InterCommunication No.15 1996


The Museum of the Third Kind 6/6

So the Museum of the Third Kind, the museum of emergence, is a platform of operations, a seedbed, a planetary resource, a site of cultural negotiation, interaction and collaborative creativity, before it is in any sense a showcase, a stage set or repository. It will make history rather than record it. It will be future-active rather than past-passive.The art it will house, or give rise to, is a hybrid art requiring more than the artist's skills alone. It involves disciplines which are themselves hybrid: cognitive scienceand its neural nets, biological engineering and its genetic manipulations, the physics of consciousness. Hybrid also is the viewer, user or consumer of this art. Bionic to a degree, gender-free, wholly integrated into cyberspace, transculturally oriented to the Net, living globally in the Interreality between the actual and the virtual, this is the post-biological human being. This is us as we approach the turn of the millennium. And perhaps most pertinent, in our search for definition of the Museum in this telematic, post-biological culture, it is our new faculty of cyberception which will determine the kind of space we shall inhabit, the kind of architecture we shall demand.
The Museum of the Third Kind will be anticipatory, not imposing perspectives on the history of art, but opening up a pool of possibilities from which art might emerge, working at the forward edge of contemporary culture, as an agent of cultural change, as a cause of art practice rather than as a cultural effect. It will be conceived of not as a machine but as a post-biological organism: a structure with its own memory, with a sensorium which reacts to us, as much as we interact with it, essentially an electronic central nervous system. Its interior activity will constantly be exteriorised with a constant flow of data from inside out and outside in. Similarly, satellite, cable and internet communications must allow for the 24 hour a day, two-way flow of data to and from local, regional and international centres and public places. It will have zones for the practice of telemeditation and cyberconsciousness, and for experiments with identity, persona, gender, and bionic amplification.
To understand what the Museum of the Third Kind needs to be, is to understand how the aesthetic of appearance is being replaced by the aesthetic of apparition. Where semantic closure is replaced by open-ended pathways of meaning . Where the viewing public is put in the centre of the creative process not at the periphery looking in. Where medium of art, be it electronic, digital, optical or genetic, is intrinsically and generically interactive. Where art as system constitutes a kind of structural coupling between everyone and everything within its networks, a coupling which brings the into a symbiosis the intelligence systems which constitute our world and the cognitive cyberception of our selves.
Finally, the issue of the Museum of the Third Kind is political, as the house of the Muses has always been, just as democracy itself requires a politics of the third kind, since neither Right nor Left has found any kind of satisfactory answer. The Museum of the Third Kind will be as much concerned with the democratisation of meaning as with the democratisation of communications. And unavoidably it is philosophical, since the technology of telematics is the technology of consciousness, and wisely cultivated, can lead us to a shared participation in the creation of reality.


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