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Digital Theory and Aesthetics Space and Network Cultures in the Urban Environment Essay

Lutz Dammbeck’s documentary entails a research work drawn from internet, archival as well as interview sources in which we are taken on a journey to examine early internet history and it’s cultish and covert government protected aspects. In this documentary Das Netz tries to analyze the social aspects that contribute to the parallel development on the Internet. This brings about dialogue around the arrival of the net as broadly conceived and arguably, experimental tool (Kluitenber 214).

Dammbeck brings out two events one concerning the Unabomber, his life and motivations as well as the present thoughts. His concern about Ted Kaczynski, a boy-genius Harvard-educated math wiz becoming an ultimate murderer made him write a letter concerning his behavior. In response to the letter, Kaczynski showed an element of a thoughtful man of an all knowing arrogance and an isolated autodidact with a considerable prophetic punch.

He introduces a virtual world asking Dammbeck if he would like people to live there. In addition, he brought out questions concerning how it would be if machines were smarter than people, if the future of people, animal and plants become the product of technology and he argues that any contrary perception on these ideas means that computer and biological sciences are dangerous (Davis 47).

Dammbecks second concern is based on how the avant-garde ideas of the 1960s, which stressed open systems, improvisation, as well as the loops between conscious and media, found their way inside the contemporary technological culture to an extent of web 2.0. A secret basic pattern: cybernetics brings out to the right, the factors contributing to this issue (Bousque 63).

The principles of the cybernetics are developed by Norbert Wiener who articulates them as a science of “control and communication”, which equally applies to technological and biological systems.

The cybernetics holds that human mind is not able to so much produce or reflect reality as well as calculate it. Besides, these “reality engines” function with regard to their perceptual frameworks, cultural artifacts together with feedback loops that they are open to change and control.

Roy (153) noted that “Being an element of a cybernetic system as brought out in the documentary entails being involved in an evolving loop, by becoming both the subject and the object of experimentation whereby, this has been the developed relation between scientific inquiry and world of changing technology.” In addition McCullagah (123) says that “The environments that define this relationship are reshaped in ways such as self-affecting loops being the vectors of a radical constructivism, an artificialization of existence”

The cybernetics has also systematized human consciousness by transforming thought into “data processing”, with the implication that the brain is no longer a place of mysteriously creating ego and identity through memory and consciousness, rather is a machine with a switching and controlling circuit, a system where cause is effect and vice versa within an infinite cycle (Debord 175).

Dammbeck’s interview with Robert Taylor, the head of ARPAnet brings out the concept of network in a sense of a highly-connected, global; mechanize system that enhances sharing of information, with internet element boosting this linkage.

This has greatly improved the way of communication based on technology as the internet has enabled a networked sphere of private, academic, social, business, and others networks of local and global scope that are linked or networked by technologies, such as media, military and private social and economic sectors (Fuller 102).

However, the documentary has brought out clearly the opposite of positive internet effects. Besides facilitating powerful operations of identification and control, such as surveillance for both the security and operational categories, it creates vast isolation which includes that of mechanized systems.

It also obfuscates optimism; progress and order as it alienates people from one another as they look to be open in the everyday world (Debord 185). Possibilities of dehumanizing isolation, identification control and critical entropy in social implication and disorder are brought by the open systems due to manipulations through feedback operations.

As a result, the military-industrial complex in provision of underlying operations of identification and control issues in weapons, security and surveillance design and development, has proved these systems invaluable since as it is easier to acquire information outside your location while others can do the same in accessing your internal Information (Galloway 154).

On the other hand Davies quotes that “Osmose hand is immersive interactive virtual reality environment installation with a 3D computer graphics together with interactive 3D sound, a head mounted display and real time motion tracking based on breathing and balance.”

Haggerty & Ericson (617) said that “It is a space of exploring the perceptual interplay between self and world- place of facilitating awareness of one’s own self as consciousness embodied in enveloping space.” Multiple worlds that fascimilate natural environments are experienced by the viewers, with the help of body vest, stereoscopic VR and headset displays.

The experience of the immersant is shared by other viewers through the use of simultaneous live video projection in an environment that conveys the notion of viewership, reality and control. The control aspect takes over, as when a single immersant engages the Osmose virtual world, other viewers are forced to engage in the experience of that single user, as he controls his experience within the expansive confines of the multi-world universe of Osmose (Chun 253).

The database of virtual shows the observer many simulated objects from nature. Just as it is possible for digital images to be displayed on various mediums, it is possible for virtual art to exhibit in a variety of formats on different operates. For instance, on HMDs, in CAVEs, large screens, and through computation of real time which makes the fleeting image spaces achieve the effect of actually existing.

Haggerty (231) say that “These artists have developed software which has created new techniques of manufacturing image spaces, such as the Radiosity process which was developed by Davies, this software as well creates artificial creatures and gives the feeling of being inside the image space.” For example, in avatars, the incorporation of depiction of bodies within the image space which tag along their user’s movement akin to puppets can develop the immersive effect even more (Bogard 149).

Webster (76) noted that “This element enables our body’s systems of communication and senses to enter into processes of give and take with imaginable kind of simulated creature further more, the global data networks together with the telepresence technique that enables access and exchange of images represents a new epistemology communicated by media.”

Regardless of the fact that the technology constrains the outcome of artists, Walter (118) says that “he has vast options at his disposal that are able to bring about a metamorphosis vis a vis the observer, implying that new spaces, which cannot be represented by older computer processing models, are coming into existence for the interactive, processual reception of art.”

According to Char Davies’ claim, interactive installation Osmose entails our subjective experience as sentient, embodied, incarnate, living beings embedded in enveloping, flowing space. Char’s focus is based on reminding people of their connection to natural environment, including biological, spiritual and psychological aspects in form of regenerative sources and mythological ground, rather than projecting artificial worlds (Rogers 87).

Her intention was to do away with the culturally-created distance that evolves between the subject-viewer and the world, by employing methods which involved circumventing the linear perspective conventions, Cartesian space and objective realism- which were inherent to the computer as progeny of western civilization (Manovich 212).

As displayed in Osmose, simple descriptions are used to identify the networked worlds such as; the Clearing, the Forest, the Grid, the Subterranean world among others, and one is able to enter one space such as the leaves’ and the pond’s into strange locations such as the clearing and the water pool (Galloway 120).

According to Jon McCormick, in Osmose, there are travel scenes on which, being in a journey, your destiny is almost controlled and not determined by you (Burnett 54). Though you have choices to make, you will eventually find yourself somewhere. “This reply from immersion in Osmose affirms that artists’ principle that it is possible to transcend traditional interface gaps between machine and human.”

This is so even when re-affirming our corporeality. Additionally, Cartesian notions of space and illustrative realism can effectively be replaced by more evocative alternatives (Fleischer 31).

On the other hand, Valleywag (311) notes that “Osmose public installation includes large-scale stereoscopic video and audio projection with transmitted sound in real-time from the individual’s immersion point-of-view and that the projection enables audience to witness each immersive journey as it unfolds even though that the immersion take place in a private area, a translucent screen- a video screen size- enables audience to observe the immersant’s activities.”

An artist realizes that Immersion in Osmose is dependent on the living acts of the body, to attain a particular state of being within the virtual world. This gives isolation a major concern since the artist’s objective is relating the immersion not to others but to his own self’s profundity (McQuire 95).

In conclusion these two works, ‘The net’ and ‘Osmose’, raise many questions and arguments towards the topic of Network, space and Environment Aesthitcs in digital theory. Lutz Dammbeck’s ‘The net’, shows a cinematic cyber history since the cold-war era and draws the linkage between the ARPANet and cyber-netics views.

Dammbeck sought to show the diverse social theories contributing to the parallel emergence of the internet, although it did not identify any fundamental and important link between counter-cultural consciousness and the tendency towards a techno-utopia. It assumes that the perception of the digital information tends to be free and provides a wider scope of description of conceptual frameworks vital in the internet culture war and cyber-cultures in society as of now (McCullagh 216).

The film argues that networks enhance surveillance on a diversified location from a fixed point, making it easier to coordinate and control both the operation and the security of a given area respectively. However, the imposition of networks enables other parties to access private, confidential and crucial information, not intended to be enclosed to public, that is, violation privacy affecting confidentiality of particular bodies, such as media, security bodies, government and other organizations (Barnet 71).

Davies’ ‘Osmose’, is more of a philosophical work and it tries to show a non-dualist world view that foresees the “human self in the natural environment, instead of a man-made one.”

Davies uses methodologies like “objective realism, Cartesian space and circumventing the conventions of linear perspective to neutralize the culture-created separation between the observer and the world.” Just like Dammbeck, Davies is concerned of the observed and the observer and that freedom and control should be emphasized in promoting media technology (Munster & Munster 216).

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"Digital Theory and Aesthetics Space and Network Cultures in the Urban Environment." IvyPanda, 17 Feb. 2019, ivypanda.com/essays/digital-theory-and-aesthetics-space-and-network-cultures-in-the-urban-environment/.

1. IvyPanda. "Digital Theory and Aesthetics Space and Network Cultures in the Urban Environment." February 17, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/digital-theory-and-aesthetics-space-and-network-cultures-in-the-urban-environment/.


IvyPanda. "Digital Theory and Aesthetics Space and Network Cultures in the Urban Environment." February 17, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/digital-theory-and-aesthetics-space-and-network-cultures-in-the-urban-environment/.


IvyPanda. 2019. "Digital Theory and Aesthetics Space and Network Cultures in the Urban Environment." February 17, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/digital-theory-and-aesthetics-space-and-network-cultures-in-the-urban-environment/.


IvyPanda. (2019) 'Digital Theory and Aesthetics Space and Network Cultures in the Urban Environment'. 17 February.

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