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From the Sacred to the Profane

Susan Hazan, 1998
Not too many people may have noticed the Holy name at the start of Amerika's Grammatron narrative. Not too many people would even have thought about how Aloni incorporates one of the most sacred of Jewish icons, the Tree of Life symbol. Both web projects take us down similar routes however, from screen to screen from the sacred to the profane.
Abe Golam, legendary info-shaman, cracker of the sorcerer-code and creator of Grammatron and Nanoscript, sat behind his computer, every speck of creative ore long since excavated from his burnt-out brain, wondering how he was going to survive in the electrosphere he had once called home. His glazed donut eyes were spacing out into the vast electric desert looking for more words to transcribe his personal loss of meaning. "I'm Abe Golam, an old man. I drove a sign to the end of the road and then I got lost. Find me.
--Mark Amerika

Enter Grammatron at your own risk--you will be pulled through more than 70 consecutive running red screens incorporating Amerikas' personal life philosophies and his lurid virtual passions. Or in Amerika's own words: "an interiorized landscape posing as a dream--narrative application".

A Golam is a mindless creature from Prague from traditional Hasidic stories, here Amerika relies on Abe Golam to act as a kind of spontaneous writing machine using HCT, (hypertextual consciousness) a kind of creature, or e-criture.

HTC is not necessarily new, it existed before books, before the scriptures, before the invention of God, it's just that reading a printed book bound HTC to the page and the page has been a way to enslave the reader who, bound by the spine, was conditioning their nervous system (and thus their intuitive ability) to respond to the book's false heirarchy. Artifically restrained paginality can now give way to organically disseminated vaginality as the cyborg-narrator becomes more feminine in character (HTC is a transgendered performer whose feminist rhetoric sees virtual reality as the perfect bind).

Udi Aloni reiterates the de-humanising , anonymous face of the web, where man is a non-human, a de-human or gender-less anti-human. By combining visual midrashes (Talmudic commentary) with political, cultural and theological commentaries, and woven into the all-incorporating Kabbalistic web of the 'Tree of Life," Aloni has created a digital vessel for his ambitious and prolific imagery.

I found it quite fascinating, the similarity of the Dionysus myth and the Jehovah myth. In both, the divine body is torn to pieces and spread all over the world. One of the main Sisyphean projects of the Jewish people, according to the Lurianic Kabala, is to re- collect the pieces of the divine body, or the sparks, try to separate them from the dirt that had merged with them, and reassemble the pieces into the original whole. Even though they never succeed in creating the original God they manufacture mutations of God. Some are funny, some monsters, but all fascinating.

The Re-U-Man structure is an attempt to build a protocol that will help me merge the scattered pieces of the "I", the "I" that is torn by late Capitalism, by the old Marxism, by the sham of Modernism, and by the vagueness of Post-Modernism.
--Udi Aloni, 1996

Aloni's canons of the secular and non-secular, combined with his powerful erotic imagery, create a compelling protocol that flows in virtual space and requires severalhours of the visitor's time to travel, retrieve and combine.

In post-modern tradition, Aloni electively incorporates text, gnostic writings, the New Testament and the Bible, combines and blurs sexual identity, and calls on personal and collective mythology.

Through the presentation of digital information, imagery, and audio narrative, both Aloni and Amerika have found efficient vehicles to help them/us try to understand this digital Golam, or to come face to face with the Re-U-Man.

Susan Hazan, 1998. First published by Gallery 9/Walker Art Center for Beyond Interface: net art and Art on the Net.