One multimedia artist / academic tackled transparency in a big --or at least expansive way.
Kathy Marmor's work, "Bird Watching" (see the swf video), is described more fully in Leonardo (subscription required), but here's the abstract.
Space satellites are invisible instruments of globalization that influence governmental policies. This paper examines remote sensing satellites as optical devices capable of redefining human cognition. They represent accessibility and openness through the more agreeable paradigm of transparency. However, transparency, like surveillance, is based on the interconnection between power, knowledge and perceptual experience. Artists use a variety of tactical practices, including amateurism, to tease apart these connections. Amateurism dedicates itself to the politics of knowledge. The author concludes, based on examples of her work and that of others, that the potential for political intervention exists when knowledge is paired with action.
This work was brought to my attention by an ACM Siggraph email alert. In the Siggraph presentation, she spoke of the "Cartesian split between mind and body . . ." and made reference to the Lisa Parks' Cultures in Orbit text. She closed that talk by reminding her audience that we are all "participants in the culture of surveillance and that we're accountable as global citizens."
On her web site she introduced the work in this way:
While researching satellites for Bird Watching I discovered that I could intercept their signals as they pass overhead on an inexpensive radio scanner. I also came across an organization called AMSAT ( a group of amateur radio operators) who make their own communications satellites. This type of amateurism reminded me of artists who characterized themselves as bio-hobbyists because their work and research often incorporated scientific techniques.
My research on satellites focused not only amateurism as a tactical practice, but also on globalization and surveillance. The paper I wrote for Leonardo (that is forthcoming in 2008) discussed remote sensing satellites as optical devices capable of redefining human cognition. My paper suggests that although satellites support a supposedly innocuous paradigm of transparency, that transparency like surveillance, is based on the interconnection between power, knowledge and perceptual experience.
Personal note: Cross-post to PoetryAndScience.com.
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