subREAL, Draculaland, Venice Biennial, (Open 1993)
"Besides being a THEORY, subREAL is a group which is supposed to propagate
(subREAL are a collective from Romania which operated under and survived that
country's brutal and repressive administration. subREAL are: Calin Dan, Josif
Kiraly, Dan Mihaltianu.)
"Our emergency is SURVIVAL. Each day a new generation comes to
life, brilliantly pushing us toward the inevitable. Avoiding the end of the
century: survival versus human proliferation; millenaristic hysteria versus
the free acceptance of replacement; sterility versus the inflationsim of
creation. Survival at any risk, beyond and behind the limits of good senses.
Our indicator is CYNICISM. Funny cynicism against professional seriousness.
Skeptical cynicism against enthusiastic dullness. Obvious cynicism against
secret cruely. Sexual cynicism against the hypocrite rejection of biological
desperation; political cynicism against the obsessional fight of the Power for
the Power; biographical cynicism against the massification of the individuals;
lethal cynicism against the exploitation of death as a token image. Cynicism,
a hopeless medicine for the terminal disease. The cynicism of survival. An
international trend in a nationalistic context."
The recognition of media as weaponry, what is that if not the recognition of
the place of mediation in war. All war is mediation surely, but is all mediation
war? If so, then war is a gestural term, for war must be, then, a constant thing
and it is only referred to for the sake of certain specifics. To mediate is to
be at war. The question, for the sake of identifying differences (i.e. choosing
sides), is, what kind of war is it, or, how do you fight? These are merely
And then, what is manipulation? Only a serviceable rendering. In war, all
sides attempt to render or proffer a version of reality (of life of how to make
a living) and represent it in a persuasive (if not seductive) manner.
Spreading information is like spreading butter on toast; what is covers, it
augments. The world is made through augmentation it is made as we speak.
Controllers are we all, big and small. The small speak often of the big,
especially if they consider themselves to be at a disadvantage. Anyone can
describe someone else from either vantage point, and to be so targeted in worlds
where the image (the imaginary) has high social and political currency is to be
metered or gauged in relation to power amplitudes. Think of wealth within such a
paradigm as intensity.
A well known image can serve as a battle-ground where determining its meaning
(and using an expose of the fabrication the imbuement of the signification, is
the strategy) is the fighting procedure. Indeed, Draculaland is a term which
means to indicate that both images and lands share conceptual borderlines, and
are, hence, both contrived and invested in for the sake of fortifying and
Draculaland, also, is likened to a fairy tale in that its basic parameters
are mutable and easily accommodated by shifts in general social concerns. They
are adaptable, in other words, to various genres of representation. In this
case, Dracula's efficiency as a tale and figure to capture the imagination is
considered in light of a current preoccupation with a sub-genre (although very
popular) of science-fiction known as Cyberpunk (where punk-rock aesthetics are
intermingled with cybernetics and in this way, it illustrates, by the very
entertainment of such a merger, a software/hardware dialectic so very much a
part of industrial concerns and which has also been, as of late, extended
intellectually so as to more or less create the following formulation: software
= aesthetic or idea, and hardware = tool or practice* The language, too of
philosophy's concerns with dialectics has been conscripted or imported into
computer-science vernacular such that the term "dialectic" itself has been
exchanged with "interface"). But the particulars of the meaning of such a
translation are, of course, contentious.
If motive or intent are to be registered as an issue, it is in relation to a
notion of coincidence. Here, it would seem that coincidence figures as what one
might call the fortuitous condition of an arbitrary sign (symbol, icon, image,
whatever), for being mobilized for the colonization of the imagination. The
sign, then, as a thing in itself, is considered a gamble in its deployment, and
its effectiveness is deemed lucky only after its usage proves to have great
potential for contradiction (for the more neutral or empty it is, the more it
can be given meaning). Coincidence, in this game, therefore, is procedural, it
is that which allows meaning to be provisionally, yet intensely, attributed to
something after the fact of its appearance, and which allows intent to be always
vague and, hence, always moot and contentious. Coincidence, in this respect, can
operate as a provocateur of war. And this might be a rather large purpose in
Dracula in particular, and vampires in general, allow(s) for the fundamental
war between life and death to function and register itself at all levels
(individual and collective or societal) at once. It can be your struggle, his or
her struggle, our struggle, their struggle, it can be abstract, concrete, public
or private, aesthetic, functional, metaphoric, economic or territorial. In a
certain way, it can function as the site of the war between dialectical
transcendentalism and a species of nihilistic cybernetics, or it could thereby
be the site of war itself.
A dictionary is presented. Here are some of the lexical items: America,
blood, bluttworst, Bucuresti, buttock, can, castle, Coca-Cola, entropy,
Erzesbeth, exorcism, garlic, graveyard, hermaphrodite, indicator, map, mititei,
orphanage, stick, vampire.
There are footnotes and there are pictures.
What does it all
A dictionary can be a battle-ground for the ascertainment of
sense. Imagine that such a thing is not innocent. Imagine that the denotative
and the connotative are yet to be sorted out. And while your at it, you might
imagine different ways of thinking about cynicism.
How many words are the pictures worth? It could be a hypertext (the
preference for tangential and associative reading). The proliferation of a
variety or expanse of meaning could be like scattering shrapnel.
If cynicism can in any way be typified as a disavowal of the preciousness of
the melancholy of meaning (indeed, in the wake of the 19th c., the disavowal of
the Gothic), then perhaps its value is pugnaciously recuperated, re-determined
and restated against the thought of being dismissed on the grounds of its being
too hard, too cold, too insensitive (too machine-like or too abstract), and done
so by way of a sympathetic collusion with hardware as the open potential for
software application what might be called the mechanics of play. Cynicism, in
this regard, could treat sensible objects (be they image, text, music or
whatever) as envelopes whose aesthetic (or interest) is developed (as much as
you like) by modification. It could be said to be a politics against fixity,
which somewhat fixates itself upon (others') fixation.
Draculaland, in view of this formulation, perhaps like its similar (if you
will allow) namesake Disneyland, is a contestable playground which means to
highlight and represent certain ecstatic and utopic icons of possible worlds and
entertaining as well as awesome and amazing productions and developments within
it, and by so doing, allows itself to have exposed, certain peculiar
contradictions which both undermine and secure its mandate. If Disneyland could
be said to be an utopia bred by the industrial revolution and an American
pioneer spirit which has tagging along with it a history (or function) of
destructive waste production, demolition, and genocide (as well as the
trivialization by way of a commercial glorification of sentiment and collective
good will), then Draculaland could be said to be an utopia bred by a Gothic
melancholia and consumptiveness, industrial failure, darkness and predatorial
politics rooted in superstition and paranoia which becomes overlaid with a
victimization superiority complex ecstatic like St. John's revelation for its
imminent transcendent moment. An utopia of deliverance. Draculaland is where the
feasted and preyed upon await the coming of the Disneyland gods to feast and
prey upon them some more, but with the difference that these gods will pay for
their meal and extend invitations and enlist and initiate the food into the
ranks of the eaters. Bite me Dracula and give me eternal death. For God's sake,
let us at least become forever adolescents like you, so that we too can wrestle
to defer adulthood (that great transcendental inconvenience and what could be
worse in America then an inconvenience?).
But hearken to this: what is waited for has already arrived. Didn't you
notice? No, for vampires cast no reflection.
Here they agree with McLuhan: "blood: 1. A medium; 2. A message".
And the body and the machine (like a mirror and a Hollywood movie) are not
simply metaphors of one another, but interpolations of one another.
Erzebeth Bathory and Vlad the Impaler.
It's like Bataille and Deleuze through McLuhan and Baudrillard under the
collaborative production assistance of Zone Books and Semio-text(e), with
cover/liner art by Duchamp and Bunuel whilst trying to do a social-realist
rendition of Guernica for an Einsterzende Neubauten video. Yeah Johnny, but does
Give it a spin, kid.
Oh, and there's a nod, I guess, to John Cage by way of reference to a
possible video piece which would be titled 2'33".
So, here's the flip: the simulation of reality to the reality of simulation;
fantasy park to reality park. This could be understood as the kind of ironic
reversal which reveals not so much a difference as the kind of similarity which
only confirms Baudrillard's seduction thesis (i.e. seduction as the infinite
reversibility of signs). Which is to say that again the matter is precisely one
of mediation and an operative capacity for distributive effects, whatever its
target (its feigned agency). Whether the thrust is on reality or on fantasy,
power and authority are exercised by a virtual command upon virtual bodies in
virtual space. So then, why bother making the distinction? Because in the realm
of the virtual, gesture is everything, and the particularity of the gesture in
this case allows for a feedback mechanism vis-a-vis the imagination a loop which
secures the imagination as the true haven, and thus, as the best space for
colonization. After all, if reality park is as horrific as its said to be, then
it only begs comparison to that comfy gestural inside it plays outside to.
Reality could be thought of, therefore, as a scapegoat to the virtual a ritual
sacrifice to the gods of the hologram (the holo-deck). Not to say that there
aren't certain advantages to this; some people go out of their way in industrial
(and so-called post-industrial) nations to obtain disability allowance and
infamy often pays just as well as, if not better than, fame itself.
Hey, maybe Romania can be the playground for Ballard-Crash aesthetes.
Draculaland as the holo-deck programmed for genuine interactive dependency
and the reaffirmation of the beauty and correctness of the technopolis.
m-angle-angel is the nom-de-cyberspace of Michael Boyce, who is
the author of The Vague Generation. He is currently completing a
video documentary on the same subject.
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