December 2006

Derrida talks about the difference between the “future” – that which we imagine or project will come to be, vs. “l’avenir” which is that unexpected actuality that comes in that we could not have imagined or predicted but replaces our reality and understanding of things.

This year TIME magazine named you, me, the “user” the person of the year. The editors identified us as the new world order based on the explosion of “user” created content, tastemaking, aggregation and filtering of data. They compare the Web2.0 to a form of global telepathy. This is something I discussed in my film “Rimlight Revel Without Me” back in 1995 when I saw the internet as an evolutionary leap by humankind, ever tied to the machine; a cyborgian marriage via which we become increasingly separated from the organic world into an informational form of energy.

YouTube is not the genie being let out of the bottle. It is a crude indication of where we are going. Next I see two-way realtime video, arena-style, where round table discussions are conducted, viewed, recorded, archived, cataloged and distributed simultaneously. Where we directly affect not just the narrative but the actual events taking place. Where we, from our living rooms, talk someone off the edge of a building, or police a neighborhood, or appeal to policemen to lay off a suspect.

I foresee world premieres of films in Second Life, where I take my remote date to a digital ATM, buy digital popcorn and zoom in on the digital screen at the virtual theater where simultaneously virtual film piracy is going on in the next row by way of a guy with a virtual camcorder taping the film for contraband sales on the virtual sidewalk the next morning.

As these economies become indistinguishable from the “real-world” economy, the commodities “within” these virtual places cease to be virtual at all. They are as real as the money in your mutual fund and capable of affecting your life to the same degree.

What is of interest to me is not the authentication of these things as real, but that it is a third person view of how we engage life already. The whole of it is a running narrative that we are able to participate in or sit back and observe. It is all malleable and forever changing by our simple viewing of it. What we determine to be relevant becomes a commodity that can be traded and our sense of success is defined by the goals that we commonly identify as worthwhile.

I see us all as little movers in a vast neural network that is learning itself. The planet is a seed, waiting patiently for the perfect moment when the sun and water conditions suggest it is time to finally crack the protective husk and push forth through the surface of the soil, to begin life and ultimately, entropy, demise.

That brief experience as a flower is fleeting, chaotic, a struggle, and it is an exhilarating subjection to the elements, and just before we face the final curtain, we burst into bloom and scatter our seeds so that the process can begin anew.

Exciting times, but when haven’t they been? As the progression of our legacy on Earth continues to confirm this system, I can only look forward, without any reasonable prediction, to what will come next, know full well, that l’avenir will out-maneuver my most wild suggestions, and keep the dynamic of learning alive.

I surrender to this actuality and submit myself to the next part of this adventure. I look forward to experiencing it with all of you, my contemporaries.

Happy New Year. <-2006->2007->…?