MFA Computational Art Blog Week 5

For this week our task was not to listen and engage with a lecture but instead engage with each other. For it was group project selection week. Dun Dunnn DUNNNN. Halloween has just after all.

The group I have aligned myself with are a lively bunch concerned with fictions and fantasy, hyperreality, simulacra, ecology and possible futures. Most of these possible futures do seem to revolve around capitalist distopias and the darkly comic scenarios that occur at the commercialisation of state violence.

My artistic vision for our group artefact is more pensive than comic. I would like to formulate some manner of walking simulator. This would be an environment built within a video game engine, that the viewer would be able to move about and explore. Exploration of this kind would be similar to the genre favourite: Myst. This form of quiet observation and subtle viewer direction has been part of my work in the past, and with new skills and ideas to explore, could I think be a fruitful avenue.

A starting text for me in this pursuit was Collecting Elements of a Minor Future commoning in Alphabet City by Soenke Zehle, 2017. The article takes a gander through possible future scenarios and textures of a cultural nature, addressing a commoning of our social lives as we are whittled into complete users by a technical infrastructure and the rules it is forced to obey.

Two parts of the text that I felt a strong interest in were the paragraphs on “seamful Interfaces” and “Parametric Politics”. The former talks about a growth in the rejection of seamless interfaces that necessarily exclude those whom cannot engage with them, through disability or otherwise. These seamful interfaces are unafraid to show the work involved in their production, both of the interface itself and the outcome from interaction. They are methods of engagement that show their uniqueness in tone rather than hiding in the background of a common experience as is the trend for technological innovations, e.g. smartphone operating systems being barely superficially distinct (though still illiciting brand loyalty and aversion to change).

Parametric politics encompasses the idea that political discourse needs to be editable from the ground up and not rigidly fixed into a structure that may otherwise lead to a lack of response to rapidly changing environmental and labour/social conditions.

An interesting (to me) point is raised about the idea of a common city and the need for/interest in the Flâneur; being those who would walk through the city and engage in its commons as hybrid spaces. We cannot escape, nor would we want to escape our digital selves, and so the act of strolling through the smart city is to “[announce] the possibility of ashared story even without a full sense of its plots and protagonists, of its storytelling architecture.” It is part of our ambient commoning to be captured by the ambient media in our environment, completely and utterly absorbed by the companies that seek to dominate and monetise social discourse. And as such it is our duty to claim that environment as the space of our own and revel in its chances that are not at the whim of a computer.

Did Gertrude Stein Ever look so good?

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