I have been thinking about Teri Rueb's wonderfully thoughtful post of June 3. I think that it merits more discussion in terms of the invisible boundaries that are so much a part of our human way of being that we do not even notice these boundaries.
If you missed her post, I suggest that you go back and look at it.
. . . What about the phenomena that we only have abstract awareness of that lies right in plain view and sensible without aid or "visualization," yet resists quantification or reduction to mediated representations?
she goes on:
. . . I also am drawn to think about the ways that "layers and layers" of data may actually distance us from the richness of ambiguous, yet ubiquitous, phenomena that give richness to interaction in public spaces - the level of conscious and unconscious apprehension of our surroundings that "places" us in relation to environment and other inhabitants.
Teri's comments all the more meaningful knowing her work, which invites us to wander the territory of an event or series of events, and to slowly "dig" for the hidden stories. Thinking specifically of Core Sample: http://www.terirueb.net/core_sample .
Is our slice of time -- with or without awareness of the moment -- similar to the slice of "ocean" that fish experience because they can only swim in certain temperatures (one of many factors)? Do we take in so much of environment and place on a basic human level that we miss any appreciation of this information as important?
And what about the layers that are most commonly added to a place - the history, the traces of those who went before us?
What are the boundaries of time - of living in a specific moment in history? What can data -- and facts - tell us about what is not there and yet comprises so much of what we experience of a specific place in terms of the culture, the human interactions, and the physical space? How can this be done so that it is enriching rather than distracting or obscuring?
>From Teri's post I think of an afternoon that I spent in Provincetown, Massachusetts, last summer, in a tourist area that grew from the site of one of the first British settlers to North America - radicals who believed in democracy as well as a strict religion. Sitting near a parking lot is a large sign telling some of the history, with a short notation about the Mayflower Pact, one of the first documents declaring democratic governance. I happened, however, to be with my sister (Joan Shelley Rubin) who is an American historian - and so I got a fuller, more nuanced description of the tensions within the collective group, and what led to the famous Mayflower Pact,
How do we recreate this layer of experience? Of revealing the history without big signs interrupting the landscape? And how can we really experience this place without the history?
As I write this, I am on that quest, here in the territory of YASIM, on the edge of the Mediterranean. I am spending the month of June as a guest of the Mayor in Arles-sur-Tech, More on that when I have more to share. . .
On Jun 3, 2011, at 1:31 AM, teri rueb wrote:
Happy to be a new Yasminer! And sorry to be so late in jumping into this
discussion - I have been busy writing a very long paper. Finally done. I
hope I am not introducing too much of a non sequitur with this comment.
whats not clear to me is whether these kinds of work
can really change our behaviours or relationship
to the world= to the extenthat they occupy our
mediated spaces they can perhaps "re thicken" our
connection to phenomena that we only have
abstract awareness of) but without embodiment
do they remain un=intimate ? that boundary
between the virtual and physical is multi layered
What about the phenomena that we only have abstract awareness of that lies
right in plain view and sensible without aid or "visualization," yet resists
quantification or reduction to mediated representations? Do mediated
overlays of data sets possibly eclipse or dull our senses to such rich
information? How might the capacity to direct movement and gaze or
attention - also critical capacities of locative media - be used to bring us
back to the fundamental experience of our own embodiment that is so often
pushed to the margins of our consciousness as we seek evermore data
"enhanced" experiences, often tailored to data-obsessed, media-attuned
I also am drawn to think about the ways that "layers and layers" of data may
actually distance us from the richness of ambiguous, yet ubiquitous,
phenomena that give richness to interaction in public spaces - the level of
conscious and unconscious apprehension of our surroundings that "places" us
in relation to environment and other inhabitants. For example, the smells
in a crowded subway car that shift with the rocking of cars and bodies, the
sources of such smells ranging from the fuel or electric power of the
infrastructure, the materials of the train itself, to the smells of hair
products, laundry detergent, food, sweat, urine, etc. - all of which inform
our sense of identity, placing us and displacing us in the moment, location,
and social context. Displacement may be even more important to challenging
who we are and what unites and divides us in public, personal and private
space, yet how do data overlays facilitate such displacements - especially
since most are intent upon fixing us in space, or in specific relationship
to others, framing the context around concrete themes and easily recognized
meanings? I wonder about the affective experiences we cannot quite
articulate, visualize or explain which are nonetheless powerful factors that
inform our feelings, attitudes, opinions, and actions, behavior, etc. How
is this level of experience folded into so-called "locative media"?
Another example from the subway . . . we seem to be informal experts at
managing furtive glances or even outright stares as a form of observation
through which we become attuned to social contexts and communications at
verbal and non-verbal levels. These are highly localized, yet powerful
sources of affective knowledge that extrapolate to more abstract levels of
behavior and decision making. The information we are gleaning in these
moments and how we make sense of it may remain relatively inchoate, even
over long exposure or extended experiences with the same conditions, yet
still they form a sense of place and identity at less self-conscious levels
that may be more important than we think. Yet just to point to it isn't very
compelling, and may even be self-defeating if the goal is to foster diverse
levels of attention and affective experience. Is this kind of knowing and
experience eclipsed by "data layers" that promise to add other dimensions to
our social interactions in public space, even as they may dull our capacity
for deeply attuned and embodied forms of social exchange?
How can the virtual re-direct us to the non-virtual?
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