Liminal acts. Using mobile technology as a critical medium.

Maciej Ozog

We live in a hybrid space. This short sentence indicates one of the most important features of postmodern world and society, it also informs of changes in perception and experience. Reality is being described as augmented, virtualized, hybridized, dematerialized, hard world being accompanied by the sphere of electromagnetic waves and digitalized information. New electronic and digital technologies play crucial role in these processes because new forms of reality and existence develop in close relation to principles inscribed into them. However, as we walk the streets of our computerized cities and cross borders of materiality with every use of cell phone or laptop we rarely notice that being connected to the net is at the same time being caught in it. Wearable and mobile technologies liberate us from constrains of space but they make our mobility seen, tracked, measured and controlled as well. Accepting this double-sidedness of mobile technologies is an inevitable condition of using them, still this ideological and ethical cost is difficult to see and very often goes unnoticed.

In the paper I will focus on different forms of artistic practices, which try to disclose or make the hidden dimension of hybrid reality visible. I will also propose critical reading of its influence on both public and private sphere. In this respect I will analyze works that not only use technology in a critical way but also take a form of activistic provocation that destabilizes and deconstructs notion of technology as transparent and neutral. On one hand I will analyze works that make zones of panoptic control recognizable by hacking wireless surveillance systems and questioning strategies of dataveillance (Rokeby, Teran, Lozano-Hemmer), on the other I will focus on critical interpretation of the use of mobile phones and GPS systems (Beloff, project Ashaver220) as technologies in which “freedom and control are one”.

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