Tuesday 15 February 2011

Notes after meeting with Sarah today, re viva:

Viva notes Sarah asked some very good questions, so I'm really grateful to have time to think carefully about my responses..

The main focus of work – subjectivity and representation and the acquisition of knowledge (epistemology)

when making software agents, I also needed to understand agency.

These themes emerged as they are linked to core problems in artificial intelligence – state clearly what those problems are -

what is propositional knowledge, what is symbolic representation – how else do we humans

know things? Tell this as a story that relates to my practice – how did I identify these themes?

How did my practice develop in relation to these themes?

Why connect artists's books and narrative? This is not a link that all book artists would make, we might think at first, but the focus of book art is to use the book as a medium the way other artists might use paint, and also to interrogate the book form, this often encompasses an exploration of the meaning and form of narrative, whether it is Sol LeWitt's algorithmic books, some artists also refer to themselves as narrative artists, but I not much of their work is unswervingly orthodox, and rooted in the auratic domain of the art object. William Blake is perhaps the best known book artist, although Drucker et al define book artists as essentially a late twentieth century phenomenon (60's onwards) . The Livre d'Artiste commmisioned by Anbroise Vollard from Bonnard etc were also illustrative , such as the loosely narrative pornographic poems of Paul Verlaine's , Parallèlement, 1900

But if I can return to Sol Lewitt and also Dieter Roth (daily mirror book 1961) and Ed Ruscha 26 gasoline stations (1963) we see a concern with seriality and sequence provided by the turning of pages -

'Roth's distinctive contribution to the emergent genre was his examination, through his bookworks, of the formal qualities of books themselves. These formal qualities such as flat pages, bound into fixed sequences were deconstructed and investigated, for instance in 2 BilderbĂĽcher (1957) which comprised 2 picture books of geometric shapes, with die-cut holes cut into each page to allow glimpses of patterns from the pages beneath. Structural investigations such as these became the subject matter of the book itself.'

Many artists have taken up the challenge to experiment with the content and physical structure of the traditional book form.

(Tate Modern site tp://www.vam.ac.uk/collections/prints_books/features/artists_books/definitions/index.html.)

also Guy Debord and Asger John making artsist books of found narraitives – narrative derives from

news papers, eg Memoires (1959)

unreadable books such as Dieter Roth's Literature Saussage (a pulped book sausage) Literaturwurst 1961 – 1974

Legendary, Lexical, Loquacious Love by Eve Rhymer (Karen Reimer), 1996, an alphabetical re-ordering of the text in a romance novel

More explicitly, as identified by Katherine Hayles in Writing Machines, such books as House of Leaves , and Tom Phillip's A Humument, 'Hayles examines the ways in which literary texts in every genre and period mutate

Hayles explores works that focus on the very inscription technologies that produce them, examining three writing machines in depth: Talan Memmott's groundbreaking electronic work Lexia to Perplexia, Mark Z. Danielewski's cult postprint novel House of Leaves, and Tom Phillips's artist's book A Humument.

A Treated Victorian Novel. 'One day, Phillips went to a bookseller's with the express intention of buying a cheap book to use as the basis of an art project. He randomly purchased a novel called A Human Document by Victorian author William Hurrell Mallock, and began a long project of creating art from its pages. He paints, collages or draws over the pages, leaving some of the text peeking through in serpentine bubble shapes, creating a "found" text with its own story, different from the original.' (wikipedia/) explicit playfulness with narrative and the book form.

Hayles concludes by speculating on how technotexts
affect the development of contemporary subjectivity.

"Writing Machines is a major addition to the scholarship on hypertext and, in general, on the relation of technology to literature. As this volume so clearly demonstrates, Hayles is a subtle reader of texts, a knowledgeable critic of new technology, and a fine theorist of culture... I am certain readers of Writing Machines will place it near the top of their list of books on hypertext."
--Mark Poster, University of California, Irvine


notes – further Suchman, Braidotti,

where have I not succeeded? South requires intensive involvement, its fragmentation may also be problematic (like much digital fiction) though I see this as a necessary quality may annoy some, as might the intrusion of the software – this came out in the evaluations, also there are techniocal problems – the small screen requires small computational input, but I think this constraint may be beneficial, I am not averse to Twitter's constraints. I would now write the sofwtare for Mobile phones. I would make a device myself, I now have the the skill, with a voice and bio sensors, I would use technology for more deeply embodied interaction – eeg and GSR, as I have now done for new projects.

The basic problem of representation is not fully resolved in this project, but I have been able now to move forward with works that have sprung from this, involving bio sensors, motion capture and physical computing. There are still hard coded rules in the system, but I think the hackablity of the code goes some way to opening up the issue of representation.

Why do I say the digital can 'enliven' ?? I argue book art is in danger, as Lucy Lippard has also noted, of reverting to the rarefied and antiquated Livre d'artiste, instead of the medium that interrogated the meaning and form of books- it must address the digital if it wants to remain current, and vital. Encompassing the digital and save it from fetishistic and anachronistic, auratic craft objects. I am not against craft at all, but I am against stasis and stagnation in art form particularly an art form that has as rich and radical a history as book art.

Explain situatedness – Suchman, sailors, Brooks, etc reread Haraway.

Need for a sucessor science, realist, relational, not a god trick or a view from nowhere.

Site specificity and situatedness.

What are my agendas? If I have them they emerged from practice and research. Alternatives to rigid a priori structures that lead to an impasse in AI, and disembodied models of knowledge.

What does the digital add to books? Potentially - dynamism, learning, mutability, adaptation, intersubjectivity, multi-media, growth, sensitivity, knowledge of situations and sites and subjects.


Lemurs and storytelling

K Dautenhahn


non-human primates do have symbolic representations and K Dautenhahn sees human primate storytelling as evolving from intersubjective expression of knowledge about family members, primates do remember reationships among groups, and do exhibit evidence of referring to a past - a proto-storytelling behaviour.

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