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Checkpoints Lab

Work, Musings, Writings and Projects from FLEFF's Checkpoints Lab 2011

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Posted by Nicholas Knouf at 4:39PM   |  11 comments

This week's student summary comes from Julian Weisner.

Since the assimilation of computers and machines into daily human life there have been questions about the benefits of these “advancements” Recently more than ever as a culture filled with technology I have seen and heard of many downsides to these “advancements”. Just as we have gained new materials and media for communication, art, and interaction; we have lost touch with who we were and how we used to communicate, depict ourselves, and interact. Hakim Bey discusses this idea in art and play, and portrays this quite vividly by pointing out our losses: “We miss the directness of play (our original kick in doing art in the first place); we miss smell, taste, touch, the feel of bodies in motion”.

There are mixed interpretations for why we seem to be growing more and more distant from what we were. There are fingers pointed at capitalism and greed, machines and computers augment production and accomplish tasks faster, and time, is, money, or as Anthony Dunne depicts, large corporations develop these technological instruments to coddle us [as in the masses(sheep)] into select roles, rooting out ingenuity and creativity and laying it all in the hands of top engineers and scientists in corporations who appease to the lack of human initiative, which allows us to let this easier way of life to envelope us.

Either way human life has forever changed due to our technology. We kill to keep up with it, quite literally. In central Africa there is an abundant amount of Coltan. An element necessary for cell phones, computers, and video games ... William Shaw depicts the conflict that has ensued as such:

The Congo has the world’s largest coltan reserves. These have been systematically fought over by the new kleptocrats, the warlords, and exported clandestinely via neighbouring countries, Uganda, Burundi and Rwanda. The boom in mobile phone sales coincided precisely with the eruption of what has been the world’s bloodiest conflict since WW2. Around 4 million have died so far in the violence and its aftermath. Disease and ongoing violence means that Congolese are still dying at a rate of 45,000 a month.

He even links the conflict to its true source…technology.

Hakim Bey writes about a new way of battling the invasion of technology into what should be purely human. Like creativity, interaction…life. He notes on the creation of Imediatism. A form of art or activity in which the product cannot be sold, and the action cannot be taken back. The idea is to create more human interaction and ideas, allowing us to root out the corporate and technology that has penetrated every medium of life. It isn’t to get rid of it, just to loose it for a bit and Play.



11 Comments

As society claims to get more advanced there are so many negative effects of our actions that are ignored or covered up for the sake of progress. Corporations continue to expand, technology advance, and prices of everyday goods and services get cheaper but the toll this takes on the individuals on the bottom of Capitalism gets worse and worse. Factory and farm workers in Third World countries are paid minimally or not at all, their standard of living is well below US standards of poverty, and they often have no chance of escape. The natural resources that once were abundant are now diminishing at catastrophic rates. Especially Westernized societies are placing a higher value on materialism than personal relationships. Cities, towns, the environment, and ecosystems are all sacrificed in the battle for 'advancements.' What more is there left to sacrifice?

Recent technology isn't to blame for the homogenization resulting from contemporary "globalization." New media is rapidly evolving and constantly shifting, and it is only one of the new technologies used by imperial colonialists to subjugate international communities. Criticism of new technology is detrimental if we wish to keep "westernization" from destroying "deviants" in areas rejecting eurocentric histories.

Nicholas has captured quite succinctly the exact predicament we find ourselves in due to technology. Having recently acquired a SmartPhone, I find that my life is now (sadly) dictated by my emails, texts, calls, and BBM's. I promised myself that I would never become the sort of person who is addicted to their cell phone, laptop, or the internet; it seems as though all 3 have invaded my life.

You are quite right to remark that humans' communication with each other has drastically changed since the advent of these new types of technology. It is rare now that people answer a call on their landline telephones, receive a handwritten letter from a friend in the mail, or answer the door to an unexpected visit from a friend.

Technology has admittedly made it much easier for communication to happen between people, but not the type of communication we have been used to in the past. Long distance relationships are sustained through Skype, Facebook chat allows friends who haven't seen each other in years reconnect, and e-mails create a much easier way for people in the workplace to connect regarding work and even family obligations.

When examining all of the benefits technology has provided us it is also important to assess the ways in which it has rendered us inattentive, inarticulate, and disconnected in terms of the ways we communicate.

As much as I appreciated Hakim Bey's thoughts on how we miss smell, taste, touch, and the feel of bodies in motion and how advancements in technology have limited our cultural and social advancements, I can't help but also be skeptical. Yes--technology has made us, especially my generation, scatterbrained multi-taskers BUT I don't really feel as though it has limited our ability to feel bodies in motion, as technology, I feel, has advanced discourses and subsequently action in our society, especially when it terms of film. Take for example Laura Deutch's project "Messages in Motion." Her project is a flexible platform for producing, disturbing, and sharing short form community-based video postcards. She said that her project isn't muckraking journalism or life-changing news, its more about what someone has to say in the moment and what they think others want to hear. Her project shows that through technology and film, we can connect with each other, learn from other peoples' histories, and motivate a discussion by physically moving around from area to area and listening to various demographics.

The so-called "benefits" of our ever-increasing technology is something that I think about quite often. In an era where Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr accounts are what defines and shapes our identities - digital and real - it becomes necessary to assess the actual importance of all of these bits and pieces of technology. What does the fact that we (as a collective) put forth these digital representations of ourselves implicate for our futures? Is the internet and smart phones truly the way to our future or are we completely losing sight of what is actually important? Will the advances of technology ever truly render actual, physical, real interactions between humans moot? It seems as though technology is affecting humans' abilities to connect with each other in emotional ways as well as articulate what we feel.

It is indeed tragic that we are left struggling to gain technology while causing someone's end on the other side. It can be so difficult to bridge this gap of understanding. New media maybe the only platform that reaches a wide enough audience to impact the situation, and yet new media is also the demon itself. It is difficult to know what is right in our increasingly complex world.

It seems that a platform like new media is the only way to combat such tragedies and reach a large enough audience to effectively change, yet given the very technological nature of new media we are left to decide what is right, and in instances like this, it becomes very grey.

It seems like the only media that would reach such a global audience is that of new media, and therefore new media seems the platform needed to bring about change. It encourages collaboration and action. Yet it is also the demon itself, it is times like this when it is difficult to discern was is right. What does this mean for new media, which cannot be divorced form it's involvement?

Society has been focused on the advancement of technology. This has taken away true forms of art and communication that should remain in our value system. However in our capitalistic society, we yearn for more technology through consumption of consumeristic goods. I'm not saying that the advancement of technology is completly negative because I think that incredible art can come out from it. But like you described the Congo- people are willing to do anything to keep up with technology.

The so-called "benefits" of our ever-increasing technology is something that I think about quite often. In an era where Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr accounts are what defines and shapes our identities - digital and real - it becomes necessary to assess the actual importance of all of these bits and pieces of technology. What does the fact that we (as a collective) put forth these digital representations of ourselves implicate for our futures? Is the internet and smart phones truly the way to our future or are we completely losing sight of what is actually important? Will the advances of technology ever truly render actual, physical, real interactions between humans moot? It seems as though technology has made humans unable to express ourselves to others. It seems as though sharing our emotions and articulating our feelings has become less and less common in face-to-face interactions these days. Perhaps the result of technology on humans has been a loss of connection with our own feelings and the simultaneous ability to express these emotions.

I'm very attracted to this idea of a reclamation of the here and now, a reaffirmation of physicality/sensuality, and an absolute devotion to the value and fragility of the most precious "possession": our lives. If these things are indeed valuable, than it is important for us to seek out new modes of experience, new ways of living in and understanding our world. As such, it may be important for us to examine all of the aspects of our lives that are MEDIAted so as to gain an understanding of the nature of this mediation, our motives for accepting it, and the social, institutional, economic, and political utility of such mediation.

Here's a cool link to Hakim Bey's music made with Bill Laswell:
http://www.chaoshacker.org/bey/audio/04-immediatism.mp3



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