1. Randall Packer

    Giving up Your Data

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    I live in Washington, DC, the nation’s capital, where I refer to my studio as my underground studio bunker. I take a certain pride in the private nature of my space, though perilously close to the high-surveillance residence just a few blocks down the street where the Vice-President of the United States lives at the Naval Observatory. And yet, my house is in full view of anyone and everyone. Not just my house, but my car as well, parked in front. In the 21st century era of Google Street View and its stealth-mapping capabilities, nothing is private. All you need is someone’s physical address, and that takes very little investigation on the Net. Probe deeper into Google Maps and you discover there is a wealth of information about my residence that has been assembled for the world to see. The notion that you could live a secret life under the radar is a thing of the past. The possibility of seeking out an anonymous log cabin a la the unabomber would be fruitless in today’s mediascape where Google cameras are roaming the streets tracking, mapping, and surveilling everything in their path. Atop the Google Street view vehicle is a special multi-camera that snaps photographs from all angles and stores them into a database that staggers the imagination. Essentially, Google’s mission is to map every square inch of the world: systematically and repeatedly. Returning to my small plot of land in the Google Universe, you can continue to probe into the […]
  2. Randall Packer

    Media Transformations

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    Today’s world is largely made up of pixels. There is no denying it. As everything shifts from analog to digital, we essentially are moving from continuous waves to discreet numbers. That is the world we are becoming: an algorithmic arrangement of zeros and ones. As we communicate and transfer media across the network, the minutia of information is circulating endlessly in the system. We too, in our distributed presence, are broken down as data and reassembled as well. How will this come to reshape our thinking, our self-image, the meaning of who we are in the world? Created by Casey Reas The manipulation of data, so pervasive in everything from glitch art to everyday media tasks, raises the question of whether or not our identities are being resorted in these media transformations. If information is as fluid and transportable as the launch of a photo attachment or the playback of a video, then what is happening to our sense of place and situation in time as we transmit and navigate through the third space. Why, in fact, are we so fascinated by electronic disturbances? Why are we hypnotized by static and pixels and other digital debris floating across our screens and through the synapses of our brains? There is something alluring about the desintegration of information particles. It is as though we are peering through a microscope, not at the invisible paramecium and amoebas found on lab slides, rather, the content of an emerging universe of digital life that we […]
  3. Randall Packer

    Identity Multiples

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    In the third space realm of fictional possibilities, we are role-playing ad infinitum. It is a marvelous game: playable anywhere with a connection, involving anyone in any place or sphere of the globe. The system is pervasive, the rules are nonexistent, the paradigms are there to be broken. If Artaud claimed nearly a century ago in the Theater and its Double, that the theater is a space for the alchemical transformation of everyday life, and that role-playing is a vehicle for inducing the magic of identity permutation, then in fact, our systems of social media constitute a vehicle for entry into the theatrical domain of magic and ritual. When no one quite knows who anyone else is in the mysterious realm of the third space, the possibilities are limitless. Behind the illusory facade of one’s avatar, lie endless branching narratives through the infinite strands of the database. Yes: you can be an artist posing as a military officer posing as an art mogul in the third space. Never mind if it makes any sense, that is the power of theater and the alchemical properties of the imagination. And from the iconic wonder of a multi-layered avatar comes serious play, where politically-charged critique can take down the entire establishment in one fell swoop. That is the power of the theater and in the age of global media (please excuse the cliché), all the world’s a stage. The difference between Shakespeare’s time and the current state of things is that an extraordinary […]
  4. Randall Packer

    The Post-Human Condition

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    Stelarc and his prosthetic third arm It has been said that tools are more than a function of their use, rather, they in turn reshape the minds who use them (Alan Kay). It has also been said that our tools have become an extension of our collective nervous system, (Marshall McLuhan). And finally, it has been said that all of us who are active participants in the Network are always in a potential state of global embrace (Roy Ascott). For those of us who have come to inhabit the third space, perhaps to a greater degree than we care to admit, the notion of how our technological tools have reshaped us, extended us, as far as the Net can reach, is fundamental to our understanding of what is implied by the post-human condition. For in the third space, where boundaries are blurred, connections are instantaneous, and everyone is just a click away, we have to wonder, and quite critically so, how this is effecting what we consider to be our innately human qualities. What does it mean to be human in the first place? That is a question perhaps too large to be answered by any one mortal soul. But if being human means we occupy space, exist in time, create relationships with others, nourish ourselves physically and intellectually: well all of those human necessities have been irrevocably altered by our exposure to technologies and our increasing immersion in the third space. In the photo above of the Australian performance […]
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