This essay was originally published in Timelight .
Think of the chemical senses of taste and smell. Think of Beuys's "Fat Corner." Think of Bataille's rotten philosophy. Think of radioactive disintegration as a conceptual metaphor of digital composition: the radioactive process in which a nucleus emits radiation and undergoes spontaneous transformation into one or more different nuclei: resolve to be spontaneous: be resolved
Fragmentation. Such as a definition of resolution presented in 16 bits. Such as the poststructural writings of Derrida and Barthes. Such as the memories of one's life or the visual perceptions of a concept as they are manifest in the brain. Such as the making of a digital image: the whole *is* the sum of its parts, whatever and wherever those parts may be.
Writing as material thing: this is the focus of grammatology. Memory as material thing: this is the focus of cognitive science. Narrative as material thing: this is the focus of the Digital Cinema Research Group.
Are you afraid? No--it is not a question of whether or not you are afraid but what you are afraid of. If you deny it, then you are not sufficiently self-aware. How do you cope with your fears? What do you do to be free from fear? Is your art a way of coping? How are you different after you make a work of art?
I think of fly eyes, the special geometries of insect vision. Pixels and pixellation as a making separate the world we observe: If the camera is an optical prosthetic, then how will it change the way we see? And what implications will this hold for the conceptual metaphors surrounding Seeing As Understanding?
A mosaic of photographs or film stills: images becomes pixels in a larger whole. Pixels as big as pictures. Most of the time we are concerned with making the pixels as small as possible, but what if we turned the tables: how big can a single pixel be?
We can watch the body with little cameras no bigger than pins stuck down into the body. We can see the disease. If Seeing Is Knowing, how much do we want to know?
And if the mind is embodied, as Lakoff and Johnson suggest in *Philosophy in the Flesh*, then mental illness becomes a physical handicap.
Narratives we encounter in pop culture reduce to a couple of simple formulas: get the girl, get the bad guy, get revenge. They appeal to the basest of our instincts. Research into media literacy suggests that the neocortical areas of the brain which perceive visual stimuli cannot distinguish between reality and fiction. If this is so, then the disease of the culture takes up residence in our brains, and we walk in the shadow of the valley of death.
If we accept a disease model of artistic creation, a dis-ease model, then the artwork becomes a pustulation, a suppuration, a discharge of viscid liquid.
What happens when the mentally ill artist focusing on his or her obsessions is healed? One question asked in Ellie Ragland-Sullivan's graduate course on Madness and Literature involved the hypothetical situation of the pill that could have cured James Joyce of his Lacanian schizophrenia, thereby making his reliance upon his artwork for mental stability no longer necessary. Would we want to cure Joyce if it meant no *Ulysses*, no *Finnegans Wake*?
What happens when I stop writing poetry because I have achieved a degree of mental health? If I identify myself as a poet, and I identify a poet as one who writes poems, then I experience an identity crisis. Can art be a part of the healing process? Or does the act of creation merely enable the artist to stay in the sickness?
Remember the Deleuzoguattarian injunction to practice a "nomad science," one that "uses a hydraulic model, rather than being a theory of solids treating fluids as a special case; ancient atomism is inseparable from flows. . . ." (ATP 361).
Edward de Bono, famous for his creation of mind tools that aid in creative thinking, also opposes what he calls "water logic" to traditional "rock logic." De Bono's "water logic" aligns itself with Deleuze and Guattari's concept of the rhizome, whereas rock logic aligns itself with their concept of the tree. He writes, "Rock logic is often concerned with 'but' as we show how things differ. Water logic is more concerned with 'and' as we show how the inputs add up to a whole" (*Water Logic* 9). Water logic manifests the Deleuzoguattarian "logic of the AND" (ATP 25).
How will thinking with/through/in digital media make thinking more like a fluid than a solid object? Lakoff and Johnson tell us that Understanding Is Grasping and Ideas Are Objects. So what would happen to "thought" as we conceive it if ideas are conceptualized as fluids? Before we grasp the fluid idea, we must put it into a container. Thought becomes a matter of fluid mechanics.
Metamorphosis. Transformation. Study alchemy for methods of creativity, methods of digital composition. Return to pre-Socratic philosophies as a way of denying the "Greek gang of three, Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, who hijacked Western thinking" (*Water Logic* ix). But think differently about the four elements. Mix them together: water + earth = mud, water + air = bubble, earth + fire = lava, earth + air = sandstorm. Think about the kind of joinings these engender. What would a digital composition composed like mud (or lava, or bubble) look like?
Let us resolve to be poetic. According to the work of Lakoff and Johnson, we think and reason with and through metaphors. Poetry is inescapable.
The subtext for all those engaged in poeisis [Greek "to make"]: Watch your language, whether it be spoken, written, filmed, or digitized.
On the problem of collaboration. If we are all following our obsessions as Parkhurst suggests in *Dogmatic Cinema*, then how do we agree on a project to create collaboratively? Whose obsession will rule the day?
What if all the little gods got together and made a small universe?
The artwork as answering a question, whether personal, cultural, or formal. Will we know what the question is before we begin, or will we discover the question as we proceed?
A statement about points. About how, when you move them rapidly forward, the trajectory, the *blur*, turns them into a line, thereby adding a dimension: "Speed turns the point into a line!" (ATP 24).
And if there are two points, positioned, say, one above the other, as in a colon, and these two points were moved rapidly forward, then there would be two lines, parallel lines, like an equal sign. Colons signify analogies, equal signs signify equations. Both are juxtapositions. What would the next dimensional jump create? Two squares, parallel in space. Like two pixels: the juxtology of digital composition.
If the artist is one who plays *with* the rules rather than *by* the rules, then we must agree on what rules we intend to break.
Let us be resolved to do the following:
1. tell the truth
10. recognize that we are animals crawling out of the mud
11. break laws if necessary to create our art
100. be students of mnemology
101. develop rituals to perform in the privacy of our homes
110. attempt to be joyful
111. overcome our fear
1000. say the obvious
1001. learn how to quilt
1010. be playful, be infinite
1011. be quick about it
Is this not what every generation of artists does? Art as problem-solving: solving the problems that the media present as we create something meaningful or meaningless and communicate it to an audience real or imagined--in some cases, ourselves.
Always new. Always. Don't be afraid of being unoriginal. Just make. Be a maker. Be a *poietes*. Use whatever tools and media available. Be your own audience. Have faith in yourself. You are a little god.