Stahl Stenslie
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Thus when the God, whatever God was he,
Had form'd the whole, and made the parts agree,
That no unequal portions might be found,
He moulded Earth into a spacious round:
Then with a breath, he gave the winds to blow;
And bad the congregated waters flow.


To live in France, and to think about sexuality, perversion, mutilation and death, is to situate myself within a paradoxical canon of 'the tradition of the avant-garde'. De Sade can be seen as this tradition's prime mover of course, but it has been faithfully extended into the twentieth century at greater or lesser degrees of intensity by writers like Anais Nin and Alain Robbe-Grillet. This tradition has also received extra contemporary momentum through the writings of nouveau philosophers like Georges Bataille, a thinker whose works were introduced to the Anglo-American intelligentsia via Barthes, Foucault, Derrida, and the Tel Quel 'movement' (itself perhaps one of the latest blossoms of this avant-garde heritage of transgression). Early in the century entire artistic movements inhabited this essentially Sadean territory and explored or transformed it with gusto, the most notable being the Surrealists. Now it is VR's turn. Thus may I present......

La synesthesie par le cybersexe sur le web de Stahl Stenslie

"At the end of the millennium", Stahl Stenslie writes, "the body has turned into a muti-sensorial schizoid corpus. It is on the one hand a single, unitary, physical object with a life span of approximately 70 years, and on the other hand it has done the quantum jump into a synthetic transcendental, multiple self of mediated realities". The question is no longer what or who I am, but all that I can be.

The idea of the body in cyberspace is both an old and a new one. It is old with respect to the fantastical aspects projectable into the qualities of an ideal body - this we know from any kind of fantasy fiction. On the other hand it is radically new through its personification within the virtual reality of interactive, computer constructed environments.

The art of Stahl Stenslie concerns the virtual body. He strives for the "tabula rasa" of the body where all can be rewired anew, and to redefine and explore the body and its many senses within the context of new media. He sees the body - including personality - as a construction. The body as we have come to know it does no longer exist for him - as new technologies allows us to perceive and experience the body in radically new ways.

"The body of the future depends more upon context, presentation and abstraction than ever before. The emerging replicant techno-body is continuously resampling itself at hyper speed, disintegrating an recombining itself more according to principles of multiple sense lust than to principles of necessity. The cyb-erotic is the new libido." Stahl spake.

On the one hand I cannot avoid being overwhelmed with a certain euphoria thinking of all one could possibly do with the senses in the brave, new world of cyberspace. On the other it is not hard to annihilate every optimism if one was to criticize the subject on an empirical basis. Except for text-based Virtual Reality (VR), the field of new media is more built on hype than on experiential realities, but then again, it does bring forth the cerebral pleasures - i.e., concepts and ideas - we all desire.

Tactile Technologies (TT) is about expanding upon the perceptual limits of technology. Focusing on bodily sensations and stimuli, TT brings the body back to digital perception. TT takes a holistic approach to media and mediated experiences, recombining the body + cognition + hardware into new contexts and situations.

Within networks your hands use the keyboard as input and control device - and your eyes depends on the monitor for feedback. This just spells out the present low-bandwidth of computer based communication systems. Low-bandwidth is great for the fantasy and it is one of the reasons why MUDs are such great places to be. However, perception ought to involve more than fingers and eyes, and it is time to do away with the last hindering for the digital cyborg; the body. Without a possibility of complete corporal emergence into computer mediated experiences and environments the digital highway to "info-heaven" and networked communication will fail.

Check out - for more infor on his upcoming project "Solve et Coagula". If you are going to DEAF in Rotterdam (17. - 23.09) you will see his group project "sense:less". Sense:less was a first step in the direction of what he will do with "SeC".

Joseph Nechvatal @ Paris

Baudelaire : "You have no right to despise the present."