Into the Blind

2011

In a world of perfectly functional and synchronized platforms, technology is not a prothesis of a hybrid cyborg organism anymore (*Donna Harraway). It is at the same time a collective fantasy and a physical battlefield of social forces sublimated in protocols*. The participative world of technoculture is total, as it is constant and ubiquitous, outside and above technological devices, a compass through the reality of digital materiality. While shaping time/space to the point of its own assimilation, it is at the same time a key mediator of human activities and communication.

Into the Blind dives into everyday positioning towards the indispensable tools that shape our movement, while at the same time remaining fundamentally mysterious, due to their nature. Through the simulation of placing a modified GPS software* on the market, this work inquires into the nature of producing technological narratives and practices. Diverse principles of navigation are offered, as an experimental technological prototype, in the form of products with supporting corporate rhetoric elements.

-Model 100 offers taxi drivers the possibility of earning money by taking longer routes, while it still presenting itself as a regular navigation software to the customer

-Model 200 offers routes for avoiding police

-Model 300 looks for routes of less electromagnetic frequency

 

Using the primary rule of interface design – giving the user the feeling of having control, the models 100-300 position themselves inside the triangle human-manipulation-technology. The features of the models go from fulfilling practical (model 100) to abstract (model 300) requests for convoluted routes, while their scope depicts the speculative possibilities of market rhetoric, enabled by the suggestiveness of technology itself. What connects these three models is an identical interpretation of tasks, in other words they are the same software, but as mechanisms of their inner workings are not visible, their package gives the impression of distinction and offers trust.

 

The material basis of today’s’ software suggestiveness is the vast communicative gap between human perception and code that resides in a specific complex technology, as well as the increasing speed of software and device development in the direction of intuitiveness. The greater gap between code and human logical understanding, the greater the possibilities of interpretation, therefore access to the inner workings of technological structures becomes the privilege of today, and a carrier of social power. Moreover, the growing frequency of regulations towards a centralization of informational-communicative processes plays an important political role in the direction of control over technological practices.

Stemming from an urge for a physical and figurative opening of the black box* of closed systems, these navigational offers investigate the space between human perception and technological structures, in order to render visible the decisions existing behind every neutral technology. In a classical hacker tradition, on the example of one of the most hermetic systems (the GPS system, created primarily for military purposes), Into the Blind builds on the strategy of the situationist detournament* with speculative technology. Choosing the “less common road”, in other words, adjusting the meaning of optimal route, the modified software indicates the problem of technological determinism on a symbolic level (technology as guiding hand, taking the right path), as well as on a material one, based in the sole structure of the software, through the concept of effective algorithms. As a laboratory of technological consumption, Into the Blind celebrates the mantra of practicing performative code and calls for a freedom of software intervention, through the in-between language of human and machine, or as Katherine Hayles would say: “We become the codes we punch”*.