THE MACHINES ABOVE US: AN OVERVIEW OF THE ‘CELESTIAL MECHANICS’ NEW MEDIA ARTWORK

2 03 2009

By SCOTT HESSELS

1 Image 1: Low Earth-orbiting Satellites

INTRODUCTION

The mechanical chaos above our heads affects us directly in an astounding array of ways. The technologies we take for granted, as banal as the GPS in our cars and our mobile phones, are nearly all airborne. Our communications, our media, our military, our science, our security, and our safety are all tied to mechanical superstructures drifting silently above us. Although we can’t see them or touch them, they too are part of what N. Katherine Hayles describes as the post-human tendency to physically extend ourselves through technology.

Read the rest of this entry »

Advertisements




TERROR INCOGNITO: STEPS TOWARD AN EXTREMITY OF MIND

1 03 2009

By ROY ASCOTT

Reductionist alert! A health warning to our friends in the reductionist camp: artists will look anywhere, into any discipline, scientific or spiritual, any view of the world, however extreme or esoteric, any culture, immediate or distant in space or time, any technology, ancient or modern, in order to find ideas and processes which allow for untrammelled navigation of mind, and the open-ended exploration of consciousness. We recognise no meta-language or meta-system that places one discipline or world-view automatically above all others. This is why we look in all directions for inspiration and understanding: to the East as well as the West; the left hand path as well as the right; working with both reason and intuition, sense and nonsense, subtlety and sensibility. It is a transdisciplinary syncretism that best informs artistic research, just as it is cyberception that enables our focus on multiple realities, and technoetic instrumentality that supports our self-creation, and our telematic distribution of presence and re-configuration of identity. Fundamentalist Materialists may find some content of this text offensive.

Earlier societies approached unknown lands, the terra incognito of the unmapped planet, with fearful caution. Citizens in many states today view their own cities with similar fearfulness, as a terror incognito, in the face, not only of terrorist threats from unknown quarters but of the very provisions claimed to ensure their civic safety – intensive surveillance, where every public space is monitored by police cameras, arbitrary powers of arrest for reasons unstated and unknown, indefinite imprisonment without trial, state approved torture – signalling the emergence of a political environment that exerts inordinate social control, leading inexorably to the loss of our personal liberty. This cloud of unknowing shrouds us in anxiety and fear. This is the military/industrial complex running wild, using paranoia to control the financial and political will of elected governments. It is a paranoia challenged by the liberating telenoia of the Net, the joy of connectedness that is universally celebrated in cyberspace. None the less, who knows who will strike next, the terrorist or agents of the state? Here indeed is terror incognito.

Read the rest of this entry »