[ISEA95] Panel: Roy Ascott – Wormholing in Cyburbia and other paranatural pleasures

Panel Statement

Panel: Gender and Technology

The wormholing is one of the more potent metaphors to have come from the new physics, a science which has been conspicuous in its relevance to the developing aesthetic of interactive art, and most notably in issues concerning the relationship between the artwork and the viewing subject in the negotiation and creation of meaning. Wormholes are found tunnelling in quantum foam. Technically, as Rip Thorne of Caltech describes it, a wormhole is a ‘handle’ in the topology of space, connecting two widely separated locations in our universe. The wormhole promises the rapid transit of particles and also – if recent proposals published by the Royal Astronomical Society of Great Britain are to be believed – people, from one layer of reality to another, from one time frame to another, from one galaxy to another, in micro seconds or virtually within no time at all. Certainly this metaphor commands attention in any account of the direction in which we are now moving culturally, artistically, and perhaps spiritually. Quantum foam may not mean much to us on an everyday level of experience, but tunnelling through what might be called “datafoam” from one hyperlinked layer to another, shooting the wormholes from one telepresence to another, from one website to another, actually zapping from one mind to another, and faster than light should allow, is a perfectly reasonable aspiration of all of us living and working in the telematic, post-biological universe. For the artist it is becoming a creative necessity.

Transformation is the commanding concept of interactive, virtual, networked, multimedia art – the transformation, that is, of meanings, images, forms, and perhaps of oneself and even the world – and it is the rapidity of transfer, the speed of shift between states that we value most. Overarching this constant flux, which is both semantic and psychic, are the two great infinities
that frame our consciousness: the mind of the universe and the universe of our mind. These are the two classic undecidables which we are increasingly coming to apprehend as one, as a unity of consciousness, even maybe of self, and of whose universal connectivity we are indivisible parts. As artists voyaging into the 21st century, we are simultaneously facing out toward the galaxies and inwards to the deepest recesses of the brain.

Roy Ascott, UK. A pioneer of cybernetics and telematics in art, Roy Ascott has initiated many global networking projects and published over seventy texts He advises Leonardo, CEC, Ars Electronica, and IMF San Francisco. Formerly Communications Theory Professor, Vienna, and Dean of The San Francisco Art Institute, he is currently Director of CAIIA in Wales.

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