in response to Aileen's latest post about Speed and Imaginary Futures Last weekend I found this image in the ladies loos at the Solaris cafe in Linz. We were enjoying an excellent evening of conversation which touched on an observation (apposite to all present), that the media arts world is disproportionately composed of people with Catholic upbringings. It seems doubly worth bringing up here because, a couple of weeks ago, whilst chatting with the author of Imaginary Futures (recently awarded the Marshall McLuhan Award for Outstanding Book in the Field of Media Ecology) I discovered that Marshal McLuhan was also a devout Catholic. During this conversation we touched on how many approaches and practices of net art evoked early Christian Mysticism.
In 1999 I took part, as The Nun in Somewhere's wonderful, internet-enabled reworking of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, /broadcast/(29 pilgrims, 29 tales). I was exploring public space and the internet as places for making gifts of my art- in this case, a large portable sculpture, The Cloud of Unknowing, gifted to the shrine of Julian of Norwich. Connection 1 theme: 2012 (the end of the world) Chatting with a pal at college yesterday about about 2012 (which among other indications, represents the ending of the Mayan Calendar), he started to talk (straight facedly!) about "planning for the end of the world". How does one go about that? - Soak up every drop of joy from the sensory bath of life before tipping into dark oblivion? - Use the remaining years to join the Autonomous Astronaut Association programme (with all loved ones) to find an anarchistic way across the universe, back to our real home planet and a higher way of life. - Adopt a programme of remorseful teeth-gnashing in the face of ones own miserable failings. Followed by begging for lenience and favours from various irate gods who are claimed to lord it in radiant bolt-holes safe from the horrors of the apocalypse. - Challenge, and so divert, the mass self-fulfilling-prophesy, and death-wish aspects of the anticipated apocalypse in any way possible. Connecting and exchanging with more imaginative and loving types around the world. I realise that planning for the end of the world is distinctly different from planning for one's own death. If end of times is the end of anything and everything and everyone- including memory- it must most scarily of all be the end of connection and the end of relationship. ... that said, imagining the end of everything is provocative. Connection 2 theme: I am like myself because of others from: a new telecoms billboard in Stamford Hill in London A new billboard poster for a well known telecom is showing up on the streets of London which says I am like myself because of others. I resent it when advertisers colonise delicate emerging social mind-models. It sticks a distracting brand flag in my mind, commercialising a place I have reserved for softer, slower incubation of a communitarian approach to life. Connection 2a theme: the end of everything - the end of society from: Naomi Klein's Shock Doctrine, (briefly borrowed from one of Aileen's sons) In her convincing and horrifying exposé of the inner workings of Friedman's 'disaster capitalism', (refutations gratefully accepted btw- I can find none with a simple web-search), Klein prises opens the black box of state-sponsored torture in connection with the brutal application of so-called market-freedom around the world since the mid-70s. This economic fundamentalism looks for social blank canvases which are created either by violent political oppression, war or natural disasters, transforming human tragedy into business opportunities In the first few pages of her book she gives two illustrations from recent times: firstly, the closure of most state schools and their replacement with charter schools in New Orleans, within a year of Hurricane Katrina striking and secondly, tourist developments on the coast of Sri Lanka, built within 9 months of the 2004 tsunami, restricting access to the beaches and seas for local fishermen. Disconnection Theme: destruction, disconnection and the end of relationship Key in the operation of disaster capitalism is the instantiation of the 'blank canvas'; both social and personal. Society is destroyed by the imposition of shocking and disorienting mass violence, which serves to unpick the networks of trust and mutual support evident in all communities. She exposes the 20th century torturers' dual strategies for creating individual 'blank canvases'; anihilating a person without killing their body. Complete isolation and sensory deprivation (touch, sound, sight etc) is combined with electric shock to destroy the memory. I am puzzled by how so many people appear to look forward with dark relish to an apocalyptic end of the world. When destruction visits us from space "in the form of a gamma ray burst or asteroid" or "the poles of the earth shift resulting in cataclysmic natural disasters" will we find Friedmaniacs dancing in the streets at the opportunities arising from the greatest ever fire sale?