Sunday, March 16, 2014

Spectre zero one

In the book by McKennon titled Eva Hesse Spectres 1960-There is a chapter that made a lot of sense to me especially in light of my own foray into the inferno that is Omegle the online random chat generator. My initial encounter with the chat site was enlightening. I am officially old. My web cam presence prompts responses like "Dad" and "Mid life crisis" ... Omegle is the binary-code version of Clive Barkers movie Night Breed,a brutal mound of dejected humanity seething like a boil just beneath the surface. Within the first few minutes of being in the stream of chats I exchanged a few lines with a person in a store bought Halo mask. All I could see of their face where brief tint of eye whites sliding around under his visor. I say he because of how deep the voice was but I have learned to assume nothing in these situations. He was flashing a gun to complement his head gear that looked for an instant to be the standard issue M392 Designated Marksman Rifle but quickly turned into the insulation foam and broom stick lump. This Mater Chief was just shy. Over all the ride was mostly filled with insults. I realized like the Halo dude just to not show my face. So I turned out the lights and sat back from the screen. People lingered longer before hitting the end chat button. This bit of incognito allowed me to be a voyeur but the interaction was limited. I turned on the lights and started to put drawings in the cam frame instead of my face. Eventually the random chat generator will give you the same people. This time I got interest beyond my expectations, very positive responses to the art work from the very same people who were the harshest in response to just my face, or whatever I was projecting previously. A few weeks pass and I decided to try again, only this time I would just let the camera run and use the interactions as a diversion, sort of like an audio book or podcast. I began to whittle and sand away on a miniature table cloth made of wood. Immediately the chat overtook my objective to get any work done. As I sat there with my reading glasses on I started to goof around with my expressions. It was easier to be a clown than a real 45 year old man on a social chat site. I was the ancient whittler clown. No laughs were spared. It was joyous. A beautiful waste of time. Something started to happen. Very subtle shifts would occur in this other persons voices as they were parsing what I was projecting. When I would break with my own "character" the encounter became anxious and would end quickly. When I sustained the performance, when I projected a flat personality of who I thought they were looking at and stuck with it, the other side felt more comfortable with the situation. Eventually this proved to be too much effort on my part and I grew bored. By half accident I put up a glass over my face, cause the insults would start in like a barrage as soon as it was just me again. With the glass over my face I started to draw on the curved surface, responding to the shapes of my face coming through as I could see it in the cam. The subtle shifts in my face gave the lines life, but the lines were general enough as to remain generic. I wrote nothing and said nothing. I just made slight shifts in the position of my head and with the planes of my face. This mask made for the perfect screen and a very haunting effect. I had created a mirror of sorts, a character of a real person. I had created a "real" person, a golem or Frankenstein. Most of the people just spent time trying to figure out what they were looking at. I liked watching their expressions shift as they made slight recognitions. When I woke the next morning I was casually reading the Eva Hesse book. This passage is from Elizabeth Bronfen.
"A staple of gothic imagination spectres are phantoms who draw attention to the uncanniness inhabiting visual perception. Their appearance destabilizes the security of knowing what what one is looking at...Does it give body to a piece of knowledge one is already in possession of, but owing to repression has no access to?"

1 comment:

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St. Augustine, Florida, United States
I spill ink ,it collects here.