online/Offline

This issue by recto/verso collective is dedicated to the statement made by HD Kepler : online/offline as a mode of life. This simple sentence was a starting point for a long term project which resulted in a collective publication and a recent conference and workshop in Athens. All contributors to the publication and participants of the open event in Greece, introduced their perspectives and strategies concerning online and offline realities within artistic projects, texts, or suggested terms to develop. The idea of newly defined mode of life in-between online or offline reality is a crucial question today. recto/verso’s activity aims at having a closer look at this dynamic, this little slash between two wor(l)ds which seem to be increasingly impossible to consider separately.

Each issue of recto/verso is defined by a short editorial but also by a selected cover colour which in this case has a yellow-brownish tone. According to a survey done among the Internet users, it is considered as a one of the least favourite colours appearing in virtual reality. It is contrasted to the opposite side of the scale with all shades of blue visible in logos of Tweeter, Facebook, Vimeo, Skype, flickr, AOL and others like Samsung, IBM, NOKIA, Visa, Widows…. this choice tries to disrupt the reader’s attention, perturb the habitual visual environment closed (or not?) in a window of a computer, smartphone or other screens . We found the results of quoted survey amusingly inspiring. Our choice focuses on the slash, on the fact that we’re surrounded by a technology which increasingly tends to be invisible.

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The glossary prepared by during the aforementioned online/offline conference offers a subjective dictionary of certain keywords defining techno-human condition today. The authors of this publication shed light on different aspects of human life today. This could be briefly described as a journey to and from online and offline reality experiencing this particular vibration between two. In the context of this mental movement it is worth to have a closer look at the idea of the remediation. This notion, first coined by Jay David Bolter and Richard Gusin has already appeared in a number of our projects, especially in the publication dedicated to non-places. Remediation is, together with hypermediacy and immediacy, sort of mediation, a particular dynamic which occurs  between different mediums. McLuhan has already  stated that “content of medium is always other medium. The content of writing is speech, written world is a content of print, print is a content of telegraph… Bolter and Gusin go further in investigating this dynamic, are defining immediacy as linear process between medium in the whole history of  Western visual representation. The hypermediacy is characterized by awareness of mediated medium. Here the best example of it can be a collage or photomontage like the epoch-making collage from 1956 by Richard Hamilton Just What Is It That Makes Today’s Homes So Different, So Appealing?. This collage made of c advertisement of the time was fundamental of later pop-art movement.

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Richard Hamilton, Just What Is It That Makes Today’s Homes So Different, So Apealling?, 1956

The artist used a medium to develop another. Each element of this work send us back to a particular cultural code, all them combined create a critical message on consumer culture. It is hyper-textual image, highly aware of any medium it is drawn from. Here we can point out the most significant difference with  remediation, this defining characteristic of new digital media, a representation of one medium in another – it tends to be transparent.

The user experience of hypermediacy focuses in a major part on its form. In remediation process happening in an immersive virtual space, the user’s attention is drawn towards  content. The recent Berlin Biennial shows it very directly. The catalog text by Rob Horning The Fear of the Content tried to define  it. He refers to Susan Sontag’s text Against Interpretation which originally dealt with the work of art. He borrows this methodology to understand user’s fear of the Internet content, which is scandalizing by its lack of meaning. He makes it clear, the content we say we experience online is not the same as what we could discuss in the real life. This online content becomes a pure form, a digital medium finds its own cell to fill.

When we look back to the beginnings of the Internet as a network accessible to everyone, the state of being connected was proceeded by number of gestures, sometimes disturbing other users of telephone line so simply the connection was not available everywhere or free. That was a decision to be online, an occupation of time. Today we’re constantly connected sometimes even without our knowing it. Being offline seems to have the same meaning as staying connected in early 1990s. We have to disconnect our devices or leave them home. We have to make a choice.

What is this reality we’re stepping into right now? Where is remediation going? Is it  real life remediating slowly online state of being?

All ideas appear in HD Kepler glossary of obfuscation, surveillance, cloud, etc. try to open our eyes on a ‘disappearing’ technology. Contemporary art points out this danger of forgetting all these networks of devices and control that exist around us. Projects like  Zach Blas Facial Weaponizator Suite; Fog Face Mask (2012),  Heather Dewey-Hadbog in her  http://biononymous.me/  or James Bridle’s Drone Shadow (2012-ongoing) series encourage us not only to look at but to look through.

The remediation concept is a promise of  reform. We should rethink our reality to know where to look for the real which today can be so easily simulated. Seen at the IX Berlin Biennial, and highly divisive, critical of its radical form, shows us that the slash between online and offline cannot be removed, may  actually disappear leaving a brand new wor(l)d.

 

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