Trajectories

In the technocratically constructed, written, and functionalized space in which the consumers move about, their trajectories form unforeseeable sentences, partly unreadable paths across a space. Although they are composed with the vocabularies of established languages (those of television, newspapers, supermarkets, or museum sequences) and although they remain subordinated to the prescribed syntactical forms (temporal modes of schedules, paradigmatic orders of spaces, etc.), the trajectories trace out the ruses of other interests and desires that are neither determined nor captured by the systems in which they develop. (Michel de Certeau, “The Practice of Everyday Life”, http://www.ubu.com/papers/de_certeau.html)

Navigating the complicated worlds of the Nelson interactive fictions/poems/art pieces, it reminded me of de Certeau’s piece on “The Practice of Everyday Life” and how humans trace their own trajectories, as de Certeau put it, through the visual spaces that they encounter; and although they are restricted by the “prescribed” forms that the artist has created, still we are able to decide (to an extent) how we engage the material and therefore, how we experience it. This much is given to us by the artists themselves. Therefore, the individual’s desires remain separate from the intentions of the artist. I find it interesting to read the reactions that my classmates have to the pieces and the frustrations they encounter. It seems that although the artist has a desire to express something visually and through the combined medium of text and art, nonetheless, the experience of the user/viewer is controlled somewhat by the viewer alone. Granted we all bring our life experiences to any piece of art or literature we interact with, yet it appears that part of the art itself is the reaction. Like art “happenings” there is something created during the encounter which the artist is invoking or provoking or asking the viewer to participate in – ¬†as opposed to just trying to interpret or understand what the artist necessarily had in mind. This initiates an experience which is dynamic or live. There is not a scripted process to the experience.

It is also a bit like theater, a bit like a concert, and a bit like eating dinner out. Everytime there is a newness and an oldness which is simultaneous. Traditional art (gallery viewings) and literature readings, are somewhat static and internal, with an emphasis on receiving. The theater, and live music, as well as dining, has an interactive element which contributes to the overall experience (I wish I could come up with a better word than just “experience” over and over again!) In this way, especially according to de Certeau, humans form “unreadable paths” across the spaces and consequently further the boundaries of the art by their footprints. For this reason, I believe the internet pieces are a new and important development for artists and consumers.

One thought on “Trajectories”

  1. I love your invocation of de Certeau. He has another concept applicable to our class as well: the idea of textual poaching. That readers (and rewriters) “poach” from existing texts in tactical and strategic ways so as to make them relevant to their own lives.

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