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Themesicon: navigation pathOverview of Media Articon: navigation pathNarration
Alchemy; An Installation (Biggs, Simon), 1990Primarily Speaking (Hill, Gary), 1981

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(1992) by Bill Seaman, and also in «Alchemy» (1990) by Simon Biggs.[14] These works each take an entirely different approach to undermining the principles of cause and effect, principles that find their ultimate paradigm in the logical machine that is the computer. They utilize the cybernetic feedback system, in which every (re)action leads to a corresponding re(action), to suspend causality and to conspire against any kind of narrative linearity. Sequentiality, and with it a progress-oriented understanding of history, are rendered inconceivable in the face of a whirlwind of interactive narrative. The structural principles of circularity in the above-named interactive works stand for a post-modern understanding of history that has lost its faith in the power of progress. The digital machine functions as a continuous loop in a feedback system. The cybernetic principle describes a communication model that assumes the existence of an endogenous recipient, who is an immanent component of the system. In the works of Shaw, Feingold, Weinbren, Seaman and Biggs ambiguity, but also indeterminacy and gaps, form an appeal to the recipient to create some sort of consistency and


temporary completion of the interactive narrative.

A similar structural openness, in which feedback is employed as aesthetic principle, is found in the works of Gary Hill. But here this feedback is marked less by an altered form of narration than by a different form of writing. The fundamental functions and rules of language as a system of meaning and signs are laid bare and tied into functional contexts in such a way as to cause meanings and interpretations to change according to the situation and subject. The video «Primarily Speaking» (1981–1983), originally part of an eight-monitor installation, generates a complex interrelationship between spoken words and images. The spoken text is an assembly of clichés, plays on words and figures of speech seen running across two images. Although the meaning of the mostly simple, «typical American» sentences seems to be obvious, their juxtaposition with the images gives rise to irritating and at times contradictory meanings. They distance themselves from their first obvious connotation to take on other meanings, which change according to the image constellation against which they are framed. The words seem to turn around their

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