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.

27 10/08

UBIK (Philip K. Dick)

Tags: , , , , , | Categories: science fiction

We wanted to give you a shave like no other you ever had. We said, It’s about time a man’s face got a little loving. We said, With Ubik’s self-winding Swiss chromium never-ending blade, the days of scrape-scrape are over. So try Ubik. And be loved. Warning: use only as directed. And with caution.

HI, the sentence opening this post correspond to one of the most strange, delirious and provocative novels I ever read: UBIK by Philip K. Dick. It is enough to say that I was severed influence by this author during my university years.

Regression and restoration
UBIK (lat: ubique) makes us to think about the nature of reality and how we perceive it, a recursive theme in Dick’s work. Besides aspects related to limits between live and death (half-life); in UBIK Dick explores one interesting aspect: the obsession with consumerism and the influence of technology and advertisement in this game. Coloured with control mind exerted by psychics who influence our desire for a certain product.

In UBIK there is a group of people with psychic powers which suffered an attack while working for Rucinter’s organisation. As a consequence every consumable seems to rotten faster and reality to suffer a regressive state, the only wait to scape or delay this process: a magic all-mighty and ubiquitous product: UBIK. It has reminded me briefly a series of post my friend Cesar has dedicated to talk about publicity and design and the forces in both practices towards making something desirable and the standardisation of consumption. Dick used a SF metaphor to explore the smoke-walls of our society and in doing so UBIK appears as a complex and delirious book but on the other hand Dick points to the deeply rooted believe that consumption is a magic wand to solve all matters and consequently the ones with power over that image are the ones that rule. Something my good friend Cesar is overlooking.

If you have not read that book do not worry soon the factory-of-dreams is going to produce a film about UBIK.