On Machine Use Only

In a drowsy pocket of Chinatown I am looking for a building but walk past it twice. I don't realize the building I am looking for is the one that's on the corner and looks like a large school, or private residence, or that it has Hebrew etched on the outside column by the front door, inside the closed gate. I don't see what I am looking for etched above the Hebrew until I am stopped right in front of it at just the right angle of orange street-lamp reflection to be able to read the key to my location and know that I have been right with each confused passing: e-flux.

I am not sure if I will be here alone.

He is already seated by the wall in the row of seats aligned with the entrance; it is far from the front where the panels will be, but the room is filling up. I wonder if he has seated himself there so that I will see him as soon as I come out of the elevator.

I am not sure it is him because I have not seen him in a month, at which time I had not recognized him because I had not seen him in three years. Apparently we had done some off-set printing together. I have no memory of this fact but I do carry a mortified awe that it is a fact.

And he has a haircut, so I cannot tell if it is him.

It is him and I am still not wearing my glasses.

For Machine Use Only

The first panel launches a collection of ideas and theories on a "machinic vision" towards varying artificial intelligences. How is our own intelligence measured against automation we create? A search engine is only as encyclopedic as the index we input to the machine.

He pulls out a notebook and starts to write; I do not look at his page but am relieved that I can pull out my own notebook without seeming like an island in my folding chair in the row of people listening to the panel about artificial intelligence. I use the movement into my bag to also withdraw my glasses, although we cannot see the panel clearly from our seats.

The room continues to fill with latecomers.

I am trying to pay more attention to the panel than to the crowd's aesthetic in front of me, a sea of backs-of-heads. As art historian Sam Sackeroff is talking, I write down: "utopian engineers." I write down: "Carl Popper." I change it to "Karl." I wonder what the aesthetic haircut of preference would be in utopia.

Would utopia be where we have wholly engineered beauty or where innate beauty needs no other's touching up?

Does utopia require an other for each self?

Is utopia nature or nurture and do we need a machine for either?

Some mothers use breast pumps to bottle their milk.
Some mothers breastfeed their babies into infancy, or beyond.

Do vegan mothers breastfeed their babies?
What do we do with all the machines if we are not eating the animals?

Ludwig Wittgenstein theorized that if you teach a lion to talk you would not understand its language.

Do linguistics include pathos and emotion? Sympathy and empathy? How is science parallel to reality parallel to consciousness? Perhaps artificial intelligence exists at a matrix of just such a Venn diagram; or A.I. is the very outline of every Venn circle.

"General phenomenon," according to media theorist Alexander R. Galloway, includes experience, intuition, sensation. It is persona par essence. It is the individual creating self.

Galloway says judgment is not the same as machinic operating. That a computer calling something "art" or "not art" lends no gain for cultural capital. "A computer is not an institution," says Galloway, "in the sense of a curator, gallery, or museum."

A computer is not a fixed artifact using culturally-accepted authority to impose an evaluation of the culture. A computer cannot morally judge the machine.

Putting art into service is leaving behind both representation and abstraction.


What is the binary view of an image?

Formal structure is curated by using punctuation and not choosing specific letters for their pictorial symbolism and values, but rather for their phonetics and sounds and definitions. To build an architecture of reading is very likely the reverse.

What is the idea of reading?

Reading is a transient contribution to the text, a collaboration with the page, typeface, paper, codex, object, distance to be seen clearly, threshold of understanding, success at comprehension, let alone a collaboration with the author. Or the architect.

What are the phonetics of aesthetics?

There is a distraction in not having, such as hunger.

Miscommunication is as important as communicating with transparency, says the artist Paul Chan.

At the end of the night I am loaned a copy of Wittgenstein's Mistress, a novel told from the first-person perspective of a woman who is the last living being on earth.

The narrator is unreliable. This is a fact.
She often calls herself mad, or refers to when she was mad.

At least she is transparent with me.
She relies on her typewriter to communicate at all.

She has to rely on her machine to miscommunicate.