Sunday, September 7, 2008


How the Exploration of Inner Space Has Been a Group Effort

“MYTH…I say “receive” and not “create” because works of art are received in a state of mediumness directly from the collective unconscious. The work overtakes the artist and in some way it kills him, because humanity, in receiving the impact of Myth, has a profound need to erase the individual who receives it and transmits it: his individual personality hampers, stains the purity of the message which, at the root, asks to be anonymous…” - Alejandro Jodorowsky
The above quote is how midnight-movie guru Alejandro Jodorowsky defended his attempts at de-authoring Frank Herbert’s monumental Sci-Fi creation Dune. Jodorowsky had planned an 18-hour epic-for-the-ages converting Mexican desert into desert planet and home-of-the-spice, Arrakis. He set about collecting ‘seven samurai’ in order to achieve the ultimate in cinema, hiring H.R. Giger, Pink Floyd and Salvador Dali among others to collaborate on this collective allegorical dream of desert treasure and the sleeper awakening. But Jodorowky’s Dune was an ill fated and ungainly beast and like so many unborn legends of cinema, it was due to a breakdown of communication and Jodorowsky’s inability to untangle the colossal input and output chords of it’s pre-production machine.

Had Jodorowsky been rallying his troops today, Dune may have been made with an army of telecommuting data-miners working to extract and refine the dark quarry of his singular vision, helping him to ventriloquize it through the creative output of his dream collaborators.

Dune, the filmic pariah that took up the tattered mantle of Jodorowsky’s project was completed in 1984 by David Lynch. It was murdered by the vindictive hive mind of cinema criticism although it seems richer and more brilliant today than any current adaptation of the seemingly never-ending Dune story rendered in CGI and green-screen mini-series.

Because it is now possible to create any world or effect easily on screen, the collective imagination would have be doomed to obsolescence, languishing in a state of blind belief, existing solely as spectators of a few ‘creatives’ vision. However the creative programs and tools included with personal technology have resurrected the imagination that had already been pronounced dead. PAN networks in the Gulf play in as the coercive force and link which encourage creation by the hive mind for the hive mind.
A side effect of this mass marketing is the cheapening of creation’s value. Because anyone can make a movie, it is increasingly more difficult to excel. Our realities are cheapened; our lives can be likened to a soggy pulp novel in the trash or stacked in a closet. Our self-produced entertainment is similar to pulp fiction in that it occupies a similar historical place.
Appropriate’s description of their favorite publications, we can see the similarities in popular consumption of Pulp novels and jawal media.
“Long before (after) TV, when movies were (will be) silent (interactive) and radio was (will be) rarely heard, pulp (messages) burst onto the scene. The cheaply produced magazines (files) offered an eager populace with a past time that carried them to far–away places on adventures far beyond their everyday lives.“
As the earth’s population of linked-in spectators/creators grows as constantly as the birthrate, the everyday and the inner space are filling up with externally produced waste information. Valueless (although this is of course subjective) files circulate under the radar of the more popular/valued files which carry cultural significance. What they lack in aesthetic merit, they collect worth through sheer popularity. In the 2003 drafted Wireless Commons Manifesto printed in the Delhi based Sarai Reader works as a crisp and effective model for the PAN networks materializing around jawal culture:

“The internet’s value increases exponentially with the number of people who are able to participate. In today’s world, communication can take place without the use of antiquated telecommunications networks. The organizations that control these networks are limping anachronisms that are constrained by the expense and physical necessity of using wires to build their networks. Because of this they cannot serve the great mass of people who stand to benefit from a wireless commons. Their interests diverge from ours, and their control over the network strangles our ability to communicate. Low cost wireless networking equipment which can operate in unlicensed bands of the spectrum has stated another revolution. Suddenly ordinary people have the means to create a network independent of any physical constraint except distance. Wireless can travel through walls, across property boundaries and through a community. May communities have formed worldwide to help organize these networks. They are forming the basis for the removal of the traditional telecommunication networks as an intermediary inhuman communication.”

The extremely lo-res quality of jawal media causes the audience to engage/infer more and therefore load each file with more value. This is what is stabilizing the foundations of the ‘haptic’ space on the other side of SFW’s time warp. This is what makes the reality inside the video realer, causes more views, makes the video more relevant, cooler. Steven Shaviro says the internet is cooler than TV but the jawal is infinitely cooler than both (not to mention more stylish than a bulky desktop unit). Not only is it sleeker and therefore cool, but Shaviro asserts that because the internet, “is even lower definition than TV and consequently, even more involving. The World Wide Web offers possibilities so vast, and yet so tantalizingly incomplete, that I must get involved with it in depth. I am drawn in, I can’t help myself. This is why the Net is an interactive, many-to-many medium, whereas TV is only one-to-many.”

So through this group investment (of many-to-many) in jawal culture, the little handset has paved the ground of virtual reality as a destination, the entrance of which is hovering over the Dubai World Archipelago. The foundation there is steadier (albeit just as manmade) than the sand and gravel poured to create the Gulf’s miniature world stage. But where the disenfranchised, underpaid, unskilled foreign laborers pour concrete into the foundations of the city, the disenfranchised, overpaid, unskilled nationals pour their reality into the portal (jawal) through which they leave (planned or not) for akhira.

While the Bangladeshi and Afghani workers of Abu Dhabi and Riyadh slave in the glow of construction site night-lamps and work themselves into a physical state of exhausted delirium, Gulf nationals create illusion for their own group consumption, a collective dream of inner spaces exposed: a dark, discreetly consumed but completely outrageous realm.

Most people living in the Gulf has been indoctrinated into a high level of technological savvy quickly which allows for a massive hive-mind construction project directed towards escape through the cheapening of creative outlet and output. Essentially through the collective creation of a public private world our terrestrial habitat is ending. According to Baudrillard this group movement “signals the beginning of the era of hyper reality: that which was previously mentally projected, which was lived as a metaphor in the terrestrial habitat is from now on projected, entirely without metaphor, into the absolute space of simulation.”
Because the simulation of the Gulf has become increasingly more absolute and solid than reality, we find that the spectator/creator is alienated en mass while contemplating the object. “The more he contemplates the less he lives; the more he accepts recognizing himself in the dominant images of need, the less he understands his own existence and his own desires. The externality of the spectacle in relation to the active man appears in the fact that his own gestures are no longer his but those of another who represents them to him. This is why the spectator feels at home nowhere, because the spectacle is everywhere.” A sort of group paranoia sets in as the voyeur gets the sneaking feeling that he is being watched and the all-owning spectatorship provided by the jawal caves in on itself as the collective conscience becomes self-conscious.
Thus worn by the corrosive effects of hyper-awareness, the Gulf no longer operates on rational linear- literal communication, the spectacle of the jawal is nonsense, often lame, like the jewel-toned cover of a pulp novel promising lurid tales of crime and sex but offering up a mundane mess of clichés. And the spectator-individual is rarely more than a mess of clichés inside, the internal passions and pains of any person turned inside out would be an unrecognizable pulp, indistinguishable from the passions and pains of the next.

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