Thursday, August 11, 2005
Via information aesthetics, I came across this entry on "email erosion." An enclosure houses a block of biodegradable foam subject to sprays of water triggered by a stream of discourse--emails sent to bots in this case. As I understand it, the email-analyzing algorithm activates the bots that patrol each side of the container; under certain conditions, the bots let loose with the water and the block of foam dissolves.
"At the end of the show, the remaining foam, if any, is a finished sculpture."
A what-if: Say we turn this model toward disciplinarity, devise a set of bots and systematic squirts, then channel everything reflective of a discipline (pick your discipline, why not?): journal articles, listservs, syllabi, student work, weblogs and textbooks. Anything that passes as information, anything indicative of the field, noetic and technic. After 30 days, what would the sculpture look like? After 30 years? (We might imagine twenty foam blocks, each assigned a discursive stream.)
Now, do you mind if I change lanes to the despondency thread on WPA-L from yesterday? I subscribe in digest, so I don't know where this thread is going today. I'm sure it's going. And I won't try to offer any summary or critique here. I only want to point a finger at it because I've been thinking a lot about disciplinarity lately, about what it means to identify oneself with a particular disciplinary formation--to say I'm a compositionists or a rhetorician or a comp-rhetor. What other ways to put it? Flexing with despondency or resplendence, whole disciplines are really difficult to characterize. And yet, the meta-disciplinary hum is fairly regular, ongoing. Where am I headed with this? Well, the "email erosion" got me thinking (more than I was already) about the ways we have of talking about disciplinarity--of anecdotal accounts of encounters with ill-informed contrarians and others unaware of the work we busy ourselves with OR of typically broader inferences drawn from conference programs (thinking of CGB's fallacies of scale), textbooks, journals, publishers and their book-types, graduate programs and other histories (such and such event(s) led to Y or coincided with n). What else?
If we had yet another way of perceiving disciplinarity, such as this exhibit, what might it tell us? What shape, this disciplinary sculpture? And would anyone admire it? Or would the green foam wholly erode (too much water pressure), leaving behind an empty glass enclosure? Sure, we'd still have the bots. And another block of foam?
Related: Pulsart: "a physical installation that represents level of activity (of family members or museum visitors, measured by a pulse-meter in form of a ring or a bracelet) by water running down blocks of salt." We could use one of these at the Palmer House in '06.Posted by Derek Mueller at August 11, 2005 11:30 AM to Unspecified