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week 2 08.05.2003

Gregory Chatonsky


Generative translation between french and english... with music.

We have grown used to thinking that our hyper-industrialized societies were exclusively visual. It appears, however, that the advent of the internet has actually allowed the text to dominate the image. Indeed, search engines, the main means of access to data, are essentially textual. Put simply, pictures do not exist on a numeric support unless they bear a title, the criteria of the images classification. It is exclusively thanks to titles, or text, that we can find pictures. This domination feeds into the complex and historically stratified relation between these two schemes of thought. There has always been an interlace, or if you want a problem, a question, a no man's land between the alpha-numeric and the iconographic. How can we use this domination against itself? Is it possible to create a narration between text and images? Can we rethink the relation between pictures and text according to new modes? A generator that indefinitely produces a textual fiction, inspired by the work of Alain Robbe-Grillet, "inventor" of the nouveau roman. Some words of this fiction are sent to a search engine that displays pictures. Does this produce an exact translation? Is there a narrative congruence between the generated text and these pictures that come from the cybernetic flux? What story is told by this automatic and abnormal translation?

Netsleeping is a cooperative screensaver created by Gregory Chatonsky. More and more connections are permanent (DSL/cable). It is an immense change in our relation to the network: we don't connect anymore to the Internet with a telephonic modem, the flux is always available, information is just in waiting of navigation like an independent and strange world. But what happens when you don't use your computer--does it remain lit and hardback to the flux of the network? or when computers fall asleep and aren't being used by anybody? Netsleeping tells this story of sleep, abandonment, machines' a-instrumentality and passivity in the flux.

One of the most widespread beliefs about the afterlife is that a person can return to the world in another shape—as a ghost, spectre, or wraith, the invisible double of the deceased taking over after death.[1] According to these beliefs, although ghosts are not of this world and are invisible and intangible to the living, they are still present and can reveal themselves through a medium. Revenances suggests that the Web is such a medium: that is a space of communication between the living and the dead. The project allows us to meet with ghosts, to hold out our hands to these captive presences from the other world and to join with
them there. We pass through a series of structures reduced to their
bare, skeletal outlines. In these empty rooms, shadowy images of remote beings appear and disappear; we cannot make them stay still, or speak with them. As the structures are embedded within each other, it is impossible to turn back, reach a destination, or achieve any real exchange. Caught in this non-place, we gradually realize that our behaviour has become like that of the ghosts whose ephemeral presence we have observed on the screen. The work incites reflection on the spatial ambiguity of the Web, the (equally problematic) status of the individual within it, and on the nature of the interchanges that occur there. Inthis non-place, we move from one nowhere to another, cut adrift from life, having interrupted our continuity in real space to adopt a cyber-identity, a cyber-life. We communicate with other people who are roaming through digital space as we are, self-effaced from reality, disembodied and uprooted like us. In this universe, the need for the other subsists, but it is always really the other? This is precisely the question that the work raises. The ""death of human contact"" brought about by the development of communications technology does not mean the
death of contact but rather a certain kind of death of the human being, bringing us to re-examine, at the very least, the inseparability of mind-body and to look at dualism. It calls on us to conceive of relations with others outside the limits of corporeal adherence, outside that anchor, and to consider the shifts and transformations of being that occur in cyberspace.

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