Re: [-empyre-] Re: empyre Digest, Vol 29, Issue 9

I agree with what Alan is saying - I'd condense it as technologies representing instantiations of ultimately neutral material realities, and while it can be a challenging sort of mental gymnastics for artists to strip these of their cultural connotations (which might be bound to their military origins or past applications, and which certainly deserves initial interrogation), it can also be useful for artists to move productively beyond the social and political critique of the technology and go onward to examine the formal properties and new possibilities for any new media. These too can be political, but more in the sense of creating new applications or configurations of practice than to reveal (or worse restate for too long, over and over) the political problematics implied by any technology's social past.

Brooke's point about locative media is a great one. Much of the potential of locative media has been lost in an exclusionary obsession with the social impact of the technology, the urban, surveillance, geo-annotation and mapping. The imaginary of the artist as want-to-be sociologist who is going to visualize our problems, behavior and expose the social potential of locative media has dominated the field, so I too worry about this, as these are the exact same approaches to the technology companies and government surveillance have taken. Probably it is time to see what else we can make locative media do that rewrites our assumptions. Formally or politically, this is a way out of the sociology rut.

brooke singer wrote:
My criticism of "locative media" stems from the fact that what I see is a
lot of art work playing up or into the newness of the technologies when in
fact many are not that new at all, just newly available for consumers. I am
responding to the use of GPS/GIS/mobility to celebrate participation,
many-to-many communication, place-ness and the fusing of art into the
everyday -- which, yes!, are things to celebrate. But these are means not
ends -- where is the purpose rather than to demonstration that it can be
done? OK, well maybe the purpose is to have some fun, but for me that is
just not enough when participation and speaking out/across divides LOUDLY is
so, very, very desperately needed--so to see that potential used, or thrown
away rather, is incredibly disappointing and frustrating! Art in my book
should (yes, should) transform/re-imagine/alter my assumptions and when I
don't see that over and over again or -- even worse -- when the end result
of work by artists/designers/architects reinforces the agendas of technology
companies or government surveillance platforms, then I am worried.

On 4/13/07 12:19 AM, "Alan Sondheim" <> wrote:

Dear Alan,

I'm uncertain as to whether or not I entirely followed your meaning
in this statement:

" To use the technology as entertainment doesn't negate the other
uses, or do injustice to their injustices. In other words, does all
art have to reflect its political-sociological- militarist-etc.

Would you mind expanding upon this a bit more - thanks -



This is probably poorly phrased - what I meant was, if one uses the tech
for infotainment, this doesn't mean that a. the militarism goes away or b.
that others might well take a different, politicized stance, towards the
technology. And if someone uses the tech for entertainment, this isn't an
injustice, i.e. necessarily unethical position in relation to the injus-
tice of the originary moment or use. The second sentence questions whether
art must necessarily 'be political' in a conscious sense (obviously all
art embodies politics, etc.) - whether politics must be addressed. And I
think not; I fear any 'should' or 'must' or 'have to' in relation to art,
which is one of the (inauthentically to be sure) 'free' fields that remain
- in the sense that hopefully one does what one wants, with whatever tech
one wants. I remember arguments about Second Life - how can you partici-
pate in such a corporate/controlled environment? - but for me, it's
useful, I'm not naive about the software-economic parameters involved, but
within the 'space' I can do work I literally couldn't do otherwise,
neither in real life nor through video/audio files/documentation.

Again, hope this makes some sort of sense.

- Alan
empyre forum

-- Brett Stalbaum, Lecturer, LSOE Coordinator, Interdisciplinary Computing and the Arts Major (ICAM) UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, SAN DIEGO Department of Visual Arts 9500 GILMAN DR. # 0084 La Jolla CA 92093-0084

Office hours:
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