April 28, 2011

Gene Youngblood Re- the New Art of Video

Long but worth it; via Phil Morton; shot at SAIC; sorry I have no further background; but I found Youngblood's discussion brilliant and prescient of later developments in contemporary art in general, as well as in video.

(UPDATED to add:) Partial transcription below by Shane Mecklenburger (the segments are not necessarily in the order spoken in the video; emphasis supplied):

‎" ... expanding the domain of your possible descriptions. The more your domain of possible descriptions is expanded, the less one description can control your behavior; the less you will believe any particular description about reality."

"Alienation is about not being able to see your meanings and values reflected in the world in which you live. So there's always this distance between you and everybody else and the world and you're kind of disjointed. And ok, you can live with that, but ... once in a while you have a non-alienated experience where you're just high and you just become one with something else, like you see a work of art or you meet a person and there's no distance, and that's 'you.' I see myself in you, I see myself in this: No more alienation. I maintain, which is not very profound because every other anthropologist and sociologist does, that alienation is an intrinsic product of modern industrial society, necessarily so, because it's all about centralized mass production and mass distribution, which necessarily must ignore individual values and preferences. How to solve that? It seems to me that you've got to have some filtering device between you as the 'receiver' and the source as the sender ... the complex things it allows you to do is realize your own personal identity through a medium that is basically intended to wipe out your identity."

‎"process me."

"There are no grounds for a common ethics except for a desire to have one. A desire which springs up in all of us as a result of living in a world of strife, controversy, hatred, so forth ... if we do have [a common ethics] it must now simply constitute an arbitrary decision of how to live, then the question becomes 'how are we to make that decision?' My answer is, first of all through a decentralized, user-controlled communication network, through which people could dialogue and exchange their values ... and over a period of time, and only through a system in which the users control the dialogue ... there is also emerging a common ethic, because what happens is common ethics emerge out of a domain of common experience. To the extent that you and I have a similar history of interactions, we may have a similar history of desires ... Desire is an industrial product. You can only desire what you are given. You can only choose from the set of possible choices that's held before you. So as a result of habituation, of enforced habit, we have all come to have a desire for whatever's on TV... so we learn one thing: common desires come from common histories, so the question then becomes, how to generate a domain of common histories without it becoming imperialistic; without it subordinating everyone like we do now with the mass media, and saying 'there is only one set of experiences that you can have and this is it'? This will determine that we all have a common history and therefore common desires, but there's got to be another way. To me the way is a decentralized user-controlled feedback communication system ... and then organically what would emerge out of this process, organically and naturally from the long-term behavior of the people, an organic ethic which would not be imposed upon them by the structure of some imperial system, but which would be educed out of us by this very adaptive system, a system which adapts to each individual user's needs."

‎"am i positioned correctly in the video domain?"

[This is spoken by someone else, not Youngblood, and is not transcribed as precisely] "yes, i tune in on it as exemplified by CB Radio, which at any time is user-controlled and it is a constant, ongoing dialogue situation. Which politically can only be described as anarchy, because no one ... if someone tries to dominate ... everybody can flip and go to another channel and say 'fuck off' ... and so the whole thing has this kind of constantly moving, uncontrolled except by the moment of use of what is happening in the system right now ... I realized ... there were rules that were supposed to be followed, the FCC will get you, blah blah blah, and all of a sudden i found out that nobody was going by the rules that were advertised. Everyone is going by the rules as they are constantly changing all the time right now. And that the best organizational description that I could lay on it is that this is anarchy. And it's working. And I had always heard that anarchy is this terrible thing and it can't work."

Youngblood responds by saying, you can govern by either attenuation and absorption, attenuation meaning that government prohibits activities it can't handle, and absorption meaning that government adapts to allow activities as far as possible, regulating them so far as necessarily to be able to handle them. But this kind of adaptation is only possible through "these tools" – such as the processor being used to manipulate the video of this conversation.

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