From “Performativity” to Virtual Reality and Vice Versa (1993)
Язык оригинала: английский
“Performativity” is quite a trendy, precise word that has unobtrusively but firmly become an integral part of the modern intellectual discourse. The range of meanings of this word is quite broad: memory obliges well the distinction made by G. Austin between “informative” and “performative” utterances, and the notion of system performance (as it is examined in “Condition Postmodern” by G. F. Lyotard), and the practice of performance in modern art. Not striving to trace quite a fascinating interplay and interaction of those meanings, and leaving out the play of the language itself that is manifest here, we would like to dwell upon some aspects of the last meaning of the word “performativity” and its performance-modification.
“Performativity” is performative in a sense that it rules out the possibility of non-participation in it. The mere presence of it is an act of participation, and this seemingly insignificant shift in the degree of engagement has far-reaching consequences. First of all, the status of a performance participant cannot be characterized in terms of binary opposition as that of either a producer or a recipient of the performance. The place of those opposite poles is taken up by some intermediate dynamic configuration, configuring into only a temporary—while the performance lasts— figurative entity both the active process of creation and the passive process of reception of the performance. This dynamic configuration may be called a collective actor, a multi or a poly- actor of the performance.
Accordingly, the very course of the performance is not a sequence of consecutively changing acts, performed alternately by its various participants. Being a collective, joint action of the performance is not diachronic. Its temporal mode its synchronism since temporal configuration of a joint action is no less stable an integral than space configuration of a multi-actor. In other words, there is absolutely no reason to suppose the existence of time differentiation, that is, the distinction of its various components in time, in that phenomenon for which space differentiation is not typical, the distancing of its various components is space.
With so much desire, one may perceive in the practice of the performance as a challenge not only to the notion of the structure of the space-time continuum formed in the framework of the “project of modernity” but even the basic procedure through which the “project of modernity” as such becomes possible - the procedure of instituting narrative that was realized for the first time by Homer’s epic 1. Whichever is the case, one thing is clear: the normalized space-time continuum is deformed by the performance, its participants find themselves in an absurd situation, when an event they are living through in real space and time is not unfolding in a normal space-time sequence, but belongs to the “beyond” world of performance. In other words, the performance is a locus in which there occurs “a break-through” of 3-dimensional space and “a break” of time sequence. The result of this is a quasi-realization of a different dimension, the dimensionality of which does not coincide well with the dimensionality of objects and phenomenon orderly arranged in space and time. Any attempt at the verbalization of this process, or textual description of this situation, including the one undertaken now, is to a considerable degree an incorrect attempt aimed at returning it into the lap of normalized world order. Something that comes into the world in order to surpass the given order.
Performance, in order to be such should be realized, “staged” in the sense related in a way to that of Heidegger’s concept of “Gestalt”. It is rather a matter of technology than a cognitive operation. Moreover, it may be considered a turning manoeuver, pragmatically successful in cases where the so-called “cognitive ability” of a man fails completely. This is illustrated not only by a very successful strategy of discrediting the textual meaningfulness group. In the same manner the consideration of the matrix of the game process as such, vividly demonstrates the indisputable fact that the possibility of finding a game “move” appears only there and then, where and when the customary, so thoroughly “known” rotation of the world order happens to be broken in this or that way, its spatial-temporal unfolding gets deformed and there appears a “clearance”, in the chain of events, room for “a free move”, or “Spielraum” in which, as in an adequate environment, the game can freely occur.
The transfer of the emphasis here from the static of the cognitive art which reaches autarchy from the dynamics of its process, is called upon to express the notion of performance. The dimension of questioning thus opening up is beyond not only the rational-mechanistic spacial-temporal continuum, in which a man of the “project of modernity” feels so much at home, but also that universally European anthropocentric world outlook, the first systematic articulation of which was Plato’s theory of ideas. Following in the wake of Heidegger’s program of destruction of West European metaphysical history, Derida’s deconstructivist and Foucault’s archaeology of knowledge - in their way going back to the beginning of the century paradigm “shift”, made by K. Marx, F. Nietzsche, S. Freud - the attempt to use the game matrix for the explication of the performance situation at the same time turns to those tendencies that can be observed in the sphere of hermetically sealed, in the course of the realization of the “project of modernity” from humanitarian knowledge - as well as art experience - that is in the sphere of natural science.
The chronic crisis of the “project of modernity” caused in the long run by its extremely narrow gnosiological and praxeological basis, reaches its culmination, the stage of collapse, not only in the works of the above-mentioned philosophers, in the same manner it finds its expression in the research approach, being elaborated by the most advanced of the natural sciences: contemporary physics. Started by the theory of relativity and quantum mechanics, and later taken up by bootstrap theory, the process of de-objectification of the object of research is conjugated with the reflection of axiomatic premises of scientific theory, the landmarks of which are, for example, Godel’s theorem on incompleteness of formalized theory, Kuhn’s concept of scientific paradigm change, Feuerband’s epistemological anarchism, etc. The common denominator of this bilateral process is consecutive transformation of the common stereotype of a scientific cognitive act as oriented to the well-known thesis: “the order and causation of ideas are identical to the order and causation of things and claiming to comprehend the “truth” of this or that phenomenon in the image of a certain pragmatically optional action, which can be likened to the act of compiling strategic maps of some landscape, the use of which can vary, modifying as much as you want the so-called “real” topography of the latter. It is hardly worth mentioning that the question of the existence or non-existence of the “real” landscape topography is simply irrelevant.
There is also no need trying to substantiate the well-known fact that the development of physics in the 20th century is inseparable from the calibration of innovative technologies (particularly successful in the military sphere). We would only like to emphasize here one regularity, namely, the inverse proportionality of technological solution efficiency to the knowledge of its material substratum. The technology of making nuclear weapons may serve as an example of this inverse dependence. The effectiveness of it is quite sufficient for the total extermination of mankind, but is absolutely incompatible with the state of knowledge of nuclear processes fission a synthesis. The number of highly effective technological solutions, compensating and complimenting the initially insufficient gnoseological basis of the “project of modernity” in the second half of our century, may be extended further to include the most specific phenomenon of this epoch: computer technology.
The cybernetics boom, which after a considerable delay reached at least one-sixth of the land, is a striking example of super-intensive development 2 and a totally extensive application of a given “technological move”. It’s hard now to cite any other technological spheres whose speed of transformation could be compatible with that of computer production, as well as to name a sphere of human activity which computer technology has not penetrated. Such high dynamics of growth and the spread of computer “metastasis” allows us to presume a possible - either pathological or not - mutation of the whole “organism”, which has been actually done over several decades by both the science-fiction industry and academic scientific discourse (the problem of artificial intellect). However, besides a potential for the transformation of globally-strategic perspectives of human existence, a number of less obvious characteristic features may be discerned in computer technology.
First of all, it completely verifies the supposition expressed above, concerning the inverse dependence between apprehending some phenomenon and its technological use. A modern personal computer (PC) may be likened to some potentially, most probably universal converter, which can even now transform broad segments of the so-called “objective reality”, realities of the macroworld into microprocesses and vice versa. Moreover, this conversion is realized not in conditions of the laboratory experiment, but in the day-to-day professional practice and household routine of practically any user. The analogy that suggests itself well is the procedure of denouncing through some performative action of this or that fragment of everyday live as truly significant for example - the crawling across the Garden Ring in Moscow (a more correct version of this would be the act of crossing it at the green light) is neither superficial nor accidental. Various technological “moves” serve to achieve one and the same effect: the unwavering belief of a man of the “project of modernity”, of so-called common sense - or the common sense of “a man from the street”, who, V.I. Lenin often recommended, should be invited for solving philosophical arguments - in the certitude of the existence of the surrounding world, of everything that he is able to see, hear, touch, smell, taste as really existing, is put in a state of mobile equilibrium, made problematic and called into question.
A typical feature of the situation described is the fact that in computer language a question mark as well as an asterisk (*) are called “wildcards”. These wildcards, to which a joker in cards is to a certain extent analogous, may denote anything, their referents are any designations, as well as any number of designations. Thus, *** denotes simultaneously any file and all the files of the given PC. The possibility, thus revealed, of the total indifference of computer software towards ways of differentiating visual impressions that are so dear to a human heart and mind is naturally not advertised by PC producers preoccupied with the problem of marketing their goods. Wildcards are very useful, but still marginal elements of a PC environment. That is why they must serve a starting point for an attempt to deconstruct, and dismantle the established image of PC as an irreplaceable and indefatigable instrument, delivering a man from a host of tedious, boring, time consuming operations, as an electronic cross between an arithmometer and typewriter, and moreover, endowed with “a human face”. Wildcards mark that specific feature of a scientific program of the “project of modernity” - going back to Galileo Galilei and developed further as the idea of “matheses universales” up to modern informatics and cybernetics - which in this context may be characterized as a pathos of quantification, of all qualifications, a pathos of computing any qualities. Being the major object of attack on the part of traditional humanitarianism, this specific feature of modernistic natural science gets a rather original interpretation in the sphere of computer technology here, and the very existence of wildcards is a testimony of that - it quite unexpectedly closes upon usually classified as the “post modernistic” intention of modern mentality towards overcoming borders, demarcation lines between various regions of reality, between events and phenomena existing as such regardless of space and time (its symptoms are manifested in the prevalence in modern intellectual discourse of such expressions as interdisciplinary, intertexturality, interaction, intercultural, interface, interplay, etc.). Digitizing quantification of all and every quality, unfolding in the cyberspace the of modern PC is the mightiest technological resource of this intention, since it is the digital, numerical sequence, because of its complete indifference to distinctions of existence and non-existence, here and there, before and later, man and non-man, etc., that becomes the universal transformer which allows to turn everything you want into something else and vice versa. Along with this, wildcards allow us to present - in a new light - some plots that are traditional for European culture. First of all we mean the set of notions that is connected with the least remote - in the time notion of Kant - of the thing-in-itself as well as with the most remote “myth of the cave” of Plato. Both the notion and the myth, as is known, postulate the existence of the incomprehensible, beyond the human mind’s transcendent reality, which either “affects” - according to Kant - man’s sensuality, or - according to Plato - casts shadows on the cave’s wall, while remaining all the time out of man’s sight. It is obvious that both wildcards, particularly if they compliment each other, may be used as markers appropriately marking the transcendent reality that Kant and Plato had in mind. The asterisk here marks the fact that a man may produce any idea (or any number of ideas) regarding transcendent reality, and they all will be neither true nor false, since none of them could be confirmed or disproved. The question mark (?) marks the infinity of the process of questioning transcendent reality - the fact that each given question is only one of the infinite number of questions, and that the “answer”, thus obtained, is transient, and only the process of questioning is permanent.
If we now try to consider wildcards within the framework of the game approach we will discover a number of most interesting details. Wildcard * in this case appears to be a symbol of the game process as such, since it expresses the transformation of any phenomenon or event that has been somehow named in the structure of objective reality into a game move, anticipating or following an infinite chain of all possible moves, which are of equal value by virtue of being game moves and lack any privileged starting point. Likewise, wildcard ? appears here to be a marker of the game’s problematic status of any given phenomenon or event as really existing, and a marker of the process of game rules modification, which takes place when this or that move is made. A chess game played on three boards placed one over another from the film of Bunuel (junior) (with the participation of Bunuel Mayor) “The Woman in Red Boots” may serve as a graphic example of this situation. Each move made on one of the boards changes the pieces’ position on all the boards. If we add to that a possibility of altering the rules of the game with each move - for example - the possibility of increasing the number of boards, changing the rules of moving chess pieces, or of the whole game as such - we can get a very rough idea of what it is all about, and what kind of models the modern boot-strap theory tries to operate wilh.
Among the peculiarities of the cyberspace of the modern PC, the curtain over which is only slightly lifted by a brief consideration of the wildcards, is the one which can be denoted as a function of banality. Wildcards - as such - are extremely banal: they are nothing else but standard symbols, used as often as possible in the command line for the performance of an infinite number of ordinary operations. Equally common is the situation of restructuring at a microlevel, the microreplicating of a macro-object which has been input into the computer as text, for example. In this case, the computer resembles a means of public transport, Moscow’s Metro for instance, which regularly - just as a good PC - carries its users there and back. The constant contact with a “thing-in-itself”, with the existence beyond human understanding (the zone of which begins quite near, some half a meter away from the face of the user, on the other side of the computer monitor, in its “through the screen”) happens here quite peacefully and matter-of-factly without traditional dramatic effects, religions revelations, mystic enlightenment, or creative ecstasy, following an esoteric path under the guidance of a guru, etc., and even without resort to the use of hallucinogens. Finally, the procedure of devaluing some event or phenomenon as a fragment of objective reality, usually so vividly realized in performative actions, becomes here such a commonplace operation, that it could be disregarded if it did not allow us to observe some significant features of micro-replicating a macro-object in cyberspace. The simplest - familiar even to a novice - in a PC’s procedure of inputting the text on a hard disc through the keyboard displays a number of features that usually go unnoticed. To begin with, quite untenable is the naive conviction of the user that the handwritten, typewritten or recorded text that he is transferring into the cyberspace remains the same text or the text in general, for the simple reason that the PC monitor is trying to convince him of it.
In fact, in the process of inputting the text as a macro-object that possesses quite definite space and volume and remains cohesive over a considerable time sequence, it simply disappears. It transforms itself into an amorphous “something” which can be best characterized with the help of wildcards: * characterizes the text as a whole, while ? does the same for all its separate components (including individual letters). Even a brief acquaintance with the work of a PC makes us recognize the irrefutable fact that the so-called “user-composed text” may be transformed by a PC into anything - the letters of the text may be read as the ones of quite different alphabet, they can in any sequence be turned into italic type, or bold type, become underlined or crossed out, the size and kind of type itself may every infinitely different paragraphs of the text may be placed wherever and however possible, and finally the “text” may be completely destroyed and then fully restored.
Such polymorphism of the text at the level of both - the most elementary and all its constituents - is ensured by a set of operations performed by this or that Software, for example, the ordinary word processing MSWord 5.0. Successfully functioning over a number of years the technology of total versatilization of a definite macro-object text that has mastered the procedure of the versatilization of the status of existence, does not only exemplify the rule according to which the achievement of a maximum regulation of a macro-object (the one which occurs at the “resurrection” of the text as a macro-object, outputting it at the terminal of the cyberspace which is known as printer) has as its most important prerequisite the maximum “chaos” of its micro-replica. It also marks that vector of development of modern computer technology whose next important landmark is the technology of virtual reality.
The technology of virtual reality (VR) which is quite successfully developing as far as can be judged from rather sketchy information, in the military sphere, is dragging out a miserable existence in the civilion one. Mainly regarded as part if the computer game domain, VR has a number of sufficiently successful presentations in adjacent media, to its credit - for instance - the morphing of a human face in Michael Jackson’s clip “Black or White”, Cyborg T-1000 (the liquid-metal one, not the one played by Arnold Shwarzenegger) in the film “Terminator 2”, and finally Brett Leonard’s film “The Lawnmower Man” which is competely devoted to VR as far as it is possible for a box-office hit. Among the kind of VR equipment produced now the “helmet” and “glove” can be singled out; the first simulates the process of human eye movement in the space of computer graphics, the other the tactile contact of a hand with an object. Such an unimpressive picture of the achievements of VR technology does not in the least belittle its potential. VR technology, for the first time ever, gives a user an opportunitly to break through a protective screen of any mass media, be it the screen of a book page, a film-or TV-screen, etc. It, thus, transfers the communicative contact with mass media from the category of informative into the category of performative contact. The user, getting here a complete freedom of action, a total “carte blanche”, the same wildcard *, is capable of not only versatilizing as much as he wants the narrative transmitted by the mass , e.g.: changing the plot, introducing himself as a character, turning back the course of the narration, etc. He also gets an access to “through the screen” space, an opportunity to become a nomad of cyberspace, to move along the path that no being can take either in reality, or reflected by all sorts of screen mirrors.
It goes without saying that such actions of the user are real only in the space and time of a cyber-environment; from the point of view of “real” reality they are real only virtually, simulative in the proper sense of the world and they represent only simulacrums of actions. In fact, the notion of “simulacrum” that, following G.F. Lyotard’s example so smoothly enters the modern intellectual discourse, and finds an adequate environment only in the dimension of virtual reality. Only there, in the space-time continuum produced by VR technology, can levies on all its “species” be created. The versatility of all the parameters of the simulacrum produced here allows the creation in VR modules possessing such high degrees of liability that no analogues for them can be found in the objectively real world. Even when the prototype of the simulacrum was initially an event that took place within the space-time limit of the macroworld - for instance, one of the tank battles of the “Gulf War”, in the course of which a tank battalion of American recruits within 22 minutes routed a battle-hardened tank unit of Suddam Hussein’s guards - such a digital replica of a real event already possesses a sufficient degree of versatilization in order to “gnaw through” the”umbilical cord” that connects it with reality.
Apart from still a “pre-screen” by function, but already quite virtual “Stealth bomber” which American cadets “fly-over” in digital 3-D replicas of the battle field (and which mainly, due to their enormous cost were never used in real battle), it is quite possible to imagine the existence somewhere in the depths of the Pentagon of a simulator, which simulates this tank battle, but already with the participation of real crews and without the predetermined successful outcome for the Americans. All this, including the savory details of “the error analysis” that takes place in the “purgatory” after the virtual death of the crew is a reality of the day according to Bruce Sterling 3.
It is noteworthy that in this case there begins to be evidenced a convergence of rigidly pragmatic military procedures - for tank, airplane, and rocket launcher exercises - with a tendency that has been observed for quite a while but which has become technologically possible only recently. We mean the production of fake news, and falsified as “live” broadcasts. Hypothetically, such a situation was staged in the American film “Capricorn I”, shown in our country during “the stagnation” period. The plot of the film is based on a manned flight of an American spaceship to Mars, which was postponed due to some technical problems, but which, nevertheless, for a number of other reasons “took place” in the simulated space-time of electronic mass-media, as well as the non-electronic media which depend on the former for their news. The genuine technology of “fake news” production was elaborated much later, the firm Pacific Data Images possesses it now, and it is that firm which created the morph of 15 human faces in the before-mentioned clip “Black or White”. The possibilities opening up with a hybrid cross of military training of real soldiers and officers with the process of producing provocative simulacrums of real events by firms possessing VR technology are truly infinite and, to put it mildly, mind-bogging.
No less impressive is the visible prospect of the impossibility of distinguishing between the original event or phenomenon and its replica, or copy. Generally speaking this feature of software is already observable at the level of the ordinary PC. The need to safeguard the software in cyberspace - sold by this or that firm - from pirating is necessitated in the first place by the fact that there is absolutely no way of having any marking of whatever number of bytes of information as “original”, other than in terms absolutely alien to the computer language, such as “copyright”, for instance. The time, money and integrity spent on copyright protection testifies to the fact that the maxim “information strives to be free” is not so much the motto of some “cyb.lib.” as is the correct statement of the real situation in cyberspace.
If we now reverse this train of thought and go backwards, then it becomes evident that its point of origin, software, possesses a striking peculiarity. It can be replicated, copied, “multiplied” ad infinitum, while never ceasing to be the same. It is not hard to guess that here we have a failure of the most fundamental law of apprehending the macroworld, the law of identity, according to which A is A, but not in any case B or C, etc. In other words, the rule postulated by Leibnitz’ monadism, in accordance with which the existence of two absolutely identical objects or events is not possible, is being disproved. This feature of softurare undoubtedly requires detailed explication in the appropriate theoretical context. Here it would be quite sufficient to limit the discussion to a mere statement of the fact of complete identity of the software to all its replicas and copies, which in its turn is a prerequisite of many of the specific features of the VR phenomena.
We can single out among them, for example a number of features of the so-called hypertext space. In the context of the above it appears superfluous to discuss in detail all the nuances and aspects of the authorship of the hypertext. It is becoming increasingly clear, that the authorship of the hypertext created in cyberreality may be ascribed to a certain collective multi-actor, the human personifications of whom may not be only multiple, but time-different. The structure of the hypertext, which is characterized by the lack of linear space-time development into once and for all given sequence as well as “jumps” between various terrains, and territories, which are texts proper, or fragments of them and the absence in it of both the beginning and the end due to the possibility of their permanent “moving back” or “forward”, or “suspending” both by “insetting” new terrains and territories, and due to the multi-media nature of the latter, and etc. etc., conjugated with VR technology is capable of generating unconventional innovative means of communication with the great mass of information accumulated within the framework of the “project of modernity”. The technology available today is only a step away from, for example, creating a simulacrum capable of simulating the process of writing by any, even almost illiterate user of the “Critique of Pure Reason” or “Idiot”, that is of any meaningful text stored in the annals of culture. No matter how unproductive the above example may seem, nevertheless, it clearly outlines the ability of cyberreality to freely and transversely conjugate the most heterogenious “layers” of the macroworld, different in level and time. The emerging prospect of digital, multimedia, versatilized archaeological reconstruction of both an individual fate of this or that human being and the fates of whole civilization projects such as the “project of modernity” may have as its consequence considerable modification of the former and the latter. In comparison with the well-known psyshoanalytical procedure of verbal reconstruction of a traumatized locus, when the very recollection of time-space coordinates have been ousted from the consciousness of the patient, multimedia reconstruction of an individual biography of man in cyberspace has the advantage of the opportunity of constructing a 3-D audio-visual replica of the traumatic event. The question of the degree to which in the philosophical sense the shift of accent from the conscious to the sensual can inact a therapeutic effect remains open to this day. However, the posing of this question as such already outlines the prospect of the altering of one of the most strategic values of modernistic world perception.
The point is that quite a common notion of a historic dimension of human existence, which is a unique property of the “project of modernity” is radically different from the notions formed in other civilization projects concerning the nature of the temporal regulation of human existence. The characteristic feature of the modern historical method consisting in the ability of narrative - historicized reconstruction of the lifetime of this or that individual - any given individual, or any given civilization project or thre entire process of evolution on the Earth - as an irreversible step by step climbing of the heirarchical ladder of sequences - was substantially modified at the turn of this century, in particular in Freud’s program of psychoanalytical correction of the already “closed”, at the time of the analysis, “circuit” of the events of this or that individual biography. And, if Freud’s hopes for a therapeutic effect of the procedure of assimilation by the consciousness of earlier ousted pathological drives were dashed, we can, nevertheless, state with assurance, that the psychoanalytical programme of versatilization of the irreversability of time sequence has found a most worthy sucsessor in computer processed VR technology.
Giving to these features the common denominator of which may be the above-mentioned non-differenciation in space or time of software “species” - in cyberreality any time sequence may be followed in any direction (from beginning to end, and from end to beginning), interrupted, changed, turned into a different sequence, wherever and whenever wanted, and finally infinitely began before its “beginning” and infinitely continued after its “end” (such a perspective is roughly realized, for example, in “Windows Tutorial”, designed and used for quite different purposes). These, though quite superficially stated peculiarities of computer microreplication of time sequence testify to the fact that strictly speaking a PC or VR technology user deals not with the time sequence once more duplicated in virtual reality, but with the simulacrum of such produced to please the “human, too human” perception patterns of the electronic equipment used. This simulacrum may have as its analogue, for example, the so much familiar to a modern man picture of the evolution of the Universe after “the protoexplosion” or “the act of creation”, the scientific or religious intelligibility of which cannot, however, be a proof of the fact that a man perceives the universe “as it is”, and not a “shoved in” simulacrum, nor is it a reputation of the fact that the universe evolutionary unfolding in time and space remains “folded” both in space and time, and the wrong side of the world has nothing in common with “the right side”. Whatever is the case, one thing is clear the simulative nature of the images that fill the screen of a most ordinary PC calls into question the non-simulative nature of reality that man takes so much for granted. What in the end should be considered simulacrum and non-simulacrum; simulated images of perceptively apprehended artifacts (for example text, graphic images of 3-D objects) produced by the PC or simulations of the processes of seeing and touching created by VR technology? If we grant the status of simulacrum only to the latter, then it could be that a computer turns out to be in a sense, “an archaeological machine”, that realizes in the course of its functioning those archaic-primordial layers of human experience in which - as far as Kant’s teaching of a thing-in-itself and Plato’s “myth of a cave” clearly evidence - the question of what is reality proper remains unresolved to this day.
Such questions which if not mind-boggling, then at least are capable of casting an ominent shadow on “bright as the day” clarity of the man’s common sense, stamped for the last four hundred years by the “project of modernity”, are indebted for its existence to the fact that the computer revolution is the next step on the way to the exteriorization of human mentality and corporeality, the first stage of which in the broad sense of the word may be considered the production of narrow reflexive representation of the psychosomatic of the mean - including the “narrow” of the text and the “mirror” of the pictorial and technological artefact. And if the preceding “narrow” step on that way is characterized by an accent on producing “prosthetic appliances” for this or that organ - including such prosthetic appliances as the whole human organism - the following step into “through the looking glass”, a “through the screen” artefact is characterized by the transfer of accent to the process of dynamics of the artefact production, where the static stability of the organ made is quite irrelevant, but of utmost importance is the dynamics of the “flowing” of all organs - prosthetic appliances into each other, just like the fluidity of mercury in the mercury amalgam covering the reverse side of the mirror, becomes a prerequisite of the possibility of its reflecting any objects.
In this connection, the metaphor of “rhizsome”, “the body without organs”, psychocorporeality, etc. which is worldly used in modern discourse, acquires perspective of virtual embodiment, that is the perspective of going beyond the “prenatal” state in “the womb” of the mirror of the text into the hyperreality of its “cyber - through the looking glass” and - “through the screen”. Exteriorized within the limits of the latter, the human psychosomatics, quite possibly begin to acquire features which up to now are qualified as clinically pathological (subhuman) or, alternative by, as “superhuman”. Thus, it is not out of the question that in virtual cyber-reality an encounter with one’s double, an event, that drove MR Golyadken out of his mind in Dostoevsky’s “Double”, may become quite a commonplace occurrence (that is with that face of mine, the look of which, as distinct from my own look that I never see reflected in the mirror, I as the took of any other person, see). It is also possible that aberrations of visual perception, such as the ones depicted by J.P Sartre in his novel “La nausйe” will become quite normal: “This is the reflection of my face. I do not understand any thing in that face. There is sense in the faces of other people. But not in mine. When I was little my aunt said to me: “If you look in the mirrow for a long time, you will see an ape. I must have looked into it for too long: what I see is much worse than an ape, it verges on the vegetable kingdom, the level of polyps. The eyes that are so close are particularly frightening. This is something glassy, blind, red- rimmed, just like fish scale...: I bring my face close to the mirror, so that I almost touch it. The eyes, nose and mouth disappear, there is nothing human left. ... this is a geological relief map. And despite all this, the lunar world is familiar to me. I cannot say that I recognize its parts. But on the whole it gives the impression of something already seen (by deja vu) that lulls me and I softly glide into sleep” 4. Finally, we can not rule out the possibility of which Brett Leonard made such an effective use in the ending of his “Lawnmower Man” and which was more correctly described by Herman Hesse sumultaneously as the death of the Chinese painter Wu Taotzu and the situation of his own virtual death: “Miraculous is the story of the death of the well-known Chinese painter Wu Taotzu: in the presence of his friends and spectators he draws a certain landscape, then he magically enters the picture drawn, and disappears in the cave that is depicted in it, and soon he is gone and the picture has disappeared together. (“Diary 1920/1922”) 5.
Considering the process of cyber-exteriorization of human mentality and corporeality in a more “down-to-earth” aspect, we may presume that in the end it may turn out to be a process, complimenting the quite natural now variants of “stretching out” (K. Svasca’s term) of a human being in toposes alien to him - e.g. in the topos of the text, in that of technological or intuetive artefact, in the topos of social communication. The tendenciy of further expansion of human “nature”, the inclusion into it of virtual reality has, however a peculiarity, which lies in the fact that as distinct from the preceding variants, it doesn’t constitute in reality the human “nature” “created” by somebody as “eternal”, but on the contrary, incorporates the process of its creation - i.e the process of infinite versatilization, virtual reality proper - as its integral component. The sequential transformation of the initial aims available here may be explicated through the example of the situation of passing from the operation “info” to that of “demo,” and further - to “perfo”. Thus, if in Norton Commander the option “info” provides the user with the aggregate information on, for example this or that number of files, the “demo” procedure denotes a different degree of user engagement in the information process. Here the user was not merely demonstrated this or that operation, but, first and foremost, he himself-performs it, though still under the guidance of the software, the integral part of which is the operation demonstrated by “demo”. The next step in this sequence would be some hypothetical “perfo”, during which a performative action, not limited already by any existing software, but constituting itself both into the new software and the cyberreality variant corresponding to it. Strictly speaking, something of the kind has been already done by American “hackers” (those, who single-handedly, as a hobby or professionally dismantle the software created by whole teams of programmers, in order to reassemble them, frequently without any material gain) as well as Japanese “OTAKU”. The only problem is which of the words denoting this type of action will remain in the rapidly developing cyberlanguage.
In the whole the process of transformation of “info” communicative strategy into a “perfo” - communicative one, is realized today both at the level of VR-technology and the hackers movement, marks quite a noteworthy general tendency of modern mentality, for which experimentation with the increasing number of virtually possible worlds, as well as the very process of constructing virtualities is becoming truly typical. The question of the extent to which the observable “shift” of the globally-strategic game-move inherited from the “project of modernity” is really innovative, and still remains open today. The only thing that can be stated with a considerable degree of certainty is the fact that from of the “project of modernity” the archetype of “homo sapiens”, sentenced to “solitary confinement” in his body nowadays becomes increasingly “fluid”, disseminated and versatile. Finally, he may turn into *. At any rate, today he has totally become ?.
1. Horkheimer M., Adorno Th.W. Exkurs 1: Odysseus oder Mythos und Aufklaerung. In: Dialektik der Aufklaerung. Fischer, Frankfurt a.M., 1991, p.50-87.
2. The Following comparision is cited, for example: If the car industry had been developing at such rate over the last 20 years, your car would be moving at 500,000 miles an hour, would use a gallon of gas for a million miles and cost only 1,000 dollars. Tr. E. Davis “Electrons or Protons?” Wired, premiere issue. 1993, p. 30.
3. Bruce Sterling. “War is Virtual Hell,” Wired, premiere issue. 1993. p. 46-51, 94-99.
4. Sartre Jean-Paul. La Nausйe. Paris, Gallimard. 1983, p.32-32.
5. Hesse Herman. Die Morgenlandfahrt. Gedichte. Maerchen. Kleine prosa. Moscow, Progress. 1981, p.393, 41-42.
In Russian: От перформативности к виртуальной реальности и Vice Versa
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