07 07/09

Pattern Recognition

what opens this post is a quite different media form than the others I’ve employed here before. The image is generated each time this post is visited and the visual outcome slightly varies each time. It is a process not an end and what generates it can be found here.

I chose a process to shortly introduce Pattern Recognition by William Gibson, a novel about underground footage, advertising dissemination, industrial espionage, video art, and self expression. A cocktail that takes the reader to a paranoiac quest to find out who and why is producing a strange series of video material and distributing it on the Internet. The “footage” has attracted a large flock of followers, and some suspect are a cunningly new form of viral marketing campaign.

1984 legacy
History is raw material to mould the truth. The control over the media is a fundamental element in the permanent writing of what is perceived and therefore accepted as the reality. In this novel Gibson looks back to Orwell, his characters are less interested in what it was than they are in what is now. The future is made up by the present, not by the past events that made up the present. The past is a process permanently having been written.

‘The future is there,’ Cayce hears herself say, ‘looking back at us. Trying to make sense of the fiction we will have become. And from where they are, the past behind us will look nothing at all like the past we imagine behind us now.’
‘I only know that the constant in history is change: The past changes. Our version of the past will interest the future to about the extend we’re interested in whatever past the Victorians believe in. It simply won’t seem very relevant’ [1, p.57]

An open hive
Again, the current mantra: openness, free circulation, collective and participatory creation. In the close media, if you position yourself outside the structure, you can always assemble others material via remix, but never disassemble them. This last is only possible by giving away the structures of a given work as happens in open source. Disassembling is a quasi effortless process in the open media, because it pretends to lack of hierarchy, to be the continuous process of writing, not a book.

‘Musicians, today, if they’re clever, put new compositions out on the web, like pies set to cool on a window ledge, and wait for other people to anonymously rework them. Ten will be all wrong, but the eleventh may be genius. And free. It’s as though the creative process is no longer contained within an individual skull, if indeed it ever was. Everything, today, is to some extend the reflection of something else.’ [1, p.68]

Nevertheless the amount of creations, as in a hive there is nothing distinct just resemblances. All falls under the similarity. In the vast but homogeneous variety of outcomes that constitutes the open media, we have then a different challenge: the recognition of patterns, not of instances, and that needs a different kind of effort, even if those are empty and meaningless patterns.

  1. Gibson, William. Pattern Recognition. London: England, Penguin Books. 2003.

19 05/08

Neuromancer (W. Gibson)


What a daring and challenging novel!. It is one of my SF favourite books, I read it years after playing Shadowrun and watching The Matrix and Ghost in the shell, and anyhow still caused a strong impression on me.

I was aware of the term Cyberpunk through other stories, but never went direct to the source. Though that term appeared slightly for first time in Burning Chrome, it was in Neuromancer were Gibson gave birth to a new topic in SF literature.

As excerpt, I would like to share just its beginning, it is in my opinion one of the most hallucinating sentences I ever read in SF, coming from a TV culture and 8-bit video games consoles:

“The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.”

Neuromancer was the first novel to win the three most important prizes in SF – Hugo in 1985 , Nebula in 1984 and Philip K. Dick awards in 1984- It just burst into the field opening new narratives and styles. Neuromancer has a techno-poetic prose not easy to read and to follow, fragmented and plenty of not finished sentences that remember the tv-zapping or surfing in a global see of information; most likely one of the most influential SF novel during the last times, that has encouraged several discussions about our relation with technology.

Here it can be read in an on-line version.

Here an interesting analysis I recomend.

Finally: a movie based on Neuromacer is coming soon.