Vivian Sobchack

  • FROM SPACE TO PLACE

    TOO OFTEN, TOO MANY of us talk one theory but live another. In his rigorous examination of the possibilities of perception, and his always renewed wonder before the world and the open act of seeing, Robert Irwin’s career exemplifies the committed, moral, nondogmatic union of theory and practice. In his current traveling retrospective, as installed at Los Angeles’ Museum of Contemporary Art this summer, the viewer experienced his most recent work first; but the exhibition also featured a selection of Irwin’s early Abstract Expressionist–inspired works (including a wonderful display of his “

  • Strange Weather

    Strange Weather: Culture, Science and Technology in the Age of Limits, by Andrew Ross. London and New York: Verso, 1991

    OF NEARLY ALL cultural theorists and critics writing today, Andrew Ross has the most explicit, concrete, and sanguine political agenda. His latest effort, Strange Weather: Culture, Science and Technology in the Age of Limits, a collection of related essays, continues his ongoing project to locate positive and progressive possibilities for informed and effective political action within the imbricated discourses and concrete interests (both common and diverse) that exist among

  • James Turrell

    Less a theorist than a phenomenologist, James Turrell invites us not to think light and space abstractly, but to live and explore them freshly as they are continuously and contingently re-solved by us in experience. His environmental situations and temporal contexts make possible a return to a radical form of consciousness—one in which we can “feel the presence of light inhabiting a space” and renew our “primal connection” with an embodied vision “not limited to just that received by the eyes,” but understood also as a mode of “entry of the self into that which is ‘seen.’” Facilitating such

  • New Age Mutant Ninja Hackers

    THESE DAYS, THE CYBERSPACE of virtual reality (VR) is the in place to be. It’s hotter than the Saudi Arabian desert and apparently offers greater possibility for intense, novel, and thrilling experience than that materially grounded version of reality in which we daily live—and die. Rather than putting on battle gear and gas masks, a new subculture is donning electronic stereo-vision helmets and Data Gloves and taking off via computer to virtual realities and other forms of cyberspace. Rather than finding the gravity of human flesh and the finitude of the earth precious (or asserting their

  • A THEORY OF EVERYTHING: MEDITATIONS ON TOTAL CHAOS

    Essence is infinity as the supersession of all distinctions, the pure movement of axial rotation, its self-repose being an absolutely restless infinity.

    —G. W. F. Hegel, Phenomenology of Spirit, 1807

    Everything is similar if you’re willing to look that far out of focus. I’d watch that. Then you’ll find that black is white. Look for differences! You’re looking for similarities again. That way lies mind rot.

    —Marvin Minsky, The Media Lab, 1987

    IN RECENT YEARS, CHAOS theory—that new science of nonlinear dynamic systems—has captured the popular imagination. Its computer-graphic representations