The Virtual is Corked: Schizophrenic Modes of Meaning-Production in the Interstitial Semiotic Space of the Virtual
Abstract: The schizophrenic modes of meaning-production for the virtual arise from it being an interstitial space that mediates instead of inertly connecting that which it signifies. Virtuality is a discursive formation rife with active and plural signification – signification that is constantly in flux. Lessig’s virtual Social Contract – or, Lex Informatica – is the code that would produce referentiality between sender and receiver when a digital object signifies through the virtual. Without the Lex Informatica, the virtual is corked. In oenology (or the study and science of wine and wine-making), “corking” is a process whereby a wine is said to go bad. Corking does not refer to a situation where particles of cork float in the wine, but rather where a natural fungi that may reside in cork, comes in contact with certain chlorides present in sterilization products used in wine-making. A chemical compound called TCA is produced (Gorman-McAdams). This “cork taint” chemical becomes an interstitial element for the wine and cork while redefining and controlling the meaning of each. Virtuality as semiosis - or the virtual as a semiotic spatiotemporal register - becomes the digital taint for a digital object’s machine meaning and meaning in language (the engineering register and linguistic register, respectively). Virtuality is a virulent “chemical” that brings about Chun’s “visual culture” and the fetish of “transparency”, but this virulence need not necessitate neo-luddite reactions.