Everything that we do is to delete things. We don’t create or add, we subtract and remove. Anyone who reads this text deletes my original intentions. The choice to read this text is a choice that exclude gazillions of other options. So thanks for staying!
Science agrees. In quantum theory, the world is a sea of virtual potentials and whatever happens is not much compared to what did not happen. It is only a drop in the ocean. According to some economists, capitalism thrives on destroying the past. It deletes previous economic orders and the current value of existing products, in order to create new wealth. Among some posthuman philosophers, humans are no longer thought of as creators, but as sculptors or signal filters. We receive signals and filter them according to the taste of our system. If it doesn’t make sense, it gets deleted. I guess cybernetic theorists and cognitive psychologists might agree on that one?
One of the phreshest cyberd00dz, senor Nick Land, once wrote that organization is suppression. Any kind of organization – imposed on anything from cells to humans – deletes more than it produces. This of course includes modern technologies like seach engines and augmented reality – more about that in a minute.
So: the most productive thing you can do is to increase the desire to delete. One easy way of doing that is to use sedatives. These are the drugs o’ the times – a reaction to the cocaine-induced individualism of the 1980s that was caused by the psychedelic ecologism of the 1960s. Nowadays we don’t tune in and turn on, we turn off and drop out. Artists do it like this while most people do it by watching TV or using “smart technologies” that deletes decisions for you. We need censorship, even if we think it’s wrong. Delete or die!
Let’s look at a few very different examples that relates to this. If this all seems very confusing to you, first consider that the only way to be creative today is to be non-creative by e.g stealing & organizing instead of “creating original content”. From plunderphonics in the 80’s to the mainstream copyright infringement known as social media — now the next step is to start removing things.
Nice idea, but how useful would that be? Well, I experimented for a while with filling the memory with crap, loading a music program, and then start to remove the crap. Like a sculptor. And the idea was to make “real music” and not only noise, of course. Both challenging and fun! But anyway, let’s back up a bit:
Subtraction is all around us all the time. It’s how light/colour works, or some forms of sound works. Our own brains are really good at it too. We perceive and process only a fraction of all the input our senses can take in.
Another almost-naturalized form of subtraction, but in the arts, is the removal of content to reveal the form (uh, or was it the other way around?). I guess that’s what a lot of art of the 1900s was about? Abstractionism and minimalism, space and non-space, figure-ground oscillations, and so on. Take things out to reveal something we didn’t know before. Two unexpected examples: Film the Blanks and Some Bullshit Happening Somewhere.
Another rather recent thing is Reverse Graffiti. It doesn’t add paint, but removes e.g dirt & dust instead. Graffiti can also be removed by adding paint over it, which some people jokishly calls art. Or perhaps doing graffiti by carving the walls is more relevant?
Censorship is another topic. Here is a silly one where naked bodies are censored and the black boxes form new shapes and stuff. I suppose censorship could also include net art things such as Facebook Demetricator and Text Free Browsing. Also, Intimidad Romero does art by pixelizing faces
On the more techy side, Diminished Reality is the opposite to augmented reality, and seems to be very controversial to people. More so than augmented reality, probably because we think we’ll “miss out” on stuff instead of getting “more” like augmented reality promises. Whitespace is, I guess, a tongue-in-cheek project: a programming language that ignores normal text and only uses space, tab and newline instead. A favourite of mine is the game Lose/lose where you play for the survival of your hard drive’s files.
Some more examples:
- Invisible – Art about the unseen (1957-2012)
- Waterbed Landscaped
- Minus Porn by Palle Torsson
- Advertisement for trimmers here
- Dubstep wubwubwubwub!
For me these examples show how rich the field of DELETE actually is. And there is plenty of more to say. In fact, there was a rather big plan for this project once. But instead of letting it decay away and be unrealized (?) I decided to undelete it. Oh n0ez, teh paradox! Or maybe a blog post doesn’t count as being realized? Well I think it’s pretty obvious that the ████████ was ████ ███ ████████ ████ because ████████ ███ █ so ████████ ██████████ █ ████████.
Some useful slogans:
Progress = deleting alternatives
Any thing is a reduction of some thing
Understanding = organizing = deleting
Creativity spots the ugly and deletes it
Anything that happens is nothing compared to what could have happened.