“What happens if I put it in my armpit?”
“Can we get a print out?”
“Would it be possible to recode this so we can edit the text?”
“Can we just screen shot it maybe?”
“Is the water jug a collaborator? It has an editorial role at least.”
“Can we really say we’re collaborating here?”
“So, would it be possible to check for a fever by seeing how much of the story you generate from your body?”
“Are we collaborators or just components in this circuit?”
“I mean, if we left this object in a room would changes in ambient temperature still generate a text over several days?”
“Can a drop in temperature erase the text?”
“Who made this for you? Do you have a collaborator?”
“I feel like we are inputting energy twice here. There’s a sort of excess of input. We give it our heat and then we also read it and try to make sense of it.”
“Can I touch it again?”
Earlier this week, I presented a heat-sensitive text that I have been building during the first two months of my residency at Spike Island in Bristol.
Hypotext is a peculiar, frustrating thing. It is a machined aluminium and acyclic block, designed to suggest a tablet, but one that is missing both buttons and screen. It is a useless prototype; a perverse body of desire, if we want to haul Žižek all over this. It is the undead in the machine.
It’s a very simple bit of kit that has a simple, single application. Heat sensors read minute changes in the reader’s hand to generate a composite text that is drawn from fragments of forgotten folk tales connected by an academic cataloguing system that prioritises objects over narrative. Fish bones, gold rings, severed hands, spinning wheels, girls, cyborgs, skins and fathers are arranged into a jittering, jarring array of bodies that the reader(s) can briefly, remotely touch – but not hold.
There are over seventeen thousand potential texts and coordinates for these objects to fall into. And in the Associate Space on Tuesday, eight readers generated between them just two different texts over the course of two hours. The readers were rigorous and generous and curious and the discussion ranged from Burroughs and Harraway to suggestions we heat the text using our armpits.
Hypotext will be making a few more appearances this year at talks and events, including:
3rd-6th May 2013: Spike Open 2013. Installed in Studio 80.
19th May 2013: Electronic Voice Phenomena at the Cube Cinema, Bristol
Just hold up (and warm up) your hands if you want to try it out. Or get in touch to ask more about it.