Saturday, May 8, 2010

Seeing With the Body

The beginning of Seeing with the Body was quite promising to me. Such was, for example, the part that says that "the perspective from which the [digital] picture is taken is, in relation to human perception, wholly arbitrary…" Being aware that Hansen was going to talk about the embodiment of the data and a shift from the eye to the body, I expected more than a praise of the interactive quality of video installations. (True, I might still be missing some of his points.) In that sense, if we do not rely on or directly draw from our eye, that is, from our visual perception and thus we do not exclusively depend on what we can see as reality, that means that some other sensors' percepts can be released, even liberated, and then, through them, so called ontological and epistemological questions can be (re)raised - from a potentially new perspectives, possibly yet unknown. The relationship between the concrete and the abstract is another thing that is for me implicitly raised in the basis of this text. In a situation of a person that is making a completely digital picture or a video (meaning - starting from a blank screen of the computer, without any pre-recorded footage) the body - its impulses and sensations become completely abstracted and turned into data. At the same time, through that "body that creates" the data themselves become concretized, sensory perceptible and not only abstract binary codes anymore. When this is put next to the questions of mortality, transience, beauty, knowledge, God, Devil, and so on, what happens? Does this "interaction" between the body and the data change some of our old answers and insights? Or not at all? ...These were the promised questions that I saw somewhere at the beginning of reading Hansen. For, the fact that there is an interaction, that is, the acknowledgement that my body does react and that moving images (be they analog or digital) or any kind of exteriority can make my body react (and vice versa) doesn't make me think much further. The same goes for the type of art that Shaw is making. It is certainly not enough to have a repetition of a set of everyday actions moved to an art gallery. The Web of Life, for example, carries a very interesting and potent idea – scanning a palm for which there is a belief that has the whole destiny of its owner inscribed on itself, then copying the destiny and abstracting it – turning it into binary codes, which are again concretized into images and/or sounds, which are themselves abstract… then somehow making these transformations perceptible within the very art piece that itself formally combines the abstract and the concrete… for example… But once again, it remained on the level of only an idea of having a palm scanned and then watching some images that are, in the least, ugly.


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