[iDC] Re: iDC Digest, Vol 22, Issue 12

Daniel A Perlin dap265 at nyu.edu
Tue Aug 15 09:14:25 EDT 2006

Hi all, 
I have been a reader of iDC for awhile, and many threads have tempted
me, but this one seems to have touched and articulated so many of my
exact sentiments regarding locative media in general, so I thought I
might add my 2.0 cents. 

In my opinion, the following points raised by kanarinka are so critical
that they should be asked of each incoming project deemed locative. 

>So, my questions to the artists, the organizers, the attendees and
> everyone else is - is psychogeography/locative media work simply R&D
> for a new generation of entertainment spectacle? Or, what are we
> actually trying to do with these ideas of "play" in urban space? Who
> gets to play? And what about the interactive cities in Iraq and
> Lebanon and elsewhere? Why didn't we address war, security,
> militarization and terrorism as aspects of the contemporary
> interactive city? For me, running around making the city into a
> sandbox, a playground or a playing field feels increasingly irrelevant
> and irresponsible.

Somehow, the evasive nature of Debord's psycheogeographic models have
lent themeselves to the most abusive forms of appropriation (or perhaps,
as with anything that is powerful, it is a multi-edged sword). 

Clearly the sandbox idea is a diversion from Debord's concept of the
detournement. I quote:

If détournement were extended to urbanistic realizations, not many
people would remain unaffected by an exact reconstruction in one city of
an entire neighborhood of another. Life can never be too disorienting:
détournement on this level would really make it beautiful.
---Guy Debord, Gil J Wolman, A User’s Guide to Détournement Belgian
surrealist journal Les Lèvres Nues #8 (May 1956). 

(Translator’s Note: The French word détournement means deflection,
diversion, rerouting, distortion, misuse, misappropriation, hijacking,
or otherwise turning aside from the normal course or purpose.)

It seems to me that the sandbox is not point here for Debord. In fact,
what might be being begged by Debord, and perhaps some of these new
works, are new approaches to mapping itself. 

Although we should not privelege cartography as a mapping strategy per
se, some new ways to make some mess or sense out of our everyday lives
can be offered by these new technologies. Looking to Frederic Jameson,
as opposed to simple game theory  may be a strategy. 

Jameson states, 
An aesthetic of cognitive mapping – a pedagogical political culture
which seeks to endow the individual subject with some new heightened
sense of its place in the global system – will necessarily have to
respect this now enormously complex representational dialectic and
invent radically new forms in order to do it justice. –Frederic Jameson,
Postmodernism or the Cultural logic of Late Capitalism Verso 1991

I was and am not at ISEA as I have a residency in Barcelona now where I
am working on a psychogeographic sound project, but it seems to me that
much of the work in the field of locative media is blatant
technofetishization of the latest gadgets masked as art. Is abject
depoliticization of work needed to make it fun or marketable (I ask this
of the new york chelsea art gallery system as well)?

I for one would gladly go to "existentialist hells" to try to uncover
some spaces which have not been overcommodified by the priveleged zones
of bourgois play...
(Kevin Hamilton:) 
>I'm also suspect of permission
>granted or grabbed through mobility, for the same reasons that the
>cities and buildings of Constant look to me like an existentialist hell), 

Here Kevin, while I do love the link-up to Beckett, I feel that
Constant's New Babylon is anything but existentialist hell. What we
uncover and unfold from his new bablylon city is the always-already
existent individual psychogeographies present in the polis. His utopian
project, of relinking these sites through material and structure are
only physical manifestations of many of the ideals found in the earliest
utopian maps: one only need think of Moore's Utopia map from 1517, the
island where each city represents each other on the island of utopia. Is
this nota possible goal for the nonheirarchical approach designed by

Is there play in this utopia? Perhaps, but not necessarily "fun".
Interplay, dialogues, push and pull. Quite the opposite of the simple
misreadings of may '68 by the current bourgoise technorati. Sure, play
can be fun. But just becuase its fun doesn't make it play. And just
because you track it on GPS doesn't make it play or fun for that matter.
Every missile fired from and to iraq is tracked too. And for some in
power-plays, this "iraq thing" is just a playground as well. 

(am I alone in begging my fellow makers of things to please ask:)

"Who controls what and why?" 

Why are these questions always so taboo at these conventions masked as
conferences...? I probably sound bitter, but I get frustrated when i see
so much  potential energy just feeding the beasts. 

daniel perlin

----- Original Message -----
From: idc-request at bbs.thing.net
Date: Tuesday, August 15, 2006 3:24 am
Subject: iDC Digest, Vol 22, Issue 12

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