Wednesday, January 30, 2013


Ubimage (apparatus correlation of ubiquitous computing and imaging) reoccupies a relationship between place and culture first exercise as Dreamtime by Australian Aborigenes.  Dreamtime is a mnemonic system of wayfinding in which mythologies (ritual and story) coded features of the landscape to guide a nomadic economy.

The functionality of this ancient wisdom system is a variation on the larger context of avatar functionality guiding ubimage.  Several such correspondences have been mapped for Alachua County.

Alachua Region

Sunday, January 27, 2013


The film Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, directed by Nuri Bilge Ceylan, is an exhibit for how a situation may give rise to an aesthetic frame.  The point-of-view character, the doctor, undergoes a metaphysical event, a manifestation of the fundamental rhythm of existence, the axis life-death.

Review by Michael Wood

Correlating Triggers

Ubiquitous Sensibility

The electrate apparatus is invented in three registers:  technology, compositional practices, and identity formation.  The saturation of Everyday environments with mobile devices encountering sensor settings is the contribution of technics.  Interactive equipment establishes at the level of technics a feature of the world central to the history of the arts, which materialize and augment a human capacity to be affected by place and event. Marcel Proust's involuntary memory, triggered by the taste of a tea biscuit, or the Wolf Man, whose obsessions were triggered by the site of a maid scrubbing the floor, are two famous examples of embodied triggers, emblematic of this capacity.

Saturday, January 26, 2013


 What does it mean to approach Everyday Life with an aesthetic attitude? There is nothing novel about framing one's quotidian roles in some state of mind -- wisdom, science, religion. As practice, the aesthetic attitude is included within a situation, adding to the intentionality of some project the distance that generates aura of signification.  "Situation" is a guideword, evoking the existentialist point that circumstances become a situation when considered from the point of view of one's "project," the goals of a practice, encountering a scene not indifferently but according to its affordances for some purpose.  In a Visit (for konsult) this project or purpose is given an aesthetic frame.

Ulmer's Visit documented in Chapter 13 (Wisdom) of Avatar Emergency offers a relay for our instructions.  What is Ulmer's situation:

  • Family:  Mother's Day holiday, with three generations of relatives sharing a rented house.
  • Work: Ulmer continues to ponder the perplexities of a theoretical question (the image metaphysics of electracy: the diadoch Damascius).
  • Memory: A formative experience in Ulmer's past -- a night in an olive orchard in Spain, 1966.
  • Current Events:  History of the present unfolding in daily reports and analysis of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden.
  • Site: Place, Ponte Vedra Beach on the Atlantic coast of Florida.
  • Form:  The Aesthetic Attitude includes familiar forms and genres, constituting a mythology: popular culture for laymen, but for Ulmer (academic) the forms are high art (Titian's Allegory of Prudence, Kafka's aphorisms).
A relevant context to Visit as the construction of an epiphany is the common experience in the history of creative insight of the Eureka moment appearing during some ordinary activity:  Archimedes in his bath; PoincarĂ© stepping off a bus.  In Ulmer's relay, adopting the Aesthetic Attitude means that he consciously scans his setting for some feature he recognizes as an objective correlative for his state of mind, registering the Mood or atmosphere attuning as vehicle and tenor (outer and inner) dimensions of his life world.  The feature he recognizes, promoting it to object @, is the sand castle built by his granddaughter the previous evening.

EPS (Existential Positioning System)

Africa, 1805
 Konsult is a practice to correlate existential experience with everyday life materiality.  For an environment to be intelligent, the apparatus needs to manage not only physical location (GPS), but EPS, which requires tracking not only presence but absence (differance).  If conventional wayfinding gives coordinates that say "You Are Here," Existential coordinates engage a more complex orientation:  You are where you are not, and are not where you are.  A Visit is an event of encounter between egents and places, both of which involve dimensions that are not phenomenal, not present, without presence and not presentable.  Thoreau's Walden concludes with a figure that provides an emblem for EPS:  What was the meaning of that South-Sea Exploring Expedition, with all its parade and expense, but an indirect recognition of the fact that there are continents and seas in the moral world to which every man is an isthmus or an inlet, yet unexplored by him, but that it is easier to sail many thousand miles through cold and storm and cannibals, in a government ship, with five hundred men and boys to assist one, than it is to explore the private sea, the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean of one's being alone.  Choragraphy as ontological mapping takes up this question of coordinating material and spiritual wayfinding, exploring the shifting borders and thresholds between inner and outer identity formations.  

Thoreau's passage is emblematic because it uses global exploration and mapping as a metaphor for self-knowledge (the kind of knowledge and the mode of expression within the cognitive jurisdiction of Arts & Letters disciplines informing EmerAgency consulting on Well-Being).  The challenge of EPS choragraphy is that the spacetime for which it is responsible is a second-order construction, figurative rather than literal, emerging through aesthetic formal manipuation of media.  But the promise of ubimage is to create an interface convergence of literal and figurative dimensions of human experience.  Clive James's explanation gives an idea of the nature of figuration that renders intelligible the nonphenomenal dimension absent from all maps.

Any poem that does not just slide past us like all those thousands of others usually has an ignition point for our attention.  To take the most startling possible example, think of "Spring," by Gerard Manley Hopkins.  Everyone knows the first line because everyone know the poem.  "Nothing is so beautiful as Spring" is a line that hundreds of poets could have written, and was probably designed to sound that way. Only two lines further on, however, we get "Thrush's eggs look little low heavens" and we are electrified. Eventually we see that the complete poem is fitting in its every part, for its task of living up to the standards of thought and perception set by that single flash  of illumination. But we wouldn't even be checking up if we had not been put on the alert by a lightning strike of an idea that goes beyond thought and perception and into the area of metaphorical transformation that a poem demands.  A poem ... is dependent on this ability to project you into a reality so drastically rearranged that it makes your hair fizz even when it looks exactly like itself.  (Clive James, "Little Low Heavens," Poetry, Sept. 2008).
Two aspects of James's description are worth noting in our context:  the figure of electrification and the lightning strike of an image, resonant with electracy and flash reason; that the version of reality made receivable through aesthetic indirection is -- like Plato's chora -- beyond both thought and perception.  This point must be kept in mind, in  the context of ubimage, given the (legitimate) resurgence of interest in phenomenology by commentators on pervasive computing, who (rashly) ignore the critique of phenomenology motivating most of French poststructuralist philosophy, not to mention deconstruction.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Allegory of Prudence (After Titian)

Is it possible to receive your own post as if for the first time, as if it were news about yourself originating from abroad? This prospect articulates the aporia, the no/way out or im/passe in the circuit of auto-affection. To subscribe to this channel one must use the good offices of an avatar, a go- between (a prosopon). That, then, really means recognizing your autobiography in the schtick of a Punch and Judy show. What is commonplace, even stereotyped, in the material world is obscure, indeterminate in the spiritual one. There there are no stock characters, no plot formulas, or rather, it is only we self-observers who continue to miss the point of our love for puppet shows. How pathetically scanty is my self-knowledge compared with, say, my knowledge of my home town. (Past). And so? Any observation of the inner world is accomplished through sketches of the outer world. At least expression is doubtless a form of improvisational theater, an abstract graphing of one’s own shape. The inner life may be figured, not narrated, described, or analyzed. Expression is the opening of a passage between the two sides of life (the im/material). Or, more correctly, the invention of an aesthetic effigy that neither resembles nor indexes either dimension of my nature, since, immersed as we are in spectacle, we only see programming wherever we turn.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Wake Up and Taste the Pie

The film Michael, by Nora Ephron, is a relay evoking the avatar function (The angel Michael plays Daimon to Frank Quinlan [William Hurt] and/or Dorothy Winters [Andie MacDowell]).  The wisdom of the Measure is simple, commonplace, and profound:  embodiment gives humans the capacity to be affected through sensory perception.  Embodiment is undergone through virtuous or vicious "descent" (avatar) in the tradition.  Such is the dimension ontologized in image metaphysics of electracy.  That you may taste pie is metaphysical, forming the order of well-being (or not).  The goal of konsult is to design and test a practice (ubimage) that maps the network relating micro- and macro- cosms, between individual sensory experience and institutional augmentation (between bodies with and without organs).

Diagram: Prudence

This diagram sketch suggests a way to map the components of the exercise "Allegory of Prudence" onto some conventional dynamics of narrative semiotics:  Roland Barthes's five semiotic codes (see S/Z's reading of Balzac's short story), and a part of Jacques Lacan's schema of temporality (taken as representative of the trope of metalepsis).

The version of the allegory expressed in Chapter 13 of Avatar Emergency (AE), provides an instance.  The first two codes account for Ulmer walking along the shore of the ocean at Ponte Vedra Beach (Action Code, syntagmatic axis), and encountering a sand castle that he recognizes as built by his granddaughter (Semic code, paradigmatic axis).  This sand castle (prop) is in turn organized by a higher paradigmatic code -- the Cultural Code -- that is the source of readymade associations accumulated historically and preserved in various documents (the commonplace of tides washing away sand castles, evoking the ephemerality and fragility of human effort).  Meanwhile, the action of the syntagmatic is also organized in turn by a higher code -- the Hermeneutic code of enigmas:  actions are arranged to create and sustain interest, to pose engimas and delays of suspense.  This narrative form is supplied in Ulmer's relay by the story of Damascius, the last diadoch (successor) of the Academy in Athens, and his exile in Persia late in life.

Ulmer in Spain, 1966
 These four codes provide four slots for the allegory:  an action and an underlying narrative (fantasy); a feature of the scene (the prop or seme) and its associated mythology (aura).   The fifth code is the Symbolic (alluding to Lacan's Symbolic Order), which is the structuring or "anagogical" code of the social and civilizational context of the scene.  This code is reprsented in the diagram by a partial version of one of Lacan's schemas, showing the temporality of language, and of the unconscious (structured like a language).  The Event alluded to in AE happens in this manner, constructing the time image of prudence.  An initial satisfaction, experienced in infancy, remains latent and potentially present (flashes up at the moment of its recognizability, Benjamin says), triggered by some chance incident (Proust's involuntary memory). The Symbolic code synthesizes the other four codes, addressing the paradigmatic axis of selection in terms of binary oppositions (male/female, death/life...), and the syntagmatic axis of combination in terms of primary exchanges in the life world-- of language, wealth, and kinship. This circuit of remembrance through senation, this triggering of memory and imagination through the activation of somatic markers (Damasio, Neuroaesthetics), is the aesthetic homology to be correlated with mobile media in smart environments, to develop an electrate konsult.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Ordinary Aura (Aurdinary)

The Socratic Dialogue as a relay for concept avatar clarifies in the hypotyposis (proportional analogy) that konsult foregrounds not critical reason but perceptual affect (see also D&G's three registers:  Science, Philosophy, Arts -- fact, concept, affect-percept).  The challenge of ubimage is to design a practice capable of workplay with all three orders at once in the context of a situation.   The exercise testing concept avatar (the thought of feeling) takes up the imperative of the avant-garde, championed in many forms subsequently--to merge art into everyday life.  The terminology calls attention to the specific target of ubimage relative to apparatus theory.  The STEM engineers, as they say, have saturated the Everyday world (Lebenswelt) with equipment (mobile devices networking with sensors in smart environments).  That takes care of technics, but the commentary tends to assume that Everyday Life is unproblematic, which is far from the case.  In fact, the Everyday is a major topic of discipline interest, as for example in the philosophy of Henri Lefebvre, taken up in Situationism (Guy Debord), not to mention Walter Benjamin's Arcades project and the Frankfurt School focus on the problem of alienation as the impoverishment of everyday life experience.  The heuretics of ubiquitous pervasive computing addresses the apparatus in the registers of institutional practices.

Specifically, the parallel with digital convergence and saturation is the integration of the aesthetic attitude into lifeworld behavior and skills.  Here is a key to the electrate apparatus in general:  it emerges into metaphysics through the aesthetic attitude, just as literacy as science required the frame of curiosity in order to thrive.  The invention of "attitude" as such is part of apparatus formation.  "Aesthetics" introduces a certain "distance" into experience, termed "aura" by Benjamin.  It is important to clarify that the devotion to "pure art" (art for art's sake) during the initial period of electracy in 19th-century Paris (Parisian Behemia in Montmartre cabarets is the electrate equivalent of the Athenian academies creating a space for pure reason) was temporary, necessary pause for articulation of art as "logic," prior to dissemination as general cultural interface (GCI) for an electrate civilization.  The point is that netizens via the apparatus are able to include aura not as separation from syncretic with their other institutional behaviors -- work, family, leisure.  Aura (aesthetic attitude) creates value, which recommends it as the means to overcome alienation and recover experience of individual and collective agency, which is the avatar function.

Hans Robert Jauss, Aesthetic Experience and Literary Hermeneutics (1982) is an important resource on this attitude.  The larger import of his insight are only now becoming apparent.

 Even more decisively than Dewey's theory, the theory of aesthetic function, which Jan Mukarovsky has been pioneering in various treatises since 1936, turns its back on any and all metaphysics of the beautiful. The investigation of the aesthetic in its social function, as "an energetic component of human activity," is to render superfluous the question "whether the esthetic is a static property of things" and, ultimately, the very concept of the beautiful itself. With the introduction of the concept of aesthetic function, the presumably objective determinations of aesthetic quality are seen as flowing from human activity. The work of art loses its character as thing; as "aestheticobject," it requires the human consciousness to constitute it. Being a dynamic principle, the aesthetic function is potentially unlimited; "it can accompany every human act, and every object can manifest it." Its limit lies in the fact that it derives from the dialectical negation of a practical or communicative function. And because the phenomena it produces in the constant renewal of the aesthetic experience are subject to societal judgment, i.e., must find public recognition before they can enter the tradition-creating process as aesthetic norms, thereis  a  second,  intersubjective  limitatioIn contrast to Roman Jacobson's earlier definition of the poetic influence of language, the aesthetic function is not self-referential for Mukarovsky, it is more than a statement oriented toward expression for its own sake. Because the aesthetic function "changes everything that it touches into a sign," it becomes transparent for the thing or activity that it "sets . . . aside from practical associations." Precisely because the aesthetic function differs from all others (the noetic, the political, the pedagogic) in having no "concrete aim" and because it lacks "unequivocal content," it can take hold of the contents of other functions and give their expression the most effective form. (Jauss, pp 115-16).

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Socrates Relay

 The admonishment of Basho (adopted as motto of heuretics) is: not to follow in the footsteps of the masters, but to seek what they sought.  Concept Avatar is not dialogue or dialectic, but uses those as relay for the tale of our own CATTt, used to generate an electrate equivalent, to do for EmerAgency what dialogue did for Plato's Academy.  Our genre is not dialogue, but konsult.  The capacity to be addressed, supported, augmented, is not reason (logic), but affect, sensory perception (aesthetics).  The medium (equipment) is not alphabetic writing, but ubiquitous computing (pervasive computing:  mobile devices in smart environments):  ubimage in short.

Euthyphro in the midst of a situation encountered in the streets of a Polis (Athens) the gadfly Socrates.  Egent (intern of EmerAgency) consulting (testifying) on public policy encounters, via smart device in an intelligent environmnet, avatar.  Who is addressee of konsult?  First, it is the egent and her network. That is the frame of konsult.  What is the obscenario?  The genre features within konsult of conceptual persona for avatar need to be unpacked further.  In AE, Ulmer gives several examples.  A primary instance is his encounter with Franz Kafka's Diaries, and also with Thoreau's Walden, appropriated as relays to show himself to himself (to map his own position relative to a tradition/archive)

Concept Avatar

In the 2011 seminar we derived from Deleuze and Guattari's What is Philosophy? the obscenario, a mode of conceptual thinking adapted for doing theory in electracy (philosophy as media practice).  The obscenario is transitional alternative to the scenarios of conventional consulting, as a means to imagine the future in order to decide NOW what policy decisions to make.  Concepts are literate, and the purpose of Philosophy, D&G state, is to create concepts.  The first challenge for us is to learn how to include conceptual thinking within electrate media, in order to think our way into the new apparatus.  D&G analysed "concept" into three components:  an idea (term), a problem field addressed by the idea, and a conceptual persona who dramatizes the import of the idea in a situation.  Obscenario shifts the emphasis from literate concepts foregrounding of the eidos (abstract configuration of properties) to persona in a situation, which lends itself to imaging.  The prototype of a conceptual persona is Socrates, dramatizing "dialectic" as idea in the dialogues of Plato.  Avatar Emergency (AE) does not begin immediately with the phenomenon of "avatar," but approaches it through the formation of an obscenario, that is, through "concept avatar." We must rely on this mode to carry us some way into the invention of a post-literate practice. The phrase is ambiguous:  the concept of "avatar," and an avatar of "concept" (which itself may not appear).  The first step, in other words, is to develop within our literate skills a concept adequate to the experiment we propose:  a practice that does for electracy what the dialogue did for literacy.

The relay from Socrates is useful to identify the features of obscenario, which we should inventory in order to utilize them in our own variations.  There are several levels for emulation: 1) Plato creates the dialogue as a "tale" for his CATTt, to communicate in writing the new logic of dialectic.  Students are introduced to dialectic (analysis and synthesis) through an interface metaphor, the behavior of the gadfly Socrates.  Dialogue as pedagogy requires a certain attitude:  a commitment among friends to suspend competition in order to discover what is objectively (logically) true;  2) the scenario proper is Socrates encountering an interlocutor on the streets of Athens, in everyday life, as in Euthyphro, for example.  Euthyphro is in a situation: he has decided to prosecute his father for impiety.  Socrates asks Euthyphro to define his terms:  what does he mean by "impiety."  Of course the definition of "impiety" makes it into a concept -- a literate skill, but Euthyphro is not literate. 3) The context for the apparatus is the invention of practices of logic to augment pure reason, as a capacity of selfhood (individual identity) in a democratic state (collective identity). 

AE introduces concept avatar as obscenario, a vehicle for thinking a new identity formation, via ideas evoked in a problem situation, dramatized by a persona (it is not concept proper, but an allegory of an idea).  The instruction is to extrapolate to our own case. 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Parameters (Framing)

 It might be useful to commit some of the points and directives established in lecture (esoteric version) to exoteric (blog).  The design of konsult test begins with some presets or parameters already directing our attention. Working on behalf of the EmerAgency, Konsult communicates Arts and Letters knowledge to communities facing policy decisions, to help include considerations of well-being.  Konsult does not replace existing conventional consulting, but supplements it with electrate resources.  Why "well-being" specifically?  It is not just one condition among others, but is the fundamental dimension of Real (World) made accessible to ontology (to construction) in an electrate apparatus.

Gregory Bateson identified the keywords (guiding terms) of the oral and literate apparati in his book, Mind and Nature.  Reality in the oral apparatus (extended via Religion into the present) is organized by the principles of salvation (spiritual transcendence).  Reality in the literate apparatus (extended via Science into the present) is organized by the principles of entropy (material immanence).  Bateson does not address electracy, but we may bring his pattern up to date.  Reality in the electrate apparatus (with the effect of reordering the other institutions) is (in principle) organized by well-being (specific features of this term remain to be defined).  At present this organization is emergent within Entertainment, commercial and commodity institutions.  It is important to keep in mind also that there is nothing new about a concern for well-being:  it was also addressed in the previous orders (that well-being would be satisfied through spiritual or material means).

The goal of konsult is to develop a practice to support community institutionalization of well-being outside of narrowly commercial values, but also apart from the conventions of religion and science.  The short-term goal of our experiment (the Allegory of Prudence) is to understand and undergo for ourselves the basic insight into well-being expressed in Arts & Letters tradition, as a first step toward designing a practice for general electracy. Our CATTt is designed to provide instructions for a poetics capable of generating this practice, to be discussed in future posts.