fig. 53: Heated , 1996
© Corinne Whitaker

unfolding: a memoir

IV Locality

My land is the land of beyond, the American West as a mindset into untapped regions, beyond the geographic frontier to a postbiological interface. I dwell in the infinite possibilities of the digital world. I am drunk with the power of limitless space.

For what is space?

Something malleable and shapeless, ultimate soft sculpture?

Something invisible but accepted - we cannot touch it, smell it, taste it, but we acknowledge its presence and succumb to its lure?

Is space an antagonist to be conquered, or a commodity to be traded: who "bought" the space above Grand Central Terminal in New York City? Who "sold" it? Was it fenced? Surveyed? Was there a for-sale sign on it?

fig. 54: A Perfect Match, 1996
© Corinne Whitaker

Do we use space to define ourselves - the place where I stop and the other begins?

What would a world without space be like? Would we all be merely cohabiting images that violate each other's body spaces and transmigrate into and out of each other? Would we then eat up each other's boundaries, a visual equivalent of life's ruthless dictum to eat or be eaten? And if there are no boundaries, where does God end and where do you begin?

fig. 55: Couple, 1994
© Corinne Whitaker

Does space mean location? In cyberspace I am in at least two spaces at once. Which is my space? And where do I stop, and where does cyberme begin?

Cyberspace has been defined as the new Town Hall, the village square, the neighborhood back fence, the old west cracker barrel. It's where folks chat, gossip, exchange views. It's about a sense of place where miles don't matter and bodies don't intrude. How come I can get there and still be here? Do "there" and "here" mean anything anymore?

fig. 56: Reclining Woman, 1996
© Corinne Whitaker

When I "space out", where do I go?

fig. 57: Mask, 1997
© Corinne Whitaker

Insanity is a kind of space, a quicksand, an abyss, into which the madman slips and is helpless to return. The artist crosses and recrosses that wild terrain, intimate with the depths of inner freefall, knowing that she must reach into rejected inner space jungles in order to create, yet able to forsake that wild terrain in order to survive.

fig. 58: Man, Hiding, 1997
© Corinne Whitaker

fig. 59: Young Buck, 1997
© Corinne Whitaker

Out of the formless void, Nature's paintbrush yielded us. Something from nothing. Beings being, differentiated from infinite space by boundaries of skin and bone, hair and nails. Now we are in turn violating the spaces of gravity. Masters of intelligence that we are, we imitate nature by creating a new cybergeography. Failures in judgment that we have proven ourselves to be time and time again, space and space again, will we blow it, or blow up? Disappear into the space bar of the cosmic keyboard? Can a giraffe fly far enough, fast enough, to escape? Can you?

fig. 60: Child At Play, 1996
© Corinne Whitaker

Yet there is no turning back. As astronauts of inner space, our fascination with light and the light of truth centers not on stars and planets but on electrons and glowing phosphorus. All from the power of a zero and a one, we delight in the explosion of knowledge that the digital space offers us. On the cusp of the new, at the start of the Age of Aquarius, we celebrate exploration. We embrace the freedom to look beyond the end, to see if there is more there than Faulkner predicated in his Nobel acceptance speech: "Man's puny, inexhaustible voice, still talkin'". We insist on the right to hear that voice, to confront its possible extinction, and to gaze boldly into its future.


All text and images © Corinne Whitaker.