Towards the Oracle Machine. An exploration of decision making processes through the use of software, media divination and other shamanic techniques in realtime audiovisual performance

Doctoral thesis English OPEN
Oreggia, Eleonora Maria Irene
  • Publisher: Goldsmiths, University of London

This thesis uses computational art practice to explore the question of indeterminacy and uncertainty in contemporary societies. It explores the issues navigating through different disciplines, starting from a preamble where the discoveries of quantum mechanics are confronted with the vision of modern and contemporary empiricists and re-articulated in post-structuralism and postmodernism. The approach from physics and determinism moves towards one of the classic questions of philosophy, that of free will. The state of indecision is described as the act of making a decision, an act extended in time – eventually to infinity.\ud \ud The reflection leads to the field of generative semiotics. Since the use of oracles to make decisions is also a peculiarity of humans, the distance that articulated language creates between reality and signs is proposed as a disruption that fosters the dichotomy of instinct and rationality. In this fracture nature assumes the form of the divine, whereas rationality is a procedural form. Technology, as an ultimate expression of this rational form, surpasses humans in procedural decision making capabilities, becoming a novel instrument to reach a divine union. Yet, early computing showed that, to halt a process resolving an undecidable problem, a machine has to receive an input of a different kind, an analog tape or an oracle as it were. The interaction with a different substance – the analogue sensor or a supernatural daemon – becomes the trigger to surpass a situation of impasse.\ud \ud The question of uncertainty is then transduced into an art work that responds as an intervention in that interdisciplinary space, materialising an aesthetic form that draws on elements of the absurd and the aliatory in art, all re-interpreted in a do-it-yourself hacker fashion, creating a peculiar noise drama that has the effect of a symbolic ritual, or, ultimately, its destructive illusions.
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