The Snark Dance

collaborative choreographies of collective memory

Magic and allegory May 7, 2008

One of my favorite reads so far in the study o finteractive media was words made flesh by Florian Kramer. In this essay Kramer discusses, the cultural imagination, the history of software and the history of computation with examples from the occult sciences. The relationship between the occult and technology is a fascinating subject. Thinking about culture in terms of calculations is very fruitful for the mechanical allegories I have been thinking about. Also, are rituals not methods of calculation, at least of identity?


These are all really huge questions but rather than ignore them I want to make a breif note here. I have currently been researching astrology and ancient treatments of the heavens. I am very interested in how I could use constellations and the zodiac in interactive art and psychogeography. Furthermore I find the occult distinction interesting as it seems to suggest that these sciences are irrational others. The surrealists’ mission to enchant the mundane is very much about questioning dangerous logics which make accusations of irrationality, thus mechanizing the human condition. I suppose the irony in the surrealist project, when thinking about magic and the othering gaze, is that surrealism also fell into the traps of its own critique.

I recently went to a discussion on the serious side of magic and the stars with Peter Forshaw and Nick Campion that was part of the Martian Museum of Terrestrial Art at the Barbican. Forshaw and Campion are academics who specialize in astrology and other aspects of the occult. I found this discussion very useful as it spoke about the obssessive categorization of the ancients in order to understand the universe. Things on earth were reflected in the heavens and this takes me back to the notion of the allegory. The allegory can be seen to represent the paridigmatic pattern between large and small bodies. Can our own technologies also be seen to mimic these patterns? For example, can the architecture of the computer be an allegory for the architecture of the city?


I kept the occult discussion brief because I personally do not know enough about it. I will keep up the research and keep it posted here at a later date.

For now I want to think about how the body can be used as an allegory. I want to do walks that transpose the macroscopic and microscopic through the paradigm of the bodies and address the following themes:

  • The cosmos: using astrology?
  • The Earth as a body/ the elements
  • The political body: National museum as setting, using traveling networks such as hospitality club
  • The human body: Hospital or hygienic walks like cleaning the city
  • Microbes/atoms

I have been thinking about settings like the British museum or a country field at night where i can expirement with constellations.

Treasure hunt: to go back to the hunting theme…The goldbug hunt got me very interested in the science of cryptography. One method of cryptography is transposition codes. I wonder if a transposition code could not be worked out through the body allegory in order to create an interesting space for expressing relationships between the macrocosm and the microcosm. The process of decrypting is why I enjoy the hunting poetic very much as it puts you in the position to suspect everything and create strange relationships. I want to develop a hunt that enables the surrealist technique through the relationship between objects and ideas in the creation of clues. Again a big challenge to the snark hunt is creating a context that enables automatic clue formation.

Also, one project I have started working on is creating zodiac poetry. this is a collaborative poetry project based on the exquisite corpse game of the surrealists. However I have been experimenting with ordering the poems in terms of the participant’s zodiac configurations. So for example I will order the participant’s astrological relationship to the alignment of the planets to inform the sequence in which each verse is placed.