artictoc [Planetary Practical Magazine]

volume1 special feature Creature Act

The Cup Comes To, and Realizes "Hey This is Me, That's Right" from the Déjà vu-Robot Plan:Pegio-Yukio Gunji+Kenjiro Okazaki

The Creative Act  Marcel Duchamp
In the creative act, the artist goes from intention to realization through a chain of totally subjective reactions. His struggle toward the realization is a series of efforts, pains, satisfaction, refusals, decisions, which also cannot and must not be fully self-conscious, at least on the esthetic plane.
The result of this struggle is a difference between the intention and its realization, a difference which the artist is not aware of. Consequently, in the chain of reactions accompanying the creative act, a link is missing. This gap, representing the inability of the artist to express fully his intention, this difference between what he intended to realize and did realize, is the personal 'art coefficient' contained in the work.

The conversation began when Kenjiro Okazaki pointed out that Pegio-Yukio Gunji's theory of 'the form of the material' was reminiscent of Duchamp's term of 'art coefficient.' This concept was originally presented in a 1957 lecture entitled "The Creative Act," In which Duchamp likened the artist to a medium, defining 'art coefficient' as the disparity between intention and realization (the 'input' and 'output' of the medium). Gunji, for his part, is building a theory in which 'the form of the material' is the disparity between the extent and intent of an object. After acknowledging his affinity with Duchamp's thinking, and relating this to the concept of readymade, Gunji expanded the topic to encompas one of his recent major concerns, the déjà vu. The following is an excerpt from their conversation.

Gunji | I have wanted to deal with the déjà vu issue for a long time now, and at the end of last year began developing a device that allows you to experience it. The important thing about déjà vu is not the awareness of having seen something before, but rather the presence of a slight discomfort.
If you abstractly pursue what the nature of 'creation' might be, it all comes down to a past which cannot attributed to the present or a present that exists at the point when history is completely negated. This is a Modernist issue, and I think déjà vu is exactly that. In déjà vu, the past perfect coexists with a 'realistic' present perfect. What appears to lead into this current intuition is denied and modified, and the perfect that cannot be attributed to the present is understood
to have already existed somewhere else. déjà vu is the act of witnessing of such a scene, and the act of developing a device to experience it, or establishing a theory of time which accounts for this phenomenon, is equivalent to thinking about Modernism. Also, by thinking about déjà vu, it becomes easier to understand the concept of the 'art coefficient' or of 'intent and extent.'

Okazaki | déjà vu is indeed very fascinating. I'm interested in it as well, and have actually made a piece with the computer that deals with this phenomenon. Going back to our previous example with the pen, when comparing readymades with déjà vu, it is one thing to treat a pen with no ink as a pen, regardless of its lack of ink, and another thing for the pen itself to realize, "Hey, I'm a pen," although it has no ink. If the latter should be possible, how would that differ from the cup realizing, "Hey, I'm a pen"? Even if you asked the self-professed pen, the pen itself wouldn't be able to see any difference. déjà vu has no exterior viewpoint, so to speak. It would be a realization in the form of the past perfect, or a readymade, while a memory that can be referred to externally, or in other words, the connection between an intent and an extent, is cut off entirely. In fact, Duchamp had referred to the readymade as being 'already finished.'
If this is true, it must be possible for the former cup (and not the pen) to realize, "Hey, I was a pen," though in which case, it must have forgotten that it had previously been a cup.

Gunji | There is a scene in Kazushi Hosaka's novel[1] where a shadow - which is in fact a ghost - is seen in the bathroom. I think this can be explained as the confusion between the past self and the present self. When you speak of seeing a ghost or experiencing déjà vu, it is realistic in the sense that the intent and extent are clearly considered two different concepts, though they coexist in spite of their disparity. Left on their own, they would just split off, and so then it becomes my task, as a frame of reality, to pin it down - although on my own I am not up to the task. Thus I must act as a kind of mediator to the outside, and with help from the exterior, mediate the coexistence of disparity, forming a kind of reality. It's not about internally sensing the disparity between myself and the stimulus as 'pain,' but rather about taking on the helplessness and 'damage' of breaking apart.
"Feeling pain" is not the same thing as, for instance, putting your hand in hot water and feeling that it's 100 degrees. The difference is in the damage that inevitably accompanies pain. In Japanese, the words 'pain' and 'damage' are (written differently but) both pronounced identically as itami. But what I think is important is that the distinction between them is ambiguous. Biologically speaking, there is a small, rapid stimulus-response system which deals reflexively with stimuli, and a large, slow stimulus-response system which calculates "pain" along with the consciousness. This corresponds to the coexistence of intent and extent, and discrepancy or damage is caused from this coexistence, which constantly creates stimuli inside oneself. The stimulus-response system with which consciousness is involved, follows a long, time-consuming circuit, and thus cannot deal with stimuli immediately. However, what consciousness actually responds to is the subsisting and hypothetical stimulus created by itself. What is regarded as present perfect, is in fact the stimulus of a past perfect of long before. And I think déjà vu could be the detection of such a backstage.

Conversation Piece (Shincho Bunko, 2006) by Kazushi Hosaka is a novel that addresses the theme of associations between the past and present.

Okazaki | So you are saying that the actual suffering of 'damage', and 'pain' - the sense of having suffered or presently suffering damage - is different. When you think about ghosts, although they can be felt, you cannot locate the place where that feeling occurs.
For instance, when you touch your left hand with your right hand, the right-hand self is feeling that the left hand is cold, and the left-hand self is feeling that the right hand is warm. And it feels as if the subject is being torn apart. These dissociations happen very often. But it is much more interesting to think about the difference one feels with ghosts, where you sense what is not your body as your body. So, for example, instead of the right and left hand, we could consider this cup. The right hand feels that the cup is cold, but the cup-self feels that the right hand is hot. Eisenstein thought of a similar issue in his theory of Montage of attractions.[2] Fragmentary visual information is combined in a film, blurring as a result the distinction between one's own hands and that of others, and therefore a subject that cannot be located anywhere appears while perceiving a film. And that is why it is also possible for this cup to be myself.
Actually, what I am interested in doing right now is a kind of robot- making. Normally, no matter how far you extend or contract, you remain within a concentric circle, and the feeling that you are touching the object persists. But like the cup and the right hand we just talked about, if I were to make a robot, I would like to transfer the subject to the cup and let the cup go, "Hey, I was Okazaki, I had forgotten about that." Just like the movement created by movies jumping between different films, I wonder if it is possible for me to jump to this cup and from there on live as a cup (laughter) . I've had enough of this shriveled up old man. So I'm currently working on it, believing it should be logically possible.

Published in 1923, Montage of Attractions was the first manifesto written by the revolutionary film director and theorist Sergei Eisenstein, who established the theory of montage in films.
Transfiguration of the medium, Mrs.Wood -
Mrs.Wood (1930)

The Perfect Medium :
Photography and the Occult,

Yale University Press
Pegio-Yukio Gunji
An outstanding and innovative theorist/experimentalist, endeavoring to decode the grand conundrum of Life, an objective which inevitably brings into question the very limits of theorization. His astonishing creativity and originality is demonstrated not only in his theories which extensively link the cutting edge accomplishments of science, biology, physics, mathematics or philosophy, but also in his unique experiments using computers and robots which use living organisms such as slime fungus for calculation instead of electric currents.
Kenjiro Okazaki
One of Japan's sharpest Artist-Thinkers, talking up contemporary culture with the keenest of eyes, a child-like creativity, and a super-loaded, tenacious and rapid-fire intelligence. His work as an artist, writer, lecturer, and theoretician push up against the potentials of art with overwhelming speed and radiance.