Media = hybrid of MAN and ALIEN. It is an inholy alliance that does not naturally distil into some pure form because the human and alien elements remain in conflict in the battle to assume content. Three strategies have surfaced to neutralize this eternal struggle of signification: to attempt to impose silence on either one of the two noise producers, or to compel these opponents to become partners in harmony.
The first strategy is that of the humanization of the media - a democratization that awaits salvation in the disturbance-free communication of a wide open society. It believes in the existence of pure information and the naive premise that the other is prepared to restrict itself voluntarily to the human, the all too human. Mutual understanding will automatically be created on this purely communicative level. This form of censorship exiles the alien to the camp where once humanity incarcerated all the crazies, the sick and perverse, the racially impure, animals and criminals. The free provision of information would result in a consciousness raised to a level open to the dialogue of free citizens in a free society. The alien considers it a challenge and turns this strategy against itself by becoming item number one on the information networks by assuming the form of catastrophe.
The second strategy sides with, the alien - das ganz Andere (the quite other). The price that it pays for this reduces media to art an the alien to evil. This typical 19th century accusation against the hypo critical bourgoisie demands that the modern media become deform and alien. By this it wants to evoke glow of an enticment of elsewhere, a holy shudder, fascination. But by surrendering alP pretensions to communication and to interpret as artistic freedom, it hoped to avert, evil by actually " staging it itself. This sublimation of evil aimed at confining the alien’s dangerous unpredictability to an aesthetic experience of the uncodeable that could be consumed within an institutional framework.
The third strategy boasts a friendship that maintains both
parties on the level of the everyday.
The unpredictable is made banal by the suspicion of the presence of a well intentioned being behind the terrifying mask of alien and Man. Unearthly highs such as emptiness and speed are defined as the spiritual merging into an environment which is a part of the cosmic universe. In this vision Man acquires the natural gift of effortlessly understanding in words incomprehensible messages transmitted by aliens: Auntie Hedl is with me, I am Ashtar, say hello to my friends. The heavenly laser beams emply the newest media to transform the chosen into their medium and involve those selfsame media to disseminate the output of their contact worldwide. The mass media's hybrid character is not viewed as being a threat but experienced as some good-natured and harmonious gathering.
The media are not out for communication but for alienation. Natural contact with the media exist so long as their hybrid character is not allowed to surface and attention is completely focused on the human factor. Once the makers and users of the media become aware of the alien as the motor behind the production of signs, it will adopt a new form of contact with the world. When a medium has exhausted its potential for the natural, it will degenerate into pute art and be consigned to history. Those artists evoking the principle of evil are merely accelerating the demise of their genre. The latest media launched by the alien will absorbe so much enthusiasm that the bizarre phenomena of alienation of the previous media's terminal phase will promptly be forgotten.
The media genealogy may be interpreted as the alien's coming-out chronicle (Understanding Media - the extensions of the Alien). Preparations were made for the material arrival of the extraterrestrial brothers and sisters in anticipation of the Götterdämmerung. Runways and signposts were installed in the form of earthworks and pyramids. It will remain an archeological enigma whether the aliens landed on time (to leave again after implanting the unconscious in the primate), always were there (are atoms spaceships?) or in fact land each day when the telly's turned on.
They certainly have felt at home in the Gutenberg Galaxy for centuries. It had also been established that they have now switched over to the immaterial form - photography, film and radio being intermediary stages. Right from the 19th century the soul (which would later be remodelled into the unconscious) would be experienced in literature as a foreign body within the human body. Writers became more receptive to the fact that their poetic mechanism was a vehicle for outside powers: I don't think anymore, I am thought. (Marx) In these circumstances the alien considers itself obliged to guide human beings towards the idea of new media techniques. He introduced morse code by means of the poltergeist. And he evoked the principle of photography with the help of the spirits who rapidly became the first subjects depicted. Later on television and film showed only ghostly apparations. The alien can produce hybridization in the contemporary media by using images which it has siphoned off from the human unconscious. An inexhaustible reservoir of werewolves, Our Ladies, superstars, teddy bears, oil barons, packs of reporters... Everyone can be an alien on the screen. Once the viewers have cottoned on TV will be modernized with equipment that will eliminate the distance between image and experience by making a direct link with sensory perception. The human factor will then return as an individual hallucination within the virtual space which from that moment will coincide literally with the unconscious. So long as the alien can mix images he does not need to make the qualitative jump to a completely different kind of media, although this possibility always remains open. The end of the media as the Hybrid Principle is achieved only when we leave our own time and space and the alien drags us through the wormhole and into the Hinterlanden.
The alien is an independent being. He will not let himself be confined, cooped up or appeased. What the alien is planning will be kept secret until the final message. However, it is clear that he loves mixing with humans and does not wish to distance himself from us. His code of behaviour is that he is simultaneously close to us yet maintains a suitable distance. But this is also the theory's rule which wants to coincides with its subject matter without being totally absorbed by it. Theory is also exempt from excommunication by dogma, it sees delirium as its borders and needs critical distance to remain a hybrid. Theory is the gift of Man to the alien, just as the media are the gift of the alien to Man.
translation Annie Wright