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April 16, 2007

Tele-Agency: Telematics, Telerobotics, and the Art of Meaning


by Edward A. Shanken

"... The human and political implications of agency, especially with respect to technology, demand that agency be problematized as it relates to telematics and telerobotics. By analyzing artworks that use these telecommunications technologies, it is possible to differentiate between various models of agency and suggest their epistemological and ontological implications. Simon Nora and Adam Minc originally defined telematics as a broad field of computer-mediated communications, such as the Internet. In this context, telerobotics can be seen as a specialized sub-division of telematics. By comparing the historical ideological issues underlying telematics and telematic art with the goals for telerobotics and telerobotic art, it is possible to identify some of the continuities and discontinuities between them, especially as they concern agency. In particular, in classic works of telematic art such as La plissure du texte (1982) by Roy Ascott, active agents exchange information with other active agents. Standard implementations of telerobots, by contrast, are predicated on a model in which an active agent controls a passive entity that lacks agency. Some works of telecommunications art expand conventional conceptions of telerobotics. For example, Norman White and Doug Back’s Telephonic Arm Wresting (1986), Paul Sermon’s Telematic Vision and Eduardo Kac and Ikuo Nakamura’s Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1994) employ active-active models of telerobotic agency. Such artworks shed light on the philosophical, ethical, and aesthetic limits of active-passive telerobots and offer alternative structures for the creation of knowledge and being at a distance..." from Tele-Agency: Telematics, Telerobotics, and the Art of Meaning by Edward A. Shanken, Neme.

Posted by jo at April 16, 2007 02:10 PM