conversational drift, informatic license, exquisite enclaves_by jouke kleerebezem

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29 March 2001
daily operations and its notes

When Tim Berners-Lee 'invented' the World Wide Web over 10 years ago, he designed his publishing system to enhance and preserve corporate memory. At Geneva based CERN (Centre Européenne pour la Recherche Nucléaire), a constant flux of knowledge, expertise and invention needed capturing and structuring and above all to be made productive beyond individual functionality and task setting. Berners-Lee's design for this purpose had to be scalable, and so it proved: growing beyond its particular environment, beyond any size ever imagined by its inventor, it blew up the hosting Internet. The web was neither conceived to carry Amazon or Napster, nor as a model for a new economy, or as the multi-channel 'television' it came to be. The near real time communication most people use it for today, is to a large extent their own invention.

Artist Michael Samyn in a discussion once turned around the argument of producing for (meaning: in reply to) a new medium: with the Internet/www he and the rest of us got precisely what we craved, and had been waiting for since too long already, disinterested as we had grown with top down management, one-to-many media, the star system, to name just a few of the nasty effects of old school cultural production, the art world et al.

A development in personal publishing which remains closely true to the 'integrated writing, link creation and browsing' which the web allows for, is weblogging. Known since some years, this daily habit of taking personal notes while building a library of annotated links to special interests, exploded with the arrival of dedicated free software and server space, like Blogger or Pitas. Journal, homepage, professional reference, news service and the invention of new editorial formats, rolled into one idiosyncratic narrowcast—for many thousands of programmers, artists, designers, editors and writers, who pay their daily new media dues. And do weblogs.

Weblogging, networked personal publishing, builds a landscape of interests through which lead multiple, possibly competing paths. Well written, at times humorous, visual and textual narrative emerges in sometimes cleverly designed cross-linking. However engaging an individual weblog may be, it best be read in the context of other weblogs. Actually weblogs can be the exceptional online publications in which indeed it pays off to follow links, which do not distract from their point of departure, but add to it and invite an informed return. No link-and-run-school weblogs tend to pick and introduce their reference meticulously. The author expands her or his lines of thought by anchoring them in those of peers. Thus a kind of multi-authorship can form, in dialogue. Then, weblogs break free from conceived ideas of repetitive production, as a linear process of refining and finishing and performing a product, shipping at market strategic intervals. Weblogs in a sense are half-products, reaching unprojected momentum, with individual readers for individual interests.

Finally, for a reader of weblogs, the only way to best pattern (and savour!) one's own eager consumption, is by producing with the pack, and start weblogging. Ultimately the read/write/link habit, a daily and everyday agglomeration of personal interests and ideas, of observations and reflections—taking the private public and the public private—is an act, an operation, appreciated for its unlimited close attention, in times of content abundance, like ours.

add when not limited to a 500 word fix/notes to self

—right or wrong: everybody today is a 'programmer, artist, designer, editor, writer'. There's clip code, clip art, clip text, and clip identity. Clip it, post it. Welcome the Volksblog.

(I am convinced that the 'creativity divide' is a constant. With every new 'democratization' of some sort of creative or publishing tool—ever since the invention of photography—there's both horror with the professional masters of the previous technology/craft and the expectancy of a 'noble amateur' to spontaneously use the new technology in a truly original way: both hard headed mistakes, entertained by (quite) different members of communities 'in the know'. An age which depends on information producing citizens ('prosumers') however, might turn this productivity into privacy depriving slavery, or bend it to the benefit of education, radical change and whatnot (unlikely scenario). Case in point: an as of yet completely under-researched 'interactivity'; less so: the well documented 'reader/author' complicity).

—right or wrong: search is the navigation of choice, for web based publishing.

—patterns in cross-linking between personal publications should allow interest based pathways to be brought into the landscape. Monitoring cross referral should be a function built into search software.

"Those seeking reason or explanations are in the wrong theater." Exactly. (birchlane's Bruce Barone quoting Bunuel and adding 'Exactly.'). Too true.

blogotheque, never stop 2:23am at the Moulin, waiting for more.

28 March 2001

Weak Bid
Almost finished the Daily Operations 500 wrds on weblogs for Mute, the print version. Paul and I will probably work out an extended version for their site. Meanwhile started another essay for De Witte Raaf, on how to contain—rather: why to contain (just the difference between these questions, is the question) infinity in all directions, in media and method. Editing being the weak bid, navigation upping the ante.

Freiheit wollt Ihr Alle, Ihr wollt die Freiheit. Warum schachert Ihr denn um ein Mehr oder weniger? Die Freiheit kann nur die ganze Freiheit sein; ein Stück Freiheit ist nicht die Freiheit. Ihr verzweifelt daran, dass die ganze Freiheit, die Freiheit von Allem, zu gewinnen sei, ja Ihr haltet's für Wahnsinn, sie auch nur zu wünschen?—Nun, so lasst ab, dem Phantome nach zu jagen, und verwendet Eure Mühe auf etwas besseres, als auf das—Unerreichbare.
(Max Stirner Der Einzige und sein Eigentum) (806k ascii version in E)

Freedom you all want, you want freedom. Why then do you haggle over a more or less? Freedom can only be the whole of freedom; a piece of freedom is not freedom. You despair of the possibility of obtaining the whole of freedom, freedom from everything, yes, you consider it insanity even to wish this? Well, then leave off chasing after the phantom, and spend your pains on something better than the—unattainable.

27 March 2001
GodDieuGottGod over hawthorn

what else
Actually yesterday carefully trimmed two hawthorn arrangements, cut across the road to force nature into the house, after a day of happy re-arrangement tasks including moving more Macs to the attic (leaving only USB below), hanging two of my better older pieces GodDieuGottGod and the 1992 Files, soon to be 10 years old (the Files, not the work). Files were NQP-preceding notes, at the time named rather optimistically after Paul Valéry's Cahiers, the singular result of his stubborn daily early morning routine.

France Météo finally got it dead wrong! It's feather veiled multi-color rush 'n ruffle in the bright airs springtime here this morning!

elsewhere, yesterday, overlooked
...at the icepick.com house, a Dutch delicacy was registered entering the microwave: look, a Gevulde Koek.

gevulde koek

26 March 2001
louder, louder

Badmarsh & Shri's 'Signs' (with, in the Swarm intro, a very subdued Hakim Bey 'Immediatism' sample(?) from the TAZ cd, produced by Bill Laswell in 1994); hawthorn in the fields' folds; organic goat thymus from Le Mazot for dinner; a big Vignol fire earlier the afternoon, during laundry service. Forgot what else.

23 March 2001
(link to self)

I'm around, I work. I lurk. I read but do not have time to reply my mail, though some of it is intriguing. I had a little something NQP prepared for March 21, but didn't get to upload it before I left for NL. The personal publishing pandemonium and Hypertypography haunt me. Woke up at 5:38am at the Jan van Eyck appartment #3902. Dino yesterday evening slipped me an interesting link for the Netacademy. I haven't asked him whether Dino Dario Monopoli is his real name, but it is what it says on his Research Proposal Master's Thesis for the Maastrict University Economics and Business Administration faculty: "Communities of Practice: the Social Art of Sharing, Combining and Creating Knowledge". Other links he pointed me to are Infonomics (which contains links to more interesting Maastricht based initiatives) and this Helsinki piece in March's Wired. All brought to you courtesy Mr. Monopoli. I have to ask him about that name.

20 March 2001

now look AT this, now look THROUGH this... you feel that swing? At, through... at, through... at, through...

art/design panic pendulum
It's high and low indeed, bi-stability, isolation and immersion, a mixed bag, fix and flow.

19 March 2001

Hans and Gil blew out a wall that separated the north entrance and the small sousterrain kitchen, creating a new space. I was sitting most of my week-end at the Vignol 4x7ft fireside listening to the washing machine (ours broke down, just before the flood. Joost and Annemiek let us use theirs) and pondering the 'whatever'. Then Friday marked a wonderful long, both feet and appetite wetting walk à quatre, accompanied by Lisette, the German sheep dog which enthusiastically followed us from Le Petit Moutot to our hallway, when it settled in front of our door, refusing to return home by itself. So Hans and I drove her home.

Rini cut my hair very short before I went up to the Mairie to vote a mayor (Jean Paul Comte) and to be installed a member of the council, also entering the Beuvron Valley, the National Holiday and the Welfare Committees.

17-18 March 2001
it's not what you think

Plus je pense, plus je pense
Paul Valéry

If I shout:
Ideal, Ideal, Ideal
Knowledge, Knowledge, Knowledge
Boomboom, Boomboom, Boomboom

Tristan Tzara, thanx meltingobject (Stop Loading at Whim)

first thought
Once upon a time I thought that the arts were all about Content. Even after Gombrowicz or Elliot, I associated Form with formidable formalism. I thought art was to be 'about' the quality of life or should at least somehow test it. What a blind man I must have been. Today I see art is (...not even 'about') quality of form, life being empty without it. Art completes life as much as it is informed by it. Vis-à-vis life's infinite content, I see only proof that it is not what you think, it is that life and the arts are 'about', but that it is what's been done to and about and with 'whatever', which wouldn't be, without the infinite form we give it.

The whole masquerade is just to inform reality to be visible to us, to render it voice, to experiment and manipulate it in order to experience it in plenty different ways. It doesn't speak by or for itself. It is silent, invisible, empty. And just what a grand quality that unshapeable invisible silent void is—and how unsettling and hallucinating and gratifying and informing its experience is.

Yves Klein's jump into the void

another thought
A lot of design panics face-to-face the content it would hope to (and should be restricted to) articulate. As a reflex, it becomes explicit, a banal sign. Being content already by its very own qualities, it again rubs in its reference, mixing up issues and priorities, sometimes humbling itself, but mostly quite the opposite: showing off in clueless machismo. Which is also why (even if we would prefer to define design an 'applied art'), designers too often think that 'art' then would be design 'un-applied' —turning a dubious argument around. Consequently their 'art' does exactly what it is supposed to do: it un-applies what otherwise would have been design: content-specific content, content following content (sometimes still and rightly so: form following function).

Freed from its prime reference and restriction, amputated, 'design unapplied' doesn't necessarily become 'art'. A lot of applied art is more interesting art than design unapplied would ever be. Some applied art is better art than a lot of unapplying, so-called fine art, so why the design panic?

what do you think?
This panic is one of the oldest pains of design, the pain of not being Art. Content panic. It is exactly a fear of lack of content or being too content dependent to develop genuine qualities by themselves, that designers panic about and which forces them to amplify their design—ultimately: to unapply it, to 'do art'. There are contemporary observers who feed the traditional confusion between art and design and between form and content, by stating that design is art. They claim art and design don't necessarily differ anymore in today's mediatized visual culture. Design even would be the 'art' of the late 20C, and even still in our period. Design would rule. More machismo on the way.

The fact that a lot of so-called fine art today tends to 'apply' itself to life's 'content' doesn't do any good to the cause of form and content and their rich relationships, doesn't do any good to the design/art discourse either. Since generally it is not content which is lacking (homo sapiens the content producer), but form which experiments visibility and communication, 'fine art applied' is unnecessarily explicit in its expressions, hence limits the scope of relationships art and life can engage in. 'Art applied' kills form, mimicking design following content, in search for function. Another old story, another old panic.

thunk struck functionalism and other escapes
Art periodically panics, for not being applied, for being too isolated from life's content, for being locked up in its own rhetoric, while it is supposed to be generously sharing and referring and articulating, while remaining accessible to all those who make the effort to follow it wherever it goes, to play along. Confused, art in turn becomes explicit about life, applying itself to causes left and right public and private, all the time clasping to its art label: art unapplied is no design: no Sir! And for the sake of argument, I would agree: art remains art no matter how hard you twist its arm to apply it to the plenty good causes of functionalism.

There's no escape to the distinction between art and design. Every claim to erase their wonderful difference is a fruitless escape into contemporary culture generalisations. No technology or medium—on the other hand, no emerging literacy—can realize or read into art what design can achieve, or the other way around. No design will ever reach into those specific form/content relationships that are built into and preserved in art.

think again
I am not talking high and low here. We're past their hierarchies. High and low do still exist, there should be no doubt about that, but they do equally challenge our intellectual and sensual interests. If it weren't for high and low their would be no jumps, no flight, no escape. Art and design are two completely different complex reference systems, symbolic orders with long traditions and divergent contemporary practices, both equally challenged by emerging media and technology and their use, both equally challenged to produce forms that can contrast (and live up to) contemporary content. Hybrid when hybrid. Leaving the most interesting question to 'think' about: how art and design will ever be productive and in-formal enough to be able to contain and mediate the dynamic content that is produced in today's discourse? Will they fall back on an authoritative position, leaving all the dynamic to the dynamics of interpretation, or will they somehow become as fluid as contemporary interaction, leaving their privileged positions outside the maelstrom, to permeate all levels of symbolic exchange, and ultimately become... invisible?

Rodin, Le Penseur

16 March 2001
da house, da rules

lemoulindumerle.com is a fine concept (the domain being part of the estate—in every sense, including legally), but it needs a boost. The estate doesn't write its own history. Or I need a kick. idie.net fulfils a need and a direction in design; it needs a kick. Some organisation and some rules. Some participation. One-man-bandwidth works fine in some cases like NQPaOFU, others need co-ordinated collaborative effort.

At the Jan van Eyck Academy we have design research positions available for short to medium term enrolment, so at least for idie.net I can negotiate it in our program. If anyone in da readership would be interested to know more, don't hesitate to contact me. Faire suivre SVP.

14 March 2001
muddy waters

Some wet day and again it rains. Water's gone from the basement though. Just muddy. Funny I had to think of Nest when I was wading the flood at its full height. It would make a great photo essay. I can propose something of the kind to Joseph Holtzman. The arrangements of piled up furniture and bric à brac in a pool of muddy water. Think we'll leave it installed for a bit. There's more pictures coming.

3:00-3:43am: wake up the Moulin
to find us afloat. Took some first precautions last night but quickly had to move around some more stuff just now, lifting a freezer and refrigerator a feet, to stand the first wash. Gil went back to bed and I'll be watching the waters, to see how high they get this time. Stay posted and first pictures probably in three to four hours. In the half moon it looks like impressive. I'm hungry.

I think it may still rise some. Last time, 28 December 1999, it took us by surprise and was over before we knew it, leaving hardly any trace, as it seems:

I just make it be known that the Moulin was flooded ojuredewy, as an afterthought of the Lothar hurricane which hit parts of France and Germany last week-end.

But there's definitely more water today. Just got the pump to work in the main storage with the aid of Gil who came down again. It spits out some water at the lower end of the house, straight into the Beuvron. Hans and Rini stay here. They'll be in for some surprise, finding their car tomorrow at the border of a newly formed lake.

It's not getting any better. I unplugged all electricity in the basement. Then I drove to Laurent to tell him Coco could be wetting his feet soon. When I walked up to the garage I could feel the pull of the water. I parked the car at the gate which I left open We see all kinds of small stuff float around the house. The bridge is under instead of over.

Laurent is at the door to let Coco out of the stable. We discuss whether the water will still rise. Not as long as it doesn't rain, he thinks. I again feel some small drops. I know the Beuvron is always 12-24 hours late to deliver the rain that falls. Gil made tea and sandwiches and went back to bed to stay with Roemer who woke up.

The water has dropped a few inches. The entire valley filled up this morning. I drove to Clamecy to find roads blocked.

the local weather forecast

Moulin after the flood

13 March 2001
alphabet/icon ratio

Re:read Richard Lanham's seminal The Electronic Word; Democracy, Technology and the Arts. Though published in 1993, by University of Chicago Press (as a hardcover and hypercard stack, or 'Chicago expanded book': "you have just opened this package. You have found this instruction sheet and a pair of floppy disks. Nothing else here. So, where's the book?") it proves such an insightful work. Where's the book? just about sums it up nicely. Before we ask where's the book, we should ask: where's the text? As does Lanham, who today is rhetoricainc.com, with his wife Carol.

The most powerful influence of the computer on modern thinking, I would argue, is not statistical or scientific, but humanistic. Rhetorical, in fact.

Precisely as the rhetorical practice of declamation put dramatic rehearsal at the center of classical thought, the computer has put modelling at the center of ours.

meanwhile, around the Moulin
Water rose to a seasonal high. Wagtails skim the bloat. Since two weeks maybe, they returned. Like the merle d'eau, the dipper that gave the house its name. Every morning voice is added to the garden.

12 March 2001
nothing, everything, 65%

Rolf doesn't want me to be president, I'm told when I return form the counting of the votes. Too bad then those 65% ,47 votes/voices, got me elected into the St. Germain des Bois municipal council for the next six years. Most remarkable vote was the one which only voted for me, moi. Hm. Who took the trouble to cross out 10 French names to leave out that one exotic candidate? The attraction of a newcomer? Also electrician LeBlond from Cervenon got a lot of votes (61) and Claude Piso (42 votes), who is a cadre at the dough factory in Clamecy and seems to love his own jokes, judged by his hiccup laugh. We are the newly imported. Piso already suggested to rent out the Cervenon chapel to an artist. Further I found that the husband of Bernadette's roadside restaurant and chambre d'hôtes was pulling the Front National list in Clamecy... politics is probably the most institutionalized form of narcissism. As soon as we move into representation we mix up issues.

Nothing is on my mind, Everything seems more negotiable than ever, Something has to be done.

1-10 March 2001

nqpaofu.com 2001 jouke kleerebezem