Endorse the ubiquity
In light of the current pervasiveness of computer technology, this dichotomy has become obsolete, unthinkable: the information space can no longer be conceived as an ethereal plan, transcendent in relation to our everyday lives. The paradigm of ubiquitous technologies forces us to think of our lives as the locus of socialization assisted by digital devices. From the grids of irrigation canals of ancient times to the telephone cables embroidering the skies of 20th century cities, public spaces had traditionally been invested, designed by technology.
Today it is the waves of wireless terminals that weave a mesh through our habitats. And that provoke lively debate between those who want to use them for democratic purposes (as proposed by Felix and Jean Cattan Treguer in their recent plea for a "super WiFi distributed and free") and those who wish to disrupt them to counter widespread surveillance of the people (this is the approach of many contemporary activist groups).
Ubiquitous computer technology no longer oversteps everyday experience. It permeates our reality by saturating the concrete space of cities and houses, taking on the physical shapes of its users. Mike Featherstone describes this media ontology by suggesting that “the media are becoming ubiquitous, they are becoming increasingly integrated into physical objects and environments, bodies and clothing, areas of transmission and reception. " (Ubiquitous Media: Introduction, Theory, Culture & Society, Vol. 24, no. 7-8, 2007, pp. 319-22 : 320).
«The information seeks to go through the body, meets with resistance, eventually fails and is content to follow the shape of the subject who - literally- wears it on its back.»
Ruffle and unit
Postscript : Goddess of the airwaves
During our meeting in Paris, Ricardo O'Nascimento tied an orange ribbon on my wrist: "Three knots," he said, "and you can make a wish for each knot.” This is a fragment of his project E-ANSA, but also a true Brazilian votive object. The fitinhas do Senhor do Bonfim are amulets from Salvador de Bahia. Ricardo reminded me that the ribbon should not be removed, but he challenged me: "You're not going to keep it. You're too inconsistent." That was not taking into account my disproportionate fetishism. Fetishism in the primordial sense of feitiço, a taste for the artificial, of which spoke Charles Brush in the 18th Century (Religion de l’Égypte avec la Religion actuelle de Nigritie, Paris, 1760) Grown today in the tradition of syncretic Brazilian Candomblé.
In Candomble, divine Christian entities mix with the orixas, gods inherited from the African Yoruba pantheon. If Ricardo calls me inconsistent, it’s because I often take the air of a devotee of Exu, the god of communication. While Ricardo, meanwhile, has dedicated E-ansâ to Iansan Oya, goddess of electromagnetic waves and storms. Our tutelary genies cannot be more different: god of the message transfer, Exu also rules over misunderstanding and conflict; as for Oya, she is associated with motherhood, nutrition, transformation.
But what the two have in common is to watch over movement in space. Exu travels over land, across the far reaches of the territory. Oya sails the waterways and outlines the maritime routes. Contemporary technological culture can only be thought of in relation to her space. Navigate. Surfer. Channel. Networks. Explorer. Electronic frontier. Address. Traffic. Hosting. Home. The metaphors for this space, at once open and closed, intimate and public, display what is inherently contradictory. Words used to think of this are organized around the symbolized polarities, for the point of the argument, of these two Brazilian deities. The god of communication and the goddess of the airwaves. The undetermined content of information and the volatile infrastructure that manages it. The message on the one hand, the medium on the other - and our entire present, which hovers between the two.
- Antonio Casilli's research blog
- Pictures of the Popkalab workshop organized in la Gaîté lyrique
- Antonio Casili's last book : Les Liaisons Numériques