Text: The Original Copy | ANDREA TRALDI

Text: The Original Copy | ANDREA TRALDI


“I think that the aesthetic values and artistic practice in the Modernist Period was concerned with objects and space.

And I think that what we see in the Post-Modernist period was an increasing interest in the process. 

It was performative work, and I don’t just mean Performance Art, but the whole business of making it was really what it was about for the artist. And you can let people in on that with video and documentation, but basically process in many ways, and certainly in the field of new technologies and Art became really really important. … Now we are in a kind of Media flow,  … a flow of life, which is to say it is this variable reality in and out of all these sort of worlds and we clutch at this, we pull from that, we flow with this. It’s not so sacred anymore. Even that processing that was in a studio, a special place and now… it’s a flow, that’s what I am trying to point to, really.”

 Roy Ascott. “Roy Ascott, sul futuro. Arte, media, identità…

Luca De Biase(4 December 2011, 16m00s to 17m45s)


If we want to investigate the circumstances that lead to the appearance of Copies and Originals, it can be useful to observe the temporal dimension that characterize the emergence of every copy and every original into a different context.

This is by no means a revolutionary suggestion, it simply reflects the current shift towards open structures that evolve in time typical of a growing number of texts and tools we use everyday to better understand the world we live in.

From Hard Science to Humanities we have seen the language of our “Reality Models” integrate more and more information about processuality.

The importance of the temporal dimension has emerged from a specific contribution available in isolated examples across few scientific fields of inquiry, to grow into a whole complex of intertwined “disciplines of complexity” that describe far-from-equilibrium states 
of avalanches, earthquakes and living systems.

A common thread links together Architecture, Chemistry, Neurosciences, Cosmology and many research papers across the wide array
 of University specialties and outside of the recognized network of Scientific publications.

Different views from the point of Observation of processuality that emerge into the specific language of each field of expertise.

A strange attractor is a very peculiar shape having structure on an infinite number of scales at once. This property, applies not only to strange attractors, but to a much larger class of shapes known as “fractals”. They in turn are examples of the more general mathematical concept of recursion, one of our era’s most fruitful areas of exploration in mathematics and computer science.”

      (Hofstadter, 1985)

The emergence of copies brings the information about context into the original picture.

It allows for the original experience to appear into a different context for the first time.

Open Systems, Synergetic Structures and Homeostasis are just a few definitions to describe phenomena we observe from the point of Observation of processuality.

Different words become contextual references that call for a different language.

A shape that manifest into different structures to respect the information of the context where they emerge.

Just like different copies become different points of Observation of originals that emerge into a different context.

In the nineteenth century the study of evolution emerged in physics with the Second Law of Thermodynamics and the various formulations of Entropy. But the static view of the world is still so much rooted in the paradigm of Western science that in the last few decades the attention has shifted towards the need for a dynamic language to match the dynamic phenomena we wish to describe.

In the dynamical description, be it classical or quantum, time enters only in a quite restricted way, in the sense that these equations are invariant with respect to time inversion.

…The world lines, the trajectories, followed by the atoms or particles that make up our universe can be traced toward the future or toward the past.

It is a striking experience, especially for a nonbiologist, to attend a movie describing the development of, for example, the chicken embryo. We see the progressive organization of a biological space in which every event proceeds at a moment and in a region that make it possible for the process to be coordinated as a whole. This space is functional, not geometrical. The standard geometrical space, the Euclidean space, is invariant with respect to translations or rotations. This is not so in the biological space. In this space the events are processes localized in space and time and not merely trajectories.

(Prigogine, 2001)

We experience Processuality from the point of Observation of Successorship.

One experience after another.

Our Reality Models emerge one into the other to describe a shape of the “Construction of Reality” (Olivetti Belardinelli, 1976)  that corresponds to the specific context of the experience.

From Neuroscience to Computer Science we come upon many texts to help us tranform the information of our experiences into meaningful Reality Models.

The following anecdote is inspired by two famous examples from renowned Cognitive Sciences author Douglas Hofstadter (Douglas Hofstadter 1985, p.608 and Douglas Hofstadter 2007, p.45).

The originals are crafted by a narrative master with a fine taste for literature and a Scientific mindset. This simplification hardly compares to the sources it draws upon.

Think about a huge pool table…

Myriads of little balls bounce around hitting each other and the sides of the green felt.

Adding some magnetic pull to the properties of the balls bouncing around make it so that when their speed is low enough they stick to each other to form bigger and bigger conglomerates.

While the vast majority of balls continue their trajectory undisturbed, some hit the conglomerates and get deflected as if they were hitting the sides of the pool table. If we apply external pressure to the sides of the pool, we modify their shape and properties, hence the trajectory of the little balls.

Now let’s compare external stimuli with experiences that influence our feelings and thoughts, the little balls to neurons and the big conglomerates to neuronal patterns.

We can easily paint a tentative picture of the influence of everyday experiences at the neurological level.

External stimuli influence neuronal activation and neuronal patterns emerge from this dynamic.

For the next part of our experiment let’s speed up this process many times faster.

The conglomerates instead of looking like big objects hardly moving now change shape because of the number of little balls getting included or split apart from each collision.

The little balls now move so fast they become a misty gray background to the shifting shapes of the bigger conglomerates.

For every external stimuli, now we see a direct connection to the “movement” of the big conglomerates. And we cannot distinguish any specific dynamic at the level of the little balls.

At a cognitive level we see a direct connection between external stimuli and neuronal patterns, while the direct connection from external stimuli to individual neuronal activity is lost into a gray mist of frenetic activity from which symbols (and this point of Observation) emerge.

In this example the “slow-motion” or the “faster” description become two separate views and two completely different experiences in connection to each other beyond a gray temporal mist we cannot access from our point of Observation.

Just like in real life we can never know “what happens Next” and the information of processuality can be distributed into separate temporal cycles emerging one into the other from the point of Observation of Successorship. 

Different copies become separate contexts from which emerge the point of Observation of the original.

The dynamic structure of an Original become the information of its processuality that emerge one copy after another.

A single shape becomes a different structure to emerge into a specific context.

A language that does not part with the value of processuality let us appreciate also the quality of that information that emerge only into Successorship.

The notion of forgetting is not applicable within the limits of an occasion.

(Hintikka, 1962)

Separation becomes an important dimension of the metaphor that comes after Successorship.

 Separation becomes a requisite to experience the information of processuality.

One experience after another.

Different copies describe the temporal dimension of the original.

In maritime navigation two different references provide the necessary information to triangulate the position of a ship with respect to a shoreline.

From the combined information of different experiences connected by temporal proximity (Successorship) emerge the point of Observation of our inquiries and the language of our Reality Models.

Let’s define “Reality Models” as “The mental picture we build to organize the information about an experience we have”.

One experience after another, our “Construction of Reality” emerge as one Reality Model after another.

Sipping a warm Cappuccino under the Sun on a beautiful terrace in Barcelona is one of the many possible ways to organize the information about the experience just described.

A Reality Model of a specific experience.

I could just as well tell you about the billions of atoms moving frantically inside all the objects taking part in the action.

From that point of Observation the limits of the cup, my face and the air between the two would be lost. Let alone the experience of the scent coming through my nostrils while my tongue bathes in the delicious mixture and tastes delicious memories connected to it…

That Reality Model summons a very different experience.

Each experience emerge to contextual references and describes our present take at making sense of “what’s going on”.

It’s a storytelling process made of communications directed as much to ourselves as they are to others.

In the above example we learn how the “slow-motion” or the “faster” Reality Model become cold Science and warm cappuccinos.

Two completely different points of Observation from which you can organize Successorship from the information available.

The context of processuality emerge at the “speed” of the description we wish to communicate. You can have a “slow- motion” and a “faster” description, one after the other, but you can’t have both at the same time from the same point of Observation.

That’s where Copies enter the picture to become our only possibility to experience the information about the processuality of an Original that emerge into different contexts.

The idea that every copy relate to an Original becomes a process where every copy brings forth an Original.

One experience after another copies become Originals that emerge into different contexts.

One copy after the other describe the shape of an original that emerge into the specific context of each experience.

And the “Original” become

“The First Copy”.

Processuality emerge into the quality of information described by Successorship.

From the point of Observation of processuality, “New” become “closer to what happens Next”.

Emergence becomes a movement towards what happens Next.

All things “New” become all things closer to “what happens Next”.

Successorship (what happens Next) becomes an important dimension of the metaphor that comes after what is Original.

The Origin of Successorship lies before you. 

Into What happens Next.

Focusing on a single isolated example does not allow one to make a comparison with a host of slight variants in which diverse mental pressures are brought to bear in different proportions.

The emergence of one copy after another become the “halo” of variant experiences where the processuality of “the original” emerge into a specific context.

A synergetic structure evolving through time to integrate information of the context where its dynamic 
nature emerge.

The processuality of the artwork become the contribution every copy bring to the information of where “the original” emerge into a specific context.

“What we call the art today refers to not the object in a white cube, but the cultural practice encompassing various cultural phenomenon of the society.”

 (Kim Sinae, “post-media art manifesto”, Rhizome, (Jan 30th 2010)

“Post-media” become what happens “after” any work of Art, but also before and about any work of Art.

Now let’s extend the provocation from Post-Media to the general category of New Media, and from New Media to the family of the technologies where New Media emerge.

The  widespread adoption of informatic technology raise additional awareness towards the dynamic process from which copies and originals emerge.

When we go online looking for shoes, we mostly use search engines like Google and try to connect to the “experience of shoes” online.

All we get is information about shoes, pretty images of strange models, limited editions of specific brands, famous people talking about their feet and special offers on aerosol mixtures to spray on your sneakers and keep them smell-free.

We never get the “real” experience of shoes, we always get the experience of what’s before, around and about shoes. Things are not what matters anymore. Things might eventually enter the picture of the experience, but “it ain’t necessarily so”.

What’s before, around and about something become something. Our online behavior change our offline perception of reality into Reality Models of processuality where looking for information “about” things become the natural reference frame to understand what is Real.

On Facebook and most other Social Media platforms available today we do not have to look for shoes, someone connected to our social Network of “friends” talks about shoes, and instantly we become the space where all the words and images of shoes can come into existence.

Considering how we spend more and more time online, our mind is learning to recognize the experience of what’s around, before and about something as more and more critical to organize a picture that informs Reality Models of our existence “offline” too.

The language of Successorship become the words that help us organize the information of our experiences parting from sterile concepts and definitions that artificially remove the temporal dimension from the reality we describe.

Con la trasformazione modellistica compito della psicologia diviene la formulazione di modelli, o di un modello generale del funzionamento psichico, come struttura logica di una rappresentazione empirica strutturalmente isomorfa al suo universo”

(Olivetti Belardinelli, 1976)

Following this simple suggestion from Professor Marta Olivetti Belardinelli we will consider the most useful “Reality Model” to be the one that better suits our needs of making sense of our experiences in general and emergence of copies and originals specifically.

Copies and originals become points of Observation of the processuality of what happens before, around and about them.

Context become the empirical take on a language of fantasies otherwise removed from a useful correspondence to reality.

“what happens Next” restore the temporal dimension into creation of copies and originals.

The language of Successorship talk about how copies bring us closer to the processuality of originals.

 All through this article I was inspired by several contributions from respected authors in the field of Cognitive Sciences but I had to keep many important references completely outside of the picture.

The selection of those quotes 
I have decided to include in the narrative of the present article reflect a personal choice and the generalizations I have ventured to deduce are solely 
my responsibility.

I am looking forward to a critic response from the hearts and minds of those readers that will feel moved to take part in the debate and it is my hope this brief text will kindle some curiosity about the temporal dimension of copies and originals and… “what happens Next”.

Andrea Traldi. PhD candidate. The I-Node of the Planetary College, University of Plymouth.