by Dr. Hugo Heyrman
Published in the 'Encyclopedia of Postmodernism',
Victor E. Taylor, Charles E. Winquist, Routledge, 2000.
est un autre." ARTHUR RIMBAUD, Lettre du Voyant.
A new breed of developmental theory is likely to arise... Its central technical
concern will be how to create in the young an appreciation of the fact that
many worlds are possible, that meaning and reality are created and not discovered,
that negotiation is the art of constructing new meaning by which individuals
can regulate their relations with each other." JEROME BRUNER, Actual Minds,
of us is a unique reality, a personal universe, the only focus of a private
world. It is precisely in our own awareness, our devoted concentration, that
we are able to define -and finally to transform ourselves. As we know from day-to-day
experience, reality is a bubbling stew of observations, memories and interpretations.
For this reason, it is perhaps today's new mediartist, who most closely approaches
and personifies Oliver Sacks' dream of a science of the individual. It took
the human mind 20.000 years to arrive at this point in history; from the first
primitive tool to the sophisticated computer of today. The beginning of 'self'
consciousness is the prime creation of man and by doing so, man transforms himself.
Moreover, man can communicate knowledge acquired by experience to other members
of the group. From the moment word and creative gesture were born, man has tried
to capture his subjective experience of time. In his struggle for survival,
man takes possession of the natural by transforming it. By attaching significance
to similarity - the process of mimesis: 'making alike', man transforms nature
into art. With the use of tools he extended his power. But before man became
a tool-maker, he was certainly a dreamer, already using his intuition and his
imagination for concept formation: as a symbol-maker, a story teller, a sign
and a picture-maker, it shows the interrelated origins of art and technology.
In a magical act of creation, religion, science and art were combined in a latent
in his way of thinking, feeling and acting, the cave-man, -women, and -child
possessed all the characteristics of a 'human' in the same sense as we are 'human'
today. In the caves of Altamira and Lascaux (the birthplaces of art) we find
already the necessity of a principle, consisting of two basic elements: selection
and variation. And together with this necessity we may note another characteristic
of all primitive art forms -the love of rhythm and pattern. The enjoyment of
rhythm for its own sake appears to be an essential factor at the very birth
of the art impulse and at the same time it marks the origin of the sense of
his book The Shape of Time, George Kubler begins the first chapter of The History
of Things, by saying: "Let us suppose that the idea of art can be expanded to
embrace the whole range of man-made things, including all tools and writing
in addition to the useless, beautiful, and poetic things of the world". (1) By this view the universe of man-made things simply coincides with
the history of art. It becomes an urgent requirement to devise better ways of
considering everything man has made. Inspired by new insights in fields such
as anthropology and linguistics, George Kubler's remark is expanding the bounds
of art and history. Indeed, to consider the importance of an artwork as a 'piece
of history' in itself, means also to locate it at a particular time and place,
and to put it rightful into his context. Art, at its root, is association -the
power of transformation- to make one thing stand for and symbolise another.
Now the computer imitate 'creation' itself. Interactive Art is really humanizing
technologies. Our senses and ego's are becoming tele-matically extended on a
global scale. The question will be, how we define ourselves ? What is the form
of the personal ? What is "I" ?
'address' of the 'I' is non-existent. I, identity, or the self is no internal
soverein domain. The notion of a personal individuality is a fiction. The 'individual'
is an illusion. To be means to communicate. Being is becoming. In principle,
we become ourselves through others, but also through our other self's: alter
ego, alias, or virtual avatar. We go from pre ego, over ego, towards post ego. (2)
Becoming post ego consists of a new balance between:
Actual Self (who you actually are)
Self (who you would like to be)
- Perceived Self (who others are taken you to be)
- Future Self (who you expected to be in, say
in the short-term future of three to five years tim
I call 'post ego' is the transformation of the 'self'. The coming period will
be characterised by the construction of the 'self: the transcendence of the
ego. It should cause no astonishment that subjectivism and egotism form a cul-de-sac,
a prison from which we want to escape. Therefore we need to respect and to put
into value the inseparable connection of the ego with the external world. Self
is not an entity locked up in the body; it is the constant interaction of the
objective and the subjective. Identity is a process, a continuous engagement
with change. In the future, artists may no longer be involved in just redefining
art. In the posthuman future, artists may also be involved in redefining life. Posthuman bodies explores the way that new technologies are changing our concepts of human nature and human identity as we evolve from the human into the technologically enchanced 'posthuman'.
In the future, it will become casual to re-invent oneself: the 'uncensorised
I'. After the exploration of outer space, the virtues of our inner space travels
are coming into being. The brain as cyberspace: the (un)conscious enters into
the age of it's technical reproducibility. A cyber-civilisation is taking form.
painter, new media researcher
professor, Royal Academy for Fine Arts
Antwerp - Belgium
1. KUBLER, GEORGE,
The Shape of Time, Remarks on the History of Things (New Haven and London: Yale
University Press, 1962), p. 1.
2. With the coining of the term 'post ego',
I want to describe that the real 'extension of man' is awareness and self-consciousness.
By becoming post ego we are transforming ourselves into a less egocentered personality.
of the Mind ||