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Cultural Exchange via Internet - Opportunities and Strategies
Forum of the House of World Cultures, Berlin, 12 October - 4 December, 1998

[as of December 1st 1998 the forum has been prolonged - ... open-ended]

Subject:dialogues in and out the net
Date:Tue, 01 Dec 1998 18:09
Author:Ricardo Basbaum  []

I have been following the debate in the last two weeks and would like to contribute to the forum before it ends. I'd like to express my congratulations to the forum coordinators and contributors.

Following Teoman Madra (20/11/98), I'd like to add a few comments on exchanging dialogues through the net.

It happens that we probably will never meet each other in the "corporeal" world, but we can meet here, on virtual cyberspace. What interests me is the "quality" of the interaction we can achieve. Sure we have no-body here (nor any-body), so while we discuss with each other we miss to see each other's face. I can't see if you have a smile (satisfaction, irony, etc, who knows?) in your face while you read this message. Our bodies are reduced to fingers (to type) and eyes (to read), in connection to mind: that's how we can attach to computer and fuse with it, becoming sort of hybrids while we dive into the forum.

What kind of psychology is transmitted through this limited type of interaction? It is not difficult to see that the majority of the messages concentrate on describing oneself, in a self-statement with presentation purposes. Should we speak of a kind of narcisism? In fact, what makes this interaction so pleasureable for everybody is the feeling for a wide and open space where we can attach ourselves, feeling free to express what we do, who we are, what are our believes, etc. So, is the internet a place where to expand individuality? Is it a place to develop one's interior self with a never-seen-before space to expand into? Sure we cannot talk anymore about the "old" interiority, the one which was strongly attacked by Marcel Duchamp, followed by John Cage, Jasper Johns and the Minimalists: that's the old conception of the self seen as an untouchable and not-changeable space, product of XIX century bourgeoisie, through the notion of "honour" and "character".

Anyone who experiences the www is carried through it in a succession of sites competing for his/her attention, seeking to capture his/her eyes into a game of seduction, that becomes more complex each day. And there is a branch in this seduction game which interests us here, working/contributing with this forum: the possibility of exercising ourselves in a new communication game, where we can simultaneously 'expand ourselves' with each new message we send.

Obviously I'm not stating naively that the net is a neutral and free-territory, open to anyone, waiting for occupation: the strong economic, thechnological, moral, etc barriers characterize the www as a highly political space (standing for world wide web but also for world war web - in the sense of a micro-war). To participate in this forum (as I can read in almost every posting) is for all to exercise oneself into a still unknown space, inventing new practices of seduction and communication, developing a new psychology which involves (and transforms) the old forces of attraction, repulsion, grouping, etc combined with new tools, a new pragmatic. That's what fascinates me.

Ricardo Basbaum
Rio de Janeiro

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