Sunday, December 6, 2009

What's Lost in Satellite Imaging

Re. Lisa Parks' Lecture Zeroing IN: Infrastructure, Datalands + Viral Videos

I found Lisa Parks and Trevor Paglan's lecture thoroughly interesting -- they raised particularly relevent concerns about issues of surveillance, which though the Bush regime has past and such paranoia has probably fled most of our minds, are still frightening and enthralling.

Parks spent much of her time discussing the orbits of the satellites at work, concerns of their control and also of truth of the information we receive. She talked bout the redevelopment of this new frontier and its potential for the eradication of communication infrastructure.

Yet what I found most interesting about her talk was her insistence on repeating a motion outwards & upwards: a motion into outer space, a target on Google Maps that confronts viewers off and out of the page, the orbits of machines around the earth . What I'm getting at is a sort of new agency, a motion and power of this new communication infrastructure that seems far beyond us, that seems - even in the verbs it demands to describe itself - to create something new, to establish a new kind of motion.

Yet what Parks didn't acknowledge in her albeit short speech (maybe because it was too obvious or maybe because she hadn't thought of it-- hope for the latter...) was that there is a simultaneous erasure occurring .

Both her lecture title "ZEROing In..." and her subheading, "CLEARcutting Communication" hint at this. In this projection outwards, this new agency and action that is creating a new field of communication, there is much being erased, much being reduced to zero, much being cleared.

So what might it be?

Certainly human agency. Maybe human lives -- the aerial images of post-strike Afghan/Iraqi targets completely "zero-ed" to the ground, that is, reduced to nothing. ... What are we clearing or letting be cleared away in these satellite images that allegedly protect us?

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