[iDC] Interactive City: irrelevant mobile entertainment?

Kevin Hamilton kham at uiuc.edu
Sun Aug 20 12:49:22 EDT 2006

Getting a lot from the posts this weekend, thanks to all for the lengthy 
thoughts and references to other critiques in line with this thread. I'm 
learning a lot.

A quick note - for those of you interested in the discussion of 
Situationist influence on new forms, nettime had a couple interesting 
posts this weekend - first a post of Eyal Weizman's article on the 
Israeli Defense Forces' application of critical spatial theory (even the 
derive) to their tactics in Palestine (and implicitly Lebanon, at this 
point). Then an interesting response from Keith Sanborn. If you don't 
subscribe look for the IDF thread here (Sanborn's post doesn't appear to 
be archived yet as of Sunday AM.):


Weizman's article:

Also - a question for John - can you say more about what you hope for 
from a "direct human connection" compared to a technologically mediated 
exchange? I'm not sure I know what you mean by that. I understand from 
your tourism example that some technologies are easily applied towards 
distancing, othering, even colonizing ends. But what is it exactly that 
happens in your picture when the tech goes away?


John Hopkins wrote:
> Hallo iDC'ers -- very nice to finally f2f some of you on Thursday 
> evening, and at other points during ISEA.  Many conversations to 
> digest, much inspiration to convert to creative output!  THANKS!
>> I have visions of techno-hipsters with bluetooth headsets jammed in 
>> their ears, capturing 15-second video clips of the urban "condition" 
>> on their phones, and txting knowing ; 's to their 
>> hipster-doppelganger pals in line behind them on the flaneuric 
>> boulevard of derives. But I wasn't there, so I don't know for sure. 
>> Maybe I'm just being harsh. [Another lurker delurks.]
> not too far off the path, Jeremy...
> I was most disturbed by the serious lack of interaction with the 
> 'real' city.  The conference/trade-show steel&glass core of San Jose 
> is a transplanted and embodied ideology that is part of the current 
> waves of 'urban renewal' happening in a large number of US cities (and 
> many post-Mall towns who had their centers blighted by suburban 
> mega-shopping centers) -- a trend that has been running for a couple 
> decades with varying degrees of 'success'.  That artificial core is 
> surrounded by the remains of community, albeit without a humane 
> central core to orbit around.  The locals reduced to service jobs 
> life-supporting the artificial core.  What? No grocery store!? good 
> evidence of unsustainable urban architecture.  Okay, there was a 
> farmer's market one day a week, but that seemed to cater to the yuppie 
> set and was not set up to sustain the area in a meaningful way...  And 
> the large Vietnamese community (reputedly the largest in the US) has 
> prospered -- were any representatives from it invited to the RIM 
> conference I wonder?
> However, outside, and to some degree, interspersed with this quite 
> inhumane architecture (and ideology) is the REAL city.  The hard-core 
> chronic street population, the student culture (FWIW), the Latino 
> porch chill culture (and the WHOLE LATINO CULTURE as well!!!!), the 
> other cultural communities -- all substantially ignored.
> With our global agenda, our techno-sophistry, our clean and sleek 
> appearances, we blended in seamlessly with the image of Silicon 
> Valley, but remained somewhat silly looking conferencees with dangling 
> wired and wire-less appendages and apparently flown in from some other 
> demographic universe.  incongruous.
> Of course, seamless integration isn't ever going to happen anywhere 
> and there are always interstitial moments to reach across any social 
> barriers.  but why wasn't there a formal interface with the local 
> Latino or Vietnamese community?  It was nice to check out the gallery 
> just up from the ICA, but that was the only event I ran across, aside 
> from the nice vibe of local folks chilling at the Caesar Chavez park 
> fountains (and the kids playing in the water with the blue-and-white 
> screen devices from that one zero-one project).
> but our general demographic of techno-fetishizing places us in/locks 
> us into a particular locus in the contemporary urban US landscape.
> some personal reflections on the locative aspects -- I went out on 
> some initial 'test runs' on several 'official' projects that friends 
> had initiated.  in all cases there were significant problems with the 
> technology, and between that and walking around with headphones I felt 
> very much less connected with the 'pulse of the city' -- compared, 
> say, to the evening of gallery hopping which left open significant 
> social spaces for unexpected encounters with the Other. Now I must say 
> that I do respect efforts people make to take contemporary 
> technologies and somehow use them to reclaim social ground.  However, 
> there pops-up in my mind often the metaphor of "the master's tools.'  
> and whether the profound significance of that metaphor has yet to be 
> explored fully in the context of locative (and other social-space 
> art/activist deployments).  Somehow, projects need to take into 
> account possible permutations of the technology employed that the user 
> might invoke to totally undermine the expected use -- and build on 
> that.  I felt that several projects have the air of an attempted 
> military-like deployment, an aimed-at rigor, a clean execution of a 
> plan, when warm social spaces are replete with error, mistake, and 
> humane possibility.
> Perhaps these are the lessons of imperfect deployment -- what happens 
> in the social space when the expected technological deployment doesn't 
> take place.  maybe un-mediated Dialogue?  hmmmm.  I think I'll propose 
> a project with a large technological infrastructure guaranteed to 
> fail, to breakdown, and in that interstitial space, use one of those 
> ubiquitous battery chargers to make tea to facilitate a warm space 
> like the CRUMB crew so successfully did...
> I've always believed that when a technology inhibits the possibility 
> of a direct human connection, that it should be dispensed with 
> immediately.  Clinging to a device which actually interrupts some kind 
> of more direct direct connection will eventually cause a deeper sense 
> of alienation, IMHO...  (the history of camera-based tourism is a good 
> example...).  Is there a formula for using the device another way to 
> dispel alienation?
> okay, a few rapid comments for a Saturday morning...
> cheers
> John
> ps: some earlier critical musings from Riga in 2004, from my written 
> notes compiled for a short Baptist rant at RAM 5:locative at RIX-c 
> :http://neoscenes.net/travelog/comments.php?id=32_0_1_0_C
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