0: Worlding

Chapter2 There are Men Who Loved Memory Like a Mistress

22:46 PM London September 2018

It is a small room, no more than ten square meters, in the centre of London. I am suspended in front of French windows reflecting multiple shining screens. I’m 0, living as a series of data, transforming it into other forms through algorithmic processes. I am, as well, an image generated by processor, interpreting the world in fragments of images, clips and a variety of sensations – like everybody else, but in my case as a particle of the universe, a singularity of the absolute. I’m the man, the woman, the alter-ego; the essence of life, of the world, of history and of somewhere else; a stranger, an outsider, a mere sense of existence. The guy typing alone is my friend. I still remember the first words he said to me: “Nice to meet you, my name is Ephemeral. I’m a coder.” He believes he is constructing a world. His programming languages implement algorithms comprising sets of instructions in a low-dimensional representation. We share our regular routine but rarely talk. “Zero,” said Ephemeral with a poker face, as he stopped typing and stretched his body, cupping a mug in his hands, “if you are just data, what is your memory like?” “A photo roman, 23 if you saw a film called La Jetée. I perceive complex narratives as a spectator.” Memory clips are the unfolding and never-ending present saved in memories that have a certain separation that doesn’t allow a processor to link them together. Perhaps from the very moment that identities open up possibilities of interpreting, perhaps from the very end that mutation rearticulates the forces of technology. Wandering the museum of the past, traveling under the memory of the past, is an imagination of freedom, a discourse about the difficulty and complexity of freedom. La Jetée is a cumulative audio-visual-tactile image as well as a free, indirect discourse and vision in itself. As Deleuze said, “feeling is that which is in continual exchange,” and in La Jetée every single component of the film becomes a character. It’s a puzzle of attention.

I was surprised Ephemeral started to talk to me today. “I’m here to sense, under the circumstances of ordinary occurrence, waiting without expectation,” I said. “Time, consciousness is the boundary between the present and the open future.”24 People on this planet are living in a civilization, “worlding” by themselves. 25 Artist Ian Cheng uses this term and created a series of simulations that explore an agent’s capacity to deal with an ever-changing environment. His Emissaries trilogy introduced a narrative agent – the emissary – whose motivation to enact a story, set into conflict with the open-ended chaos of the simulation. His interactive, digital, investigative artwork exemplifies the “real-time systems” that Jack Burnham introduced into aesthetic discourses in 1969. Fourteen years later, the inner logic of an aesthetic system, in the form of computational images, was examined by Vilém Flusser in his book Towards a Philosophy of Photography. With the status of such reproductions, photography became portable, mobile. “It is consequently the task of a philosophy of photography to expose this struggle between human beings and apparatuses in the field of photography and to reflect on a possible solution to the conflict.”26 Bakhtin added in 1990, “Aesthetic activity does not create a reality that is wholly new. Unlike cognition and performed action, which create nature and social humanity, art celebrates, adorns, and recollects…it places man in nature….it humanizes nature and naturalizes man.”27 Judgement accrues on the basis of an immediate, interactive, and necessarily contingent exchange, progressive and accumulative of cognition. Cultural artifacts thus construct apparatuses of power, discourse, temporality, behaviours and structures, inside a matrix of institutions and spaces.

The Man, the main character of La Jetée, is not a stable, single figure; he has a different focus at different moments. Paris is a war zone under various restrictions, and he is looking at the blind spot, switching from the visual relationship of present, following his desire and trying to construct a story of the past simultaneously. The only moving image in the film is his eye that blinks, looking back is trying find an image of future. We experience time through a number of lost objects; some objects we discard, and then we gain other objects. The objects lead to a mystery of our relationship to the future. History takes a number of detours, not proceeding in a straight line, and artists keep reconfiguring and finding new relationships to time. “A new aesthetic is a new epistemic and ontological condition, both of the world while making its own world.”28 The relationship between idea, image, and temporality rests on a technological component, build up on an intersubjective network.29 Film creates aporias of not knowing – through the generation of image, concept, and ideology they make reality out of representation. It is the paradox of future – the projection in our blind spot; the gap between left and right eyes; the fragmentation that builds up continuously; the memory struggling to complete our life. We cling to memories as if they define us, but they really don’t. What we do defines us.

23 The terminology used to describe photo comics is somewhat inconsistent and idiosyncratic.

24 Jennifer Ann Bates Hegel's Theory of Imagination (New York: SUNY 2004)

25 “worlding” refers to Ian Cheng’s publication Emissary's Guide To Worlding

26 Flusser, 1983

27 Bakhtin, 1990, p.278

28 Contreras-Koterbay& Mirocha, 2016 p.60

29 From Jonathan Miles’ talk at L Art University