Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 16, No. 61.
Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
Date: Sun, 09 Jun 2002 07:36:49 +0100
From: Arun-Kumar Tripathi <email@example.com>
Subject: Oliver Grau on "History of Telepresence and Rejection of
Dear Professor McCarty,
[Hi, this might interest to humanist scholars --an abstract of the paper
on "Legend, Myth and Magic in the History of Telepresence" by Dr. Oliver
Grau is available (For the complete article, please contact me at
Telepresence combines three technological principles: robotics,
telecommunication, and virtual reality.
The historical evolution of these technologies is wrought with distinctly
mythical, magical and utopian connotations.
Telepresence unites the timeless dream of "artificial life" with the
aesthetic tradition of virtual realities and telecommunication
technologies with their mystical predecessors. The history of media has
always been the history of its utopias that shine forth the transgressive
human endeavour. The quality of Telepresence's actual media phenomenology
can only be characterised with historical adequacy in comparison to its
predecessors and their by and large subconscious sub-history.
In this paper, Oliver Grau describes three historical lines of development
will be discussed on interrelated levels:
a) The "Archaeology of the Robot": The idea of artificial automations
reaches back to antiquity and had attained actualisation as early as the
sixteenth century. (Androids, Robots, Software Agents, A-Life)
b) "Telecommunication": The pre-history of the "idea" stepping out of the
human body and by means of other media travelling to other places:
apocryphal, mystic and canonised writings - the idea of omnipresence -
Hermes Trismegistos, the Myth of Electricity. (We will examine
developments in the Thirties, in particularly, the Italian Futurists,
Marinetti, who envisioned a cyborglike telesensoric metal-body), Norbert
Wiener, who published 1964 the idea of copying knowledge, psychic
character and consciousness of people and sending it with telegraph lines
c) The "virtual optical presence" that places the observer "in" the image
and allows for suggestive visions of picturesque journeys -- as in the
movement of the "Sacri Monti" (1496-~1600), Agippa von Nettesheim's (1529)
and Athanasius Kircher's journeys to distant places through mirrors
(1646). Also representative of this phenomenon are travels through time
and space in public Panoramarotundas, Edison's "Telephonoscope" (1879) as
well as the current fantasy of the fusion of man and computer as
envisioned in VR-Art.
((Author of the article, Dr. Oliver Grau is Art Historian and works in a
research program at the Humboldt-University of Berlin on the History and
Theory of Virtual Reality which is financed by the Deutsche
Forschungsgemeinschaft. His latest book (in German) is "Virtuelle Kunst in
Geschichte und Gegenwart: Visuelle Strategien," published by Reimer
Verlag, Berlin 2001. And, the English version as "The History of Virtual
Art and it's Future," will be published by Cambridge/Mass., MIT-Press in
Comments are welcome!!
Thanks in advance.
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