[-empyre-] Collective Media, Personal Media
Lets focus our conversation for awhile on how The New Media Reader works
with content. For example, Nick and Noah view the CAVE as the most direct
heir of the work of Myron Krueger, who created an environment for full-body
unencumbered interaction with a computational space.
This is a good example of how the editors link ideas and practices of
pioneers and prophets to our current milieu, point to key concepts, and then
suggest directions for new work.
-- in a non prescriptive manner....
For example: the CAVE is an immersive technology that could have certain
implications for critical technical practice (CTP) and cultural meaning.
In the New Media Reader, the CAVE is referenced with regard to its
precursor, the work and thought of Myron Krueger. It is in Collective Media,
Personal Media (II): Responsive Environments, by Myron W. Krueger, 1977.
(NMR, pp 377f)
"One perspective in Krueger's essay was unlikely to be at home in either the
art world or the computer science world of the 1970s---one that demonstrates
that his resistance to tradition notions of "content" did not come from
nihilism, lack of ideas, or lack of desire to impact the culture. The final
paragraphs of his essay echo the calls for lay understanding of technology
and resistance to technological determinism that underlie the 1970s writings
of Raymond Williams, Krueger, however poses the situation in a less
explicitly political fashion:
"" We are incredibly attuned to the idea that the sole purpose of our
technology is to solve problems. It also creates concepts and philosophy.
We must more fully explore these aspects of our inventions, because the next
generation of technology will speak to us, understand us, and perceive our
behavior. It will enter every home and office and intercede between us and
much of the information and experience we receive. The design of such
intimate technology is an aesthetic issue as much as an engineering one. We
must recognize this if we are to understand and choose what we become as a
result of what we have made.""
Noah's gloss continues:
"...Krueger's writing still provides some good advice today. Yet it is
not advice often followed. It continues to be very rare, both in academic
and commercial settings, for computer scientists, artists and those who tudy
culture to interact meaningfully. The design of our technologies is not
simultaneously approached as aesthetics and engineering. A curent step in
this direction is the building discussion around critical technical
practices (CTP). This term was coin by Phil Agre, on the pioneers of
reactive artificial intelligence at MITT...CTP describes a practice that
makes technological artifacts (computer sciences and engineering), but that
also works within traditions of the arts and studies of culture. These
latter practices offer a self-reflexive view to technological production --
one that can help overcome development roadblocks that are created by
'invisible' and potentially unhelpful assumptions about the nature of
reality -- as well as provide guidance for producing work that takes a
desired place within the larger culture, or even provides specific means for
intervention within the culture..."
And here Noah goes on to cite examples of creative work among computer
scientists Phoebe Sengers, Michael Mateas, Warren Sack; designers Pelle Ehn
and Terry Winograd, the thought of Norbert Weiner, and the art of Simon
Noah, and others, how would you view the the creative domain of the CAVE as
an arena for critical technical practices, or do you think that its history
promised more than it has been able to deliver? Does the NMR itself have a
role to play in clarifying the philosophical context of the CAVE, by
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