ZONE.

Interview with Kit Gillson of Zone comics. Friday 29th March 2019. 4pm.

So, if I have read correctly, Zone came about after a comic book symposium held during the 2016 Guernsey Literary Festival. Can you reflect on what your initial thoughts about the project when you first came together as a collective?

Yes, the Guernsey Literary Festival in, yep 2016. As artists we were fed up with not getting anything done alone. THe symposium inspired us to think about doing things differently. Breaking into the UK for all of us as individuals seemed remote so as a group we figured that starting something on island [sic. Guernsey] would suit our energies better.

Now three years on, can you describe what has changed?

Yeah it has changed. We have lost some contributors but those of us that reman have got better at what we do. The first year we were unsure, the second year we were unsustainably over confident and ambitious with our expectations.

Is that why it took over a year to to get the third edition of Zone out?

Kind of. Through the process of making the third one we learned to keep our expectations in check and focus more on the outcome of the edition rather than having an overload of ideas.

At the start, would it be fair to say that as a group you didn’t really have a consistent message or concept for the publication?

All the contributors comics were very different and still are. That’s the beauty of it – variety. We are more used to working together now, that’s the real difference.

Does the variety in concept affect the audience you attract?

Yes and no. Anthologies are harder to sell but we throw a wider ner in that there is likely to be something for the casual reader.

What art styles would you say Zone has?

Well, from traditional European comic style such as bande dessinée to fairly experimental styles. The idea is there is no Zone style.

So the point is you don’t want a unified message?

We want stories, quality and variety.

As a collective are you a closed group?

Not entirely. We are open to committed contributors.

How actively do you search for new people?

Not very! We all keep an eye open but, we met organically so presume the mext will join organically.

Can you describe your group’s representation?

One hundred percent male, age range mid twenties to mid forties, all white. On contributor is from South Africa, one is Dutch. We all live in Guernsey.

How do you think your publication might change with a more diverse representation?

Our publication is not about politics. It’s about crazy stories. People who read our comic are not necessarily standard comic book readers so more variety would help this I guess.

What methods do you use to sell your comics?

Currently just at Zone events.

How do you see the comic moving forward?

With new contributors, we will become stronger as we refine our roles within the collective. We aim to make on going stories within the comics. Which will attract a readership base. People buy the comic for the variety and because it is local. But we hope they will come back for the next edition for the next installment of the stories.

Do you have high hopes for the continuing success of Zone?

We all have our individual hopes for what we are building. I hope the anthology will grow and we can build our own individual pathways from it. So launch our individual projects on.

Can you describe your role in the collective?

Co-founder or board-member, artist and writer.

How would you describe your art style, what does it bring to the collaboration?

I experiment with personal parameters, which are a consistent style throughout the story I tell in each issue, and then change the style in the next issue. I’m not sure if or what I will stick with as I’ve not been doing it all that long. I get bored if I don’t change things up. I definitely bring bold colour to the publication.

What are your main influences as a comic book artist?

Well, Guillermo del Toro and Mike Mignola, Hayao Miyazaki, Albert Uderzo and Didier Conrad of Asterix, and Jean-Pierre Jeunet to name a few.

Which contributors art style do you prefer and why?

I like the techniques of Fimbulwinter as it is made with traditional methods, full size, on paper with brush pen. But I also like Axolotl Had Face Man as it appeals to my sense of humour, the story and the art style.

You are also a film-maker, animator and TV camera operator. Do you think this has an affect on how you draw to tell stories?

I tend to think in camera angles. Some comic book artists use the page as a whole, or blend images together in interesting ways. But I think in camera angles. To say my comics are a storyboard would be underselling, but like a storyboard for a film I guess. Really its is about framing and composition of each panel like it is a different shot. I ask is the angle making the character humorous, or scary, assessing the relationship between the characters is important. So using film language really, in illustration.

How important do you think it is to be multifaceted as a practitioner? Does it help or hinder to be an illustrator and a film-maker, animator and TV camera operator? Would it be easier for you if you were defined by one discipline or specialism?

I find it doesn’t help me focus. I admire people who can do one thing. I try to keep the disciplines separate. There is some crossover as my creativity stretches over all the things I do. But I do think of them as separate. To be honest it’s something I’ve not really thought about. The difference between filmmaking and News camera, from the outside they might look the same, but they are very different.

Links:

https://www.kitgillson.com/ https://www.imdb.com/name/nm9153829/
https://www.linkedin.com/in/kit-gillson-948916a3/v
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCjkCi-l5ZAv91p6ca7Q_FCQ
https://vimeo.com/323492767
https://vimeo.com/323504818
https://www.facebook.com/ZoneGSY/

Multiplicity.

‘Multiplicity’, a show organised and curated by Alice Nant and Ben Bailey-Davies, 29.03.2019 – 12.04.2019.

This is the GateHouse Gallery. It is a small three roomed space that was turned from a school tuck shop into a gallery five years ago. It normally shows work from local artists and raises money for the private school it is attached to. This is the first time the Further Education College I work at has had the opportunity to hold an exhibition here. The exhibition was designed to show development work of the students of courses from Level 1 to Level 5, without hierarchy, and promote the work we do at the College. In June the Course holds a end of year show for the Level 3 graduating students, since being in the art department (I joined in 2015) I have organised four shows outside the normal end of year event in order to showcase work from different student levels and celebrate all student achievement.

We chose a variety of student work from all levels including all types of art & design production including drawing, printmaking, textiles, video, animation, photography, graphic design, illustration, sculpture, prop making and sketchbook work.

As it is a small gallery we tried to put in a wide variety of work trying to avoid making the space feel overcrowded.

To order the space whilst maintaining a sense of space we hung the work in groups of grids and also tried to to visually join rooms as with the computers on plinths (above), and using images of faces (below). A continuity device to draw viewers through the separate spaces of the gallery.

We also employed window sills for small objects and used the natural light to highlight more delicate items.

There were a few interesting problems to solve. Including finding the best ways to display sketchbooks, a paper dress and a dress as a canvas for a video installation.

The projector for the dress video installation was put on a plinth in the centre of one of the rooms. Initially we thought this might be a problem, with technology blocking access to the work. But because the photography portraits at the back were visible through both the other rooms, the work drew the viewer’s gaze in and above the projector. Being bold with the projector placement worked successfully.

This awkward corner with a fire alarm and light switch was complemented by a block print of a switch plate.

There was an opening evening with a good turnout, media coverage with good reviews and the show was up for two weeks. The success can be measured with College management agreeing to this showcase becoming an annual event.

Discovering Lorena Lohr.

A recent conversation with photographer Ben Bailey Davies, about William Eggleston, led me to discover the photographer Lorena Lohr. Whilst hunting for a particular Eggleston image, on Google images, I clicked a link to the site journal.collectionair.com where I read an article that compared Eggleston’s photography with an upcoming photographer Lorena Lohr.

I was immediately drawn to her lonely imagery, her colour compositions and use of texture to create spaces. I appreciated the use of colour film which I feel contributes to the understated sorrow and beauty of her images.

The overuse of filters and overlays on platforms such as Instagram have undermined the sincere aesthetic of film. One of the best, and worst, examples of this populist aesthetic is the instagrammer @accidentallywesanderson. This account the instagram extension of a ‘community’ travel and backpacker website or ‘lookbook’ – www.accidentallywesanderson.com where people are invited to submit their aesthetically retro (ala Wes Anderson) images for publication.

Lorena Lohr’s series ‘Open Sands’ might easily be dismissed as a similar enterprise. A traveller, taking composed snaps in a retro style on her journey through the American southwest. However, her photography stands apart from this populist phenomena. Her images are created with an integrity that describes experience and tells stories.

Screen Shot 2018-11-10 at 12.23.19.png

Lorena Lohr, Untitled, 2017

Louise Benson describes Lohr’s work as, “The experience of the unknown, together with the heightened sensations of both wonderment and fear that come with it, is embraced in Lohr’s focus on the neglected interiors and faded facades that populate much of America.”

When describing her methodology Lohr states, I don’t try and work that out too much or have any continuous approach. But there’s always an interest to preserve the arrangements that are present in interiors, streets and building facades, both in public and private spaces – to record the way these objects are seen at that point in time, having been placed that way by the people coming and going, and how layers of narrative are built up in the way these objects are left behind.”

This is where I find connections with my own practice. Firstly in method. When I do take photographic images I use an Agfa Isoly 100, 1980’s 35mm point and shoot camera, a Pentax SFXn, 35mm SLR from the early 90’s, a Diana Baby 110mm point and shoot or a Sony AVCHD with lens mount a Helios 44mm lens and HDYA Skylight 1B filter. I use the digital Sony when I require more control over the image I am taking, but for  experimentation and chance, such as in Lohr’s images I use the point and shoot cameras.

Secondly in methodology, I work in series, obsessively collecting images I have made according to the subject matter I am exploring. Currently photorealistic illustrations of home computers from 1978 – 1984. The computer subjects are lonely bodies, genderless, silent. Neglected machines with untold stories.

It is in the stories that have not been told, the voicelessness of the neglected, is where I find most connection with Lohr’s work.

Lohr states that she is interested mostly in “harmonious line, colour and composition” and that she is inspired by early Renaissance painters such as Hans Memling, Hieronymus Bosch and Lucas Cranach.

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Hieronymus Bosch, Garden of Earthly Delights, c.1500

There is certainly a visual connection between colour and flatness of picture plane. Also, there is a voicelessness in these Renaissance paintings. Of course with the religious paintings, people would have known the stories, but the subjects in the paintings themselves seem voiceless. Their story is imposed on them by a common understanding. There seems so much left to be said.

When talking about her painterly influences she says that she often wonders what her images would look like as paintings and alludes to the possibility of collaborative work. This is interesting to me also. I do not stick to one medium, hand drawing, digital drawing, photography and filmmaking are all part of my practice. Often I transfer an image between media. The idea that Lohr’s photographs might not be the end, the finished image is a concept that has some potential for exploration. The idea of taking an image on a journey through different media, discovering how it might change. Would taking an image out its context as a photograph of a place into an illustration of a photograph of a place, give enough distance to change its narrative?

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Lorena Lohr, Untitled, 2017

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Lorena Lohr, Untitled, 2017

Sources:

Collectionair, Ones to Watch, One-On-One: William Eggleston And Lorena Lohr, 2016 journal.collectionair.com/ones-to-watch/one-one-william-eggleston-lorena-lohr/

Wise, L, From Gucci ads to Instagram fads: how the Wes Anderson aesthetic took over the world, April 2018 www.theguardian.com/film/2018/apr/07/from-gucci-ads-to-instagram-fads-how-the-wes-anderson-aesthetic-took-over-the-world

Benson, L, Lorena Lohr Exhibition Introduction, Claire de Rouen Books, 2016 clairederouenbooks.com/collections/photography

Hernandez, C, An Interview with Lorena Lohr on Traveling To Where No One Goes, Lomography Magazine, 2017 www.lomography.com/magazine/333230-an-interview-with-lorena-lohr-on-traveling-to-where-no-one-goes

http://www.lorenalohr.com

Reflection.

When I began this journey I wanted to subvert existing forms of visual language, disrupting production based connotations and assumptions. I began to realise that what I was looking for came from need for my visual language to be heard in a suitable framework, in an appropriate space. I have worked in film, fine art and textiles which all come with their own inherent language which is taken into consideration when making and viewing the work. In film I make feminist movies, in painting I make female art and in textiles I use traditionally female techniques to make a point. I do none of these things, but also, I do because I am using media and techniques with a prescribed language. I want to work in a way where my work is work.

Whilst undertaking theoretical research and making practical work I came to the realisation that looking backwards and being frustrated was hindering, and blocking, my creative development. I began to discover practitioners that operate in a fairly ‘new’ environment and are investigating it for its potential and it’s visual language. For instance practitioners like Jenova Chen that strive to use video games for artistic and illustrative purposes, and others that seek to claim a digital space for new creativity, such as Harvey and Samyn and their Realtime Manifesto. I too want to explore this potential and discover and define the visual language.

Therefore, through the process of beginning my MA journey I have discovered that that to look forward, and investigate the new, might allow me to find a way to make work in a language or framework that feels appropriate.

I have enjoyed undertaking initial research and reading about Carl Einstein’s tectonic understanding of Hegel’s dialectics. I can see value in investigating theorists such as Leif Weatherby and his proposal that ternary computing has the capacity to provide a metaphysical space. These investigations will help me frame my understanding of the metaphysical space of the digital and allow me to begin to define a space within this for my work.

Overall I have felt able to write a proposal for the next phase of my MA and can begin to see a way forward to a final outcome. I found writing a proposal at the start of the process almost impossible. I felt I knew what I wanted to set out but it lacked clarity and depth. I now feel able to write a proposal with some clarity and I am confident that the depth and understanding will come with further research.

For instance I am certain of the direction of my practical work for the start of the next phase and know that will lead to further theoretical research and analysis. I also know my theoretical research interests and I am excited to discover how these will affect my practice. I know too, that experimenting with and learning new technologies will enable further progress and I am looking forward to the clarity of work to come.

I love technology.

I have been investigating redundant technologies. In particular drawing interfaces with 8 bit computers. In particular the Commodore 64.

There are two reasons for choosing the C64. The first is that I managed to acquire two working consoles, and the second is that it was the first computer I experienced.

I have discovered that there were a number of interesting interfaces that could be used to draw with a C64.

The Koalapad.

The Koalapad, image found at photodoto.com/do-you-need-a-drawing-tablet/

Before Wacom, the Koalapad was an interface that could be used as a grahpics tablet even though it was designed to be used for accountants and data input. Occasionally there have been Koalapads for sale on Ebay, however, they seem to be sort after and rare as they are reasonably expensive.

The CAD-MASTER LIGHT PEN.

The Cad-master Light Pen is an interface that connects through the controller port of the C64. The pen is then used directly on the monitor screen, which needs to be a tube screen. It works by transmitting and receiving light in the same way the zapper gun did in the Commodore 64 game Duck Hunt. I have bought a Cad-master Light Pen and a copy of the software ready to use with my C64 and an old JVC TV.

Jenova Chen.

Images from artist’s website: jenovachen.info

The art-videogame ‘Journey’ is a stunning, illustrative experience and whilst visiting ‘Videogames: Deign/Play/Disrupt’ at the V&A I learned about the production and art of the game.

Jenova Chen is the art director and concept artist of the indie videogames company ‘thatgamecompany’. He, and his company, are award winning practitioners that have produced the art-games Flow, Flower and Journey. he is also the co-founder of Anapura Ineractive which encourages and support emerging creatives.

Chen describes game content as “The soul of a video game”, and has produced research papers on the concept of ‘Flow’ in games.

A concept that I admire with the game Journey is that it is a multi-player game which allows you to interact with other players over the Internet. However, players cannot talk to each other or touch. They can interact through movement and sound. Creating an uplifting interaction.

There is a philosophy behind his work, he states “I started to realize there is an emotion missing in the modern society, and of course missing in the online console games. It is the feeling of not knowing, a sense of wonder, a sense of awe, at the fact that you don’t understand, at the fact that you are so small and you are not empowered”.(1) Therefore he aims to create games as a space, or an environment, for spirituality and connection. He has said that audiences for film can find romance, sensuality, spirituality and humanity, however in videogames it is difficult to find anything other than violence and the need to win at all costs. I not only appreciate his art style, but also his philosophy.

References:

  1. Ohannessian, K., (2012) ‘Game designers Jenova Chen on the art behind his “Journey”‘. Fast Company. Accessed via www.fastcompany.com/1680062/game-designer-jenova-chen-on-the-art-behind-his-journey
Image from ‘Journey’ jenovachen.info
Image from ‘Journey’ jenovachen.info
Image from ‘Journey’ jenovachen.info
Image from ‘Journey’ jenovachen.info

An Annotated Bibliography.

A annotated bibliography of a number of interesting and useful texts.

1. Bergo, C,. (2014). The Poetics of Female Death: the fetishization and reclaiming of the female corpse in Modern and Contemporary Art. Graduate. University of New South Wales.

This paper references Bataille and Krauss and addresses voyeurism and the fetishisation of female death. The paper outlines how historical and contemporary images by men of female death are erotic due to the passivity of the corpse. Whereas, although depictions of male death by male artists can be given meanings such as heroism, they are not erotic. The paper states that female images of female death cannot be voyeuristic spectacles because the depicted figures are beings and not objects. Therefore the image of female death, for female artists, can be a voice for a female discourse on the female body.

2. Brusentsov, N; Ramil Alvarez, J. (2011). Ternary Computers: The Setun and the Setun 70’, [downloadable PDF] Available Via HAL archives-ouvertes.fr. https://hal.inria.fr/hal-01568401 Petrozavodsk, Russia.

This is a short and focussed conference paper delivered at Moscow State University in 2011. An interesting paper and relevant to my research in that it enables an entry point to understanding ternary computing. The paper explains to an extent “the dialogue system of structured programming” with trits and trytes, instead of bits and bytes, and -1, 0, +1 instead of binary 01 language. The paper is in five parts and addresses in turn the idea of ternary computing, the economics of Setun’s internal architecture, symmetry in ternary mathematics, the development of the Setun 70 and the Setun 70 & automatism.

3. Dill, K.E; Thill, K.P., (2007) Video Game Characters and the Socialization of Gender Roles: Young People’s Perceptions Mirror Sexist Media Depictions, Berlin: Springer Science & Business Media.

A presentation of data from two studies designed by the authors. They wished to prove that video game stereotypes detrimentally affect the gender perceptions of young people. In Study 1 video game magazines were analysed and determined that 82.6% of male images were aggressive and a third of these were hyper-masculine. Females were under-represented in the top selling magazines and were sexually objectified. Study 2 questioned teenagers about game characters and showed overwhelmingly that male characters are aggressive and female characters are sexualised, concluding that extreme stereotyping is employed in video games, males as aggressors and females as objects.

4. Günther, G., ‘Cybernetics and the Transition from Classical to Trans-Classical Logic’, BCL Report 3, November 1965, Biological Computer Laboratory, University of Illinois.

I was drawn to this article as it contains various mathematical diagrams that I connected visually with (post)structuralist diagrams, such as those used by Krauss to describe expansion. I am interested in investigating this connection to discover if this is my interpretation or if there exists a valid academic precedent. I found this article difficult with its authoritative scientific manner. However, it does describe the differences between classical logic (binary) and trans-classical logic (non-binary) in a scientific and non philosophical way. This has facilitated the understanding of this branch of logic as it is clear and clinical in description.

5. Harvey, A; Amyn, M,. (2018). ‘The Realtime Art Manifesto 12 Years Later’ in Foulston, M, Volsing K,. (2018). Videogames: Design / Play / Disrupt. London: V&A Publications, pp. 90 – 97.

‘The Realtime Art Manifesto 12 Years Later’ is the seventh chapter of the book ‘Videogames: Design / Play / Disrupt’ which accompanies the exhibition at the V&A.  I am interested in the text as part of my search for spaces or platforms for unheard voices. Harvey and Samyn are collaborative artists making art-videogames. They launched their Realtime Manifesto in 2006 at the Athens Mediaterra Festival of Art and Technology. The text concerns the review of their manifesto which set out an optimistic creative usage of digital space. This paper ends negatively describing their disillusionment of the reemergence of corporate broadcast models.

6. Joyce, C., (2003). Carl Einstein in documents and his collaboration with Georges Bataille. Philadelphia: Xlibris.

Carl Einstein (1885-1940) was an anarchic art historian who has become prominent since the journal ‘Documents’ (1929-1930) became of concern to academics such as Dawn Ades and Rosalind Krauss who were interested in Documents and Einstein’s working relationship with Georges Bataille and their influence on Surrealism. Further interest in Einstein focussed on enabling the understanding of Formalism as a revolt. I admire Einstein’s quiet rebellion against the art, culture and politics of interwar central Europe. This book compares the intellectual rebellion of Einstein with the ‘unknowledge’ of Bataille. Joyce does this with diagrams and linguistics which I find particularly interesting.

7. Kallman, H.J., (1986) A Commodore 64-based experimental psychology laboratory. Albany: State University of New York.

An interesting example of how the C64, BASIC programming and simple HAL Lab games began to significantly change the way research was undertaken in the field of psychology. It is an experimental scientific report showing technology was as interesting in scientific arenas as it was in creative ones. It describes cross over between fields, with music programmes used to gather data along with using the first graphics tablet, a Koala graphics pad, to record responses to visual stimuli. The limitations of the C64 are discussed against advantages such as the increased productivity when interfaces, such as the Koala, were employed.

8. Lakoff, R., ‘Language and a woman’s place’, Language in Society, Vol.2, No.1, Apr 1973, pp. 45-80.

This 45 year old text has relevance although somewhat self-reflective with personal opinion. The author does clarify this at the outset, she explains that because of a lack of scholarly evidence and research she needed to use her personal reflections. Lakoff sets out how our use of language implies women are less significant than men. Fundamentally because our language has different engendered words for the same thing, example bachelor (free with choices) and spinster (alone, unchosen) there is a culturally understood difference between male and female. Lakoff calls for further research into the cultural effect of language on gender roles.

9. Noyes Vanderpoel, E., (2018). Color Problems, A Practical Manual for the Lay Student of Color. New York: The Circadian Press with Sacred Bones Books.

Emily Noyes Vanderpoel (1842-1939) is a largely overlooked artist and writer. Her first book (1901) contained beautiful diagrams to describe the science of colour theory and charted objects she deconstructed using colour analysis. She deployed ‘the Grid’ long before it became a stage for formalism. The extent of her influence on early modernist aesthetics is unknown and the reprinting of her first book is an attempt to instate Vanderpoel as a visionary who influenced minimalism and formalism. I am interested in her forgotten voice and her early use of the grid as a method of studying colour as visual language.

10. Rumold, Rainer. (2004). ‘Painting as a Language. Why Not? Carl Einstein in Documents’. October 107, 2004, pp. 75-94.

This paper was published in ‘October’ and as such is authoritative and uses dense, obtuse language, but also it is well researched and reliable as commentary on Carl Einstein. The document outlines what Rumold surmises is Einstein’s paradoxical experience of early modernism (1920s) being a critic of the avant-garde whilst fundamentally involved in the avant-garde. He suggests that Einstein was dissatisfied with modernism’s structuralist position within the unconscious and a critic of modernist subjugation of the unconscious through structural linguistics. The paper characterises Einstein as Postmodern (in 1929) because of his moves to overthrow the elite by being consciously underdeveloped.

11. Weatherby, L., ‘Hegel 2.0 – The imaginary history of ternary computing’, Cabinet Issue 65 Knowledge, Winter 2018, pp. 33-42

In this scholarly yet accessible article Weatherby positions American Cybernetics against Soviet. Although pioneers in both countries were working towards ternary computing, their philosophies were at odds. The soviet programme existed during Kruschev’s thaw where efficiency was key, the American concerned with more metaphysical outcomes. The article is divided into two parts. The first considers binary oppositions and the second trans-classical logic. The paper addresses how we might understand computing in dialectical Hegelian terms or how we might understand a digital space where the real and the imaginary combine. It suggests that a metaphysical non-binary digital space warrants further research.

12. Zinman, G., (2016), ‘The Archival Silences of Nam June Paik’s Etude’, Computing Frontiers, Orphans X Film Symposium 2016, Georgia Tech.

In this text Zinman presents an ‘unknown’ work by Nam June Paik which he himself discovered in the archives of the Smithsonian called ‘Etude’ made in 1967. Zinman suggests that this particular work is key in rethinking our relationship with the digital and our digital past. Etude was discovered outside of its original context and seen for the first time fifty years after it was made. Paik is no longer alive to explain the work, therefore it is down to critics and audiences today to infer the works’ meaning within our current digital context, a digital context distinct from 1967.

Critical Analysis of Weatherby, L., ‘Hegel 2.0 – The imaginary history of ternary computing’, Cabinet Issue 65 Knowledge, Winter 2018, pp. 33-42

‘Hegel 2.0 – The imaginary history of ternary computing’ is a short article written by Leif Weatherby, who writes about digital theory and idealism. A reason for choosing this text is because the article was published in this quarters edition of ‘Cabinet’ and is therefore very current. The article is divided into two parts and I have chose to address the first. The text ends with a discussion about trans-classical logic. However the first section I find more interesting because of the discussion about binary oppositions in computing. Weatherby suggests that a ternary computing, rather than the binary computing we use, has the capacity to provide a meta-physical space. Through a clear and logical text Weatherby locates American Cybernetics in the 1950’s and 60’s in opposition to their Soviet counterparts. He describes how both sides were building the first ternary computers, although for seemingly very different reasons. The soviet programme was motivated by efficiency reflecting the political climate of the era under Kruschev. American concerns, states Weatherby, were more metaphysical. He goes on to relate the short history of ternary computing, whereby binary computing being easier and cheaper to produce, investment was removed from the ternary projects in America. Similarly in Russia, Kruschev introduced the German IBM computing standards, which stopped any further research into ternary computing.

When discussing metaphysics and ternary computing Weatherby applies Hegelian terms of dialectical thought to describe a digital space where the real and the imaginary combine. For instance he describes ternary computing in the following terms: Binary = 1 and 0, Ternary = 1, 0, -1 or thesis, antithesis, synthesis. With this he intimates the space for the thinking computer, or the ability for the computer to negate or contradict its own logic, in other words, artificial intelligence.

This does sound rather far-fetched, and although written elegantly, the Hegelian application does seem a little engineered. All arguments put forward are referenced and supported by research which validates the text as philosophical reasoning rather than in any practical or technical application.

The construction of ternary logic mechanisms that Weatherby set out in his paper interest me not because of the potential discussions of the viability of artificial intelligence, moreover my interest is in the possibility provided by thinking of computing in ternary terms. It intrigues me because of the notion that within a logic system there is the possibility of slippage. By slippage I mean in the way Bois and Krauss use slippage in texts like L’informe mode d’Emploi. They praise Georges Bataille as a major proponent of slippage. What is interesting here is Bataille fought against Hegel preferring a non-dialectical conceptual approach.

“For Bataille, there is no third term, but rather an ‘alternating rhythm’ of homology and heterology, of appropriation and excretion. Each time that the homogeneous raises its head and reconstitutes itself (which it never stops doing since society coheres only by means of its cement, the job if the informe, base materialism, and scission is to decapitate it. What is at stake is the very possibility of a non dialectical materialism: matter is heterogenous; it is what cannot be tamed by any concept.”(1)

Although is more contemporary writing Krauss is contradictory as she uses the idea of slippage in a psychoanalytical appraisal of modernism, demonstrating a continual antithesis and synthesis of an established logic, or the thesis of modernism.

Slippage (or the informe) though seems too fluid in the case of ternary computing as Weatherby seems to intimate. The movement implied by ternary computing opens the possibility of space, creative space, but in not a freefall or in chaos. So, if not slippage, then perhaps the tectonic is more appropriate. Carl Einstein’s theory of the tectonic was a more grounded version of formlessness, or slippage. For instance, rather than a primitive and base unconscious, Einstein’s was a theory that existed in the consciously underdeveloped. A rather more grounded and positive outlook on the formless.

Linking Hegel to Einstein through ternary computing is not implausible. Einstein used Hegel to analyse Picasso, and ideas of dialectical logic to analyse Klee. Einstein’s tectonic can be described as mapping reason onto the real, the real being the unreasonable, which makes the real a fiction.

“Every reality is merely a section that is continually replaced and displaced. Hence there is a constant and simultaneous construction of counter-realities, so that the real needs to be understood as a pluralistic complex. In actual fact, beyond a reality that has been fixed there exists a sphere of permanent creation and metamorphosis, that is, of the continuous revolt against the imposed world picture.”(2)

Weatherby calls for more research into the metaphysical possibilities of ternary computing and is clear that he is proposing an idea, and not stating a coherent theory.

One thing that needs to be clarified through further research is the understanding of ternary computing terms of 1, 0, -1. According to Connelly, “Ternary computing deals with three discrete states, but the ternary digits themselves can be defined in different ways”.(3) These are 1,0,-1 known as ‘balanced trinary’, 0,1,2 ‘unbalanced trinary, 0, ½, 1 ‘fractional unbalanced trinary, F?T unknown-state logic and T, F, T trinary coded binary. This opens up possibilities, firstly understanding what these mean, and how they affect Weatherby’s proposal that ternary computing has the capacity to provide a metaphysical space.

In summary, this article is both intriguing and frustrating. It is written by an established academic who writes with conviction in a readable and well reasoned way. But also it does not provide the answers to the questions it poses through the proposal that ternary computing offers a space for creativity and philosophy.

References:

  1. Bois, Y, A; Krauss, R., (1997) Formless a User’s Guide. New York: Zone Books
  2. Zeidler, S., (2010). ‘Form as revolt: Carl Einstein’s philosophy of the real and the work of Paul Klee’. RES: Anthropology and Aesthetics, (57/58), 229-263. Accessed via http://www.jstor.org/stable/25769981
  3. Brown, D, S., (2017). ‘Why not ternary computers?’. Technopedia. Accessed via http://www.techopedia.com/why-not-ternary-computers/2/32427Brown, D, S., (2017). ‘Why not ternary computers?’. Technopedia. Accessed via http://www.techopedia.com/why-not-ternary-computers/2/32427