Ping Body: Internet actuated & uploaded performance, Sterlac, 1996
Some notes and thoughts from reading Morioka Yoshitomo's essay "Media and body" ,Kyoto University of Art and Design.
A very thorough essay about the shifts and relations between media and body,
Yoshitomo suggested the concept of Hypermedia, which is limitless to time and space with the help of telecommunication like internet, the new media is a transient experience and almost like teleportation in space/ time. Although He argued that a lot of the media design is still heavily influenced by modernism and video editing, the intention to create a timeline, "media contents" is a contradiction phrase that trying to create a concrete media matter with a shapeless morphing interface that doesn't really show the true property of hypermedia.
The concept of body and environment in this case is vital, we could consider the body as interface of dealing with the world, the body itself is a kind of media. "Tanking Machine" (1990) from Kenji Yanobe designs a tank with fluids and solutions that human doesn't feel the senses of the body and weight, a meditative state as the artist sites, while playing with the boundaries and territories that makes a human human. The theory of "Proxemics" by Edward T. Hall, where it is possibly best to imagine a bubble wrapping around each individual, which separates personal space to public ones, at different distance the experience of interactions with other human being will change vastly. In this sense "Tanking machine" is an attempt to burst the "bubble" , where "audible distance" (1997) by Maebayashi Akitsuku visualised the invisible bubbles by using VR. However the bubble model is probably not the one and only answer to the body as interface, topological ideas such as human body as a flexible and morphing container, that contains the environment. Deleuze's concept of folds is a step further towards deconstruction of the object and the subject, the folds of body creates a paradoxical receiving and submitting body at the same time.
How does the body interface link to the new media then? Part of the modernism and industrialisation started the mechnicalized human body, traditional media that promotes purposely placed message can be also seen as psychological lobotomy as Yoshitomo states. When after new types of media such as internet is born the situation is however influenced more by the concept of space and time, the physical landscape becomes virtual maps, the ability to teleport through not only space but go back in time is blurring the senses and limitation of ones body. As André Leroi-Gourhan's idea about tools being the extension of body, then internet space becomes our body extensions, the invisible prosthetics that let us be able to be anyone anywhere. There is a grey area in this condition where the boundaries of the self and the communication technology is blurred, which creates a conflict between the "media body" and the "meat body". The machines becomes part of the body just as the body becomes part of the machine. The constant teleportation of space and time in new media is a small death each time in Yoshimoto's eyes. For my understanding the gap-connectness together creates a pseudo body for us, it is nor alive or dead, but rather a pending mode, a grey area that pseudo-life and pseudo-death at the same time. Sterlac's "Ping Body" (1996)performance that upload his body data on to the internet for random viewers to browse is a foreshadowing of the age of cloud uploading in this sense, we can store part of us on the internet, as some kind of eternality . The difficulty to find "comfort zone", or "personal space" is probably the main source of anxiety from contradictions of the "dualism" in media body and meat body, the half dissolve-ness from body to media and back to body, is probably one of fundamental causes of technological sublime.