Who is positioning the coordinators we are following?
Funny enough the term `today` can be as unclear as straight forward. It is a collective agreement that the term `today` not only refer to on or in the course of this present day, but it is also referring to the present period of history.
It is confusing because it is universal as well as its validation is determined of its timing in each context, accumulated by
geographical position and its relation to the sun(day/night), as well as cultural and local norms. One cannot define today without a tomorrow or a yesterday.
Today, I, the author, decided to start by writing about today. First, as in above, about the funny concept about today, and now I`ll continue to write about today as in 2020, where individuals, groups, and societies, centralized in the western part of the world, have access to a constant stream of information and knowledge.
It can be challenging to channel news and facts from assumptions and opinions. To distinguish the reality from the fake might be a lost game in some cases. The individuals, or the receiver of information are responsible to `like`; give a positive signal to the digital world, or `block; which literally means to make yourself unreachable and ignore someone or something that wants your attention. Based on the `feedback` the receiver, also called `user`, leaves behind on the main platform for communication and sharing knowledge, `the internet`, in ways of comments on sites and friends' digital profile.
The trances of the user's behavior on the internet provides anonymous agents or algorithms operating for private investors create `a marked target profile` of the individual users. Whereas they, the visual hidden agents and algorithm, can predict the specific users' future interests and needs to an extreme extend. That the user suddenly falls into the category of `target` for a targeting marked and other with interest. The rights of the user are still blurred and underdeveloped, a cause might be the restricted openness and the difficulties to access information about distribution of user information which limited user awareness.
My generation and the generations above were trained to navigate with maps and compass. Two objects to hold in your hand. The compass was hold horizontal parallel to the ground, and your arm was reaching straight in front of you. The two items had different weight,
materiality, and tactility.
When one was traveling abroad the first was to unfold the nine times folded huge map and locate your position and where you were about to go. Most likely you had a note with some doodling of places of recommendation from a friend, still, in most cases I would argue it was the most natural thing to ask a stranger of what direction to walk in or where the closes bus stop or taxi hold was located. It was not seen as unnatural to be away for a week or two, or even longer, without noticing your family of what you ate for dinner or that you got bitten of a mosquito.
Moving from one place to another today is slightly different. The digital divisor provides navigation Apps such as google maps; a GPS; Global Positioning System, (google dictionary 19.01.20), simulation of the reality in plan. The user can choose if the interfere should be shown as an aerial photography, a gray map, or as 3d objects. The Apps, an application, downloaded by user to a mobile device or other digital device. (Google definition 19.01.20) provides the user with information about restaurants, recreational options, and not at least what kind of transportation options to get from A to B with a calculation of how long time each option will take.
What does this powerful tool generate? I would argue that it generates two main concerns. Firstly, that the navigation map makes the user believe it is in control of the situation. Secondly, that the user is fully committed and depended, or let's exaggerate our vocabular; the user is addicted to the digital device and its functions.
Why am I taking into concern that the user believes he or she is in control of a situation by possessing a navigation App? My intuitive reasoning how can one be in control of a complex situation, including various agents and stakeholders? The subjects believing it is in control manifest itself by small gestures, such as a passenger in a taxi keeping an eye on his or her GPS in backseat. By looking at the navigation app, he or she is registering what route the taxi is driving. Why is this small gesture even mentioned? It is mentioned because it affects the dynamic between the taxi driver and the passenger.
First, by looking in his or her personal digital device, and not on the road the passenger signalizes a distrust to the driver. Second, what makes the passenger sure that the GPS is more accurate than a local driver that knows the street by heart? - or the passenger does not know that fact, or it might not be the case, because the passage never asks. Thirdly, not a fact but an open question from my side; It might be that the driver will feel that he is constantly judged in his work? Which is the fact with Uber when the passenger rates the driver after a ride, and the driver rate the passenger.
My psychology friend explains how the older generation, the generation of yesterday, at her office are expert in cognitive psychology methods. She is new educated and fresh and the only one using emotional therapy, whereas in her studies that was the dominating methodology of chose.
Cognitive psychology explained for dummies, the core of cognitive psychology is the idea of information processing and sees the individual as a processor of information, in much the same way that a computer takes in information and follows program to produce an output. The computer gave cognitive psychologist a metaphor which they could compare human mental processing. This was a new model of how human thought works and the dominating approach from the 50s –60s. (https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/psychology/cognitive-neuroscience, 19.01.20)
Cognitive psychology is an alike looking at the brain like a computer with natural given functions. Irregular activates within the emotional standards are understood as noise. Which is contradicting to the new tendency in 2020, where new students go into emotional methods where one reads emotions as an expression of memories. One traces feelings back to the basic principles of Fraud.
Like, if you are sad, it signalizes that your subconscious or instincts are afraid for losing something, or you have lost something. Whereas, in cognitive methods you should not pay attention to this signal if it occurs in a situation where it is not expected; it is just an error in your brain or wrong typed code. If our parents' generation way of perceiving and understanding human interaction is based on the model of a computer it is not strange that my generation have suffered from generation prestation, where it is expected to be great in every part of your life and failure is for losers. It is not strange that one re-question and that new empirical fashions in psychology and social science emerge. Or that tendencies in architecture as functionalism occurred. (https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/psychology/cognitive-neuroscience, 19.01.20)
I find the combat between the computer created truth and the contra-spaces of giving value to emotions as a great possible to re-shape parts of our realty. We must accept the power and possibilities within the computer, but also its limitation.
The metaphor of computer science being representing humanity is too simple and grey. The empirical research built upon sensations, compassions, and emotions, must be activated too. In the crash between the digital and the emotional a new diffuse
room accrue. I and do believe James Corer does something important in quoting Winnicott empathizing creativity:
one cannot distinct did you find it in the reality with did you make it up? It is a constant correlation between play and fantasy and the reality, and I quote The Boundaries between different foundational realities become so blurred, in fact, that it is practically impossible in a cyber-world to distinguish between what is information and what is concrete, what is fact and what is fiction, what is space and what is time. (Corner, 1999, p.22)
Referring to previous notes about navigation; when the majority have access to a navigation app and it is accepted to freely use it to any given time, we are not questioning if it controls us or if we are controlling our own movement.
It is taken as a natural thing to be in control over your own movement by the tool of a navigation app and today it might occur as strange if you approach a strange on the street to ask for the direction, even stranger if you don`t have power on your phone; the you are irresponsible, to ask a stranger to share hers or his mobile data with is rude, and if you approach someone and explain that you don`t have a mobile phone they might take you for liar. For sure it changes what city and country you are in, but still I would argue that today this is quite universal norms.
Lefevre talks about revolution as one way to react within the frames of the capitalistic room. We are constantly depending on the backup from our interest organization or labor organization. One must understand that they are acting according to the given frames. The second way of creating contra-room is to question the reality. This is the field Gracès is diving into.
Gracès argues that art today is not necessarily political although it has political themes, one might not need to act at all just take time to listen to the circumstances, to your own intuition and take a stand. Do deal with the real is about discovering what one is engaged, is more about positioning oneself. (Gracès, 2012,)
Much of the art today, even which is calmed to be political, boils down to be reproductions of an image exhibit, shown, and sold. When this is the result, we are accepting and following the given framework and only reproduces the capitalistic room Lefebvre explains. (Lefebvre, 1997)
A society in the state of free falling.
It is not only in navigation we are presented with areal plan maps of the reality, on the news we get exposed of war zones, demonstrations, clime changes by moving images captured by drones. In the ‘offset’ judgment during livestreamed sucker matches too - just to mention some common places a plan image simulates the outcome of what is taken as ‘true’ in reality.
The perspective from above has become one of the most used ways of representing our life in present time. It is projecting an image we easily read as the `truth'. It is a visualization that appears as logical and
objective like cold fact. It is easy to forget that it is only one angle and it is made or constructed by an editing team that adjusts the colors, re-recording sound, choses the rhythm of clipping together the scenes and the way of telling the story.
New Media artist and professor Hito Steyerl wrote the article In Free Fall: A Thought Experiment on Vertical Perspective (Steyler, 2011). On the famous worldwide (and wild) web one can find her lecture on Vertical Perspective. It seemed logical and natural to link her way of explaining a shift in the dominating way of representing the society of today visually to the open end of philosopher Henry Lefebvre`s theory The production of Space.
I`ll illustrate how one can read one theory as an extension of the other after an introduction to Steyerl`s thought experiment on Free Fall. In In Free Fall: A Thought Experiment on Vertical Perspective she points to the characteristic of our society, and describes them like being in a state of free fall as the ground is no longer visible in our visual representations of our lives.
In the thought experiment (Steyler, 2011); if we accept that we have moved away from the dominant ideologies of the Modernism. The artistic expression within functionalism is no longer relevant it is dead or represent the past. (Lefebvre, 1997, p. 52) It is evident that we chose other mediums and new perspectives to visually representing our urges and existence.
Still the motors of our society are driven by the old capitalistic beliefs system which does not represent the current state of our reality. It is a wider gap between the logic of the marked and the everyday life of the citizens, too many illusions visualized. The capitalistic system has too many crackers, to many internal conflicts and it becomes easy to no longer believe in it.
Still we are trapped in daily participation and commitment to well establish systems which seems impossible to withdraw from. Never less, we assume that it is still under us. Equally important is to acknowledge the possibility that it might not be the case, if so then the ground is not here anymore.
This shift of perspective is frightening and a thought one must slowly adopt to. She marks out that to accept that we cannot rely on a stabile ground is not necessary a negative shift. We will continue to maneuver; the substance of our existence is the same it is just important to realize that the room is in a performative transformation into a new form not experienced in pervious history.
Then the reality of today might be that we are no longer grounded. We are currently floating around in a chaotic room. An opaque room where we are dispatched and disembodied from the ground. We are falling as we blindly belief in something which might not be there anymore. We surrender to and obey the dominance of a perspective from above and allow it to dominate and control our mainstream representation of the world.
Still, we have not hit the ground yet, we do not know what the catastrophic surprise will be, so our state of living might feel like standing still. Terms of google maps, drone photos, satellite photos are commonly trusted, and we allow us to be determinants to them as we constantly let us be moved and positioned according to their pre-defined coordinators and to their service and function. *
The power of acting and mapping
One must understand the discourse of the space and its value of production; exchange value and value of use. Lefebvre is asking for an alternative to the stratifying morphology of the capitalistic room. (Lefebvre, 1997,)
Ways of realizing and retaining from the capitalistic morphology of production and reproduction and later construct by proposing, in his term, a socialistic room.
It is easy to crate reproductions of the capitalistic room, whereas it is under explored and far more challenging to propose an alternative reality liberated from the Kingdom of Goods. Proposals of an alternative itself might have an impact on today although it might not be the future.
The performative action of creating and altering contra-spaces produces room to think otherwise and our perception of the natural and behavior change too. When something is drawn out or created it is there to be looked at, discussed, and argued. (Corner,1999)
Steyer points out that emerging ways of visualization our time and imagining a dream space were various ways of representations and imaginations are tested trough advanced technologies.
Collages of moving images, mapping, multi screens, animation, simulations allow for the spectator/actor/ to choose a its own positioning liberated from the rules of linear perspective and central perspective. (Steyler, 2011)
I would argue that Steyerl explains the power of an uprising defuse rooms, a concept from Lefebvre, and a distinct identity begin to take form. The diffuse room is a contra-space moved by desire and a yearning after expressing, thinking, and imagine a social alternative to the dominated capitalistic room.
It springs out from the chaotic spaces, a contra-space, evolving internal in the capitalistic room. The capitalistic room is splinted in its character and it is always on the border to fall apart as it is tendency for friction and tention on all levels within the society. In scale from domestic homes, institution building so larger scales as cities, municipalities, nations, or countries.
Spaces can impossible be neutral as we are giving them value by using them, exist in them, re-shape them and act in them. It would be phallic to argue that the domain of the spaces is pure analytical and descriptions. Spaces are indeed powerful and tools for the political. It is crucial to establish knowledge about its discourse, and then ne can not only focus of the space itself but see it in relation to social, political, economic, environmental dynamics and belief systems. (Lefebvre, 1997, p.51)
Ways of exploring the shift in perspective; Maps
Corner writes about the difference between tracing and mapping in the article The Agency of Mapping. Tracing is representing while mapping is an explorative process. He brilliantly explains how mapping is a particularly instrumental in the constructing and construing of lived space and re-shapes the world people live in. It folds potential re-marks on theory repeatedly which lead to new consequences. (Corner,1999)
Trough the performative process of mapping one can explores and play with the visibilities and validation of what is what is and what is not there yet. One stand free to show things which is not physically visible.
Mapping is a powerful tool not yet explored to its fullest potential. We must understand that it hosts the potential to set coordinates
for new eidetic and physical world to emerge. Not at least, the process of mapping opens for discovering new worlds within past and the present ones; They unfolds new grounds upon the hidden traces of a living context. (Corner,1999, p. 222)
We are too obsessed in what a map represent that we forget to ask the important question of what does the map do?
Mapping is a tool visually re-think and connect information and observations. As mention above maps project mental images into the spatial dimension and it makes map taken as `true` and `objective`, like a cold fact.
However, the truth is that a map is never neutral as a space can never be neutral and a map will never be the reality, only a powerful
representation. It is powerful as we believe in it and allow it to have a value.
Maps underlines our belief system, if we question or explore other ways of visually
make relations between information new
realities appears. It generates new ways of reading, understanding and acting. It is challenging our perception of the world. We must understand that nothing is a true representation of the world.
Bronowski pointedly observes: There are no appearance to be photographed, no experiences to be copied, in which we do not take apart. Science, like art, is not a copy of nature but a re-creation of her. This mediates models of being is more fully described by the philosopher Ernst Gassier.
In truth... what we call he world of our perception is not simple, not given and self-evident from the outset, but ‘is’ only insofar as it has gone through certain basic theoretical acts by which it is apprehended and specified. This universal relationship is perhaps most ‘evident in the intuitive form of our perceptual world, in its spatial form.
The relations of ‘together’, ‘separate’, ‘side-by-side' are not just ‘given’ along our ‘simple’ sensations, the sensuous matter that is order in space; they are highly complex, thoroughly
mediated product of empirical thought. When we attribute a certain size, position, and distance to things in space, we are not thereby expressing a simple datum of sensation but are situating the sensory data in a relationship and system, which provides ultimately to be nothing other than a relationship of pure judgement. (Corner, 1999, p.223)
A map is two-faced, characterized by the analogue and the abstract. As analogue; an actual ground condition and recording the surfaces of the earth, and abstraction; a selection, isolation, distance,and codification, then, the surface of the map function like an operating table, a staging ground or a theatre of operation upon which the mapper collects, combines, connects, arks, masks, relates and generally explores. Maps devices such as frame, scale, orientation, projection, indexing and naming reveals artificial geographies that remain unavailable to human eyes. (Corner, 1999, p. 215 – 216)
The means of map is of finding and the founding a new project, thereafter effectively re- work what already exist. Map are valued for their revelatory and productive potential. The process of mapping by Corner; First, creation of a field by setting of rules and the establishment a system, thereafter. The extraction, isolation or `de-territorializing` of parts and data. Thirdly, The plotting. The drawing-out and setting-up relationships, and the `re-territorializing` of the parts. At each stage judgement is made whit the constructing and constituting of the map altering between process of an accumulation, disassembly, and reassembly. (Corner, 1999, p. 29 - 30)
Corner insist that we believe they are objective representation of the reality, however, the fact is that map is highly artificial and fallible constructions, virtual abstraction that possesses great force in terms of how people see and act. Mapping do not repeat geographies or ideas, rather they effect heir actualization.
What is the natural?
To understand the construction of what we easily take for natural I looked into Judith Butlers article Performative Acts and Gender Constitution: An Essay in Phenomenology and Feminist Theory. This article breaks down the myths about the natural being constructed with history and that we, as living beings, are actors and writing the script.
We perform what we believe is our roles to act out, together we are improvising the plot of the act. Theatrical terms are used to explain but one must make a distinction between the theatre where one can stop and redo and the real where the actions have consequences.
Butler describes our society as something social constructed and not something that have emerged natural. (Butler, 1988) This awareness makes alibi for Gracès concept of ‘honestly for the real’;
If we are aware of that what we take as given and natural is constructed, then we are not obliged to follow along the given principles in the ruling reality (in the society). It allows us to explore a room of freedom.
We don’t have to rush in commitment and participation, rater find a space, or call it a room of emptiness, where we can reconnect with yourself. The room of emptiness allow for time to feel, there after following up notions that have been blocked. By listening and being aware of your own, and the others dignity. You are free to be moved by your concern and act differently than what was once expected from you. (Garcès, 2012)
One important issue to emphasis is that Gràces are not talking about personal selfcare, a commerce buzzword in contemporary times, but how we together construct a reality as we are active. To dealt with honestly is to enter a stage and include yourself in the work by expressing an honestly or present a reality which might be oblivion and non-existing for the updogs.
Not only as actors but also as inventor of play. Trough living, we are creating the norms of the society and the situation. We are affected by each other. Affected means in Gracès term to learn to listen, taking things in and transform oneself, breaking something of oneself and recomposing oneself with new alliance.
Affection requires integrity, humility and gratitude. To learn to listen is, in this way, to take in the outcry of reality in its dual sense, or in its innumerable sense; an outcry that is the impossible-to-codify richness of voices, of expression, of challenges, of forms of life. (Garcès, 2012, p.2)
It is easy to be an unconscious actor and only live partly through your whole time at this earth, so we must learn to yarn for the truth, for us, and for the world. To deal with honestly with the real is not an act or to thematize, rater it is to be engaged and involve oneself, which to one extent becomes to take responsibility of our own reality, not only commit and participate in the reality constructed by the powerful updogs, a term Galtung uses for the dominating political, and ruling forces in a given situation in his articles, as we easily takes as natural and don’t even challenge the potential off questioning it.
*Fragments from Social Science Essay