Thursday, October 20

Words and Places

Because of the way that it is being built, the Cathedral isn’t a very user-friendly place. At least not at this moment. People visit it, they are intrigued, wander about the place a bit and mostly leave it in a state near desperation. What is this all about? Where do I start? What do you mean?

The Cathedral is just a word. To me its an important word. Words are places. The new Cathedral of erotic misery is an important place for me.The way the Cathedral is being built is procedural. Its creative principles are those of recursion and garbaging.. You should know that in my view words and terms are places whose definitions are mere co-ordinates.
Places you can add or subtract meaning to, just like to any Cathedral.

Let me try to explain these three particular terms:

@ Procedural:

The Cathedral  is not a collection of art objects. It is a process happening over time. As Central Authoring Process of the Cathedral, it is my job is to provide and manage the code that makes up the Cathedral. Often I am more of a guide than its sole creator.

All code is considered equal. Texts in the Cathedral is textual code. Graphics are graphical code. A scanned drawing is a digitised version of drawing code, pencil drawn lines that want to be significant, like writing. Music is code made audible. Video is the code that starts a time-inclusive simulation process known as video. There can be no strict division between code and data in the Cathedral. In fact, most of our familiar dualistic notions like form-content, mind-body, navigation-content,  fiction-reality,… are very blurred in the Cathedral. That doesn’t make things easy for the user.

@ Recursion & Garbaging:

The Cathedral is something absent and a presence including a Cathedral. That is an example of a recursive definition. Recursive definitions don’t mean zilch outside of time. Recursive definitions need to happen before they mean anything.

Recursion is everywhere. Your computer is full of it: your hard disk is a collection of files and folders (directories) . A folder is a collection of files and folders. That doesn’t mean anything until those files and folders are present. When something is present, it happens. When you start your computer, your files start to happen. When your computer is not running, you can kick it as hard as you can: your files won’t come out. They simply don’t ‘exist’.

The Cathedral is a running compilation of code. According to its configuration, it takes some of the code and interprets it as processing instructions. Other parts it treats as mere data.

At this point, the Cathedral is largely a simulation of what it wants to be. Later, I hope we will be able to see how some code will be garbaged to data and, inversely, how some code-data unities of movement will auto-generate  new code. The Cathedral will get very unpredictable in its use of the bites that are being fed to it, just like we humans are whimsical in our use of the inputs we receive. At times, because of intricate instances of recursion, because some piece of code recursively defines data as data and code,  it will be very hard to decide what is actually happening:

     0: is code being garbaged to data and reused as such or as new code?
     1: is data being promoted to instructional code, or being organised in structured data?

Up till now the building process has largely been one of addition. More code to go into the Cathedral, almost every day. When I add something that seems to me some new process that has started within the Cathedral, I announce it on the Rhizome list. So when you read those announcements there, you shouldn’t interpret them as ‘the author has released a new work entitled thus & thus’. Announcements there are messages that something has happened, a new process has emerged, something that I as an author can identify as being a process. You can talk about processes, but its more difficult than talking about objects.

Processes tend to change while you’re talking about them. Just like the Cathedral is changing now, in fact the Cathedral-Mother is blaiming me harshly for being too explicitely explaining again. “You should be earning some money instead, you nitwit”, she says, “go & make some commercial database front-end somewhere, at least that would earn you some cash”. It’s a predicament, hearing voices like that.

For some obvious reasons, the mere addition of code cannot go on indefinitly. At some point I will need to program something to help me. Get organised. Stop the endless additions and start doing something with them. At some point, I will need to start up the Cathedral, find a way to let it run on its own.

Maybe it will be clearer then. Start speaking for itself. Maybe some day someone will visit the url http://www.vilt.net/nkdee and see a blank screen. Or a place resembling a  person that says “Hello, my name is Anke Veld. I am the Cathedral. How are you?”.

Who knows what will happen? Who knows what is happening now? These are strange times.

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