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  • Toward Other Epistemologies of Interface Culture:Dependent Origination, Tantra and Relational Being in an Age of Digital Reproduction
  • Ajaykumar, (artist, academic) (bio)

The author formally and thematically reconsiders the Buddhist philosophical concept of dependent origination in the context of technological practice. In this context, he discusses historical attempts in Tantric art to develop an integrated practice and conceive a dynamic "entity" of the body (that of the artist or the spectator), science, technology, art, architecture, philosophy, space-time and nature; and the veracity of such concepts in the context of particular new scientific insights. Furthermore, he reconsiders notions of relational being and nonanthropocentric being, and a polyphonic "I." The article aims to interrogate new ways of evolving current practice and thinking on themes related to the socialization and mediatization of "difference."

technology-I am?

spectator-I am?

nature-I am?

space-I am?


It is the hyphen that I discuss in this article. I reflect on a hypothesis of relational being and nonanthropocentric being, which may emerge in a world of montage, an interstitial realm between so-called body and so-called external space. In this realm, a narrative may be elicited. The concepts of relational being and non-anthropocentric being manifested in South Asian science, technology, art, architecture and philosophy around 1,500 years ago, through the vehicle of Tantric practice and thinking. In a post-human context, particular new scientific ideas return to the fore the veracity of such notions, reconceived through the medium of digital reproduction.

Furthermore, in relation to digital art and the current manifestation of the Internet, my aims here are to interrogate new ways of evolving current practice and thinking on themes relating to spectatorship; the socialization and mediatization of "difference"; developing a language of difference; and particular relationships between the body, art, philosophy, science, nature, space-time, technology and society. Here an unplumbed ecology may be educed.

In this writing, it is a sine qua non that I utilize my own experiential learning, my own artistic exploration.

But how is the "i"?

the "i" here is perhaps less in the manner

of the "I" of Irigaray and more ...

While I am reminded of a particular compromise inherent to writing, recollecting Lao-tzu's words, "If the Tao could be comprised in words, it would not be the unchangeable Tao" [1], I think there is some relative and provisional value in my compromised utterance. Yüan-wu K'o-ch'n expresses this notion eloquently:

If this matter were in words, then it should be definable in a single statement, with change. Why should there be thousands and thousands of sayings imparted by enlightened adepts, with no end to them? From this, we know that it is not within words, but we need to use words to illustrate this matter. Sharp-spirited people should directly comprehend this idea

[2]. [End Page 475]


The thinking in the quotation above relates to compositional methodologies for my existing Internet artwork pages of madness, as well as the ongoing development of two new compositions: iPak—10,000 songs, 10,000 images, 10,000 abuses; and asylum.

M-I I-M is a series of science-art projects—responses to recent medical research that suggests racism engenders mental illness. Black people in Britain are several times more likely than white people to suffer from mental illnesses such as schizophrenia. The causes of this phenomenon are social rather than biological. Robin Murray of the Institute of Psychiatry believes that "the experience of black people in the U.K. almost drives them mad" [3]. M-I I-M is an ongoing project of particular community and political engagement in relation to digital technology, involving those who inhabit the margins of society, including digital society. The series goes "beyond madness": It considers art as medicine, a therapeutic force that may cause insight to emerge from madness. M-I I-M is also the title of a presentation on the series' themes made at ISEA2006/ZeroOne San Jose.

Pages of Madness

To get a clearer sense of this article's themes, I request that readers pause here to view pages of madness before returning to the article. pages...


Additional Information

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pp. 475-481
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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