο του Γαλιλαίου, δεν ήταν τόσο ότι ανακάλυψε ότι η Γη γυρίζει γύρω από τον Ήλιο, αλλά ότι δημιούργησε έναν χώρο απέραντο και απολύτως ανοιχτό, με αποτέλεσμα να καταλυθεί τελείως η μεσαιωνική αντίληψη του χώρου, αφού ο τόπος ενός πράγματος δεν ήταν πια παρά ένα σημείο στην κίνησή του, όπως ακριβώς η ακινησία ενός πράγματος δεν ήταν παρά η απεριόριστη επιβράδυνση της κίνησής του. Με άλλα λόγια, από την εποχή του Γαλιλαίου και ξεκινώντας από τον 19ο αιώνα, την φυσική θέση υποκαθιστά η ευρύτητα (etendue).
Στις μέρες μας, η θέση στο χώρο (emplacement) αντικαθιστά την ευρύτητα, η οποία με τη σειρά της υποκατέστησε τη φυσική θέση. Η θέση στο χώρο προσδιορίζεται από τις σχέσεις γειτονίας μεταξύ σημείων ή στοιχείων. Τυπικά, μπορούμε να τις περιγράψουμε ως σειρές, άξονες, κιγκλίδες.
Από την άλλη πλευρά, γνωρίζουμε τη σημασία των προβλημάτων της θέσης στον χώρο στη σύγχρονη τεχνική: η αποθήκευση πληροφοριών ή των ενδιάμεσων αποτελεσμάτων ενός υπολογισμού στη μνήμη μιας μηχανής, η κυκλοφορία απόρρητων στοιχείων, με τυχαία έξοδο (όπως για παράδειγμα τα αυτοκίνητα ή ακόμη και οι ήχοι μιας τηλεφωνικής γραμμής), η σηματοδότηση στοιχείων που φέρουν σήμα ή κωδικοποίηση, εντός ενός συνόλου το οποίο είναι είτε τυχαία κατανεμημένο, είτε ταξινομημένο σύμφωνα με μια μεμονωμένη ή πολλαπλές ταξινομήσεις, κλπ.
Κατά έναν ακόμη πιο συγκεκριμένο τρόπο, το πρόβλημα της θέσης τίθεται για τους ανθρώπους με όρους δημογραφικούς. Και αυτό το τελευταίο πρόβλημα της ανθρώπινης θέσης, δεν είναι απλά το ερώτημα εάν θα υπάρξει αρκετός χώρος για την ανθρωπότητα στον πλανήτη, πρόβλημα ούτως ή άλλως αρκετά σημαντικό, αλλά παράλληλα το πρόβλημα των σχέσεων γειτνίασης, του είδους της αποθήκευσης, κυκλοφορίας, σηματοδότησης, κατηγοριοποίησης των ανθρώπινων στοιχείων που πρέπει να υιοθετηθούν σε δεδομένες καταστάσεις προκειμένου να επιτευχθεί ο ένας ή ο άλλος στόχος. Βρισκόμαστε σε μια εποχή όπου ο χώρος λαμβάνει τη μορφή σχέσεων θέσης.
Σε κάθε περίπτωση, πιστεύω ότι οι ανησυχίες μας σήμερα αφορούν πρωταρχικά το χώρο, προφανώς πολύ περισσότερο απ’ ότι τον χρόνο. Ο χρόνος εμφανίζεται πιθανόν ως μία από τις διάφορες επιμεριστικές λειτουργίες των στοιχείων τα οποία κατανέμονται στον χώρο.
Παρά τις όποιες τεχνικές που τον περιβάλλουν, παρά τα δίκτυα γνώσης που μας επιτρέπουν να τον προσδιορίσουμε ή να τον τυποποιήσουμε, ο σύγχρονος χώρος δεν είναι ίσως ακόμη πλήρως απαλλαγμένος από τον ιερό του χαρακτήρα, σε αντίθεση με τον χρόνο, ο οποίος το έχει επιτύχει από τον 19ο αιώνα. Βέβαια, έχει πραγματοποιηθεί μια ορισμένη θεωρητική απομάκρυνση του χώρου από τον ιερό του χαρακτήρα (για την οποία έδωσε το έναυσμα το έργο του Γαλιλαίου), όμως ίσως να μην έχουμε αγγίξει ακόμη την πρακτική αποαγιοποίηση του χώρου. Και ίσως ακόμη η ίδια η ζωή μας να κυβερνάται από συγκεκριμένες αντιθέσεις τις 2
οποίες δεν μπορούμε να αγγίξουμε, τις οποίες οι θεσμοί και οι πρακτικές μας δεν τολμούν ακόμη να θίξουν, αντιθέσεις τις οποίες δεχόμαστε ως δεδομένες: για παράδειγμα, μεταξύ του ιδιωτικού και του δημόσιου χώρου, του οικογενειακού και του κοινωνικού χώρου, του πολιτισμικού χώρου και του χώρου κοινής ωφέλειας, μεταξύ του χώρου αναψυχής και του χώρου εργασίας. Όλες αυτές οι αντιθέσεις εξακολουθούν να χαρακτηρίζονται από μια δεδομένη ιερότητα.
Το τεράστιο έργο του Bachelard, οι περιγραφές των φαινομενολόγων, μας έχουν δείξει ότι δεν ζούμε σε έναν ομοιογενή και άδειο χώρο, αλλά αντιθέτως, σε έναν χώρο εμποτισμένο με χαρακτηριστικά, έναν χώρο ίσως και στοιχειωμένο από τη φαντασίωση. Ο χώρος της πρωταρχικής μας αντίληψης, ο χώρος των ονείρων μας, ο χώρος των παθών μας, περικλείουν εγγενή χαρακτηριστικά. Πρόκειται για έναν χώρο ανάλαφρο, αιθέριο,  διαφανή, ή ακόμη για έναν χώρο σκοτεινό, τραχύ, παραφορτωμένο: πρόκειται για έναν άνω χώρο, τον χώρο της κορυφής, ή αντίθετα έναν κάτω χώρο, τον χώρο της λάσπης. Ένας χώρος που μπορεί να ρέει όπως το γάργαρο νερό, ή ένας χώρος σταθερός, μαρμαρωμένος όπως η πέτρα ή το κρύσταλλο.
Ωστόσο, αυτές οι αναλύσεις, ενώ είναι θεμελιώδεις για τον σύγχρονο προβληματισμό, αφορούν κυρίως τον εσωτερικό χώρο. Εγώ θα ήθελα να μιλήσω τώρα για τον εξωτερικό χώρο. Ο χώρος μέσα στον οποίο ζούμε, ο οποίος μας παρασύρει έξω από τον εαυτό μας, είναι ο χώρος όπου πραγματοποιείται όντως η διάβρωση της ζωής, του χρόνου και της ιστορίας μας, ο χώρος που μας κατατρώει και μας σημαδεύει είναι και ο ίδιος ένας ετερογενής χώρος. Με άλλα λόγια, δεν ζούμε σε ένα κενό, στο οποίο μπορεί κανείς να  τοποθετήσει άτομα και πράγματα. Δεν ζούμε μέσα σε ένα κενό, που μπορεί να χρωματιστεί με διάφορες αποχρώσεις, αλλά σε ένα σύνολο από σχέσεις που προσδιορίζουν θέσεις απαράβατες και σε καμία περίπτωση υπερκείμενες μεταξύ τους.
Βέβαια, θα μπορούσε κανείς να επιχειρήσει να περιγράψει αυτές τις διάφορες θέσεις, αναζητώντας το σύνολο των σχέσεων με βάση τις οποίες μπορούμε να προσδιορίσουμε την εν λόγω θέση. Για παράδειγμα, η περιγραφή του συνόλου των σχέσεων που προσδιορίζουν τις θέσεις διέλευσης, τις οδούς, τα τρένα (το τρένο είναι μια εξαιρετική δέσμη σχέσεων, καθώς αποτελεί κάτι με το οποίο κάποιος διέρχεται, μέσο με το οποίο κάποιος μπορεί να μεταφερθεί από ένα σημείο σε κάποιο άλλο και ταυτόχρονα ένα αντικείμενο που περνάει). Θα μπορούσαμε να περιγράψουμε μέσω της δέσμης των σχέσεων που μας επιτρέπουν να τις προσδιορίσουμε, τις θέσεις αυτές της προσωρινής στάσης, όπως τα καφέ, οι κινηματογράφοι, οι παραλίες. Θα μπορούσαμε επίσης να προσδιορίσουμε, μέσω ενός τέτοιου δικτύου σχέσεων, τις κλειστές ή σχεδόν κλειστές θέσεις ανάπαυσης, όπως είναι το σπίτι, το δωμάτιο, το κρεβάτι, κλπ. Αυτό όμως που με ενδιαφέρει μεταξύ όλων των άλλων θέσεων είναι ορισμένες θέσεις οι οποίες διαθέτουν την παράδοξη ιδιότητα να συνδέονται με όλες τις άλλες θέσεις, αλλά με τέτοιον τρόπο ώστε να αναιρούν, να εξουδετερώνουν ή να αντιστρέφουν το 3
σύνολο των σχέσεων τις οποίες τυγχάνει να καθορίζουν, να καθρεφτίζουν ή να αντανακλούν. Κατά κάποιον τρόπο, οι χώροι αυτοί, που συνδέονται με όλους τους άλλους, οι οποίοι ωστόσο αναιρούν όλες τις άλλες θέσεις, διαιρούνται σε δύο μεγάλες κατηγορίες. ΕΤΕΡΟΤΟΠΙΕΣ Κατ’ αρχήν υπάρχουν ουτοπίες. Οι ουτοπίες, αποτελούν θέσεις χωρίς πραγματικό τόπο. Είναι οι θέσεις που διατηρούν με τον πραγματικό χώρο της κοινωνίας μία γενική σχέση άμεσης ή αντίστροφης αναλογίας. Αποτελούν έκφραση της ίδιας της κοινωνίας σε τελειοποιημένη μορφή, ή της ανάποδης πλευράς της κοινωνίας,  αλλά σε κάθε περίπτωση, οι ουτοπίες αυτές αποτελούν ουσιαστικά μη πραγματικούς χώρους.
Υπάρχουν εξίσου, και αυτό ίσως συμβαίνει σε κάθε κουλτούρα, σε κάθε πολιτισμό, πραγματικοί τόποι, τόποι λειτουργικοί, τόποι που έχουν σχεδιαστεί εντός του θεσμού ακόμη και της ίδιας της κοινωνίας, και οι οποίοι αποτελούν κάποιο είδος αντι-θέσεων, είδος ουτοπιών που έχουν γίνει πράξη, εντός των οποίων οι πραγματικές θέσεις, όλες οι υπόλοιπες πραγματικές θέσεις που μπορεί κανείς να βρει στο εσωτερικό μιας κουλτούρας αντιπροσωπεύονται ταυτόχρονα, αμφισβητούνται και ανατρέπονται. Υπάρχουν είδη τόπων που βρίσκονται έξω από όλους τους τόπους, ακόμη και αν είναι εύκολο να προσδιοριστεί η τοποθεσία τους. Επειδή οι τόποι αυτοί είναι τελείως διαφορετικοί από όλες τις άλλες θέσεις τις οποίες αντανακλούν και στις οποίες αναφέρονται, θα τους αποκαλώ, σε αντίθεση με τις ουτοπίες, ετεροτοπίες. Πιστεύω ότι μεταξύ των ουτοπιών και των υπολοίπων εντελώς διαφορετικών θέσεων, αυτών των ετεροτοπιών, υπάρχει προφανώς ένα είδος μεικτής, ενδιάμεσης εμπειρίας, ένα είδος καθρέφτη. Άλλωστε ο καθρέφτης αποτελεί μία ουτοπία, αφού είναι ένας τόπος χωρίς τόπο. Στον καθρέφτη βλέπω τον εαυτό μου εκεί όπου δεν βρίσκομαι, σε έναν χώρο μη πραγματικό που ανοίγεται με εικονικό τρόπο κάτω από την επιφάνεια. Βρίσκομαι εκεί, σε μέρος όπου δεν βρίσκομαι, ένα είδος σκιάς που μου δίνει τη δυνατότητα να βλέπω τον εαυτό μου, που μου επιτρέπει να βλέπω τον εαυτό μου εκεί απ’ όπου απουσιάζω – αυτή είναι η ουτοπία του καθρέφτη. Αλλά είναι εξίσου μια ετεροτοπία, στο βαθμό όπου ο καθρέφτης υπάρχει στην πραγματικότητα και παρουσιάζει μια αντανάκλαση της θέσης στην οποία βρίσκομαι. Χάρη στον καθρέφτη ανακαλύπτω την απουσία μου από το μέρος όπου βρίσκομαι καθώς βλέπω εκεί τον εαυτό μου. Ξεκινώντας από αυτό το βλέμμα, το οποίο με κάποιον τρόπο στρέφεται προς εμένα, από το βάθος αυτού του εικονικού χώρου στην άλλη πλευρά του γυαλιού, επιστρέφω στον εαυτό μου και ξαναρχίζω να στρέφω το βλέμμα μου σε μένα και να τοποθετώ τον εαυτό μου στο σημείο όπου βρίσκομαι. Ο καθρέφτης λειτουργεί σαν μια ετεροτοπία υπό την έννοια ότι καθιστά το μέρος όπου βρίσκομαι τη στιγμή που κοιτάζομαι στο τζάμι ταυτόχρονα απολύτως πραγματικο, συνδεδεμένο με όλο το χώρο που το 4
περιβάλλει, και απολύτως μη πραγματικό, καθώς προκειμένου να γίνει αντιληπτό (το μέρος) είναι υποχρεωμένο να περάσει μέσα από αυτό το εικονικό σημείο που βρίσκεται εκεί.
Όσον αφορά τις καθεαυτού ετεροτοπίες, πώς μπορούν να περιγραφούν; Ποιο είναι το νόημά τους; Θα μπορούσε κανείς να υποθέσει ότι αποτελούν ένα είδος συστηματικής περιγραφής, δεν χρησιμοποιώ τον όρο επιστήμη επειδή πρόκειται για μία λέξη με υπερβολική συχνότητα χρήσης στις μέρες μας, μια περιγραφή η οποία, σε μια δεδομένη κοινωνία, θα μπορούσε να έχει ως αντικείμενό της τη μελέτη, την ανάλυση, την περιγραφή, την «ανάγνωση», όπως προτιμούν ορισμένοι να την αποκαλούν στην εποχή μας, αυτών των διαφορετικών χώρων, των άλλων τόπων. Ένας χώρος μυθικής και ταυτόχρονα πραγματικής διεκδίκησης του χώρου στον οποίο ζούμε. Η περιγραφή αυτή θα  μπορούσε να ονομαστεί ετεροτοπολογία. Η πρώτη αρχή είναι ότι πιθανόν δεν υπάρχει καμία κουλτούρα στον κόσμο η οποία να μην δημιουργεί ετεροτοπίες. Αυτό αποτελεί σταθερά κάθε ανθρώπινης ομάδας. Οι ετεροτοπίες όμως λαμβάνουν φυσικά μορφές εντελώς διαφοροποιημένες, και ίσως κανείς δεν μπορεί να βρει μία μοναδική μορφή ετεροτοπίας η οποία θα είναι απολύτως παγκόσμια. Ωστόσο, μπορούμε να τις κατηγοριοποιήσουμε σε  δύο μεγάλες ομάδες. Στις λεγόμενες “πρωτόγονες” κοινωνίες, υπάρχει μία συγκεκριμένη μορφή ετεροτοπιών τις οποίες εγώ ονομάζω ετεροτοπίες κρίσης, δηλαδή υπάρχουν τόποι προνομιούχοι, ή ιεροί, ή απαγορευμένοι, φυλαγμένοι για άτομα που βρίσκονται, αναφορικά με την κοινωνία και το ανθρώπινο περιβάλλον στο οποίο ζουν, σε κατάσταση κρίσης: έφηβοι, γυναίκες τη διάρκεια της έμμηνου ρύσης, σε κατάσταση εγκυμοσύνης, ηλικιωμένοι, κλπ.
Στην κοινωνία μας, αυτές οι ετεροτοπίες κρίσης εξαφανίζονται διαρκώς, παρόλο που κάποιες εξακολουθούν να επιβιώνουν. Για παράδειγμα, το γυμνάσιο, υπό τη μορφή που είχε τον 19ο αιώνα, ή η στρατιωτική θητεία για τους άνδρες διαδραμάτισαν αναμφισβήτητα έναν τέτοιο ρόλο, οι πρώτες εκδηλώσεις της ανδρικής σεξουαλικότητας έπρεπε στην πραγματικότητα να πραγματοποιηθούν οπουδήποτε «αλλού», εκτός από την οικογένεια. Για τα κορίτσια, μέχρι τα μέσα του 20ου αιώνα, υπήρχε μία παράδοση που λεγόταν «ταξίδι του μέλιτος», η οποία αποτελούσε προγονικό ζήτημα. Η εκπαρθένευση της νεαρής κοπέλας δεν μπορούσε να συμβεί «πουθενά» και, τη στιγμή της πραγματοποίησής της το τρένο, το ταξίδι του μέλιτος, αποτελούσε πράγματι τον τόπο αυτού του πουθενά, αυτήν την ετεροτοπία χωρίς γεωγραφικά σημεία αναφοράς.
Αυτές οι ετεροτοπίες κρίσης όμως εξαφανίζονται στις μέρες μας και αντικαθίστανται, κατά τη γνώμη μου, από ετεροτοπίες απόκλισης, όπως θα μπορούσαμε να τις ονομάσουμε: αυτές στις οποίες τοποθετούνται άτομα με συμπεριφορά αποκλίνουσα σε σχέση με το μέσο όρο ή κανόνα. Τέτοιες περιπτώσεις αποτελούν τα αναρρωτήρια, οι ψυχιατρικές κλινικές και φυσικά οι φυλακές, και ίσως θα έπρεπε να προσθέσουμε χωρίς ενδοιασμό και τους οίκους ευγηρίας, οι οποίοι βρίσκονται κατά κάποιον τρόπο στη διαχωριστική γραμμή μεταξύ της ετεροτοπίας 5
κρίσης και της ετεροτοπίας απόκλισης, αφού τελικά τα γηρατειά αποτελούν μια κρίση, αλλά και μια απόκλιση σε μια κοινωνία όπου οι δραστηριότητες αναψυχής είναι ο κανόνας και η αδράνεια αποτελεί μια μορφή απόκλισης. Η δεύτερη αρχή αυτής της περιγραφής των ετεροτοπιών, είναι ότι μια κοινωνία, κατά την ιστορική εξέλιξή της, μπορεί να κάνει μια ήδη υπάρχουσα ετεροτοπία, η οποία δεν εξαφανίστηκε ποτέ, να λειτουργήσει κατά τρόπο τελείως διαφορετικό. Πράγματι, κάθε ετεροτοπία διαθέτει μια  σαφή και καθορισμένη λειτουργία σε μια κοινωνία, και η ίδια ετεροτοπία μπορεί, ανάλογα με την συγχρονικότητα της κουλτούρας στην οποία βρίσκεται να έχει μια διαφορετική λειτουργία.
Παίρνω για παράδειγμα την παράξενη ετεροτοπία του νεκροταφείου. Το νεκροταφείο είναι σίγουρα ένας τόπος διαφορετικός από τους συνήθεις πολιτισμικούς χώρους. Πρόκειται για έναν χώρο ο οποίος συνδέεται κατά βάση με όλους τους χώρους μιας πόλης ή μιας κοινωνίας ή ενός χωριού, καθώς κάθε άτομο, κάθε οικογένεια έχει συγγενείς στο νεκροταφείο. Στη δυτική κουλτούρα, το νεκροταφείο πρακτικά υπήρχε πάντα. Έχει υποστεί όμως σημαντικές μεταβολές. Μέχρι τα τέλη του 18ου αιώνα, το νεκροταφείο βρισκόταν στο κέντρο της πόλης, δίπλα στην εκκλησία προσφέροντας διάφορες δυνατότητες ταφής. Υπήρχε ο ομαδικός τάφος εντός του οποίου τα πτώματα έχαναν και το τελευταίο ίχνος ατομικότητας. Υπήρχαν ορισμένοι ατομικοί τάφοι, και υπήρχαν και τάφοι στο εσωτερικό της εκκλησίας. Οι τελευταίοι αυτοί τάφοι χωρίζονταν σε δύο κατηγορίες, είτε απλές ταφόπλακες με μια επιγραφή, ή μαυσωλεία με αγάλματα. Το νεκροταφείο αυτό, το οποίο στεγαζόταν στον ιερό χώρο της εκκλησίας, έχει λάβει μια τελείως διαφορετική μορφή στους μοντέρνους πολιτισμούς και κατά παράξενο τρόπο, η δυτική κουλτούρα εγκαινίασε αυτό που αποκαλούμε λατρεία των νεκρών σε μία εποχή όπου ο πολιτισμός έχει γίνει, όπως λέμε πολύ γενικά, «άθεος».
Κατά βάση, ήταν απόλυτα φυσικό σε μια εποχή αληθινής πίστης στην ανάσταση των νεκρών και στην αθανασία της ψυχής να μην αποδίδεται η δέουσα σημασία στις σορούς των νεκρών. Αντιθέτως, από τη στιγμή που οι άνθρωποι δεν είναι πλέον απολύτως σίγουροι ότι έχουν ψυχή, ή ότι το σώμα τους θα αναστηθεί, πρέπει ίσως να δίνουν μεγαλύτερη προσοχή στην σορό του νεκρού, που αποτελεί εν τέλει το μοναδικό ίχνος της ύπαρξής μας ανάμεσα στον κόσμο και τις λέξεις.
Σε κάθε περίπτωση, μόλις από τις αρχές του 19ου αιώνα έχει ο καθένας μας το δικαίωμα στο μικρό κουτί του για την μικρή προσωπική του αποσύνθεση. Από την άλλη πλευρά όμως, μόλις από τις αρχές του 19ου αιώνα τα νεκροταφεία άρχισαν να τοποθετούνται στα εξωτερικά όρια των πόλεων. Σε συνάρτηση με αυτήν την εξατομίκευση του θανάτου και την μικροαστική ιδιοποίηση του νεκροταφείου γεννήθηκε η εμμονή του θανάτου ως «ασθένεια». Οι νεκροί θεωρούνται ότι φέρνουν αρρώστιες στους ζωντανούς,  και η παρουσία και η εγγύτητα των νεκρών πολύ κοντά στα σπίτια, πολύ κοντά στην εκκλησία, σχεδόν στη μέση του δρόμου,
είναι αυτή που διασπείρει τον ίδιο τον θάνατο. Το μεγάλο αυτό ζήτημα της ασθένειας που μεταδίδεται από τα νεκροταφεία παρέμεινε έως το τέλος του 18ου αιώνα και μόνο κατά τη διάρκεια του 19ου αιώνα ξεκίνησαν οι μετακινήσεις των νεκροταφείων προς τα προάστια. Τα νεκροταφεία δεν αποτελούσαν πλέον τον ιερό και αθάνατο άνεμο της πόλης, αλλά την «άλλη πόλη», όπου κάθε οικογένεια κατέχει τη δική της σκοτεινή κατοικία. Τρίτη αρχή. Η ετεροτοπία έχει τη δυνατότητα να αντιπαραθέσει σε έναν πραγματικό τόπο πολλούς χώρους, πολλές θέσεις οι οποίες από μόνες τους είναι ασυμβατές. Με αυτόν τον τρόπο το θέατρο κάνει να διαδέχονται ο ένας τον άλλον στο ορθογώνιο της σκηνής μία σειρά από τόπους ξένους μεταξύ τους. Με αυτόν τον τρόπο ο κινηματογράφος αποτελεί μια πολύ παράξενη ορθογώνια αίθουσα, στο βάθος της οποίας, σε μια οθόνη δύο διαστάσεων, βλέπουμε να προβάλλεται ένας χώρος τριών διαστάσεων. Ίσως όμως το πιο παλαιό παράδειγμα αυτών των ετεροτοπιών, υπό μορφή αντιφατικών τοποθεσιών, είναι ο κήπος. Δεν πρέπει να ξεχνάμε ότι ο κήπος, θαυμάσια δημιουργία ηλικίας σήμερα χιλιάδων ετών, είχε στην ανατολή βαθύτερες και υπερκείμενες μεταξύ τους σημασίες. Ο παραδοσιακός περσικός κήπος αποτελούσε έναν ιερό χώρο ο οποίος έπρεπε να συνενώνει στο κέντρο του ορθογωνίου του τέσσερα σημεία που αντιπροσώπευαν τα τέσσερα σημεία του ορίζοντα, με έναν χώρο ακόμη πιο ιερό από τους άλλους, που ήταν σαν ομφαλός, ο ομφαλός του κόσμου και το κέντρο του (όπου βρισκόταν η λεκάνη και το σιντριβάνι). Όλη η βλάστηση του κήπου έπρεπε να κατανέμεται σε αυτόν τον χώρο, σε αυτόν τον μικρόκοσμο. Όσον αφορά τα χαλιά, αρχικά ήταν αναπαραστάσεις κήπων. Ο κήπος είναι ένα χαλί όπου ολόκληρος ο κόσμος πετυχαίνει την συμβολική του τελειότητα, και το χαλί είναι ένα είδος κινητού κήπου μέσα στο χώρο. Ο κήπος είναι το πιο μικρό κομμάτι του κόσμου και επιπλέον είναι ολόκληρος ο κόσμος. Από τα βάθη της αρχαιότητας ο κήπος είναι ένα είδος ευτυχούς και καθολικής ετεροτοπίας (εξ ου και οι ζωολογικοί κήποι μας).
Τέταρτη αρχή. Οι ετεροτοπίες συνδέονται πολύ συχνά με τμήματα του χρόνου, δηλαδή ανοίγονται σε αυτό που θα μπορούσαμε να ονομάσουμε κατά πλήρη αντιστοιχία, ετεροχρονισμούς. Η ετεροτοπία ξεκινάει να λειτουργεί πλήρως όταν οι άνθρωποι βρίσκονται σε ένα είδος απόλυτης ρήξης με τον παραδοσιακό τους χρόνο. Από αυτό μπορούμε να συμπεράνουμε ότι το νεκροταφείο αποτελεί πράγματι έναν τόπο σαφώς ετεροτοπικό, καθώς για το άτομο το νεκροταφείο ξεκινάει με αυτήν την παράξενη ετεροχρονία, την απώλεια της ζωής, και με αυτήν την οιονεί αιωνιότητα όπου δεν σταματάει να αποσυντίθεται και να ξεθωριάζει.
Κατά έναν γενικό τρόπο, σε μια κοινωνία όπως η δική μας, η ετεροτοπία και η ετεροχρονία οργανώνονται και διευθετούνται με έναν σχετικά περίπλοκο τρόπο. Υπάρχουν κατ’ αρχήν οι ετεροτοπίες του χρόνου που συσσωρεύονται στο άπειρο, όπως για παράδειγμα τα μουσεία και οι βιβλιοθήκες. Τα μουσεία και οι βιβλιοθήκες αποτελούν ετεροτοπίες στις οποίες ο χρόνος 7
δεν σταματά να συσσωρεύεται και να σκαρφαλώνει στο ζενίθ του, ενώ τον 17ο αιώνα, ακόμη και στα τέλη, του τα μουσεία και οι βιβλιοθήκες αποτελούσαν έκφραση ατομικής επιλογής. Αντιθέτως, η ιδέα της συσσώρευσης των πάντων, η ιδέα του σχηματισμού ενός είδους γενικού αρχείου, η θέληση να κλειστεί σε έναν τόπο όλος ο χρόνος, όλες οι εποχές, οι φόρμες και οι προτιμήσεις, η ιδέα της δημιουργίας ενός τόπου που θα συγκεντρώνει όλους τους χρόνους και που θα είναι ο ίδιος εκτός χρόνου και στο απυρόβλητο του χρόνου, το σχέδιο της οργάνωσης κατ’ αυτόν τον τρόπο της ατέρμονης και αόριστης συσσώρευσης του χρόνου σε έναν ακίνητο τόπο, ε λοιπόν όλα αυτά ανήκουν στη δική μας σύγχρονη εποχή. Τα μουσεία και οι βιβλιοθήκες αποτελούν ετεροτοπίες που αρμόζουν στη δυτική κουλτούρα του 19ου αιώνα.
Απέναντι σε αυτές τις ετεροτοπίες που συνδέονται με τη συσσώρευση του χρόνου, υπάρχουν ετεροτοπίες που συνδέονται αντίθετα με τον χρόνο στην πιο άσκοπη, πιο εφήμερη, πιο αβέβαιη εκδοχή του, υπό τη μορφή της γιορτής. Πρόκειται για ετεροτοπίες όχι πια αιώνιες, αλλά απολύτως χρονικές. Τέτοιου είδους ετεροτοπίες είναι τα πανηγύρια, αυτές οι θαυμάσιες άδειες τοποθεσίες στις άκρες των πόλεων, που γεμίζουν μία ή δύο φορές το χρόνο, με παραπήγματα, εκθέσεις εμπορευμάτων, ετερόκλητα αντικείμενα, παλαιστές, γυναίκες – φίδια, χαρτορίχτρες. Αρκετά πρόσφατα,  ανακαλύφθηκε μια καινούρια χρονική ετεροτοπία, πρόκειται για τα χωριά των διακοπών. Αυτά τα χωριά της Πολυνησίας προσφέρουν τρεις εβδομάδες πρωτόγονης και διαρκούς γύμνιας για τους κατοίκους των πόλεων. Επιπλέον, βλέπουμε ότι από τις δύο μορφές της ετεροτοπίας, ενώνονται εδώ η γιορτή και η αιωνιότητα του χρόνου που συσσωρεύεται, τα ψάθινα καπέλα της Djerba συγγενεύουν με τις βιβλιοθήκες και τα μουσεία, γιατί, η ανακάλυψη της ζωής της Πολυνησίας, καταργεί το χρόνο, αλλά είναι εξίσου ο χρόνος που ανακαλύπτεται εκ νέου, είναι ολόκληρη η ιστορία της ανθρωπότητας που επιστρέφει στην αφετηρία της σαν να επρόκειτο για ένα είδος μεγάλης γνώσης που αποκαλύπτεται ξαφνικά. Πέμπτη αρχή. Οι ετεροτοπίες προϋποθέτουν πάντοτε την ύπαρξη ενός συστήματος ανοίγματος και κλεισίματος το οποίο τις απομονώνει και συγχρόνως τις καθιστά προσπελάσιμες. Γενικώς, ένας ετεροτοπικός τόπος δεν είναι τόσο ελεύθερα προσβάσιμος. Ή εξαναγκαζόμαστε να βρεθούμε εκεί, όπως στην περίπτωση ενός στρατώνα, μιας φυλακής, ή πρέπει να συμμετέχουμε σε ιεροτελεστίες και εξαγνισμούς. Δεν μπορούμε να εισέλθουμε εάν δεν διαθέτουμε μια ειδική άδεια και αφού επιτελέσουμε συγκεκριμένες κινήσεις. Υπάρχουν άλλωστε ετεροτοπίες που είναι αποκλειστικά αφιερωμένες στις δραστηριότητες κάθαρσης, κάθαρση που είναι εν μέρει θρησκευτική και εν μέρει ζήτημα υγιεινής, όπως στα χαμάμ των μουσουλμάνων, ή ακόμη κάθαρση για καθαρά λόγους υγιεινής, όπως στις σκανδιναβικές σάουνες.
Αντίθετα, υπάρχουν και άλλες ετεροτοπίες που φαίνονται σαν αγνά και απλά ανοίγματα, αλλά γενικώς κρύβουν παράξενους αποκλεισμούς. Όλοι μπορούν να εισέλθουν σε αυτές τις 8
ετεροτοπικές τοποθεσίες, αλλά για να πούμε την αλήθεια δεν είναι παρά μόνο μια ψευδαίσθηση: πιστεύεις ότι μπαίνεις και από το γεγονός και μόνο ότι μπαίνεις, αποκλείεσαι. Σκέφτομαι για παράδειγμα αυτά τα φημισμένα δωμάτια που υπήρχαν στα μεγάλα αγροκτήματα της Βραζιλίας και γενικότερα της Νότιας Αμερικής. Η πόρτα εισόδου δεν οδηγούσε στον κεντρικό χώρο όπου ζούσε η οικογένεια και κάθε άτομο που περνούσε, κάθε ταξιδιώτης είχε το δικαίωμα να σπρώξει αυτήν την πόρτα, να μπει στο δωμάτιο και έπειτα να κοιμηθεί εκεί για μία νύχτα. Και όμως αυτά τα δωμάτια ήταν τέτοια που το άτομο που περνούσε εκεί τη νύχτα δεν είχε ποτέ πρόσβαση ούτε καν στην αυλή της οικογένειας. Ήταν ένας περαστικός φιλοξενούμενος, δεν ήταν πραγματικά προσκεκλημένος. Αυτό το είδος της ετεροτοπίας, που έχει πρακτικά εξαφανιστεί από τον πολιτισμό μας, θα μπορούσαμε να το βρούμε στα φημισμένα δωμάτια των αμερικάνικων μοτέλ όπου πηγαίνει κανείς με το αυτοκίνητο και την ερωμένη του και όπου η παράνομη σεξουαλικότητα βρίσκεται συγχρόνως απολύτως προστατευμένη και καλυμμένη, απομονωμένη, χωρίς ωστόσο να αφήνεται ελεύθερη. Έκτη αρχή. Το τελευταίο  χαρακτηριστικό των ετεροτοπιών είναι ότι διαθέτουν μία λειτουργία σε σχέση με τον υπόλοιπο χώρο. Η λειτουργία αυτή ξετυλίγεται μεταξύ δύο αντίθετων πόλων. Είτε έχουν ως ρόλο να δημιουργήσουν έναν χώρο ψευδαισθήσεων ο οποίος καταγγέλλει σαν ακόμη πιο απατηλό κάθε πραγματικό χώρο, όλες τις τοποθεσίες στο εσωτερικό των οποίων η ανθρώπινη ζωή είναι οριοθετημένη. Ίσως αυτός να είναι ο ρόλος που διαδραμάτισαν για  πολύ καιρό οι περίφημοι οίκοι ανοχής, τους οποίους τώρα στερούμαστε. Είτε, αντιθέτως, δημιουργώντας έναν άλλο χώρο, έναν πραγματικό χώρο, τόσο τέλειο, τόσο σχολαστικό, τόσο καλά συγκροτημένο που ο δικός μας να φαίνεται αποδιοργανωμένος, άσχημα διευθετημένος και πρόχειρος. Αυτή δεν θα ήταν η ετεροτοπία της ψευδαίσθησης αλλά της αντιστάθμισης. Αναρωτιέμαι λοιπόν, εάν δεν είναι αυτός πάνω κάτω ο τρόπος με τον οποίο λειτουργούσαν ορισμένες αποικίες.
Σε ορισμένες περιπτώσεις οι αποικίες διαδραμάτισαν τον ρόλο της ετεροτοπίας σε επίπεδο γενικής οργάνωσης του επίγειου χώρου. Εννοώ για παράδειγμα το πρώτο κύμα αποικισμού τον 17ο αιώνα, αυτών των πουριτανικών κοινωνιών που ίδρυσαν οι Άγγλοι στην Αμερική και οι οποίες αποτελούσαν άλλους τόπους απολύτως τέλειους .
Σκέφτομαι ακόμη αυτές τις ασυνήθιστες αποικίες Ιησουιτών οι οποίες ιδρύθηκαν στη Νότιο Αμερική: θαυμάσιες αποικίες, πλήρως οργανωμένες, μέσα στις οποίες επιτυγχανόταν πράγματι η ανθρώπινη τελειότητα. Οι Ιησουίτες της Παραγουάης δημιούργησαν αποικίες στις οποίες η ύπαρξη ρυθμιζόταν από κανόνες σε κάθε έκφανσή της. Το χωριό ήταν κατανεμημένο σύμφωνα με μια αυστηρή διάταξη γύρω από μια ορθογώνια πλατεία στο κέντρο της οποίας υπήρχε μια εκκλησία. Στην μία πλευρά υπήρχε το σχολείο, στην άλλη το νεκροταφείο, και τέλος μπροστά από την εκκλησία ξεκινούσε μια λεωφόρος που διασταυρωνόταν με μία άλλη 9
σχηματίζοντας ορθή γωνία. Κάθε οικογένεια είχε τη δική της καλύβα κατά μήκος αυτών των δύο αξόνων, και κατ’ αυτόν τον τρόπο αναπαραγόταν πιστά το σημείο του σταυρού. Ο χριστιανισμός άφηνε το θεμελιώδες σημάδι του τόσο στον χώρο όσο και στη γεωγραφία του αμερικανικού κόσμου.
Η καθημερινή ζωή των ανθρώπων δεν ρυθμιζόταν με τη σφυρίχτρα αλλά με την καμπάνα. Η έγερση ήταν προγραμματισμένη για όλους την ίδια ώρα, η δουλειά ξεκινούσε την ίδια ώρα για όλους. Τα γεύματα ήταν το μεσημέρι και στις πέντε η ώρα. Έπειτα, υπήρχε ώρα ύπνου και τα μεσάνυχτα υπήρχε το λεγόμενο συζυγικό ξύπνημα, δηλαδή όταν χτυπούσε η καμπάνα του μοναστηριού, καθένας εκπλήρωνε το καθήκον του.
Οι οίκοι ανοχής και οι αποικίες αποτελούν δύο ακραίες μορφές ετεροτοπίας, και αν συλλογιστούμε ότι, εν τέλει, το πλοίο δεν είναι παρά ένα κομμάτι που επιπλέει στο χώρο, ένας τόπος χωρίς τόπο, που ζει για τον εαυτό του, που κλείνεται στον εαυτό του και αφήνεται ταυτόχρονα στην απεραντοσύνη της θάλασσας, από λιμάνι σε λιμάνι, από βάρδια σε βάρδια, από οίκο ανοχής σε οίκο ανοχής και φτάνει ως τις αποικίες για να αναζητήσει ό,τι πιο πολύτιμο κρύβουν μες στους κήπους τους, καταλαβαίνουμε γιατί το πλοίο αποτελεί για τον πολιτισμό μας, ήδη από τον 16ο αιώνα μέχρι και σήμερα όχι μόνο το σπουδαιότερο μέσο οικονομικής ανάπτυξης (δεν είναι άλλωστε αυτό το θέμα που με απασχολεί εδώ), αλλά και τη σημαντικότερη πηγή φαντασίας. Το πλοίο είναι η κατεξοχήν ετεροτοπία. Στους πολιτισμούς που δεν υπάρχουν πλοία τα όνειρα στερεύουν, η κατασκοπεία
αντικαθιστά την περιπέτεια και η αστυνομία τους πειρατές.
Το κείμενο αυτό γράφτηκε στην Τυνησία το 1967 και δημοσιεύθηκε την άνοιξη του 1984.
Μισέλ Φουκώ, Ομιλίες και Γραπτά 1984, Περί αλλοτινών χώρων (διάλεξη στη λέσχη αρχιτεκτονικών μελετών, 14 Μαρτίου 1967). Architecture, Mouvement, Continuité, τεύχος 5o, Οκτώβριος 1984, 46-49.

5 Νοεμβρίου 2016

Camera Lucida – Roland Barthes Part I.

Filed under: ΚΕΙΜΕΝΑ — admin @ 10:34
Camera Lucida – Roland Barthes (σκοτεινός θάλαμος)
Part I.
What is Photography?

  • photography vs. cinema 
  • ontological investigation 
  • Classification (p.4) 
  • professional vs. amateur (empirical) 
  • landscape / objects / portraits / nudes (rhetorical) 
  • realism vs. pictorialism (aesthetic) 
  • “This” 
  • “A specific photographer is never distinguished from its referent.” (p.5) 
  • signifier/signified 
  • Language of the Expressive vs. Critical 

• “ . . . a desperate resistance to any reductive system.” (p.8)

The Photograph: to do / to undergo / to look

  • operator vs. spectator
  • simulacrum
  • chemical / optical / emotion?
    Ownership of the Photograph
  • subject becoming an object
  • death as subject
  • I like / I don’t like (p.18)
  • attached to a specific photograph, rather than a body of work
  • connected to “sentimental” reasons (phenomenal approach)
  • Studium 

• application to a thing / general enthusiasm without special acuity (p.26)
• “ . . . is that accident which pricks me” (punctuates; jumps out from the
Representation of the Dead
• Tableau Vivant (a representation of a scene by a group in appropriate
costume posing silent and motionless)

page1image14960 page1image15120

Surprises (depicts)

  • rare
  • depicts something the normal eye cannot apprehend
  • prowess  Q??
  • “contortions of technique”
  • “trouvalle” or “lucky friend”
  • “ . . . the photograph becomes surprising when we do not know why it has been taken (p.34)
  • “A photograph cannot signify (aim at generality) except by assuming a
    mask.” (p.34)
  • “Ultimately, photography is subversive not when it frightens, repels or
    even stigmatizes, but when it is pensive, when it thinks.” (p.38)
    Unary (used to describe a mathematical operation that is applied to only one member of a set at a time, for example, squaring a number)

• “We photograph things in order to drive them out of our minds. My stories are a way of shutting my eyes.” – Kafka

30 Οκτωβρίου 2016


Filed under: ΚΑΛΛΙΤΕΧΝΕΣ-ARTISTS,ΚΕΙΜΕΝΑ — admin @ 16:25

Filed under: ΚΕΙΜΕΝΑ — admin @ 15:55

collaborative art work

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Video Games & Computer Holding Power by Sherry Turkle

Filed under: ΚΕΙΜΕΝΑ — admin @ 15:14


Video Games & Computer Holding Power by

Sherry Turkle (1984, The New Media Reader, pp. 500-513)

  • by 1982 people spent more money on video games than movies & records combined
  • video games as an analogy for constructed “rule governed worlds” & simulation
  • TV is something you watch, video games are something you do
  • comparison of video games to pinball (ancestor): “In pinball you act on the
    ball. In Pac-Man you are the mouth.”
  • concept of identifying with the game character
  • first video game: Space War, built at MIT in the early 1960’s (required a super computer)
  • Pong – 10 years later / more portable
  • Space Invaders / Joust (progression in nature of characters: Pong was just a
    marker, these were visually more complex)
  • advent of adventure games; interactive books
  • relationship between fantasy role playing games & computer culture
  • video game as altered state; metaphor of meditation/total concentration
  • opportunity for perfection 

28 Οκτωβρίου 2016

Digital Art – Introduction: A Short History of Technology and Art

Filed under: ΚΕΙΜΕΝΑ — admin @ 08:55

         Computer Art > Multimedia Art > New Media

  • art that uses digital technologies as a tool 
  • art that uses digital technologies as its own medium 
    Technical History of Digital Art 
  • limited to military, academic, and consumer cultureAs We May Think by army scientist Vannevar Bush imagined the 
    first computerMen, Machines and the World Apart by Norbert Wiener 
  • 1946 – ENICA the University of Pennsylvania created the first digital computer 
  • 1961 – Theodor Nelson coined the terms Hypertext and and Hypermedia to describe texts in which images and sounds could be linked 
  • 1964 – RAND Corporation (Cold War think tank) conceptualized the internet as a communication network without central authority that could be safe from a nuclear attack 
  • 1968 – Douglas Engelbart from the Stanford Research Institute created came up with the idea of bitmapping, windows, and direct manipulation through a mouse 
    Bitmapping: each pixel of a computer screen is a assigned on/off (0-1). The computer screen could then be divided into a grid of pixels that create a 2D image 
  • 1970’s – Alan Kay of the Xerox Parc in Palo Alto, CA developed the GUI (graphical user interface), and the “desktop” metaphor popularized bu Apple in 1983 

    Evolution of Digital Art
  • developed in connection to Dada and Fluxus: conceptual art has challenged the traditional notions of the art work, audience, and artist 
  • 1984 – William Gibson coined the term “cyberspace” in his novel Neruomancer 
  • 1990’s – Digital art began making it’s way into museums and galleries 
  • digital arts festivals 
    ICC (Tokyo, Japan)ZKM (Karlsruhe, Germany)Ars Electronica (Linz, Austria)Transmediale (Berlin, Germany) SIGGRAPH (Los Angeles, USA) 

6 Απριλίου 2016

The Truth of Art

Filed under: ΚΕΙΜΕΝΑ — admin @ 17:57

Boris Groys

 Truth of Art

The central question to be asked about art is this one: Is art capable of being a medium of truth? This question is central to the existence and survival of art because if art cannot be a medium of truth then art is only a matter of taste. One has to accept the truth even if one does not like it. But if art is only a matter of taste, then the art spectator becomes more important than the art producer. In this case art can be treated only sociologically or in terms of the art market—it has no independence, no power. Art becomes identical to design.
Now, there are different ways in which we can speak about art as a medium of truth. Let me take one of these ways. Our world is dominated by big collectives: states, political parties, corporations, scientific communities, and so forth. Inside these collectives the individuals cannot experience the possibilities and limitations of their own actions—these actions become absorbed by the activities of the collective. However, our art system is based on the presupposition that the responsibility for producing this or that individual art object, or undertaking this or that artistic action, belongs to an individual artist alone. Thus, in our contemporary world art is the only recognized field of personal responsibility. There is, of course, an unrecognized field of personal responsibility—the field of criminal actions. The analogy between art and crime has a long history. I will not go into it. Today I would, rather, like to ask the following question: To what degree and in what way can individuals hope to change the world they are living in? Let us look at art as a field in which attempts to change the world are regularly undertaken by artists and see how these attempts function. In the framework of this text, I am not so much interested in the results of these attempts as the strategies that the artists use to realize them.
Indeed, if artists want to change the world the following question arises: In what way is art able to influence the world in which we live? There are basically two possible answers to this question. The first answer: art can capture the imagination and change the consciousness of people. If the consciousness of people changes, then the changed people will also change the world in which they live. Here art is understood as a kind of language that allows artists to send a message. And this message is supposed to enter the souls of the recipients, change their sensibility, their attitudes, their ethics. It is, let’s say, an idealistic understanding of art—similar to our understanding of religion and its impact on the world.
However, to be able to send a message the artist has to share the language that his or her audience speaks. The statues in ancient temples were regarded as embodiments of the gods: they were revered, one kneeled down before them in prayer and supplication, one expected help from them and feared their wrath and threat of punishment. Similarly, the veneration of icons has a long history within Christianity—even if God is deemed to be invisible. Here the common language had its origin in the common religious tradition.
However, no modern artist can expect anyone to kneel before his work in prayer, seek practical assistance from it, or use it to avert danger. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, Hegel diagnosed this loss of a common faith in embodied, visible divinities as the reason for art losing its truth: according to Hegel the truth of art became a thing of the past. (He speaks about pictures, thinking of the old religions vs. invisible law, reason, and science that rule the modern world.) Of course, in the course of modernity many modern and contemporary artists have tried to regain a common language with their audiences by the means of political or ideological engagement of one sort or another. The religious community was thus replaced by a political movement in which artists and their audiences both participated.
However, art, to be politically effective, to be able to be used as political propaganda, has to be liked by its public. But the community that is built on the basis of finding certain artistic projects good and likable is not necessarily a transformative community—a community that can truly change the world. We know that to be considered as really good (innovative, radical, forward looking), modern artworks are supposed to be rejected by their contemporaries—otherwise, these artworks come under suspicion of being conventional, banal, merely commercially oriented. (We know that politically progressive movements were often culturally conservative—and in the end it was this conservative dimension that prevailed.) That is why contemporary artists distrust the taste of the public. And the contemporary public, actually, also distrusts its own taste. We tend to think that the fact that we like an artwork could mean that this artwork is not good enough—and the fact that we do not like an artwork could mean that this artwork is really good. Kazimir Malevich believed that the greatest enemy of the artist is sincerity: artists should never do what they sincerely like because they probably like something that is banal and artistically irrelevant. Indeed, the artistic avant-gardes did not want to be liked. And—what is even more important—they did not want to be “understood,” did not want to share the language which their audience spoke. Accordingly, the avant-gardes were extremely skeptical toward the possibility of influencing the souls of the public and building a community of which they would be a part.

Dziga Vertov kneels to shoot a train in Man with a Movie Camera (1929).
At this point the second possibility to change the world by art comes into play. Here art is understood not as the production of messages, but rather as the production of things. Even if artists and their audience do not share a language, they share the material world in which they live. As a specific kind of technology art does not have a goal to change the soul of its spectators. Rather, it changes the world in which these spectators actually live—and by trying to accommodate themselves to the new conditions of their environment, they change their sensibilities and attitudes. Speaking in Marxist terms: art can be seen as a part of the superstructure or as a part of the material basis. Or, in other words, art can be understood as ideology or as technology. The radical artistic avant-gardes pursued this second, technological way of world transformation. They tried to create new environments that would change people through puttting them inside these new environments. In its most radical form this concept was pursued by the avant-garde movements of the 1920s: Russian constructivism, Bauhaus, De Stijl. The art of the avant-garde did not want to be liked by the public as it was. The avant-garde wanted to create a new public for its art. Indeed, if one is compelled to live in a new visual surrounding, one begins to accommodate one’s own sensibility to it and learn to like it. (The Eiffel Tower is a good example.) Thus, the artists of the avant-garde also wanted to build a community—but they didn’t see themselves as a part of this community. They shared with their audiences a world—but not a language.
Of course, the historical avant-garde itself was a reaction to the modern technology that permanently changed and still changes our environment. This reaction was ambiguous. The artists felt a certain affinity with the artificiality of the new, technological world. But at the same time they were irritated by the lack of direction and ultimate purpose that is characteristic of technological progress. (Marshall McLuhan: artists moved from the ivory tower to the control tower.) This goal was understood by the avant-garde as the politically and aesthetically perfect society—as utopia, if one is still ready to use this word. Here utopia is nothing else but the end stage of historical development—a society that is in no further need of change, that does not presuppose any further progress. In other words, artistic collaboration with technological progress had the goal of stopping this progress.
This conservatism—it can also be a revolutionary conservatism—inherent to art is in no way accidental. What is art then? If art is a kind of technology, then the artistic use of technology is different from the nonartistic use of it. Technological progress is based on a permanent replacement of old, obsolete things by new (better) things. (Not innovation but improvement—innovation can only be in art: the black square.) Art technology, on the contrary, is not a technology of improvement and replacement, but rather of conservation and restoration—technology that brings the remnants of the past into the present and brings things of the present into the future. Martin Heidegger famously believed that in this way the truth of art is regained: by stopping technological progress at least for a moment, art can reveal the truth of the technologically defined world and the fate of the humans inside this world. However, Heidegger also believed that this revelation is only momentary: in the next moment, the world that was opened by the artwork closes again—and the artwork becomes an ordinary thing that is treated as such by our art institutions. Heidegger dismisses this profane aspect of the artwork as irrelevant for the essential, truly philosophical understanding of art—because for Heidegger it is the spectator who is the subject of such an essential understanding and not the art dealer or museum curator.
And, indeed, even if the museum visitor sees the artworks as isolated from profane, practical life, the museum staff never experiences the artworks in this sacralized way. The museum staff does not contemplate artworks but regulates the temperature and humidity level in the museum spaces, restores these artworks, removes the dust and dirt from them. In dealing with the artworks there is the perspective of the museum visitor—but there is also the perspective of the cleaning lady who cleans the museum space as she would clean any other space. The technology of conservation, restoration, and exhibition are profane technologies—even if they produce objects of aesthetic contemplation. There is a profane life inside the museum—and it is precisely this profane life and profane practice that allow the museum items to function as aesthetic objects. The museum does not need any additional profanation, any additional effort to bring art into life or life into art—the museum is already profane through and through. The museum, as well as the art market, treat artworks not as messages but as profane things.
Usually, this profane life of art is protected from the public view by the museum’s walls. Of course, at least from the beginning of the twentieth century art of the historical avant-garde tried to thematize, to reveal the factual, material, profane dimension of art. However, the avant-garde never fully succeeded in its quest for the real because the reality of art, its material side that the avant-garde tried to thematize, was permanently re-aestheticized—these thematizations having been put under the standard conditions of art representation. The same can be said of institutional critique, which also tried to thematize the profane, factual side of art institutions. Institutional critique also remained inside art institutions. Now, I would argue that this situation has changed in recent years—due to the internet and to the fact that the internet has replaced traditional art institutions as the main platform for the production and distribution of art. The internet thematizes precisely the profane dimension of art. Why? The answer to this question is simple enough: in our contemporary world the internet is the place of production and exposure of art at the same time.

A movie theater audience participates by calling out in response to onscreen actors’ lines at a screening of Rocky Horror Picture Show.
This represents a significant departure from past modes of artistic production. As I’ve noted previously:
Traditionally, the artist produced an artwork in his or her studio, hidden from public view, and then exhibited a result, a product—an artwork that accumulated and recuperated the time of absence. This time of temporary absence is constitutive for what we call the creative process—in fact, it is precisely what we call the creative process.
André Breton tells a story about a French poet who, when he went to sleep, put on his door a sign that read: “Please, be quiet—the poet is working.” This anecdote summarizes the traditional understanding of creative work: creative work is creative because it takes place beyond public control—and even beyond the conscious control of the author. This time of absence could last days, months, years—even a whole lifetime. Only at the end of this period of absence was the author expected to present a work (maybe found in his papers posthumously) that would then be accepted as creative precisely because it seemed to emerge out of nothingness.1
In other words, creative work is work that presupposes the desynchronization of the time of work and the time of the exposure of the results of this work. The reason is not that the artist has committed a crime or has a dirty secret he or she wants to keep from the gaze of others. The gaze of others is experienced by us as an evil eye not when it wants to penetrate our secrets and make them transparent (such a penetrating gaze is rather flattering and exciting), but when it denies that we have any secrets, when it reduces us to what it sees and registers—when the gaze of others banalizes, trivializes us. (Sartre: the other is hell, the gaze of the other denies us our project. Lacan: the eye of the other is always an evil eye.)
Today the situation has changed. Contemporary artists work using the internet—and also put their work on the internet. Artworks by a particular artist can be found on the internet when I google the name of this artist—and they are shown to me in the context of other information that I find on the internet about this artist: biography, other works, political activities, critical reviews, details of the artist’s personal life, and so forth. Here I mean not the fictional, authorial subject allegedly investing the artwork with his intentions and with meanings that should be hermeneutically deciphered and revealed. This authorial subject has already been deconstructed and proclaimed dead many times over. I mean the real person existing in the off-line reality to which the internet data refers. This author uses the internet not only to produce art, but also to buy tickets, make restaurant reservations, conduct business, and so forth. All these activities take place in the same integrated space of the internet—and all of them are potentially accessible to other internet users. Here the artwork becomes “real” and profane because it becomes integrated into the information about its author as a real, profane person. Art is presented on the internet as a specific kind of activity: as documentation of a real working process taking place in the real, off-line world. Indeed, on the internet art operates in the same space as military planning, tourist business, capital flows, and so forth: Google shows, among other things, that there are no walls in internet space. A user of the internet does not switch from the everyday use of things to their disinterested contemplation—the internet user uses the information about art in the same way in which he or she uses information about all other things in the world. It is as if we have all become the museum’s or gallery’s staff—art being documented explicitly as taking place in the unified space of profane activities.
The word “documentation” is crucial here. During recent decades the documentation of art has been more and more included in art exhibitions and art museums—alongside traditional artworks. But this arena has always seemed highly problematic. Artworks are art—they immediately demonstrate themselves as art. So they can be admired, emotionally experienced, and so forth. But art documentation is not art: it merely refers to an art event, or exhibition, or installation, or project which we assume has really taken place. Art documentation refers to art but it is not art. That is why art documentation can be reformatted, rewritten, extended, shortened, and so forth. One can subject art documentation to all these operations that are forbidden in the case of an artwork because these operations change the form of the artwork. And the form of the artwork is institutionally guaranteed because only the form guarantees the reproducibility and identity of this artwork. On the contrary, the documentation can be changed at will because its identity and reproducibility is guaranteed by its “real,” external referent and not by its form. But even if the emergence of art documentation precedes the emergence of the internet as an art medium, only the introduction of the internet has given art documentation a legitimate place. (Here one can say like Benjamin noted: montage in art and cinema).
Meanwhile, art institutions themselves have begun to use the internet as a primary space for their self-representation. Museums put their collections on display on the internet. And, of course, digital depositories of art images are much more compact and much cheaper to maintain than traditional art museums. Thus, museums are able to present the parts of their collections that are usually kept in storage. The same can be said about the websites of individual artists—one can find there the fullest representation of what they are doing. It is what artists usually show to visitors who come to their studios nowadays: if one comes to a studio to see a particular artist’s work, this artist usually puts a laptop on the table and shows the documentation of his or her activities, including production of artworks but also his or her participation in long-term projects, temporary installations, urban interventions, political actions, and so forth. The actual work of the contemporary artist is his or her CV.

Frances Bacon’s studio, photographed by Perry Ogden.
Today, artists, like other individuals and organizations, try to escape total visibility by creating sophisticated systems of passwords and data protection. As I’ve argued in the past, with regard to internet surveillance:
Today, subjectivity has become a technical construction: the contemporary subject is defined as an owner of a set of passwords that he or she knows—and that other people do not know. The contemporary subject is primarily a keeper of a secret. In a certain sense, this is a very traditional definition of the subject: the subject was long defined as knowing something about itself that only God knew, something that other people could not know because they were ontologically prevented from “reading one’s thoughts.” Today, however, being a subject has less to do with ontological protection, and more to do with technically protected secrets. The internet is the place where the subject is originally constituted as a transparent, observable subject—and only afterwards begins to be technically protected in order to conceal the originally revealed secret. However, every technical protection can be broken. Today, the hermeneutiker has become a hacker. The contemporary internet is a place of cyber wars in which the prize is the secret. And to know the secret is to control the subject constituted by this secret—and the cyber wars are the wars of this subjectivation and desubjectivation. But these wars can take place only because the internet is originally the place of transparency …
The results of surveillance are sold by the corporations that control the internet because they own the means of production, the material-technical basis of the internet. One should not forget that the internet is owned privately. And its profit comes mostly from targeted advertisements. This leads to an interesting phenomenon: the monetization of hermeneutics. Classical hermeneutics, which searched for the author behind the work, was criticized by the theoreticians of structuralism, close reading, and so forth, who thought that it made no sense to chase ontological secrets that are inaccessible by definition. Today this old, traditional hermeneutics is reborn as a means of economically exploiting subjects operating on the internet, where all the secrets are supposedly revealed. The subject is here no longer concealed behind his or her work. The surplus value that such a subject produces and that is appropriated by internet corporations is the hermeneutic value: the subject not only does something on the internet, but also reveals him- or herself as a human being with certain interests, desires, and needs. The monetization of classical hermeneutics is one of the most interesting processes that has emerged in recent decades. The artist is interesting not as producer but as consumer. Artistic production by a content provider is only a means of anticipating this content provider’s future consumption behavior—and it is this anticipation alone that is relevant here because it brings profit.2

Mark Zuckerberg unveils a Facebook team dedicated to creating social experiences in virtual reality.
But here the following question emerges: who is the spectator on the internet? The individual human being cannot be such a spectator. But the internet also does not need God as its spectator—the internet is big but finite. Actually, we know who the spectator is on the internet: it is the algorithm—like algorithms used by Google and the NSA.
But now let me return to the initial question concerning the truth of art—understood as a demonstration of the possibilities and limitations of the individual’s actions in the world. Earlier I discussed artistic strategies designed to influence the world: by persuasion or by accommodation. Both of these strategies presuppose what can be named the surplus of vision on the part of the artist—in comparison to the horizon of his or her audience. Traditionally, the artist was considered to be an extraordinary person who was able to see what “average,” “normal” people could not see. This surplus of vision was supposed to be communicated to the audience by the power of the image or by the force of technological change. However, under the conditions of the internet the surplus of vision is on the side of the algorithmic gaze—and no longer on the side of the artist. This gaze sees the artist, but remains invisible to him (at least insofar as the artist will not begin to create algorithms—which will change artistic activity because they are invisible—but will only create visibility). Perhaps artists can still see more than ordinary human beings—but they see less than the algorithm. Artists lose their extraordinary position—but this loss is compensated: instead of being extraordinary the artist becomes paradigmatic, exemplary, representative.
Indeed, the emergence of the internet leads to an explosion of mass artistic production. In recent decades artistic practice has become as widespread as, earlier, only religion and politics were. Today we live in times of mass art production, rather than in times of mass art consumption. Contemporary means of image production, such as photo and video cameras, are relatively cheap and universally accessible. Contemporary internet platforms and social networks like Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram allow populations around the global to make their photos, videos, and texts universally accessible—avoiding control and censorship by traditional institutions. At the same time, contemporary design makes it possible for the same populations to shape and experience their apartments or workplaces as artistic installations. And diet, fitness, and cosmetic surgery allow them to fashion their bodies into art objects. In our times almost everyone takes photographs, makes videos, write texts, documents their activities—and then puts the documentation on the internet. In earlier times we talked about mass cultural consumption, but today we have to speak about mass cultural production. Under the condition of modernity the artist was a rare, strange figure. Today there is nobody who is not involved in artistic activity of some kind.
Thus, today everybody is involved in a complicated play with the gaze of the other. It is this play that is paradigmatic of our time, but we still don’t know its rules. Professional art, though, has a long history of this play. The poets and artists of the Romantic period already began to see their own lives as their actual artworks. Nietzsche says in his Birth of Tragedythat to be an artwork is better than to be an artist. (To become an object is better than to become a subject—to be admired is better than to admire.) We can read Baudelaire’s texts about the strategy of seduction, and we can read Roger Caillois and Jacques Lacan on the mimicry of the dangerous or on luring the evil gaze of the other into a trap by means of art. Of course, one can say that the algorithm cannot be seduced or frightened. However, this is not what is actually at stake here.
Artistic practice is usually understood as being individual and personal. But what does the individual or personal actually mean? The individual is often understood as being different from the others. (In a totalitarian society, everyone is alike. In a democratic, pluralistic society, everyone is different—and respected as being different.) However, here the point is not so much one’s difference from others but one’s difference from oneself—the refusal to be identified according to the general criteria of identification. Indeed, the parameters that define our socially codified, nominal identity are foreign to us. We have not chosen our names, we have not been consciously present at the date and place of our birth, we have not chosen our parents, our nationality, and so forth. All these external parameters of our personality do not correlate to any subjective evidence that we may have. They indicate only how others see us.
Already a long time ago modern artists practiced a revolt against the identities which were imposed on them by others—by society, the state, schools, parents. They affirmed the right of sovereign self-identification. They defied expectations related to the social role of art, artistic professionalism, and aesthetic quality. But they also undermined the national and cultural identities that were ascribed to them. Modern art understood itself as a search for the “true self.” Here the question is not whether the true self is real or merely a metaphysical fiction. The question of identity is not a question of truth but a question of power: Who has the power over my own identity—I myself or society? And, more generally: Who exercises control and sovereignty over the social taxonomy, the social mechanisms of identification—state institutions or I myself? The struggle against my own public persona and nominal identity in the name of my sovereign persona or sovereign identity also has a public, political dimension because it is directed against the dominating mechanisms of identification—the dominating social taxonomy, with all its divisions and hierarchies. Later, these artists mostly gave up the search for the hidden, true self. Rather, they began to use their nominal identities as ready-mades—and to organize a complicated play with them. But this strategy still presupposes a disidentification from nominal, socially codified identities—with the goal of artistically reappropriating, transforming, and manipulating them. The politics of modern and contemporary art is the politics of nonidentity. Art says to its spectator: I am not what you think I am (in stark contrast to: I am what I am). The desire for nonidentity is, actually, a genuinely human desire—animals accept their identity but human animals do not. It is in this sense that we can speak about the paradigmatic, representative function of art and artist.
The traditional museum system is ambivalent in relation to the desire for nonidentity. On the one hand, the museum offers to the artist a chance to transcend his or her own time, with all its taxonomies and nominal identities. The museum promises to carry the artist’s work into the future. However, the museum betrays this promise at the same moment it fulfills it. The artist’s work is carried into the future—but the nominal identity of the artist becomes reimposed on his or her work. In the museum catalogue we still read the artist’s name, date and place of birth, nationality, and so forth. (That is why modern art wanted to destroy the museum.)
Let me conclude by saying something good about the internet. The internet is organized in a less historicist way than traditional libraries and museums. The most interesting aspect of the internet as an archive is precisely the possibilities for decontextualization and recontextualization through the operations of cut and paste that the internet offers its users. Today we are more interested in the desire for nonidentity that leads artists out of their historical contexts than in these contexts themselves. And it seems to me that the internet gives us more chances to follow and understand the artistic strategies of nonidentity than traditional archives and institutions.

© 2016 e-flux and the author

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