FMP-2_01 ↓ The Corporalité or Nothing

After the Formal Thesis Assessment last week and a lil’ break (which mostly consisted in viewing and moving flats…), it’s time to get back on tracks – time for the long awaited FI-NAL GRA-DUA-TE PRO-JECT 👌

While writing, I couldn’t wait to get to this part. I actually have been ideating a rather firm concept of its since I finished my Ars Electronica’s project, which happened during the same time-span – remember, the scroll meditative box?

Since I used to ideate with the screen, I’d like to keep conceptualizing an Internet-inspired type of design – with tangible objects. It was actually my main objective during this MA, to get out of my screen-comfort-zone and to do something actually physical(-computing). For some reasons, I’ve always been intimated by designing actual objects, but I’m starting to do better now… Why not keep going at it then?

My pitch is rather simple → “Bring corporality to the experience of web surfing“.

What I meant by the word corporality is actually taken of the French word corporalité. The actual translation would be physicality, but I like the semantics of corporalité. Why is that? Well, corps translates to body, hence corporalité litteraly takes physicality in line to our body, to our human senses.

Which is what I’m aiming for, bringing web surfing closer to us. I started mindmapping as you can see below ↓

FMP-1_04 ↓ Proposal

Just handed-in my Final Major Project and Thesis proposal, here is it ↓↓↓

 

SURF IS OVER, LET’S CYBERFLÂNE.

This isn’t a random wordplay but an actual statement. Take cyber and put flâneur; you got the verb, the term and the noun I want to dedicate my thesis study on. What do I mean by cyberflâner, cyberflânerie and its cyberflâneur – and how do I relate it to surfing? Wait, web surfing I meant.

Indeed, the area of my research is specifically the Word Wide Web and the act of surfing – and its relationship with the flâneur. This is the French way to name a man of leisure which was picked up by the scholar Walter Benjamin in the 20th century, and thus became the symbol of the modern explorer. As I aim to do it here, as the symbol of the digital explorer.

Fig 1. Windows 95 Commercial by Microsoft (Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uTOEiQSsCRk).

The World Wide Web has undoubtedly changed since its invention in 1991 by Tim Berners-Lee. This is definitely to be broaden with the Internet, although the difference has to be mark. If the Internet – firstly ARPANET, has mainly been brought by the U.S Department of Defense to facilitate both communication and surveillance through a global networking infrastructure, the World Wide Web beamed with hope towards infinite explorations.

What exactly is the act of surfing? Here is the definition dated of 2004 found on Urban Dictionary:

  • Usually involves an individual browsing through the Internet, whilst not looking for anything in particular.

I particularly like the last bit: whilst not looking for anything in particular. This is how I relate it to the act of flâner. You put your time in that aimless stroll, mindfully observing the city and its surroundings; the self-awareness of this act is very important, and I believe the act of surfing encouraged that same self-awareness. We click from hyperlink to another hyperlink, surfing through the web pages as they are waves. Now, this isn’t much the case.

Fig 2. Questionary by Facebook.

New (inter)actions has since taken place out of the known gestures: the click and the scroll. The first is quantifying actions – such as like and follow, while the later has transformed the way the World Wide Web is thought, as it has brought up the feed.

Indeed, the hyperlink has been overtaken by the feed, infinitely bringing us contents – personalized yet automatized contents through algorithms. Recommendations systems keep getting more and more accurate by gathering datas through our feeds. Therefore, the act of surfing has now an undermining importance. This has precisely been “damaged” by those algorithms: how relevant is the act of surf if this is influenced by my localization, my previous searches and my datas? That’s why I’m referring to the cyberflâneur instead.

With it, the act of reading has also subsequently changed: short(er), fast(er), and linear. The risk underlying the infinite feed is a trap of time and attention. I believe there isn’t much satisfaction through the feed: you can’t never get enough, precisely because you’ll always get more. This linearity impacts on the act of reading, and I believe personal development is at risk here – the development of oneself. That’s why the concept of individuation is important – as I understand it from the works of Bernard Stiegler [1] against the hegemony exerted by big corporations on the Internet.

Nevertheless, I still don’t believe that the Internet as a medium – is specifically making us any stupid: it’s about the way the (inter)actions are designed and how we use its. The development of cognitive skills happens through the act of reading – and writing, though I’m choosing to exclusively focus on that first act here. I want to demonstrate that the cyberflâneur is very much alive: he/she is aimless, absolutely not mindless – and yet certainly non-aware of his/her own status.

Fig 3. “Paris Street, Rainy Day” by Gustave Caillebotte (1877).

Rather than to provide an actual solution – that would definitely put my work into the realms of the screen, I aim to create a debate around the act of the cyberflânerie. That’s why I want to transcribe the act of cyberflâner into the physical world, through the production of an interactive installation.

Before that, a completed literature review is my first step into the writing part: my main routes are Walter Benjamin and its “flâneur”, Guy Debord and its “dérive”, and Marshall McLuhan and its “global village”. I believe that a systematic review is needed to reach the figure of the cyberflâneur through the understanding of concepts thought at different eras. An expert research on the cognitive aspect of the Internet is also much needed, to add physical substance to my theoretical research.

My main framework is experimentation: I will definitely cyberflâne myself, and might ask individuals to do the same – with the possibility to use brain sensors to track any changes, added to the expert research I’ll have. The writing part would thus definitely overlap with the production part at the beginning. This won’t be the end-result of my project, as I only intend to use it as a way to gather datas. I’m also inspired by Kenneth Goldsmith and his concept of “Wasting Time on the Internet[2] – to find creativity into the act of procrastination. I plan to make use of this reflective practice by producing observations from the outcomes of its.

My other framework is the prototyping and research through it: which interactions represent the best the act of cyberflâner? I can’t find out by putting my energy through the end-production; I first have to test out and choose the better fit. For that, I also plan to conduct a field research using surveys – both online and in my physical environment, to generate thoughts and opinions behind gestures used and envisioned. A contextual research would also help me to define the existing practices in the use of the Internet as a medium.

Lastly, here are my two criteria of success: I want to get the individual to critically reflect on his/her actions on the World Wide Web, and hopefully encourage the act of the cyberflânerie.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Bell, D. (2008). Cyberculture Theorists: Manuel Castells and Donna Haraway. London: Routledge.

Carr, N. (2011). The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.

ceramicstoday.com. (1998). The ‘Cyberflaneur’ -Spaces and Places on the Internet II – Ceramics: 05/19/98. [online] Available at: http://www.ceramicstoday.com/articles/051998.htm [Accessed 16 Jun. 2017].

[2] Goldsmiths, K. (2014). Why I Am Teaching a Course Called “Wasting Time on the Internet”. The New Yorker. [online] Available at: http://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/wasting-time-on-the-internet [Accessed 16 Jun. 2017].

Hendel, J. (2012). The Life of the Cyberflâneur. The Atlantic. [online] Available at: https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/02/the-life-of-the-cyberfl-neur/252687 [Accessed 16 Jun. 2017].

Morozov, E. (2017). The Death of the Cyberflâneur. The New York Times. [online] Available at: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/05/opinion/sunday/the-death-of-the-cyberflaneur.html [Accessed 16 Jun. 2017].

[1] Spatial Machinations. (2013). Bernard Stiegler, “the Net blues”. [online] Available at: http://www.samkinsley.com/2013/11/21/bernard-stiegler-the-net-blues/ [Accessed 16 Jun. 2017].

Van Honk, J. (2016). The Web and its Wanderers. Institute of Network Cultures. [online] Available at: http://networkcultures.org/longform/2016/02/19/the-web-and-its-wanderers/ [Accessed 16 Jun. 2017].

FMP-1_03 ↓ Formative Assessment

I had a tutorial session with Theresa, whom it’s the first person I have presented my idea for my FMP Research/Proposal. She gave me good insight about the subject (“the flâneur is a 17/18e concept, is it relevant today? if so, why?“), and expanded my research questions thinking. She also recommended to experiment myself, to actually wander through the city / the web.

So here the proposal I’m going for this Friday ↓

FMP-1_02 ↓ Litterature Review

I want to study the world globalization at the era of the World Wide Web, esp. the question of cultural homogenization through it.

The Internet is a key factor to understand the globalization in recent years. It started by the fair trades between markets, but its consequences expanded to communications tools and eventually medias, and thus affected popular culture.

Although the Internet has significantly broken down communication barriers between cultures, it might also contributed to the cultural uniformity of our societies.

Marshall McLuhan didn’t know he actually predicted the Internet. His Global Village was created by the medias to unify the sense of communities.

It’s important to point out that Marshall McLuhan didn’t link it to any uniformity adjective – arguing with my own statement: is the Internet really contributing to cultural homogenization?

By exploring the question of the Internet as a media, I want to reach towards an understanding of how globalization might shape the vision of our world.

This might be related to the ambiguity of the anonymous profile on the Internet.

Marc Augé qualified Non-Places as spaces where humans can remain anonymous – like hotel rooms, airports or shopping malls – and retrieve their freedom.

In Society of Spectacle, Guy Debord argues that social life has been replaced with its representation in the post-modern society. I’m assuming that both points of views offers a different stance on identity.

If I go through Situationism, the construction of the digital identity also goes through surfing.

Kenneth Goldsmith delivered an inspirational stance in his book Wasting Time on the Internet, which describes how aimless surfing can turn into creativity.

I’m also thinking about the cognitive and emotional consequences behind these actions.

FMP-1_01 ↓ Reverse Engineering Task

We started FMP – aka Final Major Project – tutorials. Prior to that, we were given a Reverse Engineering task in order to practice writing proposals.

I can’t say I’m sure about my FMP directions yet. Still, I’m pretty interested by topics such as globalization through the age of Internet. While researching what type of works have been done related to this topic, I stumbled across the project Homogenizing and Transforming World by teamLab — hence my choice for the Reverse Engineering task.

Though I’m saying I’m interested by globalization by scoping it through Internet — assuming it has been influenced by it, this topic still stays super large. To be honest, I don’t have any idea where to handle it at the moment. And I wouldn’t say it’s a joyful topic to treat, as I neither don’t want to fall (too much) into that heavy (this system is ruining our lives!) / guilty (we all are!) / dark (say no to globalization!) vibes type of project.

That’s why I think teamLab managed to convey an experience I would qualify as sensible — while the topic still got an efficient didactic kind of unfolding definition. Watch for yourself, followed by the task:

Title:

Homogenizing and Transforming World

Field of Study:

I want to study the globalization of the world at the age of Internet, esp. the question of cultural uniformity through it. My aim would be to create an interaction that permits the audience to understand the effect of globalization at his/her level as an full actor of its spectrum.

Context:

The Internet is a key factor to understand the globalization in recent years. If the globalization started by the fair trades between markets, its consequences expanded to communications tools and eventually medias, and thus affected popular culture.

Rationale:

Although the Internet has significantly broken down communication barriers between cultures, it has also contributed to the cultural uniformity of our societies. By exploring the question of Internet as a media, I want to reach an understanding of how the globalization shapes the vision of the world.

Methodology/Methods:

I will conduct a secondary research to fully understand concepts such as globalization and uniformity through Internet — and theirs impacts. Then, I will sketch different proposals while directly prototyping; thus research through making. I will hold several tests at a smaller scale, then as its real scale.

Predicted Resolutions:

I aim to produce an interactive installation that put the audience as an actor: individual balls floating in the air will communicate with one another via a wireless connection. As I’ve said, the Internet has spread throughout the world. Individuals are connected and information spreads back and forth freely. People act as intermediaries for information, and the instant the information spreads, the world unites. All individuals can freely and simply transmit information; the individual acts as an intermediary that transmits the information to the world, transforming it in an instant. (These are from teamLab, I can’t explain better…!)

Organisation:

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