An interview between Stanza and Rob van Kranenburg of the Internet Of Things
RvK: Stanza, you were among the first internet artists. What would you say is the most important philosophical step (if we can think in terms of ‘progress’, or ‘going somewhere’) that you have taken in this period? “In the last twenty years there has been a significant shift in audio visual artists’ practise from linear expressions, to interactive (user controlled) mediations, to generative (evolving) and then network-based (real time) systems. Online, this space also expands the whole notion of the artist’s studio. My focus is on the things that change, the flow, the data that describes our experience of the city as space. Data from all sides in systems that can be mediated by all, with varying visualizations communicated over the internet and represented onto different display systems.
There are many theoretical aspects to my work, but primarily I am a practice-based artist……in other words I make stuff.
My work has covered experiments in these areas and traced a shift in practise from modernist approaches of asset gathering (linear construction) to arrangements of datasets in fixed lists or databases (interactivity) to new approaches of mining information across networks in real time.( generative and real time systems)……culling data off CCTV networks, making visualizations of cities from my wireless sensor networks.”
RvK: How do feel about the current actualizations of the ‘in between’ space that you felt, saw or heard coming some time ago?
“I believe there is a new social space that exists in between these independent networks. Future cities will be merged into real time connected up data cities. A connection of networks of real time information flows. The results created will lead mashed up cities and real time performative city experiences. This conclusion although led from my earlier trails using wireless sensors in a project called Sensity.
I am interested in how this shared data space can overlap creating a new space in between which only two nodes or spaces share. For example in one of my artistic experiments I have merged collected data from various real time cities to visualise this new space, the space where the cities overlap and which allude to a new architectural and urban virtual space. Uses of such information might allow rich new interpretative visualisations about the way our world is built, used, and designed.
The resulting artworks represent the real time conditions of the city. Works like “Sensity”, create real time interpretations of social spaces that inform the world (online), and hopefully create new meaningful experiences allowing critical reflection on the real time city and the social political undercurrent embedded in the search for the real time city.
This might also allow for a greater community of interpreters and beneficiaries to see, and to come to their own understandings arising from this data about our socially-networked environment. (as the data in these projects is open via XML)
Underpinning these artworks and research, are a whole series of potential problems about observation, surveillance, and the ethics of the control space. Imagine walking out the door, and knowing every single action, movement, sound, micro movement, pulse, and thread of information is being tracked, monitored, stored, analyzed, interpreted and logged.
The world we will live in seems to be a much bigger brother than the Orwellian vision, it’s the mother of big brother.
Can we use new technologies to imagine a world where we are liberated and empowered, where finally all of the technology becomes more than gimmick and starts to actually work for us or are these technologies going to control up, separate us, divide us, create more borders. Will the securitization of city space create digital borders that monitor our movement and charge us for our own micro movements inside the system?”
RvK: The data is the medium, you state. Can you explain this a little bit?
“Just that… the data is the medium of the age….”
RVK: Can you find connections to the FB generation? Do you want to?
“It has a useful API as do all these new big sites; however there are restrictions entering the domains and boundaries of others especially when they try to cross over and get monitised.”
RvK: The key (or one of the keys) is the granularity of input for these ‘smart’ systems. How do you see this?
“Yes, small unit blocks, simplified then re built , re-cored re-formed into an understanding that can re-communicate the complexity of the larger system. Strip the city down and re- configure it as a real-time visualization and plug it into other cities.”
RvK: Your work is filled with wonder? Do you feel that this wonder is facilitated somehow in what is now termed Internet of Things?
“I have tried to encompass this “wonder” about real time connectivity and networked space in my latest three works, they are about the “internet of things”, but equally they are about real time experiences of the environment and the spaces that change around us.”