Friday, March 11, 2005

Mute, locative media and the end of suburbia

I like Mute Magazine, but it publishes so erratically that I forget to check for new issues. Apparently, a new issue came out in February and there are some interesting articles:

The Shape of Locative Media by Simon Pope

Being a theories of everyday life kinda girl, what I found most interesting in this article is the focus on spatialising practices, tactics and strategies. He draws out an interesting tension between locative media projects working on a tactical level by resisting 'official' histories (through, for example, public authoring) and at the same time being implicated in institutional strategies of funding, research and development. He also points at tensions between Situationism, especially psychogeography, and Conceptual art as they may play out in locative media projects:

"There’s a wilful skimming of the surface of psychogeography, taking it to mean an unconstrained movement in the streets, and apparently less of an alignment with the wider project of anti-urbanism. This can leave an impression of a practice whose relation to ‘the city’ is closer to the disinterestedness of Conceptualism than the supposed engagement of the SI ... [Situationist] devices for mapping the interactions and perceptions of human desires onto Paris, for example, were driven not by chance, as were the preceding scorned Surrealist interventions, but rather as a direct and conscious operation on the city ... The map, for Conceptual artists, seems more useful as a simple, generic method for recording the spatial aspects of a sculptural practice on an expanded scale ... This leaves me wondering how those developing locative media understand themselves to be implicated in the spaces that they construct, record and annotate..."

This certainly resonates with my own wondering about how Situationism is being applied to locative media and pervasive computing. I have noted in the past that I'm troubled by the use of superficial Situationism to justify playful design practices rather than for socially and culturally critical approaches to technology and urban life. I've also expressed bewilderment at the lack of discussion about how the structure of GPS, absolute positioning, computing algorithms etc. actually conflicts with more fluid (social and cultural) understandings of spatial experience.

Also:

Peak Oil and National Security: A Critique of Energy Alternatives by George Caffentzis

Especially interesting since I watched The End of Suburbia last night and am sitting here covered in blankets because the gas furnace broke during the night and our house is freezing.

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