The Soul selects her own society,
then Shuts the door.
e. dickinson

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Rip My bad TV-self, Mr. Belding.

So Basically, WTF is Going on Here?!

The desire for a physically tangible approach regarding TV, and the content "within" or "on" it is one that deserves more attention requiring a medium which can work to physically interact with the non-space of TV through its basic outer physicality; the screen. In this case, hook and loop fasteners, or more popularly known as velcro, serves to relinquish an appetite for the desire to physically engage with TV provided by the gesture to rip, displace, and reconfigure the transient surface of TV flow (inclusive of narrative, place, time, and multiple drives contained within it like a battery and toy of culture constantly charging and playing.) The attempt to interact with TV through the aforementioned gestures requires an adhesive and/or double layering of the screen itself; velcro would then function as an intermediary, and to an extent, serve as an organ for the effect and sensation of un-hooking. In the essay Touch Sensitivity & Other Art Forms of Subversion: Interactive Artwork" Lynn Hershman writes, "The art of our century, says Katherine Kuh, has been characterized by 'shattered surfaces, broken color, segmented composition, dissolving form, and shredded images'." (193) The rearrangement of form, content, and color of TV through velcro is a process borrowed and traced from aesthetic shocks of Modernity, when she continues that "New technologies and their interactive uses by artists now extent many previous conceived ideas such as the use of multiple perspective and simultaneous viewpoints as explored by Cubists; incorporation of randomness, everyday experience, and the audience as investigated by the Surrealists, and the deconstruction of form as explored by the Dadaists." (195) Velcro, as an adhesive and marker for the sensation of ripping, is not only relegated to its function of security, but, when repeated in the act of hooking and un-hooking onto the loop surface does it develop an object-oriented fetish according to its basic function and gesture to secure one surface onto another.

In this way, the gesture is then appropriated into a metaphysical field of TV flow in which velcro attempts to (literally and metaphorically) fasten onto the transience and illusion of there being an inner and outer quality of TV flow due to the dimensions of the moving-image seeming to simultaneously appear "on" and "inside" its own frame, or as video artist Pipilotti Rist put it "The screen is a membrane that allows the constitution of an inner and outer world, the separation of the familiar from the uncanny." (Rist,10) What is considered uncanny, with regard to TV, is partially toyed with in the attempt to give it a velcro surface; to give a physical surface to a metaphysical current of moving-images.

Without coming across an article that addresses the specific physical gesture to rip, displace, and reconfigure TV flow, Margaret Morse's essay "An Ontology of Everyday Distraction," briefly touches on the notion of physically "sqeezing". (yay, squeezing!) She writes, "The representation of the copresence of multiple worlds in different modes on the television screen is achieved via division of the visual field into areas or via the representation of stacked places which can be tumbled or squeezed and which, in virtual terms, advance toward and retreat from the visual field of the viewer. (206-207). The ability to move and shift hook pieces around the loop surface personifies Morse's concern for "dislocation," when she writes, "In a quite literal, physical sense, freeways, malls, and television are not truly 'places'." (199) Considering the TV screen as an outer jacket that contains and displays an ever changing stream of culture that also works to homogenize the (virtual) world, Rist may have borrowed from Morse or makes a similar connection when she asks "What is the relationship between image and surface? What happens, for example, when the surface of the screen and that of the body meet? Can the television "membrane" become permeable? What happens when it dissolves? Can we break through it"? (Rist,15) Physically breaking through the screen itself would destroy the possibility of interacting with the non-space and flow occurring on it. Morse refers to the screen almost identically, as she writes, "The membrane between virtual and material reality is an actual and easily verifiable second skin...Television, [...], cultivates a far thinner membrane between itself and everyday life, since its very function is to link the symbolic and immaterial world on the monitor with an actual and material situation of reception." (Virtualities: A Conceptual Framework, 17) Because of its fragility, attempts at penetrating through the screen can be made without destroying it. In this way, adhesion may serve as a means and end dependent on certain gestures linked to its function, creating a principle of interaction with TV flow projected onto a TV screen covered with the standard black fuzzy loop material and white pieces of hook fasteners in varying shapes and sizes. Hence, a broken mirror effect. Consider a broken mirror of narrative, time, and place that allows for interaction with the pieces in the attempt to re-arrange them; a breakdown of linear convention that prompts one to control it in such a way.

The issue regarding distance involves interaction with TV in attempt to manipulate it, while also inviting whomever to step out of the conventional mode of viewership and into a more tangible realm of interacting with the screen while whatever occurs on it poses as an ongoing and endless happenstance phrased by Morse as "happening out there." (An Ontology of Everyday Distraction, 199) She also refers to John Ellis' notion of "double distance [in] television's complicity with the viewer against an 'outside world' represented as 'hostile or bizarre,' and the viewer's delegation of 'his or her look to the TV itself. Both means of distancing [blink towards] 'the opposition of inside/outside,' which insulates the viewer from events seen by TV." (ibid) Being able to move around the hook velcro pieces would disrupt and enfold creases on TV narratives, since select portions of the TV show would be seen. The process would then work to open up a space to create a montage or "broken mirror effect" that also depends on select TV moving-images. The temporality of time, moving-image, (and perhaps identity with regard to TV as a metaphor of a mirror or vice-versa) is re-evaluated, or at least aroused in this way in the concept of re-arranging a TV show through hook velcro strips in varying sizes & shapes. Also, the process addresses the standard screen-ratio of TV sets in that each velcro strip varies in length and width where only parts of the TV show are shown. A part of the whole TV show is visible on velcro strips, while the remaining the parts are projected, or in a sway, subsumed, into the invisible dead space of black loop velcro.

Miniaturization, as a reference point for the sake of arguing, works to playfully control TV flow by substituting multiple sections of the moving-image with small velcro pieces intended to move around. Morse goes on, "Miniaturization is a process of interiorization, enclosure, and perfection, one in which the temporal dimensions of narrative or history are transformed into spatial ones, a plenitude of description of seemingly endless details." (211) The ability to physically engage with the moving-image, and endless/seamless TV flow requires a pliable medium and flat surface that would allow for a TV show projection to appear for the pleasure of ripping apart. So far, it seems that the hook & loop processings of velcro may work to play with this desire to touch, rip, and dislocate the flow of time and narrative taking place in that seemingly non-space. In this case, velcro would provide a dimension, or at least an illusion of it, by providing the urge and means of engaging with the colorful and "hollow" space of TV by way of un-stripping parts of a show projected onto itself or a large wall.
In reference to the computer screen, Morse touches on a certain desire to physically merge with the screen. "It is as if one were capable of moving around inside a drawing that responds to one's changing point of view--or for that matter, as if one were able to climb into a monitor and experience the symbols inside without apparent mediation." (Virtualities: A Conceptual Framework, 17) The same concept could be applied to TV as well; the impossibility of being able to physically jump inside it creates more possibility to interact with it. "It is television that first raises the problem of constructing full-fledged parallel visible worlds and then linking them with our own, via speaking subjects, proxemically "near" to and addressing the viewer with some degree of intimacy. Apart from having a private intimate affair with certain characters on a show, interaction with the screen itself does permit another kind of intimacy, one that forces one to get close to it, touch, rip a projected TV show apart and assemble it however way, and raising issues about subjectivity and the viewer that has remained another passing subject of controlled viewership involving parts of the self (as a subject of cultural experimentation) and the constraint provided that it can also create multiple approaches for installation, interaction, and aesthetic cultivation either on, in, or around TV itself. Morse completes it when she says "Conceived in this way, the interface and interactivity may be seen as obstacles or barriers to "immersion"- a concept that conveys the state of being totally inside a created world both virtually and emotionally [...] The wish to design an interface that is transparent, and an interaction that is "intuitive," [...] who aim at immersive involvement." (The Poetics of Interactivity, 3) In this way, velcro-TV, for its rough and soft surface is driven by an intuition and minor deconstructive drive to rip TV flow off from itself as a middle finger salute to Zack Morris an in homage to our childhood being unconsciously subsumed into the canned laughter of Saved By the Bell that everytime an alarm clock goes off I have visions of Jessie Spano's frizzy ass perm.