mercoledì 23 ottobre 2013

Andrew Goodman: A thousand tiny interfac(ing)s: fertile acts of resistance @

A thousand tiny
interfac(ing)s: fertile acts of

Andrew Goodman
Monash University Department of Fine Art, Melbourne, AUS. <>

Abstract: This paper examines the process of interfacing between organic and technical objects and how this might be utilized as a tactic to promote invention within new media art events. Raphael Lozano-Hemmer’s Relational Architecture is examined in relation to concepts of parasitic action and folding to show how the work develops a complex ecology of relation through interfacing.

1. Introduction

These spaces between are more complicated than one might think...less a juncture under control than an adventure to be had. Michel Serres [1]

Philosopher Brian Massumi has argued that the interface is an unsustainable concept within a process-centered world. As a ‘privileged site of mediation’ within a system, he argues, [2] the idea of the interface as a prime site of creativity and interaction denies what in process philosophy might be seen as the relational nature of all entities. Massumi’s philosophical stance emphasizes the ‘primacy of processes of becoming over the states of being through which they pass’ [3], that is, the fact that any entities that are interfacing with each other are themselves composed of relations. As such, discrete interfaces are problematic in that they might be seen to imply a world inhabited by ideal, internally stable objects, between which interactions occur. The interface’s role, in such modes of thinking, is to rejoin entities that are by implication discrete, and the complexity of continued unfolding and relation to the dynamic virtual or potential is then greatly diminished.
There is indeed much to be critical of in the privileging of the interface. As Massumi notes, it can promote a naïve excitement in ‘the joy of connection’ and undifferentiated flows of information, an unquestioning, utopian promotion of ‘interface, for interfaces’ sake’ [4], that fits in perfectly with Capitalist models of circulation and surplus-value [5]. To this one might add the cybernetic conflation of biological and technical of which Simondon is so dismissive [6], which Massumi describes as the ‘industry philosophy’ [7]. This extension of the ‘prosthetic function’ of the interface, is utilized as a method of controlling, ‘a relay point in the dissemination of human ordering activity into space...transform[ing it] into a realm of expansion onto which the human projects itself’, with real difference erased as the body ‘disappears behind a techno-logical shield’ [8]. This subjectification of the technical object, Munster has pointedly termed ‘interfaciality’, a codification as face to face, rather than body to machine relation [9].
Nevertheless, the primary sticking point for any level of discussion of the interface within process philosophy remains that its distinctive identity relies on it being a privileged site of interaction within an otherwise inert representational system. In this paper I want to attempt to show some ways in which one might think through the process of interfacing as a creative force within an art event without succumbing to the type of static, representational models of which Massumi is justifiably critical.
To do this I am going to examine a particular incidence of interfacing that occurred in Raphael Lozano-Hemmer’ s work Re:Positioning Fear: Relational Architecture 3, (1997), in order to consider ways in which some unplanned interfacings between a public and the technical assemblages of the work helped to develop a greater level of both self organization and openness in the event. But, while I am certainly going to suggest in this paper that an interesting shift in agency in the work occurred, moving from those preconceived by the artist to a new shared and emergent agency developed through an interfacing of a public bringing their own intentions and tonalities to the event, I do not wish to overstate the uniqueness of the case. Certainly, as Lozano-Hemmer has said, the events were significant in his rethinking of the ways in which he staged further Relational architecture iterations [10], however this does not necessarily imply that the occurrences were particularly out of the ordinary for such large-scale interventions, which are necessarily always composed of multiple and often contradictory intentions and forces, and can potentially head in numerous directions, both predictable and surprising. Rather, the example provides an opportunity to consider some of the creative potential of interfacing and its ability to complicate the event. I want to use this work to rethink the place of the interface within the paradigm of process philosophy, and to put it to productive use as a differential tactic within an art process. Here I will propose that the interface might provide a logic of self-regulation capable of internally driving the creation of intensities of resonance or disturbance through connection.

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