SPECTRALIZATION OF SPACE:
THE VIRTUAL-IMAGE AND THE REAL-TIME INTERVAL
One could argue that virtual reality and cyberspace are merely fashionable passwords to contemporary culture; however, this chapter takes the position that addressing questions of virtuality may enable a fuller understanding of some of the changes which deeply affect the notion of aesthetics today. Wolfgang Welsch, in his book Undoing Aesthetics, asserts that aesthetics is undergoing a process of epistemologization, referring no longer only to questions of the beautiful and the sublime. Welsch argues that we are witnesses to a profound aestheticization of knowledge and reality, time and space, and even truth itself. On the other hand, a similar shift in the definition of the paradigms of reality, time and space can be traced through the function (i.e., definition, meaning and significance) of cyberspace and virtual reality. Issues such as the nature of the human being, the difference between reality and the real, and those of the changed parameters of space and time, seem to be not only more deeply, but above all, differently questioned by the theme of virtual reality with its postulated construction of perfect, simulated environments.
In the present chapter I intend to explore the changes in the space-time paradigm produced by cyberspace and virtual reality.
If I attempt, as an introduction, to delineate in a drastically reduced form, the transformations in the paradigm of space in art from Renaissance to the present day, a bird's-eye would trace out a path that begins with perspectival space in painting, continues through the illusionist spaces of panoramas and dioramas that were so popular in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, right up until the space created by the cinematic moving picture. This leads all the way to the virtual space of the nineties and into cyberspace. Despite the prevalent criticism declaring that all it takes to enter a cyberspace is the click of a button on a remote control server, the latter remains localized and spatially limited, unlike the Internet, whose totally virtual nature (excluding the only possible material side of the Internet, the computer console) means it is based on communicative non-limitation. Ken Hillis makes a useful distinction between cyberspace and virtual reality, or VR for short. "To date, no single technology or machine circumscribes this emerging technology/medium of virtual reality - a term confusingly interchanged with cyberspace, but here understood as the technical means of access to the 'parallel' disembodied and increasingly networked visual 'world' named cyberspace".
The essential point to grasp is that all of these paradigms or concepts of space in the sphere of the visual are related to a broader context of conceptions of time and space and the subject within them. For example, the industrial and technological revolution and the associated industrialization and urbanization of towns and the environment turned on its head the paradigm of visuospatial experience at the turn of the twentieth century. In his book The Production of Space (1974), Henry Lefebvre characterizes the period around 1910 as a watershed in the constitution of the paradigm of space. It was around that time that the space of classical perspective and geometry, which developed from the Renaissance onwards in the tradition of Greek Euclidean logic, began to disintegrate. Until then, a certain shared space of knowledge and political power, grounded both in the everyday discourse and in abstract thought, was shattered as a result of ever increasing industrialization. This disappearance of embodied spatiality, of the very concept of space, had far-reaching consequences for a shift in the field of representation. Classical models of vision were shattered together with the stable spaces of representation that had previously been formed by various techniques of perspective composition - techniques for deceiving the eye and imitating nature.
It was this change in the production of space and the spatial model, which meant an ever greater meditation of space and, at the same time, the loss of direct experience of space, of its sensory apprehension by means of one's own body, that permitted the various technical advances in observing the subject in space, or the viewer in the visual sphere. The explosive proliferation of optical, illusionist toys, exhibitions and settings (e.g., the panoramas and dioramas of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries) was also a kind of surrogate for the reduced role of direct sensation for the individual in contact with space.
What happens, for example, with the paradigm of space in the field of moving pictures? If in film, 'space' as a montage of attractions is beamed onto a remote white canvas, then the screen of electronic images, or the TV receiver, has enabled the space of illusion to enter our living rooms. The monitors of the data helmets we must place over our heads in order to enter the virtual world have brought space right onto our eyes. For Mark Poster, "virtual reality takes the imaginary of the word and the imaginary of the film or video image one step farther by placing the individual inside the alternative worlds".
What is important to comprehend here is that in virtual reality data-environments some of the issues that arise are those relating to the sense of distance and weight, and questions of mass and time. The same is true for real-time telecommunications, operating at the absolute speed of electromagnetic waves, allowing local users of the Internet to communicate with any point on Earth without leaving - Tokyo, for example - as if there is no geographical or spatial distance. At this point, I can offer just a hint of the possible further political re-reading of cyberspace. Simultaneous collective processes of reception and communication in cyberspace have become the central determining metaphor for the new media environment. That which takes place on the Internet is increasingly seen and utilized as the 'new' public space. The Internet and the World Wide Web are becoming spaces that are not only parallel to the existing public one, but increasingly becoming a substitute for it. So-called public opinion is formulated via our own questioning, in the manner of Fredric Jameson, "what space, which actors, whose agents and what subjects?"
As I intend to conduct an analysis of the signifying and aesthetic principles generated by the space-time paradigm, I will first describe the mechanisms of its construction and constitution. Finally, precisely because of this constructed character of the paradigm of space, it is open to constant re-articulation.
THE CINEMATIC IMAGE
To understand the significance of a shift in the space-time paradigm, I propose a mapping out of a (historical) discursive timeline; to interpret the results of changes in the time/space paradigm, and in its experiences and sensations, as produced by the various technologies of the moving and digital images, e.g., photography, the film apparatus and virtual reality. This is a necessary step also if we are to go beyond the kind of theoretical stasis we currently face in re-philosophizing cyberspace and virtual reality. This stasis is the almost exaggerated quantity of mainly excellent descriptions awaiting classification. One of the aims of the essay in this chapter is to begin to articulate a possible and/or hypothetical approach to such a classification.
To do so, I will first make use of two paradigms, or time models, developed by Gilles Deleuze in the eighties within two books: The Movement-Image (first published in 1983) and The Time-Image (first published in 1985) . The books examine mutations in the history of cinematic signification. D. N. Rodowick, in his compelling book Gilles Deleuze's Time Machine explains that, for Deleuze, "the semiotic history of film is coincident with a century-long transformation wherein we have come to represent and understand ourselves socially through spatial and temporal articulations founded in cinema, if now realized more clearly in the electronic and digital media". For Deleuze, it is not to produce another theory of film, but to realize how aesthetic, philosophical and scientific modes of understanding converge to produce cultural strategies for imagining. What is specific to the image, writes Deleuze, "is to make perceptible, to make visible, relationships of time which cannot be seen in the represented object and do not allow themselves to be reduced to the present".
I would like to present some of the elements of the two principal time-machine paradigms of the image conceived by Deleuze: the movement-image and time-image - in order to suggest a third model: the virtual-image - which would be appropriate for an understanding of the temporal and spatial characteristics of cyberspace.
Deleuze linked the notion of the movement-image to the classical cinema, for example, to the films of Eisenstein, Keaton etc.; in short, Deleuze's movement-image draws upon the American silent cinema, the Soviet school of montage, and the French impressionist cinema, whereas the time-image originates in the modern European and New American cinema, for example, the films of Resnais.
The following outline of the two Deleuzian models of time - images is extremely schematic, but for the purpose of the thesis of this chapter, I will summarize here that it is their respective spatial rendering of time (i.e., time through space) which divides the movement-image from the time-image. The main platform of this unusual idea derives from Deleuze's re-thinking of the interval - the space or division between photograms, shots, sequences - and how the organization of intervals informs the spatial representation of time in cinema. According to Deleuze, in the movement-image (e.g., in Eisenstein and Keaton films), time is reduced to intervals defined by movement as actions, and the linking of such movements is accomplished through montage. The movement-image can only provide an indirect image of time. On the contrary, when reality in the film image is represented in a dispersed way, and the linear actions dissolve into the form of aleatory or random strolls, then, as result of this, the action-reaction schema of the movement-image begins to break down, producing a change in the nature of both perception and affect. Since the linking of images is no longer motivated by action, the nature of space changes, becoming disconnected or empty. Acts of seeing and hearing replace the linking of images through motoric actions, as in the case of the movement-image. In the time-image, the interval is no longer part of the image or sequence either as the ending of one action or as the beginning of another. In the time-image, the interval becomes an autonomous value, giving us a direct image of time. The interval no longer facilitates the passage from one image to another in any detectable manner.
The movement-image and the time-image, however, each manage this relation with time differently. The former provides us with an indirect image of time, and the latter, a direct image of time. On this basis, in the time-image model, according to Rodowick, the interval functions as an irreducible limit, the flow of images or sequences bifurcate and develop serially, rather than continuing as a line, or integrating into a whole. The time-image produces a serial rather than organic form of composition , as is the case in the movement-image.
Whereas the cinematic movement-image presents an indirect image of time as exteriority, or extensiveness, in space the cinematic time-image presents a direct image - the anteriority of time as creative evolution, the pure form of time as change or Becoming. What happens, we have to ask ourselves, when actions no longer master time? Deleuze, through Rodowick, argues that the image must turn from exteriority in space toward a process of genesis in mental relations of time.
Here, in proposing the third image - the virtual-image - I would argue that what occurs here is, first and foremost, the reversal of the Deleuzian established basic relation of time and space: instead of the spatial rendering of time (i.e., time through space) we experience in the cinematic image, my thesis is that in the virtual-image, space is rendered through time.
To comprehend the time-space features of this possible third model, or paradigm, of the virtual-image that I would like to propose here, I will make use of its time-space characteristics as described by Edmond Couchot.In Couchot's summary: "In fact, virtual space and time obey laws different from those of the reality we perceive with our senses. Data space is an exclusively symbolic space: neither largely substrate in material, nor in energy, even though the computer circuitry (hardware) itself is a part of our physical reality; it is made up of information. It has no dimensions per se, no set permanent place or topos. Hence it's fundamentally utopic character. Yet it can also merge with real space as interfaced. Likewise, corresponding to this utopic space is a simulated virtual time, itself with its own extraordinary properties. That is, 'it seems' (phrase added by the author, M.G.), an autonomous time without past, present or future, wholly beyond any deterministic or non-deterministic becoming, or again, of any living sense of becoming. A time that partakes not of chronos, but is an uchronic (or better to say, achronic - added by the author, M.G.) time, hence its ability to also merge - hybridize - with the time where dwells the manipulator or observer. (...) Uchronic time comes into its own in the immediacy of image-calculations and simulational-model parameter modifications without any delay in the unfolding of the visualized phenomenon. Changes in parameter value take effect the very moment the equations are being calculated, intervening in 'real-time,' as the technicians say, upon successive operations and displaying the results instantaneously via realistic or abstract images according to the models simulated, giving these simulation technologies fantastic effectiveness. Under such conditions, we can thus speak of creating a reality and modifying it at the rate of creation, as if 'real' computer time took the place of temporal reality, in such a way that reference time loses - at least partially - its pre-existence. In a sense, synthesized virtual time marks the end of time. In these virtual time-space relations, the determinant factor is no longer the speed of information transfer, but rather the speed of data calculation time. It's as if that invisible barrier, the speed of light at which television and radio information circulate, were at the point of being overtaken by the immobile speed of calculation".
In short, changes in parameter values take effect the very moment the equations are being calculated, intervening in real-time. And real-time, which is time entirely processed by the computer, is equal to zero space. For example, for Mark Poster too, this point of the real-time interval in virtual reality is crucial. Virtual reality is close to real-time, which arose "in the audio-recording field when splicing, multiple-track recording and multiple speed recording made possible times 'other' to that of clock-time or phenomenological time". In virtual reality, the normal or conventional sense of time has to be preserved by the modifier 'real,' exactly as in the coinage: real-time. Real-time is, according to Kac, an immediate transmission and reception of a signal as it is produced by a device, without delays; live television is a common example of real-time transmissions.
In the virtual-image, the interval disappears; real-time is not direct time, but a time without intervals, where space has the value zero. Moreover, the non-place, which may be defined as a cyberspace interval, produces a meaning in which the distribution of information is a result of a synthesized process of calculation. This is not the movement-image's differentiation and integration of meaning, nor the time-image's relinking of irrational divisions, but a simulational process. Instead of the organic form of composition that belongs to the movement-image, and the serial form of composition that belongs to the time-image, the virtual-image produces a synthetic one.
I would like to propose the following models of time-images, according to the following temporal, spatial and compositional characteristics, respectively:
the movement-image - indirect-time interval - exteriority of space - organic form
the time-image - direct-time interval - anteriority of space - serial form
the virtual-image - real-time interval - non-space - synthetic form
It is important to emphasize the already mentioned constructed character of the discourse of space, as the space paradigm is, so to speak, never grounded in space, but is always ex-, an- or non-space. "The non-place of cyberspacetime," as Nguyen and Alexander pointed out, "contains innumerable networks resting on logical lattices abstracted from unthinkably complex data fields that unfold across an endless virtual void". A non-space can be understood here and now, not as a form of utopic space, but above all, as a conceptual matrix, a paradigm of such a space.
At this point, a path to follow might also be examined in reverse mode, by taking spatial modalities inherent in cyberspace as a starting point and transposing them back into reality. That means that some of these paradigms can perhaps be functional outside the realm of the computer. Or vice versa, we might ask how radicalized spatial organizations manifested in reality may serve as models for active intervention in cyberspace. Such a case is the project of the Slovenian visual art group IRWIN, entitled NEUE SLOWENISCHE KUNST (NSK) STATE IN TIME. One of the most attention-grabbing projects of the NSK movement in the 1990's has been the "State in Time" project, which is primarily carried out by the above-mentioned group, IRWIN. It was within the context of a paradigm of this sort that the NSK Embassies and NSK Consulates were realized. NSK Embassies were realized in Moscow (1992), Gent, Belgium (1993), etc. NSK consulates were opened in Florence, Italy (1993), at the Hotel Ambasciatori, and in Umag, Croatia (1994), in the kitchen of the private apartment of gallery owner Marino Cettina.
The group IRWIN established the NSK Embassy in Moscow in a private apartment (address: Leninsky Prospect 12, apt. 24) in May and June 1992. The facade of this residential dwelling was embellished with the artistically articulated insignia of a state embassy. The project took place within the context of the internationalization of one of the greatest Eastern European phenomena, Apt-Art (Apartment-Art), which was a phenomenon of artistic creation and exhibition in private apartments within the Moscow art underground. The Moscow Apt-Art emphasized the status of private space and changed it into a center of communication through the self-organization of those most excluded. The NSK Moscow EMBASSY project represented a new actualization of the phenomenon of life and creation in private apartments during the era of Communist totalitarianism.
In his book, Spectres de Marx, Jacques Derrida put into play the term 'spectre' to indicate the elusive pseudo-materiality that subverts the classic ontological oppositions of reality and illusion. Slavoj Zizek argues that "We should recognize the fact that there is no reality without the spectre, that the circle of reality can be closed only by means of an uncanny spectral supplement. ... 'Spectre' is not to be confused with 'symbolic fiction'... reality is never directly 'itself,' it presents itself only via its incomplete-failed symbolization, and spectral apparitions emerge in this very gap that forever separates reality from the real, and on account of which reality has the character of a (symbolic) fiction: the spectre gives body to that which escapes (the symbolically structured) reality". In an attempt to emphasize the synthetic dialectical moment developed in the NSK State in Time, we are compelled to ask ourselves how can we label this spiritual element of corporeality (NSK State in Time) and this corporeal element of spirituality (embassies in concrete private spaces)? I propose we conclude: SPECTERS. Allow me to state the following: the NSK State in Time is the specter of the state, NSK Embassies are the specters of Embassies. As Richard Beardsworth has shown in his important book Derrida & the political: "Any country, any locality, determines its understanding of time, place and community in relation to this process of 'global' spectralization".
On the other hand, we can re-articulate the NSK STATE IN TIME also as a precise articulation of the evacuation of the specific historical, social and political space of the former Eastern Europe, after the fall of the Berlin Wall. As Peter Lamborn Wilson, alias Hakim Bey, stated in his lecture at the Nettime meeting entitled "Beauty and The East" in Ljubljana in 1997, the Second World has been erased, and only the First and Third Worlds are left. In place of the Second World, Bey argued, there is a big hole from which one jumps into the Third. NSK STATE IN TIME is a transposition, as much as it is also a spectralization, of the evacuation of the specific historical, social and political space of the former Eastern Europe, of this non-space condition. It is possible to find the same condition in the center of the myth of liberating and innocent cyberspace. "What you discover (in cyberspace - added by the author, M.G.) is always," according to Olivier Marchart, "your own image in a reversed form. (...) This sentence - since obviously, it paraphrases the Lacanian communication formula - has an axiomatic status. Wherever you go, you are always already there". And this is exactly to what the IRWIN NSK STATE IN TIME project is pointing a finger. The group IRWIN has the power to articulate its proper position using the same mechanisms and matrices that seem, at first glance, to be part of another "absolutely virtual" territory.
Since what I am proposing here is a research into the discursive constructions and articulations of the changes of time and space paradigms produced by image technology, to look also at the characteristics of the time-space paradigm developed and sustained in the photographic image would offer more insight into the latter stages of such a proposed research.
In his "Short History of Photography", Walter Benjamin focuses on how the problem of time characterized the evolution of early photography. I will summarize briefly Benjamin's insights, relying on D. N. Rodowick's presentation:
"Neither the indexical quality of the photograph nor its iconic characteristics fascinated Benjamin as much as the interval of time marked by exposure. In the technological transition from an exposure time requiring several hours to only fractions of a second, Benjamin marked the gradual evaporation of aura from the image. The idea of aura invoked here is clearly related to Bergson's durée. For Benjamin, the longer the interval of exposure, the greater the chance that the aura of an environment - the complex temporal relations woven through its represented figures - would seep into the image, etching itself on the photographic plate. (...) More concretely, the temporal value of the interval determines a qualitative ratio between time and space in the photograph. In the evolution from slow to fast exposure times, segmentations of time yielded qualitative changes in space: sensitivity to light, clearer focus, more extensive depth of field, and significantly, the fixing of movement. Paradoxically, for Benjamin, as the iconic and spatial characteristics of photography became more accurate by decreasing the interval of exposure, the image lost its temporal anchoring in the experience of duration, as well as the fascinating ambiguity of its 'aura'".
Rodowick attempted such a summary because he is interested in Benjamin's commentary on the photographic exposure time, which can be seen simultaneously as the accumulation of duration and as a reduction of the time intervals, as a kind of a prototype of both of Deleuze's time-image models. In face of this, I myself am interested in this contraction of the interval of exposure time because it depicts a process of erasure, the desire to rid ourselves of the uncontrollable movements and mistakes that can occur over such long exposure times. Furthermore, today we are witness to, metaphorically speaking, the constant decreasing, the constant shortening, and the condensation of the interval of exposure, on the trajectory moving from photography through cinema to cyberspace. This amounts to a process of cleaning and leaving behind the mistakes. With the virtual image and its real-time interval - when the speed of light at which television and radio circulate information is overtaken by the immobile speed of calculation - we experience an ever more exact and radical process of complete image evacuation, or emptying. The result is an aesthetic process of the sterilization of the image. With the arrival of the new media, and with digitalization, a physicality of the connection of the image within reality-time is lost. Mistakes in the image, which were evidence of its reality-temporality existence, are traumatically lost. With mistakes, one might say, the subject finds ways to make a place in time. With the virtual image's real-time contraction, with the contraction of the temporal-reality intervals, the image undergoes a process of complete 'emptying out.'
In short, I want to emphasize the technical constitution of temporality. "The temporalization of time thus changes with a change in the technical process that forms it". Moreover, it is possible to detect a process of constant tension between the nature of the technical tools that allows the mediation of time and the human experience of time. This tension can be named, again, as spectralization. At stake in this process of spectralization lies the human experience of time. "Most immediately, it is clear that with the digitalization of memory support-systems, our experience of time is being rapidly foreshortened, creating, among other things (...) the tension between the international nature of the electronic and digital gaze and the corporal realities that make up much of human life. Less immediately, but more profoundly, it is also clear that future technical intervention on the genetic 'ingredients' of the human will accelerate processes of evolution at such a speed (if this remains the right term) that present conceptions of history, inheritance, memory and the body will need to be dramatically reorganized, if the 'selection' of what is 'human', and what is not, is not to become the monopoly of an organization between the technosciences and capital. Just as these techniques together with developments in machine intelligence will soon wish to suppress human 'failure(s)' (precisely our submission to time), so the real time of the teletechnologies risks reducing the difference of time, or the aporia of time, to an experience of time that forgets time".
This process of evacuation reached its limit of absurdity, for example, with the virtualized visual scenarios of the Gulf War, which can be contrasted with the lack of information about the 'dirty' and very real war in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Instead of the direct images from the war in BiH, we were, in most cases, via the so-called live, real-time programming connections, confronted, on the one hand, with old televised images, and on the other with the voice of the radio amateur reporting live, in real-time.
Dimitris Eleftheriotis notes a similar process in a different, though complementary, field. According to Eleftheriotis, "'The Digital Image Stabilizer' is a popular feature of many new camcorders: it operates through a digital analysis of each frame, which detects and eliminates 'abnormal' movements. In a similar fashion, visual surveillance technology depends upon the identification of 'abnormal' or 'irregular' movements which disrupt the 'normal' flow of people in a street, a shopping center or supermarket - research currently undertaken looks for ways in which the detection of abnormal movement can become an automaton built into the system". Both processes can be understood as the opposite parts of the same mathematical, legal, as well as esthetical operation, emptying out and sterilization of the image. As Mark Lajoie has stated, "The distance between the user on one side, and the seeming space on the other is absolute. It should come as no surprise that many of the technologies involved in the virtual reality interface have their origin in machinery designed for performing tasks in environments inhospitable to human beings - chemical factories, nuclear power plants, vacuum space. Cyberspace offers to do the same with all relations to the material, treating the material as a toxic agent, or poisoned environment, to place an imperceptible yet omnipresent barrier between all material relations with others".
In contrast to the clean, pure space of virtual reality, the material becomes an object of horror and disgust because it cannot be integrated into the matrix. In other words, the material becomes an abject. As Julia Kristeva has pointed out, "It becomes what culture, the sacred, must purge, separate and banish so that it may establish itself as such in the universal logic of catharsis". Materiality is entirely extracted from cyberspace, and reduced from object to abject - a senseless, obscene intervention. The entrance of mistakes in perfect, simulated environments can be viewed, therefore, as a point of developing new esthetical and conceptual strategies, as the mistake as object of horror and disgust cannot be integrated into the matrix. Antiorp, a mysterious Danish composer whose gender - or even humanity - is unknown, promotes the idea that technology used to create art inevitably becomes the subject of the art itself. Errors, for example. Antiorp writes, "Generally, (people) aren't anticipating errors, browser deconstruction or denials of service. Incorporating these into programming generates an element of intrigue, seduction and frustration. Error is the mark of the higher organism, and it presents an environment with which one is invited to interact or perhaps control".
What matters in cyberspace is namely the possibility to interact concretely, hence materially, by means of different devices - from joysticks to datasuits - with the virtual world. It is exactly at this precise point of contact, at the interface between the virtual and real, that the user is called to insert his or her fingerprints, and ultimately, his or her material body also in the form of a mistake. The interface can be considered an obscene stain constantly reminding the user of his or her inability to become fully subject in cyberspace, and we might also say the same with regard to the mistakes. Mistakes in the image are like a fingerprint on the film, a scratch or scars on the skin - the evidence of the existence of the image. To make a mistake is to find a place in time. A mistake is like a wound in the image; it is like an error in the body, or, as formulated by Beardsworth, failure(s) represent(s) precisely our submission to time. This is a situation of producing a gap, a hiatus, where we can insert not only a proper body, but also its interpretation.
We must continually engage to locate ourselves in the world in relation to others - human and non-human. "I am conscious of my body via the world, that it is the unperceived term in the center of the world towards which all objects turn their face; it is true for the same reason that my body is the pivot of the world: I know that objects have several facets because I could make a tour of the world through the medium of my body".
In December 1997, TV Tokyo suspended the weekly regularly broadcasting of the popular 'Pocket Monster' cartoon, known as 'Pockemon,' because nearly 700 people nationwide, mainly children, were taken to hospitals after watching the show on 16 December. The TV viewers were afflicted by an outbreak of convulsions and faintness, ending with catalepsy. The scene from Pockemon, which was suspected of sending hundreds to hospitals, can be described as four seconds of flashing red, blue, white and black lights. It was a kind of strobe flash, like second sunlight, something so hyper-bright that it resulted in both blindness and catalepsy.
Through this example, we can discuss some other important points raised in connection with the relationship between our physical body and the image. While I wish to avoid falling into the trap of mass psychological hysterical readings of the eternally bad and dangerous influence of TV upon generations of viewers, I will try to establish an almost heretical interpretation of the event. We could say that the TV-induced epilepsy-like illness brought back to a mass of TV viewers the reality of their physical bodies. The human body has been, for more than a century, captured or frozen as images via photography. It has been approximately 120 years since 1877-80, when the psychiatrist Martin Charcot, at the Salpetriere Hospital in Paris photographed his hysterical patients with the intention of making their illness visible (due to the underlying pathology of hysteria being invisible). Now, in the 1990's, the body fights back! With the hysterical suffering body of Pockemon, we witness a reaction, a disobedience, to the until now immobile, or frozen, body's relation to the image. The success of photography in capturing hysteria had to do precisely with the mechanisms internal to photography, which are connected with its "reality effect," and with the photographic apparatus' potential to freeze the convulsive and hysterical body.
It seems that today, in a world supersaturated with images, to make the body visible - to simply remind ourselves that we have a physical body - the body had to fall back again into hysteria, into an outbreak of convulsions and faintness. On the other hand, Pockemon allows us to discuss the idea of total visibility constantly produced by the mass media. But this kind of total visibility is just media-processed; it is simply another form of misconstruction. In reality, we have, as Peter Weibel once noted, zones of visibility and zones of invisibility. The Pockemon 'Cataleptic Tuesday' event (Pockemon has been aired every Tuesday since April 1997) brought us not only to the core of the processes of representation, and to the so-called zero-point of representation in relation to the physical body, but it represents an almost psychotic appearance of these phenomena, by the constantly hidden zones of invisibility in mass media. These zones flashed for a moment so brightly on the surface of the image, they allowed the body to become blind and hysterical.
This phenomenon may also be described through the perspective of Paul Virilio, who claims that the introduction of computerized technology simply makes visible what had been assumed or, I use the word overtaken, - the fleeting time of exposure in instantaneous perception, which results in "a collapse of mnemonic consolidation". It is a process showing that the observer's moment of perception is no longer in synch, no longer integrated into the time of exposure, in the topographical perception and memorization processes impressed in the time of exposure. For Virilio, what characterizes the replacement of the depth of space by the depth of time, is a splitting of viewpoint, the sharing of perception of the environment between the animate (the living subject) and the inanimate (the object, the seeing machine). The vision(s) of this viewpoint, its visualizations, are what is already there in the eye of the camera(s), remaining in "a state of latent immediacy in the huge junk heap of the stuff of memory, wanting to reappear, inexorably, when the time comes".
To reappropriate the place of this memory, of virtual memory, in the modern way means, therefore, not to use any more traces - as virtual memory is no longer in a function of the past, but of the future - but instead to use mistakes, as the speed of light at which TV and radio information circulates are at the point of being overtaken by the immobile speed of calculations.
Cf. Wolfgang Welsch, Undoing Aesthetics, Sage Publications, London,
1997, pp. 20-22.
Cf. Ken Hillis, "A Geography of the Eye: The Technologies of Virtual Reality"(pp. 70-99),in Cultures of Internet, Rob Shields, Ed., Sage Publications, London, 1996, p. 5.
Mark Poster, "Postmodern Virtualities" (pp. 183-203), in FutureNatural, George Robertson, et al, Ed., Routledge, London, 1996,p. 189.
Cf. Gilles Deleuze, Cinema 1: The Movement-Image, trans. by Hugh Tomlinson and Barbara Habberjam, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, 1986.
Cf. Gilles Deleuze, Cinema 2: The Time-Image, trans. by Hugh Tomlinson and Robert Galeta, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, 1989.
D. N. Rodowick, Gilles Deleuze's Time Machine, Duke University Press, Durham and London, 1997, p. xiii.
Deleuze, Time-Image, p. xii).
Rodowick, Op. Cit, p. 14.
Cf. Rodowick, Op. Cit, pp. 48-49.
Edmond Couchot, "Between the Real and the Virtual", (pp. 16-20), in Annual InterCommunication '94, ICC, Tokyo, 1994, pp. 16-17.
Poster, Op. Cit., p. 189.
Cf. Eduardo Kac, <nettime> "More Glossary Items" (Online). Available: HYPERLINK mailto:nettime-l@Desk.nl nettime-l@Desk.nl , 1998.
Dan Thu Nguyen and Jon Alexander, The Coming of Cyberspacetime and the End of the Polity , (pp. 99-125), in Cultures of Internet, Rob Shields, Ed., Sage Publications, London,1996, p. 102.
Slavoj Zizek, Introduction: The Spectre of Ideology , in Mapping Ideology, Slavoj Zizek, Ed., Verso, London and New York, 1994, pp. 26-28.
Richard Beardsworth, Derrida & the political, Routledge, London and New York, 1996, p.146.
Cf. Hakim Bey, lecture at the Nettime meeting Beauty and the East, Ljubljana, 22-23 June 1997.
Oliver Marchart, <nettime> "Greetings from Neutopia" (Online). Available: HYPERLINK mailto:nettime-l@Desk.nl nettime-l@Desk.nl , 1998.
Rodowick, Op. cit., pp. 8-9.
Beardsworth, Op. cit., p. 161.
Beardsworth, Op. cit., pp.147-48.
Dimitris Eleftheriotis, "Video poetics: technology, aesthetics and politics", (pp. 100-112), in Screen, 36: 2, 1995, p.105).
Mark Lajoie, "Psychoanalysis and Cyberspace", (pp. 153-170), in Cultures of Internet, Rob Shields, Ed., Sage Publications, London, 1996, p. 163.
(Kristeva, "Psychoanalysis and the Polis", p. 102, in Lajoie, Op. cit., p. 165.
Cf. Critical Art Ensemble and Richard Pell, <nettime> "Contestational Robotics" (Online). Available: HYPERLINK mailto:nettime-l@Desk.nl nettime-l@Desk.nl , 1998.
Cf.firstname.lastname@example.org /=cw4t7abs/ <nettime> "=cw4t7abs 0+2 || !nter.bzzp" (Online). Available: nettime-l@Desk.nl, 1998.
Cf. Beardsworth, Op. cit., p. 148.
Merleau-Ponty, Maurice Phenomenology of Perception, trans. by Colin Smith, Routledge, London, 1962, p. 82.
Paul Virilio, The Vision Machine, BFI, London, 1994, p. 7.
Virilio, p. 43.