Database Aesthetics: Issues of Organization and Category in Online Art
Sharon Daniel

Collaborative Systems: evolving databases and the 'conditions of possibility' -- artificial life models of agency in on-line interactive art.


This paper will discuss interactive on-line artworks modeled on cellular automata that employ various types of agents, both algorithmic and human, to assist in the evolution of their databases. These works constitute what will here be referred to as "Collaborative Systems," systems that evolve through the practice of inter-authorship.

I. Evolving Databases and the 'Conditions of Possibility'

Collaborative Systems are experiential frameworks where individuals and technologies interact and collaborate to generate and regenerate their environment. The conceptual structure and temporal development of Collaborative Systems parallels that of Cellular Automata Worlds modeled in Artificial-Life research.[1] These "worlds" or models suggest a paradigm shift for art practice from the 'pursuit of truth' to the preparation of a "conditions of possibility." Physicist Werner Heisenberg[2] posited the simultaneous absence and presence of matter -- where every object can be understood both as a localized point (finite, bounded, specific) and as a variably distributed wave function (spreading infinitely.) Similar contradictions and potentialities are contained in the notion of "conditions of possibility." This concept moves beyond the interpretation of "uncertainty" as the collapse of the separation between subject and object to establish a field of activity with degrees of freedom for forces of dynamic interaction.

Quantum Physics locates the interaction of or exchange between two separate physical systems to a "field" that extends from one to the other. In physics a "field" is a region under some influence, such as gravitation. Outside the context of physics, "field" is also defined as "a complex of forces that serve as causative agents in human behavior."[3] These definitions of "interaction" and "field" help describe interactivity (or inter-authorship) in the "field" (or framework) of on-line artworks modeled on the spatially and temporally distributed dynamics of cellular automata -- a model which can be manifested in collaborative systems.

figure 1.1 - development of a two dimensional cellular automata

figure 1.2 - development of a three dimensional cellular automata

In Cellular Automata machines: a new environment for modeling[4] Thomaso Toffoli and Norman Margolus maintain that cellular automata "...are the computer scientist's counterpart to the physicist's concept of "field." A cellular automata is a "computing space." A description of the Cellular Automata Machine (CAM8), a massively parallel computer architecture designed by Toffoli and Margolus, offers a general example of the structure of cellular automata.


figure 1.3 - images from Signal-to-Noise were processed by the CAM8 (click for a larger image)


These images from the web project Signal to Noise [5], were processed with the Cellular Automata Machine. Signal to Noise explores the emergence of global systems from associative, random or interpretive interactions between texts and images on the web.

The CAM8 was built to model systems that extend in space and evolve in time according to local laws. It uses iterative steps to process data in real-time. In the CAM8, each pixel may "behave" independently at each "step" based on a table of rules and a given initial condition. In the case of the CAM8, the table of rules is a set of definitions for the behavior of each pixel or cell in relation to the state of each neighboring pixel or cell. Given any initial condition, a global state (a pattern or image) emerges from the local interactions of discrete entities in an iterative and constantly evolving system.

In collaborative systems, both the initial condition of the system (the state or condition of the field or world at the first step of evolution), and its rule-table (directions for the behavior and interaction of its "cells"), are databases. The conceptual structure and temporal development of collaborative systems parallel that of cellular automata; however, a collaborative system incorporates human participants, artificially intelligent agents, algorithmic entities and/or associative networks in the location of the individual "cells" of a cellular automata. Each of these acts as an agent - playing a role in the "inter-authorship" of the system.

In a collaborative system, as in a cellular automata, these individual "cells" populate a field or frame; the field is a representation, analogous to the biological term phenotype, while the rule table is a description analogous to the term genotype.[6] "Representation" and "description" are terms are that are too situated in traditional aesthetic discourse to be used in this context, since they refer to static viewer/object systems rather than dynamic interactive systems. The terms phenotype and genotype are more useful here since they refer to emergent and evolutionary behavior. Thus the field or world frame embodies a database of "phenotype" and the rule table comprises database of "genotype."

A collaborative system frames a field of potential for human/machine interaction which challenges accepted models of authorship and necessitates a radical rethinking of aesthetics. This suggest the possibility of an aesthetics of "Database"

The term "Data" originated as the plural of the Latin word datum, meaning "something given."[7] In the world of experience our datum is our socially constructed, cultural context. Similarly, in the case of collaborative systems that "something given" is the database - a collection of associations, images, and texts -- a context. The database is a structure that persists while its content evolves and is displaced. It is relational and non-hierarchical. It comprises an initial condition or world-state at any moment in the evolution of a system.

"Aesthetics" has traditionally meant "a particular theory or conception of beauty."[8] A "conception" of the "beauty" of a database is not located in the viewer's interpretation of a static form but in the dynamics of how a user inflects the database through interaction with its field or frame. A database incorporates contradiction; it is simultaneously recombinant and indexical, precise and scaleable, immersive and emergent, homogeneous and heterogeneous. It is a field of coherence and contradiction. The aesthetic dimensions of the database arise when the user traverses this field of unresolved contradictions. The database is comprised of nested subfields which are activated, and given ontological status, by the user's trajectory through it's field. Continuously emergent ontological states resolve as new subfields from each interaction and are integrated into the field - changing and transforming the content and structure of that field and constituting the "art object" as a continuously evolving and fluid system. These are the conditions of possibility of a "database aesthetics."

An argument for the "conditions of possibility" of database aesthetics can be "grounded" in the analysis of systems found in the world.

The following four "found" systems provide external evidence of and extended context for, database aesthetics.[9]

1. Found System - Paris Catacomb

figure 2.1 - details of Paris Catacombs (click for a larger image)

The Parisian Catacombs constitute a massive database of the dead, embodied in an immersive environment. After a long, winding descent, narrow, stone corridors suddenly transform into stacks and rows of human skulls and femurs ten feet in depth and rising eight - lining what appears to be an infinitely receding passageway. Shock registers in sudden breathlessness. Immersion here means immersion in a monumental volume of loss and decay. But after this first bodily response, the response-type that is the locus of traditional aesthetics, ones perception shifts to the obsessive, repetitive, endless, stacking, ordering, patterning, and cataloging of human remains. These remains are organized and categorized; identified in groups by their location of origin in once consecrated graves. Identity and location have been displaced by a general categorization of fragments which constitutes a field. Each particular body as organic whole is lost. Its history and context subsumed in subfields.

The algorithm which constructs the catacomb is as follows: exhume skeletons, reduce individual skeletons to skull and femur, remove fragments to catacomb, situate in subfield identified with graveyard of origin. This algorithm is the genotype which produces the subfield as phenotype.

In this example, database aesthetics works through displacement that resolves into a pattern which constitutes an immersive, phenomenal space. The Paris Catacomb was once a dynamic system that has ceased to evolve.

2. Found System - St. Chapelle

The Chapel as a whole is an information system with a nested or "whole-to-part" structural organization. This structure was designed to regulate temporal and social experience.

The walls of the upper chapel are formed by fifteen stained glass windows which comprise the data-field of the chapel. Each window is divided into subfields, or self-contained individual panels. No two panels are alike. This idiosyncratic differentiation is mediated by the ordering frame of the chapel's architecture, which produces the appearance of a coherent pattern. The aesthetic experience is one of oscillation between the impact of the architectural phenotype, or field, and the stimulus of the visual and narrative genotypes of the windows and their individual panels, or nested subfields.

Each panel or groupings of panels has a narrative structure meant didactically to prescribe a moral code and outline a spiritual practice. Together, the panels function as an immersive rule table. Parishioners are meant to emulate the characters depicted in the stories, and structure their social interactions accordingly.

The experience of the chapel for a parishioner was time based; the illumination of the chapel database is subject to the cycles of night and day, and to the longer units of yearly seasonal change. The chapel is therefore a clock which temporally orders the live of its members as well as a social and moral handbook that regulates their behavior.


figure 2.2 - sequenced detail of the chapel and canopy at St. Chapelle

3. Found System - Nature Demiurge[10]

Insects from the collection of Anne and Jacques Kerchache were exhibited at the Cartier Foundation like a collection of precious jewels. Identical, velvet-lined, vitrines embedded in the walls at eye level circumscribed the gallery in a single, luminous, line. Each elegant display case contained a number of specimens from a particular species of insect. The specimens in each case were nearly identical to each other. Only subtle variations in pattern or color could be detected upon close inspection. The exhibition constituted a data-base of continuos differentiation - a play of difference along a spectra of metonymically arranged data. The focus of the exhibition as a whole was the demiurge -- the pattern of patterning, or the design of designing. Through a strategy of iteration, the collection of individual cases displayed the inescapable interweaving of the homogeneous and the heterogeneous.



In incremental steps the variety of pattern within the strict parameters of a "world" or species was expressed. The range of difference was so small that field and subfield were nearly coextensive. Nested within each subfield, the metonymy operates at the level of individual specimens. For example, the iteration of difference in pattern across the individual wings of one butterfly.


One case contained a butterfly with a wing pattern with "eyespots" comprised of a two dimensional border encircling a form which appeared to be rendered in three dimensions. On each of the four wing segments the "rendered" form was similar in "style" but unique in size and shape. This was true of each of the eight specimens. Of the examples of this species exhibited, no two "rendered" forms were identical though their location, scale, "style" were consistent. The "style" of the rendering was equivalent to a hatched and shaded, volumetric and perspectival, charcoal drawing. The volumes thus "rendered" were complex, organic, topologies - resembling droplets of water. These intricate representations formed a subfield that indicated the complexity and - in some sense - intelligence of the genotype.
figure 2.3 - nature demiurge



4. Found System - Venice

The database for the "conditions of possibility" of the city of Venice is a field defined by excess and necessity, decadence and survival. Here water, architecture, commerce, and tourism comprise a system that is both emergent and immersive - a physical and historical "collaborative system." The lagoon and canals frame the complex fields and subfields of the city while, simultaneously, the city frames their tidal flow. Venice is a body floating, suspended in its' own fluids. Water contains and fills, encompasses and embodies it. Its construction was an expression of power counter- balanced by its own impossibility.

The vector that traverses the field of Venice is the loss of perspective. Venice is a manifestation in experience of the condition of schizophrenia. There is no way to get one's bearings on the relation of past to present and present to future. If, as a tourist, one wanders in the city then any street, campo, canal, or fondamente is the way (or means) and the end. The experience is immersive. There is no possibility of objectivity. No matter how many maps of the city one has it is impossible not to get lost. Every small alleyway, canal, campo, fondamente, has several names - or rather, each may be individually named and all the names represent the same physical point but from different frames of reference or perspective locations. It is possible to consult many maps of Venice of varying degrees of scale, detail and resolution, overlaying map upon map. Maps representing different and multiple perspectives leave one always in some sense lost -- as no one map or combination of maps coincides with one's own immediate subjective and physical location. To "lose ones way" in the city would be oxymoronic -- it is the condition of being in Venice, as such. After all, where is one attempting to go? One is constrained by the limit-frame of the "world" or system which both frames an empty space and re-constitutes a new field. In this context the movement of an individual is linked to the movements, constraints, and containments of light, sound, and water within the system of canals and fondamenta. This interdependency functions like a four dimensional mesh where the displacement of one node or intersection necessarily distorts the surface of the whole, collapsing and expanding the individual interstices accordingly. A tourist in Venice is a wave function.

figure 2.4 - Venice water systems

Agency and Database

An aesthetics of database is located in a user's, or agents', interaction with its field or frame. The phrase "intelligent agent" implies an automatic process that can communicate with other processes to perform some collective task on behalf of one or more humans[11] -- a model based on the "phenotype" and its utility. In collaborative systems this definition of agency is expanded. Here, agents may be conceived as entities rather than instruments. An agent, either human or algorithmic, can be a force or substance that causes change within the system, as in a chemical reaction.

Human participants in a collaborative system operate, either intuitively or intentionally, in response to "rule-tables" given in the system as well as rules established by the social construction of "the subject". For Human "cells" or participants history or cultural context may function as the "initial condition" of a system.

The human participant interacts with algorithmic agents or cells whose behavior is prescribed by a set of rules given in the design of the system - for example a genetic algorithm, a Boolean search mechanism or a random number generator.

In "On-Line Language Games"[12] Warren Sack questions the emphasis on "problem-solving" in computer program design. Citing educator Paolo Freire's notion of "problematization" as a possible alternative to "problem-solving," Sack proposes that -"Rather than seeing new technologies as solutions, one can see them as entities that pose questions."

In collaborative systems agents of all types initiate questions and interact to evolve environments and/or experiences. Problematization as opposed to problem solving is central to the function of algorithmic agents in collaborative systems.

The following are projects which demonstrate four types of problematizing algorithmic agents: Chaotic, Random, Destructive and Schizophrenic...[13]

1. Chaotic Agency: "Strange Attraction: Non-Logical Phase-Lock over Space-Like Intervals" -- an Installation [14]

Image - Strange Attraction

figure 3.1 - Strange Attraction installation detail (click for a larger image)

figure 3.2 - Strange Attraction diagram (click for a larger image)

figure 3.3 - Strange Attraction installation detail (click for a larger image)

Research in Complexity and Chaos suggests temporal, spatial and perceptual models for the movement of perception into consciousness that are richer and more productive than those of classical mathematics and mechanics. For example, in chaos theory a "strange attractor" maps the infinite trajectory of a non-periodic system in phase space. Phase space allows as many dimensions or co-ordinates as there are degrees of freedom in the system to be mapped.

If the system considered is the attractor "being-in-the-world" -- as in the interactive installation "Strange Attraction: Non-Logical Phase-Lock over Space-Like Intervals" -- then the co-ordinates for 3 dimensions might be space, time and desire. Phase space will stretch and fold to incorporate infinite additional dimensions such as guilt, denial, elation, and repression--- as the symptoms of desire in its trajectory space and time are registered. A strange attractor never comes to rest and does not produce any single rhythm to the exclusion of all others -- yet a subtle order is established, that of self similarity. In any small cross section of a system the structure of the whole is described.

The installation "Strange Attraction: Non-Logical Phase-Lock Space-Like Intervals" establishes a non-periodic system, similar to that of a strange attractor. The participant acts within the system. Her actions, along with the involuntary responses generated by her actions, modify the state of the system. These modifications effect the participant's subsequent actions or experiences within the system, producing voluntary and involuntary responses that further modify the system, thus simulating, for example, the feedback loop of guilt and desire.

Electronic devices monitor each of the four participants', heartbeat, respiration, or skin resistance. Each participant involuntarily controls the transmission of sounds and images that represent her subjective location. At certain intersections of activity, these transmissions combine to form a kind of choir of inter-subjectivity. Each participant is simultaneously aware of herself as a subject with voluntary, yet partial, control over the system, and as an object - involuntarily responding to the action of another subject. Thus, a collaborative system is established.

2. Random Agency: Narrative Contingencies - An Online Collaborative System [15]

Images - Narrative Contingencies

figure 3.4 - Narrative Contingencies web interface (click for a larger image)

figure 3.5 - Narrative Contingencies image system (click for a larger image)

Narrative Contingencies, gives participants the opportunity to construct their own narratives - at the intersection of chance and interpretation. This system simultaneously acknowledges and challenges the social construction of the subject within and through narrative. It was designed to disengage the production of image and language from its ideological matrix by forcing it through complex filters of random and chance operations.

The content of the initial database and the structure of the site evolved in an iterative and associative process, incorporating random selection.

Participants are encouraged to submit images and texts that, over time, will replace those of the initial database. Through the combined agency of user interaction and chance operations the database continuously evolves. A global state - represented in the database - emerges from the local interactions of random selection and individual acts of interpretation. At any point in time any current state of the system expresses the subjective perspective of its participating users. Eventually the initial database will be completely displaced by the images and texts submitted by participating users. The system will experience an on-going and total regeneration or "sea change."

Narrative Contingencies was built based on the assumption, or belief, that -- while it is impossible to escape the image and language of the existing symbolic order it may be possible to restructure them through circumvention and dislocation. It is hoped that a participant -- who is able to arrive at a meaningful interpretation of images and texts that she herself has brought together and altered using random and chance operations -- may conclude that relations of meaning are not dependent upon the ordering intention of a single author but inherently contingent upon the subjective location of the reader or viewer.

3. Destructive Agency: "ELFnet" - Pager Network Community and Web Interface [16]

"ELFnet"[17] is an example of the use of distributed agents in a restricted communication network, destructive agency, and emergent signification systems.

Each participant in a local pager-network is provided with an alphanumeric pager. The collaborators in a local pager-network determine the structure and meaning of their local "community", the role of each individual in it and, eventually, its relation to a larger, "global" pager-network community. Each participant creates "intelligent agents" which reside on the pager network server using a simple scripting language. These " agents" extend the consciousness or identity of each participant and support their activity in the community by parsing, translating, editing and filtering communications within the network. Each participant is encouraged to create a graphical representation of her own "intelligent agent(s)" for the network's Web interface and customize the physical interface of her pager unit.

To date the function of the agents in the pager-network has been primarily either destructive or deconstructive. Participants do occasionally develop enabling agents that stimulate meaningful communication on relevant and topical issues. But, the majority of the agents developed in the network have been destructive, and competitive. These destructive agents distort, transform, steal and re-route communications. Participants in the pager-network have spontaneously evolved reactive and self-reflexive development practices. First, by writing agents that obstructed the flow and distorted the content of communication in the network. In response to this first generation of destructive agents, participants have created second, and third and fourth generation agents -- which attempt to counteract, or collaborate with, the disruptive agents already acting in the system. Communication has thus become progressively more complicated in a continuously escalating, evolving and mischievous cycle. New forms of communication and signification have actually developed within the network through the assertion and circumvention of destructive agency. In this sense "Elfnet" embodies Lacan's theory that communication is successful misunderstanding. [18]

3. Schizophrenic Agency: "Pathological Conversational Agents"

This final example, of Schizophrenic Agency, is related to research in the design and implementation of a conversational agent interface.

Schizophrenia has become a trope in contemporary critical theory. Both Frederic Jameson[19], and the collaborating authors Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari[20], appropriate this term from clinical psychology and employ it positively in the analysis and critique of the postmodern condition. In a qualitative inversion of psychoanalytic norms these authors embrace the fragmentation of the individual, autonomous subject and promote it as a real and fundamental condition of lived experience. Deleuze and Guattari's "Rhizome" and the "conditions of possibility" each affirm the coexistence of disparate or antagonistic qualities, identities, or activities as a potential release from the straight jacket of Enlightenment subjectivity and the psychoanalytic 'theory of personality'. When applied to collaborations, cultures or "worlds" these theories and the models they propose parallel ideas in Artificial-Life and Cellular Automata research.

In collaboration with researchers at UCSC's Perceptual Science Laboratory an interface is being designed which will allow participants to build animated, conversational agents. This interface will be tested in an on-line environment that will allow users to embody their "pathological" traits in an animated conversational agent and add these agents to a Collaborative System - a community of pathological agents. Each individual personality incorporates, to a greater or lesser degree, all the traits that have been defined as pathologies in clinical psychology. A "normal" personality merely exhibits these "disorders" to a degree that is acceptable within a given social or cultural context. Using the proposed interface users will be able to examine this "fuzzy logic" by modeling their pathological traits as a distributed system of embodied agents. So far, we have developed a completely animated synthetic talking head which communicates paralinguistic as well as linguistic information, and is controlled by a text-to-speech system. We plan to implement user definable avatars or character representations. The interface will provide controls and tools that will allow a user to define the appearance and emotional disposition of an agent as well as the functionality and structure of its environment. The conversational agent interface will allow direct manipulation of data through active objects and icons but will remain easily extensible through text or speech input.

This research will be utilized in a variety of applications -- one such application will be the collaborative system project "Pathologies." Each participant in "Pathologies" would construct an agent by using graphical tools and by answering questions in conversation with a basic learning agent. This "learning agent" will parse the user's answers and categorize them according to their relation to a pathological tendency. The answers will by stored by category in a database that will form the kernel of the users various pathological agents. The agents constructed by each individual participant would be located in a Collaborative System. Within this system many individual personalities would be represented by "pathological" fragments, re-purposed and redistributed as agents.


These three project examples are presented to show that In on-line interactive art database and agency can be utilized to create complex systems which emerge out of interactions between discrete elements in networks of exchange. The field or frame of a collaborative system as exemplified in both interactive art and "found systems" is:

1. An environment capable of fostering evolutionary growth and generative development,

2. A structure where systems and entities coexist in parallel, in cluster, or as subfields nested one within another, and

3. A world that can host - in the sense of a host organism - many collaborative systems, each in turn containing multiple dimensions and layers.

As stated earlier in this paper - Data, from the Latin "datum," means, "something given - a fact or proposition used to draw a conclusion." Datum also means "a point, line, or surface used as a reference as in surveying or mapping." Other important derivatives of the term "datum" include, oddly enough, the terms "render" and "surrender." Collaborative systems establish new "conditions of possibility" wherein one may; surrender the aesthetics of closed, finite, static viewer/object systems and render a new aesthetic of dynamic, interactive systems. The Datum or point of reference in western, perspectival representation is particularized - equivalent to the point of view of the autonomous subject. The Datum or point of reference in a database, or the "field" or "computing space" of a cellular automata world is multiple, nested and distributed. By rejecting the model of authorship and art practice which formed an analog to the enlightenment model of subjectivity, Collaborative systems based on artificial life research and database aesthetics re-model subjectivity and thus, re-map experience in reference to points of interaction, and lines connecting surfaces of collaboration and exchange.



1. Artificial life is the study of artificial systems that exhibit behaviour characteristic of natural living systems; self-organization, adaptation, evolution, co-evolution,.... This includes biological and chemical experiments, computer simulations, and purely theoretical endeavours. Processes occurring on molecular, social and evolutionary scales are subject to investigation. In the field of computer science Artificial Life researchers model evolutionary and emergent behavior using genetic algorithms within graphical environments. For more information on Artificial Life Research refer to Artificial Life - The quest for a new creation, by Steven Levy (Penguin). Exploring Emergence, an "active essay" by Mitchel Resnick and Brian Silverman of the Epistemology and Learning Group at MIT's Media Laboratory at presents examples of emergent behavior and cellular automata models.

2. Werner Heisenberg was part of the Copenhagen school of quantum physics and discoverer of the Principle of Uncertainty, which in popular candence states that at the quantum scale, both the location and the velocity of a partical cannot be known simultaneously because the act of observation (performed through electronmagnetic instruments) itself introduces energy into the system of particles observed thereby influencing them so that their behaviour cannot be known independently of the observer. This led to the debates about how deep uncertainty goes; the arguments centered around the "hidden variable" hypothesis which claims that some hidden variable remains to be discovered which will ultimately explain away Heisenberg's dilemma; or around the belief that there is no hidden variable awaiting discovery but that uncertainty is fundamentally a part of how nature works - in other words, the behaviors of the particles themselves are uncaused and unknown to them before they move.

3. American Heritage Electronic Dictionary, 3rd Edition, Houghton Mifflin Company, 1993

4. Toffoli, Thomaso and Norman Margolus, Cellular Automata Machines: A New Environment for Modeling, The MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass, fifth edition, 1991, p. 5.

5. Signal-to-Noise explores the emergence of global systems from associative, random or interpretive interactions between texts and images on the web.

6. A phenotype is the biological designation for the body-plan or body-shape (human body or worm) that is generated by the genotype, or chromosomal configuration unique to given organisms.

7. American Heritage Electronic Dictionary, 3rd Edition, Houghton Mifflin Company, 1993


9.I refer here to the type of aesthetic object made famous by the French painter, conceptual artist, Marcel Duchamp, which he named, "found object." Found objects are anything found in the world, often considered unauthored, and definitely not created by the artist who uses such objects, and simply designated as works of art by the artist. My term of found systems follows in this same tradition.

10. "Nature Demiurge" June-July, 1998 Foundation Cartier pour l'art contemporain.

11. From the Free On-Line Dictionary of Computing at

12.Warren Sack, "On-Line Language Games" presented at the panel Cyberspace: Trojan Horse or Roman Holiday?, Andrea Feeser and Jon Winet (organizers), College Art Association (CAA97), New York, New York, February, 1997.

13. Each of the following examples are projects concieved and designed by the author.

14.Strange Attraction:Non-Logical Phase-Lock Over Space-Like Intervals was exhibited at the Center for Advanced Visual Studies at MIT in 1994. Documentation of this interactive experience for four participants is available at

15. Narrative Contingencies may be experienced a

16.The prototype for this project was a collaboration with students at the University of California, Santa Cruz and San Jose State University's CADRE graduate program. The goal of this prototype was to study the potential to extend personality and subjectivity through artificial intelligence implemented in virtual communities via remote communications.

17.ELFNet is the acronym for "Edgar Liberation Front Network". This title was chosen by the student participants in prototype project after their reading of Exegesis by Astro Teller (Vintage, 1997)

18. See Lacan's discussion of communication as successful misunderstanding - meconnaissance. "The sense is of a failure to recognize, or misconstruction". The concept is central to Lacan's thinking since, for him, knowledge (connaissance) is inextricably bound with meconnaissance." Ecrits, "TranslatorÍs Note," trans. Alan Sheridan, W. W. Norton and Co., 1977, p. xi. For a fuller discusion by Lacan see Ecrits, pp. 6, 15-20, 41-42, 138.

19.Frederic Jameson, Postmodernism, or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism (Duke University Press, 1991) "When that relationship breaks down, when the links of the signifying chain snap, then we have schizophrenia in the form of a rubble of distinct and unrelated signifiers. The connection between this kind of linguistic malfunction and the psyche of the schizophrenic may then be grasped by way of a twofold proposition: first, that personal identity is itself the effect of a certain temporal unification of past and future with one's present; and, second, that such active temporal unification is itself a function of language, or better still of the sentence, as it moves along its hermeneutic circle through time. If we are unable to unify the past, present, and future of the sentence, then we are similarly unable to unify the past, present, and future of our own biographical experience or psychic life. With the breakdown of the signifying chain, therefore, the schizophrenic is reduced to an experience of pure material signifiers, or, in other words, a series of pure and unrelated presents in time."

20.Deleuze, Gilles and Felix Guatrari, Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia, trans. by Robert Hurley, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, 1972, particularly "Part 4: Inroduction to Schizoanalysis." citation: "Every unconscious investment mobilizes a delirious interplay of disinvestments, of counterinvestments of overinvestments. But we have seen in this context that there were two major types of social investment, segregative and nomadic just as there were two poles of delerium: first, a paranoiac fascisizing type of pole that invests the formation of central sovereignty; overinvests it by making it the final eternal cause for all the other social forms of history; counterinvests the enclaves or the periphery; and disinvests every free "figure" of desire -- yes, I am your kind, and I belong to the superior race and class. And second, a schizorevolutionary type or pole that follows the lines of escape of desire; breaches the wall and causes flows to move; assembles its machines and its groups-in-fusion in the enclaves or at the periphery -- proceeding in an inverse fashion from that of the other pole: I am not your kind, I belong eternally to the inferior race, I am a beast, a black." Anti-Oedipus, p. 277.


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