Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Filmed in Super-Marionation

For a while now I’ve been thinking about mediation - the way in which media per se, channel the details of the ‘real’ to the observer. Any medium, in representing the real, either in an indexing mode such as with photography, where each element of the real is sought to be represented as far as possible by elements within the medium (therefore an ‘index’ of the real) or in abstract terms, as with non-representational painting, where something of the original is sought to have been represented by some aspect of the medium (a swirl of paint takes on the meaning of the artists response to something in the world for instance). One potential mesh of these two ways of mediating something is via haiku. Each poem being a snapshot of the world replete with meaning. Another meshing form is photography. Photographs do not simply index the world, they also arouse some feeling about the world that accompanies the recording of the details of the world. Haiku is an early form of photography. This mix of the two is a primary element in the description of the idea of mediation and how mediation operates.

If we can know the epistemology of mediation, we can begin to better know our own ontology.

Each of these ways of presenting the world to ourselves, (invoking Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle once more), changes it. To observe is to alter. To represent is to alter. My study of resolution and the representation of detail, in itself is an enquiry into the effect of raising the bar of the electronic representation via data flow, to see if there’s a moment where the real and its representation merge. Also, I want to know if this is a beneficial merging and not a mesmeric or physiological effect. I suppose I just want us to be more than apes in an ape state in an ape world.

I’ve also been thinking on ‘remediation’, a term which seems to talk about the affects on a new medium of those practitioners and theorists who’s thinking resides within the realm of a prior medium. The common example is that of photography having had to deal with the last gasps of the realist movement within painting - so early photographic subject matter dealt with a very still image (also materially it had cause to because of the long exposure times to bring an image into realisation). There was, in effect, an attempt to make early photography adopt the rules of still lives, until photography developed sufficiently to show that it was more than a form of painting. Latterly, having dwelt with what photography now is for some while we are at a stage of articulation with it where it is more again than our descriptions - especially since it has changed once more through the ubiquitous access given it by the digital realm. The making of still images has transformed its means of production and also what it is that is produced. The mage is no longer a photograph - the language itself is surpassed because meta understandings have accumulated through the act of the digital. A photograph or photography per se, can now be achieved within the digital - as so much else from so many disciplines can. The digital offers the manipulation envisioned by Hesse in his Glass Bead Game. But Hesse was wrong in thinking that it would be the province of the chosen (albeit self-chosen as in monks and monasteries). Instead the means of unifying art, the great unifying and current principle, is via the digital and available to the masses first and foremost - the lumpen proletariat.

I like calling it the digital as opposed to saying via digital means or however else one could describe this, because I believe that ‘the digital’ is something we cannot yet see because our eyes are closed to what it is - because it is new.

To come to what it might actually be we have to go further back and one can see that any inscription or ‘image’ on a cave wall was predecessor to articulate acts within painting, printing, photography, radio and thornily, digitality. ‘Thornily’ because the debate is on whether or not ‘the digital’ is a medium. Lots of inverted comas because everything is up for grabs - redefinitions abounding with each throw of the dice.

To take this even further, I have been thinking about the concept of the ‘paradigm change’. In the ’60’s this concept was restricted to ideas within language but it was so useful a concept that it spread to science. The central notion is that a paradigm is similar to a wave: that the wave contains a set of ideas that amount to the paradigm, wave-like in its operation. Paradigm’s can be long (the whole christian idea) or short (the notion of a paradigm itself is only 50 years old). I like the idea of a paradigm, it explains a lot about the way that human’s seem to be and why they do what they do. Often they are functioning within the zeitgeist (if the paradigm is long then the eddies and currents of the zeitgeist change many times within a paradigm). The Christian Paradigm has many changes in zeitgeist - the inquisition was one example, Luther’s revolution was another. But the Christian paradigm can exist within a larger paradigm, maybe one that has existed for around 8000 years - or more. The notion of organised religion is an example of a large scale paradigm. The mystics amongst us claim yet another, larger one - the 26000 year astronomical period that contains the whole of the notion of the zodiac. But this too is small in relation to the 2 million year notion of regular glacial changes. The biggest set of paradigms (and currently the dominant beginning narrative is one that seeks to extend itself back through time to a point where the beginning of things is encompassed within the paradigm) is the notion of the 14 billion year existence of the earth with its twinned concept of the 15 billion year existence of the whole of the universe. There are lots of creation accounts, probably the most familiar within this Judeo-Christian mindset, and ancestor of the big bang notion, is that of the mind of god moving across the deep and declaring the intense and productive wish that there is light in what is presumed to come before light itself - the dark.

I was reading of the collision of two groups of galaxies - that’s the notion of a local gravitational clumping of galaxies (star farms clumped together in the larger idea of a galaxy, further clumped together as a whole group of galaxies). Take that notion and collide it with another one just the same. God-zillions of stars passing by and in some cases through each-other and colliding, producing something we cannot imagine.

But in universal terms this is still small beer. And thinking of small - the Higgs Boson may make an appearance this year. A currently imaginary small particle that verges on the characteristics of just being energy. I’ve been accused of harboring Buddhist ideas recently - if only it were that simple. Of course the phenomenon of all materiality is simply energy when you enquire really closely - Of course, how could it be any other way?

I don’t hold with the notion of the big bang either. I think it’s just local phenomena. Last year a scientist proposed that all particles are either finite or infinite universes (yes, every particle). It fits better with Fred Hoyle's notion of a universe without end - that is my intuitive affiliation anyway). Einstein was keen to have an end to things - albeit in a curve - because it worked for his maths. I’m more with Blake and the old bible prophets who said: you really have no idea just how big this all is. It’s as big as the biggest thing you can imagine - and then so much more - in fact, take the first idea and multiply it a few zillion times...

And so on and so forth.

Stepping back, I’m interested in the notion of re-paradigmation. How when a new paradigm appears we look at it with eyes that are adjusted to the old paradigm and then we initially see its affects in terms of the old paradigm. And this is just what we’re doing with the idea of the digital - we’re seeing it as having a Newtonian function - or at best an Einsteinian function. But of course digitality is a word that comes out of the past: it refers to the digit, the finger.

We are a myth making species.

The trouble with always writing the narrative is that everything becomes relative. We continually construct and renew meaning in our stories to ourselves. We dynamically create the wave in the group mind that swells and comes crashing into our overt consciousness when there is sufficient energy in the wave. Maybe the only way to deal with this process is to imagine stories about how things are, about what on earth matters, what is real for a while, then strike out into open water when the new paradigm forms and creates something worth heading toward. And so we swim, we tree dwellers.

In this mix, art is to be made because it informs us of what is to come. We speak out, to ourselves, something about the world that was before unspoken. It interest me that in terms of mediation, or remediation, its root idea comes from the word remedy: to heal - but more of that later. And lastly, the title of this entry relates the understanding that Thunderbirds was always shot in 'Super-Marionation'. Of course, Super-Marionation does not and never did exist. It means big puppets. Is re-paradigmation a form of big puppetry, (sent by Jung's idea of the Oversoul, that species soul, the species unconscious responsible for movements in the zeitgeist) to encourage us towards new accomplishments?