Apocalyptic Algorithms


Date Thursday April 1st 2004
Time 4:00-5:00pm
Venue George E. Pake Auditorium

PARC Forum

Technology stands accused of removing the physical body from the site of social exchange and of ordering the body/world through algorithmic procedures. Most reactions to the alienation of technological processes and products become religious, even apocalyptic – suspecting the hand of Satan in bar codes and virtual reality. They stress the original material “sin” – a narcissistic infatuation with “tools” that steadily drains the (spiritual) life from the subject. Assuming that consciousness is rooted in the body, physical manipulations of consciousness have the potential to disrupt or alter the structure of the algorithm. Such disruptions might produce an apocalyptic shift in the constitution of social and cultural reality. The “apocalypse” is commonly associated with the end of physical reality. It evades physical description precisely because the apocalypse itself (an “unveiling” or “revelation”) initiates a shift in consciousness. Apocalypse is a compelling and recurrent narrative because it provides us with a meta-script – an all-encompassing algorithm whose execution is the ultimate computation. Perhaps a sustained attempt at producing signals to trigger the execution of a self-reflexive apocalyptic algorithm could produce the End in positive and non absolutist terms: the end of history as we have inherited it.


Michael Wilson is an artist whose work utilizes a variety of operational contexts in order to explore how cognitive orientations and social dynamics influence human attitudes and behavior. He co-founded Laminus - a quasi-fictional revolutionary/corporate entity that engaged in a series of performative acoustic interventions at abandoned landmarks throughout the city of San Francisco; The Post-traumatic Institute for Social Satisfaction, a research institution dedicated to lengthy, byzantine procedures in pursuit of utopian solutions; and Communitatus Operatio Militia Apokalypsis (COMA), a secret society/signal corps dedicated to apocalyptic operations. He is also a member of the new media collaborative C-level. His work has been shown at The Kitchen (New York, NY), Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (San Francisco), The Rotterdam Film Festival (Rotterdam, Netherlands), Ronald Feldman Fine Arts (New York, NY), the Byzantine Museum (Athens, Greece), Kunsthalle Dusseldorf (Dusseldorf, Germany), RealArtWays (Hartford, CT), Sandroni-Rey Galler (Los Angeles) and the Arkansas Arts Center.

Michael Wilson lives and works in Los Angeles. A native of Arkansas, he received a BA in Philosophy from Hendrix College, a BFA from the San Francisco Art Institute and an MFA from Yale University. He is currently a lecturer in the art departments at University of California, Irvine and Otis College of Art & Design. He also lectures in the cinema department at Pasadena City College.

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