Ben Syverson: That’s part of getting yourself in another ecosystem. It’s about adapting and the constraints and they force you to do this thing that you don’t necessarily want to do but you have to do it because if you want to play in their garden you have to jump over the walls.
Jon Satrom: Yeah, and you have to wear their costume.
B.S: And you have to dance their dances. You have to drink their punch.
J.S.: And their punch tastes horrible.
I’m absolutely enchanted by this video. Briz is making an argument in this video re: the general artists relationship with Apple products that I have made about video games, but I’m less concerned about calling it an ecology and more interested in calling the whole assemblage a body that has particular sensory and affective experiences.
However, Briz really made a lightbulb flick on in my thinking about this whole thing. It isn’t just about material and software compatibility; the whole thing isn’t about making things fit together, disciplining the ill-fitting parts into compatibility. Instead, we have to think about foreign insertions, or maybe what Deleuze and Guattari would have called immaterial transformations. Think about software as a virus that attaches to the host cells of an OS–an Apple update doesn’t change the shape of things, challenging the virus by rendering itself immune. Instead, it just eliminates the ability for that software to make connections, to speak. Imagine the human body responding to HIV–imagine a bodily OS update that simply wipes receptors out of existence, or changing them so much that they cannot be recognized in their original function.
An Apple OS update is a process of creating vestigial organs that we can never trace back to their original usage. Or maybe not. Rephrase: Apple OS updates are processes of generating holes where organs used to be, where they could have been, and all we can do is look at the ecology around the holes to guess at what could be missing.
[thanks Alex Myers]
This is certainly a fascinating way to thing about operating systems. More than just immunization, or creating holes — really love that metaphor! — they also prevent further access through API changes. The imposed mutation prevents communication. You might even go so far as to call it an authoritarian imperative too.
There are these external forces, Apple and Microsoft, which decide how they think other bodies work, what is allowed and what is not. They act in their selfish interest, to assign them some agency, to maintain this state by conforming all other bodies they come in contact with to this mold. They decide not only which organs can be used, but often when and for how long too.
In fact, extending it even down to the hardware level, Microsoft especially is interested in “trusted” platforms where certain parts of the hardware itself cannot be changed unless it has a Microsoft ‘key’ to do so. The fear, and rightfully so, is that other operating systems will be locked out completely. Not only will the current operating system impose a fierce order, but it will prevent any future mutations across all levels too.
Bodies would not be able to change, to return to the metaphor. The will of the user would be usurped by that of the external force, by the foreign insertions. All updates, all power for change, would flow from the authority not just, to lean into Jungian here, by the initial naming but as fixed that way too.
If we consider our machines as extensions of ourselves (they are a medium after all), this has some exciting, but equally terrifying, consequences as a result of this metaphor. I’d love to see your extended thoughts on this idea in a future post. I’m interested to see how this might collide with New Aestheticism as it relates to machine bodies and our perception of their impact on us.
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