Page not found

Anyone reading online has experienced the ‘Page not found’ moment.

It is accompanied by a computer message revealing the number  404 … is this the internet’s doomed number…?

It is a curious event both for the ‘visitor’ and the ‘visited’…. in this timeless and digitally spacious medium, we are confronted with a closed door policy, a change of mind, an out of date, a rupture in communications.

High expectations are abruptly stopped, sales lost, ideas re-routed…

All of a sudden, we enter the world of databases, tags gone wrong, categories lost, protocol AWOL…

Administrators are notified.

A narrative that drifted.

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The Machine is us/ing us

by Mike Wesch, see the reference in the Transliteracy article by Sue Thomas et al.

the video claims to be the final version… can there ever be a final version?

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In 2001 MIT scholar Henry Jenkins wrote: “Part of the confusion about media convergence stems from the fact that when people talk about it, they’re actually describing at least five processes” (Jenkins, 2001). He lists these types of convergence as technological, economic, social or organic, cultural, and global, concluding that “these multiple forms of media convergence are leading us toward a digital renaissance — a period of transition and transformation that will affect all aspects of our lives” (Jenkins, 2001).

Going back to the Bresson article above, this image illustrates the idea of convergence: what used to be written, still looks like a written piece of text, but has not been keyed in .Instead digital technology, more akin originally to digitising photos, art works and graphics, has reproduced this text-image, it’s been ‘grabbed’ and I am now able to place it.Placing letters as such these, is almost like a digital typesetter’s box. So I guess not that odd after all.

For an illustration on convergence, check out Candace’s post, with the image of Jackson Pollock’s paining of the same title.

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Medieval website

Some medieval paintings are like webpages, with writing and images, rich in stories and symbols. The painting has to be ‘read’ and one has be familiar with  its symbolism in order to understand the meaning. Many interpretations have been given, and for Bosch’s contemporaries it must have been one of the rare opportunities to see a visual representation of morals and beliefs.

Scholarly viewing of the painting would determine a  certain order to ‘enter’ the artefact. Viewing for pleasure allows the eye to ‘visit’  its distinct parts, similarly to visiting webpages.

This image above is by Hieronymous Bosch who was born circa 1450

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The text below is an image.

It is easy to ‘capture’ text. The act of copying, here through the snipping tool, means I do not have to type these words any longer in order to get the writing on the screen. Writing and typing can be replaced by taking images. Where previously words were keyed in, letter by letter, I can now offer a simulation of the physical act.

The written word can be ‘authored’ based on the following definition,blurring writing, constructing, originating.

Definition of author

au·thor  (ôthr)

a. The writer of a book, article, or other text.
b. One who practices writing as a profession.
2. One who writes or constructs an electronic document or system, such as a website.
3. An originator or creator, as of a theory or plan.
4. Author God.
tr.v. au·thoredau·thor·ingau·thors

1. Usage Problem To assume responsibility for the content of (a published text).
2. To write or construct (an electronic document or system): authored the company’s website.
An author, can now be understood as the individual who writes the words, a creator, someone who builds the web page, but not necessarily writes the contents.
By the way I did not ‘write’ any of the above, I ‘appropriated’, which here, means ‘cut and paste’ but I did ‘author’ the post.
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week 2 – summary

In this week I started to look at the concept of digitally mediated ‘space’ in the context of sound and aesthetic experiences. I had a stimulating blog exchange with one of my fellow students regarding the challenge of representing works of art online, reflecting on the pushing of boundaries, outside the artists’ intentions.  The idea of ‘metaphors’ appeared (Johnstone paper, 2009) Can an aesthetic experience be linked with the way in which we understand spacial metaphors? ’Flatness’ (from week 1) is another concept worth further research.

Other blog explorations were occupied with the use of sound (Sterne article, check his blog), and especially how to separate sound from their subordinate role of illustrating visual content. In a New Media context, can we develop a new framework for researching the use of sound? How does sound contribute to ‘deterritorialising’ (in a Deleuze sense? need to check this out…) visual internet space?

As part of the film week cyborg/android discussions were held via twitter. There seems to be an opposed view of Androids being superhuman, and at the same time being inferior, disposable thus offering ethical dimensions.

This blog is requiring further attention, potentially tweaking the design, with especially tags and the use of Pages under review. This part of the module is an interesting meta activity: the dialectics of visuality and technical formalisations of the WordPress platform affecting my intentions and may be even discourse.

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mapped sound

A geography of sound

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sound strip

On many occasions I take photos with my camera, mobile phone.

This time, however, I thought I would just focus on sound. It is a (poor quality) recording of a cantering lesson my daughter had…

(thanks Phil and Jen for the technical support!)


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‘Your nervous system and the internet are one’

WARNING: this is not science fiction…

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Professor Kevin Warwick

Brain gates in 2020: time to start ‘becoming technology’…

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from Google Art Project: Starry Night, Vincent Van Gogh

(from the Rebecca Johnston article)

Metaphors … are lenses which refract current cultural beliefs and values. They not only provide a prism through which to understand consumption behavior but, in their use/instantiation by individuals, are creative ways of seeing.

I think that is a good starter for describing how an aesthetic experience may be defined in an online context

and furthermore

The primary (or conceptual) metaphors that were used repeatedly in the editorials were those of physical space, physical speed, destruction, and salvation.

Steven Jones (1997) discussed the tendency to view intangible ideas as tangible spaces. “We have a tendency to understand mainly in spatial terms, observing it as if visually, through the use of visual metaphors, as if it were indeed a highway being constructed through our backyard.”  The Internet is a physical space metaphors appeared in multiple ways, but these were not the only, nor even the most dominant, type of metaphors in the corpus.

in this respect I think aesthetic online experiences will be linked to the metaphor of space.

would the other categories (speed, destruction, and salvation) also play a role?

more questions for the dissertation. A great article for mindmapping…

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The digital life of paintings

The French artist Yves Klein 1928-1962 produced a set of monochrome paintings – a photo of one of them is shown on the left (downloaded from the Tate website) and is entitled IKB 79 1959

Following Amy’s post ‘What is real‘, I thought I would like to ask a number of related questions. Some of these have been on my mind since the first IDEL module and are also part of my dissertation considerations.

  1. Can we have an aesthetic experience from this image?
  2. How does the experience differ from seeing the painting in a gallery, or indeed on other digital devices (phone, PC, tablet…)

The Tate website explains:

‘The letters IKB stand for International Klein Blue, a distinctive ultramarine which Klein registered as a trademark colour in 1957. He considered that this colour had a quality close to pure space and he associated it with immaterial values beyond what can be seen or touched.’

This digital image also represents the immaterial. But a different kind of immaterial. Can the immaterial of the internet help us understand different interpretations of ‘immaterial’?

I am currently reading around the topic of Deleuze’s ‘Rhizome‘ and hope to find more theoretical support.


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sound geography

I was thinking a little bit more in the context of Sterne’s article and how he laments how little ‘sound’ has been considered as a topic of research in the context of digital cultures.

The manipulation of sound, sound sampling for instance, is turning sound into a physical or ‘measured’ object therefore giving it a spacial representation, similar to architecture.In that sense, sounds extends digital geographies.

I would like to use this clip I found on You Tube as an example

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Are these artefacts only digital?

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The “WAG” is a mini 3-dimensional, single room gallery that fits into your pocket ’cause I’ve developed it for IPhone, IPod Touch and I Pad. Every month, directly on your mobile, The “WAG” hosts a solo digital art exhibition related to the dynamic site-specific contest. So, the Widget Art Gallery works both as a sort of ‘kunsthall’ showing temporary exhibitions and as a permanent collection museum because conserves all the past exhibitions inside an online archive.

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mapped digitally/physically

Amazonian tribe use Google Earth:

If we consider what is digital culture and what isn’t then I feel it is hard to draw a line between what one could consider a-digital, non-digital or ex-digital, I am struggling with the linguistics here…

For example the Amazon tribe using Google Earth, would have their cultural map (is the natural environment part of culture? I think it is we do shape it), re-mapped digitally,  it is now part of a global map, which we are all part of , and affects us through political and social action. This action taken as a result its associated digital space thus has an effect on the physical space.

We all live digitally. Conversations we carry out over the internet are mediated digitally, indeed may never be expressed other than in a digital context. People meet over Skype and may never see each other in’ real’ life. True this reflects the distinction between form and contents, with data digitally transmitted but thoughts held in our conscious.

Many of us carry mobile phones, iPads, laptops… extensions of our consciousness, our memories, our ideas. Tracked and positioned, we lead our lives online and offline.

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Sound:mind the gap

Sterne questions why so little has been  researched on sound in a cyberculture context?

My guess is that cyberculture is rooted in a computer mediated environment in which we usually deal with an ‘inter-face’, and how we interact is mainly directed by visual input. The use of sound is therefore in relationship to the image.

Looking at cinema may offer some theoretical support (writings on Robert Bresson for instance, who was a master of sculpting images and sound tracks by the use of silence) but Sterne suggests an epistemic break and  ’object construction’,  involving a move  away from research problems that carry certain assumptions of the institutions in which they were defined.

As an experiment,I have been looking for projects that could potentially break with cinema and TV, that may support Sterne’s challenge.

Tied by the interface of the computer, a map outlines London, based on the (visual) ordnance survey maps. Click and select a sound sample, and the spacial restrictions disappear, instantly moving your mind to London. No visual clues here which would render the sound subordinate, but sheer audio pleasure!

One particular favourite is described as ‘Raindrops and rush of rainwater, thunder, the rain grows more intense, faint birdsong’

And why would this one have any particular visual quality, other than the sound it is attached to?

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According to this website,

Mind the Gap is one of their top downloads (this is a US website) This seems linked to a desire to ‘possess’  sound, similarly to downloading images possibly for a ringtone on a mobile phone. American tourists visiting London?

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The clip World Builder very much reminded me of the Steven Spielberg film ‘Artificial Intelligence’. Both narratives explore the idea of dying and keeping memories.

The idea that in a SF world, we could re-create life, or make life better would be linked to our technological progress. Mankind invents, and these inventions contribute to the world’s ‘advancement’. However, there is always another side to the coin, the Utopian/Dystopian balance. Does the world progress if there is global pollution? Many SF films seem to portray a world affected by human-induced disasters. Will technology be put to good use to clear up the mess? Can we trust technology?

In AI, there is a fundamental ethical consideration in as far that android life is considered subordinate and dispensable. Once androids have reached their shelf life, they are redundant and can be destroyed. Similar ideas are explored in Blade Runner, Total Recall.

Lots of technology today is dumped. Indeed, the clip Bendito showed that at the end, the artifact was dumped, on top of many others…This is a byproduct of  Moore’ s Law and the frightening challenge our cyberculture it is not just about an information revolution but the material resources that support it (with reference to Hand’s article).





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week 1 – summary

My main challenge for the week was getting to grips with the WordPress platform. Looking at a blank digital canvas is always a creative delight to me, intuitively exploring the features and graphics of the environment.This piecing together is like digital tapestry, a patchwork of choices which are constantly evaluated and evolving.

Martin Hand (2008) gives a detailed outline of digital culture at the broadest level, including the socio-economic and political dimensions. For this I explorerd issues around commodification and consumerism. David Bell (2001) highlights various classifications surrounding story telling and how this relates to definitions of cyberspace. Utopian and dystopian views were illustrated by the film week clips and discussions on Synchtube and Twitter,with additional nominations for the film festival.Clips on language and cyberculture were also selected.

Mark Poster’s article offered my tweet on ‘Spam’ an ethical perspective. This blog (and everyone else’s) seems relentlessly hit by spam. Interestingly spam illustrates the inherent contradiction of mock digital persona vs the sales-driven activity of companies targeting potential customers.

I enjoyed looking back at my own computer interaction history and realised that I could start off illustrating my musical interests (rooted into 80s electronic music) as an accompanying sound board for my blog. The fusion of sound and images is to me the ultimate realisation of deepening an online experience, be it for educational or other purposes. I had a first read of Jonathan Sterne’s article, which will give me scope for exploring soundscapes. The concept of ‘boundaries’ and ‘flatness’ will also be kept in mind.

I continued with the expansion of my Pinterest pinboard for this module’s topic. I also revisted as I thought it would be a useful way to mindmap the interconnected strands of information discussed.

My plan for a visual sound board proves more complex involving online aesthetics and looking at how we engage with online art spaces.

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Fuzzy boundary Ethics

Act only on the maxim whereby thou canst at the same time will that it should become a universal law

(from Emmanuel Kant, quoted in Mark Poster,2006′ The Good,the Bad and the Virtual’).

Poster explains that Kant believed that individuals (i.e. the bourgeoisie) could choose autonomously how to act and in which the consequences of their acts would in some significant sense not be determined by institutional authorities. As universalisation progresses, so did the universalisation of the ethical domain.

In this context one could suggest that behaviour on the internet would follow what is ethically acceptable, but in view of the break up of boundaries, a fuzziness appears. Do we stick with local rules, do we extend? Comments and discussion on this blog for instance are governed by local activities (University of Edinburgh, UK, Europe……) and extend into our distance learning global geographies.

How do virtual world contexts (for instance Second Life) and the Massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPG) cope, being far more challenging to enforce ethics associated with real world rules. Cultural activities may be considered along a Nietzschean line of thinking, of an ‘alternative world’, a heaven.

Issues surrounding online identity, anonymity, authenticity, interchangeability, increased sub-cultural activity, and mixing time and space are all factors that affect ethical positions.

It also affects the law which cannot always deal with the ‘virtuality’, as compared to the physical. In that sense, Kant’s quote above, is difficult to live up to if you do not know who the online persona is.




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Computer talk

Here are 3 clips that illustrate the idea of language and communication within a cyberspace culture:

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‘She who Measures’

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I came across this animation in the Samsung future shorts series.

Another dystopian vision of pointless consumerism controlled by media.  The main characters have monitors strapped in front of their eyes and are constantly fed images and information. The evil clown (= bad person pretend good) is in charge of a pointless shopping parade, directing the queue going nowhere…. One lonely individual (accidentally?) disconnected from this sinister procession, is slightly erratic and unsure what to do (too much autofeed in the past).   A hole appears in the dark sky which is like a bad membrane, keeping pollution in. The sun peers through and the doomed characters are suffocated in the heat. Do they die?     The Clown seems to have absorbed Armageddon …. the cycle restarts  showing new (?)  characters in their glass wombs – can I dare say this represents education?

The evil clown is ready for a new circus parade  and the next shopping trip. One however escapes…..

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