The space invaders and the future of text

The relationship between technology and place can be a key concept that perhaps will assist to conduct a successful investigation leading to invent better technologies.  As Marshal Mucluhan referred to technology as it is an extinction of the body and the mind, arguing that television consumption led to transform our perceptual systems and thinking (1994), many digital thinkers believed that Mcluhan’s concept of perception applies to the digital technologies of today (Bolteret al.2013). However, the complex characteristics of the emerging technologies, and their rapid growth, may require further serious research and experimentations in the field of media understanding and aesthetics. As a result of the new identities in the features within modern day technologies,  Bolter, Engberg and Maclntyre argued that media aesthetics are not singular as Macluhan suggested, this is because users are not passive anymore (2013). Far apart from the relationship between the television and their audiences, today’s technologies rely on the participation of the individual to create, design, and share the environment (Bolteret al.2013). This feedback circle that the users experience emphasizes on the the importance of redefining our understanding  of how we perceive our environment through technology (Bolteret al.2013). Thus, creating the technologies of tomorrow requires a clear understanding of the effects of modern day technologies, and how they are designed and for what purpose. A great question that may arise is about the level of participation of the individual in the creation and design of the environment through technology. One gateway to understand technologies is to consider the study of place. Before this study introduces place. Place can be computational or natural (Harrison and Dourish 1996). In this study, I will argue that the technology that incorporates the use of natural place is a key to provide a better safe life for our future generation.

Important concepts and movements have emphasized that the physical space is a source of disturbance and it is senseless. The ideas that ensured that reality should be vague and hidden within our output through a selection of information from the past (Manovich 2002, Smith 2003, SHEEHAN and 2004, Kirby 2009, Armitage 2015, Kozíket al.2015). This is to discuss postmodernism and what relates to it. Postmodernism served well in the account of philosophy, literature, film, and arts (SHEEHAN and 2004). Perhaps, it also supported the growth of both fields of the interactive arts and net arts (Manovich 2002, Lim and Yoo 2014). This includes the studies that confirmed the connection between new media and postmodernism (Rohle 2005). However, I believe that the relationship between new media and postmodernism should be different. To understand postmodernism, it is crucial to investigate modernity, a movement that died but its roots maintained. Modernity is the “modes of social life or organization which emerged in Europe from about the seventeenth century onwards and which subsequently became more or less worldwide in their influence. This associates modernity with a time period and with an initial geographical location, but for the moment leaves its major characteristics safely stowed away in a black box” (Giddens 1967, p.1). Anthony Giddens, in his book the consequences of modernity, emphasized that one of the features of modernity is the separation between time and space (1967). Indeed, this leads to the expansion of knowledge and information, but also weakens our perception of understanding science (Giddens 1967). Similarly, postmodernism is a movement of arts that has been evolved over the years. “Post-modernism, if it means anything, is best kept to refer to styles or movements within literature, painting, the plastic arts, and architecture. It concerns aspects of aesthetic reflection upon the nature of modernity” (Giddens 1967, p.45).  A vast number of studies have included that postmodernism should be replaced, already has been replaced, or it just needs enhancements (SHEEHAN and 2004, Kirby 2009).  For example, the works of  Alan Kirby illustrated how new technologies replaced postmodernism in to what is called digimodernism, which reconfigured our culture (Kirby 2009). Some studies indicated that the movement reached its strength between the 1970s and 1980s, and started to slow down in the 1990s (SHEEHAN and 2004). However, the influence of postmodernism remained clear in the works of many recent new media studies such as (Rohle 2005, Manovich 2013). Let me paraphrase my argument to make it clear, I am arguing that the new media should not only aim to teach us how to have certain visual skills, but also we should learn from it how to build things. Familiarizing the physical space. New media is not only for relocating icons and symbols on the computer screen. This new pattern requires a different kind of knowledge. A knowledge that equals the visual space with reality. The question is: How can children learn the real science through modern day technologies ? Thus, the heart of this argument relies on understanding the importance of the natural place, nature, or reality in our visualization of computer imagery.

Lee Manovich in his book the language of new media, convincingly explained the intimate relationship between the software operations and postmodernism (2002). Stated “the practice of putting together a media object from already existing and commercially distributed media elements already existed with old media, but new media technology further standardizes it and makes it much easier to perform. What before involved scissors and glue now involves simply clicking on cut and paste. And, by encoding the operations of selection and combination into the very interfaces of authoring and editing software, new media legitimizes them. Pulling elements from databases and libraries becomes the default; creating them from scratch becomes an exception” (Manovich 2002, p.130). Also, “It is not accidental that the development of GUI which legitimized “cut and paste” logic as well as media manipulation software such as Photoshop, which popularized plug-in architecture, took place during the 1980s — the same decade when contemporary culture became post-modern.” (Manovich 2002, p.130).  From Manovich’s book, Fredric Jameson  stated “Rather than assembling more media recordings of reality, culture is now busy re-working, recombining and analyzing the already accumulated media material” (2002, p.131). This supports the concept of Manovich in which that the software “made postmodernism possible” (2002, p.131). Furthermore, in the brilliant work of Dziga Vertov, in the definition of modernization, the physical space was expressed  as a source of disruption (Manovich 2002). The ability to simulate old media in a computer, that later can be easily shared over networks, that what Manovich was discussing, considered the computer as a metamedium that enables other software mediums to take commands, and combine various media forms in one place, which form the concept of software hybridization (2013). The ideas of Manovich serve well in seeking the answer to the question of the level of the individual participation in the design and the creation of the environment. However, Manovich is a new media artist, designer, animator, programmer, and a film theorist (2002). Thus, the spirit of his works is based on his perception of the software environment, and arts. If there is a discussion about place in Manovich’s books, it is from a computational point of view such as his discussion about the GIS systems. The idea is that the software is taking the command in which software becomes a replacement of a large array of ancient physical, mechanical, and electronic technologies to create  new interfaces that interact with cultural artefacts (Manovich 2013). Monovich considered the hardware as a support that enhances our creations in the virtual space (Manovich 2013). For example, the mouse, the keyboard, or even the laptop are just tools to assist us in working in the virtual interface. Indeed the software is taking command, but an interesting question that I may seek to answer, what is the role of the hardware environment in the rapid revolution of the science of artificial intelligence, and materiality interactions? As it is already evolving. “The cost and complexity of hardware-centric systems can often be reduced by using software to perform tasks which don’t appear on the critical path. Alternately, the performance of software can sometimes be improved by using special purpose hardware to implement tasks which do appear on the critical path. Whatever the motivation, most modern systems are composed of both hardware and software components. Given the importance of the connection between hardware and software in these systems, it is surprising how little automated and machine-checkable support there is for co-design space exploration” (Kinget al.2015, p.1). The study aimed to limit the gap between hardware and software to enable the developers to create rapid systems (Kinget al.2015).  There are different possibilities on the consequences of the next generation hardware development. In some areas where solar energy takes place, the nature is the source that makes a system work, rather than electricity. MIT professor Vladimir Bulović, researched the numerous opportunities in the developments of nanotechnology and solar energy that may rise the technology into a whole new level (MOCHARI 2015). What I am trying to reach here is that there will be a time where   humans will be able to learn, design, create arts, and construct in a different way using hardware technologies and other physical devices. As an initial point, the semiotic language within a computer screen, should find a good start to live outside the digital box, or the computer. For example, the hologram of no goggles and peripherals.

Indeed, postmodernism is important. The positive value of pluralism is clear. Through the important role of “radical pluralism in democracy, tolerance and diversity”, it supported the practice of the “freedom of expression” (Kozíket al.2015, p.119). The way that postmodernism symbolically represents the world have opened the gates into a new kind of knowledge (Kozíket al.2015). The question is: will this kind of knowledge survive with the future technologies? will it survive the new evolution of mankind?   The best definition that explains the use of postmodernism in the computer might be: “that condition in which for the first time, and as a result of technologies that allow large-scale storage, access, and reproduction of records of the past, the past appears to be included in the present, or at the present’s disposal, and in which the ratio between present and past has therefore changed” (SHEEHAN and 2004, p.10). Postmodernism is the base that formed the arts and literature of today (Giddens 1967, SHEEHAN and 2004).The trustful manipulation in the artefacts is what made this argument possible. According to  Manovich, the cut and paste is indeed related to postmodernism (Manovich 2002, p.131). The cut and the paste are the reasons of how I quoted Manovich extensively to argue that machines should connect to reality. It is the cut and paste that made me a computer programmer. In my masters at California Sate University East Bay, me and my partner Jeff Stott have created an interactive multimedia installation that uses the human brain to generate audiovisual content. Part of my duties was to design a patch in Max Msp to use it as a processing hub to connect all the sensors to the physical interface that we have designed. In this stage, I confirm that my study of computer science, and my few experiences in computer programming did not serve well. However, I was confident as the nature in the “automation” of new media, enables the user to become a co-author (Manovich 2002). Using the Max tutorials, manuals, and code examples – provided a complete source for constructing a Max patch. As well the user generated patches that are available on the web. Thus, this little previous knowledge in computer programming, with understanding the interactive culture and the internet, and of course the cut and paste, is what made the job done by the end of the day. Thus, we can confirm that manipulation plays a major role in the world of postmodernism.

However, manipulation is great but not in every context. The literature is trustful. This dose not mean that manipulation in real life, or in the computer is always a positive thing. In fact, when some one claims that another person manipulated him, this mainly understood as a negative situation. This kind of manipulation implies negativity, and   needs explanation to change its meaning. This is the case when the murderer commits his crime, and his lawyer makes him innocent in the eyes of the judges. In terms of computers, it is true that the internet resulted to improve the intellectual work, opportunities, and cultural change, but perhaps the artificial environment of the internet is problematic (Kozíket al.2015). Problems such as allowing the inability to distinguish between reality and virtually (Kozíket al.2015). As a consequence, it became the gateway to identity manipulation. As a result of anonymity, the internet became a great opportunity for cyber crimes with all of its kinds (Glaseret al.2002). As mentioning the benefits of the cut and paste, It is also worth to mention that it is a major contributor in the world of plagiarism. Alastair Pennycook, in his publication: “Borrowing Others’ Words: Text, Ownership, Memory, and Plagiarism” under the subject “Postmodern Uncertainty: The Death of the Author” he stated : “the notion of the author and individual creativity, and this argument that meanings are in a sense in circulation, that language is constantly cycled and recycled, raise profound questions about how we consider the notion of textual borrowing or plagiarism” (Pennycook 1996, p.211). Or in other words, postmodernism made plagiarism simple. As a result, the internet of today plays a major cause in increasing plagiarism (Howard 2007). As the conclusion of understanding how the relationship between computer texts and reality, a suggestion to avoid plagiarism is that computer texts should be more clever and connect more to reality by shifting its properties. As text should have the ability to recognise the users by the computer cameras and incorporate an automation of a plagiarism system that auto detects and auto blocks. The detection in real time by connecting the text to the physical space, or to reality is a clear suggestion. This is not an invasion of privacy. The ultimate invasion is caused by the advance in the information technology and specifically over the internet (A¨ımeur and Sch˝onfeld 2011).

This argument is all about proving that the physical space, nature, and reality will have an added value to the improvement of  new media. Thus, the aim in this argument is to trace the reasons of the exclusion of reality and space, and to prove their added value in our creation.  Paul Virilio’s views are concerned with the interaction of the human consequences with the disturbance of the physical space (Armitage 2015). Paul Virilio was a prisoner of war, and his theories basically were an escape from reality (Armitage 2015). “Virilio is the last endist, recuperating the most abiding concern of philosophical postmodernism, even as he shows its ominous determinations and potentially hazardous consequences for life in the twenty-first century (SHEEHAN and 2004, p.38). The problem in excluding the nature in the way we collect our information may result in accruing generalized knowledge only (Giddens 1967). The consequence of polarity is that it changed the ratio between the past and the present, which almost they become the same (SHEEHAN and 2004). Which made “The present of postmodernism has come to seem like a stalled present, an agitated but idle meanwhile” (SHEEHAN and 2004, p.11). “The post-modern outlook sees a plurality of heterogeneous claims to knowledge, in which science does not have a privileged place” (Giddens 1967, p.2).  “The modern mind assumed that it knew more than its predecessors because the natural and historical science were flooding it with new knowledge about nature and history, the postmodern mind argues (paradoxically) that it knows more than others did because it has discovered how little the human mind can know” (Smith 2003, p.loc 108). “If modern physics showed us a world at odds with our senses, postmodern physics is showing us one which is at odds with our imagination, where imagination is taken as imagery” (Smith 2003, p.loc 231).This explains the death of the philosophy  of the metaphysics (Smith 2003). “Leonardo da Vinci is symbolic. His anatomical studies and drawings in general disclose a direction of interest that has turned eye into camera, in his case an extraordinary camera that could stop the hawk in flight and fix the rearing steed. Once again humankind was attending to nature’s details as a potential messenger of meaning” (Smith 2003, p.loc 207).

The existence of the technology of today is a result of the great inventions from the western culture. The western inventions are the reason behind making the algorithms of Mohammed Al Khawarzmi alive. Dennis Ritchie the inventor of the C programming language, Seymour Papert the inventor of the logo language and the mechanical turtle, David Liddle the lead developer of the star system, Bill gates and his windows, Tim Berners Lee, the creator of the world wide web and the founder of the w3schools and so on. These inventions have shaped our lives. However, it is crucial for this context to mention those who think beyond nature. The different ways of thinking of Newton, Einstein, And Hawking is what led to their discoveries. It’s simply thinking about time and space from a different perspective (Hawking 1988, Lorentz 2014). In Google’s Zeitgeist conference, Hawking stated “Philosophers have not kept up with modern developments in science. Particularly physics” and declared that philosophers and their arts are dead (Warman 2011). With this, we showed both extreme perspectives, the ones that support the arts, and the other that support science. I believe a middle ground will lead to a better future. Somewhere in the middle where this fusion collides to build a generation that understands the arts and science at the same time, forming a new identity of the individual. This will not be achieved by learning in schools, it should be gained from our daily technology consumption. Thus, Technology should behave differently. A question that may arise: Applied science and engineering schools do exist. Therefore, what is the reason of arguing about postmodernism? The answer is because the aim here is to build a medium that enable the next generation to learn arts and science from every day life. A life long learning game or a device for example.  A product of a new new media technology that incorporates text, images and sound . A new media that has a different identity that respects the arts and science. I believe, postmodernism is  a great symbol of arts and literature, and thus, it should not be excluded, but not giving it too much of attention because science, as Hawking believes is the future. Furthermore, I believe science with no meaning is simply worthless. Science should be hidden within our digital interfaces, and not any interface, an interface that combines reality with imagination. The previous studies that discussed the problems in the inability to distinguish between reality and imagination, this inability can be unitized for a positive cause. A generation that is in control of their magic circle.There is so much to discover in nature, and if we only keep remixing the past, we might not be able to follow up with the future technologies. One of the attributes that makes a technology emerging is the uncertainty and ambiguity (Rotoloet al.2015). Then, this defines the interest of the artist in the technology.  According to the postmodernism thoughts, humans are able to learn through imagination. Learning of course will be achieved but to a certain extent. A future artist should be able to design his/her interactive art installation with the deeper understanding of  physics, dynamics, and programming codes of his/her creation. Thus, the suggestion is a fusion of balanced science and arts in an interesting way. Which provides a true situated meaning to a clear scientific knowledge.  Can  games do this?

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