Technology, Public and Spaces in the City

From CCTV to GPS: How Media Art reflects development of Surveillance Society by Maciej Ozog/ Tracing the City: Exploring the Private Experience of Public Art through Art and Anthropology by Kim Morgan, Solomon Nagler,and Martha Radice/ Creative Spaces of the Immigrants: Revisiting the Discussions on City-Space, Technology and Artistic Practices by Ceren Mert/ Moments of Liminal Space by Melissanthi Saliba
Tuesday, 20 September, 2011 - 17:00 - 18:20
Chair Person: 
Deborah Lawler-Dormer
Maciej Ozog
Kim Morgan
Solomon Nagler
Martha Radice
Ceren Mert
Melissanthi Saliba

From CCTV to GPS: How Media Art reflects development of Surveillance Society

by Maciej Ozog

Surveillance is seen as one of the most important features of postmodern society. Many authors (Foucault, Deleuze, Virilio, Lyon to name a few) has analyzed influence of surveillance technology on development of media society showing how changes in technology result in new perception and understanding of the role surveillance plays in culture of late XX and XXI century. As new forms of technology appeared shifts in the paradigm of surveillance society could be observed. Oppressive society of control and punishment has turned into society, in which we face “democratization of exhibitionism” (Virilio) what leads to notion of surveillance as “spectacle of entertainment” (Weibel). No wonder that the issue of observation, control, tracking, detecting, measuring, gathering, storing and processing information has been undertaken by many contemporary artists. However, complex relationship between changes of social order and development of new technologies is reflected especially in technology-based art. Since the beginning of video art the issue of surveillance has been an important theme but at the same time surveillance technology has formed a material background of media art. As David Rokeby observes, surveillance could be seen as the foundation of any art, which involves the observer into an active participation. Hence, surveillance is both theme and method of media art with video installations, interactive installations, and net art as the most significant examples. The focus of the paper is on analyzing various ways of using surveillance technology in media art. I will try to show how choice of certain technology influence artistic discourse in terms of form and content. But, at the same time, I will analyze subversive strategies by which artists deconstruct dominant mode of thinking about surveillance. By doing so art practice will be shown as critical voice in debate concerning cultural effects of expansion of surveillance technologies.

Tracing the City: Exploring the Private Experience of Public Art through Art and Anthropology

by Kim Morgan, Solomon Nagler,and Martha Radice

What happens when the public space of the city intervenes in the private experience of art? We present the initial stages of an interdisciplinary research/creation project between two artists and an anthropologist that uses emerging technologies to explore the interstitial space between the private and the public in relation to art. ‘Art’ for us includes visual arts, performing arts, and other streams of creative culture such as architecture, design and literature. We define public urban space as those spaces in the city that are accessible to everyone (regardless of ownership), in which strangers interact in many different ways. People’s experience of art is typically private, whether or not the art is in a collective setting. They move through the art gallery in the bubble of their own personal space. They watch films ensconced in the dark of the cinema. Their emotional reactions to art are located in the body, and divulged to just a few companions. However, we posit that the public space of the city can challenge and interfere with the private experience of art. Indeed, we posit that the public space of the city can creatively be made to intervene in the private space of engagement with art. 

Our project asks: What happens when the private experience of art is disrupted, unsettled or reframed by the chance encounters and events of the public space of the city? How do public art works incorporating decentralized, collaborative modes of production integrate into the city? How does this collaboration affect the structure and content of the work? How can interactive, locative technologies affect creative production or generate data? How can we use social science methodologies to both generate and interpret engagement with public artworks? We will explore these questions by combining creative processes in the visual and media arts, principally film (interactive cinema) and public art (site-specific installations), with empirical qualitative social science research (urban anthropology). This paper presents our theoretical framework and our plans to produce artworks that are generated in part by the intervention of the people, events, circumstances and knowledge of the urban public.

Creative Spaces of the Immigrants: Revisiting the Discussions on City-Space, Technology and Artistic Practices

by Ceren Mert

In its quest of exploring the underpinnings of the technological “intervention” within the flourishing of the city-spaces since the period of modernization, this paper will base its analyses on a philosophical and sociological theoretical standpoint. In this regard, the question of how technologies intervene in the creation of spaces will initially be examined taking into account the theories of Innis and Lefebvre. Accordingly, the issue of time and its compression and whether a new form of spatial presence has emerged will be discussed. In this regard, the global flows and how ‘translocal’ spaces are brought about within cities and how a digital divide is engendered within the large metropoles will be deliberated. Up till this point, the philosophical analyses of technologies and the sociological remarks in terms of their dissemination and impact within the global cultural network will be dwelled upon. Hence, the creative spaces (i.e. public art of various youth subcultures) will be elaborated taking into consideration the matters of diaspora and immigrants and their ‘possible’ place and relationship within the translocal creative and technological flows. Accordingly, this paper in its second half will concentrate on the films of one of the most recent notable film-makers/directors, who is also a second-generation Turkish immigrant in Germany: Fatih Akın. Thus, the questions such as how his films “re-present” the everyday life of the Turkish immigrants and their interaction with other people from different national or ethnic origins? What kind of spatial alterity can be found in the filmic production of Akin? In what ways do the discourses of the artistic practices such as in this case of Fatih Akın can form an ‘antagonistic creative space’ in relation to the hegemonic discourse of the practices of the city-spaces where these immigrants dwell? Taking these questions into consideration and proceeding the philosophical and sociological arguments which it has initially started this paper will discuss the “likely” linkages between technology, city-spaces, artistic practices and creative spaces of the immigrants.

Moments of Liminal Space

by Melissanthi Saliba

Moments of Space is a multiplatform installation of a series of rhizomatic portraits of strangers who are waiting in the Los Angeles Union Station. The waiting room of a train station is a space lost in time where I go to observe. The waiting body becomes the threshold between the everyday experience of public spaces and the unexplored territory of subjective motional states and gestures. The movements of waiting are documented and then tracked and treated as data, and visualized through print, video animation and sound. The waiting body, withdrawn from its everyday functional state, reveals the microgeography of the space that surrounds it. The project brings into attention the purposeless forgotten gestures of waiting, addressing their need for representation. “Moments of Liminal Space” suggest a subjective tracing and mapping of different ways by which individuals move in space. The installation consists of 6 inkjet prints (42.5 x 32 inch), video (3 portable dvd players with 9 inch screen) and sound (3 mp3 players and speakers). The prints and the portable dvd players playing the video of the waiting individuals, are mounted on the wall. Electrical power supply will be needed for the  3 9-inch portable dvd players. The sound of the installation is playing out of 3 small portable speakers, connected to 3 mp3 players and it is not very loud, inviting visitors to go closer. The piece ideally requires bright lighting condition, in order to be viewed. In case of lack of space, the size of the installation could be reduced to 3 inkjet prints instead of 6. “Moments of Liminal Space” is a thesis project that was presented with great success at the UCLA New Wight Gallery, as part of the 2010 MFA show.