The Museum of Vestigial Desire


tags: collapse

Media have needed to be transparent for a long time. But now there is a request floating in the air, a request to have media letting its dim light shine. With this request getting processed and the luminosity in our general scenography increasing with the aggregated spotlight of all the dim lights of all the media, we need to understand this light more. Back when the spoken word or rhetoric was all that there was, the people yearned to have a common flux for them to let go of their nightmares. This flux was thought to be like the oceans, like a big river in which the dirt of all the world could be washed and which would still remain fresh and clean. A material like water which could hide masses of dirt within its folds and still remain distinct. When printing picked up as an activity and when crime picked up as an activity, this flux actually emerged. An organ for mass correspondence emerged and was celebrated eagerly. In the beginning very few minds could picture this organ, it was larger than anything that the language at the time could define and hold within itself. Religions were eager to employ this organ, it made it possible for them to leave the world free, not coerce humanity with gunpowder and just publish the text which they assumed will be lapped up by the godless. They did not mind if the organ did not have a proper name yet. They called it anything which served their purpose at the time, from the noise of being the projection surface of innumerable names, emerged the echo of media.

Media was thought to be textual, people could not think of content and representation separately and distinctly. One was the other and the other was one. When pornography and crime fiction became popular, the priests had to differentiate between the filth and the holy text and they floated the concept of content. They reduced the media to being a coarse container, a dumb messenger. And from then we have had the problem of transparency. Transparency is a material property dictated by a culture that is desperate for distinctness. It is like media was subjected to such intense violence that it had to disappear. In all the years of living in hiding, it acquired many deformations. It acquired a maimed body-frame that came to be described commonly as ugly and crude. In the times that we live in there is sufficient distraction. With all the content around we still need elsewhere to look, something else to engage with. And invariably like every skeleton in the closet, media has tumbled out sometime back. Tumbled out and become a toast of the sophisticated and the mannered.

This showing up hasn't necessarily meant that transparency has been given up, resolved and done away with. Rather more of it has now been imposed, with design raising questions of simulation, synthesis and bio-mimicry. Structures should disappear, frameworks should disappear, the source code should not be seen. This has led to media developing coherent psychosis. Psychosis is a springboard of unpredictable and malicious actions. This psychosis has become a malady of the times. For ever parcel of media that media carries, it infects with this psychosis. Psychosis has become a virus now.

Here at the optics laboratory of the Museum of Vestigial Desire, we look at lenses. Glass or plastic lenses are transparent but not exactly, they affect the nature of vision that is directed through its transparency. Lenses are like screens, you might feel that you are looking through but actually you are looking at. With the act of reading, the surface of the text is one of the most important actors. As long as the surface is calm, stable, sedated, the body of the text is fixed and noiseless, but as the surface comes alive this fixation and this resolution comes into question. From an empty frame, the surface can become a screen. And we tinker and toy with precisely that moment of its becoming. The lab of course considers the whole surface its scope of action, it considers all the apparatus that comes handy in making the surface into a screen as utility-value instruments that play part-roles in the lab-world. The optical nature of the screen's periodic decay into an ordinary surface and rise back to the screen's potential is the drama that is being enacted and scripted at the same time.

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