<< preface

this blog is nina wenhart's collection of resources on the various histories of new media art. it consists mainly of non or very little edited material i found flaneuring on the net, sometimes with my own annotations and comments, sometimes it's also textparts i retyped from books that are out of print.

it is also meant to be an additional resource of information and recommended reading for my students of the prehystories of new media class that i teach at the school of the art institute of chicago in fall 2008.

the focus is on the time period from the beginning of the 20th century up to today.

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>> Deleuze/Guattari, "overcoding"

“[...]The social axiomatic of modern societies is caught between two poles and is constantly oscillating from one pole to the other. Born of decoding and deterritorialization, on the ruins of the despotic machine, these societies are caught between the Urstaat that they would like to resuscitate as an overcoding and reterritorializing unity, and the unfettered flows that carry them toward an absolute threshold. They recode with all their might, with world-wide dictatorship, local dictators, and an all-powerful police, while decoding—or allowing the decoding of—the fluent quantities of their capital and their populations. They are torn in two directions: archaism and futurism, neoarchaism and ex-futurism, paranoia and schizophrenia. They vacillate between two poles: the paranoiac despotic sign, the sign-signifier of the despot that they try to revive as a unit of code; and the sign-figure of the schizo as a unit of decoded flux, a schiz, a point-sign or flow-break. They try to hold on to the one, but they pour or flow out through the other. They are continually behind or ahead of themselves”
(Deleuze and Guattari 1983, 260).

Brian Holmes on Overcoding:
"Overcoding is defined in A Thousand Plateaus as the expression of the capitalist axiomatic, resulting in “phenomena of centering, unification, totalization, integration, hierarchization and finalization.” But far from being just a linguistic phenomenon, overcoding works through the built environment, which must be conceived as inseparable from its many language machines (billboards, speakers, televisions, computers, etc.). The desire to formulate collective enunciations through participation in deterritorializing flows is an attempt to speak another kind of language, and more than a language. It’s here that Guattari rejoins Deleuze: in the engagement with experimental literatures and their geopolitical deliriums, expressed in the books they wrote together. In their assemblage, resistance to the sociological problem of cybernetic behavior-patterning rejoins the deeper philosophical problem of resistance to cognitive science paradigms, or what Jean-Pierre Dupuy has called “the mechanization of the mind,” emerging from cybernetics and information theory – and present in the linguistic structuralism of Levi-Strauss and his followers (including Lacan). However, Guattari in particular would always insist that semiotics extends beyond language, to embrace all signifying systems, whether visual, affective, gestural, volumetric, musical, etc. Thus his call for the creation of truly complex machines, simultaneously aesthetic and logical, pathic and rhizomatic: paradoxical vehicles of an embodied attempt to escape the overcode."

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... is a Media Art historian and independent researcher. She is currently writing on "speculative archiving && experimental preservation of Media Art" and graduated from Prof. Oliver Grau's Media Art Histories program at the Danube University in Krems, Austria with a Master Thesis on Descriptive Metadata for Media Arts. For many years, she has been working in the field of archiving/documenting Media Art, recently at the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Media.Art.Research and before as the head of the Ars Electronica Futurelab's videostudio, where she created their archives and primarily worked with the archival material. She was teaching the Prehystories of New Media Class at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) and in the Media Art Histories program at the Danube University Krems.