re-calculating virtual ratios
“We fully accept that the divide between the digital and the real is meaningless.” This observation has become banal today, an object of consensus. Material (real) and virtual (digital) worlds have become inextricably meshed. They’ve been mixed in proportion to each other, cross-pollinating across a now-invisible colon separating 1 : 1 entities.
The comingling of Physical : Virtual depends on their initial framing as symmetrical bodies, partners in a proportional exchange. Two people sit on opposite ends of a seesaw, and the plank remains horizontal. One click equals one behavior. One real person equals one online identity. Reality : Representation?
To collapse a dichotomy is to deconstruct the opposition between equally-weighted and formerly mutually-exclusive concepts. Yet there’s a prototypical philosophical problem at stake – deconstructing deeply-rooted value systems often entrenches them deeper. Is the separation (the colon : ) between material and virtual really gone, or has it just been made transparent? The cleaner the glass between you and your virtual existence becomes, the easier it is to forget that the virtual world is a construct that can be manipulated independently of physical existence.
Re-calculating the 1 : 1 ratio of material to virtual, of body to self, could make unequal, hidden power structures visible, even if it requires temporarily reinstating an explicit dichotomy that allows a ratio to be calculated. This is both a mathematical endeavor and a phenomenological one. Mathematical mutual exclusion may be inherent in the architecture of the internet – 0s and 1s – but by skewing the ratios we imagine and theorize, it is possible to rewrite subjective, corporeal human experience into the codes within which we exist. Experience is not math. The human body is not symmetrical.