Catalogue: The Art of the Accident  
Catalogue text: C.O.T.I.S. Manifesto by Dominic Pettman

Catalogue: Hypertribes  

Catalogue: C.O.T.I.S.



Catalogue: The Art of the Accident
Published by the Netherlands Architecture Institute / V2 Organisation, Rotterdam, Netherlands, 1998


Catalogue text: C.O.T.I.S. Manifesto by Dominic Pettman
From the Art of the Accident catalogue
Published by the Netherlands Architecture Institute / V2 Organisation, Netherlands, 1998

Contemporary technologies trace a curve through time and space, a trajectory from the earth toward the heavens. gathered beneath the Genitron clock in Paris counting down the seconds until midnight 2000, our eyes turn upwards towards the sky in the hope that the twentieth century will hit escape velocity - the technotheology of the ejector seat. What is forgotten in this gesture, or perhaps denied, is the parabolic curve of gravity's rainbow: the trajectory back towards the earth in the swan-dive of an inevitable vertigo. The Arc of the Covenant. The Arc of Triumph. The (meta)physics of what-goes-up. They constitute the sacred sites of modern crash location, and they are the media-spectacles which C.O.T.I.S. seek to invert and infect.

C.O.T.I.S. stands for Cult Of The Inserter Seat. We are part of a global collective who seek to reintegrate the body into the material matrix. In search of the ultimate fusion between humachines and the plenum, it becomes imperative to invert the notion of innocence inherent in any 'return to the earth'. We propose to do this by reversing the telescoping of distance offered by highspeed travel and the spectacular vectors of the media-industrial complex. By digging into the earth and continuing the momentum of the crash, C.O.T.I.S. articulates the transcendent trigonometry of technology. These tunnels create a network which links into a constellation of impact points to create a zodiac for subtrerranean stargazers. Thus one tunnel from a particular crash site may intersect with one from another, forging a rhizomatic network of extended terminal velocities. C.O.T.I.S. containers mark these nodal points in a gesture designed both to orientate and punctuate. This reverse cosmology navigates the digital transarchitecture of the Internet, affording an opportunity fior organization still based on that of the smouldering wreckage of the surface. Beneath the ashes, beneath the dust, the nomadic tunnellers of C.O.T.I.S. map the hypertextual co-ordinates of a cartography which survey a global Bermuda triangle, now a more abstract form.

In exposing the Enlightenment logic underlying 'air-traffic control', C.O.T.I.S. extends the legacy of human inscription upon the earth -- the physical graffiti of a transitory presence. From chalk drawings on hillsides and paths trodden in deserts through centuries of architecture we have left our marks on the surface of the planet. Scars of other possibilities.

The scattered corpo-reality of impact zones produce a liminal space in which it becomes possible to retrace what it means to be mortal in the millennial moment. The body incorporates the crash, not the other way around. Thus we compel the gaze to turn from the sky to the ground, to the intraterrestrial life-forms which fertillize the soil of future auto-pilots.

'Shock' comes from the middle-Dutch work 'schokken' -- to collide. Only now the screen-fatigue of over- exposure and empathy burn-out necessitates a different strategic relationship to the sacrifical victims of the symbolic economy. As our fragile mammal brains try to decode signals beamed at us with increasing speed and accuracy, we find we become projectiles ourselves in the scopophilic logic of hyper-reality. Thus in order to counter the rhetoric of extinction we must push the fatal(istic) curve of the thanatic asymptote across the axis of its own complicity with the death drive. In simpler terms, C.O.T.I.S. exposes the closed-circuit of mediated mourning, along with the silent satellite witnesses of cathode addiction. The medium may well be the message, but the messenger moves more swiftly when there is the scent of blood and smoke in the air. The narrative baton passses from the crash through the lens to the studio to the television to the blood-shot eye in one fluid pan-optical movement. There is precious little time to blink (indeed the clockwork orange has been digitally upgraded for the information era, and we find we cannot blink).

C.O.T.I.S. both initiate and interrupt this news media circuit, playing with the Olympic torch of disaster footage which the spectacle attempts to keep alight, lest there be no disasters left to (un)cover. The space shuttle explosion marks the high-fire mark of this fetishistic history. Indeed, the fact that the social psyche can tolerate -- even crave -- the existential violence of the black box is both an abject lesson, and one of the most important moments of post-alienated estrangement. The black box contains the sacred Scripture of a terminal identity which becomes encoded onto the recording technologies of the day. Here are etched the famous last words which can be looped and re-played for aesthetic and forensic purposes. The ghost in the machine is nothing supernatural, and yet it haunts the rigorous mortis of our post-mortem era. These are missives from the missile: the ultimate articulation before the moment of impact. C.O.T.I.S. recognizes the symbolic charge of such statements in the context of crash-culture. The black box sound-byte circulates in the media as an accursed share; the devel's part of a system which thrives on its sacrificial inclusion into the logic of late capitalism -- like the terminal portraits of a lacerated Princess. Indeed, in the post-Diana mediascape it is impossible to recover the obsolescent innocence before the Fall.

C.O.T.I.S. is anti-apocalypse (although not necessarily anti-apocalyptic). Rejecting the neo-Cartesian discourse of technologies such as Virtual Reality and the neo-imperialism of space exploration, C.O.T.I.S. burrows into the earth to bury its containers and members in a step towards reversing the cosmology of teleological narratives. We rejoice in the memetic panic behind the Y2K problem: the millennial bug which threatens to freeze the entire system. This meta-crash coded into the mainframe all those years ago is a premise and a limit-horizon for the current installation. Whether the Y2K bug is the result of poetic myopia or a subconscious faith in the new millennium, the collision counters contemporary technocultural hubris in the libidinal economy. C.O.T.I.S. speak in tongues in order to distract those who would re-wire the Tower of Babylon.



Catalogue: Hypertribes
Published by LoveBytes Digital Art Festival, Sheffield, England, 1998





Catalogue: C.O.T.I.S.  
Published by KIT, Manchester, England, 1998