[iDC] Re: (re)situating and situated technologies discussion

mollybh at netspace.net.au mollybh at netspace.net.au
Fri Sep 29 21:15:16 EDT 2006

dear chris, mark, karmen, and others, 

now i am getting a better handle on what is intended to be central concerns and
defining of "situated technologies" at the forthcoming symposium. i have been
reading my digests, 40, 41 with a lot of enjoyable, particular interest now that
these delicate ideas are being fleshed out by some of the contributors and
organizers. when mark writes:

<As I see it, there is a big difference between screen-based, "digital" 
design and fabrication environments (the computer as tool) and
pervasive/embedded/locative/context-aware technologies (computing as an
environment). The symposium is concerned with the latter.>

this is very helpful to know what is what and what is not, but i would also
suggest that the digital and screen based world needs to be viewed a tad
differently - laptops and technoart/cultural spaces being "productive" but not,
obviously, the same as desktop office spaces where CAD drafting takes place - 
and then mark wrote, querying chris: 

 is it, once again, simply a question of a re-purposing of
technologies generated and handed down by the military or corporate
America.  Or, as it seems you are suggesting, is it that
architects/artist need to advance these developments ahead of the
military –industrial curve?>

and i want to respond here because i feel we need to look elsewhere than this
argument, despite obvious links to the military and corporate structures for the
development and deployment of technologies. i've been doing some work on david
lyons' 'surveillance' writings. he queries the idea of surveillance as a
negative/control/power "thing" v. 'surveillance' as a caring phenomenon, for
example and i find this a needed sort of antidote to the panopticon/command and
control spatial model, which lingers still in "old" space even from the 70's
onward...despite efforts to superficially de-hierarchize spatialities within new

i'm obviously not in new york, but i've been intrigued by the idea of 'open
source' architecture which is the basis of curator/architect david hotson's
exhibit and the eyebeam competition - if i am not mistaken? in such an example,
can we say that we have some idea of where we are going with new forms and the
influence of the digital, even the embeddedness of new technolgies as enviroment? 

but back to power and control and resituating power through technology, 
i think chris was suggesting that power and technology are 
intermingled and cannot be separated and that new forms of space may well
reinscribe power - and how can we not reinscribe the same forms of power as in
the past, or, i will extrapolate, what forms of power do we want to reinscribe
and which do we not? 

i appreciate this question, or idea, if i understood chris' meaning - we cannot
 simply fall into the military/corporate repulsion. why? because a) there are
other communities which also have forms of power, gender relations, racial
relations, income/economic relations, traditional cultural relations, etc and b)
because we'd have to give up our sony walkmen, and dv cameras. however, we can
be repulsed by, i think it was karmen's post - the static monument in
architecture - sure - or tract housing. i was made hopeful by chris' insertion
of the Cola pavilion by EAT - back to Peter Cook's book "Experimental Architect"
and some of the plans (for much hypothetical futurism) for mass
entertainment/swimming pool pavilions with flexible, robotic moveable walls and
so forth. 

i don't know, my dear list, i think these ideas, while heroic, (like elevated
walkways!!!! and pneumatic tubes for cruising around) are monumental (and
hollywood cinematic) in their depiction, (even in Archigram's films and
drawings, albeit sort of appealing on other levels) and kind of exhausting, to
be sure, though i appreciate moveable walkways in airports. they are curiously,
heroic in their elevation of the "mobile" if you will, like Disney's interest in
"people moving" - to this huge human aptitude...it's really an exhausting
concept - No one wants to live or dwell on the move like that - meandering
maybe, but so much "futuristic" architecture, including certain critiques i've
heard of  the "derive" superimposes movement, movement, movement onto living,
urg. maybe i'm just getting old, but that kind of mobility, in conjunction with
too much automation is positively not the way anyone wants to exist and can even
be construed, i would argue, as the confluence of a kind of alienated
militarization of space with everyday life, something which in these militarized
times may be structuring our bodies unwittingly... according to Robert Hughes -
do i have this name correct? i'm working off tired memory - the Australian ex
pat art critic's commentary on the derive in his weries on modern art is that
they were sort of running around or marching around Paris like a bunch of noisy,
hyper hooligans. 

i'm trying to get to a point. as chris seemed to suggest, how do we avoid
reinscribing forms of undesired power? i guess this is where 'architecture' and
network architectural formations blur into a politics, and surely, as i sit in
my corporate-guided (EDMC) academic environment, i am in a CAD land and the tool
discourse abounds,- a kind of encrustation of games programming and copyright
happy production - and i try to launch the concept to my students that they need
to comprehend the future importance of the "ramp" not because it is "futuristic"
but because of the  ADA and the potential beauty of the "ramp" and the fact that
its so easy for another invisible population - parents - to run errands with
strollers because of the 1994 ADA's (Americans with Disabilities Act) influence
on public space, making mobility not just a thing of the car, but also of the
ability to be ambulatory - and the Dutch activists making Digital Cities
Amsterdam,were forming websites into a "city of locations", a different set of
formations, --i think this sort of flattening of real space into networked unity
is very important - maybe low tech compared to other 'context aware' devices -
but necessary in today's overwhelming metropolitan oeuvre. 

so, how do we negotiate the spatialities of everyday life if everyday life
includes, for example commercial space, over which we have little control? or
how do the scholars on the list who need to intersect with these plebian worlds
on some level feel about that question? design a robot who will go to the market
and ride the subway for you?  i guess some of my questions revolve
around policy issues,too, the control of the use of these technologies and their
abuse of use, while others revolve around the potential of public art to deface
and deform and map (surveillance camera players) these technological localities
and still others, of my questions that is, are completely concerned with the
motion of architecture as a form of minutia




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