" nothing and no one can avoid trial by space an ordeal which is the modern worlds answer to the judgment of God or the classical conception of fate."
-- Henri Lefebvre
Who possesses the space of information? Of mediated interaction and experience? Of the meandering track of a cross-country road-trip? The vulnerable envelope of space around our skins? What sacrifices are made to secure this possession? What ghosts haunt them? What strategies and tactics can be deployed to take (or relinquish) possession of various positions -- from personal space to those territories mapped out by governmental, military and corporate entities? How else might we imagine the production of space outside of the logic of possession?
Questions of space have always been fundamental, as it is in space that we construct our memories and identities, both subjectively and as members of collective entities. These questions take on a new urgency and complexity amid the accelerating proliferation of technologies of mapping and surveillance, and in the context of the global distribution of networks for the production and consumption of information, all of which combine to transform the spaces and places in which we dwell.
The contributors to this issue have examined the relationship between spatial position and possession through a number of lenses, bringing a variety of approaches to bear in questioning the appropriation of space by individuals, groups, nations and corporate interests.
The Center for Metahuman Explorations contribution includes both an essay outlining their projects and findings ("The Wire Through Which Happiness Flows"), and video footage of their most ambitious undertaking, Project Paradise.
In their work members of CME have explored the relationship between the geography of increasingly "place-less" urban sprawl and technologies of remote experience. CME uses common devices from consumer electronics to create tele-robotic installations which enact and comment upon the use of communications media to find an illusory sense of public or personal place within what is, in fact, the largely corporate-owned space of information technologies. Project Paradise follows this trajectory to its terminus, creating a satirical Garden of Eden in the heart of technological space.
In a photo-essay chronicling a road-trip through southern South Dakota, Lucia Sommer points to some of the conflicting ways in which a particular physical landscape comes to be mapped. With attention to representations of the area in governmental, military and tourist visions, and the technologies with which these forces have mapped the terrain, Sommer creates a psychogeographic travelogue of a journey through a space possessed by powerful ghosts.
Andruid Kernes CollageMachine uses the tactics of montage and detournement to take apart the standard modes of mapping information space, re-viewing it as a place in which logics besides commerce and instrumentality define and delimit our spatial understanding of the World Wide Web. In practice, CollageMachine is a creative web visualization tool that uses an agent model and chance procedures to represent the Web as a navigable collage geography. The result is a multidimensional perspective on interfaces -- the strategic loci which circulate and transform signs in the information age.
This project comes in two parts: the CollageMachine browser, and an essay that explores the theoretical dimensions of this form of mapping information space.
The In/tangibility of property has long been a teasing philosophical puzzle. Just what is it that founds a claim to possession? How do these claims carry over into the slippery realm of information space? To what extent we actually possess what we rightfully own, and how we can preserve what, by chance, we once possessed? In this essay Adrian Mihalache argues that examining the issue of property in the intangible space of the World Wide Web may provide such questions, if not with appropriate answers, at least with some meaningful refinements.
Multimedia artist Krista Connerly conducted a series of experiments with the boundaries of bodily space in a particular locale: mass transit. Her project maps personal space within the urban as she extrapolates from a chance experience, and from a resonant observation by the artist Lygia Clark that Western bodily space often functions as a fleshly prison. "Trajectories" records a process in which the non-rational and desire are allowed to possess the space between unfamiliar bodies.