Narvika Bovcon, Aleš Vaupotič: VideoSpace (concept)

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VideoSpace was created on the basis of three projects: Javornik (2001), R III (2002) and VSA (2003). These are autonomous artistic projects (that have been exhibited also separately), which should be conceived through the viewpoint of video-integrated media and conceptual art. Each of the three projects and of course their relationships (alliance) in VideoSpace are realised through multiple artistic media: as video tape, video installation and web site, in some cases also as an interactive CD-ROM (Javornik), traditional paintings acrylic on canvas (R III) and corporate identity (VSA). VideoSpace is realized on different levels, too: first as a conceptual diagram, than as an interactive CD-ROM with a virtual three-dimensional hyperspace and as a reduction of the CD-ROM version into the language of VRML three-dimensional net reality.

Three autonomous projects in the VideoSpace are connected to each other by the conceptual horizon that defines each of them and all of them in relation to each other. This is a triade of irreducable cosmic substances: the matter, the human and the language. With this triade we are able to overcome some of the crucial contemporary philosophical biases embodied in critical movements - as for example formalism (that functiones only in the field of language and to some extent in the field of matter), psychologism (with the human expressivness through language), historical materialism and neomarksisms… - of course in the theoretical form enabled by the metalinguistics of Mikhail Bakhtin and the archaeology of Michael Foucault. In the three projects all three substances are intertwined on the artistically specific level: the language is considered from the point of view of literary sciences and intertextuality, the human through the theories and practices of body art and performance, the matter through Bakhtin's and Foucault's theories of the materiality of discourse.

Language is in the focus of the project R III, which is actually a transposition of Shakespeare's history play King Richard the Third into the medium of videotape. Today King Richard the Third is perceived mainly as a discoursive field that transgresses the mere problematics of literary intertextuality and extends into the field of material effects that interfere with human life in the form of politics. Javornik explores the borders of body art, which despite its apparently transparent aim turns out to be not as non-problematic as it may seam. Activation of unplesant conotations of artistic discourses and institutions shatters the very institution of artistic abuse of the body. The VSA project is focused on the materiality, it searches for the contact with the matter in its pure form. However, this contact is not non-problematic but instead it appears wraped into a Kafka-like maze of discourses and institutions.

In VideoSpace we followed the logic of the triade language, human, matter and we added the spatial dimension. This move is suggested in the theoretical shift enabled by the theories of Mikhail Bakhtin and Michael Foucault. Foucalt somewhere clearely states that the shift of the philosophical research from the problematics of time onto the problematics of space relations is necessary. The teritorialization of the discourse has replaced the deconstrictionist or Lacanian burgeoning of the discourse from the rapture in time. Since we are dealing with computer media, we evolved our concept mainly from the model of the hypertext, that is, by means of links spreading through the internet, and from the model of video games, that contribute the three dimensional graphics - some kind of hyperspace -, which appears before our eyes in real time.

On the level of conceptual diagram we added to the three projects also the context of the video game Tomb Raider, which makes use of the third person gaze, attached to the model of our double, the avatar. The space with which Lara Croft communicates and interacts is mainly a representation of the real space. In the CD-ROM version, when we have faced the concrete dilema about what the virtual space should look like in order to enable the coexistence and mutual functioning of the three projects, the shift of the player's interest from the avatar to the space itself was necessary. That is because the avatar implies the connection of the tactile qualities of the space details with the user, who relates to the virtual space thorugh the experinece of his/her own physical body in the real space. The meaning of the avatar in the video game is that it as a perfect double of the user takes over his/her complete interest and thereby it disqualifies the spatial features of the game (eg. video game Tekken). Since the triangual relatiogram of the world is developed on the conceptual level and since it addresses the user completely on the conceptual level, too (and not on the level of physical experience), the avatar as the strongest carier of identification becomes unnecessary and even disturbing, since the user strolls in the conceptual space with the aim to discover the space and not to experience it as his home. By absence of the experimental manipulability of the space features the empirical distance is evolved between the user and the virtual space, the consequence of which is the shift into the conceptual understanding.

The virtual space of VideoSpace is founded in three elements: the three dimensional objects, the two dimensional textures and the interested gaze which explores the space. Each of the elements is developed through its crucial perceptive aspect: three dimensional objects mimics the three dimensional objects from the real space (eg. the house), textures are not mimetically applied to the objects they cover (eg. The texture of wall bricks is not applied to the object of the house), instead they claim the two-dimensionality, whereas the interested gaze is focuesd into the space itself and it does not disclose its carrier, the avatar. The three dimensional objects and the two dimensional textures are thereby functional in their specific roles and not in the common role of an illusion of the real world. This is in part possible because the three dimensional objects carry enough information about the references to the real world by their three dimensional form alone and would be therefore reduntantly codified if they would mimic real world also on the level of textures.

The textures are utterly flat, two-dimensional when they carry pornographic images. In fact, the meaning or the story of any image takes place in the ponit of its suspense, the macule. This is the point, which is not directly, or onefoldedly interpreted; it is the point of the submersion of the viewer into the image. A pornographical picture has no such point since it discloses everything. It has no suspense; its first meaning is at the same time also its last and all the meanings in between. It shows to the gaze what the gaze is looking for and the finding of which should never occur in order for the search of the interested gaze to be possible.

Each of the three elements of the VideoSpace (objects, textures, interested view) could not exist without the other two and every two of them without the third could not form the logic of the virtual space. The segmentation of the virtual space into the crucial perceptive functions of the elements that form it has been the foundation for the understanding, conceptualizing and designing the form and the way of codification of each of them. Hence, here we have a conceptual virtual space, the task of which is not to mimic the real world at the resolution as high as possible (as are the trends in contemporary video games), but rather to evolve an environment into which the triangular relatiogram of the world can be placed and developed by the means of the three projects Javornik, R III and VSA.

The VRML version of the VideoSpace (http://black.fri.uni-lj.si/videospace/) is reduced to a platform in the black infinite space and the conceptual triad of the relatiogram language, human, matter juxtaposed with the triad of the projects Javornik, R III and VSA. The space in the virtual reality of the VRML code is functionally reduced to the minimal possible information in order not to overload the internet data transfer. The platform in the black space is manipulated by means of the possible movements in the virtual space: the translation with the functions of zoom in and zoom out, and the rotation of the object (the platform). Each of these manipulations creates a travelling in the space, whereas through travelling different points of view and interest are created and discovered. Thereby the user gradually approaches the relatiogram: he/she can grasp it from a distance by zooming out or proceed from one mapped identity point to another. Each of the identity points is linked to the web pages of the project in concern. Thus the spatially mapped relatiogram is transferred to a parallel level of separate pages by the instantaneous action of the web links. The linked pages may be considered flat in comparison to the three dimensional translations in the virtual reality of the VRML VideoSpace. This is one way of exiting and re-entering the virtual space of VideoSpace; the other is the disclosure of the symbol of the relatiogram, which is the Star of David. It is the point of leakage of the virtual space into the real world space of a specific social context that cannot be perceived as a neutral appendix but instead it modifies the self-contained structure of the virtual reality and makes it dependent on and a part of the social network of discourses.

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