Coded Experience


Presentation Title:

  • Coded Experience



  • In the year 1910 Lars Magnus Eriksson, a blacksmith and engineer by education applied his skills of a telegraph repairman onto an invention by one Alexander Graham Bell. He decided to install a massive yet mobile telephone device to his wife’s car. Eriksson thus made the first “mobile” phone, which despite the difficulty of connecting it to Local telephone cables on the roadside was nevertheless mobile.

    Mobility, connecting movement and location, was central to the industrial 19th century: steam engines, trains, cars, airplanes and flying in general contributed to rapidly changing the cultural position of the western subject in ways that we still cannot fully comprehend. Wars and conflicts raging in different parts of the world also called for better or worse) technology. Hence transportation and communication technology became central to Western expansionist and imperialist capitalism.

    We are undoubtedly talking about the most successful (r)evolutionary project in human history. All rocks have been turned and crushed to become raw material for industrial production. Technology is however, always a double-edged sword. In its twists and turns it carries a possibility of being beneficial as well as harmful. Technology is political as it is a bandwagon of progress, the central god of progress as a religion… yet it also enables its own criticism.

    Mobile space or rather communication space usually suggests bi-directionality. Wireless mobility in fact creates small wireless spaces, beyond which there is the infrastructure of massive hardware. Mobile spaces are thus for the most part from a center to many networks or nodes, which connect individuals with one another. It could be argued that the most advanced aspect of wireless technology is not its telephony but its ability to provide electricity for mobile devices in the form of tiny chargeable batteries.

    Increasingly mobility is becoming a property of a group space, in which artworks can also be experienced and experiences shared by many participants. In this respect the interfaces and server structures of wireless media (WiFi and shared media experiences) begin to resemble more and more the spaces of experience that were created by interactive art forms in the 1990s. The audience or the service client becomes an active user, a position that requires increasing curiosity and bravery.

    Interactive works of art are not worthwhile if only glanced at; one really needs to spend a small, shared moment, a micro time, during which different layers emerge. Media artwork or integrated interfaces can also have a strong research angle. The work of art researches’ phenomena in the field of media studies and sciences thus enable new research practices. These can include notions of the -intelligence- of the computer based system or software to understand cultural categories, similarities and differences of events, things or social roles.

    In media art this research aspect and the coded worlds of experience involved in the semantic dimensions of computing are central. They also sometimes contribute to the ambiguity of situating media art in the wider contexts of contemporary art. It is in fact precisely this area, where art, science and social research with respective audience interface that constitutes media art as an interesting, multi-layered field within the ever-expanding terrain of contemporary art.Musician and media artist Brian Eno has talked about his wish to find a Language through which it is possible to talk, within the same symbolic matrix, about fashion, cookies, interior design, Cezanne, abstract art and architecture. Eno sees this as a new culture, which in its entirety could be referred to as a non-functional style behavior, and where people increasingly spend their free time.

    Media art does not draw boundaries between art and art institutions but instead expands as in waves, through the interstices of corporate innovations, university research, IT-laboratories, media activists critiquing big brother surveillance society, and more traditional audiovisual narrativity.

    Media art is at the heart of this continuously evolving field of new media. For many coming from the contemporary art field, media artists appear to them -Gyro Gearlooses”, inventors who make curious but not very useful things. What media art can contribute within the Western techno civilization is to give a critical pinpoint perspective to the near future.

    It is this process that I find ISEA2004 to be about as a whole, and I wish the very best to that path, and our collaboration.