1. Nils Plath
    Posted 25. March 2014 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

    A striking post to ponder what it might mean that in the presence of these „increasingly ever-present Automated Number Plate Readers (ANPR)“ and various other surveillance systems it is the automobile itself that has apparently more and more become a medium of transport for data. What was once the materialized promise of individual freedom and the expression of self-determination via unlimited mobility is now seen (by machines and their makers) as a mere data carrier. Formerly a status symbol, an icon of speed and prosperity, an image of technological performance and of the pride of ownership (and thus so often photographed), the automobile is now being used as a supplier of or a collecting tool for information about sitings in order to map the world according to old logics by those who like to act as their new rulers. As we can learn from the post, our vehicles help to draw a new map of the land when turned into objects by seeing machines that register them as carriers of highly valuable information (where we still like to look at them as displays of our life-styles). And the minds of the engineers who believe to master the world of empiricism have in the meantime already turned away from what was once their (or their predecessors’) pride and joy – the automobile –, to find self-fulfillment elsewhere in inventing products often invisible to the human eye.
    (It might be worth a thought if the automobile itself could not be understood to have been a kind of seeing machine in its own way, too, producing multifold images stored to be recalled later. Indeed, over time, the entire set up of the highly industrialized Western societies that we speak of here was aligned with the automobile. With far-reaching effects. Their traces still exist wherever we stand and go, live and work, while the views through the windshield remembered and unconsciously stored in our memories will continue to accompany us when scanning, registering, cataloguing our present and future environments (as always as depictions). Doesn’t this in retrospect make the automobile an imaginary seeing machine?)
    The conceptual thinking of reality behind the practice of companies like Vigilant Solutions that turn pictures of objects into data and thereby register objects that represent certain highly charged images (of world views) as new data base content is revealing in a quite different respect, of course. In just a few steps, the „world“ is declared to be a totality (made of data) and is obviously being viewed as an entity up for grabs again, and therefore to be mapped. (The mentioned legal battles going on being a sign that this seizing of data as the new resource of wealth and power does not go undisputed, and are reminders of the wars over territories fought in previous centuries during the course of settlement and land grab.) This totality then must find its complete depiction in data. As taken from license plates here, paired with geodetical information, and elsewhere from other forms of I.D.. For those who seek to survey and measure it by technological means as a totality, the world appears probably as it were when invented by the early “explorers”, when they transfered the “ends of the world” and the “blank spots” discovered into the set up of their brought from home notions and believes. These data collectors also work (maybe unknowingly) on fabricating a closed and cohesive conception of the world in which we live in with our asymmetrical images, following scripts to which their spokespeople remain unaware of.
    In our day and age, the surveillance technologies and production of fear and stereotypes, the modes of mental and cognitive mapping, the manufacturing and analysis of models and strategies for in- and exclusion of entire groups or individuals within societies and cultures by identification technologies, the representations of cultural identity under the conditions of networked media and their control are a given, and are a self-evident set of themes and topics in today’s debates about our so called present (while in media art works and projects on surveillance and control are as old as video cameras themselves). Within this frame of reference as the state of mind of discourse, all attempts to shed light on the modalities of imaging now common practice will also show how “our” thinking within “our” societies is determined by the scripts, which “we” regard as valid where ever we underwrite the production of a cohesive world view with words. Therefore, a new cartography of the “geographies of photography“ can indeed be seen as a much welcomed step into the right direction here.

  2. Posted 28. March 2014 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

    It would seem that the the manner in which the term “script” is employed in this post really constitutes a substitute for the word function. As such the function of a any whether for recording images and information or any other uses is something that has always been with us. The function of recording and or documenting of information for innumerable purposes is ancient . tTe manner in which it is done has changed constantly as technology has constantly progressed. The earliest uses of photography have included documenting geography and territorial holdings as was done by the British in the Middle in East in the mid-1800’s. It would seem an artificial designation to conclude that machines developed for all kinds of information whether scientific or not are working with “scripts”. Rather what these changes call into question are myriad social, political and even economic questions that involve legal judgments which can extend beyond any one country’s borders. Those issues have always been present in the recording or reproduction of images whether clandestine or for targeted purposes or for personal pleasure. The technology employed is a reflection of that which is available, while new processes may be more invasive the question of purpose and end use is a constant. The problems that result are part of something beyond the actual development of machinery.

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