human being on Sat, 13 Sep 2003 14:55:19 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Art and Electromagnetism

Nettimers of various persuasions may find interest in
careful consideration of the work of Charles Halary:

Art and Electromagnetism: A Relationship in the Form of a Wave

Les Rapports Ondulatoires de l'Électromagnétisme avec les Arts

The full paper has now been translated into English and
the many intriguing aspects that left me with suspense
in the earlier, shorter English introduction have now
been fulfilled and it is very difficult to explain the
full scope of this intrigue, unless it is that more of
the mystery that is being documented is being revealed.

The perception about electromagnetism and knowledge of
it would seem to fall into the relativity of argument,
another perspective, another debate, another hierarchy.
Yet many things cannot be so simply decontextualized
from this common, cosmological context of the ultimate
questions which are shared across centuries and ways
of knowing. If a summary were attempted, it would be
to question 'the art of living' with electromagnetism,
and taking a broad and fascinating overview of many
not-so-obvious relations in our developing culture.

And central to this investigation is the question and
role of the arts, the media arts as they are called,
but also a wide and inclusive range that demonstrates
a broad cultural knowledge and appreciation of poetry,
philosophy, physics, language, relating the human body
and our environment in an electromagnetic understanding.

It is an easy argument to dismiss if theoretical-logic
continues its dismissal of the emprical knowledge that
is required to move from its metaphysics into common
literacies of the science, technologies, and artforms
that have and are arising from this phenomena that for
many centuries has been a fixture of many thinkers and
innovators in every discipline. In this same way there
is a genealogy that exists between today's net artists
and theorists that is reminiscent of earlier pioneers
in radio that can be seen in a historical photograph:

Early Showcases during Electrification
[Electricians Kingsley Rayburn, Byron De Forest, and
George Moore at the Electrical Show]. 1910 Chicago.

There may be something to recognizing connections
that go beyond single disciplines and pre-existing
theoretical constructs, such as that of 'media' or
'digital' as a word more meaningful as it gets, as
is provocatively challenged and agreed with for it
lacks the most basic acknowledgement of the physics
and science and technology involved in such 'arts'
supposedly determined by the mining of such terms.

This work instead is a question that backs up the
incessant pushing forward of technology as thought,
and instead asks questions and shares relations in-
between areas that have profound implications that
are not in themselves unique, as they are eternal
and repeatedly asked in new contexts, but they are
not easy questions, and the answer does not exist
but in the question itself- to acknowledge the most
basic truths of our human body and its existence
in relationship with our environment, then to ask
what this life today is uniquely about, not based
on some archaic assumption of modern or even pre-
modern assumptions and retrofitted into history,
instead to question assumptions, to look at the
evidence, and to consider anew these questions of
what is life, what is art in this life, and how
might we live in relation to eachother based on
our new knowledge that so far is invisible- it
exists in bits and pieces, in fragments, yet no
basic literacy brings together what becomes self-
evident- that a new cultural order now exists,
and that it is disingenuous to continue to ignore
ideas and arguments that recontextualize present
questions, into a scope more inclusive than that
which is used today to justify the most banal of
visions, based upon the faulty cast of hyperbole.

Though 'Art and Electromagnetism' does not make
such a contention itself, it begs more inquiry
into the refusal to address the most basic and
at times profound of questions related to the
very things professed to be dealt with by the
academicians and theoreticians of the academy.
And maybe it is as simple as this: that such
questioning is not based on the competitive
and hierarchical view of knowledge, that true
'art-science-technology' investigations do not
give physicists the upper-hand in all things,
nor should the linguist conquer all wordage.
In contrast, it is the cooperative knowledge,
and the question of education that is largely
evident in this questioning of common culture.

No one is an expert in electromagnetism. That
in itself would be a misnomer, if taking into
account the vast, total knowledge that would
be required- that is also the beauty of its
very mystery- in that it has inspired so many
over so many generations, that for it to be
an invisible knowledge, esoteric but even to
be illicit, in that it takes the illusion off
of the workings of today's ideologies about
such things as the human body and environment
and the basis for order in our common culture,
the areas of science and technology that have
been prosaic in their influencing our minds
and imaginations, and then to have this be
off-limits in terms of knowledge is absurd,
and our collective existence requires and
deserves better than this, by us. We can
certainly change this- not by a new answer
or buying another book and keeping tenure
for some entrenched thinker. It is through
the questioning of the present, into wild
and magical territories, and if one is to
feign refutation of such questions, they
should do so in public, with their logic
and their knowledge in full public view.

Else, we live in a world without reality.
Without an actual cosmic aspect, either in
the microcosm or macrocosm, nor in-between.
The question needs to exist before answers
and some questions will never be answered.
Though to propose that 'digital' or 'media'
begins and ends in some arbitrary timeline,
unhinged from the story that ties time and
space together, that has modeled light and
human action, and brings music and sound
throughout atmospheres of mind and place.

If what is occuring today in so many varied
ways and forms were to be recontextualized
and identified in the richness of existing
knowledge of the body and environments in
an electromagnetic sense, it would offer a
benefit of a common and continuous wave of
knowledge, action, and the harnessing of a
power based on this, for artistic cultural
countermeasures to balance what is wrought
by unbridled scientific and technological
development. But it will require a sense of
belonging to this question, which this work
succeeds in doing through a fascination of
life itself and a sharing and divulging of
many of the most curious of connections in
this common realm, and to be free enough
as to share this curiosity, these questions,
and to work on this basic foundation which
provides the infrastructure for so many of
the superstructures being built today, by
engineers, but by artists and activists also.

It is not religion, it is secular knowledge,
that thing having been lost in the politics
of today due to an exploitation of weakness
in the current modes of operation. It then
necessitates asking the most basic questions
again, going back to assumptions, is this as
good as can be done to understand ourselves
and our condition? Do we have the tools to
even approach the questions we face together?
Are we literate and educated in our ability
to shape these things which are shaping us?

Whether it is sociology, art, anthropology,
architecture, economics, zoology, literature,
history, politics, medicine, on and on, all of
these knowledge systems and ways of knowing
have been epically transformed by advances
in electromagnetism. Yet there is no formal
system to even discuss these relationships
within fields or between them, yet outside
of customary boundries and logics. For the
questions of art, and their profound impact
in much larger environments which do affect
the sciences, technology, and fields such
as architecture this work provides evidence
that the question has reached a scale that
is cosmic its nature and its implications.
It reveals the power of the questions of
the artist to delve into great mysteries
and share what they have discovered upon
their journeys, which many have and are
doing, yet still as individuals, outside
of contexts that could bring many aspects
and endeavors into one of enormous change.

Please consider the text. The above is a
short appraisal which attempts to convey
the wonder these common questions bring
when placed in relation to those of art.
A monopoly on such knowledge, ideas, or
perspectives of it is in itself absurd.
Though collaborations and efforts to go
the next step are slowly forming, and it
does center around education and ideas.
Therefore, if there ever was a chance to
be introduced to such thinking, this is
a unique and ideal chance to learn about
electromagnetism and how it is not just
another theory cooked up in short order.
Instead, it is a 14-billion year question
that has puzzled the minds and creative
imaginations of so many before, and so
too, many today, who are beginning to
self-organize by sharing what they know.

Please contact the author with comments.

  bc microsite

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