Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Qualia, a confessionary.

“The obligation to confess is so deeply ingrained in us, that we no longer perceive it as the effect of a power that constrains us; on the contrary it seems that truth, lodged in our most secret nature, demands only to surface”.



The degree to which the meaning and sensation of confession has come to evolve over time, confession used to be perceived as the release of an unmentionable power that burdened and constrained us from living our desired “pure” life. In present day, the act of confessing is so common in our daily lives that it now seems to be of second nature. Man now feels obliged to confess the wrongdoings of their daily life by reporting it to the mass media or mass-networking sites. Confession now signifies a daily routine worked into our day-to-day lives; that instead of being optional, has almost become demanded of us to do so. The previously sacred art of confession has now become a routine over-exposed release.


Confessional culture has dominated not only western life but also all the rest of the world as well.  In everyday life, we are constantly revealing ourselves to our family, friends and to unknown public through the medium of verbal conversation, internet and television. In addition, classical confession is ongoing as well. This project proposes the importance to discuss the meaning confession and classical confession in modern society.

People are addicted to confession because of its cathartic effect: relieve of tension.  Stress is a big thing in health of modern society.  Therefore, confession became stress-relieving method for everyday life in our world.

Whether the person is speaking a truth or not, confession is received as reliable source.  It is hard not to believe a person in confessional mode, confession is culturally and historically related to “truth”. If confession is closer to truth, the more you confess in any form of medium, there is possibility of the more you get closer to finding and forming identity of yourself.


However, because of its excessive use of confession through convenient medium, the 'truthfulness' of confession has been reduced. On the contrary, classical confession still has its powerfulness as it used to be, perhaps it is due to its physical place where people are confessing.  The place involves more sensation to its participants. You wait in front of place before the confession and think what you are going to say.  You progress through to the place where you actually confess.    You can smell surrounding materials, touch the texture or ornament, experience light contrast, what is known as “qualia”. You can have the sensation that someone is listening. Classic confession, which involves a place, and a particular sensation, is much more powerful than any of casual confession we do in our everyday life.


Traditional confession, in a religious setting, has been between two people, the confessor and the listener.  However, what other models of confession exist today? Confession can be between one person, an internal conflict of denial and acceptance. Psychoanalysis can be viewed a non-moral therapeutic mode of confession. However following Foucault’s premise we can argue as a need of confession between one person and a mass audience. For example, Tiger Woods and his confessions of adultery.


In the Catholic Church, confession requires three acts; contrition, confession, and penance. Contrition is feeling sorrow for the sins committed. Confession is actual disclosure of the sin. Finally, penance is making amends for the committed sin. Therefore, it is interesting that only one stage of confession actually takes place in a confessional. In some instances, these three acts may not be in the traditional order or even take place in a confessional box. For example, a government official is caught cheating with his mistress. It is only after being forced to confess publicly and with a statement of apology does he begin to feel sorrow for his sins and attempt to achieve penance. Confession is supposedly anonymous. However, with technology, nothing is anonymous anymore.


“A man can certainly avoid facing tragic reality by imagining himself as somehow different than the being he truly is, but only at the cost of turning himself into something unrecognizable” –Michel Onfray,  ‘Atheist Manifesto’.


This quote, best embodies our present-day society. It identifies the defense mechanism people use to shield themselves from the “tragic reality” that is their life. It seems now that the possibility for an individual to become so submerged in their created persona that they lose grasp of their true character is all too fathomable. What is it that drives man to hide behind himself in what he believes to be a more acceptable and likeable façade? Why is it that man can hold back so much of his true self to the public eye, yet sit in a tiny space and confess the deepest of his emotions to a complete stranger? When man confesses, is he or she confessing the internal sins of a glorified exterior. Is confession still about the idea of repenting? Are we still operating in the mechanisms of guilt? The portrayal a moral condition or is it simply about the exploration of the “other”?

Feelings and experiences vary widely. For example, to run your fingers over sandpaper, smell a skunk, feel a sharp pain in my finger, seem to see bright purple, become extremely angry. In each of these cases, you are the subject of a mental state with a very distinctive subjective character. There is something it is like for me to undergo each state, some phenomenology that it has. Philosophers often use the term ‘qualia’ (singular ‘quale’) to refer to the introspectively accessible, phenomenal aspects of our mental lives. In this standard, broad sense of the term, it is difficult to deny that there are “qualia”. This is where it was decided to call the project “qualia”, today the act of confession implies several conditions, it is not argued as a moral act but as a desire, a need an impulse all accompanied by a specific sensation.


Disagreement typically centers on which mental states have qualia, whether qualia are intrinsic qualities of their bearers, and how qualia relate to the physical world both inside and outside the head. The status of qualia is hotly debated in philosophy largely because it is central to a proper understanding of the nature of consciousness. Qualia are at the very heart of the mind-body problem.


The entry that follows is divided into eight sections. The first distinguishes various uses of the term ‘qualia’. The second addresses the question of which mental states have qualia. The third section brings out some of the main arguments for the view that qualia are irreducible and non-physical. The remaining sections focus on functionalism and qualia, the explanatory gap, qualia and introspection, representational theories of qualia, and finally the issue of qualia and simple minds.

This project is basically a blackbox made out of black sintra with a corner condition strategy made by using a series of carved out voronoid surfaces that indicate the “fleshology” of the internal membrane of the project. The interior space is a figural baroque space surrounded by poche that operates in plan and section with two unassigned spaces for the confessioner and confessionee, however the dialogue can be personal and internal monologue. The interior is created by a striated space created by figural sections made out of polyurethane covered in white swimsuit lycra inspired by the Verner Pantone atmospheric furniture, in this particular case it is a “superficial purple” sensation. This surface is soft but with use it will start to transform and adapt over time to the trace and erosion of the users, a case between Kivi Sotamaa’s “extraterrain” and “orca”.  The confessional internal mid-membrane is a complex surface modeled in Maya and ZBrush that recalls several “qualia”. It is an ear, a kissing mouth, a vagina, or an anus; an undefined surface that produces specific sensations depending on the personal experience. It is interior or exterior producing a condition of being inside looking out or outside looking in. It is primeval or libidinal.  It presupposes bodily sensations as well as mental experiences.