Jim Demmers, Chea Prince, Robert Cheatham: Public Domain Kiosk Project

  • ©, Jim Demmers, Chea Prince, and Robert Cheatham



    Public Domain Kiosk Project





Artist Statement:

    The word “virtual” has been so overused that it is difficult to use the term without flinching, and yet, despite its rise to the status of premier buzzword of the nineties, it continues to suggest a certain relationship between conscious­ness and electronic space that is rich and descriptive. Just beneath the thin, slick, corporate gloss of the term’s trendiness is a volatile zone of fractures containing a leaky matrix of nested meanings including, but not limited to: artificiality, simulation, representa­tion, mimesis, prosthesis, multi­dimensionality, multiplicity, hyper­ness, velocity, otherness, the mechanical, the machinic, high technology, and, by extension, digitalization, fractal scaling, trans­positionality, and networking.

    A close reading of this complex sys­tem of semiotic leakages reveals a thoroughly mapped but unstable fault where the realms of the human and the machine are continually collapsing into each other. It is precisely along this fault line, on the “new edge” of the cultural domain, that a stepped-up conflation of separate consciousnesses is occurring that is becoming an ever more sexed, violent, hallucinogenic, media-dependent, shared mindscape. This evolving collective consciousness is characterized by a radical obsession with the reflected traces of the trans­formation of the human into the cy­borg; the transformation’s inscription as recycled mythologies animates a ka­leidoscope of transient tattoos constantly re-writing shifting patterns (with neon intensity as the latest true color), hypermedia updates to the textual/cultural body. These are a new suit(e) of tribal scarrings worn in real­time and written in mutable signs on an electronic skin whose surface is an active projection screen for drifting, montaged morphs.

    It could be argued that humans have always been cyborgs, and that it is only the naming of the awareness of this condition that is new. Humans have always co-developed with the tools of technology creating a feedback loop that, perhaps from the very begin­ning, was erasing the difference be­tween humans and machines through increasingly sophisticated machine­body-metaphors, and later machine­mind-metaphors. The tool, as such, has a long history as an add-on, a bodily peripheral, a prosthesis—and, with the invention of writing, as an internal­ized machine/apparatus.

    As this process continues, it is most easily evidenced in recent develop­ments of devices constructed as attach­ments to the body, and redesigned to be incorporated via implantation or nerve/machine integration (e.g., arti­ficial hearts, prosthetic limbs, hearing aids, etc.) The history of human depen­dence on mechanical devices for sur­vival and maintenance of the indi­vidual body exemplifies the more gen­eral dependency of society on technol­ogy. Given the direction of technologies of the future such as nanotechnology, artificial intelligence,artificial life, bio­chips, and synthetic neurons, the body’s rate of absorption of the ma­chine will only quicken.

    How will the cyborg organize relative to the “virtual”? Can the idea of virtual organization be read fractally as a scaled phenomenon representative of new cultural formations within e-space?

    The interactive work presented by Public Domain, Inc. frames these ques­tions by deconstructing its own prin­ciples of institutional formation, and attempting to design effective meta­phors that simultaneously describe, il­lustrate, and demonstrate a model of interpretation of virtuality. The recog­nition of the centrality of the phenom­enon of collapse to the never-ending reconstruction of meaning is taken as license for the use of a collaged fluxus of poetic images, texts, and sounds that askew conclusiveness in favor of dreams and dada. Implicit in this ap­proach is a high valuation of noise, chaos, anarchy, nonhierarchalization, improvisation, conflict, discontinuity, experimentation, invention, and wild speculation uninhibited by any need to make sense. Ironically, it probably will anyway. If not now, then later.

    Public Domain, Inc. (PD) is a 501 (c)3 non-profit organization whose stated mission is to explore the interface be­tween art, technology, and theory. To that end, Public Domain is presently engaged in five projects with complementary agendas that supplement each other to create a system of interdependent activi­ties. They are: 1) Perforations, 2) Working Papers, 3) The Kiosk Project, 4) Video Pro­duction, and 5) Networking.

    1) Perforations is a quarterly jour­nal/media kit. Each issue develops dif­ferent themes of contemporary life as they relate to technology. Topics are generally broadly defined in order to accommodate approaches to the mate­rial that are experimental, creative, and informed by multiple perspectives.

    2) Working Papers is a series of pre­sentations devoted to the various crises of legitimation, representation, and communication that constitute the con­temporary scene of modernity and post­modernity. Participants come from a wide variety of disciplines, cross-disci­plines and multi-disciplines including art, philosophy, literature, poetry, literary criticism, computer science, architecture, video art, film, and music.

    3) Upon completion, the Kiosk Project will be a series of interactive, hypermedia stations situated in pub­lic areas that will provide artists work­ing in electronic media with an exhi­bition venue other than the traditional gallery or museum.

    4) Video Production: Public Do­main is actively planning to videotape and broadcast Working Papers on pub­lic access cable television.

    5) With the recent donation of a Sun server to Public Domain, the group is able to provide Internet access to both its own members as well as des­ignated representatives of other non­profit arts organizations. PD’s existence as an Internet node has greatly facili­tated interaction between members, provided a means of contact with par­ticipants in Working Papers, and al­lowed artists and theorists from around the world to contribute to Per­forations, and to remain in communi­cation with PD. The Internet has be­come the infrastructure necessary for Public Domain’s on-going design as a virtual organization.