Kutiman’s Video Pastiche and Ulmer’s Mystory

The Israeli musician Kutiman has just created a project called “Thru-You” which is a pastiche of “found” You-Tube videos, orchestrated to create intense funk beats. I was first linked to him through Sasha Frere Jones on The New Yorker site and felt that it was I direct coordination of some of Ulmer’s theories, especially as it relates to teletheory and the mystory.

In “Teletheory” (Atropos Press, 2004) Ulmer puts forward the proposition that we are moving forward from a logocentric past to a new era in which video and the moving image, along with the internet, are redefining the (de)centered present and future. Comparing our time to the time when greek culture, through the introduction of alphabetic communication—literacy—moved from the archaic, epic stage into the classical, tragic style, or from two dimensions to three, Ulmer is saying that we are moving, perhaps, from three dimensions to four. In this move, Ulmer writes, we “draw together in an analogy a new nexus relating to Einsteinian physics, vanguard collage, and the de-centered subject, in order to generate from this mix a certain cognitive style.” (TT, 46) This is a technique, according to Ulmer, that is already fairly well advanced, and though he seems to find fault with some aspects of this—forming a nexus—the switch does provide a frame to which teletheory “may allude while developing a distinct approach to the question.”(TT,46)

Ulmer has taken on a massive task and teletheory is the theory, the pedagogical approach, while “mystory” is the genre teletheory seeks to create, and promote. Ulmer writes that “one purpose of teletheory is to make personal images accessible, receivable, by integrating the private and public dimensions of knowledge.” (TT,58) Mystory, a neologism that sources history, herstory, mystery, my story and envois as guides, is not “scholarship, not the communication of a prior sense, but the discovery of a direction by means of writing.” (TT,112) Mystory is a “third way”, a Barthian punctum through which teletheory seeks to operate. It is a Lacanian cue-shot whose significance, quoting Barthes, “sterilizes, disturbs” the metalanguage because it is “discontinuous, indifferent to the story.”(TT,121) It is on the side of the carnival, “indifferent to moral and aesthetic categories.”

Ulmer writes that “video is the prosthesis of inventive or heuretic thinking, just as literacy is the prosthesis of hermeneutics”(TT,66) and that his goal, teletheory’s procedure is to “approach the languages of knowledge the way a child learns language, not the way a foreigner does, using the video machine that writes the way a child thinks.”(TT,47)

Kutiman’s video pastiche seems to speak to (from) this decentered plane, this precisely random teletheoretic ordering of Deleuzian concept, and I think it’s a place where the rough stones of Ulmer and Deleuze in the “dry stone wall” intersect, if only before the diverge again. Watching his videos, I thought of D&G’s concept of the concept, comparing a single Youtube video to an “ordonnée intensive”, or an intensive feature (like Barthe’s punctum). Each video posted is a concept which is “heterogenesistic” in that each lead to another, either directly or indirectly rhizomatic. D&G, in “What Is Philosophy” write that “each concept will therefore be considered as the point of coincidence, condensation, or accumulation of its own components.”(WIP,20) In the realm of Youtube, each video is given its own space, a space only defined within an undefined structure, one which is constantly ebbing and flooding. It is the graffiti filled wall of late 1970’s East Village, where one scribe gave way to another, tagging and retagging until the original signature (concept) was lost in a myriad of directions, fractured into itself. D&G write that “ there are always many infinite movements caught within each other, each folded in the others, so that the return of one instantaneously relaunches another in such a way that the plane of immanence is ceaselessly being woven, like a gigantic shuttle.”(38)

All this as a way of saying, check out Kutiman’s videos! I think they speak to our project….


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