"What is no longer archived in the same way is no longer lived in the same way"
-- Jacques Derrida, Archive Fever, 1995.
In 1984, Michel de Certeau, writing about the practices of everyday life, exposed us to a different way of thinking about our movements through (and our relationships with) the city as the center of cultural activity. While governments, institutions, and other structures of power designed the city according to particular strategies, for de Certeau it was the "tactical" movements of "passers by" that gave meaning to spaces and places of the city: that is, the walkers, wanderers, and window-shoppers created new paths through and new uses for the cityscape. They defined and redefined the city, and, in so doing, transformed (if not transcended) the strategic imposition.
Move forward nearly 30 years. The center of cultural activity now resides in the digital ether, the electra-city (here offered as a metonym for electrate culture); and it is ferried to you (rather than you to it) by tele-technologies, mediascapes, mobile devices, social networks, and so on. Given this shift, how might we need to rethink or even reconstitute de Certeau's position in light of the 21st century? For not only are the ways we move through space itself notably altered (morphed by the cellular and computation prosthetics that aid in our daily activities), but the very notions of walking and city have also been transmogrified.
This project, then, is an attempt to engage these considerations and to allow something of their essential qualities to emerge through the production.
First, this work situates us in the summoning or calling forth (Heidegger, 1977) qualities of what traveling means in the electrate age. In the electra-city, the traveler and the hermit are one in the same: representations of the world brought to us at the speed of light (rather than our going to it) and done so in multiple streams. We cannot help but feel the weightedness of the layered and juxtaposed, palimpsestual, simultaneous hyper-saturation of media that guides our everyday electrate travels.
Second, this project focuses on the electra-city's fevered and frivolous qualities (as Jacques Derrida explored them in 1973). Which is to say, this project attempts to situate us in the frivolity that makes the expansiveness of the electra-city possible. And it does so via a kind of hyper-fevered practice: the "fevered" condition of which Derrida spoke might be seen as evolving into what I'd call an archive delirium in the electrate age because the spatial constraints that contributed to the archon's desire (and need) to sort, to sift, and to exclude in his/her collecting has given way to the seemingly infinity of digital storage. E-archons have the (memory/storage) capability of recording, storing, and ordering every utterance, and this shifts not only how we archive and what we archive, but the ways in which we produce (and live and experience) the archivable. Now, everyone can become archontic—contributing to an emerging culture of hoarders. As these drives, desires, and fevers infect us completely, we can't help but feel the effects of (if not become) the emerging delirium.
This project, then, is an attempt to not only demonstrate some key ideas in association with these changes, but to make viewers feel the pleasures and tensions and demands of living (in) this hyper-saturated, delirium-induced state. The project includes five steps in the (electra)city; that is, it includes five short videos, each no longer than two minutes, and a references section (a different kind of step).
[Music begins (plays throughout)]
Male narrator 1:
Movement in the electra-city
With feet. With fingers.
Walking: a techne of tourism.
Or theoria. Like Solon.
Typing and clicking:
a techne of electric culture.
Or producer-consumers. You. Me. The
The always present others.
And in this e-othered world
time and space have been compressed to such a
degree as to render the speed of light
In this new "mediascape," as
Paul Virilio has argued,
the visual horizon of Alberti's
window to the world
has given way to the "square horizon" of Gates'
and Jobs' "windows" to the world (wide web)
The phatic spaces where our fears and
fantasies become topoi,
where frivolous activities become fevered
and frenzied tropes. Become hyper-fetish.
Become featured spectacle.
We become cultural topoi.
Awash in media.
Cleaning the non-digital spittle from our
avatared flesh…from our digital face.
Is there a dermatologist who treats
One who treats the pimples and pustules
that proliferate our electronic and
lives ordered and orchestrated by
Maybe it's Dr. Google,
the electra-city's therapist.
Using his Google analytics,
or his Google psychoanalytics,
he helps treat many of our conditions.
Dr. Google grants us access
to our e-subconscious:
that is, to the vast,
cultural memories brought to us by
the society of the spectacle.
Repressed and suppressed by corporate
Also known as Disney Psychosis
[Music fades out]
[Music fades in]
Male Narrator 1:
As Blanchot has told us,
The human movement, human movement, hu,
human movement is the one that goes right
to the the the limit, the li, the limit.
And at the end of thought, the limits we seek,
is only another, is only another, only another thought, thought, thought
another device, another path, which
we create, another device, which we create
another path, which we create.
For all we have in the spectacle is f-fl-flow, flow, flow.
For all we have in the spectacle is the human movement.
Debord has told us that.
[Jacques Derrida, faintly in background, in French,
responds to prompt of defining deconstruction]
Human electrate movement. Ele-ele-electrate
movement. Electrate, electrate movement.
twitching, if not tweeting, tweeting, tweeting.
twitching, gestures that call forth the electrate world.
Gestures, gestures that call, call, call forth
the electrate world.
Bringing the limit of movement to us, to us, to us,
bringing the limit, the limit of movement, of movement
to us, rather than us to it.
And when we reach that edge,
that limit, that end,
Blanchot says we simply change, we simply change,
we simply change to another thought, thought, thought.
This is the only way it is possible to go to
the end of thought:
to get on or invent another path, invent another path,
invent another path, invent another path
Finding/Making our way.
It is pathwork.
It is ergodic.
Human electrate movement.
Electrate, electrate movement.
which we create.
another device, another path, which we create.
another device, which we create.
another path, which we create.
And at the end of thought, the limits
we seek is only another device,
device, device [repeats and fades out].
[Music fades out]
[Music fades in]
Male Narrator 1: If, as Gregory Ulmer claims,
that "chora replaces topos as the concept of
place in electrate memory"
then what we are dealing with are not phatic
topoi as de Certeau would have it,
but rather phatic choralities.
Where chance and necessity cross and reveal
social common places for a group subjectivity.
How else can we explain the Honey Badger, the Occupy
movement, Ryan Seacrest, and Two Girls One Cup?
Perhaps, Phanatic Choragraphies,
only discernible indirectly.
[Music fades out]
[Music begins: piano only]
Male Narrator 2: This is what we believe
technology alone is not enough.
But when technology gets out of the way,
that's when you end up with something like this...
[piano fades out as new music fades in]
Male Narrator 1:
Walking. Electrically. Digitally. Walking.
The fevered activity of following and
making one's path.
The frivolous logic of pathways.
Pathways of frivolous logic.
Creating, as de Certeau would have it,
a mobile organicity in the environment.
Created, as de Certeau would have it,
a sequence of phatic topoi.
Social common places.
Cultural started spaces.
Beginnings brought to you by mobile
organisms, fevered and frivolous techno-
organisms, i-phatic organisms,
attempting to reconcile co-present, fever
inducing infections: the dual drives
and to create/contribute.
The heroin-like itch for going out--that is,
going out of oneself (an extimacy)--and
the auto-erotic compulsion for coming in--
that is, coming with oneself
(the supreme intimacy). Which is to say,
we are ripe with competing, fevering drives:
one, to publish one's self--that is,
to publicly (and indecently) expose oneself;
and two, desiring to bring the public
inside--to privatize, individualize, and
internalize de Certeau's phatic topoi: that is,
we fetishize hyper-phatic tropes
as we bookmark, tag, and retweet
the electra-city (and our electrate selves)
[Music interrupted by LP record scratch.
Sound of LP record static continues and fades out]
To walk, electrately or otherwise, is to move across
landscapes and mediascapes of improper-proper names.
The names mark the world. They give us measurability,
give us access to "man as the measure of all things."
M1 (right): How far is it from Aristotle to Menlo Park?
M1 (left): A necessity in electrate-wandering.
M1 (right): From Nietzsche to the iPhone?
M1 (left): We carry our idols with us.
M1 (right): The real American Idol.
M1 (left): The real American Idol.
M1 (right): And we carry our idols with us--a necessity
M1 (left): for we not only visit the name of the world
M1 (right): in electrate wandering. Where we
M1 (left): but the names visit us.
M1 (right): not only visit the names of the world, but
where the names visit us.
Coming to us in half-dream states. Phantams augmenting
the world. Ferried by hyperlinks,
QR codes, and search engines.
A digital architecture, brought to you by googled
relevance, not cartography.
We now use apps instead of maps. Be we travel in
the way of the reporter, not the witness;
we have become broadcasters, and use our media
for cultural participation rather than individual memory.
To this extent, we actively work to reduce the
experiences of our lives to transmittable bits and bytes.
140 character blasts. Shared (and tagged) image albums.
The world sped up and reduced to far
less than 12 frames per second.
But when you have a trillion cameras, that
low frame rate is radically offset.
And the data comes in diasporatically
rather than sequentially.
And in this hyper-saturated state, filled with
radical multiplicities, we feed the great cultural
archives all the frivolity our auto-enthographic
lives can produce.
[Music fades out]
[Music fades in]
[Music fades out]
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