Data- what is data that is not institutionalized? There doesn’t seem to be an easy way to gather data In an alternative way so that it will not be managed by one organizing source. If so, this must mean that it depends on who tells the story, who are we to cooperate with and which narrative are we choosing that will provide us with the data we want.
These arguments were the starting point of the discussion we had in the side room. As we agreed that there is no objectivity possible from a philosophical perspective, we came to think about undermining as a means of evoking constructive discourse. Consequently, art was claimed to have a role in promoting this strategy, reflecting, and breaking to little particles whatever perception that is situated in out consciousness as eternally fixed or true.
Reality becoming computable is also potentially a way of undermining, a tool, using technology’s undisputable empiric reputation as the bate. If story telling is what allows narratives to form and mold our present and future, in this day and age we ought to reclaim the potential of data to tell the story a bit differently, fighting the consensus with yet another scientifically proven consensus, sell it as “objective”. This will therefore allow us to balance current power relations and aspire for a more complex understanding of ourselves and the world we are part of.
Shooting itself in the leg
It is interesting to point out how contemporary digital technologies are sometimes used (such as in the example of gathering data on Co2 pollution) to undermine their own (moral) right to exist when providing humans on information on their destructive actions, consequences, waste. It is technology that helps us figure out in what ways it escapes its own intention, its initial optimization. From another perspective, this is a process of technology becoming self-regulatory, monitoring its own actions, and reporting on them to minimize bad results and even reevaluate its role in the network.
Subjectivity and the realness of sensorial experiences
It was interesting to see how the concept of “becoming computable” relates to our attempt of making things tangible in our final project of the first term. In a way this is a proof of the viability of the model of embodiment with an extension to different senses. To make things REAL, we need to gather them with our senses. These senses of course also have a hierarchy between them (though what is physical is still perceived as more REAL than what is merely visible). For example, if we would be able to use a contrast agent to make Co2 in the air visible, it has stronger impact then a number on the screen. A sound would have a similar effect. Is we would interact with it, inhale it, feel its density with our body and breathing system, then it will have an even greater affect.
History, archives, trajectories
Reality becoming computable instead of just being merely read by living creatures, emphasizes how knowledge is becoming more relational then ever. This is to say that things, phenomenon, trends, events, situations- all have a history, are subject to being calculated and therefor their future might be known, estimated, predicted. One could say the Becoming Computable is a kind of time travelling practice, being able to broaden our perspective by means of expanding our ability to gather information on the past and future with our senses at the present moment.
As it is exposing reality and expanding it so that we become aware of the forms and their processes (in-formation/information), it is also in dialogue with what we are used to reducing to two main categories: fantasy vs. nightmare. Current narratives are challenged and are to be compared with these binary perceptions of the world and of technology in particular. In the example of the climate crisis, the data gathered on the levels of Co2 does not necessarily mean we are changing between this category to the other, but more that it is impossible now to disregard the already existing but transparent actors in the network.
Ursula K. Le Guin’s perspective on how technology is perceived and manipulated into serving the heroic story of conquest is exactly what the “becoming computable” concept is all about, potentially. Instead of a linear narrative of conflict being solved by force of innovative dangerous objects and systems (phallus), she suggest the idea of accumulative multi-layered container of knowledge/data (“carrier bag/belly/box/house/medicine bundle) which can guide us into understanding the world and ourselves better.
To conclude, I would like to end with the same question I asked at the end of the discussion in class, as I think it is well deserving some echo: What is the down side of being able to know everything about the past, present and future? What importance does not knowing play in our lives, and what are the consequences of filling the gap with detailed information? Could knowing be a contemporary prison for our mind and bodies alike?