writing

The Emperor’s New Clothes unfolded

“We could think of Andersen’s moralistic 19th century fable as a thought experiment, an appliance for the cultivation of an abstract imaginary space. It’s only a short step from the classic formulation of the Emperor’s New Clothes to a 21st century game theoretical problem, reminiscent of The Prisoner’s Dilemma, or The Travelling Salesman Problem; an elaborated three person game in which interactions can be modelled algorithmically and generalisations about the world at large generated. Belief is its main theme; the importance of peer group dynamics in establishing belief, the relationship between belief and faith, the need for certainty, the role of power in the creation of certainty. In a sense this recasting is made in the spirit of Edwin Abbott Abbott’s 1884 novella Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions.” . . READ ON. . .

Vestibularity

“In 1927, Marcel Duchamp had a carpenter build a very specialised doorway into his studio/apartment in Paris. It opened onto his bedroom and his bathroom from the room he used as his studio, joining three spaces using only one set of hinges and one door. Porte, 11 Rue Larrey is a simple concise undermining of the notion of the threshold as a linear pathway between one zone and the next. Instead of opening a door and moving to another room and closing the door behind you, going from one rule to another, Porte, 11 Rue Larrey causes the door to have a doubled, paradoxical function. Duchamp’s formulation is wrenchingly vertiginous and subversive because it opens onto the infinite, onto the sublime. Porte, 11 Rue Larrey suggests that a single door which mediates between three rooms might equally mediate between 10100 rooms.”. . READ ON . . .

Search and Rectify

“Consider the turbulent non-material space of the Web. It emanates from a nuts and bolts architecture of silicon and plastic and copper and glass in which strange electronic and quantum processes are at work, and which is in turn pinned to a substrate of rocks, water and air, via complex protein foldings and endocrine driven opposable thumbs. Three recursive control environments; distinct but interdependent and interpenetrating levels of abstraction within a meta-network of unfathomable complexity. The Web is a world which grows wide from accretions and distortions brought about by the activity of the individuals who make use of it. It expands from the centre; it has as many centres as it has active participants. It constantly bubbles up from inside itself, as individuals connect bits of it together to form microworlds which can be connected to other microworlds, transforming information to form a diversity of abstractions; picking flowers and trampling things underfoot.”. . READ ON . .

Resonant Spaces

“In the shower, I can hear music. The water comes out of a long narrow pipe directly over my head, splashes down over my skin, and runs down through a grate into another pipe with a much larger diameter and much longer straight section directly under my feet. Up on the wall behind me is an exhaust fan, mounted in a shorter but still larger diameter pipe. Each of these pipes has a resonant frequency which is activated by the turbulent fluids and gases flowing through it and the hissing of the shower head. It took months for me to realise that the disembodied fragments of melody I occasionally hear in the shower aren’t coming from the neighbour’s hifi, masked and distorted by the sound of the water, but are a product of the shower itself. Or more specifically, a product of my characteristic interaction with the shower. These melodic artefacts – short cycling tones – are produced by my habit of moving about in a particular way while I bathe. As I shift around, my head moves closer and farther away from the resonating pipes, changing their relative balance and producing a pattern which I subliminally associate with familiar patterns in popular music. If I try to concentrate on the phenomenon directly, or to recognise particular songs, it dissolves into noise. It’s only when I can listen from the corner of my ear, as it were, that the phantom refrains return.”. . READ ON . . .

Phantom Limbic

“Often there’s an echo in the minds of amputees where the sound of their limbs used to resonate. Sometimes it persists for days, weeks, years, and the reasons for its existence are not entirely clear. It seems to have something to do with the way our corporeal self-identity is mapped like an homunculus into fleshy depths of our brains. The drive to make art is like the Phantom Limb syndrome in reverse; it’s the urge to create an experiential site; a part of the body which has never before existed but nevertheless seems to be generating sensation; to embody sensation in new kind of flesh, so that the itch may be scratched. Let’s call it the Phantom Limbic, a strange emotional attractor that begins to take form as the everyday shakes itself loose.”. . READ ON . . .

Resettings

“Before I travelled to Double Negative it didn’t really exist. I’d read about it in books, seen a few photographs from the 70s, and I’d heard people refer to it, so I accepted, I believed, that it existed. It was a tantalising story; a forgotten masterpiece in the desert, a cultural remnant from an engaged and less cynical era, crumbling and decaying and forever resistant to art-world commodification. Somehow geological, like a meteor crater, a vestige of a cataclysmic event. The fact that I could think about it even though I didn’t have any direct experience of it was one of its most fascinating aspects. It was a simple and concise idea which generated a story, a story within other stories; the story of Modernism, the story of the Male Artist, the story of the Frontier, the story of the Avant-garde (the story of Progress), the story of the Individual. All of these stories fed into one another like tributaries in the meaning network of Double Negative, contributing to a terrain of possibilities; a pattern of inclines, irresistible inclines, that attracted me like the ocean attracts a river.”. . READ ON . . .