[D-G] notes from the ECAM 2008 conference in Mexico City
joseph at nechvatal.net
Sun Nov 9 08:16:26 PST 2008
Here are my notes from the ECAM 2008 conference in Mexico City.
These brief words are an attempt to outline for ECAM 2008 what I am
calling Cybism by stating what I take to be its underlying attributes.
Cybism is a new sensibility emerging in art respecting the
integration of certain aspects of science, technology and
consciousness a consciousness struggling to attend to the
prevailing current spirit of our age. This cybistic zeitgeist I
identify as being precisely a quality-of-life desire in which
everything, everywhere, all at once is connected in a rhizomatic web
of communication. Therefore, cybism is no longer content with the
regurgitation of a standardized repertoires. Rather I detect in art a
fertile attraction towards the abstractions of advanced scientific
discovery - discovery now stripped of its fundamentally reductive
Moreover, cybism can be used to characterize a certain group of
researchers and their understanding of where cultural space is
developing today. Cybists reflect on system dynamics with a hybrid
blending (cybridization) of the computational supplied virtual with
the analog. Digitization is a key metaphor for the cybists only in
the sense that it is the fundamental translating system today.
This blending of the computational virtual with the analog indicates
the subsequent emergence of a new cybrid topological cognitive-vision
which I have called the viractual¹: the space of connection betwixt
the computed virtual and the uncomputed corporeal (actual) world
which merge in cybism. This cybrid space of cybism can be further
inscribed as a span of liminality, which according to the
anthropologist Arnold van Gennep (based on his anthropological
studies of social rites of passage) is the condition of being on a
threshold between spaces.
Concerning this cybrid topological cognitive-vision, I am reminded
here of two very different, yet complimentary, concepts: entrainment
and égréore. Entrainment, in electro-physics, is the coupling of two
or more oscillators as they lock into a commonly sensed interacting
frequency. In alchemical terms an égréore (an old form of the word
agréger) is a third concept or phenomenon which is established from
conjoining two different elements together. We suggest that the term
(concept) cybrid (and cybism) may be a concordant entrainment/égréore
conception helpful in defining this third fused inter-spatiality
which is forged from the meeting of the virtual and the actual.
Co-extensive notions found in cybism have piquant ramifications for
art as product in that the cybists are actively exploring the
frontiers of science/technology research so as to become culturally
aware of the biases of consciousness in order to amend those biases
through the monumentality and permanency which can be found in
powerful art. They begin with the realization that every [new]
technology disrupts the previous rhythms of consciousness. Then,
generally speaking, they pursue their work in an effort to contradict
the dominant clichés of our time as they tend to move in their
regimented grooves of sensibility. In this sense their art research
begins where the hard science/technology ends.
Most certainly cybists understand that in every era the attempt must
be made anew to wrest tradition away from a conformism that is about
to overpower it. Hence the role of the cybist is that of the
explorer/researcher. The function of such an explorationaly inclined
artist however is not to only find, but to participate in and foster
a constant instability of consciousness, to mitigate against
self-stabilizing formations so as to encourage internal cybomatic¹
connections to sprout and expand. This integration goes far towards
exemplifying an aesthetic which has a problematic relationship to
material science-based reality.
Today, with the emergence and continual growth of cyberspace, it
seems that no sense of closure will ever be able to contain the
deterritorialization articulated and monumentalized by cybism.
Consequently, cybism has begun articulating a new techno-digital
sense of life. By looking at the complex social and technological
changes already occuring within the 21st century, cybists seem to
perceive the world now as a kaleidoscopic environment in which every
tradition has some valid residual form as information and sensation.
A world of perpetual transformation has emerged and established a
seemingly unrestricted area of abundant options.
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