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The Internet, a Tool for Art?





Found on a website of the German police:

"Am Samstagnachmittag den 26.06.2010, gegen 17.15 Uhr, befuhr eine 26-Jährige aus Stuttgart die Overather Straße in Bergisch Gladbach in Richtung Untereschbach.
Das von ihr genutzte Navigationsgerät war hier nicht immer mit den GPS-Satelliten verbunden. Doch genau in Höhe der Bushaltestelle Obereschbach signalisierte ihr das Gerät unzweideutig: "Hier links abbiegen". Die ortsunkundige Frau folgte der Empfehlung "blind". Sie überfuhr eine Bordsteinkante und tauchte mit ihrem Cabrio in einen Mix aus verschiedenen Sträuchern ein. Glücklicherweise kamen ihr jetzt Bedenken, so dass sie das Fahrzeug stoppte. Ein Abschleppunternehmen zog den Peugeot aus dem Graben zurück auf die Straße, ein Schaden wurde nicht festgestellt, so dass die 26-Jährige die Fahrt fortsetzen konnte."

(engl. transl.: "Saturday afternoon, 6/26 2010, around 5.15pm, a 26 year old woman from Stuttgart was driving along the Overather Straße in Bergisch Gladbach. In this region the navigation system she used was not always connected to the GPS satellite. But just at the bus stop 'Obereschbach' the device told her unambiguously: 'Turn left here!'. The woman, not familiar with the place, 'blindly' followed the instruction. She passed a curb and dived with her cabrio into a mix of miscellaneous bushes. Luckily concerns came up and she now stopped the car. A wrecking service pulled the Peugeot out of the ditch, no damage had been detected, so the 26-year-old was able to continue her journey.")


navigation failed

(image: GPS navigation leads into the bushes, website of the German local police)


Our time is being shaped by digital automation. Cerebration processes more and more get replaced by software. To simplify and accelerate our daily routine? For us having more time to think about the really important issues of life, or to make us work harder and think less? My effort consists in a daily reflection on myself, asking, whether I am controlling the GPS or it is controlling me. However, in the morning I wake up, check my emails and my facebook account while having my first coffee, on my way to college, an employee of my bank calls me on my mobile to submit a special credit-offer for young professionals. At the subway station I casually watch N24, a quite untrustworthy German news channel. While staring at the screen, I think by myself that it would be good owning an iPhone, to read my favorite newspapers online during the train ride. Then I spend my day in several seminars, knowing, that the world needs a change, that I have to be careful with my thoughts and that I don't need an iPhone to be more "effective". And in the evening at home I watch hollywood movies - to distract myself, to relax, to forget. To recharge my batteries.

Every day I question this kind of reality, nevertheless I am living in it. The medium I use for my artistic work is the internet. The world wide web, extensively allowing anonymous acting, or at least acting from a certain distance, provides access to extensive information from different cultures and the chance to widely spread and discuss any contents for free. A network connecting mindsets and people, who would never encounter each other. A real democratic platform by nature offers us a new chance on a deliberative discourse.
At the same time this internet also is the internet which makes me think about buying an iPhone, delivers me a movie every night and fondles my ego with "like!"-clicks on facebook. It is useful, as useful as the navigation system in my car. In this way there is always the possibility to decide, whether I want to use this tool and really be creative or rather kick back and relax in a copy and paste world with the focus on "American Idol".
Regarding this paper I decide for creative use, critical questioning and a radical optimistical belief in a democratic revolution as pronounced by some media scientists.


egypt facebook

(image: internet driven revolution in Egypt, 2011)


The more software replaces thinking, the more it's an artist's assignment to question the given reality with open eyes and discover alternatives. Art can function as a critical current to mainstream advertisment pop-ups which are imposed on our brains every day. However, rather than issuing a statement in this paper I would like to support the discours, explore dynamics and show that we no longer are only consumers of media, but also opinion formers. Earlier generations have been shaped by the influence of massmedia like television and took the validity of information for granted without (the chance for)public discussion. Today user's comments under any youtube video automatically are added to its content. We can decide, if we want to be photographed by Google Streetview - and if so, we can also choose the text written on the sign we are holding high in this precious moment. A virtual image of the world is arising and it is our chance to design it.

What does the "information age" mean regarding our societies values? How do we deal with information as a commodity in a capitalistic system? In which way do rating-buttons in social networks support neo-liberal conditioning? What are the consequences of collecting data in matters of surveillance and repression? What kinds of chances for real democracy do we have and where are the traps we have to avoid to get there? How can the internet as a global network be used for artistic strategies? What is the power of networks in general?
For answering these questions I will try to exclusively work with literature freely accessible on the internet, with direct links to external sources. Using references not only from renowned scientists and philosophers writings, but also articles published by internet activists and bloggers, it is the goal of my thesis to connect several approaches. Therefore the framework of this thesis is a meshed structure rather than a linear disposition.

This paper is available as a hypertext on my homepage including internal and external links. I would like to keep the option to enhance it after finishing my exams because I am working on an extensive topic and far-ranging conjunctions. It will only be possible to outline or hint at coherences and not really get to the bottom of each aspect.

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.




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