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On hyper-continuity and the Discontinuous Proportion

In his text, 'Art after Philosophy' (1969), Joseph Kosuth describes the "...morphological characteristics of art..." [1] pre-Duchamp. This could be said to be a description of the use of the discontinuous proportion in art practice, where a:b:c:d, c and d being the mapped morphology of a and b. This results in the discontinuous art object, continuous only with a rarified history of art.

Duchamp paradigmatically changed this, with his use of the continuous proportion, where a:b:b:c, with b being a Readymade repositioned within the gallery context. These objects were also continuous with their link to production by manufactured means.

In the 1970's a hyper continuity developed, where the work was excessively continuous with the public, for the first time. Stephen Willats' work, which anticipates programming and engaging with the public before the work is seen in a gallery context, predicts the development of much contemporary art, seen for the first time in the media, and net art, which builds its own audience outside the gallery.

There is a similar humour in Willats' work, with his 'West London Super Girls' who distributed and collected questionaires and manuals for the 'West London Resource Project', to Alexei Shulgin's 'Cyber punk Rock Band'. Willats' work also has some similarity with Etoy in terms of 'deployment' of people in jumpsuits: "'Canvassers dressed up in silver jumpsuits with helmets, ... arrived in a street in a time-machine.'"[2]

Perhaps it is the 'seriousness' of programming people and machines which leads to this particular sense of humour. Stephen Bell's work is hypercontinuous because it is generative and interactive. Like Willats, he is interested in patterns of behaviour. Bell's work has a visceral quality to it, both in the interactive computer animated program and the still images. This is an aspect which the viewer/participant might respond to instinctively. In terms of hyper-continuity, it embodies a dialogue with the user in generating the work. Also of interest to Bell, is space, particularly a multi-dimensional space.

The spatiality to explore relationships, both with machines and with each other, are what these works are about. Continuity is common ground for relating, where as discontinuity is the residue of a mapped morphology.

This generative spatiality is also part of Lev Manovich's Soft Cinema software program. The films in this publication, by Manovich and Andreas Kratky, are never seen the same way twice. Selecting combinations from the database of material, each screening is unique. There are a vast number of permutations, and using data space to generate potentialities in this way, is particularly appropriate to computing and the programmed work. The program embodies a hyper-continuity, and meaning is constructed and reconstructed relativistically. The effect of this generative quality, is a negotiation of meaning through the aura of each performance.

Meaning is generated continuously, and like Willats and Bell, the quality of the program affects the quality of the work. That hyper-continuity should be linked to space is not surprising, and this mediational continuity occurs when we can agree about how something is defined, or transferred into the art realm. Spatially this creates a link. Whether it is the links between the participants in Willats' work, the behavioural links in Bell's work, or the linking of narrative from the database in Manovich's Soft Cinema software, this is what hyper-continuity is about.

Aura 08.04.08

[1]Art in Theory, Charles Harrison & Paul Wood, p842

[2]Rosetta Brooks, 'Behavioural Art', Studio International, January 1973, p28