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Ulrik Ekman, “Re:Touching Spatially – Living On Weakly with Open

Machines”

In Sovereignty and Technical Exception


No Place to Hide: it seems to threaten our rejoining with the cosmos and its forces, our
already being given over transindividually to an infinite outside as if we were but particles
or waves among the stars, on a solar or magnetically energized exodus. It may signal a
disorientation, perhaps absolute, a loss of world, territory, and home – as if we were
exposed as some among so many other passing molecules of the clouds, winds, fogs, or the
waves at sea. If it does not send us altogether outside this world, it solicits us to take care of
our being touched by the climate or by exterior forces at the very limit of our native home.
The impact of this strict exposure makes itself felt on the banners and posters outside the
art museum in Skive, as if inscribed from a sky of augmented reality technics in a vast real
environment before the stars. It affects the outside of the museum web pages, part of the
augmented virtuality in this exhibitional mixed reality, 1 as if stamped by a terrifying,
impersonal sovereign in a prior mixed spacing: ‘There is no secret place, nowhere else to go…’ It
may be an imposition to make us wonder whether today a universalizing globalization
informs and extends the geopolitical space of our collective individuation as a life form,
perhaps forcefully, and whether technics always already decides the systemic ruling of space
in toto, perhaps unjustly, by its ubiquity. 2

Perhaps this makes us depart towards an aterrestrial elsewhere, or it makes us combine


other forces at the heart of our world. Otherwise, it makes us delimit our world differently,
so as to make us pass among many mixed realities into another one assembled from
renewed territorializations. 3 This evokes a strictly pervasive exposure of our collective lives,

1 Mixed reality as the subset of the virtuality continuum comprising the virtual environment, augmented
virtuality, augmented reality, and the real environment. Cf., Paul Milgram and Fumio Kishino, "Taxonomy of
Mixed Reality Visual Displays," IEICE Transactions on Information and Systems E77-D.12 (1994).
2 The technocultural import of emergent ubiquitous and pervasive computing presumably provides the

context for No Place to Hide. On ubiquitous computing, see Mark Weiser’s seminal papers, e.g., Weiser and
Brown, "The Coming Age of Calm Technology," Beyond Calculation 1997, Mark Weiser, "The Computer for
the 21st Century," Scientific American 265.3 (1991), Mark Weiser, "The World Is Not a Desktop," interactions 1.1
(1994). For an introduction, see Michael Beigl, "Ubiquitous Computing," Disappearing Architecture, eds. Michael
Beigl and Peter Weibel (Berlin: Birkhäuser, 2005). Also, consider the exploration of the socio-cultural,
architectural, and aesthetic implications in Malcolm McCullough, Digital Ground (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT
Press, 2004), Adam Greenfield, Everyware (Berkeley, CA: New Riders, 2006), Ulrik Ekman, ed., Throughout: Art
and Culture Emerging with Ubiquitous Computing (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, forthcoming 2009).
3 I remain indebted here to the thought of a territory and an assemblage in Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari,

"1837: Of the Refrain," A Thousand Plateaus (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1987).
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laying bare the skins of our embodiment and psyche. It also evokes negations of spatial
secrecy, withdrawal in privacy, or any escape. Inherent in this is nothing less than a
hyperbolic restaging of terror, in the world after 9/11 but more universally, too. It includes
the terrifying displacements in our mode of living and moving. It passes beyond the
multitudinous micropolitical and technical incursions on the life world (surveillance and
security measures involving space stations, satellites, airports, land or coastal borders,
infrastructure, homes, bio-health, and the environment).

Receiving or going towards the mixed posters and pages of No Place to Hide as if they
concerned a truly exorbitant exhibition, one is affected by an indirect but hyperbolic
attempt to reinstate a wanting sovereignty. It might be reassuring to permit the onset of
such an appropriation of spatializing terror. For it would reinstate, negatively, an ordering
of the forces of the cosmos and cosmopolitical space by an unconditional and self-defining
power, an absolute force and exception. Such reactualization of a politico-juridical
sovereignty evokes the monarch as the overseer of his spatial dominion. It also necessarily
carries, at one remove, an attempt to secularize an ontotheological heritage leaving a certain
trace. 4 Echoing this would be an equally hyperbolic notion of technology as a supplemental
capacity for mastery of the cosmos, the mastery of space throughout, all over, and in its
(un)folding movement. Neither the who nor the what can hide or escape from the sovereign
and sovereign technology thought in this fashion.

However terrifying this mixed exhibition, global world space quakes and its technics
crashes – in infinite finitude. Ubiquitous or pervasive technical spacing of the world is at
most alleged. A cosmology for globalized worlding is nonexistent, as is a pervasive ruling of
cosmopolitical space by technics as a meta-ensemble. The hyperbole evoked by No Place to
Hide, at the limit of the art world, thus rather concerns an uncertainty as regards the
spatialization of cosmos and world with ubiquitous technics now emerging. Situative
demarcations of our movements among mixed realities are missing. Delineations are
missing sky and earth, outside and inside, extension and intension. No place given, hence
no place to hide. We are without world, in the open, at the end of the world, or in a free
fall upwards. Thus the necessity of having recourse, for the choreography of this mixed
exhibition, to a hyperbolic self-sovereignty and technical mastery in relation to spacing. But
one would insist on questioning sovereignty and mastery with an unconditional

4 Cf., Jacques Derrida, Rogues (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2005).


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reasonableness. 5 For the interrelation of sovereignty and democracy remains problematic.
Sovereignty never succeeds in abolishing the receptive and disseminative uncertainty at
stake in demokratia. There is a limit to the capacity of sovereignty to assemble, consolidate,
and stratify society and the world effectively and entirely.

There is no escape or hiding from sovereign spacing, which remains as an ideality, as do


technological mastery and appropriation. But our reasonable critique of its conditions
approaches a closure, opening for another space, perhaps democratically informed and
technicized. Sovereignty and its general technical rule may not cease to exist. But our
reasonable critique of the ideality of political space moves alongside an affirmation of
power and technics as immanent to the socio-cultural, i.e., along with a political
historicization retracing immanent spaces not just subject to sovereign rule and technical
striation. Thus, No Place to Hide imposes and exhibits itself at the open end of the art world
and the museum, to raise the question of the globalization of space in tandem with
ubiquitous technics. Its title by no means prevents the realization that the ideality and
history of sovereignty have already largely lost their exemplary status as a model and
discourse. The power and technics of spacing have already largely ceased to work according
to this diagramme, undertaking immanentizing moves towards an outside inside. 6

No Place to Hide, as a mixed reality paging, is of the end of a sovereign cosmos and world
because passing inside to present a different, experimental immanentization – a move
towards the infinite finitude of power and spacing this side of the world. It announces an
artistic-architectural exhibition project whose innovations involve other spaces as well as
new media and information technics in various intense ways. It problematizes mythic
cosmological space, any a sovereignly given sense of ‘the world,’ and any postulated
technical mastery of space, any sovereignly given universal ensemble (a mainframing of
space by the preprogramming power of a transcendental computer). No Place to Hide
departs from any given ordering of space from a central point, and from a universalized,
archaic notion of technical invention. At the limit, No Place to Hide tries our exceptional
exposure: an immanent opening of space coming towards us, prior to or beyond the
cosmological. It is a matter of an acosmos that is not preceded or followed by anything but

5 Ibid. 142.
6 Compare the historical account retracing the movement from sovereignty through discipline to
governmentality, whose immanentization of power relations would be accompanied by shifts in spatialization
from the cosmos and public exhibition space through organization of privatizing enclosures, prisons, and
technologies of the self to the affective and nervously networked spaces of biopower. Cf., e.g., Michel
Foucault, et al., The Foucault Effect : Studies in Governmentality (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991).
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is rather tracing, on its own, the contour of the unlimited. This opening is not immediately to
be framed by the remainders of an old cosmo-ontotheology supporting a conquest of
space, by and for the subject ‘man.’ 7

No Place to Hide affirms that in the opening an originary technicity is at stake, which
presents the spacing of the world, without positing technology as a substantial fixed origin
or as a projected finality. If there is any sovereignty and technical perfection, it goes further
inside, exceeding structural preservation, homeostasis, and intercommutativity among all
ensembles. 8 What goes on among the technical ensembles presenting a spacing in radical
finitude does not reveal a solidly grounded world, nor one with a linearly determinable end.
It remains concerned with all the singularly local differential movements and multiple
bifurcations of a non-systematizable and open a-cosmos.

It might be that the existence of No Place to Hide with technics, as a mixed reality ensemble,
can be seen to open exhibitionally so as to pass outside. One might see it interrelating with
other ensembles and their multitudes of visitor-inhabitants. It is not without its external
relations (more or less intimate) to an indefinite number of other exhibitions and visible
events that inform contemporary modes of spacing the world with ubiquitous technics (of
surveillance): CTRL-Space at ZKM in Karlsruhe (2001-2002), 9 Profiling at Whitney (2007), 10
Rafael Lozano-Hemmer installations such as Under Scan (2005-2008), 11 or the recent project
Embedded Art: Kunst im Namen der Sicherheit at the Akademie der Künste in Berlin (2009). 12

However, No Place to Hide mostly folds back such components of a visible passage to other
ensembles and an acosmos. No overviewing outlook, it folds back on itself at Skive Art
Museum. Exhibiting is of touching the inside hide, and so it delimits visibility – it is hardly
subject to clear vision. Its mixed reality is moving closer to an opaque local
territorialization. Its artful organization of the dimensions of an exhibitional ensemble not

7 My remarks here on such an ‘acosmos’ remain indebted to the thought of space and technics in Jean-Luc
Nancy, The Sense of the World (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1997) 37-46.
8 On the technical perfection of ensembles qua a scope of intercommutativity, see Gilbert Simondon, Du

Mode D'existence Des Objets Techniques (Paris: Aubier, 1989) 73.


9 Cf., ZKM Karlsruhe, Ctrl-Space, 2001, Available: http://ctrlspace.zkm.de/e/, 10.01. 2009. Also, Ursula

Frohne, et al., eds., Ctrl Space : Rhetorics of Surveillance from Bentham to Big Brother (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press,
2002).
10 Cf., Museum of American Art Whitney, Past Exhibitions, 2009, Available:

http://www.whitney.org/www/exhibition/past.jsp, 01.02. 2009.


11 Cf., Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Under Scan, 2005-2006, Available:

http://www.threecitiescreate.org.uk/_EMDA_Cultural_Quarters/, 01.02. 2009.


12 Cf., Akademie der Künste, Embedded Art, 2009, Available: http://www.embeddedart.de/, 01.02. 2009.

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primarily of the visible. Here ideal sovereign vision and the technics of an optically given
and precoded space touches its psycho-social background enclosure and limit so as to
affect us with the transindividual. 13 When one approaches Skive Art Museum physically, No
Place to Hide is visible only from behind, only when an acosmic nightsky context of
darkness has fallen, and then only in the shape of Kassandra Wellendorf’s installation of
Public Gaze #2 on the outer wall. 14 This projection does not just make embedded
surveillance technics visible, or make appear clearly a strictly direct, interindividual gaze
through public space. It edges closer to our continuous variations of a mediate haptic
vision that is of the transindividual. This is more primarily with us as a remainder: it has
one blink and close one’s eyes before and beyond everything being seen (by the other).

In a mixed reality space of passage, the interminglings of dynamic components (vibrating


facades, flapping posters, html codes signalled, projections of moving digital images) afford
at most a momentary visible stabilization of a museum territory. Primarily, the
interminglings move as a tranformation group, quite smoothly and invisibly, to micro-
energize parts of the extensive differently inside. They not least delimit any approach via a
theoretical Enlightenment space, a Cartesian view of an ordinal geometry. No Place to Hide
suspends a stable visual domestication of world space as inherently meaningful and
clarifiable by striation. We cannot leave the optical disembodiment and ideality
accompanying the valorization of clarity, visuality, and light. 15 No real prosthesis of the sun
and sovereignty, then. Nonetheless, we become slightly retouched by an immanentizing
ubiquitous technics, which delimits our visible sense of the world, opening it to embodied
and non-resolved transindividual potentials. The closer we get to the visible walls, and then
the heart of the territorial dynamics of No Place to Hide, the more a prevital reserve without
constellation lets us intimate a psycho-sociality and technical culture to arrive or be
produced. Sovereignty is being retouched, reinvented spatially: it is in acosmic transduction,
transimmanently. We retouch sovereignty reasonably with ubiquitous technics rather than
inspect the universe by the light of reason. Less a terrifying Promethean tekhné of universal
mastery than a reasonable chance for more gentle passages among the margins of
indetermination in mixed technology ensembles and the (in)human culture they carry. We

13 See “Individuation et affectivité” in Gilbert Simondon, L'individuation Psychique Et Collective (Paris: Aubier,

1989) 97-124.
14 Cf., Søren Pold, Hvem Sidder Bag Skærmen?, 2009, Available:

http://www.kunsten.nu/artikler/artikel.php?hvem+sidder+bag&mode=images&imageId=4730, 15.05. 2009.


15 Cf., Martin Jay, Downcast Eyes (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993), Jacques Derrida, "White

Mythology," Margins of Philosophy (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1982).


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may yet go astray, adrift from all given significations of world space, because exceptionally in
touch with open ensembles sensitive to information from the outside in the world.

Unworking Disciplinary Spacing and Media Art Installations


You find yourself, in infinite finitude, realizing that you have already toured the perimeter
of the exhibition space – webpages, posters, and outside projections included. You are no
longer wandering erratically. Finding its opening passage – a door in real and virtual
environments at once, if you have your iPhone, PDA, or laptop hooked up – you are
moving in, having already sketched a contour. A change from initial driftings, vague
constellations, then an art world context: now an exhibition converging on a mixed
territory to be retouched. In the closure of sovereignty and surveillance you approach an
opening onto a different set of problems, respecting the space and technics of an
exhibition, a museum organization of media art installations, and a consolidation of a
socio-cultural enclosure and confines for the individual bodies of visitor-inhabitants.

Already close to the door you pause, uncertain. Is this a strict filter protecting the interior?
Is it rather a sieve through which expressive matters spill out? Are you in any case dealing
with a recognizable and perceptible distinction between the inside and the outside?
Sometimes, from certain angles of approach, No Place to Hide seems to operate as a
circumstantial landmark for Skive Art Museum. It tends to demarcate this relatively small,
regional museum as a protected space of art, indicating a first organization of an
architectural phenomenon whose dimensions and building components will allow for its
recognition vis-á-vis other museums, public space, and the world. Still, you consider
whether No Place to Hide sustains more of its hyperbolics: an immeasurable opening onto
the vast mixed space into which it is thrown, maybe irreversibly. Then again, it might make
up a mixed territorial enclosure to be engaged with. Perhaps it is just the mix of this dark
green, square, one-storied building from 1942 (open to the public 12 p.m. – 4 p.m.; a
physical exhibition space comprising 452 m2; an archive of modern and historical art – 462
paintings, 56 sculptures, numerous drawings and sketches –open, on prior request; and a
basement – not open) with this virtual environment of web pages (around 50 pages, open
to the public with web access, 24/7), frequent mobile calls, exchanges of radiowaves, and
light beams. Or, you waver again, it may be adjoined from all directions and in all senses of
the world. But no, perhaps it is but an exhibition tending towards fixity in the rather well-
ordered constellation of art institutions: less a multi-directional, plurilocal, spacious space in

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which we take place, exposed to the outside, than an enclosure permitting of practiced
navigation and organized tours, perhaps with guides.

If anything, No Place to Hide makes you aware that it is an exhibition space, still relatively
rare, that involves current ubiquitous information technologies and mediations which will
not let any landmarking of a territory of an art institutional ensemble be clearly enclosing,
organized, and sensible. It unfolds dynamically with physical and virtual environments
open, and so the space you are to retouch is not just sovereignly ontotheological,
cosmological, or theoretical, but pertains to a different praxis and an experimentally
interactive delineation, which remains momentary and uncertain. Your practical and
performative sense of a space, announced or desired to be retouched, may emerge where
an augmentative overlaying of ubiquitous technics and practical worlding paves the way for
your interaction with a mixed reality. 16 Right at your crossing of its doorstep, this exhibition
solicits your practical engagement with mixed worldings as the problematic of spacing in
the first decade of a young millennium. Ubicomp, more or less invisible and embedded
beyond your awareness, operates its technically individuated components, and here
virtuality and physical actuality are mixed in such analogue modes and to such a degree of
digitalization that, for you, one is not readily separable or distinguishable from the other.
No Place to Hide concerns itself with the empire of sensation and an experience of
installations in a mixed and heterogenous zone involving the electronic, signaletic
dimensions of contemporary technoculture and the extensive terrain in which your body is
situated and moving. 17 So, you are not primarily dealing with any given position for a
surveying perspective and a clear image of an exhibition, but must at least work practically
with what takes place in haptic vision via constructive desire of sense and sensible
impressions announcing themselves. At the doorstep, you realize that you must try to live
with the question of a largely invisible, vague, and pre-conscious combinatoire of haptic or e-
tactile interminglings pertaining to one or more mixed reality spaces going elsewhere
(inside) in real time.

16 I assume mixed reality to be the more general concept for assemblages involving ubicomp. For an
influential definition of augmented reality, consider Ronald T. Azuma, "A Survey of Augmented Reality,"
Presence 6.4 (1997). Recent concrete technocultural examples in Lev Manovich, "The Poetics of Augmented
Space," Visual Communication 5 (2006). Technics in Michael Haller, et al., Emerging Technologies of Augmented
Reality (Hershey: Idea Group, 2007), Oliver Bimber and Ramesh Raskar, Spatial Augmented Reality (Wellesley,
Mass.: A K Peters, 2005).
17 Cf., Jonathan Crary, "Foreword," Installation Art in the New Millennium, eds. Nicola Oxley, et al. (London:

Thames & Hudson, 2003) 8.


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At the very first circumstantial organization of a limited and protected space, you wonder,
probably along with the great many others approaching the door in a crowd: is a complex
mixed reality exhibition like No Place to Hide primarily concerned with cutting up several
layers of the skin of the museum to make it relate in innovatively porous and dynamic
spatio-technical ways to other ensembles in an outside world – a moving, active, and
varying social body included? Or is it rather concerned with assimilating and encapsulating
mixed spaces and their technics, to consolidate the territory and interior organization of an
art event, and to have it take place well within the limits of the modern museum institution
and its associated sensate, behavioral, and cognitive schemes?

This doubt will never entirely leave you during your visit, nor afterwards, but it will
undergo some complex transformations, of which your passage from being before the door
(of the law) to having gotten inside the museum architecture is perhaps emblematic. On the
one hand, the door is evidently a new kind of mixed reality variant (of real and virtual
architectural environments both), and it simply opens up to its outsides – for you, along
with others, inviting you inside in its capacity as a portal to another promising territory of
art. On the other hand, you cannot get in before you have filled out a relatively detailed
questionaire with personal information, including your name and your mobile phone
number, nor before the personnel guarding the door have put in operation a metal scanner
with a small video camera, alongside your body and inside your bag. Before entering you
have already encountered, without knowing, the mixed zone of Wellendorf’s
performatively interactive installation, Entrance (2009), as well as Rolf Steensig’s more
pervasive SMS Performance (2009). The former will project its gathered information and
images on a screen hidden inside the museum building, and the latter tracks you
continuously to send SMS’ commenting upon your meeting with the installation projects
(messages in a strange voice of concrete poetry, perhaps talking about you, perhaps having
the installations talk to you).

Clearly you are free to come and go: the door remains open. The dimensions of mixed
realities exhibit and lay bare the museum in new ways, not only making its walls porous but
problematizing and partially dissolving traditional distinctions between public, institutional,
and private spaces. You may visit the exhibition on your computer at home; you may bring
your personal i-devices into the building where they partake of the exhibition; the
exhibition can be accessed from public spaces and institutions, just as it can contact you all
across the field, by mail or mobile phone. Moreover, the entrance operates a set of intense
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spatial dynamics and temporal rhythms to make you aware that performative interactivity is
at stake. The exhibition is uniquely responsive and its installation projects depend on your
feedback, more or less unpredictable, to undergo continuous transformation. Just as you
are perhaps thrilled by moving in intense mixed spaces operating much like vector fields.
Nonetheless, the unavoidable scanning, the tracking and surveillance (intensified inside),
and the examination of your personal information tend to reinstate the walls of a complete
austere institution. Even if you are not transported to the carceral and a treatment of
illegalities, you do not cease to be accompanied by certain reminiscences of a modern
disciplinary panopticism, perhaps close to the spatio-technical surveillance ‘taking care’ of
security, territories, and the social body after September 11. 18

Well inside the physical museum building, however, you are freed into a relatively large
open foyer and the exhibition space. The complexity of milling human bodies, the
indistinct diffusion of mixed realties and their signals (some embedded), as well as a host of
interactive installations are about to overwhelm you experientally, in perception and
sensation. No less than 17 projects in play at once, you find out afterwards. With quite
some regret this makes you realize that you never got your hands on Jacob Tækker’s light
gun for Today I Died (2009), a much needed critical take on the loss of power involved in
first-person-shooter gaming. Nor did you get in contact with Henriette Heise’s simply
elegant photo-tapestry, Pocket (2009), which you now still want to go on exploring tangibly.
Regrettably, because both manage to evoke very well with simple media art components
what at least three other installations in the foyer and elsewhere make felt in each their
singular ways: the increased import – in this context of mixed reality space and technics –
of media intimacy via haptic vision, sensate interactive practice, and a retouch opening
embodied existence inside and beyond any media art frame and work.

When Erik Olofsen films a subway platform with a high speed camera, the subsequent
removal of the noise of the hurried crowd traffic and the projection of Public Figures (2007)
at slow speed afford a haptic vision which mixes across the limit of the public and the
private, distance and proximity, to make felt a multiplicity of otherwise invisible
interpersonal relations, facial expressions, and momentary gestures of intimacy. The pursuit
of media intimacy across public and private spaces is only intensified in Shelly Silver’s What

18 Pace Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish (New York: Vintage Books, 1979). See also, Michel Foucault, et
al., Security, Territory, Population : Lectures at the Collège De France, 1977-1978 (Houndmills, Basingstoke,
Hampshire ; New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007).
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I’m Looking For (2004). Its 15-minute high-definition video of people revealing something
of themselves in public will not look away but persists in a pervasive touching up close
with the eye as if with the hand. It becomes almost painfully tactless in its letting there be
no place to hide. Even if you do not get done with its complexities of temporalized cubism
and moving spaces, Camille Utterback’s video installation Liquid Time (2001-2002) perhaps
sets you free, lets you move, makes your body want to become more – realizing that it itself
was always already the interface, that its embodied existence prefigures any imaging
perspective, and that its movements provide vectors to create a space in which multiple
times and perspectives coexist.

You walk on, again aware that an interactive media art exhibition, not least one involving
mixed realities, is not so much about clear images as haptic vision, not so much about
theoretical insight as multimodal interactive practice (informed by primordial tactility first
and last). Perhaps retouching spatially is above all not so much about striated geometrical
reordering and reforming an organized work, retaining the sovereign, as it is about
unworking. It goes through the inoperative, to affirm in-formatively open projects and
baroquely ongoing external relations in a non-Euclidean space. It dynamically generates
other mixed spaces in reciprocal variation, and is moving all elsewhere because the
complexity of the interactions does not incline toward equilibrium. Perhaps this is what the
complexity of the foyer and the installation projects elsewhere transports you toward: an
unceasingly active space composing, decomposing, and recomposing in-formatively via
other forces of interaction among dynamic elements (the interoception and proprioception
of your moving and moveable body not least). 19

However, in the exhibition you have probably also become aware that the immanentizing
displacement informing the closure of sovereign surveillance and a universally framing
technicity mastering the socio-cultural could well imply a shift towards a late modern
variation of discipline. This may be an interior and interiorizing architecture which
implements disciplinary confines, an individualized and practically operational technics
(personal computational devices, installation projects just for you), and an organization to
train and incorporate the correct set of habitual norms for efficient interaction. You have
not forgotten the museum heritage of a distantiating, reflective Kantian aesthetics of
observing the well-defined artwork (noli me tangere), nor the examination of your person at

19Compare, Brian Massumi, Interface and Active Space, 1995, Available:


http://www.anu.edu.au/HRC/first_and_last/works/interface.htm, 15.5. 2009.
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the door, nor the implicit normalizing judgment by the curator in her entrance installation
(perhaps intensified, as a sense of being hierarchically observed, by your unawareness of
where she and the other anonymous members of the museum personnel might be).

Certainly, you cannot avoid noticing the considerable (re)territorializing effort involved in
architecturally redesigning the interior of the building. More than half the museum has
been cut up into smaller cell spaces, carpenters having been at work to erect the extra
wooden walls of the black boxes now distinctly delimiting and enframing Utterback’s
Liquid Time, Ane Mette Ruge’s Brainfever (2009), Shelly’s What I’m Looking For, and David
Rokeby’s two sound and video installations, Very Nervous System (1986-2004) and Taken
(2002). It is not just that this partially reimplements a modern aesthetics of clearly delimited
art works, or assures the means of approaching, observing, and judging them correctly.
Rather, your uncertainty returns as regards whether No Place to Hide tends towards opening
further an active space of inventively interactive vector fields of installation art along with
the i-technics of mixed realities, or tends instead towards putting to work a disciplinary
spacing that reinforces a modern interiorization of surveillance in a panoptic regime of
subjectivation, served only too well by embedded i-technics. Actually, the absence of any
white cubes to supplement the black boxes, the small size of the building, the crowding of
visitor-inhabitants and installations, and the strict dividing lines and tunnels among cell
spaces seem capable of tilting your experiental practice both ways. This manages full well
to indicate that any such exhibition must necessarily address a question of architectural
disciplinarity with current ICT, including the rise of a pervasive surveillance society and its
interiorizing efficiency. If you laughed inside Jens Kull’s reactive videoinstallation,
Vergangene Gegenwart (2006), while its six LCD screens on a circle of columns showed only
your back, no matter how you turned, you found an adisciplinary vector in No Place to Hide.
But since one would have to search seriously for a more duplicitous approximation to
panoptic interiorization, perhaps this installation had you whirling around in anxiety,
learning anew about interoception qua your embodied sense of danger, now that you have
lost your face and your frontal perspective, always already looked at from behind. Hence, it
might be that any active spacing potentially afforded enclosed in favor of assuring a certain
docility of your body, along with those of your co-visitor-inhabitants. In that case, the
mixed architectural exhibition territory primarily concerns your incorporation of a careful
composition of the forces in the social body, a restrictive organization of what is to take
place, a limitation of your interactivity, and a steering of the way in which your body is
distributed among those of others.
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It will continue to haunt you, this uncertainty as regards the ways in which No Place to Hide
might, or might not, free up interactive spacings outside inside modernity and its correct
training of subjectivation in art institutions. Will it have departed towards what takes place
differently from the relative perfection inherent in interactive work (ergon) with technical
individuals qua distinct, modern, personalized computational devices? Will it all have been
about your interactive subjectivation, about technical individuals, well formed, self-
regulating, preserving and producing the technical reality of the organized ensembles of
media art installations and their territories, but still with traces of hylemorphism and a
practical ergontological tendency? 20 Will you yourself have abided by the desire to
construct or the need to import sensible form for the dynamics and energy of
multiplicitous signaletic materials, for the elementary forces of the associated milieu outside
inside? Will you have lived in a tendential confinement of the transimmanent retouch of
space and technics by machinic existence and the seeds of a technical culture?

Uncontrollable Retouch, in Contact among Technical Elements


You will have left the museum with this uncertainty, and in the main there is something
acutely perceptive about it: No Place to Hide not least concerns the very considerable
challenges posed for the modern museum when it must retouch its space along with
contemporary interactive media art, just as the human interactants must retouch their
notions of media art, interaction design, and what sense might be announced or desired for
the temporary inhabitation of this space in practice. However, media art with ubiquitous
computing and mixed realities introduce a set of much more infrastructurally insidious
problems - in any practico-organizational question of decoding the sense and sensation of a
late modern disciplinary workspace of and for art. The achievement of practical
interactivity and constructively sensible worldmaking might even come to appear a
relatively luxurious problem in comparison – a belated side-effect. You are moving freely in
the open, but your environmental lifeworld is already technically retouched – the
intermediary milieu (into and including skin and membrane states as retractable limits) and
the annexed milieu (into and including energy reserves and action-perception
condensations). You feel in touch with so many other existents, but your existential modes
of affect are already technically retouched.

20 Cf., Simondon, Du Mode D'existence Des Objets Techniques 73.


12
You find yourself spatio-technically affected not only by the transience of societies of
sovereignty recognized by Foucault, nor the generalized crisis of disciplinary enclosures
diagnosed by Deleuze, but also by the ongoing development, co-existing inside, of societies
of differential control – with their speedy, free-floating, and varying control techniques
and their modulation of spaces as self-deforming casts or sieves transmuting from point to
point. 21 No Place to Hide not least concerns the laying bare of the art world institutions and
their confines to increasingly pervasive and networked mixed reality programmes
numbering, tracking, and coding dividual bodies and their lived-in spaces, discretely. You
wake up the night after being to the exhibition. Your mobile rings, vibrating against your
body. The alien, poetic message from Steensig’s SMS performance makes you realize that
another part of yourself is still dispersed from in there. The uncertainty as to the status of a
continously varying and intensive affectation and perceptual modulation remains. It is
nothing if not about being in touch. But are haptic and primordially tactile spacings supple,
flexible, and freely mobile control techniques of a well-differentiated exactitude that
discretele codes your affectivity and sensation, as in neuro-marketing now? 22 Or is it rather
just a slightly better approximation to your nervous and inventive affective life in contact
with a mesh of technical elements that you affirm as open machines? Just one bit closer to
those preindividual and virtual seeds of your potential prosthesis for a technical culture to
come which retain their weak perfection, a margin of indeterminacy, in your life with
technics?

Earlier, in the exhibition, you and a number of other signals of technics had intercepted
each other. You could not work it out, grasp Utterback’s tendential closure of practices of
haptic vision. Liquid Time opens into a manual space for movements that do not mime –
but partake of an alternative contact between your existential embodiment and a technically
changing spatio-temporal context. So, you are momentarily in affect, rather than sensing or
perceiving. You are surprised to become aware of an outside inside, an avisual and manual
context of embodiment in your haptically seeing body. It is of the signaletic materials and
forces of another context-awareness, its technics not necessarily yours. Perhaps it is the
contextual expression of the discontinuity and non-identity of that between your

21 Cf., Gilles Deleuze, "Postscript on Control Societies," Negotiations, 1972-1990 (New York: Columbia
University Press, 1995).
22 On haptic control, see William Bogard. "The Coils of a Serpent, Haptic Space and Control Societies." C-

Theory 2007. Available: http://www.ctheory.net/articles.aspx?id=581 1.6.2009. 1000 Days of Theory.


13
embodiment and Liquid Time which insists but resists a workable practico-aesthetic
integration. 23

Moving around in Rokeby’s Taken, neither your video images, nor the shadows playing
with your very contour, nor the tracking of your movements, nor even the meaning of the
adjectives attributed to you are most at stake. It is the momentary retouch, quite tactless
and penetrating through your hide, which makes you realize that the mixed milieu appears
to feel with you. It accompanies you closely, to affect you existentially with a sense of your
embodiment, your Stimmung, an awareness you may not even have yourself, one that may
even have you become differently. How does it come so close to retouching your
existentially embodied production of presence? How did an associated milieu become
aware before me that I felt anxious, distrustful, and hungry right now? What would it imply
to be and become “taken,” even “overtaken,” you wonder, if the already densely layered,
deeply social, and seethingly chaotic live streaming of 200 human bodies in this small black
box installation were extended to a mixed environment with behavioral and affective
computing components “taking care” of biopolitical activities on the scale of the public
sphere, or even just the Piazza San Marco in Venice as with Rokeby’s Seen (2002)? 24

Liquid Time already let you intimate something inside performative interaction which draws
near to manual mixes of virtualized and actualized skin, approaching the primordial
tactility 25 of embodiment via felt and actively lived strokes, yours and those of the
installation. Taken, like Seen, already seems outside inside the modern aesthetic tradition in
its movement with a multiplicity of impurely mixed embodiments that have a feeling as
their live ‘horizon,’ something taking place before any personal emotion (yours, for
example). But perhaps it is another subset of the exhibited installation projects that begins
to enfold a sense of there being no place to hide. Mixed reality spacings with more or less
ubiquitously embedded computational elements care for the animation of inorganic life
along with affective, nervously and ad hoc networked biopower, as when your bodily
gestures become something else in contact with Rokeby’s Very Nervous System, having in-
23 Cf., Karl Heinz Bohrer, Suddenness : On the Moment of Aesthetic Appearance, European Perspectives (New
York: Columbia University Press, 1994) vii.
24 Not part of this exhibition, Seen appeared in the Canadian Pavilion of the Venice Biennale of Architecture

2002. Cf., David Rokeby, Seen, 2002, Available: http://homepage.mac.com/davidrokeby/seen.html, 15.05.


2009.
25 As Mark Hansen and Didier Anzieu, I privilege the tactile as at once the most primitive sensory formation

and the sensory-transcendental marking of difference in which originates the sensible as such. But I
emphasize an irreversible and non-systematic intersensory difference on the hither side of phenomenological
presence, opening onto animality and in-humanity. Compare, Mark B. N. Hansen, Bodies in Code (New York:
Routledge, 2006), Didier Anzieu, The Skin Ego (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1989).
14
human sonic territories and walls as a belated side-effect. 26 Ubicomp mixed realities care
for the potential of singular differences among things that sense and other existents. As
when intangible inventions are to arrive among visitor-inhabitants’ sonic forces and those
of Mikkel Meyer’s Random Ghosts (2009), with its embedding of 32 speakers distributed in
the environment, three microphones recording, and a server transducing and relaying
differently a formerly human soundscape (footsteps, talk, rustling clothes, ringing mobiles,
etc.). There is quite some point to the earthly and embodied forces of Utterback’s Potent
Objects, Shaken (2003) not least, but perhaps they limit inventions inside interactivity
speedily and anthropomorphically. A becoming with no place to hide may open in its
movements an inexactly controlled retouch, a feeling of being exposed inside to a singularly
plural becoming other elsewhere.

The intimation is that in the technologically transformed condition of today – a cultural life
form existing in mixed realities with ubiquitous computing – a hegemonic Aristotelian
thought of technology has to be rethought. But this cannot take place only by way of a
cybernetically informed phenomenology of subjectivity or a systems theoretical rethinking
of the psychic and the social. 27 A certain unique existence belongs to technics itself, witness
the contemporary transition to a new machinics of an allegedly pervasive governmentality,
including pervasive healthcare, body styling, biomedia and biotechnology, artificial life,
genetic engineering, nanotech, and a quantum computing to come. There is no place to
hide from the necessity of and drive towards a more autonomous and non-derived
delineation of a technicity that has always already displaced meaning as well as the the sense
and sensation of space. No Place to Hide is also an exhibition that raises very bare and naked
questions concerning technical activity and the technical thing itself. How does one
explore, here-now, the becoming and the ontological status of the technical thing, and what
are the generatively modelling capacities of technical activity for the processes of psychic
and collective individuation?

26 There is no, or not yet any, refrain, rhythmic face, or melodic landscape to mixed reality sonics with

ubicomp. One may differ with Deleuze to grant another priority to tactility. Even the ear, allegedly the most
passively receptive in sensation, first retouches affectively, interoceptively and with auto-immunity. Think
instead of an infolding enveloping, a manifold of contacts outside inside, or heterogeneous retouches –
complexifying eco-spatially throughout anthropomorphic embodiments, like yours. Retouches, however, are
still in singularly open invention, with preindividual contact potentials for metastabilities between psyche and
machinics. Barely and nakedly inventive, hence of untouchable virtuality.
27 Allusions are, very generally, to the writings from Derrida through Nancy to Bernard Stiegler, as well as

those issuing from the Macy conferences, developments of second-order cybernetics (including Maturana and
Varela), and the late Niklas Luhmann.
15
No Place to Hide begins to address the problem for contemporaneous culture of feeling itself
(de)constitutively affected with technics throughout. It dares to ask how it is that human
culture and its life forms survive, or become extinct, precisely with technics as an
approximative, blurred, and vague prosthesis of the sun outside inside (including devices of
self-reflection, autopoesis, intentionality, and ideation). It even risks addressing the type of
problem raised generally by Simondon and more specifically in later research on the
posthuman. How can you affirm, as one living on in a technical culture with information
technologies as all too important others, that these are not altogether ‘our’ others, perhaps
not ‘our’ others at all?

No Place to Hide opens a different associated milieu of ecotechnical mixed reality. 28 In its
insistence on furthering complex transductive assembly via multiple external relations to
new elements, it departs from any notion of an installation of art being secondary to the
installations it allegedly contains. 29 Here are no works, perhaps no really potent objects nor
any one strong technical element. Just the weak feeling of coming forth, diffidently and
vaguely, in a ‘contact among’ which touches but barely other animations at one’s discretion.
If there is no place to hide, it opens inside life and existence without ceasing to differ. It is
remaining with technical elements and their prevital ecotechnical reserve of seeds for the
invention of a technical culture. This one perhaps capable of affirming doubly: an inexact
control of transimmanence and a living on weakly or in-organically with open machinic
elements. 30 It contacts the elements in all directions, also plugging in and out of our
embodiments, to have them proliferate polymorphously, partes extra partes, or get pressed
together in zones of affect and material masses we have not yet inhabited. Because still in
open invention of the other, in transduction 31 at the margin of indeterminacy in all

28 The reference is broadly to ecotechnology as a rising field in applied science, cf., the problematic of
meeting human needs with a minimum of ecological disturbance or damage, focusing on ways of drawing
upon and subtly manipulating the forces of nature to let their beneficial effects unfold. In a post-
phenomenological sense, the reference is to Nancy’s notion of ecotechnics as ”the sense of the world,” i.e.,
the way ’we’ exist with a cultural and technological feeling. On ecotechnis and embodiment, see Jean-Luc
Nancy, Corpus (Paris: A.M. Métailié, 1992).
29 Critically compare, Claire Bishop, Installation Art (London: Tate, 2005) 6.
30 On the open machine, see Erich Hörl, "Die Offene Maschine. Heidegger, Günther Und Simondon Über

Die Technologische Bedingung," MLN 123.3 (2008).


31 With Combes I think Simondon’s ‘transduction’ generally as the mode of unity of being through its diverse

phases, its multiple individuations. Cf., Muriel Combes, Simondon Individu Et Collectivité (Paris: Presses
Universitaires de France, 1999) 15. I consider transduction structurally as a relationality prior to and
constitutive of the terms of the relation, and genetically as an unceasing energetic process developing
resolutions of differences, which take the form of concrete networks and emerge without loss of the
information involved: “Transduction is a process whereby a disparity or a difference is topologically and
temporally restructured across some interface. It mediates different organizations of energy.”Cf., Adrian
Mackenzie, Transductions : Bodies and Machines at Speed (London: Continuum, 2002) 25. See also, Gilbert
Simondon, L'individu Et Sa Genèse Physico-Biologique (Paris: Presses universitaires de France, 1964) 18-22.
16
ecological existence with techné. It retouches life forms, primary memory of embodiment
included, since there is, since time and spacing, no hiding of the earth opening differently,
inside out.

17
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