Picnic Table

Plot is an interresting pratical theory group that is now in it's second year of activity. Basically, I join up once a month with the merry band from Agglo/Subtractor/Temporalités (i.e. Jean Cristofol, Guillaume Stagnaro, Fabrice Gallis) and the students of the Aix-en-Provence Art School to discuss various personal projects and flesh out our working hypotheses involving cybernetics and temporality.

One of the more interesting hypotheses emerged from our “code|art” and “real?time?” research which took place in 2001-3, and was further developed by Jean Cristofol in his writings on time. In these texts Jean suggests that real-time is a mode and not a measure of immediacy, hence the possibility of developing slow real-time systems. This idea has given us a working model for the group itself. Other concepts that tend to come up with each Plot revolve around emergance, (in)determination, and simulation. We also spend a lot of time discussing the ontology of programmed, algorithmic, variable, and unstable systems.

Guillaume built an interresting pseudo-wiki called Plotsème and we are slowly populating it with typical Plot subjects, such as the discovery of a neural-network — a.k.a. our second brain — in the stomach (La cervelle du bide), or the use of Camping Tables in Plot activities. The Plotsème is actually pretty cool, and brings me back to the pleasure I had back in 1997 when I was writing my Lexique de l'interactivité. I've even started adapting some of its concepts to the writing system I've built for the thesis I'm currently writing on art and algorithms. The key is the ability to build aggregators of concepts, even aggregators within aggregators, an interresting development obviously inspired by a lot of what's going on in the world of RSS, OMPL, del.icio.us, and so on.

Although I originally proposed the term Plot, I have no idea how it turned into its current manifestation; I was working with the word “Plot” within the context of video game theory, not cybernetics. My idea was that we have terms such as “frame”, “shot”, and “cut” to describe the cinematic apparatus, but we have very few valid terms to describe the computer game apparatus, and by extension any programmed imagery. “Plot” was a proposal for one of the central aspects of computer games : the visual play arena. “Plot” suggests in one word the multiplicity of aspects of this arena : terrain (“plot of land”), coordinate (“plotter”), intrigue (“the plot to kill the King”), etc. Hence the video game constructs a new play arena, no longer a “frame” and better described as a “plot”. It is a more contingent form of image, suggesting also that something is “at work” in the image, i.e. the algorithm developing it. This a very different idea from that of the cinematic “frame” or the television “screen”, tied up as they are in the various contours of those apparatuses.

Plotoroute

The next meeting of Plot, Plotoroute will take place on March 1st, 2006 at the conjunction of the A7 and A55 freeways at the entrance to Marseille. Come many, come all, bring along a laptop if you can; but most importantly, bring your camping tables and chairs.