<< preface

this blog is nina wenhart's collection of resources on the various histories of new media art. it consists mainly of non or very little edited material i found flaneuring on the net, sometimes with my own annotations and comments, sometimes it's also textparts i retyped from books that are out of print.

it is also meant to be an additional resource of information and recommended reading for my students of the prehystories of new media class that i teach at the school of the art institute of chicago in fall 2008.

the focus is on the time period from the beginning of the 20th century up to today.

>> search this blog


>> Steve Mann, "Shooting Back"

>> "the world's first cyborg"
>> www - wireless wearable webcams, wearable computing
>> Humanistic Intelligence
>> surveillanec and susveillance
>> moblogging

"cyborg, n. a person whose physiological functioning is aided by or dependent upon a mechanical or electronic device. Steve Mann is a cyborg, and the inventor of the wearable computer, called the WearComp. He sees the world as images imprinted onto his retina by rays of laser light. This allows him to transmit his viewpoint live to the Internet, block out billboards and other unwanted visual stimuli, and turn his world into a series of hyperlinks. Constantly connected to the WearComp system, Mann has all the capabilities of a standard office at his disposal, even as he utilizes shrinking technologies to turn himself into a portable movie studio. The first person to live in total constant intimate contact with the computer, Steve Mann exists at once in the real and virtual worlds, living an entirely videographic existence, seeing everything around him, including himself, through a wearable computer. Over the past twenty years, Steve Mann has been his own human guinea pig, testing his various wearable computer prototypes on himself. In Cyborg, he uses his own unique experiences to assess the state of wearable computers and their potential impact on our lives, articulating a vision for a tomorrow that sees humanity freer, safer, and smarter in ways most of us can only imagine. Mann is fascinated by the possibilities of the cyborg future, but he does not shrink away from frankly discussing the dangers of a post-human age in which our computers come to control us. In this unique ground-breaking book, Mann charts the development of a wearable computer industry, and warns of dangers to our liberty, privacy, and democracy. He contrasts those dangers with his own sweeping inclusive vision of a wearable computing age that brings about new ways to teach, learn, make art, communicate, and even think. Part biography, part breath-taking manifesto, part startling look into the very near future, Cyborg is a powerful book that challenges preconceptions and invites readers to enter the mind of one of the most fascinating thinkers of our time." (http://wearcam.org/cyborg.htm)


"First Person(al) Documentary: Crime Reduction with Personal Imaging and Personal Image

The proposed performance will involve a reflectionist critique of video surveillance, using personal imaging (described in IEEE Computer, Vol 30, No. 2) as a medium with which to hold a mirror up to society.

Personal Imaging will be used to create a personal documentary to record and transmit images of potentially dangerous situations (e.g. fire exits that are illegally chained shut, poorly lit stairways, cluttered corridors and exits, poorly marked exits, and potentially abusive or irresponsible security guards and other representatives).

This will attempt to suggest that rather than having a police state, individual citizens might take on the role of monitoring and reporting crime and dangerous situations, while leaving police with the task of acting on reported crimes without having to place the population under surveillance themselves.

Personal Imaging has created its own metaphors for the aesthetics of self-defense, such as the antenna in its most familiar form which is the automotive cellular antenna. Re-situating this familiar object in a disturbing and dis-orienting manner (as a wearable apparatus), provides an obvious and visible deterrent to the seizing or destroying of image content.

Other highly visible crime deterrents comprise a highly obtrusive (yet still wearable) camera with a red led which people readily understand is symbolic of recording equipment in its recording mode of operation.

Most notably, a flat computer screen, sewn onto a shirt, allows others to see themselves on the WWW in a virtual mirror of sorts, which makes the reflectionist philosophy literal as well as metaphoric. The virtual mirror echoes the television set suspended from the ceilings of many establishments that use video surveillance, and serves the same process of providing a visceral and constant reminder that one should not commit crime.

In the words of Daniel Shurman, personal imaging allows one to project a social identity, to play out on the world in the same way that the Internet itself is a means with which to project a public identity.

"VideoClips" will also be used to confront representatives of the surveillance superhighway with a new genre of personal electronic news gathering.

Furthermore, it is hoped that the new aesthetic will give rise to a proliferation of "maybecams" in the form of a "firing squad" backed by zero-knowledge cryptography.

ShootingBack: An Attempt at Using Personal Imaging to Define a New Genre of Film/Video

With Personal Imaging I have attempted to define a new form of interaction between humans and technology. "Wearable Computing: A First Step Toward Personal Imaging", by Steve Mann, IEEE Computer Volume 30 Number 2, http://computer.org/pubs/computer/1997/0297toc.htm

I have equipped a pair of ordinary sunglasses with miniature spatial light modulators, CCD sensor arrays, and appropriate optics, so that when I put them on, I see a computer screen. On my computer screen I see a video image of what is actually present in the real world. Rather than allow the light to simply pass through, as would be the case with ordinary sunglasses, the apparatus absorbs and quantifies incoming light, processes it computationally, and then sends the processed result on toward my eyes.

After several years of adaptation the apparatus has begun to function as a visual prosthetic of sorts - a true extension of my mind and body that allows me to record exactly what I see.

Clearly I don't need to carry a camera because I am a camera, but in ShootingBack, I do anyway. Thus the act of merely making a documentary with an ordinary camcorder (while wearing my prosthetic camera), allows one camera to see through the other, and thus allows the audience the unique first-person perspective, as though being inside my eye, while I am shooting with a camcorder.

In ShootingBack, I confront representatives of the "Surveillance Superhighway" (establishments such as department stores where video surveillance is used extensively, yet photography by customers is strictly prohibited). I begin with my camcorder held down at my side, pointing away from a representative of the SS. Then, I ask the representative "What are those mysterious ceiling domes - those dark hemispheres..." or "Is that a video camera? Why are you taking pictures of me without my permission?". After the representative tells me that I am paranoid and that only criminals are concerned about cameras, I raise the camcorder up to my eye (the vantage point of the audience, who see the face-to-face conversation followed by the eyecup of a camcorder, eventually revealing the inside of the viewfinder, upon which we now see the representative of the SS displayed).

At this point, the representative of the SS often shows great concern about my camcorder, and thus, in a 180 degree reversal, is self-incriminating."

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... is a Media Art historian and independent researcher. She is currently writing on "speculative archiving && experimental preservation of Media Art" and graduated from Prof. Oliver Grau's Media Art Histories program at the Danube University in Krems, Austria with a Master Thesis on Descriptive Metadata for Media Arts. For many years, she has been working in the field of archiving/documenting Media Art, recently at the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Media.Art.Research and before as the head of the Ars Electronica Futurelab's videostudio, where she created their archives and primarily worked with the archival material. She was teaching the Prehystories of New Media Class at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) and in the Media Art Histories program at the Danube University Krems.