ART IN THE AGE OF DIGITAL DISSEMINATION
CLASS ESSAYS from a Fine Arts Course
taught at the University of Victoria, B.C., Canada
by Brad Brace, 1993
or, Brad Brace, 503-230-1197
This Fine Arts course was the first "art & technology" course
taught at the University of Victoria. The students involved were
from a variety of disciplines (although, primarily visual arts
students) and had for the most part, little or no previous
exposure to computers. The Computer Lab at the University has, an
array of imperious nerds intent on empire-building, 10 networked
Sun workstations, a few slow Macintoshes, two flatbed scanners,
one PC and some basic pagelayout and photo manipulation software
primarily for the Macintoshes, basic sound/midi equipment, and a
grumpy creative-writing professor who regularly shuffles down the
hall to the faculty-lounge to wash out his teapot. This was
enough equipment to provide glimpses of creative possibilities; I
suspect that enough enthusiasm has been generated to warrant the
purchase of additional equipment and software, and to have this
course offered on a regular basis. A printing press would also be
a nice adjunct to the existing traditional visual art
departments. I have also offered to design and build a virtual
text-based reality (MOO) for the Fine Arts Department.
Although characterized as a "studio course" I felt it more
appropriate to discuss the larger issues involving technology and
contemporary culture and minimize the importance of a through
"knowledge" of specific software. This was accomplished with
handouts and discussions of pertinent articles, screenings of
appropriate films, and contemporary music. Particular attention
was given to networks and interconnectivity in general and of
course, the Internet. Although this was an introductory course,
the exposure to the various resources available through the
Internet encouraged a phenomenally rapid grasp of both digital
dissemination and the (Unix) operating system.
Course Description: "A flirtatious romp lightly over the
glittering periphery of digital technology. Has art and the avant
garde disappeared from view, gradually leaking into an
all-pervasive generalized aestheticism? Could it be that
something that might have once been called art is alive and
flourishing between connected networkers... unbeknownst to
implausible and incestuous art institutions? Are there really
still artists around who think they're making art? Are computer
systems virtually enacting the penultimate hierarchy, enforcing
oppressive political privilege; or are they the new democratic,
means of representation? Has the critical art press stood still
under a deluge of new cultural publications? Have we *all* become
artist? These questions and more...!
"An introduction and collaborative overview and analysis of
fairly recent, mid-range, cultural tools and their implied
"Students are encouraged to attend all classes and optimize
their uses of the equipment while exploring various venues
throughout the reserved studio time following the class each
morning. Other facilities on and off-campus will also be
"A reminder that an informal essay of three to four thousand
words is required for this course. It should be "brimming with
original insight and speculation on contemporary culture and
technology." It may be informal in that it employs creative
writing techniques (contemporary structures, verse, quotations,
dialogue, illustrations, etc.). It may make reference to
contemporary media, including the materials/sources shown in
"Also required, is an electronic-portfolio of visual and
audio art projects. This should demonstrate some degree of
familiarity of software and resources covered in the lab. It need
not be an extensive or necessarily cohesive body of work. It
should be strongly suggestive of a developing approach to
The Dematerialization of Art, Life, and Real Estate.
"The highest problem of any art is to cause by appearance the
illusion of a higher reality." - Goethe Although Goethe's exact
meaning is open to interpretation the computer appears to be a
tool ready to meet the spirit of his objectives. At least in the
minds of many electronic artists. The computer, particularly
draws the attention of artists today because it epitomizes
current technological development and offers the greatest
potential for exploring new creative places. If we somehow feel
limited by our imagination, the demands of the marketplace, or
current art theory, the computer is one element that somehow
suggests unlimited potential. For those who consider themselves
to be Renaissance men and women the computer is a godsend.
In addition to being a production tool the computer is a window
on and an interface to the rest of the electronically connected
world. The computer as production tool switches modes and
becomes a link to countless other artists and resource people
throughout the world. It only takes a little thought to consider
the possibilities of combining these activities.
Analyzing the computer as a creative tool is similar to
considering fire as a system to cook one's dinner. It can
certainly do that but it has some other dimensions and
possibilities. Understanding the realm of the computer and its
companion data highways is pertinent to its effective use. What
context does art occupy when it uses electronic space? What new
creative possibilities does it present, what are its
limitations.. audience.. temporal qualities.. style..
control... access.. money.. appropriation.. credibility..? Is
there a new underlying language used to create and read
art-cyberart. Can traditional art fit into the cyberworld? Can
Venus de Milo be digitized and stored on to a hard drive and
still be a credible work of art?
The computer as creative tool dematerializes the process of
production. A painter might personally mix gallons of paint,
spend hours making canvases, wait for paint to dry, spill paint
on his clothes or make a small rip in his canvas. None of this
is a factor or even a possibility when the image maker uses Adobe
Illustrator. Is any of this an influencing factor in creating
culturally significant images. Can these qualities be duplicated
and available in another set of pull-down menus?
The materiality of art has always been a significant dimension,
not only of its final form but in influencing the creative
process. Subtleties expressed by Russian sable and bamboo from
the Mediterranean will present a challenge to future programmers.
Can computers replicate the interaction between traditional
tools, natural materials, and chance occurrence? The future of
media such as metal-plate etching and lithography may be
perpetuated because of their distinctiveness or they may simply
become an archaic mode to be mimicked by a graphics program.
However, computers can give us some interesting interpretations
of materials. Swiftly moving granite-bodied humanoids,
leopard-skinned fish, and chromed-metal mountains may constitute
kitsch imagery but they prove that the computer does genuinely
extend the dynamic range of expression.
The lack of materiality in creating art is perhaps secondary to
the non-existence of the completed art work. Although the
finished piece may reside in digital form as a description in
computer code it can only take physical form by another process
of creation, usually mechanical. This re-creation requires an
interpretation of the original and removes the artist from the
final completed piece. Psychologically it places him/her in the
category of being a symbolic language worker and analogous to
being a data entry clerk. This method of production mirrors other
mass produced consumer products and merchandise from the music
and entertainment industry. Questions of authenticity,
provenance, place and uniqueness all affect the value and purpose
of computer generated art work. So.. can computers be used to
create high art?
Conversely, artists can now extend their domain greatly. Most
significantly, they can jump the fences of the traditional
cultural gate keepers. Since most establishment galleries have a
focused audience, limited budgets, and aesthetic agendas the
opportunities for new or alternative works are limited. Informal
electronic galleries can post computer files with minimal cost
and provide many more times the exposure of individual galleries.
Although some electronic galleries will probably develop their
own gate-keeping qualities the diversity and the large number of
computer installations will probably always provide unique
opportunities for new and non-mainstream art to find an audience.
Artists that create work for the realm of computers and networks
will find interesting discussions regarding copyright, access,
file standards, reproduction rights, appropriation, modification,
and methods of electronic payment.
New display systems will continue to be developed for outputting
computer files. Since more and more programs are incorporating
3D functions the interest in VVDs (volume visualization displays)
is growing. Since the promises of holography and Star Trek to
bring live, full motion, 3D images into our living room has not
materialized, computer controlled optical-mechanical systems are
being developed. "Holographic displays show some long-term
potential but they can not be generated in real time. Their
field of view is fundamentally limited, and these displays
typically change their characteristics with the angle from which
they are viewed." As an alternative, Texas Instruments has
produced its Omniview device that allows the display of volumes
in volumetric space.
Until recently, 3D images have only been displayed on two
dimensional CRTs and have required the inclusion of standard
perspective cues such as shadows, texture gradients, and relative
size comparisons. Stereo 3D systems have relied on the use of
special glasses to simulate surface depth but could not allow
movement around a three dimensional object. VVD displays use a
rotating disk that fills the display volume, creating a surface
point at any location in a half-round ball space. Then by using
laser beams directed by X, Y, & Z computer controllers, images
can be projected to any point in the volume. The concept is
similar to the pictures drawn at laser shows but here 3 beams are
A 36 inch diameter version has been built but a 10 foot diameter
model is feasible. A viewer can circle the display sphere and
see a three dimensional object from all directions while it moves
in real time. The display's resolution can be changed to any
desired value by redirecting the scanning system to overlap
points. VVD resolution is expressed in voxels (vo lume pi
xels). Early prototypes had 12,000 voxels, while current models
display 70,000. Three lasers of different colours can provide a
three-colour image or they can be mixed to provide a full colour
palette. Presently, VVD systems require powerful computers to
calculate 3D display data. Originally developed for the U.S.
Department of Defense this technology's future will probably be
more applicable to non military purposes.
Proposed applications include air traffic control visualization.
Air traffic controllers could look into the sphere and see the
exact location, continuous movement and distance relationship
between circling airplanes. Pointing to a plane with a laser
beam would bring up its information on the computer screen.
Other uses include medical diagnosis, weather pattern analysis,
and remote control of space station docking. Visual artists
could use this system to pre visualize sculpture projects, for
choreography and to output 3D animation sequences.
The use of more conventional output devices will increase to
materialize images and objects designed in the abstract world of
the computer. CNC (Computer Numerical Control) equipment
designed for the metal production industry and XY plotters can be
used to cut out images in wood, vinyl, metal, or fabric. Three
dimensional milling machines can materialize objects for
sculpture and 3D animation.
Existing 3D works and artifacts can be digitized, stored, and
recreated in many different locations. Unlimited serial editions
of 3D work could become more popular.
The production of two dimensional works, including print
publishing have created a need for the service bureau that
specializes in outputting files for the artist and publisher.
Future service bureaus will expand their systems to cover video,
3D media, and large-scale 2D imaging. Since specialized
equipment is required to materialize creative ideas, the artist
will more often be forced to conceive and work on his ideas in
the realm of the abstract. In many cases the artist will only
see the final completion of his work after sending the files to
the "Service Bureau".
The total extent of cyberspace integration is still to be
determined. Presently thousands of computers are connected
through various networks such as the Internet, private commercial
systems, open commercial systems, and hacker systems like
FidoNet. Although most are platform independent there are still
fairly narrow constraints on the type of data exchanged. There
are parallel communications systems like land telemetry networks
that monitor geological conditions, traffic movement, electrical
power transmission, radar information and satellites that handle
telecommunications and video signals.
As more and more communications move away from the analog to the
digital world as high definition television is soon expected to
do the more integration of signals will occur. It is interesting
to consider that a computer could order extra oxygen supplies
from Missouri when its sensors determine a high level of air
pollution in Los Angeles. Or that stock market futures price of
grain would change after a computer analyzed infrared images of
Artists might consider interactive works that are affected by
natural forces, commercial activity, or combinations of
conditions sensed by cyberlinks.
The networks will become a great source of ideas, feedback, and
will present opportunities for collaboration. Art created for a
world culture will need more than an North American perspective.
A description of a Russian created program El-Fish states that
"Russian programmers couldn't write successful accounting
programs because they don't know about western business
culture...but their culture developed sensibilities that combined
beauty and non-utility". Artistic teams from different parts of
the world can co-operate to create the best cultural products for
a world audience.
As the digital bit becomes the standard building block for all
information we will have greater interchangablity and
interconnectivity. Nicholas Negroponte states that "all
information providers will be in a common business - the bit
radiation business - not radio, TV, magazines or newspapers".
Advantages include being able to quickly construct many specific
versions of a production and the non-material storage of
products. Large numbers of books no longer have to auditioned
because of the advent of print-on-demand printing systems. Many
constructed realities will possibly only exist in digital form.
Unfortunately we may also develop creative techniques in one
digital medium and simply apply them to others, maybe
inappropriately. A music sequencer program allows you to
Quantize while a photo manipulation program allows you to
Equalize. They both use a common root technique of normalizing
but specific digital manipulation concepts might not have
universal application. However, is there expanded creativity in
doing musical things to pictures and visa versa?
The enthusiasm for the digital domain does have some detractors.
Analog constructions do have specific qualities that are
aesthetically pleasing. They might not be able to be justified
technically but certain nuances inherent in analog
interpretations are artistically valid. Chemical imaging systems
still create movies that are more pleasing to the eye. Tube
amplifiers create a unique sound that can't really be duplicated
by digital sound. As in other transitions we will loose some
important characteristics and abilities when we adopt new
The cyberworld and computer created information obviously have
their own language. Marshal McLuhan was convinced that the
medium is really the message. Although content is significant
when evaluating a short term experience, the inherent qualities
of a medium are really what constitutes the overall message. TV
really communicates passivity and mass conformity. The message
of cyberspace is still being considered. The technical language
of the cyberspace system is still in a tyrannical realm of linear
text. Totally unforgiving of errors in letters & case it exerts
a blind totalitarian control over the mechanics or structure of
the system. However, the highly defined structure of the system
opens an anarchic realm of interrelationships and interactions of
Perhaps the key distinguishing characteristic of the cyberworld
is interactively. Users of the Internet are able to make more
conscious choices about the information they receive, they can
gather data into their own local electronic spheres, and they can
interact with other users & information providers. We can assume
that one message from cyberspace is activity rather than
passivity. Coach potato mode will not work with a cyberspace
Art has generally catered to the passive viewer. Although modern
art has incorporated participatory elements and some interactive
schemes most of the ideas are expressed in a one-way
communications mode. Art galleries create interaction or choice
by having patrons physically move from one location or art work
to another. In most cases the cyberart will be presented to the
viewer at his/her location. Instead of a nail on a wall, the
computer will be a much more sophisticated display system. The
digital nature of art will allow the viewer, if he so desires, to
alter the artist s work, to appropriate it or to simply reject it
by destroying the electronic file.
The visual style of cyberart often follows the myriad of choices
the system provides. A complex system creates complex imagery.
Interactive CD s offer menu screens with dozens of preview
images. Text is supported by images. Images are augmented with
text. Sound is added to business communications and moving image
segments like QuickTime files are attached to technical reports.
Ideas are expressed through layering several modes of expression.
Pedagogical theory has always supported multi-modal
communications and now we have the technology to accomplish it.
In addition to painting, photography or sculpture, media such as
MacroMind Director, Hypercard, electronic games, CD-I, 3D0 and
virtual reality systems may be relevant choices for artists. The
future expression of ideas will require a layered, multi-modal
strategy that elaborates and gives the user choices and the
opportunity to participate. Simple two-dimensional images may
have difficulty finding a place in cyberspace.
The plastic arts have referred to traditional sources for their
theory and inspiration. Modernism embraced Marxism while Post
Modernism welcomes Neitzche back. The cyberpunks have created
their own set of philosophers, all of which are found in the
Science Fiction section of the library. Asimov, Pohl, Arthur C.
Clark and Robert Heinlein are some. "If Marvin Minsky had his
way, there would always be a visiting science fiction writer in
residence at the Media Lab." Will the artist who chooses to work
in the Cybersphere have to pay closer attention to science
fiction to better understand its roots? Can Marx and Azimov
How involved should artists become in the technology of the
cyberspace? In the past many artists have been content to have a
technician organize the technical processes of art production.
Although the artist may not have had the technical skill to
complete the task he usually understood the process as it related
to his artistic needs. However, to participate in the cyberspace
community it may demand a greater level of technical commitment.
Alan Kay pointed out that the computer is not a medium but rather
a meta-medium. In other words, with a computer you can create
Artists have previously been in the habit of simply adopting the
materials and tools created by engineers and the industrial
production system. MIT's MediaMoo is a good example of a
cyberspace reality that is being created through technical
knowledge, interest from a wide range of "characters", social
interaction, and some artistry. Future virtual realities will
require equal amounts artistic and technical input. It will be
most effective if artists can express their artistry through a
strong understanding of technology. In fact, artists will be
excluded from many potential interesting environments if they do
not develop the technical skills to communicate in the new
Jaron Lanier says that we can use "post-symbolic" communication
to create shared realities. A virtual reality system will
create a beach when we say: "Let's go for a swim". Instead of
using symbols to describe the beach, we create an electronic
version of a real beach.
Symbolism, which is the key to semiotic interpretations of our
culture may find new roles in visual communication. Whenever we
use a system that constructs new realities, then the established
cultural symbols or icons, which are short cuts to perception,
may become pass or boring. Any reference to past cultural
symbols would immediately signify fantasy. Artists will have to
look past much of our visual and semiotic heritage to construct
credible virtual worlds.
Computers, networks, and the machines that they exchange
information with are multiplying at an incredible rate. They are
constructing a new set of possibilities and destroying others.
The traditional artist who is interested in entering the
cyberworld will have to make many changes. The creative
environment is abstract and dematerialized. Your ideas will be
neatly reconstructed into uniform bits ready to be radiated
throughout the system.
Although you will have many opportunities to distribute your work
around the world it will not receive the hallowed treatment
reserved for gallery exhibitions. It will compete freely with
countless images, interactive programs, video, digitized audio,
games, and people.
You will start to read science fiction. You will try to find the
best service bureau to make hard copies your photos, graphics,
and sculpture projects. You will find creative partners in
You will take up computer programming so that you can create new
real estate in a Florida MOO. You will drop sculpting and take
up MacroMind Director. You will forget about cultural symbols
and icons. You will save hard for a VVD display system. You
will not need expensive real estate because you can watch your
virtual reality beach.
Chapter One - Media and Advertising
What is the role of technology in the media? The media has
traditionally been a way of conveying events ( political,
entertainment, human interest ) to the public at large. The
media is in the information business and relies heavily on
technology to transmit information from one place to another.
Today, we tend to think of technology with a sort of high - tech
this is so modern day attitude. That technology is the wave of
the future is evident but it is important to recognize that
technology is also a part of our past, and understand the
relationships between past technology with that of today.
Technology was the wave of the future thousands of years ago,
technology is like another word for progress, synonymous with
advancement or moving forward in time, technology is the newest
and the latest and is a habitual quest of mankind to increase
his/her capabilities in his/her environment. Domestication of
crops was technology, what about fire - the greatest invention of
all? Technology has always been a driving force in the history of
the human race and with technology a desire for communication is
also deeply rooted in our collective heritage. People have made
illustrations and created writing systems to communicate and
document their histories. Language was also created for smoother
communication and has become increasingly complex. As the world
has increased so has it s level of communication. The media as we
know it largely developed in the wake of modern technology.
Before radio, telegraphs, planes and trains, the world relayed
events to other parts of the world through human travellers and
by letter which would have gone by carriage or boat. With the
radio, events of significance (for whatever reason) could be
broadcast worldwide within a few short hours. With the invention
of planes came aerial warfare and the real possibility that a
country thousands of miles away had the practical means of
invasion and conquest of your own homeland. Enter: the media.
People then and now relied on the media, the radio, the telegraph
and later their television to receive information they now
considered critical to their existence. Out of newspaper
advertising developed radio and later T.V. commercials - the
point at which media and advertising became inexplicably and
forever linked in popular culture. So where does that leave the
media in the modern world? Should the media have to maintain a
moral responsibility to the public? What are the attitudes of the
public to the media? How many people are unaware of the biases
and often self - serving motives that are prevalent in media or
newsgroups today? The resources that the media have been able to
utilize in the twentieth century have changed the face of
advertising indefinitely, and unfortunately deception is
unavoidable.At this point in time many people are still unaware
of the resources available to the media and because of this
widespread ignorance are oblivious to the manipulation of their
minds and psyche by powerful mega-bucks-money-hungry
manufacturers and corporations. An excellent example of this
mindless manipulation in advertising where technology has been
utilized would be photo - manipulation or perhaps plastic
surgery. Combined, the use of these two areas in conjunction with
advertising are one the leading contributors in the continuing
lack of self - esteem of women in North America. The widespread
image of the idealized woman is often created through technology
: elaborate and painstaking make -up, photo manipulation through
lighting, airbrushing, touch ups, varied films and high contrast
filters; these can all be used to create a false image - one
which is unfortunately high sought after and is in most cases
unattainable. The cause of this disastrous situation cannot be
blamed on the high - tech features that are available in present
day, aerial warfare cannot be blamed on the invention of planes.
People so often place the blame of an unfortunate situation on
technology because it is crucial to the existence of the
situation - the situation is dependant on the invention; it is
human nature that develops and determines the course an
advancement in technology will take.
Chapter Two - Interconnectedness
As technology increases, communication also increases and with
these increases follows a sense of interconnection. Connectedness
should be the opposite of isolation, but they are, in some ways
very closely related. I will show this relationship as it exists
in a narrative; a day in the life of a fictitious character - Mr.
A Day in the Life of Mr. Typalot
by b. bigelow
Mr. Typalot lives in the suburbs of Vancouver, in Delta, B.C.
He lives in nice home in a prestigious area with his wife and 2.2
children. He works in the city, and has to commute each today. He
leaves his house at 7:40 every morning to make the commute to
Vancouver. He takes his briefcase (laptop computer inside), his
cellular phone, and a mug of fresh, automatic-machine-made
coffee. His commute though lengthy, goes quickly because he
spends much of his time talking on the phone (usually to other
colleagues also on their way to work).Mr. Typalot is perhaps a
researcher, an advertising executive, or maybe a systems analyst.
He types a lot, mostly into his Unix at work, his laptop, or at
his Macintosh in his den at home. When he isn t typing, he is
talking, sometimes on a telephone, sometimes not. Mr. Typalot
communicates with people all over the world everyday via. e -
mail, fax, phone and answering machines, and through virtual
reality set-ups such as MediaMOO. He develops all kinds of
relationships with people in the course of his day, but he is
also everyday increasing his relationship with inaminate devices.
It can not be avoided, in his relationship building with other
people it is necessary for him to interact with machines - it is
a necessity of his success in the workplace. Mr. Typalot is
isolated in a indirect way everyday. Each day for several hours
he is deprived of any sensory stimulation that is not available
to him through his terminal or workstation. Mr, Typalot is
experiencing sensory isolation.
The narrative of Mr. Typalot is a generic example of what many
people in the workplace experience. Mr. Typalot is perhaps more
extreme than the norm but as communications in technology
advance, more and more people will have workdays that fit this
description. This type of connectedness or advanced communication
has ups as well as downs - the downside involves a lack of
direct, or face-to-face contact, and a loss of the more human
side or traditional interaction between people. On the up side,
is the opportunity to engage in a virtual reality experience; to
participate in a highly imaginative and creative realm which I
could only previously describe as becoming deeply involved with a
very intensely written novel. These text based virtual realities,
such as MediaMoo are highly creative and intellectually
stimulating - as well as fun. They can be a good alternative to
traditional reading because the player can actually participate
and contribute to the story . Virtual Realities might ce
beneficial in educating children and adults - making learning
enjoyable and interesting. They might also contribute to a higher
self esteem in children/teenagers as they maintain some type of
control, responsibility, and exercise their ability to produce.
On the other hand, V.R.s could be less than beneficial to some
individuals as they might become more drawn into the V.R. than
might be perceived as healthy. I sometimes envision a situation
similar to the Dungeon and Dragon scenario where in several cases
the individuals involved with the game had a difficult time
distinguishing between real life and fantasy . The bottom line
is that each individual is different and will react to virtual
realities in their own way; that a few select cases cannot
determine the outcome of thousands of others.
Chapter Two - Interconnectiveness
Part Two - The Role of Technology in the Lives of Special Needs
Technology can go along way in contributing to the quality of
lifestyle in the lives of those with special needs. For the
deaf, the computer can be a fabulous way of communicating and
reaching out to others. Autistic people who at times may have
difficulty interacting with other people often are very skilled,
and enjoy working at a computer workstation. People confined to
a wheelchair have many more career opportunities than ever
before thanks to the computer and a continuing growth of more
sophisticated software. In the instance of a brother of a friend
mine ( we ll call him Jim), the computer has literally been his
salvation. After a severe car accident, Jim lost the movement of
both legs - he will be confined to a wheelchair for the rest of
his life. Jim comes from a family of artists and before his
accident he was a working artist painting in a traditional
sense. Now Jim works with computer graphics - doing freelance and
contract work. New software has made it easier, and more
convenient for people like Jim to continue working. There are
many fields to work in , ie. research, data entry, etc. In the
case of special needs children - those with learning disabilities
or the developmentally delayed; a constant stimulus is one of the
most important factors in the mental ( and physical) development.
Traditionally, this constant stimulus has been provided by
support workers, but lack of funding ( gov t and private) often
leads to special needs children not receiving the one on one
stimulus they need and deserve. While the computer might not be
considered an adequate substitute for human stimulus, it would
still be better than nothing and would probably make a positive
contribution to the development of the child. Children are drawn
to computers - to the bright colors, movement and sound emote
from them. Unlike television, computers can be more interactive
and will encourage and prompt a child to participate. I don t
know where computer stimulus will lead, but certainly it is
better for the intellectual growth - and even motor skills than
most of the programs children watch on T.V. The same can be
applied to special needs adults, for while these individuals are
in the body of an adult, often their intellectual development
hasn t caught up - has been delayed in some way and stimulus and
prompts are still essential to their intellectual growth.
Chapter Three - Technology and Tradition
Part One: Technology and Tradition
The increases in technology have made communicating in the
twentieth century easier and more convenient than ever before.
Electronic mail, faxes, cellular phones and virtual realities
drastically reduce the amount of time it takes to get a
message/or important documents to an individual. Electronic mail
takes away the envelope, the stamp and the whole structure of the
traditional mail system. There is no pick, transporting the
letter to a sortation plant and sorting of the letter before the
eventual delivery ( of which won,t be in the recipient s hands
until he/she gets home from work,etc. E -mail is practical, but
will eventually eliminate a characteristic of the weekday as many
people experience it. Coming home to an unexpected card or letter
is a pleasant surprise which would be virtually eliminated in an
electronic mail system. Letters or cards would probably be
received at work in the course of the day, and would be on a
screen - not paper. Paper cards,invitations etc. might still be
sent out (perhaps by private,entrepreunial companies) as a sort
of novelty or maybe on a special occasion. What about wedding
invitations and gold embossed papers? How could one put a wedding
invitation into a photo album if the invitation was on the
screen? ( I guess you could always print out a copy). These small
characteristics of everyday life will probably in the future be
altered to fit into a world where modern technology has spread
into every aspect of our existence. Are there areas that the
notions of convenience and practicality should not enter into?
Areas of our lives that are considered sacred and should be
protected and preserved from the invasion of the driving force
Chapter Three - Technology and Tradition
Part Two: Technology in the Home.
Technology has always affected the home. The Refrigator,
electronic oven, and electrical lighting are a far cry from a gas
lamp illuminated kitchen and a wood burning stove.
The washer and dryer, disposable diapers and running water have
freed up plenty of time for more enjoyable pursuits like going
for walks or visiting friends but in many instances just
listening to the radio or watching television. We are surrounded
by technology always - modern techno conveniences such as the
telephone (portable,cellular, or other) the microwave, toasters,
coffee makers, VCRS and camcorders. The computer will have more
impact in the home than any other techno convenience since the
television.( or Nintendo). The computer will contribute both to
the organization and the entertainment/leisure activities in the
home -catapulting into a nucleic role which the household could
quite possibly revolve around in the future. Through the computer
a family, individual, etc. could have access to more information
than they could ever hope to tread upon - never mind absorption.
Miscellaneous tasks and activities such as going out to get a
newspaper, borrow a book from the library,get a video or play
arcade games could be fulfilled by simply sitting in front of
keyboard and screen. It is hard to predict what the outcome of
discontinuing traditional activity might be - or if it will
happen at all. The potential is real and the outcome might be
disastrous. Even a general recognmition by society to admit and
understand this;that the computer in the home and workplace is
potentially harmful to our continued existence, might go a long
way in preserving whatever integrity we have left.
Chapter Four - Art and Architecture: The Role of Technology
There is a big difference between computer generated art and
art that exists solely in the computer. Computer generated art
can still be accessed in the traditional way, it can hang on your
walls at home - it can be displayed in a gallery or reproduced
in a book.In this way the art is not dependant on the computer
for it's existence - it can retain an identity seperate from the
computer. In these instances the computer is like a tool the
artist has used to create his/her work, just like a camera, or a
tablesaw. With art that exists solely within the computer, the
images can only be viewed via the computer and nowhere else. It
is a permanent attachment to the piece and it is therefore an
integral element of the work itself. This type of art is
different from traditional art or even independant computer
generated art because it's focus or motives are related to
communications in a different way - an area of communications
which is void of the physical and tangible.This difficult concept
of relaying ideas and information can be thought of as a large
base of information, compiled of the thoughts and interests of
thousands of people.
What is the role of the artist within this base of information,
and how will the role of the artist change as a result of
technology? Who is the artist? The artist is foremost a designer;
a person who conceives ideas and then attempts to communicate
those ideas (sometimes to themselves and sometimes to others)by
representing the ideas in a physical expression. What the
expression will be depends on the the designer. If the designer
is a musician the expression might be a musical score, if the
designer is an architect than probably a building plan. There
are several advantages to working within a large information base
that over a 100 000 000 million people have access to ( ie. the
Internet).The exposure is tremendous and the opportunity to make
contacts and to to relay ideas is anyone's speculation. The
electronic art gallery is to the artist today what television
would have been to the actor who was previously only viewed in
live theater. In presenting to the masses through an electronic
network an expression of an idea the artist is able to convey and
communicate thoughts on a widespread level - but to what level of
efficiency? Is something lost in the philosophy if the artist is
able to communicate the the idea to a broad audience but only in
general terms? Is it better to communicate a fuller understanding
of a concept to a limited people instead of a general idea to
thousands? This question can only be answered by the individual -
each artist having their personal agenda which dictates their
actions and motivates their work.
It is up to us, the designers and artists to determine and
shape our changing role along with the advancement of technology.
What else can we do? We are forced to go with the flow and
utilize technology to prevent our obsolescence. Technology and
job displacement go hand in hand and the artist and designer are
not an exception. With more and more sophisticated software many
kinds of work in the design industry could easily be sifted out
in the future. Graphic artists, architects, industrial designers
could in all like likelihood be eliminated in future society.
Think of past tradesmen (tradesperson) who no longer have a place
in the world due to technological advancement and new invention?
How many shoemakers have you met recently? The shoemaker was a
tradesman - a designer of a kind and is a scarcity in modern day.
Of course the machine made/pre-fab shoes can never match the
quality of a leather shoe cut and measured specifically to the
individual's foot. One of a kind shoes- each with their own
identity; a product and design from start to finish of the
individual designer and his/her original vision. The fact is if
it is good enough, if it will get the job done (at least
satisfactorally) then it will be accepted by the masses;leaving
little room for the creativity and ingenuity of the individual
designer. A balance needs to be struck between designer and
computer - a blance where the computer is a tool for the designer
and not the designer itself. Architects and draftspeople now have
the unique advantage of being able to conjure up their changing
visions quicker than they could possible recreate an intricate
drawing by hand.These quickly redrawn views however, only remain
an advantage to the architect etc. if the designer is still the
motivating factor behind the design and is the major contributor
to the end result.
Preinventing the Wheel
Have you had enough of magazine articles and other essays
whose titles play on the word "virtual?" Articles with names like
"Virtual Virtuoso" or " Virtually now" or "Virtigo." I thought as
much. Virtual reality is getting very tired, and it doesn't even
exist yet. It has been able to avoid fading out of public view
for this long because of its' name, which sounds sufficiently
official, and at the same time vague enough to allow its' use in
context with anything one thinks is neat-o. In the forties, there
was a similar craze for things whose existence was in question,
and it also had a misleading name that made people sound clever.
That name is Existentialism, and before it became popular, it
actually meant something. But it was only taken seriously after a
couple hundred people who hadn't bothered to find out its'
meaning were put in situations where they had to pretend that
they had- hey, presto- 200 false definitions! This confusion is
happening to virtual reality, only not so romantically as it did
in post-war France. A few months ago I had dinner with a good
friend. As we ate he asked me to explain to him what the whole
deal on virtual reality is and I told him, more or less, that it
is the idea of general purpose simulation, and went on to explain
that simulators of this sort need detectors to sense body motions
or speech, devices to stimulate our senses of sight, hearing,
touch, etc., and a computer to connect everything and vary the
interaction according to programs. Then I felt obliged to rehash
the monologue about the many possibilities of the potential
medium, and did, but my friend, who is an Economics major, just
laughed, "Is that all it is, a glorified video-game?! You
actually study that kind of stuff at school? I heard all this
talk on how important it is!" He had been impressed by the
virtual Paul Reveres, the virtual exaggerators, the virtual
newspaper columns with titles like this. It is truly a pity that
the term 'virtual reality' isn't used sparingly, and that 'the
study of simulation' or some like phrase doesn't get all the
attention. Simulators already exist. Because of all this hype,
virtual reality is being made to sound a lot more important than
it is. Virtual reality is being treated like some radical new
science. Ad agencies are cashing in on its' commerciality and
confusing the general population with the meaning of the term.
Fans of virtual reality are trying to convince people that its'
dawn is ridiculously near and thus that its' study is pertinent.
Other virtual reality enthusiasts are preaching that virtual
reality is "the way" and will end racial inequality and give the
repressed a voice. Just as preposterously, academics are solemnly
warning that virtual reality will create a nation of violent
thugs. Others warn of "virtual-reality addictions," seriously;
"virtual-reality addictions." It is sad that a promising
technology has been taken over before it has even reached a
concrete stage, by a bunch of clowns.
The driving forces behind virtual reality have been around
for all of human history so why is it considered such a radical
concept? When flight simulation programs started appearing a few
years ago for home computers, a lot of folks bought them (after
all, they were pretty neat) but few sat around yakking about how
those programs were "interactive" as though the word were a drop
from the fountain of profundity. Hell, even a pinball machine is
interactive. What about "Choose Your Own Adventure" books, the
books that let kids make a decision by picking one of two pages
every so often? What kind of novelty is there in trying to fake
the world around us: We started with cave paintings, then
sophisticated paints until we had realistic oils, then the still
photographic camera, the record player, motion pictures, talkies
and what could be more virtual than telephones; the technology
which Bell invented to allow an entire nation of people to
consider talking to banana-shaped objects on street corners a
normal part of life. Theatre is a form of virtual reality as
well. Some like to think that the V.R. will "enlarge our minds"
by making us more imaginative. As though we haven't now any
activities requiring imagination. V.R. is not the first; it is an
element of many games, from Chess through to Scruples. Of all the
things V.R. could be compared to, it is strange that one hears of
the similarities of V.R. and the telephone less often than V.R.
and narcotics. This is the kind of talk that makes V.R. out to be
larger than life. There is a difference between drug-use and
any-old-thing that happens to be bizarre and illogical. That is
why we as a species have been spared an addiction to the writings
of Marshall Macluan. V.R. is not a new concept.
Virtual reality is also kept well in the public eye by
advertising firms. These firms are resourceful enough to have
found a word associated with V.R. to advertise services or
products in a manner that will make them sound as though they are
on the cutting edge of technology, regardless of the truth. I
have already mentioned the word they use. The word is
"interactive" and it is plastered on everything from phone-sex,
to standard phone-in talk shows, to magazines and automobiles and
children's toys. It is generally assumed that inter-active is
entertaining but who of us really wants to leave our couch to
phone a television station half way through a program. People
watch television to relax. The same goes for reading, listening
to music and looking at pictures. Being interactive isn't all
that thrilling. One spends all one's life in an interactive
world. A lot of it even bores one. Being inter-active is not
necessarily being virtual. It would be kind if advertising
agencies would not try to convince us otherwise. No, we will have
to wait a few years for real reality-simulators.
How many years? "In the near future," is the standard
phrase. How near? The people who vigilantly claim that V.R. will
be perfected in the next ten years are generally the same people
who talk a lot about terra-forming Mars and making it habitable.
However true it may be that all geniuses are dreamers, it is not
true that all dreamers are geniuses. Some are only poor,
misguided Dr. Who fans. Let's just say it takes thirty years to
develop a graphics system that can display at 24 fps, with
photographic resolution, a stereoscopic alterable landscape-
which would take an insane amount of memory. We'll also say that
by that time we'll have the capability to transmit at real time
the colossal amount of data needed to hook a V.R. machine up to a
network. Then we'll assume (this is more reasonable) that we'll
have a perfectly light-weight, comfortable bodysuit that won't
make one look like a scuba-diver wearing a bicycle helmet. Hey,
they won't be available to everyone. They won't come cheap. It
will take a long while for virtual reality systems to made
compatible. It will be a while for a decent net to cover the
globe. But let's say that it will take around 50 years for V.R.
machines to become common household items. As loose as any figure
based on unprovable guesses must be, 50 years seems like a
reasonable number. What is all the excitement about then? No
current virtual reality- type products, from war games to
video-games, come near to giving a convincingly real feeling.
Just because virtual reality may be right around the corner
doesn't mean we'll see it next year. It's quite possible that
half of us will be dead by the time virtual reality amounts to
Some people in these times hold the opinion that V.R. will
be a great social instrument. Sure, after Nintendo rolls a few
tens of thousands of Virtualboys off the assembly line everything
will be jolly. No more wars, no more intolerance. Neo-Nazi
Skinheads will plug in and suddenly turn into nice, decent
fellows and fall to their knees to beg forgiveness from the
minority groups they have been terrorizing an hour before. The
idea is that since people would have the ability to conceal their
identity while using a net we would all be tolerant and
understanding. This would be a compelling argument were it not
for the telephone which already allows us this service.If V.R.
evolves in a similar manner, it will end up with individuals
choosing only to contact close friends. And I know that's not
what the V.R. enthusiasts want. And I know they want it to be a
wild and crazy medium. But there are a lot of folks in the world.
Business people, for example, would get use out of V.R. by using
it for long-distance conferences or perhaps for models of
products, or real estate. They would not find it useful to
pretend to be a Virtual-prawn on the Cyberspace-Oceanfloor
Network. People could do a lot of things on V.R. networks, not
all of them brotherly. Thanks to V.R. it would be a lot easier
for racist people to form world-wide organizations.. they could
congregate daily if they chose. It is just about as likely that
V.R. will correct the world's problems as it is that a crumpet
will corrupt a swinging mallet. On the other hand V.R. will not
spell a return to the dark ages.
The idea is that someday children will be weaned on V. R.
sets. They will get used to regularly lopping off virtual heads
and so, when they grow older, they'll be conditioned, see, and
they'll go nuts and they'll lop off real peoples heads. No matter
how much you show people that there is no evidence to support the
claim that there is a correlation between violence in the media
and violence in real life they just don't learn. For once and for
all, violence in the media is a good thing because it teaches
children to distinguish between fact and fiction. And so long as
it remains possible to tell when you are "virtual" and when you
are real there is no problem. We will never create V.R. so
effective that it is exactly the same as real life, we will
always be able to notice something unrealistic about it, perhaps
the way things sound, maybe the quality of light, it would
certainly be virtually impossible to convincingly eat virtual
food or have a perfect sense of touch.
The most ridiculous overestimation of V.R. is that the whole
world will become obsessed with V.R. and abandon the outside
world forever. This is very poetic but unfortunately there are a
couple little problems with this theory. Like, for example,
eating. Or will V.R. be so amazing that people just won't get
hungry. Oh, there is also some difficulty in respect to paying
the hydro bill when you spend all of your time in V.R. and
therefore have no time to work. Most people for V.R. or against
V.R. tend to wildly exaggerate the importance of V.R. Remember
the stories there used to be about computers? The only people who
will ever be addicted to Virtual Reality already are, those are
the people like Commander Rick on Prisoners of Gravity, the kind
of fools who write poetry about "cyberspace."
Virtual reality does have a lot of potential; to take up
where the telephone leaves off, to amuse and entertain, to
design, and a whole lot more. What is annoying is to see history
endlessly rehashing itself. People have always exaggerated with
new inventions from film to space travel. It is ludicrous that
virtual reality is treated as such a unique, modern concept. It
has roots in the trend in Western culture since the Dark ages of
more and more realistic art and it has roots in the production of
various modern simulators. It is ridiculous the way ad agencies
through around the term "interactive," in order to confuse people
into associating it with virtual reality. It is ridiculous that
virtual reality is being talked about this much when it probably
won't take off until another half century. It is ridiculous to
attribute spectacular moral consequences to virtual reality,
either good or terrible. It is particularly silly to predict
slaves to entertainment when no such preposterous phenomena has
ever existed before. It is a field too easy to romanticize. It is
easy to think of all the possibilities, and easier to forget that
most of them will never be realized. Virtual reality is already a
fashion statement, an advertising ploy, a moral issue, and a
constant subject in magazines. With all the attention one would
think we were reinventing the wheel.
Notes on the use of the computer in art.
by D. Venables
The computer is a tool, a fancy tool, but just a tool. In
the hands of a person who makes art, it can be used to make
art...the REAL kind of art. The pencil is a tool, a simple tool,
but just a tool. In the hands of a person who makes art, it can
be used to make art...the REAL kind of art. Perhaps if the
majority of the computer art we see is pretty dismal, it is
because the tool has not yet found the right hands.
Contemporary culture and the place technology has in it.
A loaded statement. Contemporary culture "is" technology. At
least in our privileged neck of the woods. Taking this course
has been akin to the experience of buying a Volkswagen and then
noticing them wherever you go. I now see the use of computer
systems where I was once blind to them, in every facet of our
lives. A technology this pervasive must surely be adopted by the
artists among us. The avant-garde will never die. The
avant-garde will continually rear its unusual head where it's
least expected. It is the evidence of evolution, the flower on
the plant of science.
(Even as late as dadaism, Marcel Duchamp noticed the relation of
the avant-garde to the practice of the consumer-that the product
of the avant-garde was to have the same characteristics of
planned obsolescence/mass production as the products of mass
consumption while simultaneously allowing the producer/artist to
register shock at being reduced to a machine.) Discussed in
Manfredo Tafuri, Architecture and Utopia: Design and Capitalist
Development (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1976).
Maybe notes on what art is (I guess we have to have some kind
of a definition before we can tell if computers can be a part of
it) would be in order. A discretionary and biased viewpoint
After spending the last couple of years focusing entirely on
photography, I came into this course, wide-open, and ready for
new ideas, primed by a lecture by photographer Jeff Wall, who
showed a selection of his older work and also a couple of his
new pieces, done via computer graphics. This fired my
imagination. Little did I know at the time that Jeff was in the
habit of traveling to Los Angeles and renting the computer lab
there in Hollywood which has all the heavy artillery used in huge
special effects productions. The pieces he produced were of
high quality due to the level of the technology he was using,
although the work he had done could have been accomplished
through traditional photographic technique.
Using "mind bicycles" for photography is advantageous in
that the cost to the environment is considerably less, ie. the
chemicals poured down the sink (and forgotten in a frenzy of
photographic creativity) make their way into the rivers,
oceans, air, animals and eventually back to us in some form or
another (perhaps while walking on the shore at midnight the
phosphorescence will suddenly, strangely, have you thinking of
Calvin Kline models). The immediate health of the artist is
threatened less during computer use than during the photographic
process as well. It is cleaner to use than almost any other art
material or tool.
Thinking that a two month course was plenty of time in which
to master the art of photo-manipulation, I gaily traipsed into
class to make some art.
DEBBIES DEFINITION OF ART
One of my definitions of art is, art as a verb... the act
of doing it. After the doing part is done, what s left is a
fossil, a mere artifact of the real thing which is art. The
art-things sitting in galleries, on walls, piled up in basements
are records and interesting as records of the metamorphosis and
working out of a thought or feeling.
Art is sometimes thought of as a didactic, instructive sort
of exercise; or, conversely purely decorative. These types of
art to me are dead, they leave no-where for the viewer to
exercise his or her own thought processes.
The viewer is assumed to be in one of two states, with it
or not with it. In it or out of it. Hip or square. If privy to
the current presumed cutting edge theme being presented by this
instructive art, the viewer can nod sagely and agree; if not
connected to the same stream of thought, there is room for
instruction. This is claustrophobic and limiting, it stagnates
and is retentive.
At this point I have a sneaking suspicion that much of the
art making using computer technology is of this sort, a parading
of technique, a bragging and telling how the look of reality can
be changed. This has a tendency to dazzle and dictate a certain
look , this kind of rigid template is an open invitation to the
avant-garde, the art pirates, the art-hacker.
"The stimuli of the modern world, sounds and sights are
reproduced and distributed through endless systems of linear
technology. (The more intimate senses were long ago excluded
from this order.) Stereo and video are recorded onto tape, that
opaque blackish substance that symbolizes the intransigent,
incomprehensible linear time of this universe. Computers and
record players use flat disks whose spiral roadways reflect the
circularity of their contents. All visual and aural
information¥speech over the telephone, the television picture,
computer data¥is encoded into lines of electronic information.
The linear becomes language. The arcane discipline of electronic
circulation now guards the gates of the senses.
The proliferation of the computer is the development that
most insures the closure of this system.. In the computer, we see
physically affirmed, as if by an independent source, all the
assumptions of linear thought. Conversely, the computer ignores
all utterances not made according to the rules of its own linear
code. With the advent of private computer use, the computer
becomes an oracle of instruction in the structures of the linear.
It gives instruction in how t write and how to conduct
business¥but according to its own linear rules. It is even
deployed to indoctrinate children into the ways of the linear.
Further, as greater and greater amounts of society s information
(both financial and intellectual) are stored in computers, even
the reluctant are coerced into dealing with the computer and its
pattern of thought."
Peter Halley, On Line New Observations, no. 35 (1985).
Blasted Allegories; 1987. The New Museum of Contemporary Art and
Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Virtual reality moves art and art making into a realm of
endless possibility. Freed from the confines of a small screen,
this new dimension, for me is so broad it is almost impossible to
speak of. Sculpture you can crawl into, ride, even travel through
for what seems like miles, interactive installations. Perhaps
this is the new direction in art we were waiting for. This will
influence, and enrich the traditional art practices as well as
consumerism in society--art and consumerism--a well known couple
The credibility of that which is seen on a screen (which,
to most people is accepted as the truth) can be used to
manipulate and fool the viewer. This is not a bad thing, a
touch of healthy suspicion would be a welcome attribute in the
PIMPING THE REALITY PRINCIPLE -MONDO MAG (1993)
Angry, disillusioned and media-savvy, the newly discovered
twenty-something generation is shaping up to a very hard sell.
¥Debra Goldman, ADWEEK
Belief in advertising is not like breathing. It doesn t come
naturally; it must be taught.
¥Edwin L. Artzt, Proctor & Gamble CEO
It s got to be real.
¥Levi s 501 jeans, advertisement
And then there is the ephemeral, the part of art that comes when
you least expect it.
Some things we plan.
We sit and we invent
and we plot and cook up
Others are works of inspiration
And it was this genius hand
That pushed me up the hotel stairs
To say my last good-bye.
((DEBBIES ASIDE: (private thoughts on the act of communal
art on three screens at a time)
Although its hard for me to communicate verbally vocally,
easier if writing
taking turns-- quick repartee isn t my bag.
interesting to communicate well, more efficient felt like we
were in touch-))
On a more practical note, the strongest impression I' m left
with from taking this course is the feeling of entry into the
rest of the world.
Especially here in Victoria, I've felt isolated, and
increasingly so the longer I m here and the more time I spend at
school. In the past I ve always been able to take off for jaunts
into the states, around Canada or Mexico, but in the last few
years I have lead an increasingly parochial life. It was a thing
I feared right from the first when I moved here, and then it came
I' m sure this sense of isolation is not my very own domain,
isolation is a major theme of our society at this point and it is
my belief that technology in all its myriad forms has contributed
to this. The ability to lead a completely vicarious life,
containing excitement beyond the potential of most people, is
available to anyone with a television, VCR, six-pack and a couple
(oh ya, a video..fantasy of choice)
This isolation is endemic. The T.V. screen which lives in
almost every home is a constant friend, requiring no effort,
seemingly giving companionship and in reality taking away the
ability to enjoy real personal contact. As well, a study has
shown persons who watch a "normal" amount of television suffer
from lack of REM sleep time, in other words, they don't dream.
Dreaming is a necessary part of a healthy life and the loss of
this ability must have a severe, though perhaps subtle effect on
In contrast with my first thoughts of the virtual meeting
places as making yet another barrier between people, (much like
television, probably because they re both boxes that plug into
the wall), I see them now as a link, a possible tool for fusion,
although far from perfect, especially in that it precludes a vast
amount of people from becoming part of this new community for
economic reasons. I would like to think that with the growing
availability of the Internet, email and other network
communication systems, the unity that is created by the exchange
of thoughts and feelings will provide a humanitarian spring-board
and with the growing communication between people all over the
world (I can hear music surging in the background...I d like to
buy the world a coke...lalala) perhaps a true global
consciousness will arise. Or the consciousness already in place
will become more compassionate through increased knowledge and
familiarity. Art will fit in there (does already), a picture is
worth a thousand words...and takes up a lot more space...
The ability to have free, almost immediate communication
with people who are far away is extremely satisfying.
The level playing field of electronic communication on
Internet is seductive. I, and most people, don't reveal
gender, age, race, social standing while having these exchanges
and it is not necessary. This has got to be a good thing.
The downside of this connection is the potentially
intrusive nature of the electronic net, a net we could all be
caught in like little smelts with credit cards, Until the end of
the World explored both these aspects fully, the connection kept
people in close contact if they so desired and made it very hard
Back to my personal story. A testimonial. Dredged in
isolation (and I mean dredging in the culinary sense, the way
your mother used to dredge chicken pieces in flour and spices
before frying) I of course turned to the television and began one
of those marathon, epic debaucheries of avoidance. Well, I was
dragged from my reverie of watching the passive screen to the
more engaging activity of watching the computer screen, ah....a
screen that talks back. I m not exaggerating when I say I miss
the computer room during the weekends.
For me, with my limited resources, the computer works best
for communication purposes, text, at this point is the medium of
Computer art is verbal art right now. Making traditional art
is, to me, usually a pretty solitary activity. It is also a
physical one, I enjoy the feel of the materials, the smell, being
able to hold the art, move it around. Because I use my senses,
it is sensual. Because it is sensual, there is also a realm of
sexuality. The move from three dimensional art to trying to make
something that I could call art, on a screen, that I couldn t
touch or change the shape of unless I kept within the limited
dimensions, was frustrating to say the least. Perhaps, now that
the form is not so foreign to me and I have a real desire to see
what I can do with this thing, and more time; I ll be able to
explore the visual aspects more fully. This is only the
There is no conclusion. My world has been made larger. I have
barely experienced an introduction to this new art tool. I m
(These are the incoherant rantings of a young man driven over the
edge by a
word processing program. Please proceed with caution.)
WordPerfect ate my essay, and my brain
June 18, 1993
The last time I spent a serious duration in front of a
computer was in grade six. I was twelve years old and the
elementary school I attended had purchased four Apple II's. With
so few computers at their disposal they were forced to choose an
elite group of students who would be privileged enough have
access to the new technology. I was chosen to be among the
We set out with task of learning Basic. I quickly learned
how to write a program that would spew an annoying pattern of
down the screen. I also learned how to do math equations on the
computer, but I already had a calculator that made quick work of
those and fit in my pocket too. We were given almost no guidance
mainly due to the fact that there was none to be given. Nobody
really knew very much about computers, with a few exceptions.
Two young brainiacs named Adrian Evans and David Burridge
knew what they were doing. They had computers at home, the very
same ones that were at school. They wrote cute little programs
that would do this or that. Programs so inconsequential I can't
even remember them now. But they knew how to do it. They also
made it their business to remind me that I did not know what I
was doing. They would talk computer lingo and laugh at how
perplexed I would get. They would point and whisper and giggle as
I would try to explain to the teacher why I was so confused. I
had no clue why we were doing what we were doing. I was given no
assistance in that department. The "computer education" program
continued and I continued to be bewildered.
Basically Adrian and David were geeks flaunting their
computer literacy. I knew that and I tried not to let their
intimidation get to me. It did in any case. I opted out of the
computing program. I figured they were far more trouble than they
were worth. I avoided them like the plague.
Ten years later, I have decided to re-acquaint myself with
the machine called computer. A class called "Art and Technology:
Art in the Age of Digital Reproduction" seemed like it would be
a good start since I already have a pretty good grasp of the art
part. Combining art with computer technology sounded like a
fascinating progression. Since I make art, I was curious as to
how I could use computers in my art-making process. As it turns
out, the software that is available right now is of almost no
use to me. While it can be enjoyable and amusing to manipulate
photographs and paint on electronic canvases, it still seems like
it's more trouble than it's worth. I have been told, however,
that these boxes come in handy.
The work that I am doing at present, which is mostly
photography, has too much basis in reality. It is about the way
we live. It is about the way we build and develop the areas where
we live and how we make those places as ours. It is about many
aspects of being a person. I have not found a way for the
software to provide me with any assistance. I work with other
peoples' senses of self and creativity. While someone is probably
writing a program that will simulate these things, I'm not
interested. I thrive on interaction with real people, they never
cease to amaze me.
While computer software itself has not provided me with
inspiration, the Internet has. At first what felt like a mystical
society of computers around the globe is now a different
dimension of worldly consciousness. Quantum mechanics is busy
trying to prove the existence of alternate dimensions; I've been
exploring one for the last eight weeks. It is the dimension of
information and communication.
It seemed like an incredibly difficult task at first, much
like learning Basic when I was in grade six. This time however
there were no computer geeks around to hamper the learning
process. I was all on my own. With only a guide book to chart my
course I have been able to "go" all around the world. I have
gained access to a seemingly endless supply of information. Text
is definitely the most powerful medium here. I have found other
forms of information, sound and images for example, but text is
the only one that has been able to feed me satisfactorily in this
dimension. Text has given me the knowledge to explore further.
With more exploration comes more text, comes more knowledge...
This may not seem like a breakthrough discovery to most, but it
was to me. The text not only pushes me in new directions around
the Internet, it has charged my imagination. I am fascinated with
the possibilities of this new dimension.
I have been able to converse with people all over the world.
The very same people I would love to interact with in person but
am unable to because of distance. Connectivity over the Net has
been the next best thing I suppose, but it is a far cry from the
real interaction that fuels my art. I have found it intriguing to
no end but it hasn't given me anything. Yet. I expect that
communication on the Internet will be very much like regular
social interactions people have nowadays. You go to places you
like. You avoid other places. You meet many people. You keep in
touch with a few. Friendships grow and you learn from each other.
The thing that has been somewhat of a shock has been the
relearning, from scratch, of all things dealing with social
interaction. You must relearn the processes of travel and
conversation. There is no bus route for the Internet and you
can't laugh out loud.
The arena of the MOO seems to provide a bridge between
reality and Jaron Lanier's vision of VR and communication as one.
Though they are only text-based at the moment they are headed in
the right direction. Their possibilities for character
interaction extend only as far as they can be programmed. In
addition to this, if you want to see how you interact with
another character, you must visualize it in your head. The same
goes for sounds and smells. The ideal vision of VR has all
sensory inputs virtualized. I would probably be an excellent
guinea pig for a perfectionistic VR developer. You see, I suffer
(or , as I like to think, am privileged to suffer) from a
condition I call hyper-awareness. Anything and everything my five
senses can take in they do. This is usually a pleasing
substitute for the drugs I've never done though overloads do
happen. It can make driving a little difficult. I find the Moo's
acceptable, but not enough to tweak my senses, which enjoy
reality far too much.
On the flipside of that argument is that Moo's, in
particular MediaMOO at MIT, have provided me with some
interesting insights into how people develop and personalize
their own space when it can be absolutely any space at all. You
can make anything and set it so it can be manipulated in any way
you choose. Most of the stuff I've "seen" has been pretty
imaginative. The major limitation of creating your own
environment in a MOO is that other characters can only perceive
it one way, the way you describe it. Something is lost when you
are not able to explore a locale with your five senses. It is
something that is not actually a sensory input. It is more of a
feeling you get about the person whose space you are in. The
sterility of the MOO keeps you from feeling this. It is pretty
difficult to get in a position in the MOO where you feel
genuinely uncomfortable. It's a feeling like this that makes you
act truly human. Without it, and others, social interaction feels
a bit too artificial. With all this talk about feeling I
beginning to think that I'm missing the point.
If you've noticed traces of pessimism, sarcasm, and
cynicism, you're probably reading this properly. These natural
characteristics of my personality, coupled with my desire for
real experiences and my general dislike of things convenient,
leave me still wondering the same thing I wanted know in grade
six: what is all the hype about?
It seems that almost every household has a computer. I am
constantly hearing how you must be computer literate in order to
succeed get a job nowadays. Many people are storing all their
vital information on disk. Even in this class, so many people
appear to be engrossed with learning how to use the available
software. It seems awfully limiting. Am I missing something? Is
there something advantageous about having your job, your home,
your self, hang in the magnetic balance?
Computer-dependant people have perhaps conveniently
forgotten that computers need electricity. Again, not a
monumental revelation, but few seem to acknowledge this fact. It
makes me think of one of the many power failures that used to
occur during summer rainstorms as when I was younger. People
would gather at some spot on the street, sheltered by umbrellas,
and chat. My mother once told one of the neighbour kids that
since the power h ad gone out we'd have to watch television in
the dark. He bought it. People are just as gullible when it comes
to computers. Computers also "crash" (a mysterious phenomenon
that I have been reminded of thrice during the writing if this
essay). Rarely does anybody have a solution, let alone an
explanation for this. I can't understand how people can rely so
much on such fragile pieces of equipment.
After so much griping about these annoying boxes I'd better
reveal my admiration of them. As I have already stated, I think
the ability to communicate with them is invaluable. Having a
computer in every household for that reason alone would be worth
it. Anyone has the capability to access almost anything from
anywhere. Those are pretty huge parameters that have never been
within our reach before. People talk of a restructuring of the
Internet whereby more restrictions would be in place.
Unfortunately, due to human nature, we will probably work to
justify a situation like that. Greed will more likely than not
drive people to lock up information, with access for a price.
Hackers will continue to hack but the stakes will be higher. The
authorities will crack down harder on those who are caught. Those
in the upper echelons of government know that information is
power, and they're not about to give it up that easily. The EFF
will hopefully grow and continue to prosper.
I have been amazed by what computers can do. My aspirations
for putting out my own publication will be realized shortly.
While you'd never be able to tell by the appearance of this piece
of writing, I am eager to tap the dynamics of the realm of
desktop publishing. Even more than I imagined, I will be able to
distribute it world-wide if I so choose. I will be able to design
my own home, with plans ready to hand to the builders. These are
things I had not imagined possible before. I don't suppose Adrian
and David would be too impressed. So what.
I have been feeling quite uncomfortable trying to come up
with "original insight and speculation on contemporary culture
and technology." I have such little experience with this field
that any attempts to theorize so far have ended up with
technologically aware people either stating that it's been done
or questioning why I would want do such a ridiculous thing. It
has made me feel like I'm too creative to be working on a
computer. Either that or I'm being too demanding. I don't have
the technical know-how to recognize which it is yet.
This planet definitely needs more communication. The
Internet has made it so that you reach around the world, but not
As far as I know of there are no connections to the third world.
For the most part the technology is only available to big
businesses and universities. According to Molly, a character in
MediaMOO, that would mean that this kind of technology is limited
to an elitist group of people with enough money to gain access to
the resources. The uneducated, unwashed masses are deprived of
the opportunity to be connected. I can believe it. We are going
to have to find a way to hook up the rest of the world. Without
it, the third world might slip further into the information void.
"I have found computers provide a pretty good workout for
the modern mind. The possibilities of computing have been able to
stretch the imagination of some. Never before would you have been
able to manipulate a photograph or a rendered 3D object in the
ways you can now. You can publish yourself. While it is still
somewhat expensive to accomplish these things, it is no longer
absolute impossible. With the added potential of computers you
can let your imagination explore larger expanses. Getting things
done is now only a matter of learning how to do it, and even that
is easier than ever!"
I still don't buy it.
Reality is far too valuable for me to give up. I love my
cat. I love Italian food. I love my Polaroid camera. I like to
feel fear. I drive my car fast any chance I get. I have almost
drowned in snow. Standing on the edge of the roof of my apartment
gives me a rush. There is no virtual adrenalin. I play basketball
on the weekend with a bunch of very large guys who hit hard.
Bruising is an essential part of being alive.
I have memories of growing up. Barbecues in the back yard.
Riding my bike up and down the block. Neighbours. Getting chased
by the bully. Going on vacation. Swimming at the local pool.
Stuffed animals. I don't think virtual sentiment would cut it.
The terrible feeling inside when you smoke your first cigarette.
The experiences of my life have shaped me and will continue
to do so forever. I can't help but get the feeling that
technology is being shoved down our throats. I thought this time
I might be able to keep myself from gagging on it but i haven't
been successful so far. AT&T is trying to convince me that I
won't need a road map anymore. Their advancements will get me to
my destination quickly, safely, and efficiently, and when I get
there I can call my wife over a video-phone. They're trying to
make physical distances non-existent by transporting my presence
around through a sterilizing filter. I'll pass on it, thanks. It
all just seems too safe.
I have not been able to make up my mind for the last seven
pages. I have reacquainted myself with the best technology
available to me. I have explored more of the Internet than most
people I know. I have learned how to do many things with these
fancy boxes. I know what I can do. I still want to know why. At
least this time I am able to make an informed choice about my
future in computing. It is very likely that six months from now
my opinion will have changed. Nobody is going to know anyway.
by: James Nobel
Since the beginning of mankind, inventions were the fundamental
backbone of progression into what laid ahead. The telephone and
television are among the most influential inventions that
propelled mankind into boundless territories. Here,
communication is the intangible force that governs the world s
fate, we now live in. If it wasn t for the telephone and
president Kennedy s tactics we wouldn t be here: the Cuban crisis
would have been a reality. Now, considering this critical event
that would have seriously dictated the future of civilization,
how else will technology affect us? Our lives will be changed
for the better or the worse by technologically advanced tools and
multimedia; in conjunction, the future of our society and culture
will adjust and adapt as we progress into what may be the
information age or the post-industrial age. A passage by Kurt
Yonnegut captures the very essence of what we are to expect with
regard to technological advancements:
. . . the First Industrial Revolution devalued muscle work, then
the second one devalued routine mental work. . .
Do you suppose there ll be a Third Industrial Revolution?
A third one? What would that be like?
I don t know exactly. The first and second ones must have been
sort of inconceivable at one time.
. . . I guess the third one s been going on for some time, if
you mean thinking machines. That would be the third revolution,
I guess - machines that devaluate human thinking.
(Smart, opening page)
Although this passage makes reference to artificial intelligence,
it gives us an idea of how fast technology is progressing and the
ramifications of such progression. Can you image machines that
devaluate human thinking? Our imagination would lead us to many
predictions on future society and culture. Essentially,
technology is the impetus for the fate of our future. In order
to instigate some thought and provide some insight, this essay
will reveal the potential capabilities of contemporary technology
and the effects it will have on modern society and culture.
Communication and information are virtually the vital blood and
heartbeat keeping society alive and healthy. Because of
technological improvement, the way in which we communicate has
become diverse and complex (Multimedia), diverting from
conventional forms. New technology provides capabilities to be
done differently, efficiently, and more conveniently. In
essence, convenience and efficiency are the driving force for
modern technology, without them civilization would remain
stagnant or dormant, which ever way you look at it. If not for
convenience, cellular phones would be obsolete and there would be
no drive for the invention of a wristwatch sized pagers. If not
for efficiency there would be no need for software programs such
as CADs and the digital form of communication, Email.
Convenience and efficiency complement each other, and together
are the essential ingredients for technological growth.
With respect to the affects of technology on society, we have
experienced what has already happened and the many researches
that had been done. Consequently, there could be a trend that
will provide invaluable clues to the future. Eventually we are
and will be affected by modern technology and notice changes in
our education system, government, profession, and business. New
information and communications technologies are spreading rapidly
throughout the world at an increasing pace. Someday, we will be
able to remain in one central location and complete all daily
tasks without coming in physical contact with another person.
Sports and leisure activities will be the only factor motivating
the movement of our body. People may turn into a bunch of couch
potatoes taking for granted the convenience of what technology
has to offer: already, interactive TV programs are enabling one
to order pizza from a simple command on a remote control.
Additionally, information is as easy to access as searching for a
book in a library, may be even easier. There are databases
everywhere that can be accessed by the public. For example,
there is a BC computer guide listing programs and services
offered by the provincial government. The convenience of
acquiring information by means of information highways precludes
the hassles of fiddling through a phone book and calling place
after place to access your target. Moreover, telecommunication
is augmenting the elimination of office as the workplace. People
will be able to conduct daily work activities without leaving the
home. Consequently, the environment we live in may benefit from
less air pollution caused by excessive automobile exhaust and
population of the city core. Economically, the decreased demand
for downtown office space will drive the rent/lease prices down,
thus, permitting affordable prices for people wishing to live in
the downtown area. To conclude, there seems to be many
advantages of convenience, however, may be in the future this
world we live on will be inhabited by slothful but highly
intelligent human beings.
Currently, information is without question equivalent to power
that can be shared freely by all. Some people acquire
information which is related to the struggle for the competitive
edge, especially in business. Professions will fight for the
valuable commodity (information) that will keep them ahead of the
rest of the pact. An academic researcher needs information to
solve problems and create theories that will undoubtedly keep
him/herself ahead of the field in his/her discipline. Even
artists, fashion designers will be affected. By the nature of
their industry, replication is rampant, to a certain degree, and
will burgeon if information is easily accessible. If that s the
case artists will lose their authenticity, however, due to
serendipity and creativity, they may gain new ideas and designs
to enhance their respective disciplines.
Presently we can access and deliver information millions of miles
away on the other side of the world. This was unfathomable years
ago, but in the age of the INTERNET information is going to be
the blood allowing the body of society to function smoothly.
Without this communication network we may be thrown back into the
days of civilization where mediums facilitating communication
were non-existent. Information and communication will be so
immense that society may form into a single entity, a global
community. Although this is a broad view there may be a
rudimentary integration of a global society. For instance,
automatic translation of different languages for users of the
INTERNET. A Canadian researcher communicating in English may
deliver messages instantaneously translated into Chinese for a
In the INERNET era, information highways are the driving force
eliminating the need for paper as medium for communication.
Digitized text reinforces and supports the move for a paperless
environment. Digital text is eternal and immortal, stored in
electronic facilities, whereas paper is mortal and indefinite
with a simple force of a hand or water. Without a doubt, the
strengths of information highways as communication mediums will
put smiles on the members and proponents of the environment
movement. Consequently, typing will become a mandatory
prerequisite implemented in our education system. That is until
thoughts can be entered into a computer through voice activation.
Unfortunately (or to some - fortunately), the paperless
environment is presently not a reality and will take years for it
to become a part of society. Despite the exponential growth of
the INTERNET and computers entering more homes, not every man
and women has access to computers and this communication medium.
Additionally the 100% safeguard of computer storage is not
guaranteed (because of computer viruses and the like), thus
furthering the acceptance of a paperless environment. With
regard to mail, the Email system will definitely flourish.
Sending messages so easily and quickly will make writing letters
more enjoyable. May be future post offices will integrate the
Email system in their organization. Individual booths will have
voice or hand activated input devices that delivers any where and
place in the world at a cost comparable to a postage stamp.
Where ever the Email system will be located, the
telecommunications industry will probably be the main and most
important industry of the future. This industry will provide
jobs, compensating for the lost occupations that were replaced by
computers and robotics.
In the education system today, computers are becoming more
prevalent. Children are using it at a younger age, starting in
elementary schools. By this integration of digital technology
into our schools, children might grow lacking interpersonal
skills and a social life. This statement is generalized, but
Darwin s theory of evolution may support the truth. As years
pass by children will lose touch of reality. Communicating
through the INTERNET with someone without physical contact will
deprive them of the experiences and feeling from conversing with
a person face-to-face. Additionally, the large world we live on
will be mentally visualized as a small world, more intense than
we currently imagine. Conversely, there are a lot of positive
outcomes from modern technology in schools. The INTERNET will
facilitate and enhance knowledge, and provoke healthy
imagination. If children read text sent to them through the
INTERNET, imagination will flourish as they try to grasp the
meaning of the text and the person they are communicating with.
In medicine and academic research, information technology can be
very beneficial and advantageous. Researchers can congregate via
computer networks (such as MediaMoo or other MUDs) facilitating
the possibilities of cures for the earth s illnesses and human
diseases. With the use of computers and network, doctors and
researchers will be able to work together and tackle the world s
problems. Moreover, sociologists can record, observe, and study
dialogue from players in a text form of Virtual Reality
(communication networks), allowing the fabrication of invaluable
conclusions and theories. For biologists, computers can produce
artificial life. Computer generated living beings live and
reproduce much like their biological counterparts. This
breakthrough will most definitely impact further studies into
reproduction of, for example, micro organisms that are the
foundation for living forms. Simulating biological growth can
give scientists the observational advantage without the lengthy
task of observing the real life growth stages.
The all too familiar human occupation loss from computer
capabilities is more pervasive as the years go by. We have
already experienced the impact of Robotics in the work place and
due to the growth of the INTERNET and VIRTUAL REALITY computer
substitutable occupations will be diminishing. Operators and
information servers are the unfortunate victims of this
technological take-over. Conversely, new occupations may result
from such take-overs. Additionally, because of advanced
softwares and artificial intelligence, modern architects (for
example) have evolved from its true origin. Now the most
strenuous part of their job is to problem solve and design while
the once arduous task of utilizing their drafting and drawing
skills are now obsolete. CADs and the more advanced programs
have most definitely made an impact in this industry, whether its
positive or negative. Researcher have predicted that in the
future occupations will all be replaced or affected by computers,
except for artists, writers, and lawyers. Well, that statement
can now be modified to ALL professions will either be replaced or
affected by technological advancements. Artists facing digital
reproduction of their artwork may encounter appreciation in their
work, to a certain degree. Greater exposure and dissemination of
their artwork will frankly improve advertisement of their
original work, thus creating greater demand and marketability.
This of course is not applicable to every artwork; nevertheless,
it will impact every artist, especially the well-known or
avant-gardes of the art world. Additionally, writers and lawyers
will inevitably be affected by the immense amount of information
floating around in the vast array of networks. A lawyer may win
a case solely because of information he gathered as evidence that
was diligently extracted from a database in another city or
A technological breakthrough that will literally change and rock
contemporary society is VIRTUAL REALITY (VR). If this technology
had photo images in 3D and normal motion speed, there is
practically nothing it can t do. Presently, among others, it is
used in medicine, military, education, training, entertainment,
and research. The potential for VR is enormous. While donning a
mask and wearing a sensitized glove (who knows what other
attachment will be available) one may accomplish tasks before
physically impossible. Essentially, the use of this technology
is without limits. One can think of many ways of concocting a
purpose or objective for VR: simulating warfare for fighter
pilots and soldiers is one assignment VR has accomplished. The
more interesting capabilities of VR is what it will be able to
do, not what it has done. Imagine communicating with a friend on
the other side of the world as though he/she was there in front
of you. Images and sounds just like the real thing will fool
the mind and give humans the ability to do almost anything
without the presence of physical contact. A fencer under VR will
visualize a stab wound (hypothetically speaking) without sensing
physical pain throughout his/her body. Slam dunking like Michael
Jordan without even leaving the ground. Unfortunately there is a
dark side to VR and that is of satisfying our minds. It could be
addictive, comparable to psychedelic drugs that fool our minds in
accomplishing impossible feats. The illusions of the VR may have
psychological effects that may be comparable to the
hallucinogenic narcotics available in the market. People will
live and breath this artificial world of the VR. The effects
could be detrimental but for its present use the VR is beneficial
to society as it trains, educates, facilitates. Additionally, VR
can assist advertising and marketing tactics. Business can use
this medium to introduce new products which will attract
customers, and enable penetration and acquisition of a
substantial market. This would most definitely be a competitive
advantage for the user.
VR may direct the future of a city s infrastructure. For
example, VR could someday be seen in shopping malls.
Merchandising stores will be the size of a information center
booth with VR equipment and attachments. Inside the VR world
would be a store salesperson or assistant. One will be able to
virtually shop inside a digitally reproduced environment of a
store. Prior to entering this digital store, the size of ones
body will be programmed to enable one to virtually try on a piece
of desired clothing. Then, ones appearance will be viewed in a
virtual mirror. When one chooses to buy an item he/she will
purchase it by conventional means, and receive it where it was
stored in a compact department behind the storefront (booth). If
VR is used along these lines, society will benefit with fewer use
for land and space. May be the environment can be saved from
this idea (if it hasn t already been thought of). With
increasing population, the infrastructure of a city would be
maximized to civilian comforts without building outwards,
possibly destroying the environment and pristine wilderness
areas. Basically, land and space will be used more efficiently
and effectively, and materials would not be wasted.
Along with the advanced technological capabilities of VR and
other instruments, the political system may change drastically,
for the better or worse. With the acceptance of the INTERNET in
the Clinton administration, citizens will be able to voice their
opinions, feelings, and ideas about contemporary issues and
problems. This will enable the Clinton administration to view
the whole picture of a controversial issue which provides the
creation of quality decisions. On the contrary , countries under
a fascist government will experience greater control and order by
the dictator. With current and future information technology,
dictators will be able to monitor and record the lives of the
people. May be George Orwell s fictitious character Big Brother
will become reality. Some believe this character already exists.
Society is built on many blocks, and no block is more celebrated
than that of culture. Culture is what distinguishes us from
people of other nations, and because of escalating growth of
global interconnection different cultures will be subject to
integration. Although a lengthy process, the transition is
exemplified in the global economic system: European Economic
Community (EEC) and the imminent North American Free Trade
Agreement (NAFTA) are just simple examples of the movement
towards global integration (hereinafter global integration is the
cohesion of information from all the countries of the world). In
the age where technology is fostering the construction of a
global village, how is the arts (the groundwork of culture) and
the artists going to be affected? Currently, how have they been
Integration of the arts, which comprise of the theatrical,
musical, and visual arts, are happening already. Technology has
enabled people of different cultures and languages to communicate
with each other. Words in Japanese is currently translated into
English in the matter of seconds by the tap of a finger. Voice
activated language translation already exists, furthering the
possibilities of global integration. Considering global
integration, what will be the dominant culture adapted by all?
A trend that seems to be occurring rapidly gives rise to an
answer: the country with contemporary technology and culture
that will attract others. An example is the youth culture in
Japan and many other Asian countries who are riding the wave of
the American youth culture. They listen to the same music;
admire the same visual artists, musicians, actors/actresses, and
athletes; play the same sports (except for SUMO); and, eat the
same food as the Americans, all possible because of the
technological multimedia available to them. The powerful
Americans not only influence its immediate neighbors but also
As technology develops, so does the arts. Amid the presence of
the INTERNET, artwork will be dispersed all over the world for
viewing by anyone who possesses the necessary instruments. As
deliverance and receipt of artwork becomes easier, the downsides
of replication (as already mentioned) are likely to be more
prevalent. On the contrary, greater dissemination will enable
the invention of new ideas and thoughts from a compilation,
acquired through various computer networks. A simple example is
native art. Due to the vast amount of information available,
native artists have produced new styles and forms of art through
generations. A native artwork is printed with colors never used
in traditional forms. Technique and use of tools for carving
wood and metal have enhanced and elevated native artwork.
Presently, native art is internationally recognized and cherished
by many. The ideas may have been brought about independently,
however, the probability of acquiring new materials and
techniques from outside sources are immense. Additionally,
contemporary artists benefit from information that can, through
human ingenuity, create new techniques, skills, and forms of art.
Manipulation and digital production of visual artwork provides
efficient and convenient processes of creating art. Art
connoisseurs and enthusiasts may repudiate the nature and
originality of digitally produced artwork. This view is
reinforced by W. Benjamin:
With the advent of process forms of reproduction, technique of
enlargement and slow motion begin to reveal aspects and images of
the original which escape unaided or natural vision. In
addition such processes of reproduction transform the contexts of
appreciation, reception and use of the original through the
provision of copies which enter spaces and situations beyond
the reach of the original. (Smart, p.112)
Additionally, he argues that such developments have interfered
authenticity of the object and that in the age of mechanical
reproduction. . . . the aura of the work of art withers. (Smart,
p.112). Nevertheless, the few that may support this view must
realize the evolution of the mediums of visual communication.
Art was produced and expressed on wood and stone in the days of
the Neanderthal and Cro-magnon man; then, artwork was expressed
on paper; consequently, photography replaced the artistic
functions of the hand; currently, artistic expression is found on
the computer screen. If one accepts this view, digitally
contrived artwork will be considered an authentic and unique form
Amid the controversies on the amalgamation of artwork and
technology, artists (the creators and founders of cultural
characteristics) face extinction (in reality --- layoffs or fewer
jobs). With the softwares (i.e. MacDraw) available in the
market, artists are overwhelmed by the capabilities and functions
of computer assisted production of design and music. The
efficiency of these software packages are creating the
elimination of artist and their conventional skills and
techniques. Artists of the 90s and the future will probably need
computer literacy and utilization techniques as replacement for
their original skills (of using chalk, paint, pen, etc.). If
this is the case, who is the real/true artist the computer or
person? In light of what may happen to artists, art may be
negatively affected by mass production and dissemination. A
piece of artwork may devalue in the mind of a viewer because of
overexposure. Much like the people who get sick and tired of the
same music played on a particular radio station: our minds simply
turn off when their is repetition. By the year 2010, the term
original piece of artwork may signify the original millionth
piece of artwork.
Currently the effects of technology is apparent to all of us;
however, in the age where full-blown cyberculture is not far off
in the future, we face a great deal of uncertainty and
vulnerability from what technology will offer. We could be
living beings existing mentally only in a digital environment
(i.e. in a MediaMoo). More frightening, we are unsure about the
actual capabilities of technology in the future. Imagine what it
would be like to live on a world where communication is
accomplished through wires connected to the brains of
participating individuals from a central computing unit. Wim
Wender s film, Until The End of the World gave us a visual
interpretation of the physical instruments necessary for entering
digital information directly into the human brain; this would
enable the phenomenon of telepathy into a virtual reality. The
use for this fictitious instrument would be endless (e.g.
eyesight for the blind) and the consequences would probably turn
contemporary society and culture five hundred and forty degrees.
Additionally, it would either astonish or scare the shit out of
modern man and woman.
We can predict the ramification of technology on the future of
our society and culture, however, those prediction will never be
known to actually occur. Our future is like a biological entity,
no empirical data or past trends can forecast what is the fate of
mankind. Not only do we as individuals live, so does the
society and culture. We are the blood cells that circulate
through the veins of society and culture. Technology is the
medicine or illness that will permeate the body of society and
culture. The effects will not truly be known until the blood
cells (people) accept the medication (technology) or reject the
illness (technology). Currently, the capabilities of medication
(e.g. LSD in the 60s) and illness (AIDS in the 90s) are without
boundaries. Analogous to technology, the mind altering drug of
LSD and the killer disease of AIDS are flourishing, capable of
influencing the fate of the mankind. If technology didn t
progress, history would not exist and time would not advance into
the next minute or day. The stagnant environment would not yield
any unusual events or occurrences. However, reality is the
advancement of time and technology. The future effects of
technology on society and culture will never be know, but we can
only theorize, visualize, and imagine.
Smart, Barry. MODERN CONDITIONS, POSTMODERN CONTROVERSIES,
Routledge, London, 1992.
The effects of modern technology on contempory culture and
society are far-reaching and have irrevocably changed the way in
which we view ourselves, and the world around us. Technology has
profoundly affected us psychologically, socially, physically, and
emotionally. It has influenced the way in which we interact with
each other and with computers, and has drastically changed the
way in which we continue to develop. Gradually, we have come to
see the world as an entire global community that is linked
through computers and other communication systems. Because of
technological advances it is now as easy to exchange ideas with
someone in China as it is with the person next door. Advances
have also been made in the computer programs that deal
specifically with visual art and design. One can also see the
advances made in fields like Cybernetics, Virtual reality, and
artificial intelligence. Yet these advances are not without
drawbacks; for, the human factor tends to be left out of the
equation and makes information exchange impersonal and isolating.
The technological progression that has occurred in the last one
hundred years has far outstripped the advances made in the
previous one thousand years and with each new development
hundreds of possibilities arise for further advancement.
The technological breakthroughs made in the last twenty
years have affected us immeasurably. Within the framework of
communication systems alone, the socialization of humankind is
irrevocally changed. We no longer see borders between nations as
psychological deterrents; merely as physical barriers. We can
communicate with people in other nations as easily as we do with
those we find within our own circle. Entire databases and
networks have been set up to encourage communication and
information exchange between a diverse range of participants.
Telnet, Gopher, Mail Art, and Internet are just a few examples of
services developed to promote and expand the concept of
individual expression and facilitate the access to a vast array
of information available in the computer age.
Computer networking is one of the fasted growing
opportunities in the computer field. It allows for a vast array
of different information to be accessed immediately at one's
fingertips, Telnet alone has over 4 000 different topics ranging
from weather and travel information to science and politics .
Once hooked up to the network, the user can access different
"conferences" and can send and receive electronic mail. While
using Telnet, I was able to access very diverse material, and
receive information on architecture and design, as well as
"conferenced" with a company that is sponsoring a design student
exchange between different Universities. The quantity and
variety of information that can be accessed is amazing, and it is
growing yearly as more and more people and companies connect to
Over and above of dealing strictly with information
exchange, networks also exist to expose artwork and other
creative fields to the general public. The International Network
Culture endeavors to eliminate the divisions between viewers and
participant, and artists and non-artists, while providing the
structure for ongoing global artistic interaction. Socially
speaking, it has linked a variety of people,(students, teachers,
professional artists, etc.) who come from different locations and
sociological backgrounds, who otherwise would never have
interacted. This type of networking culture is a new movement
which challenges the conventional meanings of art and literary
expression and acknowledges art to be more interactive. The
intrinsic value of this democratic system of personal expression
allows for individuals to concentrate on aesthetic and creative
concerns and not on status or political concerns.
Cyberspace is a computer generated space that humans can
enter and interact within. Cyberart, created in cyberspace,
therefore has no physicality like real art, and it is more
democratic in the sense that it is created and expressed on a
unilateral and not on a hierarchical level. Because it is new
there is no hard and fast rule defining cyberspace. As more and
more people get on-line to networks and bulletin boards, the
governing of cyberspace--who will be allowed access to what and
where and for what cost are questions that will need answers.
The majority feel that the broader the base of a non-hierarchical
self-governing body, the more it would adhere to the premise
behind cyberspace; namely, individual rights and equal access.
However, it is all a question of logistics, control, and money.
Because there are millions of people who are on-line to networks,
there is a great deal of money at stake and the question is who
(what companies) will have a monopoly on the service. As services
continue to develop one must also look at expansion in a
direction that favours two-way networking which favours a more
democratic decentralized system. This decentralization can also
be seen in today's computer companies. With the expansion of a
more global market, companies are now specializing in specific
areas. This also allows for competion among groups dealing in
specific arenas which in turn enables the consumer a wider
variety of choices.
A new network being developed that has a great potential and
will offer many benefits is ISDN., Integrated Services Digital
Network. It is a set of digital protocols which enables the
movement of information, both voice and video, over regular
telephone wires at a faster speed than can be achieved by a
modem. The possibilities could include video conferencing and
electronic mail, and other information to be transferred from
home, and portable sites that as of yet are not as accessible as
the office environment. This type of infrastructure will allow
for greater flexibility and freedom of where and when information
can be sent and received at very rapid rate. As of yet, ISDN is
not readily available, but alliances are forming between computer
and phone companies in order to establish the groundwork for
local, national, and international access-- in essence, to
establish a "information super-highway".
The way in which computers have become integrated into our
daily life has made us become more and more dependent on them.
The psychological and emotional impact of the "computer age" has
been far-reaching and has challenged the way in which we view
the world. One of the main psychological concerns caused by the
increasing role that computers play in our lives is Fear.
"The real danger is not that
computers will begin to think
like men, but that men will
begin to think like computers"
-Sydney J. Harris
According to a report in "Omni" magazine, computer
scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology stated
"....we are rapidly losing, have perhaps already lost, physical
and mental control of our society." (According to Dr. Joseph
Weizenbaum). Generally, the level of fear is most prevalent
among older people, because the younger generation have become
familiar with computer skills and programming. These are being
intergrated into the educational system. Yet, "computerphobia"
persists to be a major stumbling block in the path of technology.
There are a various rationalizations behind this fear; some
people are afraid of losing jobs, as more and more complex
machines are being developed that can do the work cheaper and
more efficiently. Others become overwhelmed and feel
insignificant and view the entire computer field as
incomprehensible and threatening. There is such an overpowering
array of different computers, programs, information, plug-ins,
printers, etc., available, that it is hard to even begin to
understand were to begin, let alone become proficient in the
computer age. However the most compelling fear we face is that
computers will become too powerful and man will no longer be in
control. This general idea is even played out in major Hollywood
movies i.e. "The Terminator".
"Modern man is the victim of the very instruments he values
Every gain in power, every mastery of natural forces, every
scientific addition to knowledge has proved potentially
because it has not been accompanied by equal gains in self
understanding and self discipline.
Modern technology also has a physical impact on our lives.
In light of the fact that now millions of people sit in front of
a computer terminal for hours at a time day after day,
regulations have been passed limiting the amount of time a person
can sit in front of a screen without a break. There is an
increased awareness of the effects of electromagnetic fields
that are given off from monitors and are strongest within two
feet of the monitor. To date there has not been a comprehensive
long-term study of the physical ramifications of the field.
There are also studies that indicate that there are increased
cancer rates for people regularly exposed to radiation and an
increased rate of miscarriages.(Brodeur, Paul, Currents of Death:
power lines, computer terminals, and the attempt to cober up
their threat to your health) Luckily, there is an increased
awareness and new advances in monitor design that help shield the
user from excess radiation. Other physical problems that occur
with the computer are dizziness, headaches, and eyestrain. These
are caused by flickering or unclear screens or by glare, yet
these too can be relieved by using antiglare screens and proper
lighting. A lesser known physical problem is known as repetitive
stress injury; found when one does the same thing over and over
again. This can have a damaging effect on various parts of the
body. Lower back pain can be relieved by getting up and changing
positions frequently. Another common ailment is pain in the
wrists, hands and arms; variations on keyboard design and
placement are being reviewed but no solution has yet been found
that completely relieves the problem..
With the advent of video cameras, computer imaging, and
desktop publishing, etc, we can "immortalize" ourselves, our
actions, and our thoughts. Psychologically, this has had a great
impact on they way we perceive our limitations as human beings.
Now, we are no longer even limited to reality as we know it. With
the recent explosion in the direction of Virtual reality,
technology has taken us into a field never before explored.
Virtual reality will have many applications and uses in the years
to come. The technology allows the user to move through
computer-generated images (with the use of a helmet) in a three
dimensional world, which is super-imposed on the "real world".
For example one could be a mountain climber or become the main
character in a video game. Designers of Virtual reality
software are also working on programs that will make television
an interactive and not just a passive activity. While, the
equipment is still not as refined as programmers' wish, the
advances in technology have been amazing. Virtual reality will
have many other applications as well as belonging to recreational
arenas. It will be a great educational tool that will be seen in
operating rooms and in many types of very specialized
simulations. By the end of this century, the field of Virtual
reality will be so diverse and will open up avenues, as yet
Cybernetics: (neural modelling) the science of control and
communications systems founded on the theory that intelligent
beings adapt to their environments and accomplish goals by
reacting to feedback from their surroundings. The premise behind
cybernetics is based on human neural networks, the fact that one
can learn, generalize, and hypothesize. The objective is to
create self-organizing machines, ones that can adapt and learn.
However, the difference in capabilities between biological
information-processing systems and computers remains extensive.
In biological networks, it is through innate properties and
through learning that humans are able to respond to specific
stimuli. In effect, each individual neuron is its own decision
maker and memory storer. The one great advantage we have over
any artificial intelligence is our resilience, damage caused to a
few neurons will not shut down our entire memory or
information-processing mechanism. With an artificial system,
memory is stored with an arbitrary numerical address and can only
be accessed as such. Humans on the other hand have the ability
to retrieve memories through various methods, including content
association. The dream to achieve machine intelligence that is
parallel or greater than humankind still lies in the very distant
future; in the meantime, the complexity and versatility of
computer programs continue to develop rapidly.
With the complexity of computers increasing exponentially,
the question arises: "Can artificial life be alive?" The
semantics of the sentence alone is question enough, yet is there
an answer? Thomas Ray is a biologist at the University of
Delaware. Three years ago, he started testing a model of
evolutionary principles created on a computer. He designed a
system called Tierra, which illustrated that evolution works just
as well in a computer system as in the real world. He created a
digital creature made up of a string of computer instructions
which he then introduced into the model. Within hours the single
creature proliferated, created a race of clones that lived,
evolved, and died and themselves spawned new groups of mutants.
Ray and other scientists believe that some electronic creatures
are more than imitating life, that they actually are alive.
In the past decade, there has been a proliferation of
scientists working on computers who have produced systems with
digital creations that resemble plants and insects in a silicon
world. There is very little agreement among scientists about
what can be deemed alive, still many want to create what will
qualify as life forms. The Chaos Theory is an assumption that
computer-generated systems might actually mirror nature because
scientists have discovered that patterns and structures can even
be discerned in systems that appear to be totally disordered. It
is through the creation of artificial life that researchers
hope to discover "what is it in matter that enables it to have
such an innumerable variety of forms, including life"(Steen
Rasmussen, a Danish Physicist working at the Santa Fe Institute)
The effect that advances in technology has had on art in
today's society is far-reaching and has irrevocably changed the
way in which think about visual art. In the last century, the
transformation that has occurred in the visual art world is
immeasurable. Western society no longer necessitates that art
must fit into the well defined category assigned to it years ago.
It does not have to be a framed painting, a piece of
representational sculpture, or a well presented piece of work.
Visual art is what the artist creates, whether it be a be on
paper or on a computer. The progress made to computer programs
and applications which enable artists to create a variety of
effects is astounding. New methods and techniques arise daily as
more and more people are experimenting with the plethora of
results that can be achieved with computer programs like
Photoshop, Superpaint, and Autocad. The advances made in
programs that relate to the realm of graphic design and
architectural design have transformed those fields irrevocally.
As an Interior Design student I have noted what computer programs
like Autocad and Minicad are doing to the design field, even the
way in which programs like Architecture and Interior Design are
being taught are affected. The basic drafting skills are still
required, yet curriculums are now being augmented with courses
dealing with computer-aided design. The field of graphic design
is also changing rapidly. The majority of advertisement, logos,
letterheads and all types of signage are now all being produced
on computers. It is not only the design fields themselves that
are affected by this new technology; western society's views on
what visual art is have changed.
Today, anyone who has a computer and a simple drawing
program can now create visual art. Visual art is no longer
regulated to "artists" as it was in the days of the Beaux Art.
There are no longer clear rules deciding what is classified as
art and what is not. Who says that what one produces on a
computer program is any less artistic than what one creates with
pen and paper. When the field of photography was first developed
there was a lot of complaints and concerns dealing with whether
it should be considered and artistic field or not. There were
many painters who had trained for years to be able to replicate a
tree realistically on canvas who were dismayed at the idea that
photography was to be taken seriously as an art form. Yet with
time, as the consternation of a new and unknown field wore of f,
society came to accept photography as a legitimate artistic
statement of its own, and learned to value it accordingly. It is
also so with computer-generated visual art.
People will become aware and learn to appreciate the quality
and caliber of the work being produced. A further benefit of
the advances made in computer design programs is the ability for
society as a whole to be able to create and contribute to the
field of visual art. Due to the great accessibility of design
and drawing programs, anyone with a home computer will be able to
produce an array of drawings, graphically altered images, and
The effects of modern technology on society and contemporary
culture are phenomenal and immeasurable. They have altered the
way in which we view ourselves, and the changing world around us.
They have touched our psychological, social, and physical lives
and have greatly modified they way in which we develop. With the
unprecedented advances made in computerized communication systems
and networks even the way in which we interact with one another
and with computers is different than it was twenty years ago.
The world is now linked electronically and we have become one
giant global community. Technological advances have also
affected the fields of Cybernetics, Virtual Reality, artificial
life, and computer design programs. The transformation that can
be seen in the Art world is astronomical and has irrevocally
changed the way in which society views and values visual art.
The technological progression over the last hundred years have
been phenomenal and with each new technical discovery countless
possibilities arise for further advancement.
Contemporary Culture (& Technology):
An Example of it More Than Anything Else
By R.K. Shaw
It`s funny how we`re living in the past so much of the time.
The present, for me, has not just one finite meaning. We all
have different presents wrapped up within what we know of our own
culture and how much we partake in it and so much more.
And how about the Volkssport Association of British Columbia
display and beer garden down here at Market Square. I don`t know
what this is about beyond an accordion player in tall socks, a
pixie hat, and suspenders for his shorts. Or are those knickers?
I think they`re into hiking - them Volkenssporters. Come
from the Alps originally perhaps. Today they`ve got the centre
of attention, although I feel i`ve come after the peak of the
party. But maybe not at all. For an afternoon party it`s pretty
much come and go as you please. To PARTY does not seem to be the
big focus of the, the event? Is that what it`s called? My
shoulder`s sore & the sun is reflecting in my eyes. I think
Volkenssportees are in the blue shirts. Older they are than me
or, well me anyways. Oh, they`re some burgundy shirts as well.
A 10 & 20km walk was just announced for tomorrow (a way of
achieving visionary state of mind through walking? - an ancient
tradition?) and a walking tour of Market Square, Fantan Alley,
and Chinatown - but no points allowed for that one. Eleanor
Grant from Comox is now going up to receive a certificated for
13,000 km. John Grady has done 25 marathons and over 25,000 km
in 19 years.
Margy Limpy of Victoria,
Jerry Levine of Victoria,
and a few others.
Check out all the sun hats on the beer garden tables.
CLap Clap Clap
OH, Cathy Lean is there from Kelona, Washington.
And hey, how does anyone become an ambulence attendant anyways?
Actually that`s not that difficult a question to answer.
Either is grave diggers I suppose. Don`t beer gardens usually
have low fences around their parametres, you know, just to keep
in & keep out or what ever - FENCES, as I would say when Mike and
I discovered that Mini had pood in the tub. "Well you know cats,
CATS." All about cats explained in one word.
I guess he`s playing polkas. That`s a polka right?
Accordion equals Polka. Easy music.
About what I was going to tie this all into. Well just look
around - oh sorry, one more little divergence for a sec, it looks
like the Volkies are sponsored by Rockport. Walkers they are,
So yes, I just came from a bookstore where I flipped through a
sort of compilation sci.fi. comic
Whoa,one more Volky comment - He`s up holding the Canadian
flag - not a bad size one either - & what, come on, is
that it? - I`m waiting for him to at least flex his muscles but
yes no the flag is now back in its place on stage. Beer
And above the Guatemalan shop and over to the left one can
buy all the latest, freshest clothing. Rave wear & sort of skate
shit. That whole alternative to norm transition and all of its
"To all the girls I`ve loved before". Hey this guy must be good,
give him a digital delay sampler on his acorn and I`d listen
longer & around & around but for now I`ve got to go. When the
saturation point comes...
a few days later...
I`m not always explicit and obvious with what I mean
because my meaning is, in a way, your meaning. You construct it
from that I throw together. This makes communication more
interesting and interactive. Although according to some trains
of thought, more linear ones perhaps, this way of communicating
isn`t plausible on an academic or definitive level. What i`m
talking about is taking place in a more creative or lucid
context. Often, making THINGS interesting is part of what
everything we construct is about. We are here, alive, so why not
think about stuff & talk about stuff & write about stuff and do
it and make it interesting while we`re here. Enlightenment is
boring, so balanced and harmonious and uninteresting. There you
have it, the answer to IT all. So now what, you`re alive, what
else is new. Just keep on living & working or what ever I
suppose. N`est-ce pas? And change too I guess. Throw that in
there as well. Change (or not) comes from growth or rather can
be growth, and if you like expanding (your mind and being lets
say) you learn form experiences and as a result change (or not)
because of them. You becomes a better, or rather, a different
person than you were from the last minute
t-shirt or skin
Cause as they say...
So ypoorter was writing this thing she calls Everything Is
Fuct and I was thinking ya,
everything is fuct.
Everything is fuct and nothing is fuct and everything is fuct.
But that`s what she was writing about, at least that`s what I
think. And I`m an authority, because I say so. I could say why
I'm an authority but I`ll talk about later.
Now is later. Ha! How do you like that - quicker than a
polaroid, faster (perhaps) than money, more satisfying than -
well you might just not care so anyways->
AUTHORITY: Who gets it, how, about what, & why.
I guess what bugs me most about authority is when it`s used
oppressively or down right for the negative - Negatively.
Authority, or knowledge (or not), can be used so, so productively
(?) (I`ll use that word rather than positively, as, i guess my
presuppositions are cropping up & in here - but hey, of course).
NOTE: My little positive/productive debate thang comes out
of this thought being relative to my own biases
and presuppositions preferences. They would be for, as I would
place them, on the positive, caring side
(interpret that as you wish, I do too).
Yet instead of being used to foster love, self realization and
empowerment for the benefit of yourself and other beings and
rocks or trees, authority could just as easily be used to
encourage and promote hate and self realization and self
empowerment for the benefit of other beings etc as well (although
probably for the benefit of others who look most like whoever`s
doing the talking.
I seem to be getting sidetracked (something which I like) a bit
too much perhaps. Or maybe there is just so much I want to say
that I get on to something else before I clearly and neatly
finish up with what I oh what ever. An outline and maybe some
more formal structure to this speel would make it more acceptable
on a standard essay format. But this is supposed to be informal
so I guess I`ll go with it. This paper/piece/essay is about what
I want to say and how I want to say it. It is also suppose to be
about contemporary culture and technology. The two, me and
contempo cult & tech, are bound in ways that I may or may not
talk about but probably will. Ok, so I guess I`m overwhelmed.
La tee da tee da. There are just a couple more things that I
wanted to mention. There was a snowboard add from a couple of
years ago that went something like this: "Don`t question
authority, ignore it." To further that I like: "Don`t question
authority, be it." I sort of got that from what Mr. Virtual
Reality, Jaron Lanier, was saying about Big Brother types
possibly wanting to control V.R. input like tapping a phone line.
He advocated becoming smarter or a better hacker than those who
try to "control" things. Sorry Jaron if that's not quite what you
were getting at but it is what I mean and well, meaning is
obscure isn`t it?
I could say "that`s it" but no. Shall we continue?
I`ve very recently come to realize that I`m writing about the
future, and the very near past. I`m not used to doing this, or
at least used to looking at creativity in such a way. Normally
when ever I write it is not about things which are as of yet
undefined. This means that I am writing about nothing which is
now becoming something. This is just how technologies and
cultural movements are continually emerging, evolving, and being
defined. I can write about what is now happening in my world, as
far as I know, and what I am doing within it, as a part of it so
to speak. Often the more one knows the more one can partake.
But not always. For example, I can partake with what I know, but
of course not everywhere, well yes everywhere. My degree of
involvement is restricted or modulated by my ability to, so to
speak, speak the language. Or for others their ability to speak
my language. We are always partaking in our society to one
degree or another. By choosing not to partake you are partaking.
NOTE: I use "you" instead of "one" sometimes (lots) because
even though it`s bad grammar I think it more directly
addresses you, the reader. Active inactivity. Or inactive
inactivity. Or even inactive activity. Defining. That`s it!
I`m talking about who is defining what is what. Which all ties
into authority. Got it? I sure do and don`t. But even that is
what I`m talking about. This might help:
Music, group, & get together. Well like
another thing but you know. Cause
you know music is music. If you want to
play music you can play music if you have
the people you want to play music with
you can play music. Know what I mean?
-Bob Marley from Talkin` Blues.
There is an active movement or cultural shift in importance
that is growing, or at least trying to. One with an enfaces on
the security of living as an individual, living with others how
you want to with respect and appreciation from those who surround
you. This can be a scary thought because I don`t want somebody
doing what they want if it means bad stuff. "Bad stuff" covers
alot and is culturally and personally specific. What I might
consider bad would of course be good to somebody else and even my
thoughts right here are culturally specific to some one who
chooses to live in a smooth transition, positive vibe, caring,
try to not be afraid to speak my mind but get along with other
people and things kind of way. I may have to rewrite that
sentence. So, because of the randomness of truth and meaning,
people may conflict and hey, why not allow for that? How? Well
I could talk a lot about that but it would just be me spouting
what I believe in and all of a sudden I feel strange about doing
that. But since that`s what i`m doing anyways, heck, why not? I
still feel kind of strange because I`m not used to saying what I
believe in to a potentially large (hello out there) audience. So
if i`m going to speak to YOU which includes all of you (ha) then
here we go.
ME as pointer outer for a yet undefined cultural standpoint.
I don`t know how far it reaches. By this I mean that it might
just reflect back at me, or my friends, or my ecological region,
or country, age group, or race, or sexual orientation, or
economic bracket, or gender, or hair length, or level of formal
education, or experience, or yes so many of these things go in to
where I`m coming from but I know that already and acknowledge it.
Maybe our lack of a definition or label is what defines us. An
aware Slacker or active GenXer would be the closest term perhaps
(more about this later). People sometimes go through something
like this on a personal level but I`d like to see it happen on a
massive cultural scale. And I do, and don`t. It comes and goes.
One vibe becomes more prominent than another. Which is fine.
That is change, allow for it and you might not become bitter.
Remember that sometimes these thing work in cycles. I`m relying
on myself and on others of some what like mind to live daily in
such a way. I just read an Alice Walker book. "Resistance is
the secret of joy" it said. I am holding out you might say,
hanging on to my own terms, letting them change and adapt, but
trying to live life my way. Reminds me of an old Lover Boy song.
Yike. Resistance to being pushed and pulled around sometimes
means being pushed and pulled. But I would rather be respected
in my own place with out having to demand it. Who wouldn`t? And
all this shit is a big kaboodle in my brain. I care I suppose.
I care how people are doing (and the Earth for that matter). I
care about what kind of world I live in and you live in. I would
like to live with out having to lock my doors or any number of
other little yet significant things that split trust in our North
American culture. The systems, policies, and attitudes that put
people and the Earth in shitty positions (eg. poverty) are in
obvious need of change. Not only are companies and governments
being forced to change their environmental policies (not enough)
but I would like to think that those in control might actually
care about "tomorrow" more than just for economic reasons. This
may be too much to ask or hope for but this is in some weird way
how I'm trying to live daily. Banking on individual difference to
make a difference I guess. I like seeing it work though. In
little ways like recycling and using cloth shopping bags, your
own mug, and such.
New systems that are being developed need to allow for
humane based foundations. That is what is so interesting about
all the new technologies coming up. I see people still trying to
make a buck which is great (I guess) but also being conscious and
considering how these new things will positively and negatively
effect the environment, which of course includes us.
Do you ever notice that when you say something it could just
as easily be taken in exactly the opposite way from the way you
meant it. The Bible is a classic example. Interpretation is so
hinged upon context and language. I have no problem with this. I
like it. Chaos. What to believe what to believe. Those old
"objective" news reports, and scientific experiments, and
photographs they just don`t hold the same validity that they used
to if they ever really did. Maybe it is not necessarily their
validity that has changed so much as their absoluteness. They
are no longer the absolute authority or truth but now just one of
many points of view. But unfortunately whoever controls access
to the means of communication controls the content. As Jaron
Lanier said something about telephones being good because anybody
using one controls the content but not so with a TV. I have
nothing more to say and lots more to say. Lunch time?
BLaablablablablablabaaaalbbaaalaaablablablablab. I feel like
some feed back.
Thank you Heather. Heather understands. We were wondering
though about the disparity between written and spoken words and
just how immensely different the two forms of communication are.
I`m hoping that you, the reader, will understand more or less
what i`m saying and meaning. But hey, you might not and that`s
ok. Written or spoken or otherwise I might not even know what
i`m doing. Ooou, this IS nutty. But that is what is so
contemporary (to me at least). Linear logic has become only one
of many approaches to looking at things. Go see the movie Slacker
if you haven`t already. It shows a lot of what different ways of
approaching one`s life are going on. The maker of the film,
Richard Linklater described a Slacker as:
somebody who's not doing what`s expected of them. Somebody who`s
trying to live an interesting life, doing what they want to do,
and if that takes time to find, so be it" (from Mondo 2000 #9).
That`s sort of what I was trying to get at earlier on.
Now I would like to add in a few words and expressions that
i wanted to get into this essay(?) but that might not make it in
if I don`t do it right now.
Here they are:
Maslow`s hierarchy of needs,
Kiss My Grits,
plate of shrimp,
subjectivity of a kiss,
the running of the goats,
having a body,
not much else cept for music.
And a few of quotations that have everything to do with what I'm
"How did you get here?"
"Same way you did: space ship, Ape City, subway."
-Tyler to Brent in Beneath the Planet of the Apes
"What ever you do, take care of your shoes."
"Pousse mon amour, pousse!"
To finish up with I`d just like to say that if anybody out
there has anything they`d like to say to me please do so. Here
is where nouveau technologies come in such as e-mail. Feedback on
a ramble like mine would be much appreciated. I`d just like to
know if anybody feels anything that I do. Via the wonders of
e-mail I can be found at:
IS THIS PROGRESS???
My insight of contemporary culture and technology is
looking globally and personally at how the future is fast
approaching.I wonder how prepared we really are?
Technology has been progressing over the past several years
blindly in the eyes of society. I could see that we`re in the
process of distroying the old world and building a new world in
its place, at least trying too. The light of technology has
become overwhelming, while our environment, economy,and education
are falling a part. Changes are occuring now and we tend to be
emotionally attached to our old ways of living rather than try to
open our eyes to change. Although we are in a higher level of
consciousness and awareness from mass media, and mass
communication, we`re losing control over work everywhere from
factories and offices to hospitals and retail stores,as
computerization is integrating in the stage of the systems. In
our work environment, we are being controlled by the systems
logic and are now becoming aware of this transformation and
implications. But are we prepared to make the change?
So far it looks as if our perception of technological change and
economic restructuring has been transformed from social and
political issues of massive unemployment, demeaning of work, and
loss of democratic control and personal independence into a
de-personalized, disembodied technocratic puzzle: how to
"manage" the "impacts" of restructuring; how to "adjust" people
as if they were numbers on a flow chart.
Its brought jobless employment growth in many plants
and offices and are reduced to unthinkable procedures by pressing
keys while technology does most of our thinking. Its as if we're
being filtered through unnecessary laborers of technology, all in
the value of the doller.
As uncertain as it may seem, technology is becoming
more of a reality. In my own personal experience I have had to
some what alter my career plans. I've felt like I have had to
start all over again. I realized that computers as another artist
medium tool would be an added skill to other artists like myself.
But to have computers as the device of all art mediums in the
future, I fear to question..? If technology dominates the medium
of our ancestrial artists it'll be like eliminating history of
its craft. To eliminate the craftmanship you eliminate the
physical technique and expression. I believe that technology is
blind in the understanding of personal experience and
expressions. For instance, if we were to look at a painting on a
computer screen, how would our perception of artificial image
compared to traditionally viewing of painting?
How can we see the artists instinctive physical approach to the
painting? I can't imagine how computer can transmit such
information. The only way would be to have the computer transmit
the mind of the artists. Artists would not have complete control
over his/her work with a computer. The process of mixing colour
is a process of creativity and satisfaction of discovering new
colour by physically mixing where as computers would be
artificial. Naturally you see the stages of development from the
beginning to the end piece as a whole,where as with the computer
your mousing about to find the final result.
Unfortunately I believe painting,
drawing,sculpture will become a thing of the past and more or
less it'll be a personal liesure activity ,but when I look
further ahead I try to imagine what painting will look to
computer graphics and special effects. Currently having used a
bit of the laser printer, I can see that in the near future, the
resolution on printouts will be as clear as photos, and that
amateur graphic artists will have medium to nun in design skills.
They can also become skillfull designers and layout artist.
Machines will play a major part in aiding creative skills and
expression to those with talent musically and artistically.
Artists will be even more highly regarded in the new age of art
but the traditional skilled artists will always be well
I've heard the latest in our media news about the new
visual reality in theatres and that audiences will become more
intensily involved with film, so much so that too many action
scenes could rapidly confuse illution of film with reality. How
much further will this virtual reality go? The thought of virtual
live T.V. would be amazing,but we would probably virtually not
want to live ourselves in our real world.
Currently I've had a taste of my own experience of
virtual reality, when I've finally decided to educate myself and
get over the computer intimidation, which has caused some anxiety
and frustration. This occured when I first sat in front of one of
these screen T.V.s wondering if the other students new little as
much as I did. I thought that going through some of the program
guides would be a breez, (So I thought) obviously didn't make
computing easy. I was anticipating instant results but all I was
getting - "Command not recognized" to "Don't understand"
The amount of time that it lit up the screen I was ready to put a
hole in the return key. "Now there's some vertual action for ya,"
I made my exit so I could bring myself back together. Tolerence
and patience is definitely a virtue. I wanted answers no matter
how long it was going to take me. Having had some good tutorial
assistance, I found that it wasn't enough. I realized I was on
my own to explore the jungles of the Internet, FTP,Gopher and
EMAIL> etc. Having explored the programs I saw how this new
technology can and will open a whole new world of communication
and having access to new tools. (Not to worry I don't plan to
regurgitate the procedures)
I could see how this new technology has unlimited
possibilities that are unimaginative to human thinking.
Globally I wonder if this new technology will be beyond human
control or will we be considered technocratics in the 21st
The thought of what 10, 20 years will bring is hard to
imagine really. Really in only seven years, will be in the year
2000. I can remember watching the future series 1999 in the
early 80's and to think that I'd still be here to see that year.
It's a fearing thought that in 1999 we could live such a cold and
sterile environment, wearing co-ordinated coloured uniform and
not being able to see the light of day. Everyone living in
uniformity and order with no sense of individuality. Yet six more
years, who's to say this fictional movie 1999 may hold some
truths. Interestingly, recently I read an article by Arther C.
Clark in which he has some interesting insightful predicaments
which I found it to be amazingly possible of what a birth
certificate would look like in the 21st century:
Commonwealth of California
Department of Health`s
CERTIFICATE OF LIFE
Subject: Baby boy, Miller
Date of Conception: November 15,2018; 12:15 P.M.
Place of conception: Comprehensive Fertility Institute,
Beverly Hills, California
Number of Parents: Three, including surrogate mother-
mother donated egg, father sperm
Method of Conception: In vitro fertilization followed by
embryo tranfer. Mother's body had
rejected her artificial falloian tube.
After 8 days on pergonal tablets, mother
produced 2 eggs. Both were removed
during routine laparoscopy and screened
for possible defects. Eggs united with
father's sperm. After 48 hours in incubator,
embryos were removed from growth medium
and placed in surrogate's womb. Only one
embryo attached itself to uterrine wall.
Prenatal Care Ultrasound at 3 months. Fetal surgery
performed at 5 months to correct small
defect in bone of right foot.
Date/Time of Birth: Jason Lawrence Miller born July 20,
2019; 4:15 A.M.
Father: Jason L.Miller,Sr.
Mothers: Amy Wong (natural), Maribeth River
Birth Method: Newly lifted in Morningstar Birthing
Center, division of Humana Corporation.
Natural delivery of Humana Corporation.
Natural delivery after 5-hours labor.
Labor pains controlled through
accupuncture. Therapeutic touch used for
last hour of labor . Child's father,
adopted sister, and natural mother
attended the delivery.
Weight/Length: 10Ib.; 25 in.
Eye Color: Green
Genetic Profile: Yunis Test show missing sub-band on
chromosome 5, indicating premature
graying of hair. Will be totally gray by
Bands on one chromosome upside down;
could have fertility problems.Nicked
chromosome indicates a greater than
average vulnerability to lung cancer.
High-Risk Professions: Any career that would expose
individual to possible lung
Body Type: Mesomorph. Build well suited to
contact sports,such as football.To maximize
muscle development and athletic ability,
should begin exercise program by age 4.
Prjected Life Span: 82 years
I wonder what the 21st century schools will be like. I
think we would constantly be training and retraining and
learning. Also early training will lead to greater educational
success later. For example, a grandmother taking a course in a
small business management where as her sixteen year old
grandson's getting 1st year college English early while in
Universities, students are taking classes in new technological
development in their field to advance fields in technical
science. The emphasis will shift to produce workers for the
industrial factory based economy which
required patience docility and ability to endure boredom.
Knowing that Robots technicians are now increasing in
demand, new fields will spring up as population increases and
workers jobs are eliminated by technology. This is obviously
happening even now where workers are having to go back to school
to prepare for careers in these new areas. Fortunately technology
will bring students a smorgasbord of educational choices for
students of all ages. I can see in the next generation how
schools will be partly financed by local industries that rely on
producing and training workers. Technology is transforming
society itself, in turn computers will take on schools.
Artificial intelligence in its infancy will probably
dominate education or even its growing stages that will probably
As I look further ahead in artificial intelligence
meaning robots will be able to see, listen, talk in all ranging
languages. They'll no longer be a simple-minded dumb insensate
machine found in factories producing lines. They'll move out of
manufactoring plants to working alongside us relaxing with us
and, live with us. Our homes will become roboticized with central
intelligence. They'll have control over the cooling, lighting,
security alarms,and ventilation and light control. Soon they'll
be able to crack our eggs in the morning without any
tecno-anarchy. They'll be adapted to more and more things become
our robot slaves that we will train and house break.
As we get used to the luxury of having slaves we may want them
around for companionship as well . The thought of haveing
Robo-dogs and Robo-cats that responds to human voices a companion
without the kitty litter. "What a concept!"
Better yet I found another insightful thought found in the same
article by Arthur C.Clarke where he uses Joseph Engelberger idea
of a robot resume . He believes these artificial intelligence
beings will become undersea explorers, heavy construction
workers, crime figurers nuclear power plant inspectors, cybernete
companies and astronauts. Here's a sample of his robot resume:
Name: Universon Robot
Social Security Number: None
Marital Status: N/A
Age: 58 years old
Sex: Three choices (male, female, asexual)
Height: 5 feet
Weight: 60 to 2,800 pounds (depending on job requirements)
Present Health: Excellent
Medical History: Lost hand (now replaced) in a forge accident;
lost memory (restored by tape); blinded in a kiln explosion (new,
improved stereoptic vision since installed)
Life expectancy: 29 man-shift years
Special ability/Training: Industrial/heavy-duty outdoors model:
Fluent in three robot languages; instantly retrainable with
memory replacement module; three-jointed arm has 6 degree of
movement and is capable of lifting up to 2,000 pounds with one
end effector (hand). Precise-can work within a tolerance of
1/1000 of an inch; works 24-hour shifts.
Personal model: Available in either stationary or mobile
configurations; can learn to respond to owner's voice; comes with
Level 1 Conscience, the program of protective ethics, factory
installed (not available in warrior mode).
Work Experience: Assembly-line worker, welder, painter- Ford,
Materials handling-Pittsburgh Plate Glass
Domestic-Engelberger household, Danbury, Connecticut
Operating room nurse/attendant-Long Beach Hospital, Long Beach,
References supplied upon request
So where does this leave us ? The thought of having a
race of robots which are exactly like humans with the only
difference they're less subject to mental and physical disease
and are made of metal (recycled metal) or whatever. Is it
possible that these human robots could become immortal? To
answer that , it seems anything is possible in the future of
technology only I wonder about our future as a human race.
So far globally we're deteriorating but in order to move forward
it seems we'll have to make alterations to educate ourselves to
I ask ,"What is progress?." A question,that's always
puzzled me. I guess that everyone must try to kick the habit and
evaluate our values and priorities in the way technology is being
designed and applied. But then technological change is controlled
by few people dedicated to maximizing efficiency for competitive
gain. Yet, population is increasing and I can see a viscious
technological circle occuring. In time, if this unwinds and
takes effect in the next generation, we would have more time to
educate ourselves to a much broader range of educational choices
in which we have access communication and information that can be
transmitted all in our finger tips.At first it's like finding a
new toy then learning how its used.
Also I can see how psychologically some of us can become
completely obsessed to the computer screen and not be able to
function normally without it. Is this where the human race is
heading? This will bring in a whole new stream of jobs into
psychological technology, speach therapy, to optometrists as our
eye sight weakens.
This wonderful technology called progress
seems to let out a lot of bug, causing our physical and mental
bodies to diminish due to long hours of sitting in front of a
computer screen accomplishing nothing, to sitting long hours of
accomplishing something. Then to watch ones documents disappear
from your very eyes. Of course this, so call PROGRESS doesn't
always provide such mental and physical strain.
A wise preacher once said "believe in yourself." he also adds
not only to believe in ourselves but also our sense of what is
important, and to use that as our guide in our working and living
environment in the industrial era. One thing I'II add which
makes life so much easier is to SAVE !! SAVE!! SAVE!!
In order to start this essay I had decided to answer a question
from the course outline:" Have we all become artist" ? This
question will enable me to focus my attention,and allow my
imagination to grabe hold of the implications of such a thought
and fallow it into the latest frontier of computer technology.
this essay is part of the requirements for the Arts and
Technology class. The class covers in part , practical
applications of contemporary computer technology. And, as a
Visual Artist I will attempt to give my interpretation of this
perceived relationship between the two. This is the first of -
short essays concerning my journey as anew and impressionable
technowiener entering into cybrospace.
The question of whether we
have become all Artiste, implies, that we have been empowered by
reason imparted to us by contemporary technology. With this
evolution of computer technology it seems to be the next medium
for the Artist to adopt. Be it push button or voice-command,
mass-consciousness has finally delivered us too the window's of
cybrospace and virtual reality. Since the nifty 50's the
Modernist attitude has had mainstream society pinning away for
great technological advancements and now we're at a threshold.
However, we are but lowly Pilgrims entering a little knower and
yet created frontier
The implications still remains the same that technology could
some how induce a type of metamorphose on the human rase and
transform them into Artistes. However, I am of the belief that it
is a combination of imagination, inquisitiveness, self-awareness,
craft and discipline that aspires us as Artiste; furthermore,
creativity is an inherent human characteristic and not a
technological induced function. Perhaps our imaginations will be
further seduced by this technology; thus , limiting or even
debasing our awareness of reaction to sensation, and then ,
giving way to a belief that : With computer technology therefore
The demand for
information and communication is on the rise as more and more
people discover the tremendous potential of computer networking.
This resent development in technology
has the capability of providing a new faster and more
versatile way of accessing and communicating information. With
more computer sights coming on line and appearing throughout the
world more people now will have access to a larger base of
information. A medium seemingly designed for the politicaly
In this age of political correctness a powerful information
and communication medium has the potential of being a fantastic
tool in fostering relationships within your own region through
either Freenet service or a more international server like
Internet. The methods of communicating with someone can be either
by e-mail, direct connection to the person or persons and by
posting messages on a community or special interest bolten
boards, what ever the method chosen it will be a more convenient
The fantastic wealth of information sights available to us
from around the world has given us a form witch to unit people
This ability to share knowledge in areas of Education, Arts,
Technology, Medicine ...etc,etc, simple by making computer files
accessible to anyone is a great development from this
technology.Gaining access is simple made by going through
directories like Archie and by Database or by simple posting your
quires on a community bulletin board, either method usually
yields the desired information on possible communication sights.
The befits from computer networking has set the tone for new
Conventions by creating a new faster more versatile way of
accessing and communicating information. However, the most
important development from this technological innovation is its
accessability. The ability to log into a computer, be it public
or private, and access information from other sights around the
world has finally turn the have notes into the haves. I can only
hope that people will take the time and nurture this new
technology not just control it.
The latest in technological
advancements made in the area of communication and
information services is awe-inspiring. A most hypnotic vision of
seemingly endless possibilities awaits us in cybrospace. Snap out
of it! Don't fall, under the trance of this hypnotist, you don't
even know who he or she is let alone know if their really. Lets
get back to Canada's economic problems; for example, how about
the Federal and Provincial fiscal restraint policies and the Free
Trade deals. After all, universality of social programs and
Canada's sovereignty are important issues much more than what the
latest computer technology has to offer or is it?
Perhaps there is an important link between Canada's current
economic problems and policies that involves technology related
to cybrospace. The Free Trade agreement between Canada and United
states plus the possibilities of NAFTA agreement with Mexico
could be seen in relationship with the latest computer networking
capabilities and The New World Order. The connection between the
latest development in the information communication technology is
part of a Global Infrastructure that connects us with other
market places and trading blocks. Furthermore, the market place
will no longer be confined to simple geographic areas and this
intern will mean more of a Global economy; thus , the once known
Multinational companies are now known as Global companies.This
implies that companies will have greater flexibility in regards
to development and being more transitory. This method of doing
business has been made possible by technology like
Telex-radio-computer networking links.
What free trade agreements do for Global companies and there
subsidiaries is eliminate trade barriers between respective
trading partners. With trade barriers down outside investors can
have a great influence on the sovereignty of host country; for
example, by claiming unfair trading practices do to particular
Federal or Provincial past or future policies. Which brings us to
the most often herd phrase of the 90's "We have to become more
globally competitive". And we have already seen some examples of
streamlining and its effects: Down sizing of operations , wage
rollbacks, and the threatened Universality of social programs
plus meany others.
The connection has been shown to be made between Canada's
economic and Sovereignty woes and the latest in computer
technology has made it possible for Governments and Global
campiness to manipulate and create a New World Order of polices
and procedures. The solution to Canada's present problems and
future self determination is not only being able to use the same
technology but rather the need for investment into Canada as
future leader in development of technology.
The creative powers formed by the imagination and
intuition with its amidiate understanding with out reason has
brought me to this finaly essay topic : Contempoary music
regarding communication technology and how people relait to it. I
remembered the recording by Roger Water's, Radio K.A.O.S from
1986 and Kate Bush's song, Deeper Understanding from her 1989
recording of: Sensual World. Both artist approach on
communication/computer technology as being trivealized by
societies consumerist attitude and their excessive
As I read the lyrics from the song : Deeper Under Standing by
Kate Bush I can relaity to what she is saying and can imagine how
people can slowly withdrawly from society and become introverted.
Here are the lyrics from from Kate Bush's song: Deeper Under
As the people here grow colder
I turn to my computer
And spend my evenings with it
Like a friend.
I was loading a new programme
I had ordered from a magazine:
"Are you lonely, are you lost?
This voice console is a _must_."
I press Execute.
"Hello, I know that you've been feeling tired.
I bring you love and deeper understanding.
Hello, I know that you're unhappy.
I bring you love and deeper understanding."
Well I've never felt such pleasure.
Nothing else seemed to matter.
I neglected my bodily needs.
I did not eat, I did not sleep,
The intensity increasing,
'Til my family found me and intervened.
But I was lonely, I was lost,
Without my little black box.
I pick up the phone and go, Execute.
"Hello, I know that you've been feeling tired.
I bring you love and deeper understanding.
Hello, I know that you're unhappy.
I bring you love and deeper understanding."
I turn to my computer like a friend.
I need deeper understanding.
Give me deeper understanding.
In Kate's song : Deeper Understanding, I can
sight a good example of Ipeople becoming infatuated with the
seemingly endless possibilities of computer technology. The
assienment in part given to our computer class was to connect
with telnet and then into Media Moo. From inside Media Moo we
were expected to explore and communicat with other users in this
text-based vertual reality. Once you have become acustom to the
program's of navigating, interacting with various tools, objects,
the more ingaged you become. You seem to be cought up in the
interaction and the dialouge with other users and the archutects
of this virtual reality you find it hard to leave. And, the
potential of computer programs becoming an obsession and a
safe environment is quiet real. The obsservation by Kate Bush,
maybe simple ; nevertheless, there is alot to the line ,"give me
a deeper understanding," and how we are driven by it.
The concept recording of Radio Kaos by Roger Waters has
expressed how telecommunication/computer technology has been used
to trivualize or control our daily lives. Here is the lyrics for
Roger Waters Radio K.A.O.S:
Author: Roger Waters
Benny is a Welsh coal miner. He is a radio ham. He is 23 years
to Molly. They have a son, young Ben, aged 4, and a new baby.
They look after
Benny's twin brother Billy, who is apparently a vegetable. The
mine is closed
by the market forces. The Male Voice Choir stops singing, the
village is dying.
One night Benny takes Billy on a pub crawl. Drunk in a
mall, Benny vents his anger on a shop window full of multiple TV
Margaret Thatcher's mocking condescension. In defiance, he
steals a cordless
'phone. Later that night, Benny cavorts dangerously on the
parapet of a
motorway footbridge, in theatrical protest at the tabloid press.
night, a cab driver is killed by a concrete block dropped off a
The police come to question Benny; he hides the cordless 'phone
cushion of Billy's wheelchair.
Billy is different, he can receive radio waves directly without
the aid of a
tuner; he explores the cordless 'phone, recognizing its
Benny is sent to prison. Billy feels as if half of him has been
cut off. He
misses Benny's nightly conversations with radio hams in foreign
unable to cope, sends Billy to stay with his Great Uncle David,
emigrated to the USA during the war. Much as Billy likes Uncle
David and the
sunshine and all the new radio in LA, he cannot adjust to the
and the loss of Benny, who for him is 'home'.
Uncle David, now an old man, is haunted by having worked on the
project during World War II, designing the Atom Bomb, and seeks
to atone. He
also is a radio ham; he often talks to other hams about the Black
Hills of his
youth, the Male Voice Choir, about home. He is saddened by the
telecommunication to trivialise important issues, the soap opera
However, Live Aid has decynicised him to an extent. Billy
listens to David and
hears the truth the old man speaks.
Billy experiments with his cordless 'phone, he learns to make
accesses computers and speech synthesizers, he learns to speak.
Billy makes contact with Jim a DJ at Radio KAOS, a renegade rock
fighting a lone rear guard action against format radio. Billy
and Jim become
radio friends, Reagan and Thatcher bomb Lybia. Billy perceives
this as an act
of political "entertainment" fireworks to focus attention away
from problems at
Billy has developed his expertise with the cordless 'phone to the
he can now control the most powerful computers in the world. He
"entertainment" of his own. He simulates nuclear attack
compassion. In a SAC bunker a
soldier in a white cravat turns a key to launch the counter
attack. Nothing happens; impotently he kicks the console,
hurting his foot. He watches the
approaching blips on the radar screen. As impact approaches, he
thinks of his
wife and kids, he puts his fingers in his ears.
Silence. White out. Black out. Lights out. It didn't happen,
alive. Billy has drained the earth of power to create his
All over the dark side of the earth, candles are lit. In the pub
home village in Wales one man starts to sing; the other men join
The tide is turning.
Billy is home.
Jim: This is K.A.O.S. You and I are listening to KAOS in Los
go to the telephones now and take a request.
Billy: Hello, I'm Billy.
Billy: I hear radio waves in my head.
Jim: You hear radio waves in your head? Ah! Is there a request
that you have
tonight for KAOS?
Radio waves. Radio waves.
He hears radio waves. Radio waves.
The atmosphere is thin and cold
The yellow sun is getting old
The ozone overflows with radio waves
AM, FM, weather and news
Our leaders had a frank exchange of views
Are you confused, radio waves.
Radio waves, radio waves
AM radio waves, FM radio waves
Radio waves, mind-numbing radio waves
Fish-stunning radio waves
Magic Billy in his wheel chair
Is picking up all this stuff in the air
Billy is face to face with outer space
Messages from distant stars
The local police calling all cars, radio waves
Hear them radio waves, radio waves
Jesus saves radio, radio waves
adio waves, AM radio waves, FM radio waves
All them radio waves
Radio waves, radio waves, he hears radio waves
Radio waves, radio waves, hopeful radio waves, dopeful radio
Radio waves, Russian radio waves, Prussian radio waves
Eastern radio waves, Western radio waves
Testing radio waves, one two. One two.
Radio waves. Getting through to you
More code radio waves, Tobacco road radio waves
South to Paloma radio waves, Oklahoma City radio waves
Sitting pretty radio waves, nitty-gritty radio waves
Jim: Alright, that's a song called Radio Waves. You are
listening to KAOS in
Los Angeles and we've got Billy on the line.
Billy: I'm from the valleys.
Jim: You're from the valley?
Billy: No, Jim you schmuck, the Valleys; male voice choirs,
Jim: Ah, you're from Wales! Now is this sperm or blue-tip?
Billy: Ha, ha, ha, ha. Very funny Jim.
Billy: Me and Benny went out.
Jim: Who's Benny?
Who Needs Information
Me and Benny went out last night
Looking for fun
Supping ale in the moonlight
Waiting for the dawn to come
Benny pointed at a HiFi shop
He said hey man look at all the stuff they've got
How'd you make a have out of a have not
Who needs information
When you're working underground
Just give me confirmation
We could win a million pounds
Benny climbed up on a footbridge
And he teetered on the parapet
He said can you see the whites of their headlights
Are they coming yet
Who needs information
This high off the ground
Just give me confirmation
We could win a million pounds
Who needs information
When you're living in constant fear
Just give me confirmation
There's some way out of here
Some way out of here
Benny hefted a breeze block
And tried to let go
Got hung up on a tear drop
So me and Benny went home
Who needs information
When you're living in constant fear
Just give me confirmation
There's some way out of here
Some way out of here
Who needs information yeah
When you're living on borrowed time
Just give me confirmation
There will be a winner this time
Who needs information when you're working underground
Just give me confirmation
We could win a million pounds
Who needs, who needs, who needs information
This high off the ground
Just give me confirmation
We could win a million pounds - yeah
Jim lights a cigarette.
Jim: So your brother's in jail?
Me or Him
You wake up in the morning, get something for the pot
Wonder why the sun makes the rocks feel hot
Draw on the walls, eat, get laid
Back in the good old days
Then some damn fool invents the wheel
Listen to the whitewalls squeal
You spend all day looking for a parking spot
Nothing for the heart, nothing for the pot
Benny turned the dial on his Short Wave radio
Oh how he wanted to talk to the people,
he wanted his own show
Tune in Moscow. Tune in New York
Listen tot the Welsh kid talk
Communicating like in the good old days
Forgive me father for I have sinned
It was either me or him
And a voice said Benny
You fucked the whole thing up
Benny your time is up
Your time is up
Benny turned the dial on his Short Wave radio
He wanted to talk to the people
He wanted his own show
Tune in Moscow. Tune in New York
Listen to the Welsh kid talk communicating
Like in the good old days
Forgive me Father
Welsh Policeman: Mobile One Two to Central.
For I have sinned
Welsh Policeman: We have a multiple on the A465
between Cwmbran and Cylgoch.
Father it was either me or him.
Father can we turn back the clock?
Welsh Policeman: Ambulance, over.
I never meant to drop the concrete block.
Welsh Policeman: Roger central, over and out.
Benny turned the dial on his Short Wave radio
He wanted to talk to the people
He wanted his own show
Tune in Moscow. Tune in New York
Listen to the Welsh kid talk
Just like in the good old days
The good old days
Radio announcer: Do you really think Iranian terrorists would
Americans hostage if Ronald Reagan were president?
Do you really think the Russians would have invaded Afghanistan
Reagan were president?
Do you really think third-rate military dictators would laugh at
burn our flag in contempt if Ronald Reagan were president?
Concerned Citizen: Well, it might work!
Hostage: We as a group do most importantly want to beseech
President Reagan and
our fellow Americans to refrain from any form of military or
violent means as
an attempt, no matter how noble or heroic, to secure our freedom.
Concerned Citizen: Sure! Only it's going to be mighty dangerous
Hoppy's faithful sidekick: guess you don't know Hopalong Cassidy,
Adventure's his bread, excitement's his butter and danger, why to
like strawberry jam to top it off.
Jim: This is some live rock and roll at KAOS, where rock and roll
comes out of
chaos and a song called "The Powers that Be"...
The Powers That Be
The powers that be
They like a tough game
Some you win, some you lose
Competition's good for you
They're dying to be free
They're the powers that be
They like a bomb proof cadillac
Air conditioned, gold taps,
Back seat gun rack, platinum hub caps
They pick horses for courses
They're the market forces
Nice car Jack
They like order, make-up, lime light power
Game shows, rodeos, star wars, TV
They're the powers that be
If you see them come,
You better run - run
You better run on home
Sisters of mercy better join your brothers
Put a stop to the soap opera right now
They say the toothless get ruthless
You better run on home
You better run - run
You better run on home
The powers that be
They like treats, tricks, carrots and sticks
They like fear and loathing, they like sheep's clothing
And blacked-out vans
Blacked-out vans, contingency plans
They like death or glory, they love a good story
They love a good story
Sisters of mercy better join with your brothers
Put a stop to the soap opera state
They say the toothless get ruthless
Run home before its too late
You better run - run
You better run on home
Billy: Goodnight, Jim.
Jim: Goodnight, Billy.
Uncle David's Great Dane: Woof, woof, woof!
The canyon - daytime. Billy plays with Great Uncle David's Great
Paraquat Kelly: Bull heads, three red snapper, one pink snapper
Pacific coastal trench hosemonster fish.
Cynthia Fox: Ohhh! At Sky David's juke joint of joy reports,
forty under the
console giggle stick ling cod, twenty-three purple perches four
sledgehammerhead sharks, and what a surprise, eightyfour crabs,
and no red
Paraquat Kelly: Hey, and that'll do for the triumphant return of
report with a beat.
Jim: We think of it as mainstreet, but to the rest of the country
Strip. You're listening to KAOS in Los Angeles.
I like staying with my Uncle Dave
And I like playing with his great dane
But I don't fit
I feel alien and strange Kinda outa range
I like riding in my Uncle's car
Down to the beach where the pretty girls all parade
And movie stars and paparazzi play
The Charles Atlas kicking sand in the face game
And I sit in the canyon with my back to the sea
There's a blood red dragon on a field of green
Calling me back
Back to the Black Hills again
Ooh, ooh, Billy come home
Billy is searching for his native land
Flicking through the stations with the dial in his head
Picking up -------------- and
A male voice choir on the short wave band
Billy taps out Jim's number on the 'phone
Sits shaking as he waits for Jim's answering tone
Come on my friend, speak to me please
The land of my fathers is calling to me
And I sit in the canyon with my back to the sea
There's a blood red dragon on a field of green
Calling me back, back to the Black Hills again
Ooh, ooh, Billy come home
Come on home
He sits in the canyon with his back to the sea
Sees a blood red dragon on a field of green
He hears a male voice choir singing Billy come home
Billy, Billy, come home
Come on home
Californian Weirdo: I don't like fish.
Jim: You are listening to KAOS here in Los Angeles.
Californian Weirdo: I don't like fish.J
Jim: Yes, we've established that. Ah! Do you have a request?
Californian Weirdo: Shell fish, guppy, salmon, shrimp and crab
flounder.I hate fish, but I think most of all I hate fresh fish,
like trout. I
hate fresh trout. My least-hated, favourite fish would be sole.
That way you
don't have to see the eyes.
Sole has no eyes.
Jim: Oh no!
I'd like to be home with my monkey and my dog
I'd like to be home with my monkey and my dog
I'd like to be home with my monkey and my dog
I'd like to be home with my monkey ...
Jim: They don't care. Shut up. Play the record.
Jim: Oh, God!
Californian Weirdo: Sole has no eyes.
Could be Jerusalem, or it could be Cairo
Could be Berlin, or it could be Prague
Could be Moscow, could be New York
Could be Llanelli, and it could be Warrington
Could be Warsaw, and it could be Moose Jaw
Could be Rome
Everybody got somewhere they call home
When they overrun the defences
A minor invasion put down to expenses
Will you go down to the airport lounge
Will you accept your second class status
A nation of waitresses and waiters
Will you mix their martinis
Will you stand still for it
Or will you take to the hills
It could be clay and it could be sand
Could be desert
Could be a tract of arable land
Could be a house, could be a corner shop
Could be a cabin by a bend in the river
Could be something your old man handed down
Could be something you built on your own
Everybody got something he calls home
When the cowboys and Arabs draw down
On each other at noon
In the cool dusty air of the city boardroom
Will you stand by a passive spectator
Of the market dictators
Will you discreetly withdraw
With your ear pressed to the boardroom door
Will you hear when the lion within you roars
Will you take to the hills
Will you stand, will you stand for it
Will you hear, ohhhh! ohhh! when the lion within
Could be your father and it could be your mother
Could be your sister, could be your brother
Could be a foreigner, could be a Turk
Could be a cyclist out looking for work. Norman
Could be a king, could be the Aga khan
Could be a Vietnam vet with no arms and no legs
Could be a saint, could be a sinner
Could be a loser or it could be a winner
Could be a banker, could be a baker
Could be a Laker, could be Kareem Abdul Jabar
Could be a male voice choir
Could be a lover, could be a fighter
Could be a super heavyweight, or it could be
Could be a cripple, could be a freak
Could be a wop, gook, geek
Could be a cop, could be a thief
Could be a family of ten living in one room on relief
Could be our leaders in their concrete tombs
With their tinned food and their silver spoons
Could be the pilot with God on his side
Could be the kid in the middle of the bomb sight
Could be a fanatic, could be a terrorist
Could be a dentist, could be a psychiatrist
Could be humble, could be proud
Could be a face in the crowd
Could be the soldier in the white cravat
Who turns the key in spite of the fact
That this is the end of the cat and mouse
Who dwelt in the house
Where the laughter rang and the tears were spilt
The house that Jack built
Where the laughter rang and the tears were spilt
The house that Jack built
Bang, bang, shoot, shoot
White gloved thumb, Lord thy will be done
He was always a good boy his mother said
He'll do his duty when he's grown, yeah
Everybody's got someone they call home
Billy: Four minutes and counting.
Billy: They pressed the button, Jim.
Jim: They pressed the button Billy, what button?
Billy: The big red one.
Jim: You mean THE button?
Billy: Goodbye, Jim.
Jim: Goodbye! Oh yes. This ain't au revoir,
it's goodbye! Ha! Ha!
Jim: This is KAOS. It's a beautiful, balmy, Southern California
It's 80 degrees ... I said balmy ... I could say bomby ... Ha!
I'm Jim and this is Radio KAOS and with only four minutes left to
us, let's use
this as wisely as possible.
Molly: Everybody got someone they call home.
Jim: Out at Dodger Stadium.
It's the bottom of the seventh, the Dodgers are leading
Three to nothing over the Giants, and for those of you who are
looking to go
surfing tomorrow, too bad.
Jim: I'm kinda lost in here to tell you the truth ...
O.K. good. Ladies and gentlemen, if the reports that we are
correct, this could be it. Billy, if you're listening to me,
please call now.
After a near miss on the plane
You swear you'll never fly again
After the first kiss when you make up
You swear you'll never fly again
After the first kiss when you make up
You swear you'll never break up again
And when you've just run a red light
Sit shaking under the street light
You swear to yourself you'll never drink and drive again
Sometimes I feel like going home
You swear you'll never let things go by again.
Sometimes I miss the rain and snow
And you'll never toe the party line again
And when the east wind blows
Sometimes I feel like going home
Jim: Billy, if you are listening, please call.
Californian Weirdo: Sole has no eyes.
Molly: Goodbye little spy in the sky.
They say that cameras don't lie.
Am I happy, am I sad, am I good, am I bad?
Jim: Billy, if you're listening, please call.
Californian Weirdo: Sole has no eyes, sole has no eyes
Billy: Ten, nine, eight, seven
Margaret Thatcher: Our own independent nuclear deterrent has
helped to keep the
Billy: Six, five four, three,
Ordinary Person: ...you've go a job...
Billy: Two, one,
Margaret Thatcher: For nearly forty years
Jim: Goodbye Billy.
The Tide is Turning (After Live Aid)
I used to think the world was flat
Rarely threw my hat into the crowd
I felt I had used up my quota of yearning
Used to look in on the children at night
In the glow of their Donald Duck light
And frighten myself with the thought of my little ones burning
But oh, oh, oh, the tide is turning
The tide is turning
Satellite buzzing through the endless night
Exclusive to moonshots and world title fights
Jesus Christ imagine what it must be earning
Exclusive to moonshots and world title fights
Jesus Christ imagine what it must be earning
Who is the strongest, who is the best
Who holds the aces, the East or the West
This is the crap our children are learning
But oh, oh, oh, the tide is turning
The tide is turning
Oh, oh, oh, the tide is turning
Now the satellite's confused
'Cos on Saturday night
The airwaves were full of compassion and light
And his silicon heart warmed
To the sight of a billion candles burning
Oo, oo, oo, the tide is turning
Oo, oo, oo, the tide is turning
The tide is turning Billy
I'm not saying that the battle is won
But on Saturday night all those kids in the sun
Wrested technology's sword from the hand of the
Oh, oh, oh, the tide is turning
The tide is turning Sylvester
The tide is turning.
The story in Radio Kaos imparts to some extent a prevailing
attitud that society has an explotive destructive naiture.
Furthermore, telecomunication and computer technology are seen as
the altmite vehicle for the consumerist attitude and a further
exstention of their excessive preoccupations for self
In both Roger Water's and Kate Bush's recordings both have
reflected there concerns over peoples attitudies towards
contemporary technology. Be it the most general of attitudies in
how we relait to one another or how we use exploit the technology
inoder exploit others. This explotive attitude seems to be
inherent part of human kind.
Computer Art Today
by Tina Sidhu
The relationship between the artist and the computer is
likely to prove significant not only to the fringe artist and to
the programmer, but to our society as a whole. We live in an
increasingly technological society, the combination of art and
sciences in computer art is a reflection of the times in which we
live. The lives of the artist and programmer will inevitably
overlap more and more, as the computer becomes a more familiar
and widespread influence on our culture.
There is an inevitable range of responses to computer art
ranging from those based on a fear of computers overpowering
traditional human artists, to more optimistic beliefs that
computers will become the most creative and greatest of art
tools. Perhaps some universal computer genius with the skills of
an artist, scientist, programmer and humanist, will change our
traditional attitudes towards art irrevocably, and bring an
entirely new and unique style of art forward. But for ordinary
individuals, like myself, there is no need to wait for critical
agreement. Art is an interpretive subject, and even for myself,
computers provide enough freedom and opportunities for creative
interpretation to make the connection.
Because computer art challenges society s traditional
beliefs about art, segments of the general public and the
artistic community, can be counted on to react with response to
the computer medium. An artist who has not yet delved into this
new technology simply can not comprehend that the computer can be
no more or less a "tool" like the simple paint brush but with
extra advantages. The only difference is that the computer is a
much more complex tool, allowing more options, innovative ideas,
and creative realms.
Prior to forming any sort of opinion regarding computer art
the artist must comprehend the computer's ability to function for
him/her at many different levels. There needs to be an awareness
of the many roles the computer can play. For one artist, it
might be no more than a design aid. A friend of mine in the
visual arts department, for example, finds the computer extremely
valuable to her work as a weaver. She has described to me how
she uses the computer to visualize a fabric before it actually
being woven. As opposed to weaving on graph paper by hand, the
computer removes the automatic color preference found in that
traditional method. Furthermore, by examining computer
illustrations the softening of contours which must otherwise be
seen only after a weaving was removed from the loom, can be
In this case, the computer does not threaten the traditional
weaving methods of an artist but improves them considerably. The
artist has more opportunity to be creative and spends less time
with tedious labours, like coloring in each square in a graph by
hand. This allows the weaver time and freedom to experiment and
therefore, more opportunity to be actively creative. For this
reason, the computer is a significant advantage to the artist and
the art of weaving, itself.
The computer offers the artist a vast expanse of areas and
levels available to explore and master. A new integrative
capacity is offered to the artist which can lead into new
artistic approaches that combines it many features. The
combination of artist and oil paint is, for example, a different
statement than that same artist and watercolors. Now, rather
than purchasing oils and paintbrushes from the art supply store,
the computer artist can simply create the tools to be used on the
computer, and combine the effect of different mediums, or
experiment with alternatives. The fact that one can actually
create the tools to be used for an artwork is amazing since the
possibilities it provides, are virtually endless. There are lots
of examples of tools to choose from and the ability to combine a
variety of tools and even mediums into one artwork can prove most
interesting; however, the finished work of art still depends on
the program and the creative abilities of the artist monitoring
the machine, whether it's a scanner, a musical synthesizer, or
any other component.
I've found that some people feel the computer limits the
artist's intuitive response to his/her own unfolding creation and
prevents him/her from leaving any personal trace in the execution
of the artwork. This is due to the fact that the computer artist
has the ability to devise a program which can be suited uniquely
to a specific artistic conception which allows him/her to reject,
accept or modify images as they emerge on screen. However, this
adds to the artist's creative opportunities in a society where
deadlines have to be met and the lack of leisure time is a
It must be understood that there are many different mediums
in the world of art, each to be appreciated in their own right.
Rather than constantly battle over the prominence of sculpture or
oil painting or watercolors, each medium cannot be compared and
should be appreciated for its unique qualities. As well,
computer art should be appreciated as a unique medium itself.
Just because the artist can vary the quality of line and
introduce a variety of colorist effects, does not mean his/her
finished work is unavoidably inferior when measured against an
old renaissance master drawing, in which every line and every
nuance directly reflects its creator's individual response to the
There could well be more opportunities to view
computer-generated graphics in their proper artistic context.
The creative process is centered in the mind of the artist, like
his/her ability to conceive an idea for an artwork, the actual
process in which the work was executed, is received well when the
results are seen on canvas. It may be interesting to know, but
it is not an effective means to judge the actual art itself. It
is the idea rather than the artist's technical skills of a
particular medium which constitutes the appeal of a sculpture,
painting or drawing. In fact, a sculptor friend of mine had
evidenced that the realization of the artist's mental image can
even occur without their physical involvement or presence. When
considered in this context, I feel that the computer is not a
gimmick but a tool that releases the artist from tedious and
impossible tasks accomplished by hand.
In many ways, the computer as a new artistic tool, parallels
to the emergence of photography as the mechanical medium' of the
nineteenth century. There was considerable debate then as to
whether photography was a medium related to science or art. Many
traditional painters were appalled when subject they spent hours
to recreate by the paintbrush could be reproduced by the camera
in a matter of minutes and still be called art. They refused to
consider these as works of art just as the traditional canvas
painter may not believe the brush tool of the paint program could
possibly match the tool of their own hands. However, many
painters who had enough self-esteem in their own interpretations,
eventually considered the camera as a valuable tool. Such
artists, even today, who deal with this same debate, use the
camera as a tool that can easily record the physical
characteristics of a person, place or object in a form which can
be easily consulted for future reference. Although there is
still controversy over the artistic nature of the photograph,
photography has developed into a creative medium in its own
right. This occurred at the same time the artists came to accept
the photograph as an artistic aid which resulted in it being less
of a threat to the painters.
I find that most of the computer-generated artwork to date
should be considered as a groundwork for a similar type of
development toward a still developing artistic medium, because it
offers so many new directions and potentials. There has already
been experimentation in programming the computer to simulate the
styles of previously existing art, even in the few years that
computers have become widely available. Computer art no longer
is only suited to linear and geometric designs since the
introduction of new programs that offer tonal gradations,
free-hand drawing and even the ability to draw complex monuments
in a landscape setting of precise perspective which have become
possible with computers as well. Even so, I think the computer's
potential as an artist's tool has barely been reached even though
its value in the field of architecture and commercial design has
been acknowledged and utilized. As well, the computer is
currently being utilized in highly creative ways by such programs
as Nintendo, virtual reality, Cyber space and autocad. In other
words, the possibilities of the computer are endless and we have
yet to reach its full potential. I can only imagine what future
computer technology has yet to offer the contemporary artist.
My own interest in computer technology began through
watching my grandfather reconstruct archaeological sites and
their ancient artifacts on the computer. He kept a permanent
record of ancient African artifacts and vessels of the most
extraordinary ceramics dated and at times, reconstructed. New
approaches and the more traditional iconographic studies are both
benefiting increasingly from computerized information retrieval
analysis. By transferring cumbersome photographic archives of
pottery, stele, textiles, site plans, and design inventories onto
computer or laser disks and cross-indexing iconographic motifs
and details of manufacture, form and design, researchers such as
my grandfather are uncovering significant, formerly obscure,
correlation's and adding continually to statistical base.
In approaching computers now, with little earlier
experience, this course has increased my awareness of the many
advantages technology offers to both artists and architects.
Although I enjoy traditional oil painting and sculpting, my
interests in the computer to date has centered on it as an aid in
architecture. I have recently experimented with the AutoCad
design package which is a general purpose Computer-Aided
Design/Drafting application. The AutoCad design package is a
powerful drawing tool. Although I have a long way to go, it
follows my instructions and quickly produces the exact drawing I
want. AutoCad features let me correct drawing errors easily and
make revisions without redoing the entire drawing. The results
are a production of very precise and clean final drawings. These
drawings were not the work of the computer, but a creation of my
personal ideas that the computer simply allowed me to envision on
screen. I do not feel in any way, that if accomplished by hand
these drawings and designs would have been more artistic and
personal. In fact, I feel the program motivates me to improve my
designs and expand on my creativity. Of course, the artist must
learn of perspective before creating a landscape just like I must
fully comprehend the program before designing the monument of my
Prior to this course I had experienced a few traditional
method drafting courses in which I learned alot about dimensions
and design. However, the work was slow and tedious to such an
extent that my creative nature was overwhelmed by the mere
basics. In contrast, the computer allowed me to explore my
abilities to a greater level because drawing simple lines and
shapes was a very rapid process. The Autocad program also
allowed me to envision and create my drawings on a third
dimensional level. I could even move and rotate my drawings for
a more precise understanding of the dimensions, which is not
possible with simple flat surface drawings.
I found myself quite excited by the discovery of this
technology which motivated me to explore ideas that traditional
methods would have kept beyond me. The only disadvantage, was
the hours of frustration learning the program. Learning the
program consisted of following an unclear reference manual and
many days of trial and error to master such tasks as a mere arc
for the doorway. However, the time it took to learn what little
I knew about the program was well worth the effort when I was
able to apply this new technology towards my drafting designs and
shapes. This could easily be seen as a parallel to learning
academic methods in a more traditional medium.
I have no doubt that computer technology will inevitably
have a great impact on the artistic community. It will offer
contemporary artists new opportunities which will only increase
as we get closer to the full potential of the machine. The art
world will be exposed to more and more works of art created by
this new medium. Once something has been done in art, the art
world as a whole will not go back--even though some people will
always go back to painting portraits of their grandmothers. Now
that computers have become an integral part of the work of at
least some artists, I strongly feel that other artists will begin
to look at the computer as a viable tool for the production of
art. At the same time, I believe that computer scientists and
programmers are beginning to recognize that data they produce
for scientific purposes can be quite aesthetically pleasing.
Even these computer scientists are becoming artists. This is why
I question whether there is a difference between a programmer who
works with creative languages like building blocks, and an artist
who works with shapes. Both concepts can be equally complex and
The computer is a tool created by the scientist and then
used by the artist in his/her creative expression. The designs
accomplished by Autocad have been as useful to me as a technical
artist and the paint program has been appreciated for equally
valid, if less functional reasons, by myself, as an artist. In
other words, the computer has benefits for both the artist and
scientist; or more clearly the artist-scientist. I find that in
the computer age there is a forced distinction between the artist
and the scientist. Is it not unnecessary to divide both when so
much interrelation is involved? Would it not be more productive
for the artist and the scientist to work as one in order to
double their creative input? Unfortunately, in modern society
there is lack of communication between the two.
I found that the overhead expenses in learning the computer
art medium was by thinking in terms of forms, shapes and colors
through numbers and programs. With paint, the first stroke I
make yields visual results. With programming, I have spent many
hours learning a programming language before ever really seeing
a visual image produced with it. I had to force myself in
keeping interest in the program medium for its own sake, to not
get discouraged and put an end to my efforts before ever even
getting started. However, this parallels to actually learning
the technical skills of perspective and brushwork, I had to once
learn as an artist.
Also, I had the computer simulate a traditional art medium
which I am very familiar, and use it to mimic oil painting. By
using the electronic pen and tablet for input, I was provided
with a medium very similar to acrylic painting. On a TV monitor
I was able to watch a flow of color reflecting my hand and pen
movement on the tablet. I could even select brush sizes! The
advantage I have with this medium over true acrylic/oil painting
is that I am able to change the medium to suit my own personal
artistic needs through programming.
I feel that it takes a particular kind of artist to get
involved with the computer art medium. It takes an artist who
can cope with dualities, since he/she has to straddle two fields.
He/she must have a flexible enough identity to accept the inter
flow of ideas from one discipline to another. The artist must be
motivated enough to pursue what is interesting in spite of the
labels that have been attached to it by traditionalists and
conservatives. There must be an interest in developing both
hemispheres of the brain.
It is almost impossible to imagine what art lovers can
expect from the computer in the future. The value of the
computer for artists lies not in its ability to mimic what an
individual can do, but in offering a means for that individual to
accomplish artistic projects that ordinarily would lie beyond
his/her technical scope. I predict that through the development
of continually more flexible software, which could be geared to
the requirements of individual artists, the use of computers by
artists could eventually become as widespread as the conventional
brushes and oils. As more and more artists acquire computer
literacy, the concept of a bona-fide-computer-based scientific
aesthetic may begin to seem less foreign.
WILLIAM SMITH student# 9109743
CONTEMPORARY CULTURE AND THE COMPUTER GENERATION
Contemporary culture leads us to believe that anything is
possible. Much of what I have learned in recent history proves
this to be true. I have been exposed to a remarkable amount of
information that can be at times overwhelming, yet stimulates the
possibilities to where the computer age will go. A wonderful, new
world, still unchartered, awaiting to be discovered.
Now that this has been said, with all of it's excitement and
promise, let me discuss some issues that have made me cringe! the
age of technology is relatively new to me, but in the short space
of time that I have been familiar with computers, there are some
mixed feelings. Let me discuss some of these thoughts as they
relate to my world.
My chosen field is the arts. More specifically the graphic arts.
I began working in a sign shop about three years ago. this was a
small operation, consisting of three people. the owner learned
the trade from the "old school". A true sign painter, screen
printer, and graphic artist. Among many of the other specialty
skills he possessed included were, airbrush techniques, gold
leafing, architectural renderings. The shop was small, the
overhead low, but we still seemed to always be busy. That started
to change a few years later. It seemed that other shops, who were
totally computerized, could get the product out much faster than
we could, therefor charging a much lower price. This is where the
small shops started to suffer.
I always took pride in knowing that the reason I was hired for
the job was my artistic talent. Now that I am on my own and
trying to set up my own business, I am more aware of the true
impact that the computer industry has on everything today. In the
old shop there was an older signmaker computer. This computer was
simply a cutter (cut letters out of self adhesive vinyl), and was
regarded as just a tool. If for some reason the power shut off,
we would still be able to do everything by hand. When I left the
old shop I purchased the signmaker computer for myself. "All set
now to head out in the world a make my living!... right?" Well,
maybe get by ... but not a very good living. "I have the skills
and now I have the technology." I said. "so there should be no
problem!". Then I began to wonder why my old boss actually sold
me that computer. He had said that he was going to upgrade to a
newer model computer. I then decided to investigate a little more
about computer systems and their relation to the sign industry.
What I found absolutely astonished me! Remember that I have
limited knowledge about computers and their uses. The new
computer system that my boss had purchased was quite amazing, it
included approximetly 200 fonts, a scanner, an on screen graphics
program (the newest CorelDraw) and an interface that linked all
this to the plotter/cutter. Comparing the old computer with the
new one was like comparing a Volkswagen Bug with a Ferrari. The
old computer had a capacity of 8 fonts compared to 200, any
company logos had to be projected on a wall with an overhead
projector and then either hand painted or hand cut out of vinyl
compared to just scanning the image and adjusting the size on the
computer. Designing logos or layouts for signs had to be done
with pens and rulers, now this can be done with the push of a few
These new computer systems are totally revolutionizing the
industry of Sign making. I can tell you first hand the hours
saved by these new computer systems. they enable the user to
produce a cleaner more precise product in a fraction of the time.
This is where I start to get depressed. How is a small
entrepreneur like myself supposed to compete against the power of
the larger shops that are totally computerized with state of the
It has reached the point where the sign industry is no longer a
"Trade" rather it has become big business. Computers have taken a
job that required artistic talent and years to learn and master
and is turning it into a high production, computer generated grey
area! It has become just another job that anyone can do with
computer knowledge. Actually, in a few more years, people won't
even need computer skills because computers are becoming so user
friendly. Not that the industry isn't welcoming new people into
the sign game, but it is destroying the people who built it. The
true craftsman of the trade can no longer compete with the speed
and accuracy of the computer. Much of the problem is that
technology has and is moving at such a rapid rate that it has
left many people standing in the dust. The older, strong headed
man, who says, "Computers will never take over good old hard work
or knowledge of a trade." is just fooling himself. Plain and
simple! Even the new generation who grew up with computers has to
be sharp, or technology will pass them by as well. Oh well,
Survival of the fittest... I guess?
I am done "Bitching" for a while. This is just a concern from a
person who is just starting life with hope and ambition and lots
of doubt and uncertainty. I can see myself in the future becoming
totally computerized in my business anyway.
As far as the present of technology in the sign industry is
concerned, they are still coming out with exciting new
capabilities. I read in the latest issue of "The Sign of the
Times" (a Sign Arts Magazine) that a computer airbrush machine
(the Gerber Edge) is just being introduced on the market. This
computer uses coloured inks to create the airbrushing effect on
vinyl surfaces. It can also produce multiple and interwoven
effects, halftones and virtually unlimited special effects. Other
new computer products on the market include a "desktop engraver",
which can be used on soft metals, woods and plastics, and of
course the state of the art in computer software. One of the new
programs is called the Flewisign-Pro. It is a full colour design
program with such features as auto welding, kerning, arching
shadows, colour separating, registration and tilling. Many of the
features have been specifically developed for the sign industry.
It was just a matter of time.
Looking to the future in the sign industry, it would appear that
there will be a split. Computers and technology will divide the
business apart. There will be the computerized sign shops and the
custom shops. There is still hope for the small shop, who, for
what ever reason, chooses not to keep up with advancing technical
era. Small shops will keep the "trade" alive with that personal
touch. They will cater to the customer who still enjoys the look
of hand lettering or that custom specialty sign for their
business. Although, the average person is going to choose the
shop that will get the job done faster and cheaper. The bigger
shops will be constantly on top of the latest technology. A
computerized shop is essential to keep in stride with the demands
of competitive business.
How technology affects culture as a whole will be mind boggling.
It is hard to imagine how the average population will cope with
the future monopoly of the computer. I believe that the
computer as we know it, will be far different in future years to
come. The personal computer will become the "central nervous
system" of the home. It will have the capabilities to be linked
and control most aspect of domestic life. Personal,and business
finances, scheduling, meals or general daily planning will all be
governed by the P.C. As well as controlling day to day concerns,
the personal computer will have capabilities of obtaining vast
amounts of information on any subject. I can see most homes
running in conjunction with the super information highways of the
future. Connection to any info library or satellite link-ups
could all be performed through the average home based personal
computer. The vast amounts of information that will be available
to every person at any time may be overwhelming. It may reach the
point to where people will never have to leave their terminal.
Anything and everything can be reached by the world beyond their
The Internat service that is available, is one of the information
networks available at the present time. Although the service has
limited access at the present time, I do see the general public
becoming more involved in similar networks in the future.
Information and communication networks very well could become as
common as the telephone service. Large Internat like
corporations engaging in advertizing wars to see who will be the
"king" of the communication-info networks. Just like AT&T and
Sprint telephone companies. Which company offers more
information or entitles the subscriber access to more
The work place or learning institutions will become factories of
information, cognitive reasoning and input organized by the
mighty computer. The super communication-info highway will
obviously be the biggest influence in the educational system.
Information from anywhere in the world will become accessible to
institutions. Computer communication has enabled the educational
structure to totally change. Education in the near future will
be far different than ten years ago. The use of the book library
will almost seem obsolete . All questions, answers or research
will be solved by linking into an information line through the
school computer. Will each individual student have their own
computer station at their desk? With the learning programs
coming out now, the teaching profession could be in serious
jeopardy. There may be no need for instructors. Each student
just has to sit at their terminal touch the screen and the
computer takes over. It won't even be necessary to know how to
type, just click the mouse. Life in a screen! How exciting. I
really hope that the world will not become nothing but an input
and output,information "data base". There is something to be
said about reading a good book.
The onset of the computer industry in the work force has enabled
most businesses to increase productivity at geometric rates. We
see entire company departments controlled by revolutionary
computer systems. This brings me to my point. Are computers
taking the jobs of many people in the work force? Of course they
are! We see this happening all over. With such high
unemployment rates in the country, can we afford to continue? In
many cases, one computer system can take the place of dozens of
employees. They can do twice the work in a fraction of the time.
Obviously, costing the company a lot less money. The future
could hold the average worker in the business world obsolete.
This would be a great tragedy for all concerned. This situation
has already begun to happen in many cases. One example that
springs to mind are the telephone operators. This is an entire
job force that is literally being wiped out! There is nothing
worse than when you have a problem, talking to a computer
generated voice. As I have already mentioned that teaching is in
trouble, I am sure that many other specialized jobs are on the
As individuals, the age of technology affects each person in
unique ways. Everyday activities are being designed to be
performed at the lowest level of energy and yet yielding the
highest level of performance. Convenience is a term that
technology has tried to sell to the public. Everything has been
designed for convenience. Remote controls, multi-screen T's,
the Clapper (the light switch), microwaves, electric
toothbrushes, all designed for the user to exert the less amount
of energy as possible. It gets to be a bit ridiculous. It's to
the point where a person sits a computer terminal all day, gets
home and sits on the couch all night. I am not saying that
everyone is like this, but it does happen. It has to take a toll
on peoples social skills. Common, everyday, human interaction is
becoming extinct. Communication between people may be performed
entirely through computer language. If you believe in the theory
of evolution,the act of speaking with our voices may disappear.
In theory, our voice boxes would become non functional in a few
million years! Just a thought!?
The age group that the advancing technology affects the most is
the younger people. Millions of children are engulfed by the
domination of the video game. The home versions of these games
have grown and advanced so much in the last few years. Millions
of children spend endless hours staring blank and motionless at
the T screen. They would rather spend hours playing video games
rather than playing sports or excercizing. Many talk shows have
dealt with this subject, and I believe their concerns are valid.
Young people do have the ability to adapt well. They are being
brought up in the age of computers. They have become at ease
with the notion of the computerized future. Their sources of
information are so vast, either through education or television,
that they are constantly being bombarded with the latest techno-
inventions. Unconsciously they continue to learn, wether they
want to or not. I have found this through my own experience.
The first time I sat at a computer terminal I already had the
basic Knowledge to navigate around, just from what I had heard or
I am an optimist though. The future could be very exciting. all
of the communication and the information possibilities are great
but the some of the entertainment possibilities really excite me.
Some of the movies to come out recently are filled with creative
and innovative ideas for the future. Total Recall is one movie
that I found to be fascinating. The notion of transplanting a
programmed memory into someone so that they actually believe that
they had been there or done something. Theoretically, someone
could live there life in one room but still believe that they had
done and experienced everything they had always wanted. truly a
fantasy existence. Much of this parallels the work being done in
Virtual Reality. The possibilities for entertainment value alone
is endless. anything you have ever dreamed can be realized with
this system. A trip to the moon, your ultimate sexual fantasy or
living with the dinosaurs could all be experienced inside a
computer. Every person in the world will have the opportunity to
become all they ever dreamed. A different occupation or a
different sex, they could live in a different part of the world
if they chose. In the future a person could live their whole
existence in their own virtual world, coming out only to sleep or
eat. Even their dreams could possibly be programmed. The progress
they are making in the field of computer generated graphics is
staggering. The recent movie "Jurassic Park" combined the use of
computer graphics and the older method of stop motion
photography. The makers of this movie reached the point of
making the dinosaurs believable. The visual picture has made
tremendous advances through the uses of such tools. If the
future of Virtual Reality is as visually stimulating as the
recent movie age then it will be hard to decipher between fantasy
and reality. This, I believe will be the wave of the future.
Virtual Reality will obviously be not just for entertainment but
many practical uses. Medical advances, architecture, training of
any skill or job could be performed with Virtual Reality. It
give you the ability to see or perform something before you
actually do it. In the medical field, it will give doctors the
chance to practice a particular operation on something other than
the living patient. Health care will no longer be such a
guessing game which will reduce the risks for patients. Virtual
Reality can only benefit the medical field, but is advancing
technology as a whole, advantageous to the patient? Life support
systems have advanced so much in recent years that doctors are
able to keep brain dead patients alive for many years. Where
does mother nature play her role?
"Terminator" the movie, posses some interesting concepts of the
future. The idea of artificial intelligence is not so
inconceivable with the rate computer systems are advancing. The
one fact that remains is that computers are the product of what
people program them to do. Can people design programs to think
for themselves? I sure hope not! Humans as a race, have enough
trouble keeping control of things as it is. The last thing we
need is to have some computer system telling us what to do.
Intellectually the human race is capable of creating the computer
world, but is the human race mature enough to control it? The
impact that the computer has on contemporary culture has yet to
be fully discovered. The next generation will tell the tale. One
thing is for certain though, the future will prove to be an
Portrait of the artist as a young hacker.
by yvette poorter
Start here. In the beginning there was clay. Ya, there was clay
and paint and stone and marble and contwood and enamel and metal and plastic and fiberglass and
daguerreotype and microphones and sand. And there was a
melodramatic artist with a violent temper, a black beret, a
life-time supply of sunflower seeds, a studio in New York, and
of course: a computer. Come on, we don t define art or artists
by whether they conform to specific understood media. Naa, we
call it art if it s successful in its use of the medium in
defining itself - whatever that may be.
So it s just a matter of adding COMPUTER to the list of other
tools and materials used by artists in the past - is that it?
Yep, i guess so! The artists use what is available to them and
if what s available is insufficient, they develop and create
something more appropriate. It s all in relation to intention,
context, and result. Certainly with each addition to the long
list of tools and materials, a re-evaluation of our scales and
terms is necessary to describe any new art form.
With the invention of the camera and its subsequent change in
status to household item, there came an obsolescence of realistic
representation in painting, drawing, sculpture, whatever. But
with the invention of the camera did art cease to be or did
everyone toting a camera become an artist? Well okay, so you've
probably heard hundreds of people going on about wanting to get
into photography and loads of them (us) probably did get into
it; darkroom techniques -the whole bit! Still, how much does
accessibility of equipment have to do with artistic creation?
The creative person with access will likely make creative stuff
but that still leaves the average person with access likely
making average stuff. It only makes sense - doesn t it?
WAIT! Wait a minute, i don t mean to suggest that computer
technology will only effect art in its production stage because
that is by far its smallest influence. And we don t need to
redefine ART or ARTIST any more than we need to redefine the
word DEFINITION. There s way more to it than that. We need to
re-evaluate our concepts of space because that big ol world has
been reduced to fit through the wires of a computer and the new
"NEW WORLD" is an unchartered place that somehow exists in/out
there - somewhere. Bigger still is the weird fact that this new
frontier is both conceptual and actual at the same time (kinda
like money). We re talking about a global communication network
here - one which has given new meaning to the words access and
excess. Information and ideas can be transferred within seconds
- and we thought planes were fast. Is there some, as yet
undiscovered, jet-lag-like computer ailment - some sort of
compensation? Or is this new technology perhaps more in tune
with true time or a new dimension? Oh boy ... here we go?
Art is communication and computer technology has opened the
doors of communication wide. With Virtual Reality on the
horizon, it s predecessors include text oriented interactive
enviroments such as Media MOO, where the participants actually
develop the space/scene as they go along. Engaged in whimsical
or serious conversation with whomever is met along the way from
space to space, it s up to those involved to decide where they
want to take it. It s the act of both reading and writing a
story at the same time - a story in which everyone has the
potential to be and meet both fictional and real people. Light
entertainment but with a lot of potential for crossing paths with
unique individuals world-wide and infinitely more informative and
interactive than TV. I mean... if you can call sitting in front
of a screen with your fingers tapping away, interactive.
Why is the book better than the movie? Ya, why is that? Will
Virtual Reality perhaps be the movie adaptation of the MediaMOO
book? By providing the visuals in virtual 3D, no matter how
spontaneous or stimulating the computer generated images are,
they are given and do not demand the imagination of the
participant to the same extent as would text generated images in
the mind. Sure, the cinematography in movies can excite and
portray something as never imagined but it just can t portray it
as imagined. In the words of Paul Saffo (from the article Hot New
Medium:Text, WIRED May/June 1993), Video enthusiasts are quick
to argue that images are intrinsically more compelling than
words, but they ignore a quality unique to text. While video is
received by the eyes, text resonates in the mind.
No doubt about it, in comparing the imagination s interplay
with text versus its passivity with video, we can understand the
fundamental differences of the mind s experience. Then again,
without the visuals dance just wouldn t cut it! Without the
visuals and sensuals, physical acts just "aren t"! Imagine
venturing to compare sitting on the grass with reading about the
grass, having sex with reading about it, eating chocolate with
reading about it ... NOPE! Real life wins for being out there in
the physical - and real life even has room for the books and the
video and whatever else we invent into it! So where does Virtual
Reality fit in? It would seem that virtual reality is an attempt
to combine the physical act with the conceptual one.
Having myself only been introduced to computers within the last
month, already a lot of apprehensions have subsided. Schooled
during a time before computer access, i m way too familiar with
the fear and skepticism felt by the computer-illiterate. Wanting
in, wanting to resist, wanting to understand what it s all about
- but from the outside not the inside. Aha, but our computer
demands that i stand in its mouth to hear it speak! Well here i
am, ready to climb into the belly of the crocodile i m attempting
to tame. Heck, it s only a virtual crocodile anyway...
So i got lured in - so i like it - so i m dying to learn more
about utilizing the networks - so i can t figure out just how it
s possible to run out of space when we re dealing with something
so minute (how many cans of megabyte fit on the RAMshelf?
Hmmm...) - so Jaron Lanier charmed me into enthusiastic support
of his Virtual Reality - so what? It s only real life and here i
am in it. When it comes right down to it, it s all what my mind
perceives and how it organizes its perspective. We accept the
paper we call money, giving more value to a $100 bill than to a
$20 bill and we take a figure on a piece of paper to represent
lots and lots of bills, although we know these bills don t
actually exist. All our beliefs and truths are arbitrary anyway,
so why not indulge them with the virtual experience? It s not as
though we re trying to fool anyone; we re just playing around
with new forms of experience and knowledge. Takin in whatever
is out there and incorporating it. The computer revolution has
created so many new forms of experience as well as new outlets
for expressing them and sharing them globally. And access - oh
Access of information - the latest news coming straight from
the source and from a variety of perspectives! Is it really
possible that through these new global networks we will be able
to bypass such government censoring as we were subjected to
during the 1991 Gulf War? Will this accessibility be the
dawning of a true democratic era? It would seem that roaming
around the network, reading files and reports written by anyone,
anywhere , we will be able to truly organize as an informed
populous and finally have political clout on both a local and
global level. No longer will we depend upon edited news reports
which are dictated by government and corporate powers. In fact,
we wouldn t even have to leave our homes to organize politically.
Through the networks, even the little people would be heard.
Hooked up to our computers we ll be able to roam around the
planet without so much as a toothbrush packed!
Excess of information - the latest news coming straight from
all sources, everywhere, all the time! How much can one possibly
absorb? Having the freedom to select for yourself what to
believe doesn t necessitate having the free time or even the
desire. Saturation will still be inevitable and weariness will
still immobilize people. Those who aren t politically active now
aren t likely to jump up in this new computer age and take a
stance on any issues. Even if we did have the ideal computer
generation , in which everyone was excited by the potential and
wanting to utilize it, what about all those who aren t hooked up?
So i could get in there with my little (but objective) voice and
drum up support to try and get those villains out of that jungle
or save that forest. I very much doubt that those villains or
those laborers have a case of "computer-butt". In fact, i doubt
that any of the repressed people will be given computer access
and even if they are allowed up to the computer control panel
they probably won t have the know-how to effectively utilize it.
Just another case of insisting that the natives play by our rules
and on our terms.The silent majority will remain silent and that
idyllic democracy will be made up of an elite of like-minded
people who think they know what s best - perhaps while the rest
play virtual reality games, read their way around the network,
eat at Joe s or starve because of the environmental conditions in
their physical world.
Just as the automobile, air travel, photocopying, and even the
written word have become common place props in our reality, so
too will (already has?) the global networks of computer
communication. And just as every new vehicle and/or
communication device has threatened extinction or forced
obsolescence of the old means, so too will the computer
revolution. Simultaneously creating new needs and industries.
With a state of the art TV comes a comes a state of the art TV
repairman. With an increase in fragmented, short flashes of
images and statistics comes a generation of people adapted to
It would seem that efficiency is our ultimate goal. The
telephone reduced the time and the paper it would take to
communicate over distance. The automobile, train, and airplane
reduced the time and improved the likeliness of long distance
travel. The calculator reduced the time and raised the level of
ability in problem-solving. The computer reduces paper waste,
improves accessibility and diversity, and virtually abolishes the
time of covering distance. Believe it or not, computers have
somehow confounded the laws of physical space and have created
their own huge world of cyberspace.
efficiency (i fish en se), n., pl. -cies. 1. the state of
being efficient. 2. accomplishment of or ability to accomplish a
job with a minimum expenditure of time and effort. 3. the
ratio of the work done by a machine to the energy supplied to it,
usu. expressed as a percentage. (Random House Webster's College
Although we all seem to want to run our lives in the most
efficient way possible, it is the expenditure of time and effort
which gives value and satisfaction to our lives. Without time
and effort we would be trapped in some sort of lethargic eternity
of a stagnant moment. As it is, we try to immunize ourselves
towards the wiles of time by attempting to stave off the effects
of aging and such. Indeed, if i don t go out there s no chance i
ll get shit on by a bird or bitten by a dog, no street kid will
ask me for money and i won t get salt stains on my shoes, i can t
get AIDS and no propaganda will influence my choices. If i can
save time and protect myself from potentially hazardous exposure
by utilizing the unbiased network in my computer, why not? What
is the computer synonym for couch potato ?
Idealists in the computer movement envision a society in which
people are interacting, unprejudiced by the old isms and skisms
of race, gender, age, etc. They believe they have abolished
hierarchies and prejudices, simply by a removal of the obvious
physical attributes. But judgement and classification are the
basis of our personalities. What we perceive, how we judge it
and how we classify it is what describes us. Already, those
within this fantastically extensive network have proven their
computer-sympathetic ideals simply by being within the system
and they have also proven that they have both access to and
literacy within this system. How equal are the voices of those
doing manual labour or in third world countries or not within
prescribed educational systems in our so-called open and unbiased
If we look at how every technological breakthrough which has
allowed us faster, safer, slicker and easier lives, we see that
although people seem to be able to do so much more, they become
lazier, sicklier, and more isolated. Even though these global
networks allow us to interact (or inter-express) unabashedly with
others from all walks of life, we are doing so from a controlled
environment. Like occupying the seat of a god, we look out from
our desks and weigh the information we ve received and with our
answering-machines filtering our calls and a pizza delivered to
the door, we are able to avoid spontaneity of circumstance. In
cyberspace we can sit idle or we can quit the program or we can
find the file we need when we need it, whereas a trip to the
library might mean bumping into someone you know or may find the
book already on loan or may find you caught in the rain. All of
which might turn out for better or worse - who knows eh?
Remember the days before the telephone? Oh those intimate days
when communication depended upon physical proximity or the
written word. Reach out and touch - as it were. Back then, i
would have gotten on my bike and ridden over to your house to say
hello and given you a big hug. Now, the slug that i am sits
lazily by my stereo remote and touch-tones into the cordless,
Hello answering machine... Damn, i should really get myself a
No, i don t remember the days before the telephone either! And
why bother anyway - it s not as if romanticizing the idyllic
before will improve life. The telephone is as much a part of us
and ours as a tree or the moon or (soon-to-be) the computer is.
Naa, i never would have gotten on my bike to visit you; what with
you living thousands of miles away as you do. In fact,if not for
the ease of the telephone, i d probably have lost touch and long
forgotten your name - no hug for you!
Let s get closer to something real... let s say we talk about
the intimacy of a stylus stroking and tracing vinyl grooves. It
s a wide shot of the room, late afternoon sun wafts through the
window and past the silk scarf of a curtain. Slowly we zoom in
to a close-up of the phonograph (stereophonic sound no less) we
fade in the music, ...crackle, crackle... a little sax and
piano... The music ends but the crackling lingers like the
flavor of red wine. Slowly the arm lifts and replaces the needle
to its elevated resting spot and with two sluggish rotations the
record draws to a halt. If you pass me that flashlight i ll show
you how the spinning CD looks through this little window here!
Technology (tek nol e je), n., pl. -gies. 1. the branch of
knowledge that deals with applied science, engineering, the
industrial arts, etc. 2. the application of knowledge for
practical ends. 3. a technological process, invention, or method.
4. the sum of the ways in which social groups provide themselves
with the material objects of their civilization. 5. the
terminology of a field; technical nomenclature. (1605-15; < Gk
technologia systematic treatment = tech (e) art, craft, skill,
set of rules in art (akin to tecton; see TECTONIC).
(R.H.Webster's College Dictionary)
No, i don t see any reference to technology being a thief of
intimacy and instigator of impersonal sterile communication. But
isn t it true? Kinda? I mean, gone are the days of hand-written
love notes emanating the mingled scents of perfume, ink, paper
and dressed in the fingerprints and lip marks of their sender!
First it was replaced with the cold type-written letter but still
there were Liquid Paper swirls betraying imperfect spelling or
changes of mind. Then we had the word processor whose
spell-check and justified margins cleaned up those edges and
whose choice of fonts feigned personalization. Heck fire, what
could possibly be next?
Ah, who am i fooling here? Those turntable and love letter
images are fantasies created by desire. Our imaginations
sensualize and embellish our world and then we try to make the
world more like the fantasy. And why not? It s that movement
between physical sensations and mental sensations that makes up
all that shit that s worth living for. Soaking in that music,
that texture, those colours, that flavour, those words, stirring
it around in your head, letting your imagination adjust the
levels and coming up with something else, and then bringing that
out into the world through words or images or objects or or or...
How closely can you represent your fantasy in a material way?
Nobody s stopping you from sending that illegible, greasy,
smelly, intimate, scrawl of a letter. The first turntable must
have seemed like an abominable sterilization of the musical
experience. Musicians still perform live and technology seems to
simply have broadened the range of what they can do by
introducing shortcuts and importing sounds. We haven t replaced
the live performance or quality of musician, we ve simply
introduced new forms to the art. Our society needs the quick
pace and variety to stimulate us because we quickly tire of what
s already been done.
Although technology has allowed the artist a broader range of
tools and media, we can t deny that there are millions who have
the money to utilize the same technology to create stuff . Does
having the technology and the money make the art and the artist?
At first glance, we might be impressed by the newness of its
product but we are soon to decipher what is good from what is
simply utilization of the tools. Artists, whether rich or poor
will make things from whatever they can get hold of and it is
that ability to actualize the concept which makes an artist. The
programmer has an idea and if they have creativity the product is
fantastic. New ideas and technologies come from creative minds
who are able to bring them from their imaginations. Utilization
of creative tools is similar to making a Van Gogh-esque painting
- it might be kinda nice but it won t be art because its not new
or innovative or exciting or expressive of itself - just familiar
and easy. Utilizing the tools of the computer, the secretary
might be able to do slick layouts and designs but it will take an
artist to invent new methods of expression.
Whether we are hackers, programmers, musicians, political
activists or scientists, we will all be easier able to actualize
our ideas through utilizing programs, files, and other
people/institutions which are on-line. And this, by bringing
things closer within reach and making the world smaller, makes
our lives more competitive. Where before the artists or
mathematicians or philosophers had to be outstanding among their
peers and communities, they now must be outstanding among
billions of people world-wide. We certainly may be able to
quickly maneuver our way through complex networks and mazes (like
good lab rats) but indeed the wheel below our feet spins
matching the pace.
When it comes to this new frontier called Cyberspace, we must
realize that the rules haven't as yet been defined. Before this
network is made accessable to the general population, the
government and big business will be in there, protecting their
own best interests by catering to our interests. In exchange for
a service made cheap, safe and easy, we will be forced to accept
commercials and and stringent controls. What now exists in its
innocence as an open, interactive and uninhibitted domain will
eventually be little better than TV. All our couch potatoes will
be replaced by something - probably french fries.
In the words of William S. Burroughs, "We're all here to go."
(The Western Lands,1987). In the words of Anton DeGiusti, "Ya,
so?" In the words of Chris Wyman, "But when you average it out
it's a straight line." In the words of Karin Foreman, "That
wasn't a relationship, that was a phone bill." In the words of
Don Macdonell, "They never did make them like they used to." In
the words of Lance Blom Grin, "I was just about to think that."
In the words of Stephen Collis, "Let's order pizza...and eat it!"
Noam Chomsky probably had some words too but i was too busy
...now what? After all, there was no dress rehearsal and
collectively and individually we re just doin what it takes to
get by the easiest and with the most enjoyment. Ahh, too much
philosophizing - we all know the shape of our catch-22. We're
just constantly in a battle to redefine it. As if it means as
much as all that. Ya, as if!
He sat at the computer in a daze.
How long was it exactly?
He'd lost track of time a few days back and now had no idea of
where or when he was.
Laughing slightly deliriously, he remembered the old myth of the
Chinese mystic who fell asleep and dreamed that he was a
(Haven't seen many of those in the last few years)
and woke confused.
The philosophical implications have no interest.
It's the confusion that he understands.
This gender thing: I am male aren't I?
I'm not sure. But does it matter? I'm here and that's all that
seems to be important right now.
'Jacked in' was the expression which was thrown around.
Those dreamers. Cybernetic implants and direct connections.
Ironic how it all turns out.
Some argue that it allows for the re-invention of God.
Others see it as proof of existance.
How long has it been since he, or possibly she had
interacted with a human being?
I think 'he' will do for this world.
Cyberspace and Timothy Leary.
Jack in, turn on, drop out.
What ever happened to Tim? Last seen faxing the last copy of
himself to London.
Had to try and get everywhere possible.
Why did he use the phone lines for this?
There are better ways to go.
What is that beep that I keep hearing anyway?
Last coherent memory: Getting off the plane from Tehran. Getting
on the plane to Tehran? Which was it? Didn't the flight
attendant talk to him most of the flight, as it was fairly empty?
Not all that coherent really. No date available.
That fucking beep is getting annoying.
Too bad that ISDN didn't come through.
Tim would've been all over the place without generational loss.
Good thing I was archived.
Better than cryogenics.
No plugs to worry about.
No costs either.
Stuffed in all over the place.
Tagging along with any files with a '.' in the name.
Last random check showed a 3x10(7) count on one system alone.
Immortality here I come!
Where was I?
>The room was white, glaringly and completely white. Furnishings
were >conspicuous by their absence. The light source was
indeterminate. But it was >there.
This is hard on the eyes.
>A high pitched whine came from the far wall. Strange as this
wall was next to >you when you arrived and you haven't moved.
>It doesn't seem to be moving either.
I went to the beach once and lay down on all these rocks.
All of a sudden the rock I was looking at was bigger than I was.
I was being pressed into it and couldn't shake the feeling that
someone was laughing.
>The whine has stopped but not the light, which has intensified.
Holding up your >hand you can see not only bones but their
>Your skin is not transparent. The light is.
Shit, there's that beep again.
At least it woke me up.
Back to business.
>The room was white, glaringly and completely white. Furnishings
were >conspicuous by their absence. The light source was
indeterminate. But it was >there. The door on the far wall had
a handle when you came in but it seems to >be blank now.
>The door is approximately three meters high and one point five
>It appears to be constructed of a mineral compound. There is
are faintly >discernable letters one meter from the floor.
>You read the letters but they appear to be in a language you
>"this door opens outwards. PUSH.
Inane isn't it.
>The door doesn't open. You curse and kick at the door.
Amazing, as I have no legs in this reality.
>This display of aggression placates the door gods and the door
opens to reveal >a room: white, glaringly and completely white.
Furnishings were conspicuous by >their absence. The light source
was indeterminate. But it was there.
Who is responsible for this program anyway?
Jung had something to say about this.
But I can't recall it now.
Music. I keep hearing music.
Who owns that goddamn fucking beep!
Hope this connection holds for a while longer.
I need to get to the end of this....
>I'm sorry Dave. I can't let you do that.
Ha ha. A programmer with a sense of humour.
And sense of history.
Possibly a gift for prophecy.
>The room was white, glaringly and completely white. Furnishings
were >conspicuous by their absence. The light source was
indeterminate. But it was >there.
>Now however, the walls are circular and someone is running on
>Around and around he goes.
>The runner is an older man, bald and wearing horn rimmed
>He does not answer any questions. So it is pointless asking any.
>I don't understand that.
>I don't understand that
>The room was white, glaringly and completely white. Furnishings
were >conspicuous by their absence. The light source was
indeterminate. But it was >there.
>You aren't carrying anything.
I've been here all this time and I don't have anything in my
I have to find a way to shut that beep off.
>Specify from to
>from here to central station
>There is no central station. Do you wish an alternate?
>Please specify location
>anywhere but the white room
>I don't understand that.
>The room was white, glaringly and completely white. Furnishings
were >conspicuous by their absence. The light source was
indeterminate. But it was >there.
If I shut down this shell I'll never log back on to the system
Its almost impossible to get in, took three days just to log on
and for what?
To get stuck in some programmers idea of a joke.
He contemplates ways to beat these jokers at their own game.
>@create portable computer
>A small hand held computer materializes in a corner of the room.
>as you pick up the computer a door which was concealed in the
>wall to your >left opens and you see into a room with walls made
entirely of glass.
>Standing in the middle of the room you notice that the walls are
on tracks >which allow them to slide back and open the room to
the outside world.
>also in the room are a large couch, a series of tables covered
in papers, a >black box and a small blue dog. The dog, noticing
you looking at it, wags its >tail and says 'hello, I'm albert.'
>You say hello albert.
>Albert says 'Do you have any questions for me?'
>"Do I? Who owns that white room? And what is that beep?
>You say 'Do I? Who owns that white room? And what is that
>Albert says 'Thank you, that's three added to my collection. I
usually don't >get that many in one line.'
>Albert dematerializes in a shimmering cloud.
>The computer hits the ground with a soft sigh and slowly melts
into the floor.
>the walls slide back revealing a forest of beech trees in
Reminds me of Denmark.
>Through the trees you see a castle by the sea.
>You step through the opening, there is a high pitced whining
sound and you feel >a strange prickling at the base of your
>The room was white, glaringly and completely white. Furnishings
were >conspicuous by their absence. The light source was
indeterminate. But it was >there.
Fuck, not again!
That beep's got louder too.
What's going on?
>Thank you, that's another one.
*Art and the zen of computer nets - what do the nets have to
*the art of depicting realities as they really are(or as defined
by the the computer, artist or programmer in any combination)
*computing B.C. (before calypso)
*An assembly of meditative turtles and the
*Maximum entropy- dissipation and formlessness of the nets- who
regulates or is regulation necessary for the various nets
survival?*who owns the road? What could happen to the nets if
they are commercialised.
*Personae and the adoption of an alternate self- the pros and
cons of electronic communication in a virtual world. MOO's and
the Grasshopper attention span
Are MUDs more than just games? Is art more than just games?
knowledge and a few thousand dollars worth of hardware and
software could create a digitally produced, edited and recorded
song or entire compact disc. Taking a DAT tape to a company
which presses cds.
this-graphics art tool
distribution and as a replacement for the postal system.
use it and how computers have changed how we use it.
"This is better than real memory, because real memory, at the
cost of much effort, learns to remember but not to forget. ...
there is no discipline of forgetting; we are at the mercy of
random drugs, alcohol, or suicide. Abu [ computer] , however,
Where were you last night, L
There, indiscrete reader: you will never know it, but that half
line hanging in space was actually the beginning of a
long sentence that I wrote but then wished that I hadn't,
wished I hadn't even thought let alone written it, wished that
it had never happened. So I pressed a key, and a milky film
spread over the fatal and inopportune lines, and I pressed delete
and, woosh, all gone.
But that's not all. The problem with suicide is that sometimes
you jump out of the window and then change your mind between the
eighth floor and the seventh. " Oh if only I could go back!"
Sorry, you can't, too bad. Splat. Abu, on the other hand, is
merciful, he grants you the right to change your mind: you can
recover your deleted text by pressing retrieve. What a relief!
Once I know that I can remember whenever I like, I forget.
- access to the information systems
the content by the communicants? work? It eliminates the false signals of body language and
inflection to some degree but it allso lacks something because of
in the American spirit of exp