The telematic progress revisited. under construction>
In the telematic age, more is less. Less you, less me, less we and oh-so-plenty of progress + oblivion + disembodiment ahead
“In the mid 21st century the communications frontier would be pushed back for good. Now the human element was perceived as static in the data transmission.
My presence was simulated by synthesizing my voice. The less I was there, the more I could be imagined.
I would join the sirens of silence. How could we ever have believed that, in designing the world as a network, we could inhabit that network as a world?
[ Stills + narration From Phantom of The Operator ]
Today in San Francisco, Steve Jobs will once again be addressing another Mac/Apple conference to push along the new agendas of the information industry and our telematic age. Still managing to play the white horse hippy-roots CEO, he’s The Man who’s running a race with or against (?) all those cyclopean machine-makers who would eat your children in a gaping grey goo of datacave products that have no style, no creative flair, and no back door. If, as a whole, the techno revolution still hasn’t distanced itself from its militaristic, corporate and omnicidal twist, Have No Fear, we can be sure Mr. Jobs will at least never founder in keeping shareholders smiling and the technotopian parish dancing to the very end with white wire wedding corsages and other gadgets dangling from their ass… the military entertainment brides.
Since he is expected to announce the second coming of the toaster, we mean the hulahoop, ahem… we mean the iphone, 2nd edition, ( those progressively fine-tuned + interconnected wet dreams of BBI – Big Bro Inc.?? ) we thought it might be an opportune moment to mention that one of the best media ecology films to come out in the last years is Caroline Martel’s Phantom of The Operator, a haunting and poetic retracing of telecommunications and technology trajectories, through the keyhole of its fickle relationship with women labor, and the miraculous 1st century of the telephone, that IT oedipal sister + economic wunderkind.
more to come…
the telematic age (part2)
Spellbound by projections of a technological future, could you have prevented the cold that ensued after the eclipse of my voice? Test pilot and glamorous creature at the forefront of industrial, commercial and computerised societies… Pioneer female worker engineered at the whim of the century’s modes of production. I was always one step ahead of progress until I fell, before you, into its void.
… When exactly did we start seeing all technical advances as signs of human progress? The brighter the projections from the dream-machine, the darker the shadows they cast.”
[ Stills + narration From Phantom of The Operator ]
During the XL terrestrial’s “Lost Left Coast” tour in 2007, we passed through San Diego to perform at University of California’s (UCSD) CRCA department ( Center for Research in Computing and the Arts), somewhat known as the MIT media lab on the Pacific, and we speculate, equally embedded with defense and offense contracts for the increasingly cold and abstract digital front enhanced by market logic that exponentially positions to defy all human warmth and neighborly usefulness.
It was a fairly mixed bag. Fantastic professional crew, an overly equipped hall, a curious and engaged audience… and a spectacular performance of academic haughtiness by one of its department heads, who walked out before our show even hit midstream, apparently mystified by our leg-pulling Spectacle theory revisited and upgraded. Our format in the XLT program is to allow commentary throughout the lecture/show, but to be interrupted by a repeated derailing along the lines of “So what’s new here?” was comical, especially since hardly anyone Except Him seemed to have been introduced to Situationist or Frankfurter School media critique. Without any new technical gimmicks and gadgets and tricks to showcase, aside from our prank 2-dimensional goggles which we had originally “assembled” from the “media labs” of eastern european flea markets, there wasn’t much in it for venture-culture theorists looking for new career-boosting techno trends and Rockefeller brownie points.
But more importantly, while in town we were hosted by the City Heights Free Skool ( and Indymedia), and we happened one night in their library to pick up Ivan Illich’s ( more on his work to come) historic and groundbreaking book – Deschooling Society – and a chapter about Highways. At their outset, the analysis reads, highways were NOT a project for public transportation but a medium/infrastructure by which to sell an assembly-lined product (to every individual)… the Automobile (and oh yeah, batteries-not-included – Oil ). The downward spiral of US public works is exemplified in this trainwreck of post-modern profit-grids which continue to run over tied bodies and social benefit without a flinch. [ Btw in case you were wondering the difference in tuition fees between Free School and UCSD, it's $0 vs. $6,800 - average UC student per year, x4!!! if your a non-resident of California. ]
Adapted to that now relic analogy, The Superhighway, a new door is opened to critique what the Web 1.0,2.0,3.0 is all along enroute to becoming, should real social + community engineering fall to the Panzer-like charge of Silicon capital vultures and the pre-fabricated stampede of consumers, or Prosumers, as the hilarious and disturbing The Future Of Media ‘ad-fo’ clip calls them. A mix of producers and consumers in the 2nd Life meets Googleplex. Uhuh, sounds about as liberating as enabling users to select/create their own individualized and self-cleaning virtual ovens in the Final Chat Room Solution. [ Btw in case you were wondering: the difference between a public library card and a Mac computer, it's about $0 vs. $1000. ]
It’s not that the progress of communication and networking tools in themselves are that dark, but please don’t attempt to bring up the “neutral technology” fairy tale. We’ll demonstrate that debunking elsewhere, but in short, for us it’s a bit like saying to the rats in the system that the cheese on the lever of a mousetrap could taste equally good at an art gallery finissage. But what may be the really crucial point is that in a parallel universe, the one that supports embodied life, i.e. the natural world, hasn’t been able to reach “technical support” for at least a couple of decades now, because apparently the offline world CRASHING is just a distraction and minor glitch to the steady flows of the cheapest n easiest replicatable market items. This might in fact be the ultimate raison d’etre re: the spectacular summary achievements of the Prosumer-supported Web we’ve begun calling MinusSpace, named naturally after MurdyBoy’s shopping- for-friends network, which btw might represent the 2nd largest “community” on the web, following the cuddly conglomerates of the porn trade. And nevermind how little relevance to better and/or sustainable living; That hasn’t been the point of the industry for a long time now, if ever.
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As we enter this plog we have just received a bulletin on The Spectre list about Steve Ballmer getting egged in Budapest. Well the incident occurred in May, but has been thoroughly undercovered with appropriate backround information. It will of course breathe a brief lifespan blip on YouTube Central traffic, perhaps the greatest top-notch educational medium and sure sign of democracy to come out of the Union of Silicon System Requirements since perhaps those military funded do-good genies at Google introduced email scanning to give advertisers that extra edge to keep us all … INFORMED. Denuded of all local Hungarian context and political meat and tactical next steps, it will garner a few million laughs before some stupid pet tricks video replaces it as Hit of the Week for the cubicle generation to pass more time on the clock.
to be cont.