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Post Alphabetic Future
This nOde last updated November 23rd, 2001 and is permanently morphing...
(1 Ix (Wind) - 12 Ceh (Red) -
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 Arthur and Marilouise Kroker

 The Post-Alphabet Future

The real world of digital reality has always been post-alphabetic.   Probably because the letters of the alphabet were too slow to keep up  with the light-internal linktime and internal linklight-speed of electronics, the alphabet long ago shuddered at the speed of light, burned up and crashed to earth.  Writing can't keep up to the speed of electronic society. The result  has been the end of the Gutenberg Galaxy and the beginning of the Image Millennium. Images moving at the speed of light. Images moving faster than the time it takes to record their passing. Iconic images.  Special-Effect Images. Images of life past, present and future as  culture is fast-forwarded into the electronic nervous system. Images  that circulate so quickly and shine with such internal linkintensity that they  begin to alter the ratio of the human sensorium.

This is probably why artists, scientists and engineers from internal linkXerox Parc have created a creative installation titled "Experiments in the Future of Reading" (XFR) at the Tech Museum in San Jose, California.  All these experiments in the "Future of Reading" project have a very practical purpose: to suggest new consumer products for post-alphabetic society. Here, the alphabet is blasted apart and creatively reconfigured by the shock-internal linkwave of electronic culture. Touch screens fill with texts which shift at any moment to follow another story line: single words that open up into continents of lost internal linkdreams; paragraphs that recombine into novellas; stories that compress into a single emotion. Or huge, gleaming light-tables on which are displayed graphic internal linkpuzzles that can only be solved by physically tilting the table back and forth by hand, watching the letters of the alphabet slowly roll across the screen, forming new creative combinations. Literally, *hand-writing* for the new electronic cave-dwellers. A paradigm-shift in the form of ideas for new consumer products in which writing itself internal linkbubbles to the electronic surface, searches anxiously for its lost chain of (alphabetic) signifiers, internal linkdances hesitatingly across the old literary divide between metaphor and metonymy, finally realizes that words are on their own in a liquid internal linkdigital world, and comes to life as light-through and sound-through and eye-through electronic words. The words slide up and down, mutate one to the other, creating new digital meanings. Pixel events, light-screen language, and soundscape texture.
Future Sund Of London - Life Forms bubbles digital trance formation


Consider our personal favorite. A children's book telling the story of a cool cat doing the jazz scene in San Francisco. Except this time, rather than reading the book, ~you play the reading~. Sit in a comfortable armchair equipped with micro-speakers (with a mega-computer tucked away behind the chair), open the book, run your fingers over the pages, and the sounds of jazz on the written page suddenly surround-sound your ears. The cool cat at the ~Purple Onion~, at the ~Hungry I~, at an internal linkafter-hours club down by the docks. In traditional reading culture, the eye was privatized, shut up inside the privacy of the internal linkcentral nervous system, isolated from the other senses. In the future of (electronic) reading, the eye goes public. It reconnects to the other senses, notably to the ear and the hand. Tactile Reading. Touch the page at any point and the sounds of jazz being written about can be instantly heard. You are actually in the sound-field of the book. Move your hand closer to the page or further away, and the sound internal linkintensifies or fades accordingly. The end, therefore, of passive reading, and the beginning of in-depth participation in the electronic book. The future of reading will be fun. It will be experimental and immersive. It will be unpredictable. It is a full-body, full-mind, full-ear, full-eye experience. It will certainly involve the complete ratio of the senses. ~Instantly, you are the reading~.
central nervous system


Or are you? If this project is about the 'future of reading', then what's really being read? Not words rolling off light tables or books as soundscapes, but the eye of human flesh itself. Seduced by electronic reading as a packaged consumer product, the eye is externalized in the transcendent form of a light-object, a sound, a liquid consumer graphic, a simulacrum of ocular internal linkperception.

 Virilio's "sightless vision" or an immersive game of alphabet soup?

 Arthur and Marilouise Kroker~

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Maybe language was originally like music.  You have the song and the lyrics, and then after the song was dropped off by accident you had the lyrics standing by themselves.  The internal linkvedas were chanted rather than read.  Iv'e been reading about the pronounciation of ancient Greek, as reconstructed by classical scholars.  It sounds like singing.  Greek poetry was orated.  Nobody read a poem.  It was later on that people got in the habit of silent reading, reading a book without saying anything.  So this degeneration of musical language into dumb speech is something very recent in our internal linkevolution.   There is so much we've forgotten, so difficult to recover.

internal linkRupert Sheldrake - _The Evolutionary Mind_

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