Saturday, 24 September 2011

The Future of Locative Media

Mark Tuters at ISEA 2011in Istanbul spoke of the spectrum of media art practice in the mobile arena as ranging from the personal and local to the relational and transposable. He acknowledged the fetishisation of the local, but held open the medium’s potential for challenging the exploitative effects of globalisation on hidden labour by tracking all product components. Site-specific thus becomes ‘tracing the elsewhere”. 

For me this data as power proposition still fell within the realm radical individualism and so was still inside the framework of the neo-liberal project. Mark Shephard on the same panel spoke of ubiquitous conditions and the new possibilities for new media détournment 45 years after the Situationists. He suggested artists should abandon the locative as the dominant frame and add on the concepts of time and identity to enlarge the artistic possibilities of the medium. Ludic Being might be the new mode for Situationist media. The visual examples he juxtaposed were parcours runners in a Russian estate (as modern examples of détourment) with a clip from Cliff Oakley’s dystopian film The Catalogue where consumer profiling and surveillance meet in grim harmony. I think what we could postulate is rather that there are two domains-the “digital tame” of social media, online consumer culture and even radical digital arts and the “wild” of critical conditions in the world where poverty and disempowerment have yet to find a political voice in pervasive digital art.

I believe both speakers are still working within the paradigm that existed before the demise of the neo-liberal economic project and that collective and focused action through pervasive media art , which has some idea of where it would like to move the dominant ideas, is an altogether more difficult and painful proposition, but one where Mark Shephard’s extension of the frame could be the most readily applied and move beyond individual détournment to something more coherent in terms of collective ideas and commitment.

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