The Alan Sondheim Mail Archive


Passive-Aggressively Blowing My Own Horn

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Early on, around 1994-5, I developed the concept of 'rewrite,' the enunci-
ation/announcement of online presence - an ontological performative funda-
mentally changing the way humans communicate.

I developed the concept of 'defuge' to indicate a kind of disinvestment or
staleness that psychologically characterizes aspects of online and offline
life.

I worked through the 'inscribed body'/'body of inscription' in relation to
'culture all the way down,' placing the semiotic register across all
species, and this in relation to an examination of the phenomenology of
culture itself.

I worked extensively with the idea of 'third sex,' produced solely through
the dynamics of a linguistic register in various social applications; in
this respect, I further developed the concept of lag as seductive lure.

I did early work on MOOs and talkers, creating what would later be called
codework pieces, by manipulating the database labels of both; I also
worked on a phenomenology of talk/chat applications, ranging from MOOs to
IRC.

I created a number of codework pieces, interfering in IRC channels,
rewriting talker and MOO databases, and so forth.

I created the word 'codework' to reference a style of writing in which
code-bones are apparent, scrabbling the surface and depths of texts, and
in this regard was a forerunning of flarf, early on google-scraping and
working with perl programs and unix/linux scripts to reconstitute texts,
drawing new extended meanings out of them.

With the help of Florian Cramer, I extended the structure of the Chinese
Thousand-Character Essay into other texts, using a perl program that kept
only the first instance of a word, in its proper order; I operated upon
Genesis in this fashion.

I have worked with one of the longest-running art projects online - the
Internet Text, which I add to daily, and which was started at the begin-
ning of 1994.

In Second Life, I have constructed a new and extreme style of artwork, in
which real-life textures are combined with 'alien' shapes and spaces,
having no basis in the real world.

With Foofwa de Imobilite and Azure Carter - we have pioneered a form of
dancework called 'avadance' from avatar movement, and this movement itself
has been pioneering, using software- and hardware-altered motion capture
equipment to create 'inconceivable' mappings of human behaviors.

Through Gary Manes, I pioneered in the creation of dynamic filters for
motion capture processing; these parallel graphic filters in image-proc-
essing programs, but they transform both time- and space-coordinates.

Using Blender, I have created avatars without any human or organic feat-
ures whatsoever, adding human behavioral patterns to them, in order to
examine the phenomenology of behavioral 'reading' without cues from a body
image itself.

In music, I have pioneered new guitar techniques, as well as extended the
possibilities of instruments such as Alpine zither, hegelung, and cobza.

I have written one of the first extended works dealing with body abjection
and discomfort, centered on cancer, through the use of codework and other
textual manipulations.

Early on, I created a series of raw texts from net-sex - texts which led
to the concept of 'wryting,' inscribing the body itself as projection and
introjection; this led to the concept of 'jectivity,' indicating the
psychological and psychoanalytical flows between agents, screens, desire,
and programs.

Along the same line, in an extended text called Textbook of Thinking, I
created a 'ruptured' analysis of the obscene and the abject as existing in
a different register, within or beneath the linguistic - this deeper
register (related to Kristeva's 'chora') underlies human communication and
behavior.

Early on, I wrote on textual interfaces in linux, and their phenomenolo-
gies; I also analyzed talk and ytalk in linux/unix as representations of
the body on-screen, in terms of screen 'real estate.'

Through textual avatars such as Nikuko, Travis, Alan, Jennifer, and Julu,
I worked through psychological and psychoanalytical issues of projected
identities; these characters appeared anywhere from talkers to IRC to
email to newsgroups to Second Life.

In terms of philosophical issues, I wrote extensively on the relationship
of the 'analogic' and 'digital' registers, using the abacus as a starting
point; this also has led to a series of purely philosophical texts, such
as Sophia and Philosophy, which utilize conceptual organization as a way
to structure analyses of the real.

I have written as well on the fundamental entanglement of the real and
virtual, within the phenomenology of inscription - an entanglement that
virtualizes and mirrors any ontology, within any other.

I have written what might be the deepest analysis of Second Life from
within - that is, an analysis of virtual worlds and worlding, in a series
of texts gathered in The Accidental Artist.

In dance, I have created a series of 'possibilities' using VLF (very low
frequency radio) in order to create a dialectic between choreography/
movement and the 'invisible' radiating world at large.

(I should mention my early video- and film-work, based on new techniques -
for example, in the early 1980s, I created a 16mm (sound) film a week,
using multiple in-camera processing, layering optical soundtracks on the
fly, and so forth.)

Within the sociology of postmodernism, I have analyzed the social in terms
of radiations and dusts, using these to model transmission (both basic
and parasitic) and reception across a variety of spectra.

Along the same lines, I have written on the phenomenology of VLF, short-
wave listening, and similar things which emphasize hunting virtualities in
worldings that are always already continuously evanescent and vanishing.

Early on, I created artworks using Quickbasic and Basic, to create images
that scattered from within, as well as fractal traces using a phenomenolo-
gy of measurement - these led to considering the boundaries of the visual
in relation to the boundaries of the world, which was also built upon a
re-examination of inscribing between x and -x in set theories.

Earlier still, I created pieces that involved 'driving in 4-space' -
moving through four-dimensional space - the image was flattened to a
2-space vector screen.

And slightly later, using UCSD Pascal, I created 'active-editing' programs
that would take textual input and transform it on the fly; this led to an
analysis of parasitism and noise in situations where it seemed imperative
to transmit a message through a hostile environment.

These same techniques were used, within the past few years, as a way to
interfere with three-dimensional modeling programs, so that it became
almost, but not totally, impossible to reconstitute the original image
from the scan - and this led, in turn, to reworking avatar bodies them-
selves in second life, producing anomalous and unreadable structures
motivated by avatar 'intelligence' within them.

And so forth.

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So where is this work? Scattered among chapbooks, print-on-demand books
(which are never available for review or perusal), within the Internet
Text and at the website I use to temporarily store files (temporarily -
given the limited storage I have). There are archived materials at the
Ohio State University in Columbus; there are materials that will be
archived at New York University in Manhattan. There are over twenty-five
hours of films still at Filmmakers Coop, where they sit and decay. There
are several cds, and three non-publish-on-demand books, none of which
discuss any of the above. There have been a number of manuscripts which
continue to gather dust. At one point I self-published several dvds and
texts, but that proved impractical.

What happened? My work is difficult to grasp; it moves too quickly among
disciplines and (artistic) communities; almost all of it is non-academic
in style; it's unsellable; it's parasitic on email lists, and appears (as
this text appears) only as noise; it's sent to /dev/null one way or ano-
ther; at times it appears too neurotic, sexual, intense, moribund, diffi-
cult, or depressive; it takes far too much time to read and/or process; it
seems to short-circuit itself; I'm socially awkward, etc. etc.

What will happen? Surely nothing until after my death, and then, if the
works survive on someone's machine, something might come of them; however
by then, they'll most likely be outdated.

This can only end on an "ah, well...".

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