[ISEA97] Paper: Mark Palmer – The Foregrounding of the Issue of Space


If indeed, the medium IS the message, the issue that accompanies many of our discourses about the digital, is that of emergence. Utopian promises are always emergent, and deferring to tomorrow, lack the rigor necessary to radically examine our conterns. Salvation is promised it will emerge, as soon as this or that problem is solved, and we are asked to display more than a degree of evangelical faith. Even worse, we experience the invention of terms, which at their limit should be taken hyperbolically, but are offered to us as theory. But in considering an attack on such utopian thinkers, one often finds redeeming facets to their thought, perhaps due to the magpie nature of their rhetoric. But what if we were to take a step back from this situation and consider the issue of emergence not as an issue of tomorrow, but as an intrinsic phenomenon of the digital, a phenomenon which lends this quality to our discourses? What I therefore propose, is that we deal not with an emergent phenomenology, but a phenomenalogy of emergence. McLuhan stated that ”The effects of technology do not occur at the level of opinions or concepts, but alter sense ratios or patterns of perception steadily and without resistance. The serious artist is the only person able to encounter technology with impunity, just because he is an expert aware of the changes in sense perception“. Thus McLuhan offers us a more tangible starting point than the unfulfilled promises of tomorrow.

  • Mark Palmer (UK), Research Scholar, Staffordshire University, Stoke-on-Trent, UK. MA Fine Art 1993, Cardiff Institute of Higher Education. Recent Group Shows: Borders, National Museum of Wales; Sculpture in the Park, Festival Park Ebbw Vale; Trans-formations, The Artists Museum, Lodz, Poland; Site-ations 96, The Artists Project, Cardiff. Recent One Person Shows: Closeness and Distance, Flaxman Gallery, Staffordshire University; Transience, Swansea Arts Workshop Gallery. Recent Papers: Redefining Spaces, their Phenomenologies and Consciousness, Consciousness Reframed, 1st International CAiiA Research Conference, University of Wales College Newport; Between the Visible and the Invisible, Shades of Time, Staffordshire University.

Full text p.46-47