scopic regimes of uncertainty
“For the price of five reales, people could look into the telescope and see the gypsy woman an arm’s length away. ‘Science has eliminated distance,’ Melquíades proclaimed. ‘In a short time, man will be able to see what is happening in any place in the world without leaving his own house.’”
A work of art, the process of art, is typically completed by the spectator and ends with the creative act of looking [M.Duchamp]. The alan∂ experience, conversely, begins with the act of looking, but not always your own. Pictures look at pictures, in apparent solipsistic perpetuity [∞].
alan∂ is ‘a land’, an any-place-whatever [LaJetée], a shared convertible ‘youniversal’ mind map inspired by a lost convivial place, Al-Andalus [711-1492]. Or, alan∂ is ‘a-land’, ‘un-land, away from, off the land’, toponymically, as for the real Åland Islands, ‘perch land’, a ‘land of water’. Either way, alan∂ appears to possess the psychogeological character of a desert island “separated from a continent, born of disarticulation, erosion, fracture… imaginary and not actual, mythological and not geographical… a second original” [G.Deleuze] akin to the unforgettable desert island set in one of three key narrative roots nurturing alan∂, that is, the philosophical romance “Alive, Son of Awake” by the 11th Century Islamic polymath Muhammad Ibn Tufail [b.Guadix]. The other two literary channels that script pictures [code-images] on both motley and modular matrices of alan∂ screens are “The Guide for the Perplexed” by the 11th Century Jewish physician and philosopher Moses Maimonides [b.Córdoba] and “Selected Poems” most notably the “Poem of the Cante Jondo”, “Songs”, “Gypsy Ballads”, “Earth and Moon” and “The Taramit Divan” by the 20th Century dramatist and poet murdered by fascists as the Spanish Civil War opened, Federico García Lorca [b.FuenteVaqueros].
“When this Image in Man prevails to a degree that all others are nothing, it remains alone to consume with the glory of its Light whatever stands in its way. Then it is properly compared to those Looking Glasses that reflect Light upon themselves and burn everything else.”
Open source conversation simulator code [MegaHal] draws cyberdadaistically on alan∂’s literary, philosophical personalities [UbuRoi]. The loquacious Andalusian mindsets of F.G.Lorca, M.Maimonides and M.I.Tufail take on this way their playful roles as pataphysical synthespians [Bots] on a trio of two dozen flatscreens and scores more miniscreens in the alan∂ installation [Seville], while scrolling like an overly garrulous film script on the alan∂ chat feed [http://roundearth.zkm.de/aland]. Federico, Moses and Muhammad’s singularly nonsensical subtitles at times paint pictures with words, sound out surprising insights and obsessively search picture equivalents from online user-generated sources [flickr] for any special words they utter or mutter. To turn this initial ocularcentric algorithm inside-out, a dozen screen memories present more ocularly eccentric picture content [python] when flickr pictures found are not displayed but instead act as a template, a sort of tinted shadow, on the lookout for visually similar amateur pictures [imgSeek] culled from popular cyber-Andalusian sites [Web2.0]. Loosely matching hue and pattern-sensitive picture sets return as a second origin, substitute their flickr template and dis-play [ffmpeg]. The image seeking code meanders over clumsy clusters of stills and stacks of video images alike, calculating with clairvoyant imperfection to give supermodern surveillance the slip. Post-documentary matrices made up of Andalusian moments and partial lives on the screen [S.Turkle] extend the musical Moorish mathematical beauty onto new 21st Century time-based hypermosaic matrices of shining haptic multi-screens dazzling each other and us hopefully with abstract informatics that interpret alan∂ simulated dialogue such as these lines sampled from code rehearsal in the alan∂ lab.
BotLorca: To the south of my eyes I saw her hands.
BotTufail: Time was one of them to eat.
BotMaimonides: This is taken from the time of the sense of touch.
Such synthespian ’stanzas’ get emailed up in real time to a multi-user 3D virtual environment, constructing ascii architectural events in and around which visiting avatars are free to do and built their own things [SecondLife].
alan∂ participates with the public as well. Your digital picture looks for pictures and interrupts the bots mid-sentence to capture for more than 15 seconds a cluster of screen memories. The public may mash up alan∂ media equally, either at the push of a big red button on the edge of the installation; Or, anyone, anywhere, anytime, attach your picture and send your email using a cellphone or the web to firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit http://roundearth.zkm.de/aland and watch relative visual aesthetics at work generating your post-cinematic scene for Al-Andalus II.
alan∂ conducts a critical inspection of shared swarming online picture content gatherings [p2p], scopes out facets of contemporary vision and visuality [H.Foster], such as translocal ‘techniques of observation’ [J.Crary], coincidental computer image recognition [imgSeek], cultural myopia or the blindness of intolerance [E.Said] and autopoietic imageability [Maturana/Varela] of abstract informatics.
“Television kills telephony in brothers’ broil. Our eyes demand their turn. Let them be seen!”
The alan∂ installation is populated by the base pair of scopic species – screens and scopes – complimentary, that is, opposite and identical. 24 recycled flatscreens and 300 mini OLED displays reflect and feed 18 sensitive sculpted scopes. alan∂ appears to be populated by a tribe of cyborg Cyclops, some perched and others standing guard, metal modded monoculars looking this way, cam-adapted spotting scopes normally used for birdwatching looking that, and telescope-webcam hybrids for the Modernity-impaired directing their blank gaze at light-emitting picture planes through single spyglass eyes. They magnify all before them, ingesting the visible space in their line of sight, sucking space out of the space so to speak, and with it, turbulently, bits and pieces of any screen picture the specter of their 2D gaze may land upon. Trained in the alan∂ lab, these seeing things carve coincidental close-ups out of the social cartographic space that depicts contemporary Andalusia [Fotolog/Hi5/Picasa] and feed that back with the admonisher that Modernism’s moniker is stalking new media, the eye is an isolating device, its focussing begets estrangement, and that as captivating as pictures can be, imageability feeds isolation and that isolation feeds the desire for more pictures [R.Sennett]. Minimalism shows that any picture is potent enough to empty out the world rather than fill it. Every picture remains a blank surface, surface alone, surface enough to see that when media meets art it looks like a scopic regime of uncertainty.
As post-montage or hyper-cinema, alan∂ screen arrays see that strictly scopic coincidence is masked by apparent ocular accident [P.Virilio]. This miraculously gestural, painterly visual senselessness disguises alan∂’s presence in a media milieu that is generally appealing to picture poets pitched against an awry artificial evolution in representational technology circles. The alan∂er participatory pas de deux of tele-scopes and tele-screens could only be chôrography [G.Ulmer] by subscribing to the contemporary creole of network culture, code [OpenSource] serving up incessantly and consistently meaningfully achronic crystal-images [TCP-IP] recursively distilled from its current environment, the code-image.
Compiled by Philip Pocock.