There was no civilization or human society that did not believe in God. In that context, (world’s) creation was a God’s attribute. It was accepted that creation and fabrication were not equivalent terms. God, The creator, is not to be placed at the time which the physicists envisage as the first moments of the world. Neither the Big Bang theory, nor the first void theory explain the beginning of everything. There is something that was granted. Somebody gave it. Nothingness is at the beginning of everything. And the world comes from this nothingness. What is nothing? Nothing, J.-L Nancy writes, “is the fact that something in general exists, all of us do”[i]. It’s not something, and at the same time, it is not nothing. It’s the fact that something exists. In the Kabala it is said that God creates the world withdrawing, emptying Himself.. By emptying Himself, God gives way to the void in which the world can take place. God is the void that opens itself. This religious conception of the world is in crisis. The phonetic literacy invented Nature, separating it from the chaos of the oral world, something that the myth of the fall clarifies.. “Technologies are artificial but (paradox) artificiality is natural in the human being”[ii].
To create, in the Bible, is to separate, to speak and to act. Creational conception, common to the different civilizations of the old Near East, which differ only from myth to myth, consists in the transformation of chaos into cosmos[iii]. Gn 1, 26-27 expresses the creation of humanity by the term “bara”, the technical term to refer to God’s creational action. Francolino Gonçalves translates, indistinctly, the Hebraic ‘adam’ as “human being” or “humankind”. When enunciating the project of moulding humankind, (Gn 1-26), God uses two words: image (selem) and resemblance (demût). Besides , this exegete says, “the word image has a specific meaning. It indicates an object which reproduces or represents another reality, generally, a wooden, metal or stone statue”[iv]. Plassó means in Greek to model, to form, to imagine, to pretend. Plasma is all which is modelled (modulated, affected, presumptuous), fiction. The verb Kakoplaston means badly tied or put together. Asustatos defines the incoherent, inconsistent. Divine “fiction” (plasantos 585) is that way of looking which only the gods can perform when they embody language; epic fiction, the one that poets know how to perform[v]. To act, in the Christian version, means effort, inquietude, and suffering. From that comes the long standing analogy between creation (in art) and to give birth. In medieval scholastic, form lies, in a certain way, in matter whilst matter has an aptitude and an order for form[vi]. Olivier Boulnois rightly sustains that “whichever the attempts to leave the creational model (“installations”, conceptual art, usage shift, etc.), these experiences still assert themselves in relation to the model they refuse, and ratify it a contrario: it is impossible to conceive the artistic production ignoring the Jewish and, later on, the Christian notions of creation”[vii] .
Western culture, in fact, broke with the concept in which Jehovah modelled the human form with clay. It also broke with the idea that the artist changes brute matter into human matter by casting it into an intelligible form. As I, myself, put it once: “In the new creational system, the artist no longer assumes the writing or the drawing of a message, but rather conceives a system generator of works, invents a new formula, exhausting its possibilities in each creational act. The artist aims at the source, not at the message, not at an actual object, but at the world of possible, hazard and need. Chaos”[viii]. Western tradition will turn acting into a demand for reality. To make and to act mean to produce. Pro-duce (pro-ducere) means to lead in front of, to that out of the world that conjointly defines phenomenal and real. We are far away from the time when it was believed (Acadian myth) that “Gods made man” or “in the beginning God created heaven and earth” (primordial combat myth). Nowadays, we prefer the programming or invention concepts to the creation one. Technical evolution modified the very notion of experiment. Numerical experiment appears as an essential complement which disturbs the notion of experimentation. When molecular biology creates a new species of bacteria or plant, it does not act, most of the times, by selection or direct intervention, but it recombines data. Infographics abolishes matter or any other physical substratum. The machine role in creation is more important than the one brushes and putty used to have. We are no longer in sphere of applying mechanical forces, not even in the period of the changing power of fire; instead, we are deciphering fundamental writing and composing new texts[ix]. The point is: “Cyberart changed radically our relation with matter, becoming dialogical[x]”. Interactivity, when it does not question the creation concept, widens it. “Creativity, suffering the effects of democratization, becomes mechanical. Radical sacralisation: is the same gesture of Duchamp”, says J. Baudrillard[xi].
The Latin- American post-vanguardist movements, as exemplified in the “Poema PROCESSO” and “A Poesia para Armar e/ou Realizar”, tried to dislocate the creational centre (therefore emission) to the reader. This was believed to be the first step for the disappearance of the notion of an author-artist placed above creation. In this new creational system, the artist no longer assumes the writing or the drawing of a message, it conceives a system generator of works, invents a new formula, exhausting its possibilities in each creational act. The artist aims for the source - not the message, not a real object, but the world of possibilities, hazard and necessity. Now the artist only conceives a work generator system. The artist became a generator of automatic texts. Rather than creation, we’d better talk about “the logic of invention” (Gregory Ulmer), or automatic generation (P.Barbosa). Pedro Barbosa’s project of Computer Generated Literature (CGL) designates a new creative procedure, born with Computer Science, where the computer is used in a creative way, as a manipulator of verbal signs and not as a mere preserver and transmitter of information. The creative usage of the computer varies according to the generative potentialities of the algorithm inserted in the programs. The artist conceives the model of the work to create (program), the machine develops and executes the multiple real realizations of that model within a range of possibilities. The source-text (pattern), reminds Pedro Barbosa, conceived by the author in a latent or potential state, opens up to a range of variable possibilities, and eventually to infinity, which will constitute the collection of updated or concrete textual states. E. Couchot is peremptory: “What makes the specificity of numerical technologies is not its immateriality but its programmability, that is to say, the fact that they reduce themselves to computer programs susceptible of being automatically processed by the computer machine”[xii].
In short, the computer only follows given instructions. Numerical, to be installed, supposes a strong rupture with the traditional supports and materials. With this rupture, the character of the Author disappears, and what emerges in the horizon is the end of Style and of virtualization of the Real.
Francolino Gonçalves, “Bíblia e Natureza”, in Cadernos ISTA, nº 8, 1999.
Jean Baudrillard, Le paroxyste indifférent, Entretiens avec Philippe Petit, Paris, Grasset, 1997.
Edmond Couchot/Norbert Hillaire, L’art numérique, Paris, Flammarion, 2003.
Sylvie Leleu-Merviel, Création numérique - écritures - expériences interactives, Lavoisier, Paris, 2005
J. M. Salaüm e C. Vandendope, (org.), Les défis de la publication sur le web - hyperlectures, cybertextes et méta-éditions, Presses de l'ENSSIB, 2004.
Olga Kisseleva, Cybeart, un essai sur l´art du dialogue, Paris, L´Harmattan, 1998.
Olivier Boulnois, "La création, l'art et l'original", Communications 64, 1997.
Walter Ong, Orality and literacy: the technologizing of the Word, London, Routlege, 1982.
Jean-Luc Nancy, Au ciel et sur la terre, Paris, Bayard, 2004.
José Augusto Mourão, «A criação assistida por computador, a cibercultura », in Atalaia-Intermundos, nº 8/9, Lisboa, 2001.
[i] Jean-Luc Nancy, Au ciel et sur la terre, Paris, Bayard, 2004, p. 55
[ii] Walter Ong, Orality and literacy: the technologizing of the Word, London, Routlege, 1982, p. 82..
[iii] J. N. Carreira, Mito, mundo e monoteísmo (Biblioteca Universitária, 67), Mem Martins, Europa-América, 1994, pp. 9-27.
[iv] Francolino Gonçalves, “Bíblia e Natureza”, in Cadernos ISTA, nº 8, 1999, p. 17.
[v] B. Cassin, L’Effet Sophistique, Paris, Gallimard, 1995, p. 93.
[vi] Emmanuel Durand, “Au principe de l’amour: formatio ou proportio?”, in RT 104, 2004, p. 562.
[vii] Olivier Boulnois, "La création, l'art et l'original", Communications 64, 1997, p. 73.
[viii] José Augusto Mourão, «A criação assistida por computador, a cibercultura », in Atalaia-Intermundos, nº 8/9, Lisboa, 2001, p. 49.
[ix] Pierre Lévy, La machine univers. Création, cognition et culture informatique,Paris, La Découverte, 1987, p. 60.
[x] Olga Kisseleva, Cybeart, un essai sur l´art du dialogue, Paris, L´Harmattan, 1998.
[xi] Jean Baudrillard, Le paroxyste indifférent, Entretiens avec Philippe Petit, Paris, Grasset, 1997, p. 173.
[xii] Edmond Couchot/Norbert Hillaire, L’art numérique, Paris, Flammarion, 2003, p. 26.