21/10/14 – 27/10/14 • IED Week Report

2014-10-28 12.54.03 HDR

I have been looking at identity and surveillance. Reading Foucault’s ‘The Subject and Power’ has brought up the sense of identity being “imposed” by power, the idea that power relations “tie (a person) to his own identity in a constraining way” and this links to the way that surveillance, especially digital surveillance, requires a persistent, singular identity in order to track and record an individual.

This leads in two directions. Firstly, towards the ‘Non-Places’ as described by Marc Augé where this surveillance is codified into the space – I finished reading Ground Control, which investigates this in the context of British cities. Secondly, towards the Apophenia, the ability to see patterns in meaningless data, that can be exploited in automated, digital surveillance tools.

[Image above, of the heavily fortified bridge into London’s Canary Wharf, a Non-Place of the highest order.]

2014-10-22 11.09.18 HDR

With Francesco Tacchini, I succeeded in creating Rochelle Salt crystals which exhibit piezoelectric properties and, therefore, work as contact microphones. Currently, they’re small and therefore not particularly sensitive, but hopefully we can build on the recipe to make it more concentrated and produce larger, shapeable, ones.

Here are a few test audio recordings: https://soundcloud.com/ollyjsmith/sets/rochelle-salt-piezo-test

(Contemporary) Luddism

However, it is also likely that some people will attack technology directly. Technology is already the primary controlling force in our lives: automated systems run the stock market, algorithms are highly influential forces in deciding Google search results or Netflix recommendations, and sophisticated policing and surveillance techniques keep people from threatening the system without them even knowing it. However, more people are going to realize how much technology influences their lives as they begin to interact with its artificial products on an everyday basis. Consider, for example, how widespread the anti-Facebook sentiment is, or how easily people can attack a company like Google. Before this point in history, technology wasn’t even a cultural topic for discussion. Now it is one of the most common.

Luddites must also constantly ask themselves how their current projects contribute to the overall goal of ending the industrial system. Any projects that do not lead to that goal should be dropped.

– John Jacobi, The Luddite Method

[full text]

07/10/14 – 13/10/14 • IED Week Report

2014-10-13 20.43.25 HDR

Early in the week I found some interesting circuit bend points on an old Yamaha PSS-6 and produced some interesting distorted squeals. In the process of putting it back together, though, I shorted it out and burnt out the chip responsible for the sound (at least that’s what it smelt like).

2014-10-13 20.07.21 HDR

I Finished reading Thomas More’s ‘Utopia’ finding interesting propositions that hide its age and strange incongruities that make it very clear throughout. Its admonishment of a system that rewards those whose work merely takes advantage of others (similarities here to David Graeber’s thoughts on Bullshit Jobs) jarring with its attempts to justify slavery and patriarchal hierarchies.

Began reading ‘Ground Control: Fear and happiness in the twenty-first-century city’ by Anna Minton.


Started this term’s teaching with 2 sesisons at LCC, both were intended as introductory, contextual, sessions, with one covering computing history both generally and in art and design, and the other covering the World Wide Web’s development from academic publishing platform to the hydra-like entity we see today.