Archive for the ‘meta-fortean’ Category

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Portrait of the Bigfoot as a Young Meme

October 20, 2012

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Double Trouble

July 22, 2011

Arachnids and bed-bugs are not alone in tasking their curriculum vitae towards conclusion in approximately 18 months. Computer chips, too, follows this pattern, one wonders not that the newest tech is so buggy…

With much fanfare, Moore’s law (semi)conducts a continual procession of damned data-dispensories on account of diminished use value.  Alternate uses are typically obscured by the parallel dementia of exchange value, Murphy stepping in for Moore administering law in this land.

Chip capacity motors on twice over inside of 2 years while derelict doubles, yesterday’s latest marvels, make their way towards the River Lethe, a tributary into the global waste stream.  Once immersed in this larger body, port may be found in any number of low-tech recycling centers in the global South.

Pirates of all stripes maraud the new media milieu in accordance with their own para-logistics, establishing their own forms of doubling with rather subtely disruptive innovation in recent times.

For instance, innovative entrepreneurs  deploying doppleganger Apple stores, complete with iProducts in all shades of gray, signage, employees and an ideological adherence to ‘customer happiness’.

Rather like a fan fiction informed by digital rhetoric, contemporary counterfeiting is typified by a distributed production system wherein shadow economies imitate the crypsis of a dominant technocultural entity with the panache of a newly mediated Narcissus.  Operating razzle-dazzle style, hidden in plain sight, (con)fusing rather than concealing its movements.

Not unlike the Cardiffians and the batty Barnum bedazzled and buoyantly Baudrillardian iterations unfurling in the hearts and minds of Americans circa 1869.

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Call of the Blobsquatch

March 17, 2009

The call of the Blobsquatch bellows out, beckoning and subsequently damning further analysis. Despite efforts to focus elsewhere, an exemplary excerpt from the Tactical Reality Dictionary entry on “Ambiguous Information”:

The initial exposure to blurred, conflicting or ambiguous stimuli and data creates deep interference with accurate perception even after more and better information becomes available. This effect has been demonstrated experimentally with subjects that are exposed to a distorted blurred image. As they develop more confidence in this first and perhaps erroneous impression of ambiguous stimuli this initial impression has more impact on subsequent perceptions. When the picture becomes clearer, new data is assimilated into the previous image but the initial interpretation is maintained and resistance to cognitive change is upheld until the contradiction becomes so strong and apparent that it forces itself upon consciousness.”

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Blobsquatch Fever

May 24, 2008

At the behest of Other Cinema’s captain Craig Baldwin, Blobsquatches enveloped the A.T.A. on the eve of Saturday, 17th of May. Metaphortean and Meta-Fortean philosophies were bandied about by yours truly, blobsquatches exposed and then subsequently afoot–sabotaging the sound system in retaliation for too much information.

Nonetheless, the evening was Fort-ified with anomalous anecdotes on Bigfoot scams from Sam Green, updates on drones from Jeffree Anderson, the Son of Sasquatch (see picture above from bstrand), the NES un-locked by Jeff Donaldson, applied blobsquatchery and Potter-Belmar Labs’ audio-visual oracles.

“the margin of error is our margin of freedom,”Svetlana Boym

Recoiling and recalling defective vectors of the unknown, the perceived obsolescence of blurry sasquatches returns to the origin of the species (unknown animal), opening up speculation again, perpetuating anomalies, parading the limits of technology as the paradoxical provider of a utopian “unknown.” Blobsquatches represent an imaginable, tangible concept of the unknown. Simultaneously, by the very nature of the ambiguity and uncertainty of the blurry sasquatch, this unknown cannot be grasped. It hovers about waiting for someone/thing to make sense out of it. Distinctly indistinct, knowable but only as an unknown thing. Ever extinguished by reason, ever aloof by the short-circuiting of explanations by anomalous outcomes.

This is Fortean amplified towards a Meta-Fortean pursuit. Meanwhile, metaphortean pursuits, far from being isolated and exclusive, are aimed in a more or less straight-forward map quest. Transposing points from the realm of the cryptozoological to that of adaptive re-use of excess electronics. High-lighting affinities of conviction and excitement between these disparate disciplines, rallying around the possibilities of latent discoveries.

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Fortean Sasquatchery

April 10, 2008

There is a transference involved with metaphor –understanding one thing in terms of another, and there is an interference characteristic in the Fortean —understanding that all explanation ultimately provokes new questions.

The Metaphortean involves transferring interference from the Fortean context to another (usually technocultural), or vice-versa, and interfering with such transport in a manner akin to the gremlin. The Metaphortean is regularly, if not deliberately, confused with Meta-Fortean phenomena. Fortean phenomena are ruptures, faultlines and anomalous natural occurrences that offset the explanations of mainstream Science. The Fortean researcher finds noise/interference in allegedly objective findings. The Meta-Fortean considers the domain of Fortean Forteana, recursive research into anomalous anomalies.

The “Fortean” namesake is Charles Fort, that iconoclastic collector of curious goings on. As an adjective the meaning is roughly synonymous with “strange and/or unexplainable naturally occurring phenomena.” Damned data, fortean phenomena meddle with the certainty of established facts. A catch-all continuum, “Fortean” operates on the words it accompanies, endorsing an accretion of anomalous acreage . For example, Fortean Zoology involves the “study of animals,” and indeed includes cryptids* –but not exclusively. Fortean Zoology incorporates a diverse menagerie — aberrant animal behaviors, creatures falling from the sky, supernatural beasts, mystery animals and other peripheries of officially demarcated zoologies.

With the advent of digital tech, cryptozoology has (un)certainly hastened proliferation of particular representational regimes for imaging the Sasquatch. Initial outgrowth of Bigfoot lore, memorates, rumors, photographs, sketches, plaster casts, eye-witness reports have accumulated into a layer of anecdotal sediment. Digital prosumerism has imposed on the rogue science of sasquatchery, amplifying the yearnings of scientific “objectivity” over vernacular belief structures and paranormal mechanisms. Sasquatch Realism? The missing but signified bi-pedal hominid (connotation) takes the helm as proof (denotation) of its existence. Traveling here with Barthes’ notion of the reality effect…”notation [becomes] the pure encounter of an object and its expression.” (Barthes, The Rustle of Language, p.148)

*Cryptids are mysterious animals that have been reported but not yet found and classified. Once classified they relinquish their cryptid status becoming literal things not speculative possibilities. Liminoid place-holders, cryptids hold down the Fort, amassing attention in a manner not too far from the “spime.”

Adaptive re-use of the original ambiguity surrounding unknown occurrences (‘blobbiness’) is critical for the sustainability of the Fortean in the post-digital imagination. What is the Blobsquatch if not an example of Fortean Sasquatchery?


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Ghost Stories

March 15, 2008

Applied blobsquatchery interferes with the production of obsolescence by way of an anamorphic perspective. Shaping the debate by losing form. Excess and noise become forms of camoflage, razzle-dazzle and creative prompt. “We can see the outmoded and obsolescent as a means to catch a glimpse of other possible worlds, to imagine how the world might be ‘otherwise,’” writes Michelle Henning in her essay New Lamps for Old: Photography, Obsolescence and Social Change.

Henning, following Evan Watkins’ studies, describes the production of obsolescence as an operation requiring “fields of equivalence.” This marketing maneuver coerces understanding of any given “new media” as the obvious and impending improvement. The DTV transition depends, in part, on conditioning the consumer into perceiving a value shift from analog to digital television systems. Digital television is being ushered in as a remediation of analog TV. Better picture, More selection. The persistent siren songs of home entertainment hype add an extra note: No more ghosts. The visual noise of static interference on analog TV screens, known as ‘ghosting’ — is a combination of neighboring electromagnetic fields and residual traces of cosmic radiation dating back 13 billion years! Ghost stories from the dawn of time, these residual media are denied existence along with the rest.

Metaphortean fields of equivalence stray from predominant linear models. Oscillating between errors inherent in (always already) obsolescent technologies and the new species and lost worlds accessible at interfaces of malfunction.

Fortean electronics including Electronic Voice Phenomena (EVP), and Electronic Image Phenomena (EIP) rely on analog receivers to facilitate long distance visitations with other entities and worlds. Other electronic anomalists, such as Portland’s Pulse Emitter, are simply fascinated with the itineraries of electrons. Pulse Emitter pursues adventures in sonic fiction by way of modular synthesis. The random fluctuations of tv and radio ‘ghosts’ are a favored compositional element in this artist’s articulation of electronic sound

The end of analog broadcasts ensures the mass exodus of commercial programming to the digital realm, allowing cosmic accounts of the Big Bang to take center stage. In metaphortean circles, analog recievers will become a sort of wildlife preserve. Sanctuaries for research, the rabbit-eared relics will become treasured sites for observation and exploration of an eclectic electronic ecosystem.

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Speculative Genealogy of the Blobsquatch (Part II)

January 31, 2008

Follow up to Part I

With Blobsquatches identified as unknown “animals” worthy of pursuit, a makeshift map of ancestral origins, missing links and descendants emerges from the margins of error. Through the lens (errors intact) of Blobsquatchery, other facets and realms of contrarian cultural production can be speculatively enfranchised as such. To learn from one’s mistakes and consciously apply Blobsquatchery is to seek signals in noise, to understand error as both wandering and wondering astray.

Applied Blobsquatchery might reach as far back as anamorphosis, a la Holbein’s The Ambassadors. Obfuscation, here directed at perspectival technologies, an interruption of consensus reality in the dominant representational mode (one-point perspective) of the 16th century.

Electronic Voice Phenomena (EVP) and more specificially the visual phenomena associated with Intrumental Transcommunication (ITC) has revealed an electronic species of Blobsquatch. ITC involves setting up a video feedback loop using an analog camcorder point back at it’s receiving monitor. Individual video frames are grabbed from this fray and analyzed further via computers. The American Association of Electronic Voice Phenomena describes:

These images are often difficult to make out as anything more than optical noise, so we ask that you look very closely at any pattern you might first notice in the image…Except for a possible few exceptions, we do not know who or what these people shown here are. It is clear that people of many time periods, and possible worlds, are represented. We know how we collected these images, but we do not know how they are imprinted in the video or why. Perhaps the most we can gather from these images is that there is a phenomena, the phenomena is indicative of an intelligent manipulation of video noise and the represented entities exist outside of our known reality. We take from this a certain sense of friendliness and assurance that there is more to reality than meets the eye.

Oscillating through impersonations of known celebrities, from Rudolph Valentino, Vincent Price to George Orwell, and sometimes known unknowns such as extra-terrestrial aliens! A striking variation on the radical ambiguities inherent in the traditional Blobsquatch, whereby the Patterson-Gimlin Sasquatch is the optical allusion of note.

Blobjects, as contemporary design intiatives to elude the straight edges of computer-assisted design and encourage cuddly consumption, are an intriguing link. Here optical, or more generally visual blobbiness is activated in response to stodgy vertical and horizontal planes typically associated with consumer gadgetry. Blobjects vary from VW bugs, to toothbrushes to iMacs, fashion and furniture. A darker variant is a prospective blobject encapsulated in the title of The Gray Goo Problem. Like a malevolent and carnivorous globster, this scenario marks the end stage of end users via molecular technologies gone awry. This hypothetical destruction of life by a self-replicating blob of nanomachines threatens to rapidly break down all organic matter to use as raw materials for replication! Spreading “like blowing pollen, [replicating] swiftly, and [reducing] the biosphere to dust in a matter of days,” as nanotech pioneer K. Eric Drexler warns in his 1986 book Engines of Creation.

Like their close cousin the Gremlin, albeit for explorations outside of sheer pranksterism, Blobsquatches and agents of Blobsquatchery are more often concerned with minor glitches, quirks and disruptions than full on catastrophic accidents. Looking at blobjects of the personal data assistant variety: Treos to iPhones, Smartphones, Blackberries, etc we witness the wake of “Homo Meanderthalensis.” More commonly known as The Meanderthal, this descendant of the Blobsquatch is described in Urban Meanderthals and the City of “Desire Lines”
by researcher Matthew Tiessen:

A sort of human-variant, the Meanderthal could also be described as a Cyborg Spin-Off, exhibiting not only the machinic prosthetic appendages (e.g. cell-phone, Blackberry) required of cyborg flesh, but also the sort of behaviour — i.e. confusion, aimlessness, disorientation, self-absorption — that inevitably results when an all-too-human human attempts to navigate an overly mechanized and technologically-mediated environment.

Meanderthals are a product of human error amplified and extended through technology. Their techno-somambulism calls attention to the limits of the city’s infrastructure through unconscious encounters. Meanderthals “are dangerous because they are oblivious to their surroundings,” observes reporter Jack Brubaker (from WordSpy) The Meanderthal, in gumming up metropolises, exhibits some characteristic traits of Blobsquatchery.

The city, as urban explorer G.Lucas Crane has described previously, is “like a colossal machine for organizing human sociality.” Meanderthals are numb to their surroundings, they disable their own sensory awareness. Indeed, they embody malfunction—but only at the behest of properly functioning personal digital assistants! Unlike Meanderthals, Blobsquatches are not oblivious to their environment but instead particularly sensitive to the revelatory potential lurking at the interface of malfunction. Blobsquatches are conscious conduits of malfunction, activating informed deviations, revealing previously imperceptible avenues of understanding.

The Bio-Electronic Audiosapien, antecedent of the Blobsquatch, is a Species Device identified by “father of circuit-bending” Reed Ghazala. The BEASape is a juggernaut all told, and will be the primary focus (so to speak) of the third installment of this Genealogy.

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Speculative Genealogy of the Blobsquatch (Part I)

December 30, 2007

This familial mapping project is proving a bit unwieldy, so I will sign off 2007 with the following findings. Metaphortean readers can anticipate an addendum sometime early in the new year.

Reminiscent of confronting a vast and perplexing database, the sight of so many conflicting wonders arouses a desire to enter the labyrinth and try to navigate the elegant maze” (Barbara Stafford, Good Looking)

Unexpected Correspondences: “Most, if not all, paranormal phenomena were preconceived hoaxes,” writes Karl Schoonover in his essay Ectoplasm, Evanescence and Photography. “To disguise this fact and meet the expectations of an increasingly science-savvy public, twentieth-century spirit photographs needed both to reference contemporary science and to mimic its methods of investigation and data collection.” Originally manifesting in the 1860s, the phenomenon known as “Spirit Photography” dramatically transformed in the early 20th century, reflecting changes in technoculture at large. With the advent of Eastman Kodak’s Brownie (introduced in 1900) and the subsequent waves of amateur photographers tinkering with the craft; initial notions of the camera as a haunted medium had given up their ghosts. The presence of shutterbugs was on the rise and, spirit photographers notwithstanding, there was much excitement about the capabilities of this mechanical instrument. This is not to say that belief in spirits, ghosts and the supernatural had been extinguished. Physical signs of supernatural activity, namely the abject excretions known as ectoplasm, emerged in response to growing public scrutiny of photographic processes and heightened awareness of photo-fakery. A paradigm shift.

Exemplifying what McLuhan would later refer to as the reversal of an over-heated medium, the shift towards documentation of ectoplasm, “so excessively indulges a corporeal spectacle that it endangers the plausibility of the very phenomenon of spirit photography,” notes Schoonover. This photo-cultural turn is interestingly echoed a century later within the cryptozoological community. Cryptozoology, the study of unknown animals, famously includes: Bigfeet, Lake Monsters, Chupacabras and UFOs. Cryptozoology, is well known for believing firmly in creatures that are not supposed to exist. Facing on-going mockery from established science, cryptozoologists continue their quests for unknown animals armed with ambiguous photo-documents. Rampant Photoshopping is the obvious hoaxer at this threshold, but growing allusions to scientific methodologies amongst cryptozoologists have taken aim at issues of image clarity too, as I’ll recount momentarily. Nonetheless, unknown animals have thus far eluded physical capture. Like ectoplasm they are ensnared only as indexical traces.

In 1967, in what would seem to be the apotheosis of sasquatch sightings, frame 352 of the Patterson-Gimlin filmstrip inscribed its indelible mark. Today, with increased accessibility of high-definition cameras and high-end digital imaging options, prosumers are on the rise and, cryptozoologists notwithstanding, there is much excitement about the capabilities of these digital instruments. These days, sasquatch sightings must provide explicit information about the unknown. Mystery apes must adhere to the guidelines laid out by the Patterson-Gimlin model. Panopticonfident, today’s conscientious cryptozoologist is prone to dismiss “any photo requiring equal parts interpretation and imagination,” as Sasquatch researcher Alton Higgins asserts in Evaluating Purported Sasquatch Photographic Evidence.

Reversal of an over-heated Sasquatch. The Blobsquatch emerged but nobody paid attention because this paradigm wasn’t shifting along a linear path. A personification of noise, of blurriness, of what writer Svetlana Boym calls “broken-tech.” In Boym’s Off-Modern Manifesto she describes broken-tech as “Not Luditte but ludic…it challenges destruction with play.” The Blobsquatch toys with the Sasquatch hunters expectations, erring on the side of audacity, opening up a new territory, one that is off the beaten path. The Blobsquatch’s stomping ground is the margin of error, the duration of uncertainty that confabulates (or condemns). “[This] margin of error is our margin of freedom. It’s a choice beyond the multiple choices programmed for us…The error is a chance encounter between us and the machines in which we surprise each other.” (Boym)

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Blueprints in Motion

November 21, 2007

cryptids_bw.jpg

The Loch Ness Monster, Bigfoot and UFO, “the three great popular mysteries of our time,” according to folklorist Sam G. Riley’s 1976 account, have all shown vital signs of life this year. Nessie exhibited stealth blobsquatchery this past May via optically errant means.

Just last month the Bigfoot offered a memetically engineered appearance, riding on the trails of attention generated by the Patterson-Gimlin filmstrip anniversary gatherings. Bears with bad cases of mange were not available for comments.

“We want the US government to stop perpetuating the myth that all UFOs can be explained away in down-to-earth, conventional terms,” proclaimed former Arizona governor Fife Symington last week. He and other ex-military types have called for a renewed pursuit of unidentified flying objects–in the name of national security. The UFOs have always been more culturally labyrinthine than their cryptid peers, this pre-emptive hype suggests an impressive spectacle just around the corner! One wonders if this antennae-equipped populace isn’t somehow involved with the FCC’s termination of analog television broadcasts in 2009. Perhaps this plug is being pulled to make airspace for cosmic televisionaries. A sustained outage echoing the late-summer suspension of broadcasts (and disbelief) of August 1924, “when Mars passed unusually close to the earth.” As technocultural historian Erik Davis describes in his essay Recording Angels, “civilian and military transmitters voluntarily shut down in order to leave the airwaves open for the Martians.” Plans for the future. Blueprints in motion.

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Semionautical Almanac (excerpt)

October 19, 2007

Within the Sasquatch research community, there is general belief that the Bigfoot is a “missing link” between humans and subspecies of the primate persuasion. Other researchers, such as Jack “Kewaunee” Lapseritis, have suggested that humans themselves are the missing links between sasquatches and a cosmic race of advanced intelligent beings.

How does this reflect/refract with regards to the Blobsquatch? There is a speculative family tree branch, a retrograde remediation of errors to be eked out. A lineage seems too limited, but a rhizomatic outgrowth of neologistic trajectories metaphorically engaged with species evolution might work. This includes Ghazala’s Bio-Electronic Audiosapien (BEASape) the Blobsquatch and the so-called “Meanderthal.” In his essay Urban Meanderthals and the City of “Desire Lines”, researcher Matthew Tiessen describes the Meanderthal:

A sort of human-variant, the Meanderthal could also be described as a Cyborg Spin-Off, exhibiting not only the machinic prosthetic appendages (e.g. cell-phone, Blackberry) required of cyborg flesh, but also the sort of behaviour — i.e. confusion, aimlessness, disorientation, self-absorption — that inevitably results when an all-too-human human attempts to navigate an overly mechanized and technologically-mediated environment.

Meanderthals are a product of human error amplified and extended through technology. Their techno-somambulism calls attention to the limits of the city’s infrastructure through unconscious encounters. Meanderthals “are dangerous because they are oblivious to their surroundings,” observes reporter Jack Brubaker (from WordSpy) Inevitably, one wonders if the Meanderthal is involved in a sort of “macro-blobsquatchery,” gumming up the works of metropolitan systems.

The city, as G.Lucas Crane has described previously, is “like a colossal machine for organizing human sociality.” Meanderthals are numb to their surroundings, they disable their own sensory awareness. Indeed, they embody malfunction—but only at the behest of properly functioning personal digital assistants! Unlike Meanderthals, Blobsquatches are not oblivious to their environment but instead particularly sensitive to the revelatory potential lurking at the interface of malfunction. Blobsquatches are catayltic converters of malfunction, activating informed deviations, revealing previously imperceptible avenues of understanding. The BEASape’s primal howl is unleashed when a circuit-bender uses his/her body as a conduit, connecting new points on an electronic circuit board. This electronic dérive opens a plethora of desirable line-networks, to be activated intuitively via applied blobsquatchery, an evolutionary step encapsulated by the BEAsape.

Meanwhile, meandering haphazardly within their own mobilized Gorham’s Cave, meanderthals seem destined for a swift extinction. “We are all robots when uncritically involved with our technologies,” warns McLuhan in War and Peace in the Global Village. Considering the rise of Meanderthals what might the next desperado detour be? What next in the post-human, post-rational evolution of humankind?

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