Computational Art as Critical Technical Practice
The notes displayed in the image above are composing a map drawn for the critical technical practice workshop carried out together with Felix. It is a scheme on the subject of electronic locking systems, access control and identification technologies looked at via it’s history and technical, discursive and social aspects. The interconnection between these aspects became clear in our discussions. Several keywords came up over and over again, bleeding into each other. The general ideas of gatekeeping, separation and exclusion, belonging, identity, and surveillance came up as various different aspects and in different guises.
One of several interesting discussions we had was how access and means of keeping the “accepted” people in and all the others out of buildings have changed over time. How the architecture and design of buildings in it self may have changed due to this aspect. Where historically narrow passages and few and specific entrances, overlooked by wardens, designed to physically eliminate the “risk” of unwanted and unregistered visitors, the efficiency of automated access systems could perhaps be said to grant more access and expanded ways of entering buildings (both as in where, when and how) to the ones that are permitted and accepted to enter, and less access to those who are not wanted or accepted. A twist in this is perhaps the ease of lending out cards in those places where more rigid biometric security systems have not been implemented.
The registration by the warden at the entrance is now automated, the card used to enter automatically saves who enters where at what time. Complemented with security cameras, few movements in spaces like the university buildings go untracked. A discursive aspect we identified as major is how the manufacturers (and, I guess, buyers) of these systems are emphasizing concepts of “safety” and “security”. This by means of control and surveillance. The idea of safety for a certain group not only by exclusion and separation of all others, but through monitoring and storing data and casting suspicion on those with access as well, is unsettling from all angles. Whether granted access or not in the first place becomes irrelevant which adds to the general notion of distrust and suspicion that walls and locked doors inherit. As for how the data is then used, or even might be used, is ever so discomforting.
I think this might highlight an important aspect (out of many) within the concept of disobedient technology. That is how a by looking at a specific piece of tech and it’s applications, some things can be said, learnt and questioned and about wider questions as well as the implications and specificity of the object it self. It can in some ways be seen as a deconstruction of symbols or archetypes as well as specific physical objects working on a very tangible direct conscious level as well as a deeper subconscious plane.
I really find this idea of working on multiple levels at the same time, questioning it’s uses and implications, and at the same time working with notions and representations of ideas, currents and relations useful. Together with the approach of working with an object or technology it self, criticizing and reviewing it from within to understand it’s inherited functions as well as it’s context and the role it’s been given, I feel that this approach (or approaches) will be a helpful tool for the work to come. Useful and inspiring.
//Jakob Jennerholm Hammar | 01/22/20