McKenzie Wark | Conceptual Art | Impaedia | Adam Cullen


Colin Hood

<< Love the notion of splitting the art - given one of the original objectives of internet delivery (in the case of a nuclear strike) to split a 'call' around damage to telecommunications ...but here the potential nukes are community standards, misreading of cause'n'effect, identity politics and 'other regarding' actions1 by regulators, classifers, not to mention the stop-word horrors of filtering softwares2. Lets run with this splitting thing and see where it takes us.>> CH
Lovely Love Thing
Once upon a time the spectator swooned to the deathly allure of the long shot. This was instanced, according to Pasolini (drawn to the cinematographic raptures of neo-realism), by an unforclosable gap in one camera's seizure of events in Dallas. Right now, the same 26 seconds of blurred super-8 is retailing to the american public in a padded out, digitally enhanced 40 minute 'documentary' on JFK's losing head.To the tabloid eye, an eroticised seeing towards death switches between a moment's hilarious violence in the land of funniest home videos, and the moral sense mayhem surrounding Robert (Dolly) Dunn's paedopholic escapades (and his 'unspeakable' collection of boy-love videos). Check out the perpetrator's scopophilic words video snap-frozen into a Sydney Morning Herald online beatup ...

"A: 'Wish I could get closer in'". urje

Uncanny thing: Dolly's spoken words dissolve and re-materialise, strapped across the young boys thighs in safety house yellow - making a mighty fine balance between image, typography and transferential eyerage.

Check it Out!

In the space/time of the web, the clicking-through of links to related nodes and alien sites initiates a link-tease, an attention span-challenged obscenography. Here 'everyman' skates, waits and penetrates - then rolls into the opening and closing of another session text.3

It was early - in the love shack of super eight, and later - the line-ball gender games (developed in the mix of VNS Matrix) that Francesa da Rimini began unbinding the action/identity codes of restricted exchange. While the VNS work emphasised the re-gendering and gender morphing potential of cyberspace and multimedia, da Rimini was also keen to explore the possibilities of distributed virtual sex.

Experiments in MUDs and Lambdamoo began in 1994, helped along by Sandy Stone's belief that fictional personae, virtual bodies and plastic or fluid narrative could be further developed and metamorphosed in cyberspace utilising infinite access points and multiple platform/stage variations. 4

While attracted to the prose styles of Dennis Cooper and Brett Easton Ellis, da Rimini's own writing is fairly lean in its 'brutish' aesthetic. Most of her fictions and hypermedia poems are fetchingly decomposed in form and feeling tone. Personae are declined in much the same way as Barthes described Bataille's objects, " recited like flexional forms of the one word; revealed like states of the one identity; offered like propositions none of which can hold more meaning than another..."5

These pieces produce a splitting of the subject, the mise-en-circulation of characters into the breach of a networked, hyperlinked fantasy space. We encounter the 'paradoxical logic of desire' which abolishes the distance between real and imagined, free and paid for, 'his' and 'her' cogitos 'n'choras.6

There is no such thing as onanistic compromise in the spidering, flesh-feeling circuitry of DollWeb...a highly synergised reading until death in splintered episodes of expanded, 'deviant' domestic bliss.7

Go the Dolls8!

Doll is the infinite spaciousness of zero, haunted by deep doll hunger and the impossible.

whispering: all history is pornography9

whispering: trust no-one

whispering: to kill is to forget

whispering: a ghost never tires

whispering: a doll is forever

Dollspace is a web environment, a labyrinth for doll and her orphan words to haunt. Slowly it is shape shifting into a new work,'a smear of roses.' As dollspace was being created, Ricardo Dominguez, a Zapatista in New York, constructed a series of online hauntologies,10 making connections to political spectres of resistance within and without Mexico. Michael Grimm produced the soundrack for an 'empty dollspace'.

Extracts and compilations from an email interview
Part One: Eros, Calculation, Dispersion

CH: thanks for sending some of those early stories (i've dumped them in my special folder to print out for bed time reading) - so what was happening with those lambdamoo dialogues? They seem a bit calculating, algebraic and combinatory in the Sadean tradition?

FDR: but for me they are equally collaborative in a fluid kind of way ......with my adventures online, both at lambdamoo and within the spaces of email and web environments, i try and set up a basic architecture and tone ...

I've been thinking about how one of the things i really enjoyed about my life as a sad internet loser when i was fully into lambdamoo, was that it got people creating their own pornography, totally customized to individual fantasies..completely bypassing the porn production/sexploitation industry .. no capital involved, only capital of the imagination and time, perfect for artists on the dole living in adelaide... anyway, i hada lot of fun for a couple of years, and it was fascinating learning about peoples secret inner lives ...

Part Two: Pedagogical Eros

FDR: I used to teach primary school..for one year i had a student who was utterly beautiful to look at, and always very naughty..the delinquent..he was 7 ..10 years later we ran into each other at the local pool and began a strange kind of fling, the first time we fucked it was too weird cos his 7 year old face kinda came out of his teenage face ...

... i gave him my old peugot 504 which he swapped for a bike. I haven't seen him around for ages. Hope he hasn't killed himself on the bike, he likes to drive so fast.

CH (replies with a web byte on virtual missing kids) "I can imagine disputes between a police computer artist and the aggrieved parent: "Don't mix my pretty child's picture with the face of that scum bag my ex, use my favorite uncle Ralph instead," until acquiescing in the name of science. The haunting, dubiously-extant faces are schoolyard simulacra, like the imaginary child of the alcoholic, unhappy, unfaithful academic couple George and Martha in Edward Albee's play Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf."11

FDR: missing kids cool words, somehow linked to the harwood stuff about people giving over their skin when they enter national heritage12, being coded as someone else sees fit.


Part Three: Censorship - The Grand Detour

CH: I'm reminded of Christo's assertion about his numerous wrapping works - that it wasn't a question of art so much - that the work was mostly about overcoming resistance from authorities and our monumental civic art fathers. Is there is a similar dimension to your work?

FDR: A Smear Of Roses13 will be available pretty much at no cost. I like the idea of the net as a 'gift economy'14 ... like the idea of art and stuff trading freely. 

Thing is - my work contains textual and visual material which may contravene pornography laws in some countries. It is important to me that the service providers are familiar with my work, and prepared to defend it if necessary! This is why i choose to put the work on artist-run servers who are pro free speech in the states and here in australia .. i have no idea of the laws regarding pornography and the internet in Basel, but it is worth considering.

Him (the man from Basel):

Dear Francesca,

Thank you for the informations below.

This makes me feel honest for your work.

I will make the issue discusable with

our lawyers and the local art councils

and art critics (all female except the lawyers)

and let you know.

From the architectural point of view

there is no problem spliting your digital art

work among several sites

work among several sites

on different continents

in different countries

with different laws

and different moral background

and different abiltities

to understand art

and the market within15

CH: speaking of difference, I'm thinking of the one between classification and association ... Classification (be it of films, computer games, or in the realms of education - k-12 and beyond - fixing age categories to curricular regimes in a neat year by year graduated process). Actions and scenarios of associative - and dissasociated - media (hypertext and hypermedia being good examples) may lead us from cradle to grave, from sacred to totally wicked, from smart to dumb - in one 'foul' deviation, one stray creep of the imagination, one click on a (tender button) hyperlink too far or too close for comfort.

For The Future Homeless Pages

FDR: The second work out of which a Smear of Roses will flourish is FleshMeat, a multiple authored novella inspired by my immersion within two internet environments: firstly, the virtual community LambdaMOO, and secondly, the textual field of an email effair with an e/male.

GashGirl provides the impetus, framework and stylistic ambience, and her partners contribute their ideas and words. These contributions have been made in the full understanding that such encounters will be reworked fictionally and potentially, published in hardspace and netspace.


1"[John Stuart Mill's] name will continue to be invoked in connection with the ideal of freedom of thought and expression, and deservedly so. And 'Citizens of the Net' are usually at the forefront of that invocation" commments former ABA Chairman, Peter Webb [in a paper originally published and later culled from the ABA's website]. This is the freedom of the self-aggrandised individual to police and patrol the perimeters of community standard censorship while the rest of us are sleeping. A paternalistic largesse leads inevitably to the closing down of public resources and road trials for both irrational experiments in media micro-politics and the fragile machineries of mnemonic and axiological dislocation."I can't sleep, can you?" Return

2 For an excellent account on the root causes of improper blocking, go to this page of the relentless censorware project).Return

3 J Yellowlees Douglas, "Where the Senses Become a Stage and Reading is Direction: Performing the Texts of Virtual Reality and Interactive Fiction," Drama Review, 37/4, 1993.Return

4 Sandy Stone's home page Return

5 Roland Barthes, "The Metaphor of the Eye," George Bataille, The Story of the Eye (with essays by Susan Sontag and Roland Barthes).London: Marion Boyars, 1979, pp 120-121. Return

6 Slavoj Zizek,"I or He or It (The Thing) Which Thinks," Tarrying With The Negative: Kant, Hegel, and the Critique of Ideology. Durham: Duke University Press, 1993, pp 9-45. Return

7 I'm thinking now of Genet's Our Lady of the Flowers - the way nicknames, proper names, made up words - interlace, slide into and across each other - the unresolved oscillation between names and objects, enclosed and centrifugal sexual action. Return

8 start here for best introduction to doll personae. Return

9 Jonathon Dollimore, "Towards the Parodoxical Perverse and the Perverse Dynamic." Sexual Dissidence: Augustine to Wilde, Freud to Foucault. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991, pp 104-130. Return

10 Hauntologies begins Return

11 [extract from] Mike Mosher, "Virtual Missing Children,"Bad Subjects,#38, 1998 Return

12 Reference to the National Heritage project (Graham Harwood and the Mongrel Collective). Harwood explains: "Mongrel will reproduce its own version of this process as an *entrance fee* to the installation. Users will be confronted by an electronic gate that demands a portrait image in order to enter the space. In agreeing to this, the user hands over control of their self-image and contractually commits to their skin being used by us in whatever manner we see fit." Interview with Graham Harwood at geekgirl Return

13 A Smear of Roses (the title comes from de Sade's Philosophie dans le Boudoir) is an interactive hypertextual fiction distributed on the internet. Photographic stills, video grabs, whispering sound bites'illuminate' a hypertext which is alternately epistolatory, confessional, The project is funded through the New Media Fund of the Australia Council. Return

14 "The gift is not an end in itself. It is vehicular, a means to establish the most flexible global market [it does not merely negate a scarcity-driven apparatus]. The internet offers one possibility of achieving that [as part of a plural economy combining monetary and non-monetary exchanges through a non-binary protocol]." Hubert Hudoy's, "M.A.U.S.S., the economy of the gift." Réseau d'Activitiés à Distance.start Return

15 The nice man from Basel lives here Return