Re: discussions...

Scott deLahunta (
Tue, 08 Apr 1997 20:07:18 +0200

Thanks to everyone for contributing some thoughts on the nature of the
discussion. We all have various things which keep us from participating as
fully as we would wish, mostly we are all too busy. The net may be virtual
space, but it sure ain't virtual time !!

At any rate, I appreciate AManda's and Richard's comments about (and I
interpret loosely here) letting the medium sort itself out in a way. NOt
trying to force various structures on it. I'm all for that. Allowing for
rambling, spontaneity, incoherence and misinterpretation/ misunderstandings.

I'm charmed by the image of all of you sitting, like me, in front of your
various terminals on different sides of different oceans... typing away.

>I just had the experience of taking part in a live link up between two
>conferences - one in the UK and one in Western Australia. (...) An
>extraodrinary disappointement all round, I thought, and entirely

Richard, your description of this event reminds me of a series of video
conference lectures organised here in Amsterdam 1.5 years ago. They did have
themes -- but the problem was more with the presenters who did not know how
to present via teleconference. Some read papers, difficult but possible to
perform in a live setting, did not work in the telepresent one. Various
other things went on -- I found the two I went to fascinating though.
Especially when Derrick de Kerckhove would grab the mike... and with his
charm and way of wandering on, he would pull us back into what was
interesting about what we were doing, regardless of and related to the themes.

This (given that Derrick is carrying the torch for ol' Marshall) is a good
stepping point to your comment on the 'digital derby':

>There was plenty of discussion about
>the coming post-biological era in art, and the fact there we were all dead,
>or something....I was accused of being a McLuhan-ite for still believing in
>the body and in the use of technology as an extension of the body. And we
>all know how outre McLuhan is these days...pardon me.

I am also skeptical of the post-biological position as set out, for example,
by Roy Ascott in his papers on cyberperception. I think the letting go of
the body (did I hear someone say 'heaven's gate'?) is being embraced too
quickly by those who would write/talk us into an enchantment with their
ideas... which I do, I must say, find enchanting. It's all about change,
distributed selves and the transpersonal, the 'ecology of digital interfaces
and network nodes', redefinitions of perception, etc. -- great stuff. As I
said, I'm enchanted by it all -- but I think we need to strain against it...
to create a productive tension, a borderline -- take a stance. However, it
may not be enough to simply say that we believe in the body -- I also
believe in the world that the posties sketch out. We need to articulate the
reasons that the body should remain a viable alternative in all discourses
and practices. It also seems to me that for the most part, biologists are
not a part of this discussion. How would a biologist respond to the idea
being made redundant? Maybe artists would benefit from more interaction with
scientists studying organisms and life systems... living things.

Did they discuss artists who have staked their claim in this post-biological
area like Stelarc?


Scott deLahunta and Susan Rethorst
Writing Research Associates, NL
Sarphatipark 26-3, 1072 PB Amsterdam, NL
tel: +31 (0)20 662 1736
fax: +31 (0)20 470 1558