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Category: Contributed Texts

TEXT: Notes on March 2009 Visit to El Salvador, by Eduardo Navas

Front of Cultural Center of Spain in El Salvador

Image source: Cultural Center of Spain

Cultural Center of Spain invited me to lecture in San Salvador, El Salvador from March 8 to the 13, 2009. During this period I also learned about the contemporary art scene as well as the art history of El Salvador.

I presented my research on Remix at the Cultural Center on March 10, and I lectured on art and new media in the Department of Visual Arts at the University of El Salvador (popularly known as La Nacional) on March 11. I met artists from different generations, some who are becoming more established, and some who are up and coming. I also visited the Museum of Art (Marte) which currently is exhibiting a thorough survey of Art in El Salvador since the 1800’s

The Cultural Center introduced me to young artists who work in diverse media, including installations, painting, performance, photography, video and web development. The work was extremely diverse, and well informed about international trends. I asked the artists about their training and they explained that it was very traditional. They also added that they are aware of contemporary art practice in large part thanks to the ongoing exposure that the Cultural Center of Spain offers by bringing artists, curators, and writers under the ongoing thematic of “Curating Latin America,” the same platform on which I was asked to participate. Artists have also developed collectives to support their particular interests. I was able to meet a couple of them. One is Artificio (Artifice), a group of young artists who came together with the goal to organize workshops and lectures that they themselves coordinate. The aim is to develop an informed opinion of what is taking place not only in the country but also in the international scene as well. Many of the members have participated in exhibitions throughout Central America. There appears to be a thriving exchange in this area, in particular between Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua.

Four members of the collective Artificio about to eat pizza with loroco (a local Salvadoran flower) at a popular pizza restaurant in the downtown area of San Salvador.

Members of Articifio (as listed on their main website): Malcriada Victoria, Jaime Aguirre, Natalia Dominguez, Samadhi, Victor Rodriguez, Claudia Olmedo, Dalia Chevez

Another collective that I met is La Fábri-K (pronounced “la fabrica” meaning factory). The name comes from their studio space, a former factory located on the outside of the capital in which electric batteries were assembled. This group is open to artists of any generation, but for the most part its members are of an older generation and more established, some enjoy international attention. Many of them lived or were affected by the twelve year civil war which took place between 1980 and 1992. Their work is informed by some of these issues as well as the current politics, and gang violence. Other members have focused on representational or abstract work that at first glance might appear to reference previous movements in the international scene, but with an open mind one realizes that the works are reactions to local preoccupations. All subjects are tactfully approached with a well calculated critical distance and a strong awareness of historical precedents. Like members of Artificio, these artists have come together to support their diverse practices. Many of them paint, but their approaches and sensibilities offer a dynamic contrast of media from printmaking to installation work as well as online projects.

Two members of La Fábri-k, Baltasar Portillo and Mayra Barraza, at their spacious studio.

Members of La Fábri-k (as listed on their website): Luis Lazo, Romeo Galdámez, Mayra Barraza, Francisco Zayas, Baltasar Portillo, Amber Rose, Giovanni Gil, Fredis Monge, Jenny McGee

Experimental Space La Fabri-k
Experimental installation space at La Fábri-k. The collective plans to establish an artist in residence program in the near future.

I was also gracefully hosted by the director of the Museum of Art (Marte), Roberto Galicia, who gave me a tour of the current art exhibition titled “re-visiones: encuentros con el arte salvadoreño” (Re-visions: Encounters with the Art of El Salvador). The exhibition includes selected works from artists since the 1800’s. To expose the complexity of migration and immigration in the country and conventional notions of nationality, the curator, Jorge Palomo, opted to include work by artists who are of Salvadoran nationality who live or lived abroad as well as artists of different nationalities who opted to take long term residence in El Salvador. This curatorial decision exposes the complexities of the cultural shifts of El Salvador over two hundred years. The catalogue promises to be a valuable contribution to the understanding of the art of El Salvador. It is well researched, and offers a number of eloquent essays which reflect on the multi-cultural layers of El Salvador in relation to the art movements throughout Latin America.

Monument revolution
Monument to the Revolution (1948-56) by Violeta Bonilla (1924-1999) and Claudio Cevallos (information unavailable). Monument is next to the Museum of Art (Marte).

Museum of Art (Marte):

I was also able to meet other artists who work independently, they include Boris Ciudad Real, German Hernández, Alexia Miranda , Antonio Romero, and Danny Zavaleta. I also had the pleasure to meet Maira Maroquin, director of, an online resource devoted to art, media and communication.

Finally, I visited other cultural centers, including the archeological site Joya del Cerén, which is a unique place where we can learn how Mayan farmers lived. The site was covered with volcano ash and debris during an eruption of the Laguna Caldera Volcano c. AD 600. The site was discovered in 1976 and was opened to the public in 1993 according to the information provided by my guide.

My brief visit to El Salvador gave me energy to look forward to the future of art practice not only in the Americas, but around the world. The current state of production in El Salvador is ripe for more international attention. With the efforts by institutions like the Cultural Center of Spain in El Salvador in collaboration with the Museum of Art, great opportunities already begin to appear for local artists to become more established internationally. I’m glad to have been invited to experience this ongoing process, which will hopefully be written about by previous and future visitors invested in art and culture.

My many thanks to the Director of Cultural Center of Spain in El Salvador , Juan Sanchez, and Assistant Director, Mónica Mejía for making my visit possible.

Mobile Media and Experimental Workshops offered

Coming March to June…mobile media, animation, geotagging, web seminar, tool “skill ups” – media ecology – and more – workshops from itinerant media studies and digital culture experts – Molly Hankwitz and David Cox – Archimedia. Learn new skills in informal, hands on workshops designed to utilize the variable media platorms of today’s wireless, mobile, and portable culture. Classes are 40 for one 60 for two and 80 dollars for three. Saturdays 1 – 5pm now through early June. Untrain your brain at Artists Television Access 992 valencia Street in the Mission District. For more information pls check out the attached flyers.


Learn the basic principles of as well as hands-on animation techniques. Practice drawn animation with the zoetrope, ip books and other methods. Learn
how to set up a basic animation facility at home. Discover what freeware solutions are available for 2D drawn animation on a computer,
as well as stop motion programs which let you turn a digital camcorder and a computer into a puppet/object stop motion animation system.
By the end of the class you will have learned the basics of traditional animation, and how to apply the methods yourself at home using what tools
you have. Taught by award winning animator and lm maker David Cox. $40 per student. Limited to 8 students.
Saturday 4/11 and 5/30 — GEOTAGGING: MAPPING AND MEDIA
An overview of the available useful, free mapping resources and the bene ts and drawbacks
to each, including Google maps, Yahoo maps, MapQuest, and others. Examine the role these play in the development of geography-based art. Experiment
with GPS and geotagging; using portable screens for locative media. Learn the basics and the culture. $40 per student. Limited to 10 participants.
Saturday 4/18 and 6/6 — SOUNDTRACKS Develop the art of listening and expressing with sound. Sound sources, recording techniques,
how to produce primitive sound efx, aesthetics of audio will be studied in this brief immersion into sound design.
Non- lmmakers welcome. Make your own short soundtrack before picking up a camera, and identify audio sources on the Internet.
Good fun for lmmakers and non lmmakers alike. $40.00 student. Limited to 10 participants.
Saturday 4/25 and 6/13 — WEB STUDIES SEMINAR
This discussion-based workshop o ers an in depth overview of the World Wide Web as an historic
medium for the delivery of ideas. Presented as a three Part lecture/discussion, topics will include: Mark up language, Hypertext, the emergence of the
Browser and the URL, Cyberspace, public commons, multimedia/rich media, transformations in the concepts of networks, spimes, blogs and databases.
Great overview of the Web. A must for new media writers and aspiring culturalists.
$20.00 fee. No limit on enrollment.
Saturday 5/2 and 6/20 — USE WHAT YOU HAVE!!!– TOOLS SKILL-UP
Many people have new portable computing and digital gadgets.
Most gadgets are never used up to their full potential and so called “old” tools see the dumpster too soon. This workshop promotes sharing
of ideas about what to do with old and used tools, unusual or obsolete technology, and o ers tips, skills, and information on what kind of
power lurks in your personal communications technologies. Find out how much media power you actually have and let your inner geek out!!!!
$50 per student, limited to enrollment of 10.
Registration is non refundable and is confirmed by advance payment in full by check or money order with a note or email stating your
preferred classes and dates. Please include a list of what you intend to work with, and what you are interested in working on.
Checks should be made out to: Molly Hankwitz/Archimedia and mailed to:
3288 21st Street, #28, SF CA, 94110. Please no returned items.
Questions? Drop an email with your information to All classes are held at Artists Television Access,
992 Valencia Street, SF CA 94110. Confirm registration by email or check in mail to the above address. Note: ATA is not set up to
take calls re: Archimedia workshops.
Please contact us:
or call at 415 401 5227, or 415 283 7757 (cells) Course dates may be subject to change.
Learn to make mini movies using what you have – use old camcorders, old webcams, new phone cams, and other types of cameras to make lms.
Work around the limits of small screens, limited frame rates, limits of storage and battery time. Improvise tripods and other stabilization devices made
from ordinary objects and learn production techniques for the small screen. Put your cell phone video into a form you can edit digitally.
Bring your own tools or works in progress. $40 per student.
Limited to 8 participants.

Time – Space Compression in Cyberspace Art, by Avi Rosen

Kazimir Malevich, “Black Square” (1923).

Time – Space Compression in Cyberspace Art, by Avi Rosen
Faculty of the Arts, the Art History department, Tel Aviv University

The term “time – space compression” was coined by David Harvey [1] in his book, “The Condition of Postmodernity” (1989). It refers to speed-up in the pace of life, while abolishing traditional spatial barriers.

The industrial revolution introduced the railroad and the telegraph line, paving the way for future changes in communications. It brought about the perceptual changes needed in early twentieth-century culture for the rise of the new media that captured communications: photography, cinema, radio and the telephone. The new “high-speed” technologies were the origins of the modern “annihilation of space and time” upon which nineteenth and twentieth-century perceptions of the real world depend. The train and railway system caused distortion in the traditional perspective and sight. This foreshortening of time and space, started by the train’s speed, caused display in immediate succession of panoramas and objects that in their original spatiality belonged to separate realms.
The accelerated viewer was able to perceive the discrete, as it rolls past the coach window indiscriminately; it was the beginning of the synthetic glance philosophy. J.M.W. Turner was one of the first artists implementing the time-space compression aspects. In ”Rain, Steam, and Speed The Great Western Railway” (1844) Oil painting, he confronted a “slow” ploughman in the field, with a high speed locomotive engine diagonally crossing while causing a whirlpool to the pastoral landscape.

J.M.W. Turner ”Rain, Steam, and Speed The Great Western Railway” (1844)
From: Wikimedia Commons

The overall impression is of compression and distortion caused by the Doppler Effect, as perceived by the artist positioned relative to the speeding locomotive, or on a ship’s mast at stormy sea, as Turner used to do for close experience of speed and nature forces. This phenomenon of nonlinear time and space sensation, together with industrial mass reproduction is a basis to the photographic and filmic vision and notion of montage, as well to the non linear geometry implemented by Impressionists like Édouard Manet in “Luncheon on the Grass” (1863). The male figures are dressed in Charles Baudelaire’s flâneur fashion. The background woman who wades in a stream is too large in comparison with the figures in the foreground; she seems to float. The overall impression is lack of depth, reinforced by the use of broad “photographic” light eliminating “natural“ shadows.
The mobile accelerated eye and consciousness that swiftly jumps from point to point will tend to focus on random details or to accumulate empathetic impressions of tactile sensations. Similar nonlinear multifocal techniques were implemented by Cubists such as Picasso, and Futurists such as Giacomo Balla who created a visual analysis of objects made simultaneously from different spatiotemporal points of view. The artist’s acceleration and omnipresence transformed the process of artistic creation to an almost religious significance because it involves restructuring of novel time and space, a penetration into reality itself.

The Supermatist Kazimir Malevich placed his “Black Square” (1923) canvas in the traditional position of a holy icon in Russian homes. The black square symbolized the death of traditional art and nature, deriving from Einstein’s new relativity theory, speed of transportation and means of communication. The implementation of mass production ready-mades like wallpaper or newspaper cuttings into art compositions, potentially enabled a wide consumption and presence of fine art.

Kazimir Malevich, “Black Square” (1923). (Image at the top) From: Wikimedia Commons

Artistic omnipresence caused by the compression of time- space leads to dramatic change in artistic conventions such as Walter Benjamin’s “aura”. Mass production of objects, instant spread and accessibility to all, made every myth instantly realizable. The telephone, photography, movies and even traditional painting inspired by the new technology cluster the most disparate data and images into one compressed new reality of annihilated in-between spaces, and finds its highest expression at the viewer- accelerated consciousness. When time-space is no longer experienced in Euclidian manner, the gap between original and reproduction vanishes, as everything rolls past the train’s coach window randomly. At the turn of the twentieth century Paul Valery predicted:

“Just as water, gas, and electricity are brought into our houses from far off to satisfy our need in response to a minimal effort, so we shall be supplied with visual or auditory images, which will appear and disappear at a simple movement of the hand, hardly more than a sign.” [2].

This compression effect was intensified during the twentieth century by the electronic media technology. Marshall McLuhan described in “Understanding Media” (1964) the global compression by communication reality to shape a “global village”:

“After three thousand years of explosion, by means of fragmentary and mechanical technologies, the Western world is imploding. During the mechanical ages we had extended our bodies in space. Today, after more than a century of electric technology, we have extended our central nervous system itself in a global embrace, abolishing both space and time as far as our planet is concerned. Rapidly, we approach the final phase of the extensions of man – the technological simulation of consciousness, when the creative process of knowing will be collectively and corporately extended to the whole of human society, much as we have already extended our senses and our nerves by the various media.” (p. 19-20).

Pop Culture and Pop Art are reflections of the global spatiotemporal compression. Andy Warhol addressed in his art typical mass-produced commodities: soups, bottles of Coca Cola, and shoes together with icons of common consciousness that flood the media channels such as : the electric chair, Marilyn Monroe, Golda Meir, dollar bills, and more. Madonna’s, Jeff Koons’s and Warhol’s lifestyle and art, promoted them as products of the global media and as celebrities. Art became an intangible object of information and symbols consumed globally by “one-dimensional” subjects of “one-dimensional” global culture. The global culture consumption act is performed at commercial centers such as malls, amusement parks and air terminals linked to the global network of production, data and knowledge. The global net lifestyle is imperative to grow new organs, to expand the human sensorium and body to some new, as yet unimaginable, and perhaps ultimately impossible, dimensions (Jameson). The reflections of the traditional three-dimensional global space are converted to electronic digital information, displayed in real time on flat television and computer screens at home, control rooms, and huge outdoor electronic displays, in the style of New York’s Times Square, or Piccadilly Circus in London. Our vision, accelerated to the finite speed of light, guided by our consciousness, controls the happenings of the real world via electronic equipment, through making an instant “short circuit” between action and reaction. The three-dimensional linear physical world, experienced by the railway passenger, became an infinitely thin world of non-Euclidian electronic information, examined by infinitely attenuated TV viewer linked to TV networks of “digital highway”. Recent physical theories assert that the three-dimensional universe is nothing but a membrane in multidimensional space. The flat TV and computer displays, together with our retina and brain, are tiny segments of this torus-like cosmic topology.

Nam June Paik made the video “Buddha” (1976-78), that is a sculpture of Buddha sitting in a posture of meditation opposite a closed-circuit television image of him. The video creates endless body reflections by means of speed-of-light technology, and unites the TV image with the physical body. In his work “Buddha Reincarnated” (1994), Paik upgraded the earlier work with Buddha meditating opposite a computer screen.

Nam June Paik, “Buddha Reincarnated” (1994).

The meditation does not take place through a direct observation but through the electronic interface of a telephone, computer and modem. Buddha’s body is intertwined with electronic components that symbolize his incarnation to a cyborg that catches his compressed surroundings by means of his super-positioned electronic senses. The physical world and our bodies have undergone transformation and compression into data distributed in cyberspace. The span of human arms and consciousness is greatly expanded by means of electromagnetic waves of limitless transmission range. In 1900 Karl Schwarzschild described an infinite space that can be partitioned into cubes each containing an exact identical copy of our universe, containing peculiar connection properties so that if we leave any one cube through a side, then we immediately reenter it through the opposite side. This is actually the experience while watching a TV program or playing video or computer games.

The cyberspace surfer immersed in a Virtual Reality (VR) data sphere is equipped with VR headset including display, earphones, microphone, data suit and data gloves that connect him via computer to net hubs. His sensation is similar to the Scanning Electron Microscope operator who alters the tested matter by his sight and cognition. The surfer navigates within the electronic hyper-data that change while surfing. The surfer becomes an artist creating worlds and events, thanks to the responsive data sphere. The net surfer is anonymous, veiled by computer screen and headset hiding his identity, ethnic origin, age, and other characteristics that are no longer significant in cyberspace. His mind and senses are wholly isolated from the material world by means of electronic equipment; the physical environment has lost its past meaning. He remains alone; the other subjects, which accompanied him in the real world, become avatars. There is nobody besides himself; everything is data.

Jean Baudrillad argued that once one has passed beyond this point of detachment from the real, the process becomes irreversible [3]. We will no longer be able to find the objects and events that existed before the cyber immersion. We will not be able to find the history that had been before cyberspace. The original essence of art, the original concept of history have disappeared, all now is part of a real-time holistic data sphere inseparable from its models of perfection and simulation. The cyberspace compressed the time and space to a short circuit hyper-reality.

Cyberspace is more real than everyday life; computer games are more fascinating and alluring than the daily activities of school, work, sports or politics, and hyper-real theme parks like Disney World and VR environments are more attractive than actual geographical sites. The hyper-real symbolizes the death of the real, and the rebirth of holistic reality resurrected within a system of digital data. History, sociology, philosophy and art will never again be as before this point. We will no longer be able to know, ever, what art had been before it compressed itself in cyberspace. We will never again know what history had been before its aggregation in ultimate “MemEx”, the technical perfection of real-time holistic data memory.

The permanent interconnection between both virtual and empiric worlds introduces a new way of being and new ontological philosophy. Karl Popper’s theory of the three worlds is dramatically altered. Traditionally the classic world 3 of hypotheses can never influence directly the empirical world 1 of physical “objects” and vice versa. To achieve this, the mediation of subjective reality, human thoughts, feelings etc. of world 2 is necessary. Cyberspace alters that fact. For example, a surfer may use an on-line internet application that controls and displays a mutation of DNA material or integrated circuits embedded in biological cells. A theory of the function of these circuits finds the way to world 3. Sensors (world 1) transmit feedback data from the electro-biological cells. While the cyberspace is functioning, there is a real-time direct feedback of world 1, world 3 and world 2 (the surfer). The electro-biological cells are now part of surfer’s extended body and his nervous system. Within interconnected cyberspace, world 3 directly affects world 1, and world 2. Popper’s original discrete, linear relation of world 1, 2 and 3 becomes holistic real-time hyper-sphere. This ontological shift affects artistic quantities and qualities which originally defined the artistic object. Art work (world 1) can be controlled and altered by gadgets and real-time predictive software (world 3) causing art consumers to decide and act in the creative scene (world 2). These acts create a closed loop ‘duree’ of art, interconnecting the three worlds. The cyberspace can be comprehended as a container of Platonic ideas that symbolizes the Platonic triangles and tables that emerge from mathematical algorithms. The data can be manipulated, altered and copied by the demiurge (the surfer).

Eduardo Kac’s installation “Teleporting an Unknown State” (1994-2003) creates an experience of the cyberspace as a holistic life-supporting system. In a dark room, a pedestal with earth serves as a nursery for a single plant seed. Through a video projector suspended above and facing the pedestal, remote surfers transmit light via the Internet to enable the seed to photosynthesize and grow in the dark environment. Another piece by Kac “Genesis” (1998/99), is a transgenic art installation that explores the network relationship between technology, society, ethics, biology and myths. An “artist’s synthetic gene” was fabricated.

Eduardo Kac, “Genesis” (1998/99).

The gene contained a Morse- encoded verse from the biblical Book of Genesis. The verse reads: “Let man have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” This verse implies humanity’s domination over nature. Morse code represents the dawn of the information age – the genesis of global time – space compression. The Genesis gene was incorporated into bacteria, which were shown in the gallery. Web surfers could control ultraviolet illumination in the gallery, causing biological mutations in the bacteria containing the Genesis verse. After successive manipulations, the DNA was decoded into Morse code, and into mutated verse in English. This art piece suggests a new holistic interactive data sphere where the ability to change the verse is a reciprocal symbolic gesture.

The cyberspace signals Roland Barthes’ “death of the author”, the disappearance of God and his hypostases—reason, science and law, while witnessing a fuzzy logic determination in holistic, time-space compressed cyberspace. Meaning and knowledge are not constant inherited values; rather, they gain new ‘duree’ of meaning while we are immersed in real-time in the data hyper-sphere.

The Cyberspace data sphere is an extended dimension (hyperbolic) of the global geography and the physical body, experienced by the surfer, cyber-flâneur. The computer is a suitable metaphoric vehicle for consuming electronically compressed cyber time-space. The cyber-flâneur passes through compressed data space-time populated with avatars and virtual objects. As Charles Baudelaire’s nineteenth century flâneur was a product of industrialization and modernity, a spectator of modern life in the rising urban sprawl, he is an upgraded product of New Media; the cyber- flâneur, an avatar – spectator of virtual data structures. He is an entity whose aim is to disappear in the time space of the digital city – a viewer who is everywhere and nowhere (superposition state) in possession of his anonymity. He is the one who experiences the fuzzy ontology of cyberspace (cyber-aura), an immediate time space where, as Paul Virilio argued “the moment of departure is compressed to that of arrival”. The flâneur’s ‘duree’ is an impression of endless movement captured by passing through the social space of modernity, and projected on his mind. Super positioned by electronic gadgets, anonymous cyber-flâneur motionlessly witnessing digital data bases through their natural propensity for omni spatiotemporal presence within the boundaries of cyberspace.

The evolution from being an artist-Flâneur in a slow world to a cyber Flâneur is a daily occurrence for most of us. For example, experiencing a series of paintings along the platform wall in a London Underground station, from a stationary train, has its banal outcome. The train passenger looking out of the window notices a single discrete frame of the series, and analyzes it according to traditional fixed semiotics. When the accelerating train leaves the platform, the series of frames advances creating a ‘duree’ of a filmstrip with a varied meaning. The impact of the Doppler Effect is noticed as in Turner’s paintings. While the passenger looks at his cellular phone display, or his Palm held computer, his sight and mind quantum jumps to a global superposition, via the singularity of net hubs.
The speed of the train leaving the platform released the passenger from the attraction of the old, slow discrete world dominated by a dichotomy between objects and subjects. The process of acceleration of the subject’s consciousness increased through radio and television broadcasts, nowadays reached its peak at cyberspace where it propagates at the finite speed of light. This fact led to a dramatic turning-point of the disappearance of the traditional author, artistic discrete object, and art consumer, and the birth of the cyber-aura witnessed by the cyber-flâneur. The meaning of cyber art and its cyber-aura according to traditional iconological and iconographical tools turned irrelevant. It is now valued according to a system of fuzzy logic, dealing with the concept of partial truth with values ranging between “completely true” and “completely false”. The cyber-flâneur embedded with digital gadgets can render the chaotic data of cyberspace meaningful, from traditional to a holistic point of view, while carrying out electronic reading mediated the by the central hub. That ability is similar to the physical phenomenon of the Bose-Einstein condensate of atoms of a substance uniting, at near-absolute zero temperature, to a unique “super atom” that sustains super-fluidity and acts in symbiotic harmony. The passenger/surfer is witnessing cyberspace as Pierre Teilhard de Chardin’s “noosphere”, the “sphere of human thought” as it grows towards a greater integration and unification, culminating in the Omega Point- the maximum level of complexity and consciousness to which the universe seems to be evolving. [4].

The cyberspace demonstrates Heidegger’s “thrownness”, and Dasein being, when one always finds oneself already in a certain spiritual and material, historically conditioned environment (data-sphere), in the extended world, in which the space and time of possibilities is always unlimited. The cyber data noosphere is the domain of ephemeral8’s “Bits of My Life” (BML 2008) video blog –“Impressions of a data Flâneur”. Ephemeral8 systematically employs his cell phone, to create a video documentation “backup” of his daily life occurrences.

Ephemeral8, “Bits of My Life” (BML 2008).

BML is his eternal “digital mummy” located in cyberspace superposition, ready and available for use by present and future generations. The videos are mostly as is, unedited, and directly uploaded from his cell phone to site. The Bits are the “meme” for further construction/deconstruction of net audiovisual mutual memory sequences consumed by other cyber-flâneurs. Google, YouTube and its partners become a giant hub, dominating cyber-culture, global networked economy, surfers’ language and behavior. The Cyberspace is an extension of ephemeral8’s foot, eye skin and nervous system positioned on torus-like topology. The hyper-sphere is the stage for ephemeral8’s “Digital Skin 2” video bricolage of his endless cyber voyages, embedding digital personal data as an extra data layer of Google Earth and Sky. His body and mind extension are part of holistic terrestrial and cosmic digital data strips produced the satellites and space telescopes. The three-dimensional universe contains discrete objects and subjects, imploded to an Orbifold, uniting cyberspace, physical space and cognitive space as digital data displayed on the computer monitor. The orbifold topology drastically transformed the traveling experience. Cyber Flâneur’s superposition existence positions him in no time on each location on the torus envelope. “Digital skin” is a cosmic virtual extension of Marcel Duchamp’s unfinished “Big Glass” piece, described in the videos’ sound track by Duchamp’s own voice, digitally compressed. The departure and arrival of locations on the art piece are compressed to a singularity.

The unification of Cyber Flâneur and cyber data sphere is the subject of an interactive network piece, “1 year performance video” (2004), by M. River & T. Whid. A live video stream of the two artists reveals their acts in two isolated cells. Every surfer entering the site witnesses the two artists according to his local time; for example, if the entrance to the site is in the morning hours the surfer will witness typical morning activities such as eating breakfast, exercising, reading the newspaper etc. Surfing late at night, will reveal the couple while sleeping.

M. River & T. Whid, “1 year performance video” (2004).

The network installation transfers the burden of closed cells detention from the artists to the surfer. The performance will be completed when the surfer finishes one year of accumulated participation, then he will gain a digital copy of the piece’s data base. The surfers do not know definitely whether the video stream is live, or recorded, or if the artists are real people or avatars. The server control program chooses the footage to be shown, according to the time of entrance, the number and frequency of previous transitions, and the duration of each video clip. The control ability designates the server computer, the network and the program as powerful Artificial Intelligence art creators, exactly like the two artists. The two cells containing the artists are identical in size, painted white, and lighted by neon. Even the contents of the rooms are identical: a wooden bed, clothes hangers, a shelf, chair, table, thermos for drinks, towel, and toiletries. The two rooms look as though they have a common virtual wall. There is an option for opening, in parallel, a number of windows of the work, and follow the artists in different situations at the same time. As the local time of the surfer’s computer changes, it thus affects the two artists’ activities, converting the surfer from passive spectator to an active director of the happenings on the screen. The surfer is situated in the center of the electronic Panopticon, while the computer screen serves as a peep-hole for the global data institution. The same is true for the two artists while using their laptops in their cells. The mind and gaze of the surfer activates the two artists, and vice versa. Without the actions and gaze of the surfers, the piece will not be realized. The observers and the observed become bits of data in hyperspace, condensing its bits to a super-atom, or holistic conscious entity.

In conclusion, throughout art history since the industrial revolution, artists have tried to perform time – space compression by means of their art. The artistic creation reveals the powers at work in the universe, and enables art consumers to be united. For that purpose artists used new philosophical ideas and accelerating technologies to extend their body and consciousness to a cosmic span.
The cyberspace epoch fulfilled this impulse by turning attention away from physical body extension, toward virtual structures of global digital data. In cyberspace artist and each surfer are privileged to transform their mind and physical body to cyber superposition. This revolution led to a radical change in the definition of artist, art object and art consumer. Reality has again become, as in the distant past, a mixture of the soul, dream, trance, and myth, together with the material tangibility of daily existence. The cyclic concept of time-space that dominated prehistoric culture, and were exchanged for logical, linear, Western concepts, returned to its mythological starting point. All are now particles of “pure artistic” sphere, gathering at the singularity of holistic consciousness in cyberspace hubs, the eternal habitat of art from now on.

[1] Harvey, David (1989). The Condition of Postmodernity. Blackwell, Mass.
[2] Paul, Valery (1991). “Pieces sur l’art, Paris conquete de l’ubiquite” in Walter Benjamin, “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction”. Hapoalim publishing Tel Aviv.
[3] Baudrillard, Jean (1992). “Pataphysics of Year 2000”. Originally published in French as part of Jean Baudrillard, L’Illusion de la fin: ou La greve des evenements, Galilee: Paris, 1992. Translated Charles Dudas, York University, Canada. (31.1.2007).
[4] Pierre, Teilhard de Chardin (2005). The Phenomenon of Man. Nimrod publishing. Tel Aviv.

Software Takes Command, a New Book by Lev Manovich

November 20, 2008.
Please note that this version has not been proofread yet, and it is also missing illustrations.
Length: 82,071 Words (including footnotes).

Software Takes Command by Lev Manovich is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Please notify me if you want to reprint any parts of the book.

One of the advantages of online distribution which I can control is that I don’t have to permanently fix the book’s contents. Like contemporary software and web services, the book can change as often as I like, with new “features” and “big fixes” added periodically. I plan to take advantage of these possibilities. From time to time, I will be adding new material and making changes and corrections to the text.

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TEXT: ARS ELECTRONICA 2008, breve crónica sesgada en 4 puntos…, by Raquel Herrera

(Spanish only)

No pretendo hacer esta mi primera crítica de Ars Electronica con intención exhaustiva. Durante una semana, multitud de exposiciones, charlas y actuaciones se acumulan con tal intensidad que sólo un robot Data o C3PO podría asimilarlas todas. Así que voy a tratar de hablar de lo que más me llamó la atención, esperando que mis comentarios puedan resultar instructivos para los que, como yo, tenían una vaga idea de lo que se cuece en Linz.


La ciudad de Linz no alcanza los doscientos mil habitantes, y sin embargo reúne algunos de los edificios más vanguardistas de nuestro continente, como el Lentos Art Museum, que se ilumina de colores por la noche, o el Ars Electronica Center Museum of the Future que se está reconstruyendo junto al río para 2009.

La información de prensa cifra los visitantes en más de 350.000, y sin embargo este cosmopolitismo contrasta con la permisividad “latina” en el binomio consumo callejero de alcohol + bares ahumados, así como la escasa presencia del inglés oral entre los informadores y del inglés escrito en los menús de los restaurantes. Estos elementos parecen más característicos de una ciudad de provincias dedicada a atender sus propias necesidades que a ocuparse de una nutrida comunidad de extranjeros, pero como vengo de esa Barcelona que parece la meca del turismo de masas pienso, ¿quién puede culparles?

En cualquier caso, en esta edición han destacado tanto los españoles que han (hemos) llenado los aviones de Ryanair (en modo visitante o en modo premiado como los autores de la Reactable o la serie de esculturas aumentadas de Pablo Valbuena) como los japoneses (presentes en una exposición destacada, Hybrid Ego, que ensalza una vez más el gadget artístico a mitad de camino entre el prototipo industrial y el adult toy).

Con lo que llegamos a renegar de los pabellones nacionales en el mundo de las bienales, resulta curioso que el orgullo patrio pueda aflorar de tal manera ante un festival de arte electrónico, pero en fin, es la gente que mejor conoces, y todos esperan que estos premios sirvan para disparar las (necesarias) subvenciones y ayudas de las instituciones nacionales.

Lentos Art Museum

Nuevo Ars Electronica Center


Augmented sculpture series de Pablo Valbuena

Hybrid Ego


Y no lo digo (solamente) por los colosales helados que los habitantes de la ciudad devoran con fruición (pese a que merendar a las dos o tres de la tarde resulta algo difícil de digerir para la tardía mentalidad mediterránea), sino porque todas las esperanzas parecen puestas en 2009, cuando coincidan la celebración del 30 aniversario del festival y de Linz como capital cultural europea.

Es decir, que es muy posible que la programación que haya visto, variopinta pero carente de fuegos de artificio, responda a una necesidad de economizar y guardar la ropa inédita en los años más exitosos del festival. Incluso el tema de esta edición, la nueva economía de cultura o cómo la cultura digital de nuestra época afecta a los derechos de autor, ha quedado muy deslucido no solamente porque no sea un tema nuevo (gurús como Richard Stallman o Lawrence Lessig llevando años desgastándolo en las salas de conferencias de todo el mundo), sino porque el abanico de temas del conjunto disgrega y tiende a diluir una sola idea común.

Pese a ello, destaco un par de apuntes: la variedad de software pese a la preeminencia de las instalaciones (según me han comentado, en otros años parecía que todos los artistas trabajaban literalmente con el mismo molde), y la multiplicidad de instalaciones reactivas y no interactivas (como tienden a llamarlas), ya que no cambian más allá de una primera reacción desencadenada por la participación del público.

Después de llenarnos la boca durante años con la palabra interactividad (y haberse organizado incluso un simposio temático durante esta edición del festival), puede que al final resulte cierto que habría que ponerse quisquillosos con la distinción entre interactivo y reactivo, como se dio en el “desliz lingüístico” de la exposición Feedback, comisariada por Christiane Paul para Laboral (Gijón, España).

Linz capital europea de la cultura 2009

Tour global de presentación de Linz y Ars Electronica 2009

“A New Cultural Economy: The Limits of Intellectual Property”, tema principal de Ars Electronica 2008

Conferencia “Interaction, Interactivity, Interactive Art – a buzzword of new media under scrutiny” en Ars Electronica 2008

El “desliz lingüístico” de Feedback (véase punto 3 del correo)

“Aunque ella no me comprenda.
O ellos no la comprendan.
Bah, que se apañen.”

Estos pensamientos nada racionales parecen subyacer en muchas ocasiones bajo la pátina de debates tecno-científico-artísticos relativos al funcionamiento, comunicación y comprensión de obras cuyos componentes tecnológicos han de conocerse y entenderse para captar lo que pretenden trasmitir.

El énfasis en los procesos no se presenta solamente en el arte tecnológico, pero es en este caso donde probablemente alcance su máxima manifestación, relevación u ofuscación, depende como nos llevemos con la obra, pieza o proyecto en sí.

Respecto a esta misma cuestión, la gente de Near Future Laboratory no ha tardado en publicar un gracioso listado con los 15 criterios principales que definen el arte interactivo o de nuevos medios, entre los cuales, como era de esperar, aparece que la pieza no funcione, que público y comisarios no la comprendan y desdeñen y que se pida al artista que no se separe de ella en ningún momento para explicarla.

Nada nuevo bajo el sol en el mundo del arte contemporáneo (en todo caso, a los “tradicionales” problemas del arte contemporáneo se suma la complicación tecnológica), aunque debo decir que en muchos casos las obras de esta edición de Ars Electornica sí se seguían o por lo menos intuían. Pero como estos textos suelen escribirse por algo, supongo que su autor tuvo en mente la exposición Ecology of the techno mind (artistas de la Kapellica Gallery, Liubliana, Eslovenia, en el Lentos Museum), donde sencillamente no se entendía nada.

Sí, me he leído el texto curatorial donde habla de la pertinencia de utilizar los términos “ecología” y “mente tecnológica” para referirse a piezas abiertas más cercanas a un teatro o concierto que a una obra concluida en la medida en que “disparan” estímulos, pero francamente, creo que tales estímulos quedaban reconcentrados en puestas en escena gélidas que no comunicaban significados evidentes ni connotados. La ausencia absoluta de carteles informativos en la sala tampoco ayudaba mucho.

“Top 15 Criteria That Define Interactive or New Media Art” de Near Future Laboratory

Ecology of the techno mind en el Lentos Museum


En un festival de las dimensiones de Ars Electronica resulta inevitable encontrar algo del interés personal o profesional. Resulta muy tentador sentirse atraído en exclusiva por las secciones más publicitadas como las de ganadores o nominados a premios Cyberarts o por los niños prodigio (menores de 19 años que crean con tecnología) en la sección U 19, pero espero que mi selección pueda tener cierta relevancia dentro de lo más “popular”.

1) a plaything for the great observers at rest (Normichi Hirakawa, JP, premio de arte interactivo). Según como te desplaces en un círculos adoptas una posición geocéntrica o heliocéntrica. Estupendo material para niños o adultos.

2) touched ego (Markus Kison, DE, mención honorífica de arte interactivo). Al inclinarse en un balcón y taparse los oídos, el visitante siente el ruido de los bombardeos B52 sobrevolando por encima de su cabeza y tirando bombas en la ciudad de Dresde a imitación del famoso ataque de 1945. Auque uno no haya leído “Matadero cinco” de Kurt Vonnegut, es imposible no conmoverse.

3) levelhead (Julian Oliver, NZ/ES, mención honorífica de arte interactivo). Medio mundo anda loco con el cubo de Oliver. Al mover el cubo tienes que desplazar correctamente una figura humana por entornos dignos de Escher.

4) Samplingpong (Jörg Niehage, DE, mención de honor música digital). Un mantel de picnic cubierto de cacharros (chatarra, juguetes de plático, válvulas de aire comprimido) combinados con cables y tubos. Al tocar un ratón (de ordenador), los cacharros se convierten en instrumentos musicales. Un golpe de aire fresco low-tech después de que Björk se interesara por la Reactable y los barceloneses nos la encontráramos hasta en la sopa.

5) Optical Tone (Tsutomu Mutoh, JP, mención honorífica de arte interactivo). Sinceramente, no estoy segura de que sea arte, pero es una de las instalaciones más relajantes que me he encontrado jamás: al tocar y mover unas bolas cambian de color y cambian asimismo los colores de las paredes que las rodean, pintadas en RGB.

6) Gedankenprojektor (Alien Productions, AT). El Landesgalerie Linz (un museo austríaco tal y como lo había imaginado: techos altos y abovedados, impresionantes escalinatas, frescos y demás) ofrecía un experimento-instalación tan inquietante como sugerente: dos paneles proyectaban la córnea y el ojo de quien se colocaba en un aparato optométrico. Las imágenes oculares se complementaban con imágenes pregrabadas que pretendían recrear la imaginación del participante, y con música igualmente hipnótica. Al terminar, te daban un password y una URL donde consultar la imagen de tu ojo. Francamente, casi me apetece hacerme un póster.

7) Diorama Table (Keiko Takahasi, JP) Objetos cotidianos como cuerdas, cucharas o tazas hacen aparecer imágenes de trenes, coches, árboles en una superficie plana convertida en el escenario de una película de animación. No es una obra nueva de esta edición, pero si tuviera hijos seguro que los llevaría a verla.

8) Actuaciones de “Sonorous Embodiment” (7 de septiembre, piezas de Elliot Carter y Michel van der Aa interpretadas en la Brucknerhaus). El domingo por la noche es tradición que el festival acoja una maratón de conciertos de estilos musicales variados que, para evitar que el público se aburra, se realizan en diversos espacios de la ciudad y se conjugan con llamativos visuales (aunque de calidad irregular, todo hay que decirlo). Me gustaron especialmente los dos conciertos basados en compositores contemporáneos de música “clásica”, y me desentonó bastante la soprano Pamela Z, que, acompañada de electrónica, parecía aquella criatura fantástica de El quinto elemento de Luc Bresson, a quien no echo nada de menos.


U 19

a plaything for the great observers at rest

touched ego



Optical Tone


Diorama table

“Sonorous embodiment”


Una personal: ¿Por qué la mayoría de piezas que me gustaron entran en la categoría de “arte interactivo”?
Y otra profesional: ¿Por qué el arte tecnológico no puede ser discursivo?

Hasta la próxima edición.

INTERVIEW: Virus / Body / Signal Transmissions. Interview with Jussi Parikka, by Ignacio Nieto

Jussi Parikka, author of Digital Contagions is interviewed by Ignacio Nieto.

Spanish text

[Ignacio Nieto]: I am very interested in the way virus is conceived as thought: as an abstract form that can auto-replicate itself on an environment, in an autonomous way, without considering the system of relations based on capitalism or in religion or in politics (usually as we are organized in the public and private sphere). Do you think that there is a possibility to translate those kinds of considerations for human relationships? Could you imagine or describe, a possible world, where bioelectronic devices attached to humans, or to other organic forms or to other generations of machines could exist with that kind of protocol?

[Jussi Parikka]: What interested me early on with this project (Digital Contagions) was how to think the virus in itself as a form of though, a vector, a mode of transmission and media. Instead of approaching it merely as a socially constructed metaphor that is fabricated in order to impose sense on the imperceptible events of the computer, it might be fruitful to approach the viral as carrier, a condensation point concerning much of the agenda concerning media in the age of networks. What is a perfect virus. An ideal medium, defined only by its abilities of infect, transmit and copy itself? This idea was of course picked up early on by the theories of the meme, which to my mind are more telling of the media technological changes of the late twentieth century than merely of the discussion relating to evolutionary cultural genes. So when Richard Dawkins suggested that perhaps culture works according to the idea of the selfish cultural gene, the meme, that is interested only in propagating itself, he proposed a very ahumanist vision of the media sphere, where later on for Susan Blackmore the Internet and the viral ecology are key examples of the copy machine mechanisms of the meme. In a way, they were of course giving a scientific version of William Burroughs’ notion of the Word Virus which uses us human beings as secondary vehicles. In this scenario, “copying” is not merely a human controlled activity as in the age of Melville’s Bartleby (the unreliable scribe from the 1853 novel) but an automated action more akin to the unconscious level of genes, or the as imperceptible layers of the computer systems. So what Burroughs and others were already proposing is that far earlier than coming up with bioelectronic devices that make us into cyborgs, were are being haunted by another kind of a virus in a more older media, language.

Concerning autonomy of the viral, I think I am more interested in the affinities the viral have than its identities. How the viral is continuously articulated through various such affinities, from software and networks, to philosophy and fiction. This might easily lead us to think of the viral as merely a pattern that spans beyond the material substance, but this dualism of pattern vs. substance is a mistaken one. Instead, I opted to think this through in terms of diagrammatics, of how the “viral” crosses through a whole social field and becomes a term that seems to be defining various practices and discourses of network society. In a certain Deleuze-Foucault vein, also adopted by Eugene Thacker, I wish to approach the viral as a diagrammatic social programming of the cultural field, a way of organizing concrete assemblages into more abstract modes of resonation. Here, the concept of diagrams can help us to understand how concrete machinations, such as in medicine or technology or network security, are intertwined on a level of abstract machines, diagrammatically and immanently linked on a social field. Here, human social relations are not removed from technical social relations, but both of them are approached in terms of a common folding. The crucial question of much of cultural studies of media and technology is to find approaches that do not reproduce the dualism ‘humans vs. machines’, but finds concepts and approaches that flow through the binaries, crisscross and move transversally. This is one of the reasons why I wanted to adopt the idea of a media ecology from Matthew Fuller and Félix Guattari. In its Guattarian sense, the term “ecology” can used to illustrate the transversal relations between various ecologies from environment to social relations and onto the technical ecologies not reducible to human signification.

[IN]: In your paper co-written with Jaakko Suominen: “Victorian Snakes? Toward a Cultural History on Mobile Games and the Experience of the Movement,” you make a call to the reader to adopt an analytic point of view, an anthropologic way of seeing this crossed referential notion that talks about space-time and entertainment. What do you think about the title of the workshop made in by the Nokia Research Center at Nokia Syracuse University, called: “Wireless Grids Research Group: Cognitive and Cooperative Social Networks vs. Home & Office Grids”? Are there, common places between the paper: “Victorian Snakes? Toward a Cultural History on Mobile Games” and the experience of the Movement and the workshop that took place at Nokia Syracuse University?
Making a critical analysis: What is this wireless grid project about? An environment of control relations? The next phase of the ecology understand under the sense of Guattari? What?

[JP]: In our analysis of the cultural history, or perhaps the “media archaeology” of mobile entertainment, we did not want to focus so much on content, or in individual technologies or sociological characteristics of mobile media culture. Instead, we wanted to approach the question how mobile entertainment can be characterized as a modulation of space and time, of the crucial phenomenological coordinates that connect recent years of boom in mobile games and entertainment to the broader history of media and modern experience. Connected to such earlier “inter: faces” as the pocket book and such techniques of transportation like the train, contemporary enthusiasm of mobile entertainment on the move discloses a modulation of the psyche in movement.

I am not in a position to comment directly on the conference as I did not attend it, but we can see how it relates to the issue of capturing the body in movement. The very simple fact that human beings are moving, mobile entities, has been realized also by the capitalist media industry which tries to tap into those moments of movement, tapping into the moving, sensing body. One could see mobile entertainment related to Maurizio Lazzarato’s postfordist philosophy of immaterial labour and the capturing mechanisms of media capitalism. Contemporary capitalism is not merely about the production of consumer objects but more accurately defined by the way it modulates and creates worlds – a becoming Leibnizian of capitalism. Bodies are marked by media cultural signs, suggests Lazzarato, and it is analysing this Kafkaesque act introduced in Prison Colony that is of crucial interest, analyzing it through the singular ways different new technologies frame, grid bodies. And as we know, this creation of worlds is not restricted to the broadcasting media of e.g. television and radio, or cinema, but works now also through the small screen. Wireless grids are, then, beyond the technical invisible gridding of the globe also about gridding and framing the sensing moving body, channeling it into a world where the mobile entertainment content providers and other players are competing for the attention of the user.

In what sense does this relate to a Guattarian analysis of ecology? In The Three Ecologies, Guattari suggest that the overlapping ecologies of the environment, the social and the psyche are being polluted by the Integrated World Capitalism (IWC). The relation of the body to its exteriority is being captured by polluters like Donald Trump (and Bill Gates might one add) whose ways of structuring the ecologies of e.g. city planning and living, or computer architecture span much wider than the restricted area where they are working in. Here, subjectivities are consisted of groups, subjectivity being articulated on the ecological layers of the world, not detached from social relations but neither from the environment and technology we might add – affinities again. The important way we can use Guattarian ideas is to note the complex intertwining of the various ecologies, where technological solutions feedback to social relations but also for example ecologies of perception like in the capture of perception on the move in mobile entertainment. So in this, perhaps the designers of mobile media could be seen not merely creating technological products but also producing psyche, affects, the body in movement, or at least capturing the body in movement on a level that is prior to consciousness, or meanings. Where are then the possibilities for an “ecosophy”, experimentation in mobile media? There is a wide range of emerging work that connect mobile media, art and activism under the banner of new urban social relations, new modes of perception and ways of thinking for example “sociality”, or “community”.

[IN]: This wide range of emerging works that are under the banner of new protocols and architectures produced by the market of communication technologies, are different from the
other state(s) or the other generation of communication technologies in two general aspects that are relevant to notice:

– small and low cost technologies (bluetooth modems, mobile phones) versus more expensive and medium size technologies (computers stations)

– global networks versus piconets or micro networks.

How have these aspects been an influence to the re-thinking of the notion of activism, and how do these new ways of critical exercises challenge grid and sensor control technologies?

[JP]: The issue moves on various scales. Whereas e.g. mobile phones might be seen as low cost technologies that are easily acquired and put to experimental use, the same technology can be quite closed in the sense that the operation system manufacturers, network operators, etc. act as bottle necks for a distribution aimed at larger audience. How one is able to work around is to “rescale” the mobile phone and find the significant crack in its logic on some other level. How to incorporate the mobile as a catalyst of relations (human and other), how to open it up from the technological closedness so that it can become a tool of creativity. Even such a straightforward thing like the London transport oyster card can be “opened” up for artistic experimentations as with the project Arphield Recordings where a recording of the sounds of the cards and their readers was made into a “ready made” sound art piece.

I find in this sense Matthew Fuller’s use of Whitehead’s notion of “miscplaced concreteness” very helpful. By fabricating standard objects, elements of any assemblage are isolated and produced as clearly functionalized. However, every assemblage and object carries in itself a margin of indeterminacy, a potentiality to be switched on and connected alternatively, to be inserted into relations cut out from the objectification. Standardized technological culture needs modular components in order to work – the so everyday requirement of any technology – but this does not rule out other possible uses, connections. Naturally, technologies and protocols carry with them different kinds of potentials in any case. The qualities of temporal and adhoc connections have been discussed for a long time as needed organizational prerequisites for a dynamic activism (for example Hakim Bey’s Temporary Autonomous Zones being the obvious reference point) so it will interesting to see how these in itself simple and low cost technologies could be translated into networks that are because of the temporary nature of the connections between bodies and signals so effective. This is a curious kind of a relation, or interaction, between the temporary organisational forms that have been part of political guerrilla tactics for a long time and the network technologies that resonate strongly with this temporary duration.

I think that one of the crucial questions will be how to make the experiments with signals, protocols and frequencies resonate with social bodies on the streets and public spaces, and how to find the new forms of the political immanent to the potentials of the technologies. The radical meaning of politics, as underlined by various thinkers from Alain Badiou to Jacques Ranciere, is not the normal way of “policing” on a set agenda, but of summoning events, radical breaks. In this sense of the political or activism, we cannot know before hand what is the agenda, what the uses are, or what the results might be. Activism in this sense is a probing of a kind, not policing or doing politics, but finding what even might be political with no guaranteed results beforehand. In this, one crucial probing of the political happens through experimentations with technologies. Or actually, the political is precisely this probing, this zone of experimentation, where activism should keep tuned for the unexpected.

[IN]: I agree with you, referring to the third question, that we have to be aware about these new forms and possibilities. In this sense, could you give an example, maybe of an art piece you have studied and established some differences with the recent previous state of signal transmission and computers linked to the body and signal connections?

[JP]: Heath Bunting and Kayle Brandon’s Borderxing Guide is a fine example of the intertwining and tensions of the presumed friction free borderless state of networks, of the space of information, and the human materiality that are is bound by the gravity of national borders. The project maps the potential crossing points with maps and tools, and making them available on the Internet – to some authorized people. This is the way surveillance and the control of bodies in a technological society does not happen solely based on the spatial architecture of the Panopticon, but via access, passwords, and modulation of networks and signals, as Deleuze suggested in his Control Societies text. But still there is no less reality in this sphere of signals and networks, its not a boundary free space (if it even is a space, or a temporal modulation). I really like the Heath Bunting quote in this context as well: “The artist doesn’t just gaze. It’s not just the perception of reality that is up for grabs, it’s reality itself.”

I find myself interested similarly in the translations between those imperceptible spheres of signal transmission, wireless signals, and the phenomenological world of the human being. The Cell Phone Disco project visualized the electromagnetic fields of an active mobile phone into a light pattern, and Life: a user’s manual project was based on the frequency which surveillance camera’s use (2,4 Ghz) and which could be tapped in order to get a glimpse to the radio spectrum. Technical media is not reducible to the meanings, significations and perceptions of the human being, but still, there is a continuous translation between the non-human spheres of signal transmission and the human perception of those things. I think the same thing was underlined with the virus project some years back with virus code – in itself beyond the modality of human perception, at least when it comes to execution etc. –distributed via human bodies (virus code printed on t-shirts) and in other visual forms. The imperceptible and harmless nature of the code was continuously made perceptible and iconographic in a way that questioned the ontology of networks and code: where does code begin, where are its borders, where does the code encounter the body of the human?

Naturally, the danger in general is the blackboxing of the human being (instead of the blackboxing of the technological): to neglect the intensive qualities and potentials of the human body in movement, its continuous folding with its outside. Avoiding this danger, recent years of Deleuzian-inspired theory, e.g. Luciana Parisi and Brian Massumi, have been looking into the living architectures of Greg Lynn, Lars Spuybroek and other designers where the technological creations mix and intermingle with the human bodies involved in those evolving spaces. There is a dynamics of bodies and technologies and their crossing points that is under scrutiny, not just the points being connected (technology or human). The technological should not be left in the hands of the corporations or the engineers, but neither should theory be forgotten; similarly as activists and artists with technologies and media, theory should be bent and twisted for new realities, experimented, worked rigorously in laboratory fashion, created, probed and connected to the reconfigurations of technological spaces and temporalities.


Jussi Parikka teaches and writes on the cultural theory and history of new media. He has a PhD in Cultural History from the university of Turku, Finland and is Senior Lecturer in Media Studies at Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, UK. Parikka has published a book on “cultural theory in the age of digital machines” (Koneoppi, in Finnish) and his Digital Contagions: A Media Archaeology of Computer Viruses is published by Peter Lang, New York, Digital Formations-series (2007). Parikka is currently working on a book on “Insect Media”, which focuses on the media theoretical and historical interconnections of biology and technology. In addition, two co-edited books are forthcoming: The Spam Book: On Viruses, Spam, and Other Anomalies from the Dark Side of Digital Culture (Hampton Press) and Media Archaeologies. His articles have been published e.g. in CTheory, Postmodern Culture, Game Studies and Fibreculture, as well as in several Finnish journals and books.

Extended Bio:

INTERVIEW: Virus / Cuerpo / Transmisiones de Señal. Entrevista con Jussi Parikka, por Ignacio Nieto

English version

Jussi Parikka Autor de Digital Congations es entrevistado por Ignacio Nieto

[Ignacio Nieto]: Estoy muy interesado en la manera en que es pensado un virus: cómo una forma abstracta que puede auto-replicarse así misma en un medio ambiente autónomamente sin considerar el sistema de relaciones basados en el capital o en la religión, o en política (como usualmente nos organizamos en la esfera pública y privada). ¿Crees que exista una posibilidad de transladar ese tipo de consideraciones para las relaciones humanas? ¿Podrías imaginar o describir, un mundo posible, donde artefactos biolectrónicos adosados a seres humanos, o a otras formas orgánicas, o a otras generaciones de máquinas puedan existir con esa clase de protocolo?

[Jussi Parikka]: Lo que me ineterezó tempranamente en este proyecto (Digital Contagions) fue el cómo pensar al virus en sí mismo como una forma de pensamiento, un vector, un modo de transmisión y un medio. En vez de abarcarlo simplemente como una metáfora socialmente construida para imponer sentido a los imperceptibles eventos del computador, sería mucho más rico acercarse a lo viral como a un portador, un punto de condensación que tiene mucho que ver con la agenda concerniente a los medios en la era de las redes. ¿Qué es un virus perfecto sino un medio ideal, definido solo por sus habilidades para infectar, transmitir y copiarse así mimso? Esta idea fue, por supuesto, basada en las teorías del meme y recogidas tempranamente, que para mí hablan más sobre los cambios de los medios tecnológicos a fines del siglo XX, que sólo sobre la discusión relacionada a genes culturalmente evolucionados. Así que, cuando Richard Dawkins sugirió que tal vez la cultura funciona según a la idea del gen cultural egoísta, el meme, que sólo está interesado en propagarse así mismo, él propuso una visión muy humanista de la esfera de los medios, donde más tarde, para Susan Blackmore, la Internet y la ecología viral son ejemplos claves de mecanismos de la máquina de copiar del meme. De alguna forma, ellos estaban dando sin duda una una versión científica de la noción del Virus Mundial de William Burroughs, que nos usa a nosotros, seres humanos, como vehículos secundarios. En este escenario, “la copia” no es solamente una actividad controlada por el ser humano, como en la era de Bartleby (poco confiable autor de la novela de 1853), de Melville, sino que una acción autómata más emparentado con el nivel inconsciente de los genes, o las imperceptibles capas de los sistemas computacionales. Entonces, lo que Burroughs y otros más ya proponían es que lejos de aparecer con artefactos bioelectrónicos que nos conviertan en cyborgs, estamos siendo acechados por otro tipo de virus, de un medio mucho más antiguo, el lenguaje.

Con respecto a la autonomía de lo viral, creo que estoy interesado en las afinidades lo viral tiene más que en las identidades. En cómo el virus está continuamente siendo articulado a través de varias afinidades, desde softwares y redes, hasta la filosofía y la ficción. Esto nos llevaría fácilmente a pensar en el virus como un mero patrón que se expande más allá de la sustancia material, pero esta dualidad de patrón vs. sustancia, es una equivocación. En vez de eso, opté por pensar en esto en términos de diagramáticas, de cómo el “virus” cruza a través de todo un campo social y se convierte en un término que parece estar definiendo variadas prácticas y discursos sobre la sociedad interconectada. En una cierta corriente a la Deleuze-Foucault, también adoptada por Eugene Thacker, espero aproximarme al virus como una programación diagramática social del campo cultural, una manera de organizar ensamblajes concretos en modos más abstractos de resonancia. Aquí, el concepto de diagramas nos puede ayudar a comprender cómo maquinaciones concretas, como en la medicina o la tecnología, o la seguridad en telecomuunicaciones, están entrelazadas a un nivel de máquinas abstractas, diagramática e inherentemente vinculadas a un campo social. Aquí, las relaciones sociales humanas no son removidas de las relaciones sociales técnicas, pero ambas se aproximan en términos de un molde común. La pregunta crucial de muchos estudios culturales sobre los medios y la tecnología, es encontrar aproximaciones que no reproduzcan el dualismo ‘humanos vs. máquinas’, sino que encontrar conceptos y acercamientos que fluyan a través de los binarios, atraviesen y se muevan transversalmente. Esta es una de las razones de por qué quice adoptar la idea de una ecología de los medios, de Matthew Fuller y Félix Guattari. En un sentido de Guattariano, el término “ecología” puede ser usado para ilustrar las relaciones transversales entre varias ecologías, desde relaciones ambientales a sociales, por encima de las ecologías técnicas no reducibles a la significación humana.

[IN]: En tu ensayo co-escrito con Jaakko Suominen: “¿Serpientes Vicrorianas? Hacia una Historia Cultural de los Juegos Móviles y la Experiencia del Movimiento”, haces un llamado al lector a que adopte un punto de vista analítico, una manera antropológica de ver esta noción referencial cruzada que habla sobre el espacio-tiempo y el entretenimiento. ¿Qué piensas sobre el título del taller hecho por el Centro de Investigación de Nokia en la Univerdidad Nokia de Syracuse llamado: “Grupo de Investigación de Grillas Inalámbricas: ¿Redes Conginitivas y de Cooperación Social versus Grillas de Casa y Oficina?” ¿Existen lugares comunes entre el tu ensayo: “¿Serpientes Victorianas? Hacia una Historia Cultural de los Juegos Móviles y la Experiencia del Movimiento”, y el taller que tomó lugar en la Univerdidad Nokia de Syracuse?
Haciendo un análisis crítico; ¿Qué es este proyecto de grilla inalámbrica? ¿Un medio ambiente de relaciones controladas? ¿La próxima fase de la ecología entendida bajo el sentido de Guattari? ¿Qué?

[JP]: En nuestro análisis de la historia cultural, o tal ves en la “arqueología de los medios” del entretenimiento móvil, no quisimos enfocarnos tanto en el contenido, en tecnologías individuales o en características sociológicas de la cultura de medios móviles. En vez de eso, quisimos aproximarnos a la pregunta de cómo el entretenimiento móvil puede estar caracterizado como una modulación de espacio y tiempo, de las coordenadas fenomenológicas cruciales que conectan a los años recientes del boom de los juegos móviles y del entretenimiento con la historia más extensa de los medios y la experiencia moderna. Conectados a tales tempranas “interfaces”, como el libro de bolsillo, y a tales técnicas de transportación, como el tren, el entusiasmo contemporáneo por el entretenimiento móvil descubre una modulación de la psique en movimiento.

Yo no estoy en posición de comentar directamente una conferencia que no asistí, pero podemos ver cómo se relaciona al tema de capturar al cuerpo en movimiento. El simple hecho de que los seres humanos son entidades móviles, ha sido también descubierto por los medios de la industria capitalista, que tratan de hacer una incisión dentro de todos esos momentos en movimiento, taladrando dentro del cuerpo sensado y movible. Uno podría ver al entretenimiento móvil relacionado con la filosofía post-fordista de Maurizio Lazzarato del trabajo inmaterial, y de los mecanismos de captura del capitalismo de los medios. El capitalismo contemporáneo no trata sólo sobre la producción de objeto de consumo, más acuciosamente define como la manera en que modula y crea mundos – un Leibnizianismo conveniente sobre el capitalismo. Los cuerpos están marcados por signos culturales de los medios, como sugirere Lazzarato, y al analizar este acto Kafkiano introducido en una Colonia Penal que es de interés crucial, analizarlo a través de formas puntuales diferentes y nuevos marcos tecnológicos, de cuerpos en grillas. Y como sabemos, esta creación de mundos no está restringida a los medios de transmisión, como por ejemplo la televisión o la radio, o el cine, sino que ahora también trabaja a través de pantallas pequeñas. Las grillas inalámbricas son, entonces, más allá de grillas invisibles en el globo, se trata de una cuadrícula que enmarca y sensa el movimiento del cuerpo, canalizándolo dentro de un mundo donde los proveedores de contenidos de los medios de entretención y otros jugadores compiten por la atención del usuario.

[IN]: ¿En qué sentido se relaciona esto con el análisis de Guattarian de la ecología? En Las Tres Ecologías, Guattari sugiere que las ecologías sobrepuestas del medio ambiente, lo social y lo psíquico, están siendo contaminadas por el Capitalismo Mundial Integrado (Integrated World Capitalism – IWC). La relación con el cuerpo en su exterioridad ha sido capturada por contaminantes como Donald Trump (y deberíamos añadir a Bill Gates), cuyas normas de estructurar las ecologías de como por ejemplo, la planificación urbana y vivir, o la arquitectuta computacional abarcan mucho que el área restringida en donde ellos trabajan. Aquí, las subjectividades consisten en grupos, la subjectividad está siendo articulada capas ecológicas del mundo, no separada de relaciones sociales pero tampoco del medioambiente y la tecnología que podamos añadir – afinidades, otra vez. La manera importante en que podemos usar las ideas de Guattarian es notar el complejo intrelazado de muchas ecologías, donde las soluciones tecnológicas retroalimentan las relaciones sociales, pero también por ejemplo a las ecologías de la percepción, como en la captura de la percepción del movimiento en la entretención móvil. Entonces en esto, tal vez los diseñadores de medios móviles pueden ser vistos no sólo creando productos tecnológicos, sino también produciendo psiquis, afectos, el cuerpo en movimiento, o al menos capturando al cuerpo en movimiento en un nivel que es prioritario a su consciencias, o a sus significados. ¿Dónde están las posibilidades para un “ecosofía”, experimentación en los medios móviles? Existe un amplio rango de trabajo emergente que conecta a los medios móviles, al arte y al activismo bajo la etiqueta de nuevas relaciones sociales urbanas, nuevos modos de percepción y maneras de pensamiento, por ejemplo “socialidad”, o “comunidad”.

[JP]: Este amplio rango de trabajos emerjentes bajo la etiqueta de nuevos protocolos y arquitecturas producidas por el mercado de las tecnologías de la comunicación, se diferencia de otro(s) estado(s) o de otra generación de tecnologías de comunicación en dos aspectos generales que son relevantes:

– pequeña tecnologías de bajo costo technologies (modems de bluetooth, teléfonos móviles) versus tecnologías mas caras y de tamaño mediano (estaciones de trabajo).

Рredes globales versus redes peque̱as (piconets).

¿Cómo estos aspectos han sido una influencia para este re-planteamiento de la noción de activismo y cómo esta nuevas formas de ejercicio crítico desafían a las tecnologías de enrejado y de control mediante sensores?

El tema se mueve en varias escalas. En donde, por ejemplo, los teléfonos móviles pueden ser vistos com tecnologías de bajo costo, de fácil adquisición y dispuestos para el uso experimental, esa misma tecnología puede ser muy cercana en el sentido de que los fabricantes de sistemas operacionales, operadores de redes, etc. actúen como cuello de botella para una distribución pensada para un público más grande. Cómo es uno capaz de funcionar para “redimensionar” el teléfono móvil y encontrar la grieta significativa en su lógica en algún otro nivel. Cómo incorporar el móvil como un catalizador de relaciones (humanas y otras), cómo abrirlo desde su hermetismo tecnológico para que pueda convertirse en una herramienta de creatividad. Incluso algo tan íntegro como la tarjeta ostra del transporte de Londres puede ser “abierta” para experimentaciones artísticas como con el proyecto de Grabaciones Arphield, donde una grabación de sonidos de las tarjetas y de sus lectores fue hecha mediante una pieza de “ready made” de arte sonoro.

Encuentro en este sentido que el uso de Matthew Fuller de la noción de Whitehead de “concretismo desplazado” muy provechosa. Al fabricar objetos estandarizados, los elementos de cualquier ensamblaje son aislados y producidos claramente funcionalizados. De todas formas, cada ensamblaje y objeto lleva en sí mismo un margen de indeterminancia, una potencialidad para ser encendido y conectado alternativamente, de ser insertado en relaciones sacadas fuera de la objetificación. La cultura tecnológica estandardizada necesita componentes modulares para trabajar – el requerimiento diario de cualquier tecnología – pero esto no excluye otros posibles usos o conecciones. Naturalmente, tecnologías y protocolos llevan consigo diferentes tipos de potenciales en cualquier caso. Las cualidades temporales y conecciones adhoc han sido discutidas por mucho tiempo como pre-requicitos organizacionales necesarios para un activismo dinámico (por ejemplo, Temporary Autonomous Zones de Hakim Bey, siendo el obvio punto de referencia), entones sería interesante ver cómo estas tecnologías simples y de bajo costo en sí mismas puedan ser interpretadas en las redes que existen por causa de la naturaleza temporal de las conecciones entre cuerpos y señales tan efectivas. Este es un curioso tipo de relación, o interacción, entre formas organizacionales temporales que han sido parte de las tácticas de guerrilla política por mucho tiempo y las tecnologías de redes que resuenan fuerte con esta duración temporal.

Creo que una de las preguntas cruciales será cómo hacer que los experimentos con señales, protocolos y frecuencias resuenen con cuerpos sociales en las calles y los espacios públicos, y cómo encontrar las nuevas formas en lo político inherentes a las potencialidades de las tecnologías. El significado radical de la política, como ha sido notado por muchos pensadores, desde Alain Badiou a Jacques Ranciere, no se trata de la forma normal de “reglamentar” en una agenda establecida, sino que de convocar eventos, quiebres radicales. En este sentido de lo político o de activismo, no podemos conocer de antemano cuál es la agenda, cuáles son los usos, o cuál podría ser el resultado. El activismo, en este sentido, es la prueba de una clase, no de reglamentar o de hacer política, sino de encontrar lo que incluso podría ser político sin ninguna garantía en el resultado de antemano. En esto, una prueba crucial de política sucede a través de experimentaciones con tecnologías. O en realidad, lo político es precisamente esta prueba, esta zona de experimentación, donde el activismo debería mantenerse sintonizado para lo inesperado.

[IN]: Estoy de acuerdo contigo, respecto a la tercera pregunta, que deberíamos estar atentos a estas nuevas formas y posibilidades. En este sentido; podrías darme un ejemplo, tal vez de una pieza de arte que hayas estudiado y establecer algunas diferencias con el recientemente pasado estado de la transmisión de la señal y la generación de computadores, en el sentido de las conecciones de cuerpo y señal?

[JP]: Borderxing Guide de Heath Bunting y Kayle Brandon, es un buen ejemplo del entrelazado y las tensiones del presunto estado libre de fricción y sin límites de las cadenas, del espacio de información, y de la materialidad humana sujeto por la gravedad de los bordes nacionales. El proyecto mapea los potenciales puntos de cruces fronterizos con mapas y herramientas, dejándolos disponibles en la Internet – para alguna gente autorizada. Esta es la manera en que la vigilancia y el control de los en una sociedad tecnológica no ocurre solamente basado en la arquitectura especial del Panóptico, sino que por accesos, claves, y modulación de canales y señales, como Deleuze sugirió en su texto Control Societies. Pero aún así no hay menos realidad en esta esfera de señales y canales, no es un espacio libre de fronteras (si es que al menos es un espacio, o una modulación temporal). Me encanta la frase de Heath Bunting en este contexto: “El atrista no sólo contempla. No es sólo la percepción de la realidad de lo que se agarra, es la realidad en sí misma.”

Me encuentro interesado similarmente en las traducciones entre aquellas esferas imperceptibles de transmission de señales, señales inalámbricas, y el mundo fenomenológico del ser humano. El proyecto The Cell Phone Disco visualizó los campos electromagnéticos de un telefono móvil en actividad a un patron de luz, y el proyecto Life: a user’s manual que estaba basado en la frecuencia con la que una cámara de vigilancia usa (2,4 Ghz) y la que podría ser intervenida para echarle una ojeada al espectro del radio. Los medios técnicos no son reducibles a sus significados y percepciones sobre el ser humano, pero aún así, existe una traducción contínua entre las esferas no-humanas de transmission de señal y la percepción humana de esas cosas. Creo que lo mismo fue subrayado con el proyecto virus hace algunos años con un código de virus – en sí mismo más allá de la modalidad de percepción humana, al menos cuando se trata de ejecución, etc. – distribuídos por cuerpos humanos (códigos de virus impresos en poleras) y en otras formas visuales. La naturaleza imperceptible e indefensa del código fue continuamente hecha perceptible e iconograficada de una manera que cuestionaba la ontología de los canales y los códigos: ¿en dónde comienza el código, dónde están sus límites, dónde encuentra el código del humano?

Naturalmente, el peligro en general es la caja negra del ser humano (en vez de la caja negra de la tecnología): para renegar las intesivas cualidades y potenciales del cuerpo humano en movimiento, su continuo repliegue con su exterior. Evitando este peligro, en la actualidad teorías inspiradas en Deleuze- como por ejemplo las de Luciana Parisi y Brian Massumi, han estado revisando las arquitecturas vivas de Greg Lynn, Lars Spuybroek y otros diseñadores, donde las creaciones tecnológicas se entremezclan con los cuerpos humanos involucrados en esos espacios envolventes. Existe una dinámica de cuerpos y tecnologías y sus puntos de contacto que está bajo el escrutinio, no sólo los puntos que están conectados (tecnológicos o humanos). Lo tecnológico no debería ser dejado en manos de las corporaciones o de los ingenieros, pero tampoco debería olvidarse la teoría; igualmente como a los activistas y a los artistas que ocupan tecnologías y medios, la teoría debería ser doblada y torcida para nuevas realidades, experimentadas, trabajadas rigurosamente en laboratorios de moda, creadas, probadas y conectadas a las reconfiguraciones de espacios y temporalidades tecnológicas.


Jussi Parikka enseña y escribe sobre la teoría cultural y la historia de los nuevos medios. Tiene un Doctorado en Filosofía en Historia Cultural de la Universidad de Turku, Finlandia, y es Catedrático Senior en Estudios de los Medios en la Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, Inglaterra. Parikka ha publicado un libro sobre “teoría cultural en la era de las máquinas digitales” (Koneoppi, in Finnish) y su Contagios Digitales: Una Arqueología de los Medios de Virus Computacionales (Digital Contagions: A Media Archaeology of Computer Viruses) es publicado por Peter Lang, Nueva York, de la serie Digital Formations (2007). Parikka trabaja actualmente en un libro sobre “Insect Media”, enfocado en la interconecciones mediales teóricas e históricas de la biología y la tecnología. Además, dos libros co-editados vienen en camino: El Libro del Spam: Sobre Viruses, Spam, y Otras Anomalidades del Lado Oscuro de la Cultura Digital (Hampton Press) y Media Archaeologies. Sus articulos han sido publicados en CTheory, Postmodern Culture, Game Studies y Fibreculture, entre otros, así como en muchos diarios y libros finlandeses.

Biografía Extendida:

REVIEW: Amsterdam Realtime, by Ludmil Trenkov

Note: Given the current popularity of GPS systems, NMF is excited to feature this brief review by Ludmil Trenkov on “Amsterdam Real Time,” one of the most important GPS projects in new media’s recent history.

Originally published on Metalocative. Republished with permission.

The introduction of Global Positioning Satellites (GPS) for non-military uses has invited practitioners of many arts to conceive and implement new and interesting ways of use. The GPS technology helps locate one’s position in the world. When that position is continuously tracked and charted digitally – a trace-map is born, which is typically a record of one’s daily special whereabouts.

Amsterdam RealTime is a trace-map concept recording the movements of volunteers who were asked to carry a GPS enabled wireless transmitter with them. The map is closer to the record of psychogeographic experience than a precise cartography. The whereabouts of users were recorded over time and compiled together on a screen.

Amsterdam RealTime was commissioned for the exhibition Maps of Amsterdam 1866-2000 at the Amsterdam City Archive and was produced by Waag Society and Esther Polak. From October 3 to December 1, 2002 all Amsterdam residents were invited to participate to create a contemporary version of a mapping experience. The premise of the piece is based on the assumption that all citizens of the city hold an invisible map in their heads. The project tracked 75 volunteers for 40 days going about their typical daily routines. All traces were generated via GPS and transmitted over GPRS (2.5G) connection to a Waag Society administered server. The traces were drawn as white lines over black background with thicker and brighter lines indicating greater frequency of travel. Naturally, all street tracings started as black screen and were illuminated by continuous tracings of real world activity. It became apparent that different residents “drew” different trace maps based on their means of transportation and purpose of travel. Once they became fully aware of their mapping outcomes some
even attempted to create artful GPS drawings. The accumulative traces of all participants overtime rendered a truly compelling map of large section of Amsterdam, where the most visited parts were shown in red. All participants received a printed copy of their trace screens. The project rose to such prominence that requests from Brussels, Lisbon and Paris were conveyed, which prompted Waag Society to consider releasing an open source version of their software. Furthermore, the project was reconstituted in Riga Latvia, as RealTime Riga in collaboration with RIXC.

Amsterdam RealTime stands out as a seminal project demonstrating keen spatial affinity between urban residents and the city they inhabit. As one of the early examples of GPS drawing concepts the trace images and their method of generating suggested a compelling new way of using readily available commercial technology such as GPS receivers and GPRS networks. On one end the project allows the tracked individuals to become more aware to their whereabouts, on the other it demonstrates visually the commonality of daily patterns, thus revealing a new form of shared experience.

FEATURE: LX 2.0. A Four Part Curatorial Series. Third Feature: Lastwishes by Carlos Katastrofsky

A four part curatorial series by Luis Silva

Lisboa 20 Arte Contemporanea will launch the new online piece (by Carlos Katastrofsky) specially comissioned through its LX 2.0 Project (

Carlos Katastrofsky (1975) has been creating processual net art projects that question both the notion of what an art work is as well as their notion of ownership. Projects such as internet art for poor people (2006), free interactive readymade (2005) or the original (2005) are just a few examples of Katastrofsky’s interest in exploring alternative ways of distributing and owning net art, always within the institutional art world logic and always through a critical, yet playful approach. His projects are mostly conceptual, not defined by fancy visual effects or sophisticated programming. There is no “beautiful” or “poetic” things to be seen on the screen, just the critical use of popular online tools that he masters in order to achieve his own agenda.

Lastwishes, the project the artist created specifically for LX 2.0, is a great example of the lack of visual aesthetic in his work. In a simplistic (yet pretty accurate) way, there is nothing to be seen in his new project. Lastwishes deals solely with the principles of communication. Mailing lists are popular tools for the exchange of thoughts and opinions: they make multiple (written) dialogues possible as well as the archiving for future references. In this work the mailinglist-software “mailman” is modified to allow only one single posting from a sender. The user is able to subscribe and to receive messages endlessly but post only once and by this immediately get unsubscribed. The idea of “exchange” is thereby turned into something absurd: one can listen but only talk once. Sending a message thus requires meaningful content, “chatting” becomes impossible.

The ephemeral quality of this sending-process reminds of zen-qualities: be quiet and learn to listen but if you really have to say something meaningful then talk. Above that, the question arises: how is communication possible when there is a quiet, listening mass and no one dares to stand up and speak? According to an Austrian proverb, “talking is silver and being quiet is gold”, but being quiet only makes sense within the process of communication.

A Visit to the “Electronic Aquarium” (El Acuario Electrónico), by Pablo Hadis

Image: fishes swimming on carpet

Wandering down the halls and inner forking paths of the Centro Cultural Recoleta (CCR) in Buenos Aires is a pleasant experience, every door leads to some type of art display that stimulates the senses. These days, however, there is a special door at the CCR. One that leads to a puzzling world that conjures up unlikely images in a household space.

The first thing one notices when entering this exhibition is darkness, then water. Lots of water. Projected water. And then one starts to see the patterns, pulsating. There is a choreography taking place in this submersion, schools of fish swim on the surface of sofas, tables, carpets, windows. Dancers, or better said, submarine dancers composed of animals plus hands, feet or heads of human characters gracefully move along with other aquatic animals, all contributing to producing a hypnotic effect on the viewer. The playful, humorous nature of the display and the beauty of the submarine choreography are striking.

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