InterCommunication No.15 1996


The Museum of the Third Kind 2/6

Art is no longer a onesided encounter with official taste, nor a secondary encounter of personal interpretation, but a close encounter of the third kind, involving transformation and interactivity, where the observer becomes an integral part of the creative system. Our art may be called digital, paranatural, technological, online, virtual, post-biological or whatever, but it will always henceforth be interactive.
To talk about the Museum of the Third Kind is to talk about the two primary coordinates of its design, or rather of its artificial genetic code, since it is more a question of its process of emergence than of creating a definitive blueprint for its construction.The primary coordinates are those of behaviour and architecture. To understand behaviour in this context we must understand what I have defined as "cyberception" [*2]: Post-biological technologies enable us to become directly involved in our own transformation, and are bringing about a qualitative change in our being. The emergent faculty of cyberception, our artificially enhanced interactions of perception and cognition, involves the transpersonal technology of global networks and cybermedia. We are learning to see afresh the processes of emergence in nature, the planetary media-flow, while at the same time re-thinking possibilities for the architecture of new worlds. Cyberception not only implies a new body and a new consciousness but a redefinition of how we might live together in the interspace between the virtual and the real.
Western architecture shows too much concern with surface and structures - an arrogant "edificiality" - and is too little aware of the human need for transformative systems. There is no biology of building. Architecture has no response to the realities of cyborg living, or the distributed self, or to the ecology of digital interfaces and network nodes. Cities must become the matrix of new forms of consciousness and of the rhythms and realisations of post-biological life.
The convergence of computers and communications is producing an environment, a telematic culture, in which many cherished institutions and artistic practices are feeling challenged, threatened, or just plain redundant, as exemplified not least of all by that triumph of ideological instrumentality, the museum. The cyberstress that the new technologies and new media exert upon the Culture of Representation is felt as much at the larger political level as it is in individual, personal experience. The impact of telepresence, bionic diversity, distributed knowledge, collaborative creativity, and artificial life on our sense of self, our sense of what is natural, what it is to be human, indeed of the status and legitimacy of every day reality, is more than most traditional discourses can bear. The breaking point however is not the death of culture or the incoherence of consciousness but the revitalisation of our whole state of being and a renewal of the conditions and construction of what we choose to call reality.