The Unbearable Whiteness of Being Networked

[Tryst kicked me out now, and I'm home with the AC cranked to stay awake...Starting this post with an allusion to Milan Kundera, whom I will use through the rest of this blogsite. For me, the critical stance of his work complements Orozco's artistic process nicely. I see both as engaged through disengagement, quietly aware.]


Baudrillard asserts that we are beyond the society of the spectacle, "We no longer partake of the drama of alienation, but are in the ecstasy of communication," (Baudrillard 22). He sites a "pornography of information and communication, a pornography of circuits and networks," (Ibid.). The world, for Baudrillard, is entirely soluble in information, and communication. Material matter – NATURE – is no longer relevant; it has already been mastered. Similarly, Lyotard comments in The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge, "data banks are the Encyclopedia of tomorrow. They transcend the capacity of each of their users. They are 'nature' for the postmodern man," (Lyotard 51). We are saturated in information, an endless web of communication through which we are superficial actors passing along data. "Today the scene and the mirror have given way to a screen and a network. There is no longer any transcendence or depth, but only the immanent surface of operations unfolding, the smooth and functional surface of communication." (Baudrillard 12).

Where Baudrillard names the human/body a screen, I perceive humans to be reconfigured as individual points or potential sites to be linked in a communication chain; all interactions – virtual or otherwise – are transmissions of data or communication trajectories that, in this era of hyperproductivity/hyperconsumption, are made under the linear ideology of speed and efficiency of information.

Lyotard sites the breaking up of GRAND NARRATIVES as the "dissolution of the social bond and the disintegration of social aggregates into a mass of individual atoms, thrown into the absurdity of Brownian motion" (Lyotard 15). Breaking up the SOCIAL BOND is essentially snipping the CIRCLE of social relations or aggregates. The disintegration into atoms is like laying out individuals as communication points, potential points to be traveled through on a LINEAR trajectory in service of/to information. This MOTION in pushed by what Lyotard calls the "performativity principle," which I will discuss in terms of SPEED later.
DNA: LINES of sequences that are bundled up into AGGREATES that are maintained within the CIRCULAR membrane of the nucleaus of a cell prior to gene transcription.

Funny how the centrifuge is a tool to disintegrate DNA into its component parts that operates by its spinning in circles at an extremely fast rate; this is the breaking up of the circle into points that can then be mapped and sequenced as social network theory describes.


"A self does not amount to much, but no self is an island; each exists in a fabric of relations that is now more complex and mobile than ever. Young or old, man or woman, a person is always located at 'nodal points' of specific communication circuits, however tiny these may be," (Ibid.).

This Postmodern Condition has been translated into social network theory, which outright describes people as nodes: blank screens [like Okon’s video] that merely serve a pupose of transmission.


Social network theory conceptualizes humans as nodal points on a network that is as large as the earth is populated. As Albert-Laszlo Barabasi has articulated in his book, Linked: The New Science of Networks:

“Each of us is a part of a large cluster, the worldwide social net, from which no one is left out…Likewise, there is a path between any two neurons in our brain, between any two companies in the world, between any two chemicals in our body,” (Barabasi 18). This particular quote illustrates the same somatic language that is used to describe the internet and cybertechnologies; it seems that we always come back to our physical body in language to make sense of the phenomena we experience in everyday life. The significance of this seems to support the idea that we never will truly be entirely disembodied from our LIVING BODIES. Even our decaying, material bodies can live on in the SOCIAL BODY through memorials, online eulogy websites, and other discourse-based manifestations.

I will return to the body – in many senses of the phrase – again, in a later blogsite post/transmission.