Saturday, 24 March 2012

A loop of endings

One of my favourite analogies is Paul Virilio's descirption of knowledge being like a constantly expanding sphere . I understand there is some doubt as to the accuracy of his model, but in the spirit of a blog, and for the sake of attempting to articulate a thought or an image which has been troubling me in my sleep ( niggling me, my Dad would have said ), I'm just going to run with it.
My apologies to Virilio.
Imagine an uninflated ballon of some amazingly flexible material that will just keep on expanding and never pop. Now imagine that instead of air this balloon is filled with things that become known. So, the more research is undertaken the more we know, the more what we know goes into the balloon, the more the balloon just keeps on growing.
As I understand it what Virilio then said was that as the surface area of this expanding sphere increases, the boundary ( the membrane of the balloon/sphere ) between what we know and what we don't know ( i.e.what is inside the sphere and what is outside the sphere)  actually gets bigger all the time. The implication of this is quite simple; the more we know, the more we know what we don't know.
So, this morning I'm lying in bed thinking about the work I'm doing with Neil Webb for Bend in the River. This is the "End of Ends" project. The premise of this is simple, the reality pretty complex. We are creating a potentially never ending list of endings, the list of endings has to keep growing, if it doesn't then things ( things being things in human consciousness ) will have ended. In other words as long as we are imagining ends 'we' are not ending.
The thing that's been niggling me is the form of the list. As it stands the list is being generated and then played back at 4 endings per second over a screen, the list currently lasts around 4 minutes and is looped. As more endings are introduced the list will of course get longer.
But, talking with Neil yesterday about the sound element, and working with Kate Buckley on the form of the outputs, has made me realise that this image of the  sphere  and the expansion of the sphere might be key. I imagined the list as an expaning membrane in space, instead of a linear, top to bottom, left to right structure, the list is added to from the inside and at each addition the list doesn't get longer, it gets 'bigger'. If the list is a membrane of some form, then the boundary between what is in the list and what is outside of it gets bigger. The more endings we imagine, the more we know there are yet to imagine.
The  boundary in this instance is the loop itself.
This is what I love and hate about this project, and I've posted on it before. I can't get a fix whether it is reductive, ruinous, entropic, desperate, hopeless or expansive, open, infintie, transcendetal, and hopeful.
I guess, this is the  point, that the work itself operates both about a boundary and as a boundary.
Thanks Neil and Kate ( and Paul )

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