Sunday, July 12, 2009

[Yasmin_discussions] ETHNIC CYBORGS


I want to venture with a little trepidation in territory that has difficult
Cultural and political connotations today, to argue that Cyborgs should be
able to wear Burkas in Public.

I was talking to Annick Bureaud and she made the comment that its strange that
With the Burka, we mask everything except the eyes , but that on
television you often
See shots with peoples eyes blocked out to avoid being able to
recognize the person.

This gets into the general area of how we use non verbal communication
in general
To assess the credibility and intent of people when they are in
dialogue with you. And
the importance of eyes. ( Semir Zeki at his Plaisir neuroaesthetics
conference in Berkeley
a couple of years ago, dealt with how neurobiology now informs how
facial recognition works
and interpretation mechanisms and the plasticily of those circuits in the brain)

Yasmin moderator Soussi Houssine is doing a PhD on the use of photojournalism in
The arab press in north africa, and necessarily one gets into the
whole discussion of how the body ,
naked or not, is situated in different cultural and religious
contexts. And the large issue of How
clothing is also part of the non verbal communication interpretation.
My father grew up in an age where wearing a hat in public was
obligatory for certain
Social classes.

In western culture the age of a body is very difficult territory.
Artist Orlan who has
Used her body as her territory for art making, forces us to address
such issues. (no
Comment re Michael Jackson)

One of the liberating effects of on line culture has been to create spaces that
Break many of the cultural norms of interpersonal dialogue. In second life
Everyone is wearing a burka. But the second life user has total
liberty to use/not
Use anonymity and to design their appearance. This is not the case in
Societies that enforce secondary roles for women ( with our without
burkas) and don't
Let you design your own or decide when to wear it.

Maybe there are several basic rights that a Cyborg should have:

a) A right to privacy. Knowing however that the right to privacy has
evolved radically
over the last few thousand years. In village life there is little personal
Privacy but at least you know who is watching you and you can watch them back.

b) A right to dignity and equality with non cyborgs, something even we humans
have failed to minimum dignity a social reality. ( and by creating a
class of 'we
Humans versus "you cyborgs: I have fallen into the trap that the body determines
Your identity ( need to unpack Varela's nice statement that "all knowledge is
Conditioned by the structure of the knower; cyborgs can know things
we cant know and
vice versa )

Two rights are perhaps becoming particularly important:

c) A right to anonymity. The surveillance society is rapidly
eliminating our ability to mask
our identity ( except during Carnaval). There will eventually be more
web cams than people soon.
There are hacker communities now becoming expert at how you can
remain anonymous
( many countries try to block aliases in computer
Accounts= facebook too. Last night Lambert and Carlos Santiago took me
to the Plaza Garibaldi
in Mexico City where the mariachi players entertain revelers behaving
with implicit public anonymity.

d) A right to all the data available about themselves. We live in the
terabyte era with
massive data being accumulated about each one of us ( yes google) and
this is probably irreversible.
You should have a right to all the data being taken about yourself.

Artists projects that explore issues of privacy, human dignity,
anonymity and data ownership I
think are relevant to this Ethnic Cyborg discussion. We have been having
Trouble this month opening up this discussion, maybe some of the
artists on the list
Doing work in these areas would like to tell us about their work. Any
artists working on "eyes" ?


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