Remediating places

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Remediating places

  1. 1. Remediating Places Stephen Graham Newcastle University
  2. 2. Towards “Enacted Environments” Dana Cuff, (2003)
  3. 3. ”The modern city exists as a haze of software instructions" (Amin & Thrift) •  RFIDs and the “Internet of things” •  Also biometrics, algorithmic CCTV, tagging, new bordering technologies, ‘smart’ infrastructures, geodemographics, GPS •  Machine readable entities--sensors---databases to recognise and track individual ‘objects of interest’’ •  Ubiquitous computing and the promise of the always-on, everywhere network •  Architectural and urban spaces continually animated, brought into being, and continually performed through ubicomp or ambient intelligence •  ’Technological unconscious’ or ‘calculative background’
  4. 4. FOUR KEY STARTING POINTS ONE: Not real/virtual binary or ‘real city’ & virtual ‘cyberspace’ but process of urban ‘remediation’ ‘Cyberspace’ "is very much a part of our contemporary world. It is constituted through a series of remediations. As a digital network, cyberspace remediates the electric communications networks of the past 150 years, the telegraph and the telephone; as virtual reality, it remediates the visual space of painting, film, and television ; and as social space, it remediates such historical places as cities and parks and such 'nonplaces' as theme parks and shopping malls. Like other contemporary telemediated spaces, cyberspace refashions and extends earlier media, which are themselves embedded in material and social environments". Bolter, J. and Grusin, R. (1999) Remediation, MIT Press.
  5. 5. TWO: Cities are 'fluid machines” -places which continuously combine ‘distant proximity’& ‘proximate distance’ in all sorts of ways: ”There is a continual fluctuation of people, goods, data, and services as moving entities, together forming a society where the whole structure is in movement. This dynamic is supported by thousands of signs indicating both movement and intensity of urban flows. Each flow individually forms its complex horizontal network, further linked vertically through different transportation systems. Both new infrastructures and the hyper-concentration of facilities [in cities] create a strategic terrain for a network of international corporate cultures (international finance, telecommunications, information technology). These networks are open systems capable of absorbing new centres without causing instability" Gutierrez and Portefaix (2000)
  6. 6. THREE: Paradoxically, ambient, ubiquitous or locative media, like all new technological systems, tend to become hidden and ‘disappear’ at precisely the moment that they become most important: “The most profound technologies are those that disappear. They weave themselves into the fabric of everyday life until they are indistinguishable from it” (Mark Weiser, 1991)
  7. 7. Become Socially ‘Black boxed’ as ‘Infrastructure’ •  Embedded (i.e. “sunk into other structures); •  Transparent (“it does not need to be reinvented each time or assembled for each task”); •  Offers temporal or spatial reach or scope; •  Is learned by its users; •  Is linked to conventions of practice (e.g. routines of electricity use); •  Embodies standards; •  Is built on an installed base of sunk capital; •  Is fixed in modular increments, not built all at once or globally; and •  Tends to become visible when it fails (Susan LeighStar, 1999)
  8. 8. FINALLY: The ‘Automatic Production of Space’ Produces a New Urban-Technological Politics •  "Software challenges us to understand new forms of technological politics and new practices of political invention, legibility and intervention that we are only beginning to comprehend as political at all" (Thrift and French, 2002)
  9. 9. Multiple, Simultaneous, Trajectories 1. Consumerisation/ Neoliberalisation 2. Militarisation/ Securitisation 3. Urban activism and democratisation Each struggling to become ‘fixed’, normalised and standardised into technological systems as ‘infrastructure’
  10. 10. •  •  •  •  •  1. Consumerisation/Neoliberalisation: ‘Friction-Free’ Capitalism? New ‘control revolution’ through persistent, pervasive & inter-operable surveillance and tracking ‘Data-driven mass customization’ (Andrejevic 2003) ‘Bricks’n’clicks’ assemblages of electronic and material provision in this augmented landscape Often used to ‘unbundle’ and recommodify public urban infrastructure into neoliberal mobility marketplaces Reanimate long-standing utopian commercial tropes of perfect flow, complete efficiency, seamless interconnection, annihilation of space through time
  11. 11. RFIDs: Smooth Flow, Just in Time Management, Ubiquitous Tracking
  12. 12. ‘Software-Sorting’ techniques often used to ‘unbundle’ and recommodify public urban infrastructure into neoliberal mobility marketplaces Code Space: Software-Sorted Mobilities
  13. 13. “The public sphere malled”? Dana Cuff •  Automatic detection of individuals •  Dress code enforcement by reading clothing types of those entering •  Detection and removal of ‘groups’ •  Radically unbundled pricing/ special offers e.g. ‘bookmarked’ stored in Japan •  Electronic lists of excluded and ‘socially undesirable’ •  ‘Flatten’ public qualities of mall space
  14. 14. New Urban Planning: e.g. Korea Digital Media City
  15. 15. II Securitisation and Militarisation: “The targeting of mobile bodies, things, objects or monies is becoming a matter of locating - positioning in the sights, if you like -- so that the opportunities of a mobile global economy might be seized, while the capability to take out the target remains. []The technologies that have made possible a global supply chain of export processing zones and offshore sites, are simultaneously being embedded into border crossing cards, visas, passports and immigrant ID cards that include mobile people within governable space by means of their targeted exclusion.” Louise Amoore
  16. 16. Towards Passage-Point Urbanism? Semi-Sovereignty: Logistics Enclaves
  17. 17. New Military Doctrine: From Battlefields to ‘Battlespace’
  18. 18. Tracking, ‘Security’ and Militarisation •  Jordan Crandall: a militarisation through ‘Armed Vision’: “Tracking is an anticipatory form of seeing” •  ”Identifying targets becomes the role of statistical algorithms which sift the mass and flux of registered and sensed data searching for [Mark Seltzer’s]”‘statistical persons’” •  “A gradual colonization of the now, a now always slightly ahead of itself” •  “While civilian images are embedded in processes of identification based on reflection, militarised perspectives collapse identification processes into “Id-ing” - a one-way channel of identification in which a conduit, a database, and a body are aligned and calibrated” (Crandall 1999).
  19. 19. Politics of Anticipatory Risk Management
  20. 20. Surveillance Creep: Embedded Systems Become Securitised
  21. 21. Cities Seen as Camouflage
  22. 22. s
  23. 23. ‘Fixing’ ‘Authentic’ Identities Through Biometrics
  24. 24. Interior Body-Space
  25. 25. City as Head-Up Display
  26. 26. Dreams of Omniscience
  27. 27. Data Subjects, Data Mining, Statistical Persons
  28. 28. Automated Targeting: ‘Normal’ and ‘Abnormal’
  29. 29. “Several large fans are stationed outside the city limits of an urban target that our [sic] guys need to take. Upon appropriate signal, what appears like a dust cloud emanates from each fan. The cloud is blown into town where it quickly dissipates. After a few minutes of processing by laptop-size processors, a squadron of small, disposable aircraft ascends over the city. The little drones dive into selected areas determined by the initial analysis of data transmitted by the fan-propelled swarm. Where they disperse their nano-payloads.” Defense Watch 2004 Sentient Cities as War Machines
  30. 30. “After this, the processors get even more busy. Within minutes the mobile tactical center have a detailed visual and audio picture of every street and building in the entire city. Every hostile [person] has been identified and located. Unmanned air and ground vehicles can now be vectored directly to selected targets to take them out, one by one. Those enemy combatants clever enough to evade actually being taken out by the unmanned units can then be captured of killed by human elements”
  31. 31. “Behind the fighters, military police and intelligence personnel process the inhabitants, electronically reading their attitudes toward the intervention and cataloguing them into a database immediately recoverable by every fire team in the city (even individual weapons might be able to read personal signatures, firing immediately upon cueing. Smart munitions track enemy systems and profiled individuals. Drones track inhabitants who have been ‘read’ as potentially hostile and ‘tagged’” Defense Watch, 2004
  32. 32. III Art and Activism: Reenchanting, Reanimating, Repoliticising the City? •  Direct challenge to visions of both sanitized and transparent corporate and commercial spaces and militarised and securitised spaces . •  Technological re-appropriation: ‘The new hybrid space also calls for new forms of public action. These can only be created and facilitated if the users of hybrid space learn to see the influence of relatively invisible digital structures and appropriate their technology where possible for alternative use.’ (Kraan 2006). •  New social performances; address alienated experience; strive for (digital) reenchantment of world; opening out authorial empowerment; build collective community and participatory endeavour; struggle against hegemonic commercialisation &/or securitisation
  33. 33. Location-specific digital art •  Murmur project Kensington Toronto •  Stories linked to sites •  Urban history/story circle –  Goes digital goes collaborative/public
  34. 34. Grafedia •  Clickable environment –  Grafedia written by hand onto physical surfaces and linking to rich media content –  Viewers "click" on these grafedia hyperlinks with cell phones by sending a message addressed to the word + "@grafedia.net" •  ‘every surface becomes potentially a web page, and the entire physical world can be joined with the Internet’ •  Tagging
  35. 35. Opening out authorial empowerment e.g. Yellow Arrow Guerrilla Mapping, Innsbruck •  Massively Authored Artistic Publication •  Arrows point to object – text in – poems politics and adverts
  36. 36. Opening Black Boxes: RFID Art David Kousemaker iTea; Meghan Trainor; Paul Roush
  37. 37. Animating the Past: Digital Collective Memory
  38. 38. Animating the Present: Urban Tapestries •  Allows people to author their own virtual annotations of the city –  enabling community’s collective memory to grow organically, –  allowing ordinary citizens to embed social knowledge in the new wireless landscape of the city. –  People can add new locations, location content and the ‘threads’ which link individual locations to local contexts, •  Accessed via handheld devices such as PDAs and mobile phones.
  39. 39. Participatory urban visualisations: e.g. Christian Nold’s Greenwich emotion map: •  Instead of security technologies that are designed to control and surveill behavior, envisages new tools that allow people to selectively share and interpret their own bio data. Biomapping •  Pooling data as people move •  ‘Communal arousal surface’
  40. 40. Opening Out City as Gamespace e.g. Asphalt Games
  41. 41. Counter-Geopolitics: You Are Not Here
  42. 42. Paula Levine: Shadows From Another Place: San Francisco <-> Baghdad
  43. 43. Appropriation -System 77: Counter-Reconnaissance
  44. 44. Conclusions •  Three logics struggling to become fixed into infrastructure whilst striving to remediate urban life in various ways. •  Emerging urban and technological politics based on assemblages politics and remediations which fuse ‘proximate distances’ with ‘distant proximities’ •  New temporalities: Anticipation/ remediating memory •  Dreams! Reality a ‘Kludge’ of ‘Little Brothers’ •  Two huge challenges for research and activism: –  * ‘Unblackboxing’: Render new technological politics visible and democratically accountable. Open up the politics of code… –  * Prevent complete dominance and normalisation of militarised and consumerised logics based on software-sorting, targeting, and emergence of a world shaped overwhelmingly by the agency of invisible and opaque algorithms

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