According to Vilém Flusser, Plato establishes three possible relations between us and the world of the Ideas. First, we cannot remember the Ideas and therefore staying in the world of appearances. He calls those in this sort of relation: the idiots. In case the we do remember the Idea, there are two options. First, we could press the ideas out of the appearances and become hand workers or artists, politicians in Plato terms. Or second, we could turn and look directly at the ideas in which case we become theoreticians, philosophers in Plato. Plato mistrusted the artists of the politicians because in their handling of the appearance, the emerging idea is any the original pure Idea. It is a distortion. Their handling prevents access to the Idea as such by presenting a simulation. That way it is explained the hatred some monotheistic religions have to images.
In a cybernetic fashion, Flusser presents us a contemporary example of image creation. Someone thinks a space and atemporal ideas, he then codes them into a computer and this in turn produces an image that corresponds to the pure idea he had thought. This is a pure image of the pure idea because it is based on various technical codes such as a Cartesian coordinate system and symbolic operations with numbers. The image then turns into drawings and plans for an aeroplane that a series of automatic robots build.
Plato would take the person thinking the image and sitting in front of a computer as a true philosopher because these images are pure theory. They are processes of thought not or representation. The computer and the robot merely substitute for the hand workers. And those who pay and trust their lives to what the robots have built are the idiots.
If the person’s interest lies exclusively on the theoretical beauty and the process of thought of the image, he or she might be then a philosopher or a pure artists. Someone who has access the second degree of imagination brought by the technical images. This pure artist does not seek to imagine a particular aeroplane or any contrete entity. Her or his focus is exclusively on the abstract idea. There is no imitation nor simulacrum. Others, the politicians or in a more contemporary accent, the robots, would take this image-idea and imitate it and use it as a model. This pure artist experiences the pure idea, while the robots only try to press an appearance out the idea, whether it is an aeroplane or anything else.
- Flusser, Vilém. Ein neuer Platonismus?. In kulturRevolution: modelle von gehirn und seele. Nr.19. November 1998. Klartext Verlag, Deutschland.
Peter Sunde words at the opening ceremony of transmediale 2015. 28 Jan 2015 HKW Berlin, Germany.
The centralised model has destroyed the internet. We’ve lost and corporations have captured us all. We even carry the sensors, mics and cameras to monitor us. Don’t play the game: give up.
Update: Sunde’s base text published on Wired UK.
A machine is that which behaves in a machine-like way, namely, that its internal state, and the state of its surrounding, defines uniquely the next state it will go [1, p.261].
Thus, the material or materials from which a machine is made becomes irrelevant. As the machine becomes a function of internal and external states.
- Ross Ashby. Principles of the Self-Organizing System. 1962. p.261.
The five vowels of the Christopher Polhem’s mechanical alphabet (1700), the lever, the wedge, the screw, the pulley, and the winch are but one example of the mechanistic order of knowledge during the 18th century. This alphabet is too the seed for the industrial age. A seed constituted of a set of discrete blocks that assembled in various forms generate endless mechanisms and machines either to mimic nature and to create new natures. These discrete elements are drawn from the alphabet and written culture. Ideas are broken down to sentences, words, and ultimately letters. The alphabet is the first component in the mechanisation of thought.
This mechanical alphabet was used in teaching at the Laboratorium mechanicum – Sweden´s first school of technology
Last Friday, during the opening of the exhibition Frieder Nake and friends: No Message Whatsoever, at the DAM Berlin, I exchanged a few words with Frieder Nake about one piece made by Michael Noll in 1963, Gaussian-Quadratic. This work caught my attention because in its label film and photography appeared as the source of the print. Later, I did a brief search for further information and arrived to the SD-4020 Microfilm Recorder. An impressive machine mainly used for the production of graphics. Such a machine chained magnetic, optical, and chemical processes with computations. A magnetic tape stored a computer program and passed it to digital processors that in turn controlled the movement of a cathode ray tube, thus linking video processing and storage technology with digital calculations. The movement of the cathode ray was then captured on film for later reproduction and documentation. The chemical support of the 19th century was the final link in the chain of machines that made that pieces of Mr. Noll. Such assemblage doesn’t exist any more. Today that expanded chain of processing, transmission, and storage, is no longer visible; it has disappeared under the speed and surface of computation.
A machine may be defined as a system of interruptions or breaks.[1, p.36]
Every machine is part of system of machines and all of them integrate a constant current. This current has no starting point nor end, it is just a collection of connections that flows. Thus, a machine is perceived through the fractures it creates in a flow. The fractures frame discreet portions of the flow, therefore machines have inputs and outputs (other flows), and in the middle a particular flow is processed. If there is something to say about a machine is that it fractures a collection of flows. A machinic attitude in media must then make evident the fractures rather than to hide them.
- Deleuze, Gilles and Felix Guattari. Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press. 1983
Art is dead, long live to the machine art. Vladimir Tatlin.
‘Machine’ is one of the principal concepts of the modernity. Machine is accurately described, by Broeckmann, as a productive assemblage of forces towards a non-teleological end [1, p.195]. This concept has determined the fate of all sort of practices aimed at producing, organizing, planning, designing, and/or projecting all sort of objects, spaces, social structures, sonic rhythms, and visual sensations in the western societies along at least the last two centuries. In spite of the heterogeneity of forces that are assembled, this concept is totalizing because first, it covers production, organization, and serialization; and second it encompasses all forms of creative work that are treated in similar manners and usually tends towards homogenisation into an uniform social structure at the the same tic-tac-rhythm.
The machinic is the principle that specifies these assemblages, it differs, for instance, from mechanical, electrical, and digital because it covers all of them as characteristics of different sorts of machines, to determine then that what matters is the kind of work the machine does.
Let’s take as example a combinatory machines such as a blender. In a blender different fruits are mixed to produce juice, thus a mix is a homogeneous surface resulting from the assemblage of dissimilar sources. Clearly, a blender could be described as a mechanical machine but mechanical is not enough when specifying the principle that rules a machine that mixes. Mixing is a type of machinic principle.
Remix is another step up in the spiral of rhythm machines that combine ready-made material into new instances. Today, remix can be found everywhere, it has become the form of production per excellence of our times. Lev Manovich has called attention to the remix in contemporary cinema, visual communication, and architecture in which the results are hybrid forms with an homogeneous and fluid surface, and an unreal aesthetic.
If remixing is considered a machinic process, then is a different type of machine art. These forms of machine art cannot be approached based on the type of machine, usually algorithmic, neither they can be characterised by their particular set of visual forms. Rather we have to make use of the principle of combination in which what is being combined is less important than the process itself: the (re)combination. The contemporary machine art differs from that of Tatlin because is one of conversions and not of subversions.
- Broeckmann, Andreas. “Image, Process, Performance, Machine: Aspects of an Aesthetics of The Machinic”. MediaArtHistories. Ed. Oliver Grau. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2007. 193-205