Mobile Media and Wireless Networks

Interfacing The Tall with the Mobile: An Archaeological Investigation of the Mediatization of Outdoor Space by Erkki Huhtamo/ Mobility into immobility: designing networks by Luisa Paraguai/ The theatre of everyday life in the age of wireless media by Maciej Ozog/ Object Geography: The Internet of Things by Duncan Shingleton
Thursday, 15 September, 2011 - 14:45 - 16:05
Chair Person: 
Piibe Piirma
Erkki Huhtamo
Luisa Paraguai
Maciej Ozog
Duncan Shingleton

Interfacing The Tall with the Mobile: An Archaeological Investigation of the Mediatization of Outdoor Space

by Erkki Huhtamo

Media scholars have traditionally focused on audiovisual forms that are experienced indoors in static settings; cinema-going and television spectatorship provide good examples. Researchers are slowly beginning to realize that such an emphasis covers only a part of the complex terrain that constitutes media culture. That part may even be shrinking, thanks to current developments within urban environments and experiences. Not only are metropolitan cities covered by high-tech media attractions such are giant LED-display screens; a growing number of citizens are walking or cruising through such spaces with media devices in their hands. The current smart phone revolution may be just a beginning for much more dramatic technological, behavioral and cultural changes.

This paper will approach this situation from a media-archaeological perspective, trying to understand the current modalities of outdoor media use by excavating the processes of their becoming and the various cultural forms that have anticipated them. These earlier forms are not treated as clear genealogical steps leading to the present condition. Rather, they are analyzes are symptomatic manifestations of contradictory motives and discursive fragments that have at various times and contexts highlighted issues the current media culture may erroneously believe it is encountering for the first time. Such issues cover, for example, the saturation of the city space by commercial messages like billboards, and the attitudes toward them; the varied early forms of "mobile media" such as "walking human posters" (sandwichmen), and the practices of using fans, watches, and other forms of "proto-wearable" media; and the complex relationships that developed between them.

Mobility into immobility: designing networks

by Luisa Paraguai

Mobile communication, owing to its ubiquity, accessibility and adaptability, has permeated all domains of life. People have moved around actualizing different networks - physical maps and digital nodes, and configuring a programmed and self-configurable structure simultaneously. The diffusion of Internet, wireless communication, digital media, and a variety of tools of social software have evoked the development of communication networks that connect local and global in chosen time. The cultural dimension of that process can be defined by different protocols of accesses and communication among several networks. It means that “being on the move” concerns to operate and produce within in-between distinct space-time models of circulating.

Firstly, the text is concerned with the networks and flows of information and bodies, discussing other perceptions and movements configurations to perform our daily life and to comprehend the world. It means an embodied experience of the material and social modes of dwelling-in-motion. After, contemporaneous artefacts, as technological and cultural organizational structures, are presented to rethink personal spaces and the urban landscape. Thinking about mobile devices, we can have set other possibilities of people being temporarily “on the move”, creating gaps and holes, other dimensions and domains, and questioning the notion of metrics and scales to define territories. For example, the nine to five culture using mobile, in big cities as São Paulo, can engender interspaces and reorganize physical arrangements to transcend space and time models.

At the end, INmobility, an artwork in progress, is presented and concerns to temporary social networks and mobile technologies. Mobile and GPS technologies have been used to map the experience of moving as a collaborative platform, articulating different patterns of information and ways of distribution not coordinated. Import us the current instantaneous time involving the resynchronizations of the existent time-space paths. As November, Camacho-Hubner, and Latour (2010, p.3-4) wrote “there is no such a thing as proximity or a distance, which would not be defined by connectibility. The notion of network helps us to lift the tyranny of geographers in defining space and offers us a notion which is neither social nor ‘real’ space, but simply associations”.

The theatre of everyday life in the age of wireless media

by Maciej Ozog

As many theorists of culture observe (Virilio, Bauman, Levinson to name a few) we live in the world of speed and mobility. Wireless media such as mobile phones, laptops, palmtops, and GPS systems are crucial factors in the process of acceleration of life. They change all aspects of the theatre of everyday life: scene as physical space becomes augmented by invisible network of waves, behaviour of actors who perform on the edge of private and public space, and the role of audience as difference between the stage and the auditorium becomes blurred or even disappears. The classical metaphor of Goffman is used to stress the performative aspect of social interaction. Although Goffman terms described social relations in the age of „old“ media his proposal seems to be even more useful for analysis of mobile society. Using symbolic interaction as theoretical starting point, the paper questions rules of performance in the information society and focuses on artistic practices that address the role, influence and effect of development of mobile technologies. The stress is put on these artistic activities, which involve cooperation of large number of inter-actors and become critical interventions in everyday life, as the logic of wireless media is the one of connectivness and interaction in hybrid space.

Object Geography: The Internet of Things

by Duncan Shingleton

The emerging phenomenon known as the Internet of Things refers to the technical and cultural shift anticipated as society moves towards a ubiquitous form of computing that facilitates the connection of everyday objects and devices to all kinds of networks.  The Internet of Things creates a link between concrete objects and abstract data, producing a hybrid of physical and electronic spaces, which enables communication and interaction between people and things, and things themselves.  However the Internet of Things, resulting through the convergence of identification and location technologies, is at risk of simply becoming a platform whose primary benefit is to offer improved indexing and tracking of manufactured consumer goods from cradle to grave; through manufacturer to distributor, to potentially every single person who comes in to contact with it following its purchase.

Through the combination of digital art practice and theory relating to Human Geography and Actor-Network Theory, the author aims to re-contextualise the Internet of Things, arguing how objects endowed with informational shadows could create a new layer of complex relationships that were previously not visible in our networks.  This in turn could allow us to rethink our understanding of the structure and agency of a network, by examining the pattern of interactions represented by how people to people, people to things, and things themselves are connected to one another.  Networking objects means we could possibly gain new insights into how we make places, how we organize space and society, how we interact with each other in places and across space and time, and how we make sense of others and ourselves in our locality, region, and world.  The Internet of Things may well provide a possible framework that not only allows human agents, but also object agents to play constructive as well as destructive and transformative roles in the social production of space.