Note: If you see this text you use a browser which does not support usual Web-standards. Therefore the design of Media Art Net will not display correctly. Contents are nevertheless provided. For greatest possible comfort and full functionality you should use one of the recommended browsers.

Themesicon: navigation pathGenerative Toolsicon: navigation pathSoftware Art

icon: previous page

AOL as an example, Lessig makes insistently clear how through its very code AOL's architecture prevents all forms of virtual 'rioting'. Different code allows different levels of freedom: "The decision for a particular code is," according to Lessig, "also a decision about the innovation that the code is capable of promoting or inhibiting." [47] To this extent, code can mobilise or immobilise its users. This powerful code remains invisible, however; Graham Harwood refers to this as an "invisible shadow world of process." [48] In this sense, one could refer to the present as a 'postoptical' age in which program code—which can also be described as 'postoptical unconscious', according to Walter Benjamin—becomes "law." I developed the term 'postoptical' while dealing with the concept of the 'ctrl_space' exhibition that took place in 2000 and 2001 at the ZKM Centre for Art and Media in Karlsruhe. This exhibition, which was dedicated solely to the Bentham panoptic-visual paradigm, outlined the problematic (and here, polemically formulated) theory that surveillance today only takes place if a camera is present–which, considering the various forms of 'dataveillance' practiced today, is an outdated definition. The term 'postoptical', on the other hand,


describes all digital data streams and (programmed) communication structures and architectures that can be monitored just as easily but which consist of only a small portion of visual information. [49] In his A Short History of Photography, Walter Benjamin defines the 'optical unconscious' as an unconscious visual dimension of the material world that is normally filtered out from people's social consciences, thus remaining invisible, but which can be made visible using mechanical recording techniques (such as photography and film: slow motion, zoom). In his words, «it is a different nature which speaks to the camera than speaks to the eye: so different that in place of a space consciously woven together by a man on the spot there enters a space held together unconsciously.» [50] He goes on to say that even if photographers can justify their work by capturing others in action, no matter how common that action is, they still cannot know their subjects’ behaviour at the exact moment of capture. Photography and its aids (slow motion, zoom), he claims, reveal this behaviour. They allow us to discover our optical unconscious, just as psychoanalysis allows

icon: next page