The festival Liwoli, happening in Linz between April 23rd and 25th, and named ‘Hacklab for art and Open Source‘, was a great gathering of very interesting people. Among other things, including a very crazy performance
that culminated with the total erasure of the system while making real
time video with Pure Data (without back up and in a totally unsafe
fashion), the Virtual Entity ‘research software’ was presented during
the Friday evening session.

It was the last ‘shot’ of the day. The idea was to make a simple,
text based, strong overview of the concept, and a small demonstration
of the new version of the software I am about to publish. The last
version is already online, and is usable: download it here.
I am changing the naming and the structure of the application, merging
the three commands in one single call, and making the matadata sets
more minimal. The database will stay, so the Souls previously created
will not become lost ‘spirits’.

"The beauty of Chaos is in its structure".

The presentation at Jan van Eyck during the Opening week had
finished on a very sharp question: "Are you trying, with this project,
to make order in the Net?". I don’t think I recognized the person
asking, but my answer was something like: "I believe in Chaos, the Net
has to remain out of control and …" Katja moderated the question
away, and the day continued its course. Few months later, I started the
next presentation answering that question asked from a faceless person
in the past. Another thing which came about is the memory of that day
when, while observing a tree near the Balaton lake, I, all of a sudden,
perceived its immanent, invisible structure. I perceived and I saw
those constituting lines which determine any element to develop in
space and time according to… "I understand now why trees are shaped
like this", I told a friend sitting next to me. He laughed. Knowledge
was looking at me, and I felt smaller, while this very tall tree
continued to disclose its secret to me. It was the end of the 90ies,
and I was only 23 years old: I took a deep breath, moved my eyes, and
the tree became a simple tree, and the invisible lines, and the DNA,
and the projections of present and past on future, and of future on
present and past, all this immanent pattern became invisible again: the
world ceased revealing me its matter. It was no surprise to see
something apparently hidden, and the day continued following its
‘normal’ path. Something persisted: the fascination for immanent
structures, structures of necessity, and for the invisible patterns
which render identity different and recognizable, and life general and

The presentation continued with these words projected behind me:

"Machines are a fruit of nature".

The focal angle (and the distance between object observed and
subject observing) is, in fact, fundamental in the definition of
nature. The idea of ‘animality’, and animal behavior, which I
did not explain but only suggest, and which I will develop in the
future, is becoming central. The question, crossing my mind recently,
the crucial question of animals nowadays in relation to humans and
machines, is becoming essential. And the extended Virtual Entity starts
behaving like an animal, a monster made of fragmentation, a
Frankenstein of cultural bytes. And the question of Soul and
intelligent behavior is to be explored and redefined in relation to
animality, and here, again, I hope Spinoza can help spreading some
clarity on the topic (research is in progress).

For the moment it is enough to think of fragmentation of cultural
units and their proliferation through the Net and their constituting
and re-constituting themselves and others, eating and digesting

What I offered to the eyes of the spectators in Linz was the following:

Spinoza. Ethics.
First part. Concerning God.
From the Axioms:
I. All things which exist, exist either in themselves or in something else.
V. Things that have nothing in common reciprocally cannot be
comprehended reciprocally trough each other, or, the conception of the
one does not involve the conception of the other.
VII. The essence of that which can be conceived as not existing does not involve existence.

From the Propositions:
I. A substance is prior in nature to its modifications.
IV. Two or more distinct things are distinguished one from the other
either by the difference of the attributes of substances or by the
difference of their modifications.
V. There cannot exist in the universe two or more substances of the same nature or attribute.
VI. One substance cannot be produced by another.
VII. Existence appertains to the nature of substance.
VIII. Every substance is necessarily infinite.

Obviously, those axioms are not valid in the Virtual world, so what
I was trying to say is that the structure which constitutes the digital
domain is intrinsically different from that of the real world.

Spinoza’s Ethics is becoming a sort of glass acting as an interface
between me and the world I look at, and a key to interpret what is
inner and what is external to me. Thus I read the book again and again
from the beginning to the end, from the end to the beginning, or
starting at a random page. Such a beautiful system, the world appears to be similar to a relational database! And what is good is that which is good for me.

Another definition, which can be relevant for our research on Imaginary Property, is the following:

Third Part
Concerning the nature and origin of the emotions.
A man is affected with the same emotion of pleasure or pain from
the image of a thing past or future as from the image of a thing

During the second, beautiful intervention, the one by Eyal Sival, Florian redefined the main research question from:
"What does it mean to own an image?"
"What does it mean to be owned by an image?"

One answer could be:
An image is possessing us whereas it can produce a certain emotion which can affect us surpassing time and space.

Going back to the presentation, after the collective instantiation
of the Soul of the festival’s logo, and a quick display of the code, I
closed with the following words, dedicating the presentation to the
memory of Ted Nelson:

"Most people are fools, authority is malignant, God does not exist, and everything is wrong".

I received only one question, which was almost like the following:
"You say that God does not exist, and then you create a Soul, but you cannot give a Soul, because God…"
I ask whether this person had been talking to God, someone else said God is a female, and the session was wrapped.

The day after I held a workshop with students (and teachers) of the
university. Installing on macosx is still quite complicated and most
people are afraid of command line applications. But most are also
afraid of theory, and it is really difficult to find any person who can
be comfortable both in front of code and in front of philosophy. Still
I think philosophy is a sort of programming language, and theory is
made of lines of code you can use and re-use, and that any conceptual
achievement is like a routine, or a library, a class, or an algorithm,
and writing new theory you use what you find, what others wrote, but
you need to understand it, intersect it, and you have to compile it or
get it to run within an environment. And, even if you don’t understand
or if you are not interested in the whole system, you can always hack

Can a theoretical hack change the system established?

 -written in Amsterdam-