~e; EM religious artworks #2

From bc <human@electronetwork.org>
Date Tue, 19 Mar 2002 01:34:11 -0600

  abstract: picture of e-pole, photo. and then commentary on what is in
  the photo, both image and the substance of the artifact itself, as idea:

  a silver-gelatin print of a telegraph pole (e-distribution pole with electric
  and data/phone line likely) in Armenia. photo/print by Simon Norfolk. 1998
  shown in a local gallery, whose brochure someone gave to me as an artifact.


  ^ one basic thesis that for years i have tried to communicate, but have not
  yet found a universal enough language of saying it, is that aesthetically, by
  design, these e-poles are typically (or, as types of similar artifacts, or as
  'typologies') of the same class, in terms of shape, material, form. there are
  some variants, of course, but the wooden poles as above in Armenia can be
  found in the trailer parks of the USA to Siberia, Russia, South 
African nations,
  and even on the Antarctic there is one running from the generators to the
  artic base station (at least clipped and saved a picture from years back that
  showed such a setup). thus, this common form all over the place. and it is
  the aesthetic basis, in the material realm, for seeing 'cyberspace' in the
  local environment. maybe not enough due has been given to the fact that yes,
  cyber- this and that is not literally equivalent, and i have self-contradicted
  my own arguments on this matter, as at times the idea can expand, and at
  times it is best contracted, in the background. as plain old non-sense. and
  to work on some of the more complex ideas involved, these issues need to
  be worked through, and hopefully discussion can lead to shared research.

  the photograph above (itself, being a photograph, is using light energy and
  when printed on paper, old-style, it uses magnetic paper with silver crystals
  i believe, which are charged and turn towards or away from the light, given
  the state of the crystal. maybe someone will help clarify if this is 
  ... is exemplary of something. when i first saw the image, it is 
much different
  when not scanned (cannot be captured, as it is glossy silver paper, and i am
  not a scannermonkey)... it first looked as if the shape on the cross was an
  eastern-orthodox cross, slightly baroque looking. then, when taking a closer
  look tonight, it seems that it is snow that the photographer captured on the
  pole. but the pole itself is a cross, in a vast barren plain, with 
the wires of
  the pole directly, materially represented the physical outside of the inner/
  cyberspace/virtual/electronic/immaterial realm of these communcations.

  such that, should one of us be in Armenia, nearby that pole, this e-mail
  would pass through the wires it is suspending in tension, across vastly
  huge distances (countrys and continents). that single electrical utility
  pole is the internet, manifested locally. upon close inspection of a local
  pole, someday hopefully ~e.org will do this as research, one can decipher
  the switches, the residential drops, the transformers, cable and phone
  and electricity. i think the number of these e-poles is in the many many
  billions, if not the trillion range. it is somewhere uppermost billions, i
  imagine. this is one reason that 'broadband' is expensive for rural people,
  as the wires (or fibers) need to be strung, and they are the last places
  to get such services (save satellites, which solve that problem, except
  for powerplants, but fuel cells may do that, or alternative fuel supplies).

  the point. i am a wanderer with thoughts, often lost, but the point of this
  is that this single picture, maybe it is art, and it may show a unique and
  interesting aspect (dynamic, visual form, composition, lighting, etc), it
  is still meaningfilled as an artifact (sans artistic producer) and has its own
  typology of similar and somewhat different forms (and materials, e.g., the
  concrete or fiberglass composite columns, or steel.). also, it is regional
  in that a country or region of an area that is rich in a certain type of
  woodstock, will use fir or whatever type of treestock is plentiful. and
  like wooden matches, so wooden electrical distribution poles.

  there is one slant that i have used for years that is lost in traditional
  debates on architecture, it is of no significance if it is not aesthetically
  made by an architect, etc, yet, if one looks into the past of civilizations,
  particularly roman (but one could look into others, such as chinese), there
  is a basic structure for building things, in the material realm, to deal with
  the issue of gravity (and Why Things Fall Down, etc) of designing things
  for the longer term. the concept, notable in the Celtic post-and-lintel, or
  vertical column and the horizontal spanning piece that goes across it, is
  replicated in this electrical distribution pole. the artificialized tree (by
  way of manufacturing a tree for the purpose of making this structural
  vertices of pilotis) is strung with wires that act as 'lintels', and those
  wires carry energy and information, inside the wires, while outside are
  materially representing the duality of the inside and outside of cyberspace,
  or this place inside networked EM technologies. and the outside is based on
  the speed of the sun (newton seeing, potentially), and the inside of the
  realm of EM is lightspeed (ala virilio's metaphysics, but moreso based
  on Einstein) and travelling at a speed too fast to see, yet comprehend.
  thus, worked for years trying to make the basic observation that by
  looking at the slower outside stuff, these boring e-poles, one can slow
  down the fast-forwarding that goes on onside the internetwork and see
  how it relates to everyday space, time, aesthetics, culture. in a way,
  one could say, traditional is on the outside, and another is on the inside.
  the duality being bridged by quantum logic, using paradox and relativity.

  last point, sorry if this is overdone, but sometimes it is the only respite
  from a extremely harsh climate, to present such thoughts as these. and
  the though is this: today, in theory circles, there is a lot of buzz/hype
  around the idea of Empire. when looking at e-poles one can also see this
  evidenced in the artifacts, just as the columns and capitals of classical
  Roman empire stretched whereever the roads and water/aquaducts went.
  and they were systematic, and replicated artifacts that are today often
  found as the most relished of ancient archaeological artifiacts, what was
  utilitarian (craft, i am guessing, but they were replicated by hand, and
  not identical but made by rules, such as the corinthian, ionic, composite)
  and like e-poles, they were a structure by which the Empire was defined
  aesthetically. meaning that, like Rome's columns and capitals (post and
  lintel construction), so too are these e-poles and wires the direct and
  physical representation of a type of common technological empire, of
  which great divides are crossed, and is often associated as an American
  construction, which is in part accucurate, in part a myth and is literally
  not true on the whole, as it is more complex than a one-off, but has been
  two hundred years in just getting these wooden poles up everywhere all
  over the world, when the US of America was not in empire-minded mode.

  thus, here's the twist: the language being used today is based, it is being
  proposed herein, on the 'outside' logic of these electrical poels (seeing of
  aesthetics as unique beauty/design/authenticity), yet is communicated
  about in terms of the inside experience/essense, of speed and chaos and
  immateriality. in a sense, both existential and semiotic sights are able
  to be applied, but if one is missing, the logic is skewed and may rest on
  a traditional (mis/mal)-interpretation of the electromagnetic event per
  se (not necessary the event in traditional terms, which is how the base
  of discourse is today and has yet to change due to the old empiral model).
  thus, funny enough, Empire perpetuates, does not liberate, if the mind is
  stuck in the mode of traditional seeing, inside and out, but that there is
  an interface, a type of physicality that is a gradient needing thought to
  make the transference from inside and outside, back and again, with a
  sense of old human intention, about doing things for others, sharing ideas,
  trying to build/make, invent a better way of doing things, etc ad naseum.

  finally, (if one can hope), something like architecture, of which has in al-
  most total fashion denied all reliance upon the simple e-pole in making the
  built environment work (to the point of having buildings photographed with-
  out the e-poles, so as to make them look more perfect as aesthetic objects),
  it may be considered worthwhile or at least to be discussed the value of
  an idea like Arnheim's (seemed to be, art writer) who discussed the nature
  of interface, but not just a computer interface, or industrial design, in the
  sense of electromagnetism it could be interpreted that all traditional ways
  of doing things, artwise and designwise, will in some way be mediating the
  inside and outside in an interface. people can invent images and aesthetics
  all they want. but one thing is very important:

  it is already completely designed, it is the electrical infrastructure. it is
  what mediates the in- and out-side of the online and offline experience. it
  is rich symbolically, the e-pole as tree, as cross, wires as lintels, and
  that is at the very base or foundation of an entire sytem already in full-
  fledged existence, but worth absolutely nothing, of no value, to the ways
  of traditional disciplinary discourses, as it is of another way of perceiving
  (which computing has offered, but earlier, so too, light, telegraphy)... and
  so while persons may debate ideas about these inside and outside issues,
  without dealing with the middle-thing, the paradox, the emprical evidence
  that there is a science and technology supporting ideas online, it is going
  to be near impossible to 'ground' discussions, and action, offlline, at all.

  so thus, if looking at the e-pole in the picture, one of the most joyous
  things for me is that most every e-pole has a top-most cable/line/wire.
  it is for lightning. so that if lightning hits the pole, it follows that line
  into the ground via guy-wires that hold the e-pole up. (like a ship, no
  less, in terms of aesthetic meaning and truth of structural design as
  a tension construction). meaning, at least for me, when others think
  of things like the outer reaches of the universe, or of the edge of the
  knowable and unknowable, for me it is at that lightning wire, in that
  that is like the top of the heavens for cyberspace. for if the pole were
  to get hit, the wires would go down, the computers would get their
  motherboards fried from either the lightning or the voltage spike,
  and so it is somewhat like an old myth of the heavens and the pantheon
  of beliefs, which are inside those wires. but one hit of lightning and
  the thing goes down. the mystery remains, pervades. it is rich, and
  it is right before us. and yet it is so difficult to communicate about
  as the division of mental labor is so great that building, instead of
  dividing ideas, is the norm. and it seems humanity can get lost in it.

  thank you for being on this list.

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