Disembodied Information

18 12 2004

Information theory stresses the dichotomy between pattern and presence. Where
pattern means information and absence means non-information. But developments
in information theory countered this argument: it seemed that randomness and
pattern were both related to information – “each helps to define
the other; each contributes to the flow of information through the system.”

Determining what counts as the materiality of a given work is thus both
a creative act by the writer and an interpretive act by the user, as well
as an engagement of the cognitive properties of an intelligent machine for
texts written and implemented on a computer. I don’t see this as a cause
for anxiety. Materiality has always been in play, even when it was relatively
suppressed within literary criticism by considering the work an immaterial
verbal construction. In works that foreground their interaction with materiality
–"technotexts" is the term I have coined for such works–the material
properties are actively constructed by the text and made resonant with significance,
becoming semiotically important components of the text’s meaning-making processes.

Materiality
Has Always Been In Play

Hayles relates this line of reasoning to the transformation of biology and
meaning into information, and one might argue that our bodies increasingly
can be seen as embodied DNA information.

Virtual reality: full body mediation. “Virtual reality puts the user’s
sensory system into a direct feedback loop with a computer.”

Relevant boundaries change: “relevant boundaries for interaction are
defined less by the skin than by the feedback loops connecting body and simulation
in a technobio-integrated circuit.”

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