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An artist who forces to thinking
According to Ryszard W. Kluszczyński new media are key factors which reformat current culture and determine prospects of development of contemporary art1. Their also bring up to subjects such as for example institutional critique, the interactions of daily life, censorship, issues of globalization and identity. Starting with the artistic program initiated by Joseph Kosuth in 1974 Artist as an anthropologist just such an approach – an artist-anthropologist – seems to be one of the most important strategies of art. The man who has never belonged to fanatics of new technologies but who became one of the most fascinating artists in this area is actually David Rokeby. This amazing author is an artist who has been making works of electronic, video and installation art since 1982. But in my opinion the most interesting tendencies in his creativity are those which focused on interface and surveillance. Rokeby pays attention to manipulation issues. He claims that interactive media are just as ideological as those traditional ones – ‘interactive systems also give a specific message: broadcast processes, patterns of behavior, perception, and being’2. I find these processes very important, which we too often forgot about during carefree surfing on the web. People think internet guarantees them practically unlimited access to information, not just to those selected by the sender. Rokeby uses the metaphor of a mirror, or actually transforming mirror, which I think is very accurate. Artist describes interface as designer’s idea about us - spurious, imaginary picture of a perfect consumer. The metaphor of the transforming mirror aptly highlights the fact that we most often do not realize the transformation of the interface therefore this distorted image can affect our own self image. Spending more time in the midst of our own simulations – Rokeby concludes – we are in danger of losing
Ryszard W. Kluszczyński, Sztuka nowych mediów i jej konteksty kulturowe, [w:] Zeszyty artystyczne, Akademia Sztuk Pięknych w Poznaniu, nr 17, czerwiec 2008, s. 11. 2 I quote from: Maciej Ożóg, Patrząc przez (na) technologię. Monitoring jako narzędzie analizy technologicznych uwarunkowań percepcji w pracach Dawida Rokeby’ego, [w:] Zeszyty artystyczne, Akademia Sztuk Pięknych w Poznaniu, nr 17, czerwiec 2008, s. 17.
2 . p. Patrząc przez (na) technologię. 1981. therefore. who also did not denounce the simulacra. 118-127 (nterpretation of Jean Baudrillard: virtual reality as a symptom and promoter of culture process simulacrationi). p. Rokeby’s art not only assumes such participation but also encourages the recipient to deep reflection. june 2008. Not realizing this fact. which is de facto no longer look at the images. as for example. not on an individual. but do not destroy them because they fear the emptiness behind them and iconolaters. Identity lies with the network. operating systems – It can be reproduced indefinitely. According to the French thinker people are divided on the two groups: iconoclasts who do not trust the simulated images. that traditional painting or sculpture. outlines the most important difference – Rokeby believes that people remain unaware of delusion interface (simulation) and it is the task of art to create conditions enabling the viewers to see themselves in relation to the world and the technology. new media art is not simply given to us. s. Deformation included in the metaphor of transforming mirror can be both intentional and provocative. Bogucki Wydawnictwo Naukowe. It seems that they both – Rokeby and Baudrillard – come to similar conclusions: the marks are no longer referring us back to reality. 19. we agree to a significant narrowing of our experience of the world3. [w:] Zeszyty artystyczne. On this occasion he refers to two Greek myths in his view showing the differences between commercial and artistic use of interactive media5. Here. nr 17. I think it’s a great comparison. Akademia Sztuk Pięknych w Poznaniu. He claims that users of the computers are tactiles. This leads me to associate with French philosopher Jean Baudrillard and his work Simulacres et simulation. but worship them. He argues that the artistic use of technology is not burdened with the requirements of the market and could lead to unexpected results. active contribution in the process of becoming piece of art. Poznań: 2007. And even if he makes the 3 4 Ibid. but adhere to them 4. In my opinion the biggest advantage is the viewer’s participation. contrary to commonly accepted stereotypes and behavioral schemes. The reality is produced by the sensors and memory modules. Narcissus in love and at the same time locked in his own reflection is contrasted with the nymph Echo who repeating someone's words is always transforming them. 5 Maciej Ożóg. Monitoring jako narzędzie analizy technologicznych uwarunkowań percepcji w pracach Dawida Rokeby’ego. Rzeczywistość wirtualna jako "ponowne zaczarowanie świata" Pytanie o status poznawczy koncepcji.ours recognition of the fact that the related models and our perceptions of the reality take the form of drastically simplified representation. Magdalena Kamieńska. 18. Finally. That makes her the patron of interactive art.
As a result our society has turned into Debord’s society of the spectacle. We live in culture of an image. modern technologies also enabled following us by the digital footsteps. Panopticon. According to Peter Weibel mission of the author in this craziness of an image and surveillance is to indicate existence of invisible cracks in that what is widely 6 7 Ibid. such as using credit cards or IP address. 21.wikipedia. Reality becomes so mediated that actually dissolves into simulacric images.2011] 3 . Maciej Ożóg in his article devoted entirely to this Canadian artist claims that observational technologies can be regarded as one of the key factors influencing the development of electronic media arts – ‘The principle of observation. Finally we desire the world as a picture. p. Tv programs like reality shows. as is well known. We are surrounded by an infinite number of cameras and other recording devices. Rokeby therefore forms part of the discourse related to issues of surveillance. Due to the discussed topics by the artist – so close to contemporary man – the audience can not remain indifferent. medias tabloidisation – to peep and to be peeped is one of the most desirable value in global society of observation. Talking about topics related to the observation we cannot forget about the father of this discourse – Jeremy Bentham and his idea of panopticon (later continued by Michel Foucault). Moreover. Discourse of the guilt and the punishment taken from idea of panopticon recently has been replaced by ecstatic apotheosis of universal visibility. Today observation seems to be virtually omnipresent. where tele-vision is replaced by telesurveillance. in Heidegger’s Weltbild – Wolrdimage.19. I believe is a great asset – rising wellknown issues in an unknown light. Television and the internet are no longer just windows on the world. response and feedback has became the basis for interactive art 6.org/wiki/Panopticon [access of 02. they have become THIS world. social networking sites (Facebook!). he leaves them creating a meaning.viewers immobilized. is very specific type of a prison – ‘the concept of the design is to allow an observer to observe (-opticon) all (pan-) prisoners without the incarcerated being able to tell whether they are being watched’7. control. http://en. Somehow he forced to rethink the seemingly obvious things which are so rooted in reality that appear to be obvious. voyeurism and exhibitionism. This is what exactly happens to another important subject raised by Rokeby – monitoring.
but also subjects of. ZKM. What significant in all installations except ‘Watched’ is that the viewers are deprived of influence on the resulting images. He concentrates not on pure situation of recording but what happens later to the recorded materials. who and why has access to them. op. A computer searches through this live video feed for the presence of the kinds of things that artist designed it to be interested in. ‘Taken’ (2002) and ‘Sorting Daemon’ (2003)9 Rokeby emphasizes the manipulative procedures. The task of the artist lies in the undermining and exposing the obvious stereotypes.com/davidrokeby/wm.2011] 4 . 26. As the artist says himself – ‘The work presents a series of people looking and being looked at. which David Rokeby invariably makes in his work. His artworks can be regarded as the transforming mirrors in which creative nature of media (which should be. neutral) is disclosed.cit. watching and being measured.considered as totally visible – ‘artists do not act as agents of total control who wish to eliminate the last vestiges of the invisible. Also the fact that Rokeby uses almost always transmission mechanism in real-time. The resulting altered images are presented by three large video projections. Thus it can be seen that the creator at this stage of his creativity radically departs from the assumptions of interactivity. MIT Press. I quote from Maciej Ożóg. ‘Guardian Angel’ (2001). Londyn 2002. which is considered as most reliable and free from manipulation points that artist wants to get out the audience from mindless lethargy uncritical confidence in such methods of presenting reality. Rhetorics of Surveillancefrom Betham to Big Brother. [in:] CTRL [SPACE]. The immobilization of the spectator is a manifesto of skeptical attitude towards the possibility to change the status quo.mac.html [access of 02. the system's activities10.19. The images from these cameras are digitally processed in real-time by software which Rokeby wrote specifically for this project. For example second mentioned artwork – ‘Watched and Measured’ is a system that observes tracks and catalogues people walking through the Welcome Wing at the Science Museum in London. which images are subjected. Massachusetts. ‘Seen’ (2002). 217. The main issues in his projects are the analysis and interpretation. In his many works. 10 http://homepage. such as ‘Watch’ (1995). op cit. but never are. We do not go back 8 Peter Werbel. 9 Selection is taken from Maciej Ożóg’s article – Maciej Ożóg. Cambridge. ‘Watched and Measured’ (2000). p. p. their work should be more analytical and focused on identifying that the kingdom of visibility is not unlimited and that there are indelible borders’8. The audience's feelings may alternate between sympathy and suspicion as they realize that they are not only witnesses to. Pleasure and the Panoptic Principle.
Surveillance clearly constitutes some sort of invasion of privacy.html [access of 02. Surveillance has became a substitute for the real concrete relationships (eg.19. 5 . Even worse – being watched and spied has become our aim which we desire. Rokeby believes that monitoring has become a mechanism for emphasizing our individual identity. but rather between consumers’ desire for greater privacy and their desire for many benefits that flow from readily available-personal information’12. On the other hand.mac. the seller . Rokeby highlights the easiness with which we submit to the charm of the images and also raises a question of conscious and critical references to this process. Moreover. This is what I really appreciate in artworks of Rokeby – he emphasizes our. The Internet is a boon.the client) which is mediated through a network of contacts – illusion of individuation is to give us unanonymity – we have our own private account. Our main knowledge about the world primarily is mediated – for so many TV is sacred. responsibility to agreement to being surveillanced. It makes that we agree with the constant invigilation. We often forget about the element of creation. an escape from technology is impossible. He says ‘Surveillance is a very tricky issue. Friendships are being replaced by connections on facebook. we can download free software. This situation leads us to substitute the reality of its imitations. despite the apparent passivity. an unique nickname and password – the key to virtual life. Even if it is not visible. it remains aware of the observations (eg in a shop or 11 12 http://homepage. Cookies are convenient – thanks to them we can be recognized at a web-side we used before.com/davidrokeby/angel. Artist gives example of cookies which issue he raised in installation ‘Guard Angel’.2011] Ibid. in my opinion the average viewer has forgotten how great impact on human behavior has the mere presence of cameras. many people are comforted by the thought that there is someone watching over them on city streets at night’11. We give our personal information without thinking about what happens to them next. doing shopping etc.after all the changes. Direct Marketing Association aptly summed it up – ‘The real tension in the current privacy debate isn’t between consumers and businesses. but apart from the many advantages makes easier access to our privacy and makes us more vulnerable to spying. and what it shows is not subject to discussion (Stuart Hall called this ‘dominant reading’ – when recipient accept entirely dominant ideology and subjectivity which it produced).
It’s good to be aware of this. Baker Chris. The viewer becomes an absorbent sponge. It might be worth to sometimes give up amenities. maybe we could sometimes consider that the internet is not neutral – it’s all designed for a specific purpose and have a certain effect on us. Wydawnictwo UJ. Kraków 2005. especially when using them becomes more and more natural form of contact with the world. 6 .nightclub). David Rokeby also indicates how difficult it is to break out from the sweet captivity and take a critical reflection on the nature of the media. And thanks to the work of Rokeby dedicated to interface. using my experiences creating interactive systems and watching people engage with them’13. if in return we receive a guarantee of privacy. And just thanks to this remarkable artist’s imagination and its disturbing facilities maybe we will think twice before next time we fill in a web-form that asks for our personal data. That is why I think TV will never show us the truth. he added ‘I'd say that I am just exercising my imagination. Similarly. which distorts the behavior of observed. BIBLIOGRAPHY: 1. Trying to initiate critical discourse on the role of media in shaping such a universal as well as individual perceptions of reality and the construction of its representation. But for the moment. 13 Ibid. Teoria i praktyka.). It would appear that sometimes the artist brings the issue of oversight to the extreme. Agata Sadra (przekł. information programs which should be neutral are composed in such a way which spontaneously imposes reception. He by himself seems to be aware of the allegations – ‘Am I stepping across the line into paranoia here? I don't know how to judge this’. Studia kulturowe.
Ożóg Maciej.org/wiki/Panopticon 2. Londyn 2002. 6. spektaklu. nr 17.). Rzeczywistość wirtualna zaczarowanie świata" Pytanie o status poznawczy koncepcji.html 7 . Symulakry i symulacja. NETOGRAPHFY: 1.). Poznań: 2007. Massachusetts.com/davidrokeby/angel. Społeczeństwo Anna Ptaszkowska jako Słowo/obraz Terytoria. Ryszard. Bogucki Wydawnictwo Naukowe.com/davidrokeby/wm.mac. 5. Pleasure and the Panoptic Principle.cit. Guy.2. ZKM. (przekł. "ponowne Wydawnictwo Sic!.wikipedia. MIT Press. http://homepage. Baudrillard 3. Rhetorics of Surveillancefrom Betham to Big Brother. Warszawa 2005. Kluszczyński W. 7. http://homepage. Kamieńska Małgorzata.mac. Werbel Peter. 4. Debord Jean. Cambridge. Sztuka nowych mediów i jej konteksty kulturowe. [in:] CTRL [SPACE]. Sławomir Królak (przekł. czerwiec 2008. Zeszyty literackie. Monitoring jako narzędzie analiy technologicznych uwarunkowań percepcji w pracach Dawida Rokeby’ego. Patrząc przez (na) technologię. op. http://en. Gdańsk 2008.html 3. Zeszyty Artystyczne. Akademia Sztuk Pięknych w Poznaniu.
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