Date: Mon, 7 Oct 1996 20:11:37 +0100


The Endless Take

János Sugár

1. the own time

Even as the human evolves, the speed of work remains constant.(1) This means among other things, the inconcievable but existing experience of growing another day older, every day. In other terms: we can develop our abilities only between close limits and to the detriment of the our other abilities. Our speed of existence is defined by our "own" time which we cannot leave or step out of and is the consequence of the law of not being able to be in two places at the same time, characteristic of our human dimension. We can leave our life-dimension for forever only, because coming back is impossible: the polar opposites of the life-dimension are birth and death.

Only culture offers alternatives - even if in imperfect forms - to reality, giving the illusion of leaving "own" time. We link our own time to just one thing at a time. Just one thing can happen at any given moment, as always, and the speed of this process cannot be accelerated; this is the threshold we cannot cross. If, in a process, there is such a thing as human time, it cannot be diminished, because being is just the dimension of time, itself. The speed of concentration does not change, it is the same as it ever was. A conversation between two people, for instance, can be executed using the same amount of time as in any other time in history. It cannot be slower or faster. Besides the hammer and the nail, there is the fate of the person who is offering his/her own time for realization of a given possibility. In a well known parable this is called working time. This "own" time was extracted by the rich through slavery, their time belonged to the Lord. Civilization means to regulate the buying and selling of "own" time. Everyone gives and receives, buys and sells, freedom, though the proportions differ. The speed of turning into facts, the countless possibilities surrounding us, can be accelerated. I can stand under the tree waiting for an apple to fall, but with the help of a stick, I can realize this possibility - which was only one of an endless number. It could have resulted through an action I couldn't have influenced. I influence my future with an irreversible step, I draw a conclusion. The condensing of decisions means an enhanced activity, which requires human time, again (followers, own-time donors needed!) I accelerate, and at the same time I give potential course to the endless flow of turning possibilities into reality. This results, of course, in the appearance of new, until now undiscovered possibilities, so that the next step is always an acclimatization of the consequences of the previous steps.

2. the machine

The task of tools is to extend human abilities to borders that the human spirit can overlook in order to see as far as we are able to understand something. With the help of our special self-reflective brain, our knowledge can surpass our biologically given perception, and our tools can extend our vision to the borders of our knowledge.(2) The spirit sees further than our body. Our tools try to extend the physical capabilities of the body to the limits of the processing apparatus: the brain. The body without self-reflectivity is capable of more then the real: it flies, excavates and sees into the far away. Like in the macro-cosmos, our field of vision remains within the borders of the world, until our existential dimension, time, leaves us; we can extend our perception just to the border of our knowledge. Research of the very small and the very large is confined by the constant definition of the border of our understood world. The result of the evolution of our tools is the machine; its task is to realize a possibility using the least possible human time. The acceleration of working speed is made possible only by the extraction of human presence. The task of a machine is to accelerate time. Machines are de-humanizing operations, and by this extraction of the human dimension, actions became mechanically executable. This liberation of human time can be used for something else - like solving the problems caused by this accelerated time.(3) In exact proportion to the amount of de-humanization, the machine accelerates the process of turning possibilities into deeds, but this happens mainly under restricted limits - the production of a particular good.

Accelerating time raises certain organizatorial problems and requires social transformations, where the standardization of fulfilable needs carried out by democracy (with voting) and the standardization of consumption carried out by capitalism (with money) happens in the most efficient way. With this help, even society can be mechanized through these standards. The society-machine produces not free-time, but life. It offers a highly sublimized form of a struggle for power which does not necessarally go together with slaughtering innocent planetary inhabitants (own-time donors). The share of work makes the otherwise insoluble processes accelerable and at the same time makes human relationships inextricably complex. The key to survival becomes the machine, although the danger of mechanization - totalitarity - always exists. The real opposite of chaos is the machine.

3. the computer

As the essence of the notion machine appears to be the computer; this absolute machine, which does not produce a particular product, rather owes its substance in the ability to conform to any goal. It could associate with anything, because it tries to emulate human thought patterns. It could discover the common in everything, because it sees the world in the most general way: in forms of information turned into binumeral operations. It can accelerate time consuming steps by the mechanization of what is mechanizable in thought. Even more interesting is the discovery that in the micro-cosmos of thought, the basic unit of decisions is yes and no. Operations accelerated this way - contrary to those of the machine - and derived not from the realm of reality, of physical labor, but from the elements of intellectual work, like grouping, organizing, recording, stringing. By its incredibly high working speed, the computer liberates not only human time, but immediately makes attainable possibilities which were once blocked by the necessity of an excessive amount of human time. The possibilities are given, and as the speed of work raises, so do the probabilities of happenings, too. The remote consequences are incalculable. The computer extends the notion of machine by the borders, executing exactly what was impossible with machines: during its function, the maximum extract of human time happens. From now on, humans fulfill their work using their own time, exclusively in the case of a machine being unable to. With other terms the research of just what man can do is going on, and just what can be mechanized. This procedure is a bit similar to the research of the subconscious, namely to elevate the possible maximum of the level of consciousness.

Glancing at the perfect machine, we cannot see the oily cogwheels: here the working process is already so abstracted that it cannot be followed; it already takes place in a different dimension. The micro-cosmos does the dirty (human-time) work. Civilization's visits to the microcosmos always have ambiguous results, which lead to serious social consequences:

A-bomb - computer.

The computer is, at the same time, the incarnation of the so called new medium. Generally, where "new" appears as an adjective, there is usually some misunderstanding or repression lurking, the manifestation of the collective subconscious: the belief in the infinity of present, behind which the desire of being immortal probably operates. The coming of the New Medium was prepared by different, former new media, like the so called technical, or image, or sound recording devices: all of which evolved and trained medium-consciousness, or the research of the extreme possibilities, marginalities of the forms of expression. There is always the radical test of the efficiency of the means of expression taking place. Art works are the reference materials of the different media, i.e., the trial and manifestation of painting and what it might be good for.(4)

4. the image

Through the creation of networks, the computer makes different geographical places equal. It liquidates the gigantic marketplaces, intersections, and centers where the level of chance - excitement, information, interest - is higher than elsewhere. The periphery becomes a state, leaving the possibilities uncultivated. From the point of the essence this becomes unimportant - where I am physically, in sojourn, independent of this fact - I can still be an equal element and user of the net. No matter where the information comes from. It immediately raises the question of what is impossible to execute without physical presence, if there is no medium for it. Finally civilization means researching this.

By all means it goes together with evaluating personal contacts, or that the personal presence is indispensable at the same time and same space. Luxury means sacrificing our own time. It is the strange experience of the interactive medium researcher that the larger parts the spontaneous user exploits with new communication possibilities are less articulate, more random and more irresponsible than face to face communication.

The so called "new" or technical media are just variations of the solution of recording: 2D still image, 2D moving image, sound recording. Computers created the possibility of 3D moving images with the help of artificially-generated, very realistic images. Although the fidelity to reality of images increases, the authenticity of mechanically generated images decreases, because the source of those pictures is no longer rooted in reality. In certain cases, the difference between an original and an artificially generated image cannot be established. Any image can be the new border between fiction and reality. Images are losing their credibility, or more precisely: just one of their tasks - the proof-character. A picture cannot prove anything, therefore there are no more moral obstacles before image making.

5. the single image

The further acceleration of the speed of working of computer made the 4D moving image or interactive media possible. The new dimension, the only direction the number of dimensions could be increase is the dimension of interactivity, or bringing back human time into a lightspeed infrastructure. The time of dialogue with the possibilities offered by the machine is the interactivity. The image (icon) won, and the connection with the machine is becoming anthropomorphic; operations can be executed on the basis of everyday physical experience, even if in the form of simpler realities but already existing as the top form of interactivity: pseudo-reality. The real new medium begins to work if someone steps in with his/her own time. It works until the user exists it. In the network of virtual reality under pseudonyms, in the interaction of freely chosen pseudo characters, happens the swap of thoughts, so to say in the form of communication design. The pictorial language is always shaped by the borders of any given medium, like in the case of the most sophisticated one until now: the dramaturgy of the two dimensional moving image was defined by the physical limits of recording technology. Since with the processes made possible by computer technology, any image can be transformed into any other image or image part, one of the basics of the pictorial dramaturgy, the cut, disappears. It is not necessary to cut the flow of images because 1. the images are able to transform into one another 2. the material never runs out, the camera does not stop, 3. there is no physical obstacle in front of the camera - since it has no body - it can execute any kind of movement. Until there is no cut, then every 2 or 3 dimensional moving image can be treated as one single, uncut image, one take can last as long as the viewer watches it. Life is an endless take, we cannot step out of this, that which transforms constantly, unnoticed just like growing another day older every



1 some say the working speed of the computer called world is time.

2 just until the wall of the light-cone of time

3 i.e., enviromental pollution, poverty

4 It is interesting. its based historically of the didactic nature of classical avantgarde