Under conditions of 'the abyss of total freedom' among the datastreams we used to use for meaning-making, what of representation?
It has moved from depiction to data-gathering. Scientific and socio-technical apparatus collects such m,assive quantities of data, the significance of the individual datum shrivels to insignificance. Swamped by statistical likelihood and trends, the datum itself is without significance, without meaning, meaningless. Picturing remains, but lives a sad afterlife. Its ideological function today is to try to persuade us that it is possible to picture experience, and that experience matters
The irony is that it does: experience matters to the extent that it is the residual real omitted from the circulation of data. This residue is that element of embodied life that escapes regimes of health, fitness, education and programmed entertainment. Its poverty is precisely that it is embodied, in an era in which each body is rigourously demarcated as the boundary of the personal, so that the best we can hope for is the interpersonal, never the social.
It is the social that forms the true boundary of a system which comprises the binary of data and experience: information and embodiment are two sides of a single coin. The real relations between people today appear to them in the fantastic guise of a relation between data systems and irreducibly individual experience.
It remains to make apparaent the lost relations of the real. At first this art will take the form of tragedy, the tragedy of coincidence – though that is an oxymoron. Coincidence because causality can oly reduce the social to conspiracy; tragedy because conspiracy and coincidence alike are experienced as fate.
How might realism re-emerge as intimation (making intimate) of the social, without presenting it as something already fated? How reverse the trend, apparent since the end of privacy in the era of cookie technology, towards the publication of intimacies? How to imbue the intimate with pubicness?