Cybertextspace: Culture as Program -- Textual Sign Spaces and Textual Signsof Space as result

Dr. Karin Wenz, English Department, Universityof Kassel

The term culture turns out to be multifaceted: culture vs. nature, material vs. mentality are topics which are highly disputed. The basis of my investigation was an understanding of culture as program. This means that culture is not defined by its artifacts but as an underlying program of  semiotic coding which is the basis for our construction of reality and possible worlds.

Lotman's thesis that there exists a parallel between consciousness, text and culture points to the capacity of texts to represent our perception of space. Signs of space in texts are products of a complex process of  linearization which have to transform three-dimensional space into linear and therefore one-dimensional language.The term sign spaces refers to the possibility of texts to create their own spaces in a metaphorical sense. Iser's hypothesis that so called "reality" and the constructionof virtual spaces in literature do not have to be interpreted as oppositionbut as mediated by imagination was leading my analysis. The example of the literary construction of spaces demonstrates that the experimentation with patterns of our perception leads to an esthetic transformation of space which becomes fragmented and mosaic.

 The reciprocal influence of the different arts broadens the possibilities of narrative space in completely new ways.We have to give up models which try to describe the text as one world in favor of an open multifaceted view of textuality. The text as a labyrinth of a network in which all nodes are serially connected forms an unlimited space. The text can be described as the number of its possible links. It communicates by branching out. The text theories of Barthes,Kristeva, Derrida and Eco come to be the program for the description of the new hypermedia.

The new hyperculture cannot be conceived solely within traditional categories, because it stands for a cultural state of permanent dynamics. It is a continuous revision and interpretation of categories, and therefore of possible cultures, which let its influence grow as a political, economic, and cultural space of tomorrow. The suspension of borders, spatial proximity which is simulated by the worldwide networked information, cyberspaceas space in space open up reflections on fictionality of space in general. Hyperspace represents and comments on this imaginary spatialization without making the new boundaries visible. For the present a universal hyperculture is just a result of discourse and therefore a product of imagination.