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Technoetic Aesthetics

100 Terms and Definitions for the Post-biological Era

Roy Ascott


100 Terms and Definitions for the Post-biological Era

coined by Roy Ascott

Art While traditionally focused on the appearance of things and their representation, art is now concerned with processes of interaction, transformation, and emergence . Art Gallery The artist's window on the world now becomes a doorway into dataspace. As the gallery changes from showcase to operations centre, the museum must become a collaboratory. Artist The creator of contexts for noetic navigation, and of open-ended, evolutive systems in the Net. Behaviour Classical aesthetics dealt with the behaviour of forms, the new aesthetic deals with forms of behaviour. Biohaus Instead of Bauhaus bluff we need a biology of building. Seeding should replace designing, buildings must be planted and allowed to grow. Bio-myths We are still bound up with the search for myths. The context now is biological and behavioural - zooming through the micro/macro levels. Get ready for the great bio- myths, A-life legends. Bionicity Synchronicity is the convergence of disparate events into a unified time. Iconicity is the convergence of disparate data into a unified image. Bionicity is the convergence of artificial / living systems into a unified consciousness. Bio-telematics As biological implants connect us seamlessly to the Net, the matter of consciousness becomes prioritised, and art both defines and inhabits the bio-telematic domain. Body Previously the property of Nature, now the site of bionic transformation at which we can re-create ourselves and re-define what it is to be human. Computer Arts and Crafts As with the 19th century Arts & Crafts of William Morris, we can see a dumbing down from art to craft in digital art, when the authoring of technique takes primacy over the authoring of ideas. Connectivity


Technoetic Aesthetics

100 Terms and Definitions for the Post-biological Era

Roy Ascott

Connectionism is the way of cognitive scientists, connectivism is the way of the technoetic artist. They converge where the artificial collaborates with the natural in a new synthesis of being. Connectitude Moral messaging, correctness of behaviour in the Net. Cross-sectoral sensibility

A new creative practice, unnamed and unbounded, crosses the domains of art, science,

technology and philosophy, but is centred in none . Its principal concern is with mind,

states of being, and the process of becoming. Cyberpower

Virtual Reality corrupts and Absolute Reality corrupts absolutely, whenever the constraints and limitations of its construction are preordained, predefined, or pre-set. Cyburbs We shall all move from the city to the cyburbs, wormholing effortlessly between real and virtual locations, meeting with real bodies and telepresences in the same continuum Cyberception The emergent human faculty of technologically-augmented cognition and perception Cyberself We are each made up of many selves: de-centred, distributed, and constructively schizophrenic. We are the embodiment of technoetic relativity. Cyberstress Induced by inertia in fast flowing streams of transformation and translocation. Dark Matter

It is not the dark matter of outerspace that interests us so much as the dark matter of

consciousness. Maybe it’s the same thing. Datafoam Wormholes are found tunneling in quantum foam -

locations in the galaxy. We tunnel through datafoam from hyperlink to hyperlink, across

our planetary Web. Datapool

A metaphor for the digital museum into which data flows, endlessly transformed

through human interaction, and from which it flows on out into the datasea. Post- biological life forms grow in these datapools just as proto- organisms emerged from primeval rock pools. Design Design was always a top down affair with blueprints. master plans and models. Now it's a bottom-up process, its algorithms growing from a telematic substrate. DMT Unlike dimethyltryptamine, Digital Media Toxin is an hallucinogen that is poisonous if taken in excess. Ayahuascii could be a synthetic example. Double Consciousness The state of being which gives access, at one and the same time, to two distinctly different fields of experience: psychic space and cyberspace, the material world and the virtual, in an artwork and outside of it. Double Gazing

connecting widely separated


Technoetic Aesthetics

100 Terms and Definitions for the Post-biological Era

Roy Ascott

We see, hear, and feel in ways unknown to biological man, just as the environment increasingly hears, sees and feels us. With retina-tracking lasers, the artist's gaze is returned; the walls have ears, and buildings will speak volumes Edificiality

A weakness of Western Architecture that shows too much concern with surface

and too little concern with transformative systems.

Enactment Just as a shamanic ceremony is not a public performance but a spiritual enactment., entailing the structuring of psychic forces without an audience, so interactive art should involve an enactment of mind, immersed in an intimate system. Evolutionary environment

It will be the mutations in design and the randomness in bottom-up construction that will

make artificial environments become complex and clever. Farming Online

Cyberspace is where we seed concepts and plant images. Their growth depends on cybersynthesis rather than photosynthesis. FDS and OES Finite Data Sets: action within pre-designed limits, presented as either a unitary or a so- called interactive experience, with the artist in control. Open-ended Systems : interaction within networked or evolutive systems which put the user or the environment in control. Feral networking How quickly computer-based art can be tamed and domesticated! The wild cats are relatively few but their presence in the Internet jungle are our only guarantee against complacency. Five-fold path The Tao of telematics has five steps: connectivity, immersion, interaction, transformation, emergence. Gaiatronics The technological amelioration of planetary life Gardens of Hypotheses Museums imprison metaphors. Gardens of hypotheses are to the technoetic culture what the neo-Georgian museum was to classical culture. Hermeneutic Error

In the pre-telematic era, we thought the world was full of meaning, a text to be

interpreted, a great book waiting to be read. Now we see that we write our own reality

and negotiate for meaning through interaction. HMD Heel mounted display for bottom-up viewing of emergent processes! Holomatics

The holomatic principle is that each network interface is an aspect of a telematic unity:

to be at any one is to be in the virtual presence of all others throughout the network.

Horhizome The event horizon of the Net. Hypercortex


Technoetic Aesthetics

100 Terms and Definitions for the Post-biological Era

Roy Ascott

The global network of collective cognition. Superthought comes from its community of mind, wisdom from its hyperstructure of experience. Hyperdata Data converging from scattered sources, split into uncertain trajectories of meaning. This darting to and fro of data, colliding, emitting new combinations, absorbing each other is a kind of quantum behaviour. Hyper-hiker This is Kerouac’s ‘On the Road’ with software. The Hyper-hiker charts a different highway from the old Beat generation. Upbeat, downloaded, empowerbooked, and taking every branch of the digital highway. Immateriality The dematerialisation of art , telemedia and virtual reality leads inexorably to the materialisation of culture in the form of artificial life. Implicate Process Where the artist’s enfolding of ideas and images in a density of Web connections is accompanied by the unfolding of links and trajectories created by the user’s interactions. Interactivity The trivial form is a closed system with a finite data set. The non-trivial form has the open-ended capacity to accommodate new variables. Interneticity As plasticity was to the visual arts, so interneticity is to the telematic arts. Interspace Found between the virtual and the actual, where reality is re-negotiated and the new consciousness is embodied. Interstitial practice Art located at the meeting point of bio-electronics, nano-engineering and the science of consciousness. Ki Consciousness in artificial systems, self-aware machines and intelligent architecture. The Japanese know this spiritual energy to be intrinsic to advanced technology. Mars The only place left to go if bottom-up structures and cultures are to have untrammeled freedom to evolve. To achieve any kind of gravity of purpose, visionary free-fall is first required Mind-altering technologies Surgeon-General’s warning: Digital dependency can seriously endanger your health. Mind-City As neural networks meet planetary networks and make the connection, so our brain will invade the city and the city will enter our brain. Mystemics The systems study of mystical consciousness, in architectural, iconic and ritualistic form. Nano-navigation Our present multi-media explorations will go progressively further and deeper as we penetrate the nano-level of particle consciousness. Our bodies will host the chips which process these navigations. Nature II



Technoetic Aesthetics

100 Terms and Definitions for the Post-biological Era

Roy Ascott

Our direct involvement in the evolution of artificial life, assisted by bio-telematic connectivity, is leading to the replacement of the old authorised Nature by Nature II. Net-extent Our net-extent defines us in telematic space just as the material body defined us in the old biological culture. We are now weightless and dimensionless in any exact sense. We are measured by our connectivity. Neuro-cosmology Artificial neural networks are merging with planetary networks in a new space of consciousness. We shall chart the mind as we chart the sky, creating new cognitive constellations, noetic zodiacs. Noetic networks Our personal neural networks merge with global networks to create a new space of consciousness. Non-linear identity I connect, therefore I am multiple. Notitia Immaturana Underdeveloped, unformed ideas about the nature of reality Paramentation The cerebral activity of collective intelligence Paranature Absorbs , recontextualises and goes beyond Nature, technologically assisting in its many inadequacies. Paranormal experience , suppressed in industrial society, is re-integrating into everyday life. Phantom Audience

A passive, voyeuristic, phantom audience is often implicit in the very art which claims

to have rejected the inert viewer in favour of the interactive user. This is due largely to

the persistence of the museum culture. Photomutation

In the multimedia culture the silence of the lens dies the death of the early movies: mute

images mutate to the sonic state. Phreno-fractals Freud is dead and the myth of the unified individual has been destroyed. We are each made up of many selves: de-centred, distributed, and tele-schizophrenic. Our minds have an infinity of phreno-fractals constantly creating alternative realities. Planetary Collegium Promotes web wisdom and online learning. Just as in mediaeval Europe the Monastery gave way to the University, so now the University will give way to the Planetary Collegium. Post-biological era The old disputes between modernism and post-structuralism, grand narrative and semantic negation dissolve before the prospect of post-biological life. PoBio City An architecture of systems interfaces and network nodes informing the conjunction of cyberspace and built environment. The antithesis of the PoMo architecture of facade and style. Post-photographic practice


Technoetic Aesthetics

100 Terms and Definitions for the Post-biological Era

Roy Ascott

The digital camera is a tool for constructing reality, the mechanical camera a tool for reflecting it. Psibernetic phenomena The human desire for transcendence takes many forms: telepathy, telekinesis, out of body experience. Now we have telematics, telepresence and the aesthetics of apparition. Psiborg Psychically-extended organism, human but with vastly increased powers of psychic perception. Radical constructivism/Radical Connectivism The radical constructivism of post-biological philosophy joined with the radical connectivism of telematic art can provide a scenario of living in which we take on responsibility for the construction of our own identity and the reality it inhabits. Replocator At the molecular level, a replicator is an entity that cause certain environments to copy it. At the mirror site, a replocator is an environment that causes certain entities to copy it. Sentient Net The conscious Net is the feeling Net. In artificial systems, only emotional intelligence can produce truly augmented thought. Shamantics Foregrounding the semantic aspect of shamanism in the technoetic context. Sipápuni The a ritual hole in Hopi kivas which represents the place of emergence from the previous world into this one. By creating sipápuni in cyberspace we can wormhole into other realities. Smart Architecture To support the realities of cyborg living, the distributed self, and our technoetic ecology, architecture will have to become more conscious, anticipatory and responsive Software, Passion, Chance These are the three vectors of techno-creativity. None is sufficient alone. Spiritual software The soul of the machine State-of-the-Heart Only when computers are able to love will they be able to think. STMs In Scanning Tunneling Microscopes, imaging and manipulation of molecular construction combine, thus making the STM the new tool for pico-sculpture and interface design. Structural Analysis Psycho-therapy for intelligent buildings may be more appropriate than putting ourselves in analysis. Think of all the psychotic and schizophrenic places you know. Subtle, intimate, ubiquitous The three conditions to which all interactive art aspires. Supervenience Mind is supervenient on the activity of its interfaces, whether organic or telematic, and although Mind is ubiquitous and always present, it requires matter to become manifest. Technoetic Aesthetics


Technoetic Aesthetics

100 Terms and Definitions for the Post-biological Era

Roy Ascott

The classical concern with the surface image of the world gives way to the technoetic aesthetics of creative consciousness and artificial life. Techno-formalism

A pixel is a pixel is a pixel.

Technostic Having esoteric, occult, spiritual knowledge revealed through technology. Techno-qualia The philosophy of the senses must recognise that the human sensorium is expanding to include entirely new sensations and perceptions . Teleclonics

Dolly the lamb reminded us that the geographical dispersal of clones around the world is mirrored by our own distribution in telepresence throughout cyberspace. Telemadic

Where the ancients were nomadic, we are

vast interspaces of the worldwide networks of technology and consciousness Telematic Imperative

When there are no more geographical boundaries, territorial aggression is as irrelevant

as polarized politics. The only imperative is to connect. Nowadays even the self is permeable. Telepresence

Art has always concerned itself with presence: of gods in religious art, heroes in Classical

art, the artist in Romantic art; of presence itself in Abstract art.

telepresence is distributed throughout the Net. We are both here and there, out-of-body and re-embodied, de-materialised and reconfigured, at one and the same time. Teleprescience

In cyberspace our consciousness accelerates to a higher state of prescience:

teleprescience. It means that we anticipate faster, and foresee further. Telenoia

Telenoia celebrates the networked consciousness of global connectivity. It replaces the

paranoia of the old industrial culture:

private. Turing Test Turing the Net, hitting the hot spots, visiting exotic sites. The challenge of turism in cyberspace. Are you who I think you are? Am I where you think I am ? T-space Traditionally, Art was constructed in 2-space or 3-space. The digital arts occupy telematic space which both collapses classical space and de-territorialises time. Values New values, new politics, new ways of living are emerging from our global connectivity. Variable Reality Dry Reality is found in the arid spaces of VR. Wet Reality is the nature that we nurture. Moist Reality emerges from the bio-technology of artificial life. World-mind Planetary self-awareness and cognition arising from the technoetic Web. Wormhole

restlessly telemadic, our minds traversing the

In telematic art, our

anxious, alienated, secretive and neurotically


Technoetic Aesthetics

100 Terms and Definitions for the Post-biological Era

Roy Ascott

Intrinsic to hypermedia in cyberspace, the wormhole also is as essential a requirement of urban systems as of galaxies, facilitating our passage between real and virtual spaces, and between natural and paranatural worlds. Zen The new necessity in art is watchful preparedness: standing back in a Zen-like state of readiness to allow new ideas and forms to emerge from the hyperconnectivity of the Net, then to cultivate, nurture and re-seed them.

© Roy Ascott 1997