Ubimage (Graduate Seminar: 2013)
Digital English (ENC 6428), Spring 2013: Ubiquitous Imaging (Ubimage).
This seminar uses the methodologies of grammatology and heuretics to develop a practice for electracy (the digital apparatus). The practice is designed for work with the EmerAgency, a virtual consultancy, taking up a specific project in progress, produced by the Florida Research Ensemble. The FRE created an interactive installation --"Murphy's Well-Being" (MWB), 2012-- for an exhibition addressing the Cabot/Koppers Superfund site in Gainesville, Florida. MWB is an experiment testing the genre of konsult, designed to deliver Arts & Letters knowledge and practice of well-being to policy-formation controversies in the public sphere. One premise of apparatus theory is that an apparatus includes not only communications technology, but also the invention of authoring practices within new institutional support, and native identity experience and behavior of individuals and communities. The technology assumed for the present experiment is that of ubiquitous computing (mobile locative media). We are not concerned directly with this equipment, but assume the vision of technics on a trajectory of innovation of which the current figure is "google glasses": the prospect of a physical and cultural environment in which there is a convergence and synchronicity of total real-time information (Internet) with the present lifeworld (Lebenswelt). This convergence exists first as a juxtaposition or superimposition, with a host of emerging practices attempting a suture. Apparatus history shows that the invention of authoring skills has its own sources apart from the evolution of technics. Ubimage draws upon an Arts & Letters history to design and test a practice for intelligent mobility.
The convergence of Internet and lifeworld to create a surround of information (extending the saturation of the lifeworld with spoken and written language) creates a need and opportunity to develop a contemporary version of the microcosm-macrocosm correspondences enjoyed by premodern civilizations. The systems of correspondences that oriented individuals to the ethos and habitus of the society and to nature were destroyed by modernity (scientific industrialized utilitarian society). The program for a new "correspondence" (Baudelaire's "forest of symbols") concerns the functionality modeled in premodern oracles such as Tarot or the I Ching, if not the cultural content of those systems. Oracle "games" allow individuals to author epiphanies, and the epiphany form survived in modernst poetry and art in the absence of the system that supplied data from the wisdom traditions in support of practical reason (decision procedures). The experiment undertaken in ubimage is to design and test a contemporary practice of correspondences, constructing a system of macro-micro-cosm for an electrate wisdom. Ubimage is a practice of "macroimaging" (arts equivalent of macroeconomics, each dealing with the dynamics of information circulation).
One purpose of the seminar is to gain some experience with heuretics, the logic of invention. Electracy, like literacy before it, is invented (not generated in some deterministic unfolding of entailments). Ubimage does not pretend to create an electrate decision tradition of well-being all at once, any more than researchers in other disciplines "cure cancer" (for example) with one experiment. Rather, the seminar sets up one experiment, applying the CATTt generator, to undertake one version of a possible practice for a konsult, whose results may then be looped recursively into further experiments. There are many resources to choose from for ubimage, and part of the discipline of heuretics is to commit to a specific set of materials, and confine the project to those resources for the duration of the experiment. The CATTt proposed for this seminar is the following (entries identify resource category + specific text; number indicates order in which the text appears in the assignment sequence. Texts subject to change):
Contrast: I.2--Tourism (Universal Experience: Art, Life, and the Tourist's Eye, Curated by Francesco Bonami et. al.).
Analogy: II.1--Art (Robert Smithson: Learning from New Jersey and Elsewhere, by Ann Reynolds).
Theory: I.1--Poststructuralist philosophy (Avatar Emergency, by Gregory Ulmer).
Target: II.2--History (A Natural History of the Senses, by Diane Ackerman).
tale: I.3--Divination (The Complete Illustrated Guide to Tarot, by Rachel Pollack).
The assignment builds upon FRE experience with the institution of theoria, as practiced in the ancient world--a combination of tourism and theory (see Miami Virtue). The most famous example of theoria is the visit of the three Wise Men to the manger in Bethlehem, to determine the truth of the rumors that a new king was born. A theoros (member of a theoria) is sage, someone like Solon for the Classical Greeks, a person trusted by the community, sent as investigative journalists to sort out fact from fiction in the information flow of a community. Theoria is associated with tourism in that part of the inquiry involved consulting with locals who served as guides to all the shrines, sites, and important personages of the area. The purpose of ubimage is to open a new dimension of consulting, triangulating between the present institution of tourism (a vital contemporary vernacular behavior, largest single industry in the world), and the historical practice of tarot (a mapping of the universal journey through life for premodern people). Both tourism and tarot are treated as positive resources for inventing ubimage functionality. Tarot is especially misunderstood, due to its caricature survivals in New Age and self-help contexts. These popular and vernacular practices, of course, are an advantage in that they provide a background familiarity with a potential discourse of well-being. Greek philosophy was not invented from scratch, but was generated in the Academy as a syncretism and refinement of cultural features of the contemporary society. It is important to remember that tarot is created in Renaissance Italy and is a popular expression of the same forces shaping the work of the Neoplatonic Academy in Florence. It acquired much of its hermetic aspects in the same environment nurturing the birth of the avant-garde arts in Paris in the nineteenth century, and its best (unintentional) commentator bringing it most fully into contact with contemporary thought is Sigmund Freud. Psychoanalysis, in its cultural productivity, is divination (that dare not speak its name). EmerAgency consulting experiments with electrate theoria.