Archive | March, 2011

Transversality, or the Playground for Dancing

28 Mar

As we move towards a world where stimulated environments can be held in the hand and accessed at the touch of a button, many theorists wonder what this individualisitic approach to reality and making our own environments, solely, will do to our relations with one another. Chris Grayson in his blog at GigantiCo sees many companies adopting practical applications and uses of “augmented reality”, realities in a sense shaped by the user. Lego has long worked on this marketing principle, so has Ikea but more and more companies for example automative companies or even Ray Ban are adopting them online and in the physical marketplace to enable users and buyers a chance to augment the product they are receiving, in a sense helping to produce a version that is applicable to their personal needs and desires. Grayson sees an ‘exponential’ speed and pace of progress which is only growing faster. A prime example in today’s culture is that of the iPhone, which through a convergence of realities provides the user will a multiple choice of realities at the touch, or tap of a button.

An element that links ecologies to these stimulated environments is the transverality they exhibit. In Murphies entry on The World as Clock: The Network Society and Experimental Ecologies he sees ecologies are “riddled with transversals” (p.118). These transversals in turn cannot be confined to one ecology as they transverse, to situate or to extent across something, producing and stimulating new connections and environments before that where unseen or unknown. Lar’s von Trier’s 1996 experiment Verdensuret which the way a group of ants moves determines the way 50 actors in Copenhagen perform in a space. He sees transversality as the way different environments breach one another to create a new, maybe more connected, sense of reality. Guattari believes transversality is the way in which nature and culture operate together across all disciplines, meaning they connect at various points, and that is successful, so then they break of in different directions taking that knowledge and information with them elsewhere and starting all over again. The natural then produces culture to move across the boundaries of disciplines.

This does not mean though that we abandon what has been learnt, in one environment, no. We take that into a new one actually stimulating it with our previous knowledge and create more and more ways of doing. We here network with political, social and natural ecologies as much as we do with our own internal ecologies. In externalising ecologies we have to be aware that we are part of a networked society where we must engage, and as Alfred Whitehead puts it in order to “transmit”. If we are open to these transmissions, we can often be surprised and taken in ways never before previously experienced. Providing us with a greater sense what it means to network and what it means to function as a community, together. To operate of this level of interconnectivity, is in a sense what it means to fully exist. Whether it be with an iPhone or another person, I favour the person, it is a sense of effervescence that surprises us all.

An example of transversality at the Sasquatch Music Festival:


Grayson, Chris (2009) ‘Augmented Reality Overview’, GigantiCo overview.html

Murphie, Andrew (2004) ‘The World’s Clock: The Network Society and Experimental ecologies’, Topia: Canadian Journal of Cultural Studies, 11, Spring

Thoughts, Exteriorizations and Ecologies

14 Mar

The primary concern of media ecologies is to try and discover how media manipulates the way we think, feel and behave. In theory we absorb a media, for example about the latest fashion trends, and then go out and set out to follow that trend by purchasing the required product. This then is an exteriorization of the desire retained within ourselves through our absorbing of media into our unconscious. We think, or we are touched, we then desire and that desire turns into an action. Neil Postman in his essay on educations writes that media and communications “affect human perception, understanding, feeling, and value; and how our interaction with media facilitates or impedes our chances of survival.” In simply terms media can be used as tool to manipulate how we interact with the world around us by having us believe we need something for our survival, not only that but it plays on our desire to thrive in the community as a whole. Felix Guattari argues that the only “true response to the ecological crisis is on a global scale, provided it brings about an authentic political, social and cultural revolution.” A call to action and to exteriorize that which we have learnt so far to aid the world in finding a different way forward, which is of benefit to everyone.

A media ecology is system of which many strands of information and knowledge interact together to form a new environment which makes something new possible. Any car, plane or boat, or transportation systems all operate in an ecology. The motor works alongside the wheels, alongside the wheel the driver steers to produce movement. All different parts of the whole, brought together to perform and action. Interesting when a car is no longer a viable means of transport we often term it as only useful for ‘parts’. This is a breakdown of an ecology, the individual parts however still have use and can function in a further ecology elsewhere. Matthew Fuller sees media ecologies as the way media systems interact with each other. He believes that just as the Dadaists did with cutting up poetry and sticking them back together again, all media objects have their own poetics which make the world or going to McLuhan’s theories the environment, which in turn make other worlds and environments possible.

Fuller notes that media ecologies to sum up are the “massive and dynamic interactions of processes and objects, beings and things, patterns and matter. (p.2) Each process must be “multiply connected, acting by virtue of those connections, and always variable” (p.4). I understand this in terms of relationship, especially the idea of family. A family functions through many connections, those connections change and grow. Roles, objects and ways we relate to one another change, yet in order to carry of acting as an ecology the parts must work together to keep the interactions alive. Felix Guattari sees ecologies acting in three different modes. The mental, the natural and social must interact together to bring about a “cross-fertilization” of knowledge and information. Ecology in this sense operates of the level of relations. We must go outside our comfort zones and put ourselves out into the world in order to see results. Humanly this can be exteriorized in relationships in marrriage, pregnancy, parenthood or simply the way a person relates to their dog.An ecology, or environment must exist where all parties feel safe and connected, in order to grow together, in order to produce.


Fuller, Matthew (2005) ʻIntroduction: Media Ecologiesʼ in Media Ecologies: Materialist Energies in Art and Technoculture Cambridge, MA; MIT Press: 1-12

Postman, Neil (1970) The Reformed English Curriculum in A.C. Eurich, ed., High School 1980: The Shape of the Future in American Secondary Education.

Anon. (2008) ʻThe Three Ecologies – Felix Guattariʼ, Media Ecologies and Digital Activism: thoughts about change for a changing world

Welcome to the Global Village

7 Mar

As I start this blog, I am aware that I am benefiting from others work. The entry posts are mine, yet the theme and the code of the blog itself have all been put together by someone else. I am merely piecing together and making customisation to what others have worked to produce. Now I may call myself a ‘prod-user’. Being that I am using as well as producing. The labour and time it took to create the blog and the entries it will house is mine, but I am doing that on the back of other people’s initiative. My reflection comes as I realise much the same happens in all areas of the global village. A network of peer to peer systems allows us all, who access the Internet barring individual government restrictions, the ability to share knowledge, software and designs with each other, instantly. Creating sustainable business opportunities and connections, that otherwise would have ceased to exist. As the internet develops and grows, daily, the common pool of information (or commons) constantly seeks to contend with the big business corporations seeking to profit from the ways people exchange that information. As peer to peer sharing continues we must all as users of this commons secure better relations between community and corporation. The divide between profit and labour must continue to addressed, established and revisited frequently to make the global village a profitable and enjoyable place for all to learn and to grow.

In a discussion about liquid democracies, Tiziana describes them as “the flood of data” which makes possible as she notes a “social web” which we can all learn and grow from by providing “new forms of participation, decision making, access to information and a better transparency of government.” This creation then of a global village makes the hidden, visible. Makes the public aware of the mechanisms of power and makes our surveillance of those mechanisms more so than ever before.

In their chapter on ‘Theoretical Frameworks’, Andrew Murphy and John Potts find there to be two positions with which to respond to this ever growing global village before us. The first is that of technological determinism, being the idea that process is found through the speed of movement and the volume of its production. Jack Goody notes that technology and especially electronic media enables a “cognitive potentiality for human beings” (1997:128). This seeks to create more and further kinds of technology and electronic media at a establishing alarming rate. Hence the ever increased breadth of the internet and the constant updated and revisioning of technologies, especially if thinking of Apple who have already brought out an iPad 2 less than a year after its original. Murphy notes that “the way in which a new technology creates a new potential and possibility for human thought, expression or activity” (p.13)  really enables human being to creatively grow in new and otherwise unthought of capacities.  Marshall McLuhan, the theorist who originally thought of the global village, comments that human capacities can all be extended and heightened through technology. The more we produce then, the more then we grow as a society; individually, corporately and collectively. The constant creation of new technologies McLuhan sees will “alter perception steadily and without any resistance” (p.27). In a sense we are as media practioners creating a new sense reality, if not the sense of reality itself, and changes the way we relate to one another.

Another way Murphy and Potts see we can analyse this global village is to note the changing relationship between culture and technology. Technology in this sense is seen to bring cultural change. For example the advent of the moving image culturally required the need for broadcasting it. Not just to places people could go to see it, but to places to would come to them. Murphy sees that its advent relates to the post World War One circumstances the world found itself in. Cities grew larger, people spent more time in the family home, and people became more mobile. A way culture responded to the advent of broadcasting, just as that of the internet, is to invent government regulations to keep the technology as a functioning part of culture, not the other way around. The fear of the other way can be vividly seen in Hollywood, such as the Terminator movies. In their book The Social Shaping of Technology, MacKenzie and Wajcman find that the advent of new technologies “merely opens a door; it does not compel one to enter.” (1998:6) We then as media produsers have to knock.


Terranova, Tiziana ‘Tizana Terranova introduces Liquid Democracies’, transmediale,

Bauwebs, Michel (2009) ‘The Internet as Playground and Factory’

Murphie, Andrew and Potts, John (2003) ‘Theorical Frameworks’ in Culture and Technology London: Palgrave Macmillan: pp. 11-38