Thursday, April 8, 2010

Computation and Immanence Part 1: Rhizomatic Computation

I realized after my presentation yesterday that I could have done a much better job making some of my questions more clear. In fact I regret not having paused before opening up the discussion into the realm of cinema. The thoughts I am developing in that area are murky to say the least. I'll try and explain where I'm coming from a bit more in part 3 of this subject. That being said, I'd like to recap the initial part of my presentation and begin to allude to why the questions raised are of interest to me.

Here is the link to the presentation site I was using.

I think the statement that best sums up the issues for parts A through C is this:
The rhizomatic potential of computational space is suspect.

This suspicion is expressed by Deleuze and Guattari in the introductory chapter in ATP (a thousand plateaus). From my point of view, contemporary computation and the tools derived from it are structured such that a relational arrangement that is purely rhizomatic (as well as completely immanent) is not achievable. There are two areas in this claim that should be clarified; computational space and rhizomatic relation.

1)Computational Spaces are media and mediated environments which are predicated on modern computational tools such as the ubiquitous cpu and the directory(folder) based operating system. This necessarily includes spaces as large as the global internet to small local spaces of the desktop computer running locally executed software. The common features that I am interested in are the way in which relations are organized and the methods by which relations and information are transformed. Information and connectivity are organized into hierarchical folders or grid like databases. These pieces are transformed through Boolean logic statements sequenced together to form more complex procedures. It should be clear that computational space is a delimited space in which only certain kinds of information, relation and becoming are allowed.

2) Rhizomatic Relation in its most pure sense should not be achievable within a computational space. For such relation to occur information, relation and becoming must not privilege any hierarchical structure. In rhizomatic computation there would be no folder analogy, no grid of data, no predefined logic of transformation, and no predefined order of operations let alone a general dismissal of true simultaneity. This, in general, is not the nature of the computational space we utilize today.

Finally we come to the danger of "false multiplicities" as mentioned in ATP a couple paragraphs following D&G's initial suspicion of the information sciences. The internet as we experience it today sometimes seems like it holds the potential for a rhizomatic space. The scale at which web sites and individuals are connected is staggering. The velocity at which these connections are made, broken and remade is amazing. It is at the limit of individual perception that the potential for false multiplicities present themselves. I would not go so far as to say that the rhizomatic potential of computational space is not such that immanence cannot be inferred by our experience. However, it is difficult at the scale and velocity of our current global network to see a qualitative difference between space that is purely rhizomatic or merely a hierarchy so vast that it is indistinguishable from the rhizome.


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