[NetBehaviour] erhu & Comments on Alan Sondheim's postings on this list...

marc marc.garrett at furtherfield.org
Sun Jan 7 16:12:49 CET 2007

Comments on Alan Sondheim's postings on this list...

I perceive Alan's post-works, as an going work in 'process', expounding 
the very nature of process itself, as a continualy networked , creative 
act of mutated-consciousness, in a literal form. It involves the 
material itself to be distributed, when visiting various lists as part 
of a performative operation, this is part of its context. Viewing the 
function and behaviour of how the work is solicited can also bring about 
a closer understanding of what the work is doing, in essence, as we 
receive it daily.

Its value as art, or even an act of creativity rests in appreciating 
that some of the work is like semiotic code, using the language of 
tools, sofware and the computer, to build the content, mixed with more 
traditional wordings alongside other peices of texts. His work is noise, 
not non-thinking noise but a noise that expounds, or translates the 
result of Alan's poetic imagination, melding with code. It is not trying 
to communicate as a linear message would do, or as a singular art object 
like an image. It is exploiting the channels of communication, leaking 
into these platforms like a virus would, yet directed by his consciousness.

So, Alan's behaviour in releasing his material around the Internet, 
could be considered as acting much like a parasite. I do not mean this 
in a negative way, but more that 'this is what is done', it becomes, or 
is part of the meaning of the work itself - the function is component of 
its larger meaning, if there is such a thing as meaning. The intention 
of his actions, also becomes part of the work which we may not be so 
clear about which is probably what causes the most troubles, when people 
ask questions - like why is there so much of it?

Alan and the Internet cannot be split. His work spans its history, and 
as much as it has dominated his psyche, he has also dominated the 
Internet's psyche; and perhaps also infiltrated our own minds just by 
being here or there, as we tour many of the lists ourselves. We are part 
of the work, whether we be passively or engaged with it, it is now part 
of our online presence with us, like a virus, hacking into the listserv, 
structures and sub-structures, and into our own contexts. We become 
segments of the structures that he sets his work up to infiltrate.

What makes it a little more confusing is that we know that Alan harbours 
real emotions, ideas and also gets involved in discourse regarding 
various subject matters on lists as well as distributing his work on 
them at the same time. But, he speaks differently from his 
posts/conversations because that is dialogue, and this should be 
acknowledged. I do not feel that Alan is trying to impose any type of 
mesaage to dominate us, or even try and impose a claiming of territory. 
Much of his work just is, it is being, it is there and bleeds into its 
surroundings like steam into a room.

I am definately not sure if Alan would agree with any of this, but if he 
is not going to respond and discuss about his work, it is not a problem. 
Because going through the motions of exploring these texts and their 
purposes etc, has been rewarding itself and opened different 
possibilities, and nuances, and also helps one to understand or at least 
appreciate (a little) work by other artists such as MEZ and FLorian Cramer.

marc :-)

(c)human interaction in a broad sense of any cultural appropriation and 
use: in 1968, in his book Algol, Noël Arnaud made a first attempt at 
using a programming language as material for poetic compositions. Later 
on, the hacker slang “leet”, Alan Sondheim’s “Codework” and Marie Anne 
Breeze’s “Mezangelle” all apply code as a material that can be 
recomposed to create a particular form of written language that is 
recognised as “computer talk”, imitating command lines but readable as 
some sort of English. In the same way as James Joyce experienced with 
language in “Finnegan’s Wake”, these new forms of writing create their 
own semantics and a meta-language with social and cultural implications. 
On the other hand, the work of George Pérec, Jodi, the I/O/D group, 
Netochka Nezvanova or Adrian Ward’s Auto-Illustrator introduce what 
Cramer defines as “software dystopia”, the reflection on software not as 
a subservient, domesticated assistant but as a fearful, obscure and 
incomprehensible golem that may revolt against us at any time or take 
its own decisions. Under this light, software becomes much more than 
just a tool, it is part of a broader concept of culture.
Pau Waelder - Words Made Flesh (2005) - Florian Cramer. 

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