segunda-feira, maio 21, 2012

collapsing distances between bodies

Snapshot taken from Live-Streamed Digital Duets:
CultureHub in conjuction with Contact Theatre Manchester, UK / La MaMa E.T.C - 5.19.2012

Collapsing distance and allowing for spontaneous real time collaborations across networked environments... (more)

Extending the possibilities of corporeal existence is one of the things that could be easilty seen in this edition of Digital Duets held last Saturday at the Ellen Stewart Theatre in New York. Following the thread that CultureHub has accostumed the audience to, this show was yet another example of how technology can work to develop interactions between people (not to start labelling by categories of artists, technicians, funders, helpers, etc. which in this path of becoming post-human starts to be senseless) that otherwise would probably not happen, or if it did - how things are nowadays - it would be probably in limited/different conditions and DIMENSIONS.
Bringing together Dancers, Musicians, Spoken-Word, Visualists and an amazing producing and technical Team, Digital Duets stands also for what Katherine Hayles describes in her book How We Became Post-Human, [a place] where there is no difference between computer simulations and corporeal existence, about this new [kind of] integration.
Although the goal is not to experience [the] point in which the anthropomorphic features of the robot matches the nuances of human gestures. We have here, the opportunity to face the point where the absence is in fact the presence of the multiplicity of one's body, music and speeches, reaching out through the virtual space, through the virtual void where these possibilities happen - which I remember reading about related to "mental displacement" of the self through medi(t)ation.
Watching the Dancers improvise to the sound of World Music and Words from both sides in such an environment is an achievement where Art meets Technology and the last blends (and does not offuscate) the first.
With these examples I don't find myself in the right place to research and talk about robots, or cyborgs - which we have undeniably become - but I rather write about the experience of watching an exchange between two remote spaces that become one together, one good example in this short text about last Saturday's event is the moment in the picture above where several actors perform together in what Paul Virilo calls a "tele-topographic locale," he states that a tele-bridge of sorts, made of sound and image feedback loops, gives origin to telepresence or telereality, of which the notion of real time is the essential expression.

This telereality, he says, supersedes in real time the real space of objects and sites. In other words, we now see the continuity of real time overcoming the contiguity of real space. It seems to me that we experience this new condition daily, when we are in the office or studio and activate by remote control our answering machine at home to retrieve recorded messages or when we withdraw money from an automatic teller machine, after interacting with a machine that by its turn communicates with a remote mainframe. The impact of fiberoptics, monitors and video cameras on our vision and on our surroundings will go beyond that of electricity in the nineteenth century: "In order to see," Virilio observes, "we will no longer be satisfied in dissipating the night, the exterior darkness. We will also dissipate time lapses and distances, the exterior itself."
- Paul Virilio, L'Inertie Polaire (Paris: Christian Bourgois, 1990), p.72.

And indeed space and time are dissipated to a point we no longer (although we're excited to know it) give importance to the fact that the action is taking place in different timezones, under all sorts of different conditions. That dissipation as Virilo talks on the subject of Telepresence is in fact what empowers such experience, the fact that that is completely erased from the viewers point-of-view. And probably here is where the "machine" performs, the action of [DEL]eting the limitations and serve the catalysis of such a process.

For Virilio, one of the most important aspects of the new technologies of digital imaging and of synthetic vision made possible by optoelectronics is the "fusion/confusion of the factual (or operational) and the virtual," the predominance of the "effect of the real (18)" over a reality principle. In other words, everything now involves images in one way or another. Not necessarily images in the traditional sense of representation, but images of light that are part of the contemporary landscape as electricity invaded towns in the late nineteenth century, an "electronic lighting." Images now are invasive and they are used by such diverse social groups as artists and the military.
- Paul Virilio, La Machine de Vision (Paris: Galilée, 1988), p.128.
On performing arts I always remember Marion Zimmer Bradley's book "The Catch Trap" where the one of the characters talks about the importance of making the act of 'flying' something easy and conceal the fact that it's something risky and that could fail at any time. I find myself thinking about that on this kind of artistic (but not only) endeavours, specially because they are successful. That dissipation of what would take one's mind of what's really important is the key to make the fusion, in this case, between the two remote places and "to be everywhere, to be [a new] reality."

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