Re: discussions...

Richard Povall (
Tue, 08 Apr 1997 16:24:50 -0400

>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?

I too am charmed by the notions presented here, but deepy troubled by them
too. If not taken too literally, they are really not too far from own
concerns with making environments in which biological organisms can
function and exert an influence. Taken literally, the body and the organic
have little or no place in the magic worlds soon to be conjured up by
ever-developing technologies. I think the emergence of virtual worlds that
are immersive, but which do not demand invasive technologies such as
goggles and gloves are exciting - and in some ways this is precisely the
kind of virtuality in which my own work revels. Somehow, though, the idea
that our bodies will succumb to a greater technological all-embracing
cyberspace seems a retrogressive one to me, a capitulation to the power of
technology rather than a taming of it. Maybe I just have a limited
imagination, but I worry about the loss of sensuality, of losing the
_infusion_ of the physical into every level of my work.


R i c h a r d P o v a l l
Assoc. Prof of Computer Music and New Media
MPO Box 0332 TIMARA/Studio 5
Oberlin, OH 44074-0332 USA Oberlin Conservatory of Music
Voice: +1.216.775.1016 Oberlin College
Fax: +1.216.775.8942 Oberlin, OH 44074 USA
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