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Diogenes On-line:

Gestures against the Virtual Republic


Ricardo Dominguez



Platonism holds that the soul is in the abstract relationships represented, not the mechanics of how they are encoded. I am a Platonist.
--Hans Moravec

When Plato spoke of Truth, Diogenes lifted his robe and took a shit.
--Diogenes Laertius


Our digital condition often embarks the ship of dematerialization, always seeking that final perfect Orphic state of transmigration. The final download of all realities into an endless ethernet of the extropic dream. Plato was always already on-line clicking out the Socratic agenda of our future state: the Virtual Republic. A Republic of geometric perfection, immortal mind children, and the rational discourse of dialectics. Anything that fails to de-link from the world will be attacked as an immoral act against Truth, Beauty, and The Law. Anything that smells of the body, of piss, of shit, of farts, of flesh fucking flesh for no reason other than pleasure will have no place in this Republic. In the Virtual Republic there will be no music, no theater, no painting, all email from Dionysus will be filtered out from the listserves. Who and what can piss against this hegemonic code?

The Pantomimic Materialist, or become a dog network.

Perhaps the only tactical gestures capable of disturbing the total emergence of the incorporeal state can come from the performative matrix of Diogenes on-line. To heed his call for public actions in the middle of the marketplace that break open the Virtual Republic with somatic-networks. With code that embodies the base materialism of the tongue, the eyes, the anus, the cock and cunt. Diogenes on-line refuses to be reduced to physiognomic silence before the endless onslaught of digital perfection. We must become dogs that dig holes between the holy trinity code, connectivity and networks.


It is no accident that online theater takes place on a network, because the decentralized structure of networks strongly resists control. Networks are a dynamic Underworld where the id makes itself at home
--Antoinette LaFarge (Plaintext Players)

Breton seeking to insult Bataille wrote, "Marx, in his Difference between the Democritean and Epicurean Philosophy of Nature, reveals how, in every epoch, thus are born hair-philosophers, fingernail-philosophers, big toe-philosophers, excrement- philosophers, etc." He forgot to add "cunt-philosophers." These philosophers think the way the vagina would think if it were at liberty to speak and demand. During the early 90’s VNS Matrix a cyberfeminist group in Australia began to use MOO (Multi-Object- Oriented realtime virtual world based on MUD; Multi-User-Dungeon) space as a staging area for performances. They used this undefined zone to engender cunt-critiques of the masculine vectors and their digital ideologies via the diachronic performativity of the technology itself.

Simple text sets the digital stage area for a continuous series of improvisations. Their "CorpusFantasticaMOO!" opens with this stage direction:

The Limen You are at the threshold of the corpusfantastica. Seemingly infinite and infinitely small, neither here nor there, with half remembered snatches of your life or is it? It is darkly seductive here, and you could stay, but you could also choose to slide through the Cartesian reality grid and enter the spaciousness of the CorpusFantastica. sociopathic cyberslut offers you a hookah Take hookah

At this point the networked actors begin the performance with only the MOO Stage as the frame of presentation. Each actor enters the MOO Stage and start to improvise with the other actors.

sociopathic cyberslut says "There's been a lot of flaming on the Net about the contents of Circuit Boy's sizeable tool. They say it packs a digi but it keeps crashing. Not enough RAM where it counts You say "I'm not surprised. Boy's a retro technonerd who hasn't heard that the future is unmanned"

The event then builds on micro-narratives and gestures: both false and real conversations, rehearsed statements and answers, random questions, and also pragmatic answers to technical problems. VNS matrix specific use of the MOOframe allowed the cyberfeminist critique to shudder as an involution of "The Big Daddy Mainframe". They set the stage for a specific somatic gesture of the cunt covering the hard lines of power with spasms of impossible activities organized beneath, around and between the privileged pathologies of "MaleCode,"

The female body becomes the site of a new form pantomimic materialism that reorganizes technology as a somatic-network. A network that is no longer bound by Platonic protocols. They signal the emergence of the "lower functions" as the site of a grassroots empowerment online. VNS matrix rejected the super-idealism of Plato Republic and its prison house of ideas, duties, redemptions, immoralities, and endless power grids. They let loose a deep cunt without shame on the pure order of code.

"When Plato spoke of Beauty, Diogenes lifted his robes and jerked off"
--Diogenes Laertius


The staging of the tableau vivant at the end of the last century was brought on by a need to see the shades that haunt the edge of our vision. The same need to reconstitute and repeat a past work in order to see another scene has emerged on the digital stage. Fakeshop has been suspending in repetition sections from such films as "THX 1138" and "Coma", two Science Fiction films from the seventies. They mime the chosen scene both on-line and off-line as a fragment of a future remembered. Fakeshop’s digital tableaus are interstaged between several digital platforms: networked actors, CUseeme, synchronous chat, realaudio/video, HTML and javascript based presentations, within a massive old bunker that serves as the off-line staging area. Each platform reiterates the gesture or moment that is looping between the various staging zones.

Fakeshop remarks Plato’s cave with shadows that no longer represent bodies without organs, but with base truth of real bodies. Fakeshop take’s the dream state of the traditional Tableau Vivant and counters the virtual figure with real breasts, real cocks, real desire and sends them out to be re-embodied elsewhere on another platform. Platonic Truth is deposed by the gesture of real flesh crossing between artificial boundaries. The work convokes the aura of a forever future realized in an untimely present of skin. In their recent tableau vivant of "Coma" in "Multiple Dwellings." They created a two story installation of wires, pipes, and the bodies which alluded to a scene in the film where one see an endless row of floating bodies ready to be organ harvested. The bodies within the bunker were scanned with CUseeme cameras and the images transmitted in real time to the other network actors who were buying and selling the organs they were seeing.

Fakeshop also uses networked images and sound exchange software like realaudio/video to add another plane of repetition to the phantasmagoria of the already-seen segment. In one of the multiple CUseeme windows a remote actor in Tokyo sends sounds and images in response to the scene and as part of the scene. Individuals who know nothing about the performance drift in and out of the reflector site Fakeshop has squatted on for the night’s performance, some participate, others just drift on or pay no attention to the actors or the scene. On the Chat window, statements are rolling by:

If you can see it, it’s already dead
vision machines cut the body
distributing the harvest
across bio-markets
each organ
into the 'Gene Rush'
each body a site of profit
who has access to the body

This type of interstaging of segments from science fiction films of the past allows for strange and productive mappings of our current collective condition. Each platform reassembles the somatic spasms of the masturbatory state before the endless pornographic technologies at hand and restores a possible kernel of the real body lurking at the edge of these fantasies. Each segment becoming greater than the sum of the narrative that it was removed from. As an individual cell may speak more of the total condition of the body, than the body can speak for itself. The Fakeshop tableaus are a vibrant space for the contemplation of our remembered future as a body lost and of the counter force of the erotic body always already present.

In the jungle almost ten thousand people hide and consider the proper method of drinking one's piss, or is it "better to drink someone else's?" As the days pass and starvation grows, an abundance of liquid shit flows out of the Zapatistas: they are surprised that the PRI army with its U.S. donated equipment (for the Drug War) can't smell them as they pass by in the jungle.
-- R.R. Dominguez (Run for the Border: The Taco Bell War)

Shit and Refuse

The Electronic Disturbance Theater re-circuits agit-prop actions to mobilize micro-networks to act in solidarity with the Zapatistas in Chiapas, one of the waste zones of the Virtual Republic. By staging virtual sit-ins on-line and allowing the emergence of a collective presence in a direct digital action. These actions clog the pipelines of power with an overabundance of humanity. The staging of the action is HTML and Java based tool called FloodNet, which reloads a URL several times a minute, which slows the site down if a critical mass of bodies join the sit-in. The masses, the media, and the site on which the virtual sit-in will take place, ninety percent of the time the Mexican President’s web site, are hailed via e-mail postings on multiple listserves.

This reconfiguration of street theater has facilitated direct access between macro-networks and non-digital networks. The Electronic Disturbance Theater has also been able to re-route the conduits of information surrounding the strange attractor of electronic civil disobedience among both minor and dominant media filters to focus on the issue of Chiapas. The strategy has been to push the mythology of CyberZapatistas to a new level of activity in order to counter the rise of the Mexican Goverment’s "low intensity warfare" after the Acteal Massacre at the end 1997. These impossible actions have caused not only the Mexican Goverment to respond, both on-line and off-line, but the U.S Department of Defense on one occasion counter-attacked by using browser based code. The digital pipes have now become the site for a new mode of non-violent actions for Human Rights. A space for the shit of the world to speak and overflow the purity of networks.

The Electronic Disturbance Theater has also become the staging area for the heated debate about electronic civil disobedience and hacktivism. Many on the Left and the Right speak of these virtual sit-ins as digitally incorrect actions that block bandwidth. The Virtual Republic believes that clogging communication pipelines with so much human waste is not only immoral, but an act of cyberterrorism. Politically concerned network actors must only put up signs of protest and never walk out into the middle of the highway. Individuals and groups who lack the exact knowledge to hack a into a system should remain good netcitizens by just pointing and clicking. They must never take a dump in the middle of the sacred caves of Power and Truth. The digital agit-prop actions of The Electronic Disturbance Theater call for research and development of html democracies and the right to block data for human rights. These networked performances have also opened access and communication between three important micro-networks: net.art, net.activism, and net.hackers. What will arise from this shit pile is impossible to foresee.

Infidel Codes

As networks rise over nations and software speeds over economies, nomadic theaters will arise. They will perform between and on distributed stages and platforms, naming the underworlds of the body and the utopias of its multiple desires and needs, unbound by conservative circuitry of Plato’s Virtual Republic. These gestures of collective presence among somatic-networks will continue to rise, each one a response to Diogenes on-line. How, where, and when the raw body will enter and jam the smooth state, and what the digital poetics of these performances will be, are for now still in the flesh.







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