16.061 Grau on telepresence

From: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty (w.mccarty@btinternet.com)
Date: Mon Jun 10 2002 - 02:23:58 EDT

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                    Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 16, No. 61.
           Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London

             Date: Sun, 09 Jun 2002 07:36:49 +0100
             From: Arun-Kumar Tripathi <tripathi@amadeus.statistik.uni-dortmund.de>
             Subject: Oliver Grau on "History of Telepresence and Rejection of
    the Body"

    Dear Professor McCarty,

    [Hi, this might interest to humanist scholars --an abstract of the paper
    on "Legend, Myth and Magic in the History of Telepresence" by Dr. Oliver
    Grau is available (For the complete article, please contact me at
    <tripathi@informatik.tu-darmstadt.de> ]

    Telepresence combines three technological principles: robotics,
    telecommunication, and virtual reality.

    The historical evolution of these technologies is wrought with distinctly
    mythical, magical and utopian connotations.

    Telepresence unites the timeless dream of "artificial life" with the
    aesthetic tradition of virtual realities and telecommunication
    technologies with their mystical predecessors. The history of media has
    always been the history of its utopias that shine forth the transgressive
    human endeavour. The quality of Telepresence's actual media phenomenology
    can only be characterised with historical adequacy in comparison to its
    predecessors and their by and large subconscious sub-history.

    In this paper, Oliver Grau describes three historical lines of development
    will be discussed on interrelated levels:

    a) The "Archaeology of the Robot": The idea of artificial automations
    reaches back to antiquity and had attained actualisation as early as the
    sixteenth century. (Androids, Robots, Software Agents, A-Life)

    b) "Telecommunication": The pre-history of the "idea" stepping out of the
    human body and by means of other media travelling to other places:
    apocryphal, mystic and canonised writings - the idea of omnipresence -
    Hermes Trismegistos, the Myth of Electricity. (We will examine
    developments in the Thirties, in particularly, the Italian Futurists,
    Marinetti, who envisioned a cyborglike telesensoric metal-body), Norbert
    Wiener, who published 1964 the idea of copying knowledge, psychic
    character and consciousness of people and sending it with telegraph lines
    in networks.

    c) The "virtual optical presence" that places the observer "in" the image
    and allows for suggestive visions of picturesque journeys -- as in the
    movement of the "Sacri Monti" (1496-~1600), Agippa von Nettesheim's (1529)
    and Athanasius Kircher's journeys to distant places through mirrors
    (1646). Also representative of this phenomenon are travels through time
    and space in public Panoramarotundas, Edison's "Telephonoscope" (1879) as
    well as the current fantasy of the fusion of man and computer as
    envisioned in VR-Art.

    ((Author of the article, Dr. Oliver Grau is Art Historian and works in a
    research program at the Humboldt-University of Berlin on the History and
    Theory of Virtual Reality which is financed by the Deutsche
    Forschungsgemeinschaft. His latest book (in German) is "Virtuelle Kunst in
    Geschichte und Gegenwart: Visuelle Strategien," published by Reimer
    Verlag, Berlin 2001. And, the English version as "The History of Virtual
    Art and it's Future," will be published by Cambridge/Mass., MIT-Press in

    Comments are welcome!!

    Thanks in advance.

    Best regards,
    Arun Tripathi

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