Vanessa found this RFP for the LACMA Art+Technology Lab, and I’ve been toying with what a Blueberry Blintz proposal might look like; honestly, I’m stumped, because I don’t really work with “emerging technologies” as a practice, but (!) I think we can relate what we’re doing with these points in the RFP (?):
- Connection and exploration of portable identities and pseudo-identities;
- distributed experience and storytelling through multi-dimensional user experience design;
- crowd-sourced information production and human-based computation knowledge.
Part of my problem with conceptualizing a proposal for this RFP is understanding these phrases in the first place: “multi-dimensional user experience design” and “human-based computation knowledge”? WTF?
Anyway, like a dutiful grant writer, I googled these phrases, and found myself following a rabbit hole into the Wikipedia history of “virtual reality.”
The term “artificial reality“, coined by Myron Krueger, has been in use since the 1970s; however, the origin of the term “virtual reality” can be traced back to the French playwright, poet, actor, and director Antonin Artaud.
Oh, really?!! This excited me, because Artaud’s The Theatre and Its Double played an important role in my development as a performing artist.
In his seminal book The Theatre and Its Double (1938), Artaud described theatre as “la réalité virtuelle“, a virtual reality in which, in Erik Davis’s words, “characters, objects, and images take on the phantasmagoric force of alchemy’s visionary internal dramas”. Artaud claimed that the “perpetual allusion to the materials and the principle of the theater found in almost all alchemical books should be understood as the expression of an identity […] existing between the world in which the characters, images, and in a general way all that constitutes the virtual reality of the theater develops, and the purely fictitious and illusory world in which the symbols of alchemy are evolved”.
Hmmmm. WTF (again). BUT, when I read the Mary Caroline Richards translation over ten years ago, originally published by Grove Press in 1958, here were some passages that thrilled me and motivated me (I found them in an old journal, which I just happened to have close at hand):
Like alchemy, the theater, considered from the point of view of its deepest principles, is developed from a certain number of fundamentals which are the same for all the arts and which aim on the spiritual and imaginary level at an efficacy analogous to the process which in the physical world actually turns all matter into gold. (Artaud 48)
Only when we seize upon what is communicative in all the arts can we, by shapes, sounds, music evoke…states of acuteness so intense and so absolute that we sense, beyond the tremors of all music and form, the underlying menace of a chaos as decisive as it is dangerous. (50)
In a word, the theater must become a sort of experimental demonstration of the profound unity of the concrete and the abstract. (108)
It seems, in brief, that the highest possible idea of the theater is one that reconciles us philosophically with Becoming, suggesting to us through all sorts of objective situations the furtive idea of the passage and transmutation of ideas into things, much more than the transformation and stumbling of feelings into words. (109)
I offer Artaud’s quotes up today as fodder for the LACMA RFP (Due January 27!).
(Now I’m thinking that the one our process/work might fit into the best is “distributed experience and storytelling through multi-dimensional user experience design.”)