Saturday, October 18, 2008

Keynote Address: Stephen Graham

Stephen Graham "Ambient Intelligence and the Politics of Urban Space"

Dana Cuff "Enacted Environments" - Representation of future urban space as augmented, city lives through bombardment of information interactions.

The modern city exists as a haze of software instructions" Ash Amin & Nigel Thrift

Four ways of thinking about the new ambient intelligence:
  • There's not a real/virtual binary, but rather a process of urban 'remediation.' (think Bolter and Grusin)
  • Cities are 'fluid machines' which combine distant proximity with 'proximate distance.' Think experiencing the distancing in a 'local' context.
  • Systems are most important when they are less visible and most important. They become the ordinary world of the city. They are visible when they fail (Susan Leigh-Star). These systems are built in modular components
  • The Automatic production of space produces a new urban-technological politics.

Friction-Free Capitalism - individually customized, surveillance is customized, real time. Perfect flow complete efficiency and annihilation of space through time.

RFIDS - smooth flow, just in time management, ubiquitous tracking. You can get it even when you think you don't need it.

Software Sorted Mobilities - makes possible the movement of old infrastructures into new markets (paying more for more efficient mobility on highways etc. paying for premium services in everyday processes) Filtering by the profiles in databases, Internet packets, biometric passports. Malls sensing particular individuals, store sent txts with discounts. Hyper filtering of the wanted and distancing from the unwanted.
Korea Digital Media City on the edge of Seoul

Securitization and Militarization of urban space. Technologies of risk management and means of prosecuting warfare are about targeting mobiles bodies and transactions that are threatening (Louise Amoore). Are we moving toward passage-point urbanism? The city as the threat, because this is where the security threats lurk. Everything must be justified in advance of its presence in the city within passage-point urbanism. Think of cyberwarfare "battlespace" - everywhere is a battlefield in the new militarism. It is ongoing, not a war you go in and out of. Artist Jordan Crandall: a militarization through 'Armed Vision': "tracking is an anticipatory form of seeing." One way collapse, the security anticipates before you arrive. Every time you fly out of the UK there are 53 variables that go into play deciding whether or not you are a threat.

Surveillence Creep: Embedded system become securitized. Means of management to a means of security. The city can be seen as clutter of concealment by the military. Enemy leaders look like everyone else, enemy vehicles look like civilian vehicles, etc. Need for close-in terrestial means of tracking - continual development and early deployment. Dreams of transparency, boomerang effect described by Foucault (the warzone connects to the domestic techniques of government). Biometrics replace id cards, etc.

Penetrating the clutter of the city (Paul Virilio): heads up display with overlays to get through and understand. DOD with a single uninterruptible database with biometric information: Fusion Centers. Cyberpunk visions are influencing military research. Automated targeting that happens through 'normal' and 'abnormal' - military utilizes geo-cultural norms to determine if something is not right. Algorithms with agency will find targets that need attention: figure out what normal behaviors what are not - politics of code become important as who will make those decisions? CCTV does this, analyzing the activities of people in crowds and gives enforcers the ability to respond immediately. Unmanned vehicles and weapons can target specific "threats."

Art and Activism: Re-enchanting, re-animating, re-politizing the city? These artists challenge the sanitized and transparent corporate and commercial spaces and militarized and securitized spaces. They re-appropriate the technology and use it to address aliented experiences, outing authorial empowerment. Remediate cities in a highly democratic way: Murmur project Kensington Toronto, stories linked to sites. Grafedia project allows people to write on objects of the city through cellphones. Yellow Arrow Guerrilla Mapping projects, allows people to tag and annotate the city through stickers and a web interface. RFID tag artists: Paul Roush (scroll down for interview) utilizes them in public transport to create sound environments. David Kousemaker iTea, RFID tags created searches depending on the person they were for on a table-based interface. Meghan Trainor puts them in uncatorgizable objects (she's made them).

Animating the Past: Digital Collective Memory. As moving around the city you can bring up archived information, an interface to collective memory that is contributed to by participants.
Animating the present: annotating the current place, personalized maps. Mapping emotion responses (Christian Nold's Greenwich emotion map - arousal surfaces.
Opening the City as Gamespace: Asphalt Games. Allow games to move out of cyberspace and into the city (flashmobs, etc.).

Counter-Geopolitics: You Are Not Here Counter geo-political project. In Manhattan you can be given parallel information about Baghdad. Paula Levine, Shadows from another Place: leave artifacts, similar to YANH.

Appropriate of military technologies. Counter Reconnaissance create a counter consciousness - sousveillence. Removes tech from an imperial structure.

There are three logics that are struggling to become fixed into infrastructure. Now is a moment of experimentation and the politics are relatively open. Graham worries that these opportunities will not last long as sentient intelligences become the city. We must look at how far off distances are become immediate spatio-temporailties. How are technophilic dreams enacted and mobilized. We must expose how new technological politics can be visible rather than hidden. How can we open up the politics of code? We must prevent dominance and normalization of militarized and consumerized logics based on software-sorting, targeting, militarization and neoliberalization.

Stephen Graham

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