BACKGROUND TO CONSCIOUSNESS REFRAMED [excerpt]

Posted by Rhizome | Sun Dec 8th 1996 1 a.m.

BACKGROUND TO CONSCIOUSNESS REFRAMED
THE ARCHITECTURE OF CYBERCEPTION

Cyberception

Post-biological technologies enable us to become directly involved in
our own transformation, and are bringing about a qualitative change in
our being. The emergent faculty of cyberception, our artificially
enhanced interactions of perception and cognition, involves the
transpersonal technology of global networks and cybermedia. We are
learning to see afresh the processes of emergence in nature, the
planetary media-flow, while at the same time re-thinking possibilities
for the architecture of new worlds. Cyberception not only implies a new
body and a new consciousness but a redefinition of how we might live
together in the interspace between the virtual and the real.

Architecture

Western architecture shows too much concern with surface and structures
- an arrogant "edificiality" - and is too little aware of the human need
for transformative systems. There is no biology of building. A "grow
bag" culture is required in which seeding replaces designing, and where
architecture finds its guiding metaphors in microsystems and
horticulture rather than in monumentality and warfare. Architecture has
no response to the realities of cyborg living, or the distributed self,
or to the ecology of digital interfaces and network nodes. Cities must
become the matrix of new forms of consciousness and of the rhythms and
realisations of post-biological life.

Cyberception

Not only are we changing radically, body and mind, but we are becoming
actively involved in our own transformation. And it's not just a matter
of the prosthetics of implant organs, add-on limbs or surgical face
fixing, however necessary and beneficial such technology of the body may
be. It's a matter of consciousness.

We are acquiring new faculties and new understanding of human presence.
To inhabit both the real and virtual worlds at one and the same time,
and to be both here and potentially everywhere else at the same time is
giving us a new sense of self, new ways of thinking and perceiving which
extend what we have believed to be our natural, genetic capabilities. In
fact the old debate about artificial and natural is no longer relevant.
We are only interested in what can be made of ourselves, not what made
us. As for the sanctity of the individual, well we are now each of us
made up of many individuals, a set of selves. Actually the sense of the
individual is giving way to the sense of the interface. Our
consciousness allows us the fuzzy edge on identity, hovering between
inside and outside every kind of definition of what it is to be a human
being that we might come up with. We are all interface. We are
computer-mediated and computer-enhanced. These new ways of
conceptualising and perceiving reality involve more than simply some
sort of quantitative change in how we see, think and act in the world.
They constitute a qualitative change in our being, a whole new faculty,
the post-biological faculty of "cyberception".

Cyberception involves a convergence of conceptual and perceptual
processes in which the connectivity of telematic networks plays a
formative role. [...]

Cyberception heightens transpersonal experience and is the defining
behavior of a transpersonal art. Cyberception involves transpersonal
technology, the technology of communicating, sharing, collaborating, the
technology which enables us to transform our selves, transfer our
thoughts and transcend the limitations of our bodies. Transpersonal
experience gives us insight into the interconnectedness of all things,
the permeability and instability of boundaries, the lack of distinction
between part and whole, foreground and background, context and content.
Transpersonal technology is the technology of networks, hypermedia,
cyberspace.

[...]

The effect of cyberception on art practice is to throw off the
hermeneutic harness, the overarching concern with representation and
self expression, and to celebrate a creativity of distributed
consciousness (mind-at-large), global connectivity and radical
constructivism. Art now is less concerned with appearance and surface,
and more concerned with apparition, with the coming-into-being of
identity and meaning.
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