[iDC] Atoms, Bits, and Ubiquity

patrick lichty voyd at voyd.com
Fri Aug 4 08:45:08 EDT 2006

> My thought was that media/computing/communication would migrate from
> screen to the hand, onto the body, and off into architectural space.
> Mind you this is not a singular process, but a progressive one where
> media expands from the screen, over the body, and out into space.

Well, who is doing all this? This is not a neutral process but shaped 
by the forces of techno-capitalism so to speak. 

Absolutely.  The first paper was a bit of a phenomenological exploration
of now contemporary artworks explicated this shift.  As Postman stated
so well, technology is not neutral, but is driven by a vast net of
agendas (currently) based in control and capital.  And as time goes on,
there is a technocapitalistic drive towards increasing control on all
'units' of technocapitalistic society and the 'maximization' of
productivity in all forms.  Of course, this action abstracts humanity
(in my opinion the great crime of the late 20th century) into being
equal to any other unit or resource.

To reply to Saul, I think that in this context, the self tends to be
abstracted, at least institutionally, to the role of object; a human
resource rather than "person"nel.  F2F vs. phone conversation vs. IM vs.
email vs. texting.  In many cases, 1 find a lot of these shifts to be at
best unpalatable, and at worst repulsive.

And under the false rubric of choice, freedom, etc., action is only
really taken at the institutional level when an 'opportunity' can be
seen for increased efficiency in the circuit of capital or if anyone
tries to disturb it, and then the institutions of power and capital try
to silence (or eliminate) those sources of friction.

This is why I've had such an interest in things like mesh networks and
other technologies that can hypothetically be used to sidestep the
backbones of the infrastructure and create ad hoc social structures, as
I've written about in IA.  HOWEVER, the source of the technology (i.e.
the structures under criticism) still shape much of the function of said

Can we really free ourselves with the master's tools?  This is a
question that I am now far more circumspect about than I used to be.

> By and large, this pronouncement seems to have taken place.  The
> has moved to mobile/locative media, and media is burrowing into the
> physical. 

maybe not just burrowing, but also surrounding, conquering, 
colonizing? I think this process cannot just be accepted as a natural 
development on top of which artists stick some nice interfaces which 
aestheticise self-surveillance. But there is space for intervention, 
facilitated by the hacker community. Trebor has asked me to 
republish the following text on this list but as it is rather long I
to offer you the good old pull variation: 

Sure.  I hope that I did not imply that anything of the second sentence,
as much of my work does engage in forms of intervention.  

I agree with the first two verbs, but I no longer believe that there is
a colonizing force that is somehow destroying a preferable earlier
state.  As we can see from many cultures, post-colonial discourse merely
privileges a previous hegemony over a given 'oppressive' hegemony.
Given, the previous hegemony may be indigenous, and this is a major
point.  But unless we go back tens of thousands of years in history
until before systems of rule, even at tribal levels, there are
successive levels of impositions of power.

The same goes with (industrial?) technologies, albeit at shorter
timespans (hundreds instead of thousands of years).  Technologies have
been used to enable many processes which in turn have oppressed many.
This is evident all over the place from the steam loom to networks.
This, however, might be a larger conversation.

On the same site you find also some more of my writings, in 
particular on wireless free community networks on which I have 
written a book (in German) but also some longish English pieces. 

Excellent, excellent!
> The difference between 1999 and 2006 seems to be that the progression
> media is not as uniform as I thought, and broader.  Where I had
> more about embedded technologies, physical computing, locative, RFID,
> well as embedding seem to be the case.  
> What I wonder is:
> How does this mesh of communications networks affect our sense of an
> evergent/cybrid architecture (physical/information)?
> How does it affect our social structures, grouping, socioeconomic
> strata?
> How does the evolving physical/informatic 'city' change the way we
> create, dialogue, and collaborate?
> I realize that some of this is already discussed by Mitchell, but I
> to bring some of this up again to bring our viewpoints in line with
> move from the screen into space.
> I hope this meets with some of your interests.
> Patrick Lichty
> - Interactive Arts & Media
>   Columbia College, Chicago
> - Editor-In-Chief
>   Intelligent Agent Magazine
> http://www.intelligentagent.com
> 225 288 5813
> voyd at voyd.com
> "It is better to die on your feet 
> than to live on your knees." 
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