Part I. Individuating

“Topological Sensibility”

Mark B. Hansen

“Topology of Sensibility” sketches an “objective” phenomenology of manifestation on the basis of recent work in the mathematical field of topos theory.  Focusing on the alleged “topological turn” in cultural and media studies, the paper insists on the irreducibility of phenomenology at the same time as it seeks to reposition the phenomenal in relation to the complexity of worldly sensibilty outside and beneath the grasp of subjective consciousness.  The paper invests today’s topological media machines (notably relational databases) with the power to produce appearances and argues that such appearances themselves carry ontological weight – as the generators of transitional ontologies in a pluralistic frame.

“Weather Patterns, or How Minor Gestures Entertain the Environment”

Erin Manning

A weather pattern: the smell of red.

A minor gesture: the force of form that makes a work work.

How do weather patterns qualitatively alter the field of experience?

What are the minor gestures of weather patterns in the making?

Proposition: Minor gestures trouble institutional frameworks in the same way they trouble existing forms of value. This is their potential: they open the artistic process beyond the matter-form of its object, beyond the prestige value that comes with all of the artistic conclusions that surround us. The minor gesture is the felt experience of potential, the force that makes felt how a process is never about an individual, but about the ecology it calls forth.

“Peekaboo, I see you!”

Lily Diaz

Though ubicomp and surveillance systems can lead to quantitative augmentation and reach in complexity, this does not necessarily translate into qualitative improvements to human life. At stake is the issue of human agency and how these technologies influence our ability to act in the world. This essay examines the relationship between complexity, observation, and human agency in the context of ubicomp and surveillance systems, from the perspective of Niklas Luhmann’s systems theory. I contend that the understanding of the world available through human observation is of a different order and type from the sensor-mediated form of observation of computers. My aim is to reflect on the different perspectives that art systems can give us about the impact of information communications technology in human life as well as show an example of how complexity and reflexivity are used by artists in the creation of art.

“The Implied Producer and The Citizen of the Culture of Ubiquitous Information: Investigating Emergent Typologies of Critical Awareness”

Morten Søndergaard

The question raised in this chapter is inspired by the notion of the ’citizens of the artwork’ (María Andueza Olmedo, 2011) – what is the significance and impact on the audience unprepared for the technological interference into the everyday life and awareness by ubiquitous culture and art-installations in public spaces? What constitutes these ’unprepared’ and maybe ‘unaware’ citizens in the culture of ubiquitous information? What role does the citizen play in the creation of technologically defined and often ‘designed’ environments? Furthermore, how could the position of the ‘ubiquitous’ citizen be said to reflect back on the situation and constitution of the public space as an open and political space?

“The Elephants in the (Server) Room”

Simon Penny

“The Elephants in the (Server) Room: Sustainability and Surveillance in the era of Big Data” explores a range of uncomfortable and socio-politically unresolved aspects of contemporary networked computing,including questions of energy and resource consumption in the infrastructure which underlies mythology of the “cloud”; the deployment of that infrastructure for the harvesting and storage of personal data from communication utilities and  social media sites, and the processing of that data via big data statistical analysis; the product of which a profitable information commodity.

“Towards Transdisciplinary Design of Ubiquitous Computing Systems Supporting End-User Development”

Irene Mavrommati

For enabling end-users to become active shapers of UbiComp environments, designers and engineers need to first understand the broader implications of such complex systems. Theoretical and methodological constructs attempting a unifying structure for the design of Ubiquitous Computing Systems are discussed, based on Artifacts as components and supporting End-User Development. Systems are considered in their holistic form that includes people, societies, mental or physical tools, computing systems, and intelligent mechanisms, as parts which evolve in a continuous interplay. The proposed structure is intended as a step towards providing common ground to multidisciplinary teams involved with the development of Ubicomp systems.

“Ambient Literature: Writing Probability”

Jonathan Dovey

Data flow complements human traffic and the flow of goods in and around our cities. These systems are large scale, city wide, national and global; they are dynamic, responding to what people do; they integrate embodied and imaginary experiences, material and mediating objects. In short, they begin to become complex systems, which increase our opportunities for new forms of reading and listening experience. This chapter explores what might happen when data aspires to literary form. It asks how can situated literary experiences delivered through pervasive media systems produce moments where the individual reader or listener is repositioned and offered new ways to experience and understand their moment within the complexity of the urban informatic flow?

“Ubiquitous Memory: I Do Not Remember, We Do Not Forget”

Wendy Hui Kyong Chun

Wendy Chun takes up the claim that the ubiquity of our digital technology undoes common assumptions about the relationship between computer memory and human habit. Her analysis mobilizes discussions of neurobiology and computer infrastructures to argue that an understanding of memory not as storage, but memory as habit, where habit is “humanly-made nature” allows us to understand the ways in which we engage with our technologies. For Chun, we are not only habituated to the ubiquity of our technologies, our technologies also habituate us to new modes of being connected, to new forms of subjectivity.