Network locality denotes a shift in the way we experience both the Internet and public spaces, in which location becomes the organizing logic of social interactions. Within the framework of net locality, the emergence of location-aware mobile technologies urges us to consider how these devices strengthen feelings of connection to our surrounding space and nearby people. Location-aware technologies allow us to attach information to places and to communicate with other people depending on one’s relative position in physical space through the use of GPS-equipped mobile technologies. Drawing on the concepts of network locality and hybrid spaces, I will explore the implications of net locality for challenging our traditional notions of privacy, its influence on power relationships, and, more importantly, how it changes the way we navigate and move through urban (hybrid) spaces.
by Mimi Sheller
The integration of mobile and locational technology into physical place has broadened the possibilities for the creation of new spaces of interaction and opened the disciplinary boundaries used to define and understand the public arena. When material places are merged with virtual worlds, or augmented with interactive digital media, the result is a completely new “hybrid” environment where physical and digital objects co-exist in real time, and where people can interact with others who may or may not be co-present in space. The development of this enriched environment has appeared alongside new social scientific understandings of mobility, materiality, affect, and the sensorial. What are the potentials of mobile-network spaces as new sites for integrating creative invention, public participation and social interaction? How do emergent forms of mobile art engage, subvert or recombine art practices that challenge the limits of our capacity to know where the boundary lies between the real and the virtual, materiality and non-materiality, visibility and invisibility?
Art that incorporates cell phones, GPS, 3D codes, and other mobile technology reveals the complex social, political, technological and physiological effects of new mixed reality interactions. With the layering of space and place, the definition of the public site opens to new interpretations and allows for new practices. Specific strategies such as mediated representations, installations that integrate RFID and other communications technology, and networked audio/visual tags to create new community histories explore the aesthetic and strategic potentialities of mobile, networked and locative media. Artists have also adopted elements of location-based mobile gaming and locative mobile social networks to explore the possibilities and limits of the new borders between the physical and virtual, the real and the imaginary. This talk will consider how new mobile art practices and experimental interventions into both architectures of mobility and infrastructures of communication are re-mixing and remediating presence/absence, public/private, movement/stillness, permanence/impermanence, and local/global scales.
The development of location aware games potentially transforms urban public settings into “hybrid ecologies”, which merge the physical and the digital. “Hybrid ecologies” are the loci of ‘seamful’ social situations in which participants may interact both on the basis of their physical proximity and through digital media and mobile terminals. How do such “hybrid ecologies” support sociality? Considering the fact that urban public settings are places the occupants of which orient towards meeting strangers, may urban “hybrid ecologies” become the sites of particular forms of encounters? In this talk, which is based on an ethnographic study of the proximity game Dragon Quest 9 in Japan and France, I will try to work out and illustrate three ideas regarding the interaction order of encounters in hybrid public places, which are important to our understanding of the ways locative media are and will be actually used in public settings:
a) Because “hybrid ecologies” occasion ‘seamful’ social situations, they support layered participation frames. Encounters may develop so that they are either acknowledged at all levels, or only in part, that is they are acknowledged on one interactional layer and denied at another, which is the essence of what Japanese players call “timid encounters”
b) The actual unfolding of “timid encounters” reveals a normative principle which is much more general, but plays an especially central role with locative media: when two persons who either know one another, or are connected through digital media, ‘discover’ they are close, such mutual knowledge projects the relevance of a face to face encounter. This has important and often overlooked consequences with respect to the social acceptability of locative media.
c) We often assume a metonymic relationship between mobile terminals and their owners. The users of locative media often remind us that this is only an assumption by exploiting creatively the possibility of severing the link between the mobile terminal and the mobile body of their owners.
New technologies introduce changes in society which, in turn, transform us deep inside. This is what the sociologist Georg Simmel showed so clearly in the early 1900’s, when he analyzed the consequences of the process of industrialization for those who lived in the metropolises that were emerging at that time. In these metropolises, whose population increased as waves of rural workers fled poverty in search of work in the new industries, life was very different from that which had prevailed until then. Communal ties were largely broken. Men and women frequently found themselves on their own, living among strangers in busy, noisy and crowded environments, which contrasted sharply with the ones they were used to. As a consequence, they could no longer behave and feel as they had previously done. This triggered the emergence of inner defense mechanisms – such as the blasé attitude and reserve – characteristic of modern urban life. It was evident that the new social order of the time was constructing a new psychological configuration.
If we pursue Simmel’s line of reasoning, we will be confronted with analogous needs of defense mechanisms in these times of ours when the Internet and cell phones merge and make constant mobility and availability for contact almost a must. In spite of technological changes, over the years one result has been recurrent in my investigations of how Brazilians use the Internet and/or cell phones to get in touch with each other: they choose what to use (email, SMS, Instant Messaging, Skype, voice calls on the cell phone, scraps in social networks and the like) depending on their knowledge of the habits of whoever they are trying to reach. One possible reason for this sort of behavior is that, even though they are not conscious of it, users of these technologies make it subtly clear to others what their limits are. Can we see this as an emerging defense mechanism consistent with our times? Are there others?
This presentation will try to stimulate reflection about what – if anything – we are doing to protect ourselves from different kinds of constant exposure , mainly the idealized 24/7 availability for contact.
The place of the social in gaming: A case study of intersections between social, geosocial and mobile media in China
As we look over the last decade, the obvious shifts that can be gleaned are the erosions of once distinct categories such as ‘hardcore’ versus ‘casual’ gamer in what Jesper Juul deemed the ‘casual revolution’ of games. But this is less of a revolution and more of an evolution. Mobile games have witnessed an inversion whereby once deemed ‘casual’ they then took on a ‘serious’ status through the rise of urban mobile gaming. With the ubiquity of Global Positioning Systems (GPS) and location-based services (LBS) along with the transformation of the mobile phone into the multi-mode mobile media, the capacity for mobile LBS games to teach us new types of experience of place and sketch new cartographies for place have burgeoned. By traversing the online and offline simultaneously through haptic screens, the possibilities for mobile gaming to teach us new ways of experiencing place upon various levels – i.e. not just as a physical geography but technologically, emotionally, psychologically – is endless. These practices also play with many of the paradoxes of mobility (roaming and yet wireless leash, here and yet there, online and yet offline) — encapsulated by the idea of still mobile. However, mobile gaming was witnessed another shift — what some now call a type of gamification. Once an activity by artists/researchers/experimental educators urban mobile gaming has now supposedly been rendered mainstream with geosocial services like foursquare (and Jie Pang in China). With this transformation, the art of being mobile takes on a darker ambience — especially around issues such privacy.
In this talk I reflect upon digital ethnographies conducted in Shanghai from 2009-2011 in which I interviewed students (ba ling hou generation) and parents about their mobile and geosocial media usage. Reflecting upon game and geosocial usage, this talk considers the ba ling hou’s use of social media game Happy Farm and geosocial media game Jie Pang to connect place, people and products into a game of commodified socialisation. In these geosocial spaces, they are often unperturbed about privacy issues; instead they view it as part of the performance of intimate publics.
The invited speakers will together with researchers from The IT University, University of Copenhagen and curator of Nicolai Kunsthal discuss topics of Networked Culture and Mobility. The discussion will be moderated by Bjarki Valtysson and Isabel Froes from The IT University.
- Ana Maria Nicolaci-da-Costa, Pontificial Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio, Brazil)
Andreas Brøgger, Nikolaj Copenhagen Contemporary Art Center (Denmark)
Chstian Licoppe, Telecom Paristech (France)
Gitte Bang Stald, Center for Network Culture, IT University of Copenhagen (Denmark)
Irina Shklovski, Center for Network Culture, IT University of Copenhagen (Denmark)
Larissa Hjorth, RMIT University (Australia)
Mimi Sheller, Drexel University (USA)
Rasmus Helles, University of Copenhagen (Denmark)
Rich Ling, IT University of Copenhagen (Denmark)