Sunday, 15 February 2009

Requiem for the Network: Fourth Stage

Once Rathna Ramanathan had finished colour-coding her printout of ‘Requiem for the Network: Six Degrees of Devastation’, she began treating each entry as the node of a hypothetical network which could be developed out of my original text. As my text was presented as six separate ‘degrees’, bridged by a relevant quote set between each section, Rathna adopted this organizational principle in her design: the final set of posters would be divided up into six separate networks. Each core network, however, would in turn be graphically interlinked to represent further levels of connectivity between them.

What was particularly interesting about Rathna’s approach was the way in which it conflated systems of influence with the syntactic arrangement of my text – in other words it was possible to follow individual structure of the sentences in which the connections between artists, intellectuals and the military-industrial complex were actually being spelled out. What had started out as the relatively straightforward representation of historical information had become a process of textual translation by which new meanings and interpretations were now being generated.

Over the Christmas period and into the New Year Rathna sent me a series of PDFs for me to correct and comment upon. As one degree was added to another, the complexity of the process began to reveal itself.

The image above is an early screen grab from Rathna’s networking of ‘Requiem for the Network: Six Degrees of Devastation’. It shows the core network to emerge from the First Degree. The background whorls represent the kind of ‘blast radius’ circles used by RAND strategists to map out globally the potential destruction and population loss that would result from specific thermonuclear weapons. The typography Rathna chose for each entry is used on official US government forms – and also by Martha Stewart for some reason - but this might also explain why it seems impossible to upload the image at the moment. Normal service will be resumed as soon as humanly possible - or when Martha says it's OK.

The complete text for Requiem for the Network: Six Degrees of Presentation is published in the catalogue for the Embedded Art show at the Berlin Akademie der Künste, published by Argo Books. The exhibition continues until March 21.

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