Monday, November 16, 2009

Convergence between Jonah Brucker-Cohen and Tiziana Terranova

I was very interested in all of Jonah Brucker-Cohen’s explorations of the physicalization of network activity, but what struck me as particularly relevant to last week’s discussion and Terranova was his Police State project. The physical responsiveness of the toy police cars to keywords relating to terrorism released repeatedly on police communication networks (as discovered through, as my relatively technologically-ignorant brain understood it, through the Carnivore program) directly corresponds to Terranova’s articulation of the Shannon-Weaver model of communication. The “information” being transmitted through police networks is iterated through repetition of keywords. The entire project, in fact, is based on the repetitive form information takes and its eventual arbitrariness (as demonstrated physically through the movement of the toy cars).

Brucker-Cohen thus exposes the arbitrariness of our information reception at the hands of overload and repetition, specifically in terms of homeland security, similar to the way in which the You-Tube video of speeches we watched in class exposes the same methods. Is the police network mode of communication, that Carnivore infiltrates and the toy cars reflect, characterized by over-use of keywords (“bomb” “terror”, etc as Brucker-Cohen designates) appropriated due to the police’s exposure to the same mode of communication in the media and in politics?

If Brucker-Cohen’s manifestation of the repetition-based communication system is through directionless toy cars, can this be seen as a political commentary on the futility of communication at the hands of the institution? Or better yet, can it be seen as anything but a political commentary? Perhaps the artist’s production of the project in locations outside the U.S. (he showed us the video of his installation in Amsterdam and frequently works in Ireland/with Irish artists) removes the piece from political context and plays primarily with networks in general rather than the specifics of the American response to terrorism. I am interested to see where Brucker-Cohen’s work takes him and how the tension between his interest in the “aesthetics of interaction” coincides with the political implications of his projects.

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