Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Role of new media/technology moving forward

Kelly Dobson has been my favorite guest speaker by far because of the way her art is not only thought-provoking but functional. Her wearable organs, such as the screaming lung, was a funny look at how technology can be integrated with individuals, like portable media devices but in a much more "natural" way. By natural I mean that the wearable organs address problems that are much more humanistic than an ipod's providing portable music. Likewise, her breathing device, the OMO (sp?) was meant to help calm people by steadying breathing patterns. Her use of technology this way was interesting and thought-provoking.

However, this aspect of technology raises some important social questions for me. How does new technology and new media affect the concepts of communication, caring, and comfort? Typically, technology does not invoke such thought because it deals with pioneering realms. The realms of portable media were previously unheard of. However, the way in which Kelly Dobson's technology acted as a replacement for some kind of human or primitive function makes me wonder how these ideas I have suggested (communication, caring, and comfort) may change in the future.

For example, "Blendie", and her other responsive appliances seem to revolutionize the idea of communication. If a household appliance can respond so specifically to our sounds (if we speak its language of course), how can our idea of communication change in the future? The way OMO created a sense of comfort in the user, the same way a person would have previously, also challenges the concept of comfort. Her vast examples of robots interacting with humans, most provocatively with an infant, questions the meaning of "caring". My first instinct was to think that technology replacing human function and interaction suggests a degradation of social functioning. But, maybe her art is not revolutionary in this respect because new technology has always been doing this. Or, is it possible that new technology is just changing the definitions of these words all together. In light of the Haraway's reading of cyborgs, is society as a whole shifting to a cyborg community, where the division between person and machine is blurring?

(sorry for the late post)

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