Re: ~e; an electromagnetic art context

From brian carroll <>
Date Thu, 5 Aug 2004 10:41:12 -0500
In-reply-to <v01530500bd36ce89151d@[]>

Matthew and Richard, it is great to learn of these works and
the many dimensions involved. there are several things that
this bring to my mind, and then a second set of things which
i tend to see as a slightly different approach to this situation.
it seems that art is excellent in exploring ideas to any depth
and degree and scope, over a period of time, such that if it
were to be plotted in some way, many if not most thinking of
surveillance is experimented with, explored, challenged by
artists, to the point of Richard's great story of more advanced
equipment at the Venice Biennale than is currently available
to the local military. the ideas of using the existing networks
as part of an installation is provocative and partly what I tend
to associate with what artists do that others cannot- take it to
the extreme and end up finding the boundaries of a situation,
at times, in some ways. the place where i wonder if it may be
slightly different is in the non-artistic intervention of such EM
surveillance systems, though considered in a 'state of the art'
sense of - this is where things are at today and how do these
invisible systems work - as they are at once 'a blank slate' in
their invisibility to any significant re-cognition of their roles, or
so it would seem by the vacancy of their having cultural value
in themselves (beyond artistic interpretation, though cultural)
at the same time they are the context for which works are now
being presented and, in a sense, held in a type of controlling
situation. this is the second idea, and if it were considered in
some art-context, it would seem to provide a 'common' 'sense'
(sensory/sensed) environment, which is monitored, nervous,
connecting parts of the organism together which functions to
present the artistic imagination- or possible like technologies
it uses that are used elsewhere, to command and control as
with any such system, to oversee, or if not this, maybe it is a
question of dials, switches, buzzers, and camera-periscopes
in which to view above the surface, from below the surface, a
subsurface rendering and understanding, an infra-structural
viewpoint of the events going on. thus, if architecture, it would
be more an archaeology of the present, existing context, not
an added or created or composed thing, - the thing in itself. if
art, instead of a creation or expression by another it would be
more as an artifact, pre-existing, discovered, less interpreted
beyond itself than in itself, in an attempt to understand it, its
inner workings, which are back into the building systems, a
management structure, an administration of space, security,
value, and the rest. it would seem that they all add up to the
same thing, the artworks and the artifacts, or different types
of each, different beginnings, different outcomes, yet parts
of a similar set of understanding ideas about surveillance.
yet even surveillance bounds the ideas, potentially, as if it
is taken in terms of 'the globe is a giant nervous system' as
has been remarked by several with the e-infrastructure that
pulses throughout the day and night, each building is itself
a microcosm (and macrocosm) of this same idea, and yet it
is not understood in these terms. the building has artificial
sensing systems built-into it, its skin is activated by sensors,
its breathing mechanisms are electro-mechanical, its nerves
are twitching with sound vibrations, heat, and other factors.
the building is often compared to being a body, and as such
it is as if a woody-allen bunch were working the dials on the
self-automation of this thing, possibly unconscious to its own
inner workings. its own relationship to itself as a built space,
as an embodied place. so to take the idea to another extreme
could be to say that those who can hijack the building systems
and infrastructures they maintain, and manipulate a satellite
feed or building temperature or functioning of processes, that
such a cracking of the critical infrastructure on the scale of an
individual building takes 'command and control' away from a
process that is 'off-limits', seemingly, to understanding or to
self-awareness, and why is this? to what purpose or aims?
to me it serves the negative aspects of surveillance that a
visitor may not realize the environment they inhabit, and in
viewing artworks in such a place, not about such a place in
its present state (of art-science-technology) could miss many
of the dimensions present in the moments of the interactions.
it would seem that if 'ideas' and knowledge were at forefront
to investigations, they would lead further inside the structures
which are below the surface also, and that while others are in
many ways ingenious in exploring the ideas, expressing views
and perceptions, that the aspect of understanding the basics
composing this new state of affairs is, if not missing, lacking in
the ability to address this in a white-box/black-box space, that
it is visible here, overt, that value is proscribed by installations
of technological countermeasures against risk management
issues, and that experience is monitored in such a way that it
itself becomes part of the drama, the prevailing context even,
the way of perceiving, the unseen that can be seen yet is not
because it is rendered invisible - it is internal to the systems
of tools and buildings which it is hardwired to, while it could
offer a basis for the new 'sensory' environment based on the
ubiquity of computation, databases, statistics, media, and the
many other things artists are exploring. in this way it may not
be an 'art' question per say, i do not know, i am guessing as
i am at the edge of my language and ability to communicate
the ideas, though the need for a conversation about this is to
me critical to finding a continuum that palpably exists though
is fragmented in so many diverse discourses when, if it is a
question of 'context', to me there is a foundation for this to be
found in the built forms in which events and ideas take place.
whether human bodies, works, buildings, earth, or universe.
maybe it is a question of art, maybe it is a question of artifacts
and artworks, in space, there is something about it that is not
discrete in and of itself, self-contained, as much as integrated
across many things, and thus this infrastructural aspect could
be a way to also discuss the ideas without the artists role as
a single mediator of a much larger idea shared by many and
in many ways. there is something about artists which makes
me consider this 'context' as beyond surveillance, because an
installation artist may use some of the same technologies and
sensors used in the surveillance or diagnostic systems, so the
context may also have this aspect of, almost a physics of space
in the sense of mathematical interactions with the environment,
and what can be done with that is numerous. i don't know what
it is but i know that what you're sharing is part of an experience
that is found not only in museums but everywhere, from small
corner stores (electronic 'bing' when entering the store, with
camera above checkout counter) to see a heavily encased
crown jewel of some sort with security guards as if cyborgs
surrounding the perception of value. the ideas, understanding,
of value in such an electromagnetic context, already has in-
place, a pre-existing structure, often below the current views
of cultural observation, which, i believe, is a way to see what
is valued, how it is valued, how it is controlled, how perceived,
how it can become falsely-important and more about power
than the truth of ideas (glorifying retrograde views as futures),
and how 'questions' may have a difficult time in such a highly
controlled, and managed, environment-- and all of this based
on a physical assessment of the artifacts in the environments,
by excavating the patterns, similarities, commonalities that it
seems are brought up as issues, in other dialogues, yet it is
such conversations, and learning about such systems as an
artist only can (open it up, interrogate, investigate, value, etc.)
that these systems can be seen in full view, in full detail, and
in a way unseen before- and by many and in many ways. so,
an educational dimension, almost like finding a lost language
and trying to decipher it. anyways, the return to the idea of a
shared 'sense' or literally 'common sense' that may have less
to do with consensus than with EM control of 'the senses'  is
at stake in such an engagement or disengagement, it seems.
great fun, thanks for sharing these experiences, and any more
insight into any of this is appreciated (and valued) as, a control
room is a control room is a control room, until it is in a museum.
and while traffic camera surveillance networks command and
control rooms or streetlight network controls have been visited,
there is something less 'human' about these than the inhabited
space of a building, especially one based on a pre-conceived
value of viewing, and viewing this viewing, and sensing of this
interaction and exchange, that seems the building is sensing
itself, the ideas are being re-cognized, re-cognition of some-
thing of value, or perceived to be as of value, to be valued, of
ideas, or may it tend into ideologies if ideas are blocked in a
realm in which such 'common sense' is technically determined
to command and control the perception of what is of value, to
manage such an environment, the flows, the data, in a type of
seamless conduit from the art idea to the art futures market, in
some diagnostic basis of numbers, statistics, demographics,
and graphs and charts about what is nervously perceived to be
resonating within the space as of predicated value. (maybe this
is why the most recognizable works also draw record crowds,
though the ideas may not be of the same era in thinking as it
may be in ideology- how to think- what is the desired thought).

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