The Alan Sondheim Mail Archive

December 13, 2016


Work description for Empyre email list

[ http://www.alansondheim.org/atl374.jpg
  automated university library, Raleigh, NC
http://www.alansondheim.org/atl324.jpg
  mummy, university museum, Atlanta, GA
http://www.alansondheim.org/atl360.jpg
  Raleigh, NC ]

[I was one of a number of guests for the empyre email list in
November, moderated by Murat Nemet-Nejab. For my intro, I
prepared the following, which was extensively edited down. I
still think it's a good description of my work for anyone coming
to it. I'd change some things now, but will leave it as is. For
what it's worth, my segment was with Adeena Karasick, during the
election, which derailed the discussion.]

My name is Alan Sondheim and I approve this message. I have been
working with computers for decades, and specifically with
virtual worlds and motion capture for the past fifteen or so. I
developed the notion of 'codework' to indicate works in which
code is presenced on the surface, but problematic - works in
which meaning uneasily inhabits distinctions among 'worlds of
the work' and program-spaces. Of course the distinctions
themselves are problematic and entangled among many other
things, such as the body, abjection, and 'dirt' in the mix. In
motion capture, I've worked with altered software and mapping,
producing distorted avatars and avatar behaviors. In virtual
worlds, I've been working with concepts of gamespace, edgespace,
and blankspace; here are some very rough definitions and
examples -

Gamespace - this is the rule-governed space of any game where
'game' is defined as anything from TAZ to Arctic exploration to
chess; one plays within the rules. The rules can be fuzzy,
invisible, even non-existent.

Edgespace - my term for what occurs at the boundaries/borders of
gamespace - where assumed behaviors fall apart, but gamespace
still functions as a broken totality, although 'untoward' and
contrary behaviors occur. Edgespace includes soft hacks,
griefing, permeating in-game barriers, and so forth.

Blankspace - here is where it gets interesting - my term for
projections and introjections (psychoanalytical terms) for what
happens in edgespace. Blankspace is the realm of dreams,
fantasms, appearances, ideologies, suturings, and so forth.

An example of the above -

Gamespace - attempting the clean and proper mapping of the
world, Mercator and other projections, GPS, etc. - the 'logic'
of the map.

Edgespace - the 'reading' of the Arctic and Antarctic regions of
the world all the way through, say, 1880; these regions were
presented on worldmaps as blanks, often with contradictory
delineations of landmass/watermass (i.e. if you follow a
shoreline, for example, from the land, it might transform into a
shoreline from the sea) - there are 'logical' contradictions,
etc., all embedded within the map itself as a sheet of
assertion. See http://www.alansondheim.org/north06.jpg .

Blankspace - this is what 'fills' edgespace - you get the quaint
'Heere bee dragonnes' placed in edgespaces - think of
Mandeville's Travels. http://www.alansondheim.org/nord1.jpg

Much of my recent work deals with blankspace:
http://www.alansondheim.org/suicide.mp4 for example - this
actually occurred; it's a few years old, but hopefully a clear
example.

All of these terms, regions, are entangled with each other;
there are no clear boundaries, no absolute delineations.

More recently, I've been think of semiotic splatter - fragmented
and chaotic semiosis, and splatter both as control and
dissolution. I use this term to indicate that semiosis is never
gamespace, never totalized, falls apart, coagulates and clumps;
it relates to defuge, the incessant presencing of material which
appears more and more stale and derogated. Semiotic splatter is
related to strange attractors in chaos theory and leads to the
problematic of semiosis (semiotic generation) and coagulative
hardening - for example the rise of totalitarianism out of
(political, economic) chaos.

The semiotic splatter material is at
http://www.alansondheim.org/splatter.txt - a good introduction
to my work in general. [Much of it is based on the violence done
to HRC by Trump's bullying - trying to come to grips with the
attack which unfortunately proved successful.]

This connects to the idea/l of an absolute dictionary in which
each definition is a tautology: 'syzygy = syzygy' for example -
but the _effect_ of such definitions goes beyond this (saying an
election is 'rigged' over and over again for example, rubs off,
derogates, inhabits a projected abject space - and for me
relates to a mythical deathdrive; if you have patience, watch
the 4-minute http://www.alansondheim.org/losingvoice.mp4 )

Finally, my practice - to write/produce on a daily level; I've
been doing daily pieces (text/music/image/video) since 1994, as
a continuous meditation - at first, on 'cyberspace,' but now
extended elsewhere. The most recent texts are at
http://www.alansondheim.org/uf.txt and
http://www.alansondheim.org/ug.txt [now uh.txt and ui.txt]

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