[-empyre-] the netopticon

marc garrett marc.garrett at furtherfield.org
Thu Jan 13 04:30:55 EST 2011

Hi Christina & all,

I wanted to get back to your original post where you include news and 
stories referencing/linking to different happenings seen on the 
Internet, and through social networks such as Twitter and Facebook.

 >There was a story about a Simone Beck, aged 42, who
 >posted a suicide note on her Facebook wall and "none
 >of her friends responded".

At this point I think it would be useful to refer to various groups and 
individuals who have been critiquing human relationships with networked 
technology. It was Critical Art Ensemble (CAE) who in 1995 said "Each 
one of us has files that rest at the state’s fingertips. Education 
files, medical files, employment files, financial files, communication 
files, travel files, and for some, criminal files. Each strand in the 
trajectory of each person’s life is recorded and maintained. The total 
collection of records on an individual is his or her data body - a 
state-and-corporate-controlled doppelganger. What is most unfortunate 
about this development is that the data body not only claims to have 
ontological privilege, but actually has it. What your data body says 
about you is more real than what you say about yourself. The data body 
is the body by which you are judged in society, and the body which 
dictates your status in the world. What we are witnessing at this point 
in time is the triumph of representation over being. The electronic file 
has conquered self-aware consciousness." The Mythology of Terrorism on 
the Net. Critical Art Ensemble. Summer 95. 

So, we can consider 'data body', was an earlier term, a form of 
recognition by artists concerning what has recently been mentioned here 
as the 'Netopticon'. This is where we (may) fall into the conception of 
believing the spectacle of ourselves, or rather we add content about 
ourselves to the Netopticon, data body versions of ourselves for others 
(who ever this is) to view. Just like our experience in receiving 
televisual examples of peer civilians, representations of people's 
everyday lives are distorted through frameworks spitting back out at us, 
the lowest common denominator. Everybody is in danger of watching 
everybody else, as other more important bigger issues occur, and we what 
we could all be really experiencing; is a manipulated interface, a 
gatekeeping facility which dictates the behaviour of many, via its 
defaults. Through these interfaces (on the whole) we could just end up 
watching ourselves and each other, enacting a form of mutual 
surveillance. Endlessly interacting and interacting, but not 
perceptively understanding or developing much more than feeding data 
collections like cows munching in a field. We eat the world as it eats us.

Will get back to you in response to your other texts later.

Wishing you well.


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