[Space And Perception] SLEEPING GIANTS. THE ENVIRONMENT AS DRAMATIS PERSONAE. ROB VAN KRANENBURG

This then is the decisive moment of moving into the 21th century; not the cameras as such, not the disciplining design that scripts our bodily movements into even narrower circles and boundaries, not the convergence of macro, meso and micro levels of technological surveillance and control (from satellite, RFID to smart dust), but the awakening of our environment as a personage, as a dramatis personae, and a very smart one at that. Sleeping giant, surely.

“There was a strawman argument put forward in an essay sceptical of government RFID-based surveillance to the effect that it would cost $1T for the government to instrument every door in every mall, bank, airport, etc.
(http://www.stapleton-gray.com/surpriv/archives/000016.html), but that's  not the way it would happen; the more likely scenario is that when there  are enough tags and enough readers, all the various parties will knit themselves together into multiple surveillance systems, e.g., Arpan's bank, and Lloyd's, and all the others, will join "Bank Situational Awareness  Net," where all the parties agree to pool RFID-derived information for  mutual benefit (e.g., distinguish cherished customers from potential  bank-robbing scum).  And *that*, in turn, might be tapped by law  enforcement, or other government interests, perhaps in return for favored  treatment under some regulatory scheme. (From: Ross Stapleton-Gray amicus@well.com Sender: SV_RFID@yahoogroups.com Date: Sat, 07 May 2005 21:48:59 –0700)”

In Dreams of a Final Theory, Steven Weinberg speaks of the "spooky ability of mathematicians to anticipate structures that are relevant to the real world".  This conference is about our spooky ability to do just that, to anticipate structures that are relevant to the real world, however spooky the real world might become.

It took me five years to figure out, to grasp, - understand - let me use the word resonate - these lines of Heraclitus: and I rephrase them in my own lines - "of all that which is dispersed haphazardly, the order is most beautiful." In the Fragments you read that these lines are incomprehensible as far as the Heraclitus scholars are concerned. They can not  link it as a line of verse with other words in other lines in verse. I read it and in reading I knew it to be true. Knowing that only as experience is not very productive in a society that has no non-iconic medium for transmitting these kinds of experiences. In order to make this experience productive; read: make it politically viable and socially constructive - in order to find ways of transmitting, ways of teaching experiences like this - we textualise them. We find analogies; we read initial lines as metaphor, as metonomy. 

I went for a walk one day in the woods near F., in the Belgian Ardennes. A beautiful walk it was, steep down, hued autumn colours, leaves fading into black. In the quiet meadow that we passed I saw autumn leaves, small twigs, pebbles sometimes - hurdled into the most beautiful of patterns by the strength of water moving. I looked hard realizing there was indeed no other way of arranging them.

I recognized leaves as data. I recognized data as data. And I recognized the inability to find a way to come to terms with Heraclitus’ line without walking, without taking a stroll in the woods and look around you, look around you and find the strength of streams arranging.

BIOGRAPHY
Rob van Kranenburg (1964) works part time at Virtual Platform, Dutch policy and network organization for e-culture, as co-director. In 2000 he went to Amsterdam to work as programmer on media education at the centre for culture and politics de Balie and as teacher-coordinator of the new media program in the Film and Television Studies Department at the University of Amsterdam. Feeling it was to young a field to predominantly historize it, he moved to Doors of Perception and co-programmed with John Thackara Doors 7, Flow, the design challenge of pervasive computing. In  2003 he mentored a postgraduate course in performance, theatre and the arts at APT, Arts Performance Theatricality. As innovation consultant he is involved with negociability strategies of new technologies, predominantly ubicomp and rfid (radio frequency identification), the relationship between the formal and informal in cultural and economic policy, and the requirements for a sustainable cultural economy.

Text published in RIXC Reader