Things Happen in Space

In these days I am trying to put together a collaborative talk – or symposium – that questions the legacy of physical space in the age of the digital everyday. Does it still matter? Can space be still our theatrical background that participates and witnesses our everyday life?

I would say yes.

The way our brain naturally perceives space is what virtual reality is pursuing to imitate through enhanced experience tools, like the ultimate Oculus Rift, or late Google Glasses. Weirdly enough we believed this paradox: we believe that without such tools we see reality as “boring” as it might appear to our eyes.

Christopher Hawthorne has an interesting analysis of Citizenfour‘s interior: the hotel room. We well know that space: it looks familiar to us because it confirms what we imagine to be a boutique interior space and, most importantly, we do recognise it as it has been broadcasted for months in all major news channels. Whether in reality Snowden “plays”  the main actor, to some extent he becomes for the audience the supporting one because of the twofold familiarity of that space. The hotel room takes on a universal meaning for its banality, becomes symbol of the Snowden case, bypassing Snowden himself. As pointed out by Hawthorne, Laura Poitras reverses this condition in the space of the “fiction”; she unpacks what that space really is under the surveillance’s perspective, which is something we are not aware of. By unwrapping its “real” aspect that room changes to become scenario of a story, the one told as Snowden lives it. At this point for the audience the room disappears: what is left is the anxiety for the acknowledgment of what really happened. The Snowden’s widely broadcasted fiction, as seen through media, is reversed. We now see a story.

Such inversion happens through space. Indeed the hotel room changes before and after the broadcasted interview. Laura Poitras has been capable of giving shape to the paradox of the aided-enhanced-reality.

Physical space is the place where our real life does take form, because of this mutual relationship between us and our perception of the surrounding.

I hope to achieve a comparable result by constructing dialogues between people.


2.0 Adaptive Vitruvian Men

In 1490 Leonardo da Vinci designed one of the most iconic drawings of human being history: “The Vitruvian Man“. Its legacy influenced not only visual arts and, in particular, architecture but also a whole generation of philosophical thinking, which for years has been perpetuating its insights on the subject of harmony between human kind and nature.

Leonardo’s man is measure of the universe.

Until early 20th century the human body has been the rationale on the subject of proportions to be applied to urban, architectural and product design. Human based proportions were the continuous thread between “the spoon and the city“. For centuries the body has been the second term of a mutual relationship with the environment, with the intent of creating harmony between microcosm and macrocosm.

With the emergence of wearable technologies the perception of the body in design has been registering an important shift. Wearable design is no longer the medium that interfaces human kind with nature. Nature is on the body, it follows human biorhythm and performs accordingly. Through sensors, adaptive technologies and smart materials we are capable of modifying any kind of environmental condition in relation to our personal perception of it. If  hot, we can wear sweatless fabric, which gets riddle of any unnecessary drop, the same applies to cold. We now wear the environment, there is no longer any detachment – i.e. a threshold by which we define border of identities – but a single interwoven mesh that weaves bodies with the everyday life.

The seamless condition we find ourselves in melts any demarcation line, which traditionally divides for defining and enhancing the self critical acknowledge of the real.

Contrast and constrains help on developing challenges.

Poetry, poem, music and visual art have been created under restrained circumstances. I love the idea of avoiding the freezing cold of the winter, but I hope that there will be always room for a mutual, challenging and contrasting relationship between human being and nature.

Crisis unfolds invention.

On the Illusion of Truth and Plato’s Cave

Truth is something that any one of us thinks to know.

Of course we know which is the truth of our everyday reality. It somehow accomplishes our sense of expectation or, at least, it comes very close to it.

In the BIG history that we experience everyday we look for a comfortable truth, which helps to understand what happens around us. As Plato describes through “The Cave” allegory and Slavoj Žižek points out, our “truth” is coated with a good glossy layer of ideology that really helps us on bridging the void of reality, which we can’t really grasp when displayed as raw.

At two years distance from the “Snowden” case, the storm looks quieter, also because our attention has moved to another bigger problem we are trying to cope with, when speaking about freedom of speech and professing multiplicity of credos and ideas in order to coexist, in our diversity, under the same roof.

Neverthless after watching at ICA Laura Poitras’s “Citezenfour“, my own sense of reality has been reevaluating the state of things. At the beginning I thought the movie was about the “celebration” of Edward Snowden and his capability of taking a big breath and revealing us what NSA has been weaving for us under the “symbol” of “national security”.

After watching the end I changed my mind. I am not sure yet who is the audience of the movie, whether us – well done, I felt like Neo taking the red pill – or the Security-entitled-people-I-dont-fxxxxxx-care-about-your-privacy.

A quote from the movie says that what we call PRIVACY is what our ancestors died for not long time ago: FREEDOM OF SPEECH.

What does really worry me is that data, hence metadata, collection moulds a kind of society where you can drink 1000 kinds of different milks, eat 2000 kinds of breakfast cereals but think in ONE single way. As there are no effective laws that protect people like Snowden and ourselves (the movie makes a good point of it) we give out, for no return, the structural articulation of our thoughts, i.e. our forma mentis.

Snowden again makes another good point. As we know that it works in this way we refrain on searching for specific key words because we know we’ll be given a “particular attention”. As consequence we limit our “freedom of speech”. We limit ourselves on making a new apparatus of thinking; new ideas are no longer on the menu of civilisation.

The system is so intricate that it feels like we are all wire connected to the same router, which packages words and thought for us, when we believe to live a free world, which we need to “export”.

Here the ends of the movie makes me feel a bit relieved, when it portrays the after Snowden: other people are trying to fight the Internet Colonialism where nations are  replaced by lawless private corporations.

Whether you agree or not I hope you do watch the movie and spend sometime to think about which might be the new democracy that can bring us back to express our ideas in the contemporary agora. Don’t let it go