Loren’s Essay

June 8, 2011

Please click here to be directed to my Architecture and Violence Essay on issuu.

[ http://issuu.com/archandphil/docs/lorenfrances_essay ]


Hackerless Hacktivism :

Misconceptions about the digital panopticon and our quest for radical transparency

The ubiquity of, and increasing ease of access to, information in our digital age relies on a necessary dissolution of spatial boundaries in our shared virtual topography. The city can no longer depend entirely on physical obstructions to demarcate space – and as virtual networks continue to be forged globally, the authority of our physical boundaries has been severely compromised. With this dynamic dissolution and reconfiguration of boundaries comes speculation about the benefit and appropriateness of our newfound ability to make such immediate and unrestricted connections – and a subsequent paranoia about humanity’s subscription to a panoptic mode of living.

This essay seeks to examine the nature of the boundary condition between the overlapping existential threads of physical and virtual space, with particular reference to the way in which information is voluntarily or unconsciously disseminated across a de-territorialized or partially territorialized virtual topography via Google’s Street View.

In order to formulate an argument with respect to architecture, violence and creative resistance, the following points will be explored: –

  • First, the limits of ‘architecture’ – as viewed through the cultural lens of our contemporary digital information society – and thus the significance of the relationship between cityspace and cyberspace to the networked individual.
  • Next, the way in which Google Street View may be perceived as a violent apparatus through the dominant paradigm of the digital panopticon.
  • And finally, the way in which this panoptic analogy – regardless of its pertinence or accuracy – may be creatively resisted or championed by acts of ‘hackerless hactivism’. Using the works of self-proclaimed ‘Street View Artists’ Jon Rafman, Robin Hewlett and Ben Kinsley, in addition to the reported pendulum of debate regarding Google’s recently implemented Street View Opt Out Policy in Germany, this capacity for resistance against a system of perceived oppression will be classified and described according to two modes – that which aspires to destroy the system, and that which aspires to subvert the system.

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