Enlightenment

Inspired by a recent book I read – Descartes Bones by Russel Shorto – my outlook on the world has taken on an edgy, focused type of “light”. In his eloquently written narrative of Descartes’ life, death and subsequent intrigue involving the mortal remains, Shorto has opened a window to the advent of the age of enlightenment.
This window shines light on my own thoughts and the way I see the work I make, giving me a better understanding to articulate the inner workings of process, result and feedback loop.
As a novice of institutional or academic philosophy I will probably have to tread lightly with some interpretations – or at least acknowledge that the views expressed here are my own and don’t formally endorse or criticize any scholastic warrants.
I will need to feed the hunger…

Three hundred sixty six years after his death we see the advent of a collective memory. A quote on Big Data from IBM states:
Every day, we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data — so much that 90% of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone. This data comes from everywhere: sensors used to gather climate information, posts to social media sites, digital pictures and videos, purchase transaction records, and cell phone GPS signals to name a few. This data is big data.

This collective memory is mainly made up of zeros and ones, little switches and electrical mini-currents which are pretty much intangible, impossible to perceive without an intermediary device such as an LED screen which converts these abstract blips into pixels, letters and images of cute kittens.
I grew up pre big data on a small holding North of Pretoria. When the phone rang you had to run to answer it as it was connected to wires in the wall. During thunderstorms the ringer twitched with every lightning strike. My mother swore she saw electric tentacles spurt out the receiver once during a storm!
Although we stayed out in the sticks and both my parents lived through war ravaged Germany there was a progressive acceptance and embrace of modern technology. My father had a telex machine which he used for his import and export business. I remember the long paper lints with punched holes which had to be fed into the telex to transmit the orders up North into Africa. How this mechanically and tedious process has changed!
Now we can be anywhere and have a face to face conversation with loved ones just like in the movies. The future is here and we didn’t even see it coming.

Another very insightful book, The People’s Platform: Taking Back Power and Culture in the Digital Age by Astra Taylor has given me some perspective on how old school media is still controlling 21st century “free” internet. She describes some of the nuanced ways how mass media, social media and the control of information is shaping modern society.
Never before has it been possible to track every human as it is today. We all walk with a GPS locator in our pockets which can listen in to any conversation. We freely feed out predilections into algorithmic analysers which predetermine our “experience” according to our likings. Our perception of the World is being sanitised!!

My thoughts are sporadic, almost like the stuff algorithms place on my Facebook feed. A note written to myself in the office reads: “Less Digital, More Real!”

And that is exactly what I am going to do now – go to the studio and engage with tangible real-world problems 😉

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