Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Duration online and in art

When reading Terranova's analysis of Bergson's duration and how it relates to the Internet and network dynamics, I was reminded of this video, in which JK Keller takes a picture of himself everyday for years:

Terranova explains that the claim that "the Internet annihilates the heterogeneity of times onto a single space" (51) can only be understood once one distinguishes between the movement of space and the movement of time, and that this notion leaves out the qualitative and change-inducing nature of time, or duration. This youtube video can be read as a virtual way of addressing Bergson's notion of duration and the qualitative changes that take place over time. Although the changes taking place in the man and his surroundings are presented are presented in temporally discontinuous images, the lack of importance put on dates or any other markers of time make the images flow into one seemingly-continuous reality. This new 'reality' is similar to Bergson's duration because the primary markers of time are qualitative (the man gets a haircut, changes his glasses, grows a bear) and personal. Bergson's duration was a respones to the hyper-rationalization he saw at the Fin de Si├Ęcle, particularly after the institution of standardized time zones. Because duration was sort of protest against modern society, tensions arise when Terranova proposes it as a central element to the postmodern space of the Internet.
One aspect of duration that Terranova doesn't address is that it is highly personal and internal--pre-linguistic and not necessarily attainable by everyone. How does the potentially alienating effect of duration translate onto her model of the qualitative changes caused by social interaction over the Internet? This youtube video speaks to the tension between the internal and the social. The man probably took the thousands of photos of himself alone (or at least isolated from the majority of the people that viewed his work), and the images chart non-linguistic and difficult to pinpoint changes in himself, without any commentary about his life outside these moments (something more like the 'cinema of attractions' as opposed to a narrative). However, by posting the video online, he opens his art project up to narrativization and commentary, thereby changing its meaning (e.g. the comment that by the end of the clip he looked " 'i got a human torso in the trunk' scary"). In addition, this video is in fact a fan-edited video, which took the artists initial still frames, added music, and posted it as a response to a similar but less impressive youtube video,
Does this form of qualitative internet exchange take away some of the meaning of Keller's initial project by turning it into a form closer to repetition than to original work? Does the Internet's possibility of strangers repeated or reshaping one's work compromise the original data, or expand it by adding multiple interpretations? Further, how does the Internet's possibility for connection and dialogue add layers of meaning to a work that initially sought to capture something akin to duration? Does the qualitative nature of Internet time undermine the intial project of the video or give it new meaning?

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