FantasyPeak2.JPG: Toward a Digital Geology

FantasyPeak2.JPG: Toward a Digital Geology

By Daniel J Glendening


Drain just announced the release of the newest issue, “Black,” which features my essay, “FantasyPeak2.JPG: Towards a Digital Geology.”

“Drain is a refereed on-line journal published biannually. The journal seeks to promote lively and well-informed debate around theory and praxis. Each issue of Drain will have a specific concept that it explores. We are especially keen to publish pieces that connect the conceptual framework of each issue to themes such as globalization, gender, ethnicity, sexuality, capitalism and new technologies, as well as ethical and aesthetic concerns. As such, we welcome creative responses to contemporary culture, as well as written work by practitioners in the field of culture. Our primary mission is to provide an environment where a variety of creative activities can be explored with a combination of sensitivity and rigor.”

Here’s a brief excerpt of my piece:

Suddenly, this digital geography moving over and through our physical world is something greater than the sum of its parts: it is the outset of something of a hive mind, a force of creative will and vision in which one individual voice is consumed and carried forward by the will of a collective. One can, according to Ascott, see, hear, and even think across geological boundaries and borders. This digi-geology is a space of open-ness, a space without latitude or longitude, a space, in fact, without grids, without edges, and without spatio-temporal hurdles between minds, thoughts, and ideas.

Even considering Ascott’s collapse of individual authorship, there’s something to note in this proliferation of geologic imagery of Andrews’ and Elliott’s images. While their work may, in fact, be a case of the interface or technology exerting its will over that of the human hand holding the tool, a software developer or collective team of developers designed the software. Someone, somewhere, imagined the tool known as Bryce, and released it into the digital sphere for the express purpose of generating digi-geological landscapes for traversal in image-generation or animation programs. Bryce, and the images it produces, points to some desire to capture, or even replicate, those forms found in the physical, geological world. The landscapes rendered often lean toward the stereotypically “sublime” of nature: vast and distant vistas, soaring mountain peaks, and jutting cliff faces. It is, in some sense, an attempt at fusing the seemingly infinite vastness of an uncharted, and un-chartable, digi-geology with that which traditionally inspires awe in the physical world.

If, indeed, that digi-geology is a space without edges, borders, grids and spatio-temporal limitation or partition, it can be described as an example of Deleuze and Guattari’s definition of a “smooth” space, as opposed to a “striated” space. Deleuze and Guattari describe a smooth space as that space occupied by the nomad, the wanderer: the one who walks over a territory not according to an enforced geometry or external system, but who traverses according to qualities inherent in said territory itself: currents, slopes, seasons, waterways, migratory or wind patterns. The smooth space is this space that defies or denies the map, the space that has been unmapped, or simply mapped into the bodies of its occupiers. “The sea is a smooth space par excellence, and yet was the first to encounter the demands of increasingly strict striation.”[16] The sea, a smooth space, navigable pre-striation by currents and winds, has been striated into a grid coordinates and bearings, first designated by precise readings of star and other astrological movements, and eventually by its complete mapping and gridding through the mechanism of latitude and longitude, this striation made all the more complete through the tools of GPS and satellite imaging.

You can read the rest of it here, and take a look at the rest of the contributions as well.


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