As a fundamental objection to ethical hedonism an “Experience Machine” (Robert Nozick (1974): Anarchy, State, and Utopia) condenses in itself much more than the attempt to prove that something far more substantial exists than just pure pleasure. The hedonistic approach – “pleasure is the only intrinsic good” – is being opposed to the idea that the choice between everyday reality and a supposed simulated reality can exist as an image. Thereby the existence of the imaginable becomes a reality itself.
It is the attempt of imagineering (Nozick), of an option, which articulates the notion of a “Pleasure Machine” (also ‘’Experience Machine’’). This means that a yes-no or 0-1 rule and above all, a logical choice can effectively weaken the concept of ‘’pleasure is the good’’.
In Nozick’s thought experiment an “Experience Machine” or “Pleasure Machine” is imagined. What proves to be particularly complex is the imagining itself. Therefore, to actually imagine a “Pleasure Machine” in everyday reality is an imaginary act in the sense of the philosopher R. Nozick. To substantiate a pleasure thus becomes an experimental object itself and the inherent aesthetics of the digital is therefore not sought in individual images, but rather in all image categories (Frieder Nake (2005): The Precise Pleasures. Early Computer Graphics and New Interactive Works, ZKM). The idea of choosing between real and imaginary is thus itself a machine, where the choice between everyday life and utopia means a transformation, as in the case of the transformation of electrical impulses into mechanical modules or gravitation into a deceleration-module.
In the work of Ralf Baecker devices and machines are bound in their functional mechanisms by natural laws, where they go through their endless possible states in transporting information on cords, electrical impulses and mechanical lever constructions. The starting point in this case represents a decision / option that complicates itself increasingly in the course of its functioning. An early decision /choice generates a simple input, abstractly as well as technically. Thereafter, the options reproduce independently and always refer to each other; The environment controls the operation of each individual segment. Operations, signal carrier and delay modules thereby form a “one-dimensional cellular automat” (R. Baecker – Rechnender Raum). The laws of physics are at the same time the output medium and the signal of the “apparatus” itself, you could say the set of rules to which a “machine” is geared, in order to illustrate acceleration, deceleration and time. Here, a reversal of the simulated into the everyday takes place, of the digital into the mechanical: the output medium is not a purely digital (simulated) input, it is in this sense not imagined. Instead, the input is subject to mechanical or physical laws (such as gravity or electrical conductivity) without being digitally modified. The input is dispersed and multiplied into signals without being alienated in its shape, though its complexity and multiplications are composed of diffusion’s. The “machine” instead remains self-contained, specific and always logically referring to itself.
Text: Sandra Moskova