Friday, January 13, 2006

A Sense of Place

A fair measure of my early work in new media literature speaks to the investment of the body in the performative aspects of engaging digital literature. New media philosopher, Dr. Mark Hansen, writes variously of the body as framing digital information through the intuitive, the affective, the transpatial, and the proprioceptive faculties of the body – all (among others) references to a “constitutive equipotentiality” (Hansen, New Philosophy for New Media, 298) in organic beings for composing the known through the body as well as through the mind/reasoning alone. Hansen writes,

“While perception draws on already constituted organic structures, affectivity mediates between the constituted (organic) individual and the preindividual milieu to which this being is structurally coupled … affectivity comprises the faculty of the new: it is the modality through wich the individuated being remains incomplete… open to the force of the preindividual, to that which it is not, or most accurately, to its own constitutive excess … More precisely, affectivity names the capacity for the body to be radically creative, that is, to be the agent of framing of digital information that generates images independently of all preexistent frames.” (266)
I said all that to set up sharing this:

I’ve been working with first-year composition students in introducing them to the digital environment as a “place” that is “everywhere and nowhere” inasmuch as it is (at least for now) more clearly in view as a composed location, a place we, as writers and citizens of emerging domains, are actively constructing in an as-we-go process. It’s great fun, and it’s a wonderfully exciting time through which to live – there is so much potential.

Well, this morning I came across this bit of digital play at Centripetal Notion that illustrates the point. If you’ve read this far, put on a pair of head phones and give a listen to HERE. You’ll hear a match being lit, then a matchbox shaken and moved around you — behind and in front, then above and below. Pay particular attention to the play of the body and to the sense of place. Where are the matches, and can you feel the “touch” of the nowhere-there matchbox as it finds place first on one side of your body and then on the other?

The play of sound is digitally generated as layers and overlays to create an experience of "internal" space/place, information organized by the body as "real" experience. The art is holophony: "Developed in the 1980s by Hugo Zuccarelli, Holophonic Sound uses the same “multiple exposure” premise as that used to create holographic images (“holograms”). Holophonic Sound is produced by recording the interference pattern generated when the original recorded signal is combined with an inaudible digital reference signal."

The potential and practice of investing literature with this kind of an experience is where I hope to focus the work of my dissertation. Of course, I’ll keep you posted on the progress. Count this writing as one installment along the way.

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Brenda said...

New media literature... the field, surely, is expanding so fast as to be exploding. And focussing on the body. This is a challenge, an exciting one. I especially like this, "the capacity for the body to be radically creative, that is, to be the agent of framing of digital information," because it almost seems an oxymoron, two opposites. The digital world is disembodied, even as I sit here, writing a comment to you via my fingers tapping a keyboard and my eyes reading the emerging words on the screen, I know that, and yet the question of embodiment through this media is a crucial one. When I was last at university I considered myself an 'embodiment feminist,' and saw embodiment theory as the most viable area for feminist theory to explore. So I read of your work with deep interest: I'm learning much from you, am appreciative of the way you see embodiment operating in my art and writing because, though we have had different teachers and read different books, we share this theoretical background. At this point, I've moved from theory to praxis, hence the blog for art and prose poetry, but I still love the literature that discursively constructs the body's trajectories in all their mytical brilliances.

Have you read Rosi Braidotti? I'm thinking of "Metamorphoses: Towards a Materialist Theory of Becoming" (Cambridge, UK: Polity Press, 2002). From page 21 of Metamorphoses:

"body as the complex interplay of highly constructed social and symbolic forces: it is not an essence, let alone a biological substance, but a play of forces, a surface of intensities, pure simulacra without originals. This...situates it within a complex interplay of social and affective forces...[the body] as a transformer and a relay point for the flow of energies: a surface of intensities."

If you haven't read Rosi, you will love her.

Brenda said...

mystical brilliances

and thank you so much for posting a little on your work

this might be a good place to work out rough ideas and get some feedback?

cross-fertilization happens in so many ways

*hugs xo