From XPUB & Lens-Based wiki

Prisoners of the grid?


Note quite there yet but not as far as I was.
Is it possible to be present somewhere again instead of being occupied (it is late as I am trying to make sense)

What am I doing in practice...
The experience of the world is always mediated, by semantic symbols, may they constitute language, maps, digital interface or protocols.
I would like to work from tools to mediate the world (the map) to reimagine a possible agency between people by creating spatial relationships that were not meant to happen (because there is no economical imperative for these).

Systems organise agency between people and objects over the world (turned into space by the very fact of their mediation). Within them operate processes, identiable as they follow a set of protocols (behavioural rules). But processes being energy materialised, there is always a margin of errors, for the unexpected to happen (a system differ from the truth because it is a stereotype, an abstraction). From what we learn because of the unexpected we shall recreate systems. But if a system doesn't collapse completely, humans who havent chosen the system cannot work on the reforming of it. Feeding algorythms with information through automation is trying to exclude the human from the reorganisation of the system (or at least society). It was created from the fear of global collapse instead of the embrace of the creative potential liberated from first hand experience of collapse, as it enables freedom for individuals to take the system into higher organisation with and by them. This fear is the result of the atomic bomb that lead to paranoia and distrust of human's ethical values. But values are what a community share over a local scale, and inevitably don't benefit the ones out of the community's borders. Also, the « exclusion » of the human decision for taking the system to a higher level of organisation is a lie, it has just been captured by a smaller amound of people. (the most global the territory, the most reduced the power making community). Human action can be identified in the establishment of rules dictating processes behaviour.

→ A system leading us towards a global equilibrium is a vanity (fighting entropy)
→ There is nothing such as the removal of human subjectivity of systems, just blackboxing
→ Ruling processes behaviours is where human decision can be identified
→ There is nothing as a global equal world, only a wider territory gouverned by a restrained locality.
→ Entropy is part of the life cycle of a system
→ systems mediate our relationship to immediate environment through symbols (measurements, rituals, language, etc). Losing power to modify them is losing mobility ?

Neo feodal system ? System resulting of a warrior aristocracy (protecting the people from war threat) as a frame to regulate violence of relations of power and ownership?
Religious finality of the system – being estranged from the world by a mediation hidding its human crafting.
Preceeded by the fall of the Roman Empire → crisis of religious belief and loss of traditional values, financial crisis, growing inequality between rich and poor through unfair taxation, migration flux getting out of hand, military overspending and greed for territory expansion, corruption and lack of political coherence, weakening of the army and contraction of private police or mercenaries, reliance on slaves/technology rather than know how. Lead poisoning could have also helped)


Susbtance of the project (clearing things for myself):
Our position in the world is defined by an intersect of our geographical (local and experienced) and online location (relation to the distant). The positioning of individuals along a shared grid enables relations to be drawn.

If I was starting from the grid and tried to highlight existing relations, I wouldn't break away from the structuring of their prescriptors. If i was for instance trying to reveal a constellation of points already in a relation with each other (my position, facebook, gmail, pzwart wiki etc), I would go along with what's pre-existing. That's what happens with telescopical or browsed landscapes series. I am only trying to reveal a geographical agency to myself.

By starting from imposing a New Matrix over space, relations can be created through an arbirtary way of composing with the grid (there is no pre established (economical?) need for the locations to be associated). Therefore there is a margin of uncertainety on that side. I'm not getting out a shape made of location already assembled, I can imprint a metaphorical shape found within the database onto the Earth. By using constellation, I refer to the most primitive way of finding where we are on the planet, and perhaps one of the most opened.

This means also diving into the grey zone floating between the terrain and the grid. The patterns can associate locations through a digital way of measuring the shape of their agency. The ideal shape and the reality of their agency might be comparable yet not superimposable.

Starting point (problematics of the project itself not necessarily thesis):
GeoIP databases tie locations on Earth and Computer networks together. Data is spread across the planetary into physical locations, we do not navigate from nowhere and access content that is physically embedded somewhere. Locations spread over a planetary scale are put in relation with one another. How to represent these relationships taking their scale and invisibility into account. Can we trust these representations? How can these they become more than just mere representations?

Key words :
Materiality, Technology, Land Art, Location, Ecology, Scaling (Global and Local), Temporalities (Geological, Computational), relations, Site vs non-site, Map and Territory

Land Art and Networked Art :
Humanity's impact on the environment, scale, uncertain evolution of the work (invisible phenomenons applying), human and the planetary, the planet is not reducible to human action, the use of film, (hyper)text, and measurement technics (maps) to communicate about the work by converting it back to human scale. (post WWII consciousness that something happening locally can be enmeshed in something bigger?)

Extracting space - abstracting the world

The behavior of physical objects is dictated by how they relate to one another, which depends on where they lie in space at a given time. (structuring role of space)
From patterning influences we extract space.
- Mathematics come from the abstraction of the world into something that could explain the local in relation to what cannot be experienced.

-> Fitting the world into a grid system -> Such systems have always had a strategic aim to govern space
Aims: navigation, conquest, economical development, security, identification...

-> systems used to be rooted in the observation of physical phenomenas perceived through vision. (shadows of Eratostene founded principles of geometry, constellations for Andeans, Polynesians, Egyptians...)
-> These systems are always a simplification and never a chiral copy nor a truth, rather a useful apparatus.
-> They are a necessary mediation between us and the world

How we got here

-> roots of cybernetics (WW2 /Mutual Assured Destruction)
-> Search of stability by fighting entropy
Initially, cybernetic systems are meant to enable communication to be effective under any catastrophic potential disturbance. Military information can always reach destination for efficient coordination and teleaction. This implies that the technology embodies paranoia and was thought out in a way that enables maximum flexibility (by programming behaviours to find paths rather than predetermine paths). Computer Networks technology have a lot in common with the Interstate Highway system in that sense.

-> The system can update itself faster than we can notice the effective impact of these changes. However people who made such systems may also not quite get it.

Inverted entropy - necessity of regular collapses

Entropy, earthquakes, server down, link rot, Flash crashes...
-> Construction of a new order/reconfiguration?
-> problem of time scale (fluidity of navigation enhanced by protocols to hide the breaks)
-> Material differences from one environment to the other can be developed here
-> Earth Time > Human time > computational time = a mismatch which makes it hardly graspable for the mind

Illusion of global eaqual distribution - locality always prevails

“Space is data compression on a massive scale.”
This compression is powerful due to locality. Locality means the whole is the sum of its spatial parts.
We perceive things through locality but the whole made of everything we can't perceive is non-local and cannot be captured.
- There isn't a global system that isn't biased in its architecture

“The opposite of the local isn't the global; it's the virtual.” -Tiqqun

“The global is indeed so not opposed to the local that the global in fact produces the local. The global only refers to a certain distribution of differences based on a norm that homogenizes them all. Folklore is the effect of cosmopolitanism. If we don't know the local as something truly local, it ends up being a little mini global whole. The local appears to the extent that the global makes itself possible and necessary. Going to work, going shopping, travelling far away from home; that's what makes the local something truly local; otherwise it would be - much more modestly - merely the place you live in. “ -Tiqqun

How to get out of quicksand

The idea that collaborative platforms allowing individuals to engage with the exchange of knowledge (such as wikipedia) can ensure their freedom contains the same bias as the one that can be identified in Guattari's techno-optimism.[1]
"we can hope for a transformation of mass-media power that will overcome contemporary subjectivity, and for the beginning of a post-media era of collective-individual reappropriation and an interactive use of machines of information, communication, intelligence, art and culture."

The power of these tools doesn't reside in their use but in their infrastructural properties (architecture).

  • maps (taking power back by recreating symbolic mediation)

Mapping is a performative action
Drawing relations that cannot be observed.
Spatial metaphor can be deceptive or surprising (both effects are the result of things we didn't experience locally or that have been experienced but escaped measurements)
-> Open Street Maps (extracting the map from first hand experience), Martin Dodge (subjectivity)

  • Profanation (giving back to the common use what had been concealed)

Relocation of governance tools.
-> Geolocation, targetting, image making...
– Reuse of the tools for futile purposes

  • Finding the blind spots

Showing entropic limits and imperfections of the system for better cognition of its mechanisms
Everything cannot be captured, Geolocation will never be perfect. (example of the Earthquakes in Google Earth, Clement Valla)

  • Taking point (working on the relational level)

Creating relations in the physical realm on non arbitrary basis.
A genuinely free being is not even said to be "free", it simply "is", it exists, it deploys its power according to its being. We say of an animal that it is 'roaming free' only when it lives in an environment that is already completely controlled, fenced and civilized. In english, 'friend' and 'free' (and 'freund' and 'frei' in german), come from the same indo-european root meaning, 'with a shared power that grows'..." Being free and having ties is one and the same thing. I am free because I have ties, I am linked to a reality greater than me, not because I am alone on my own. Freedom is not the act of shedding our attachments, but the practical capacity to work on them, to move around in the space, to form or dissolve them.


  • The world is non local, locality is subjective
  • The world is dissymetric

Symmetry means things can be composed and ordered according to a common way of measuring. However, evolution means matter cannot be ruled within a static grid for too long

  1. Static legacy GeoIP database (unreliable, biased, secret methods)
  2. Conversion of constellation to Matrix (static model, abstraction)
  3. Computer Networks (non static)


  1. Roger Caillois, La dissmymetrie,1973 (entropy in reverse)
  2. Matthew Fuller, Media Ecologies, 2005
  3. Robert Smithson
  4. Martin Dodge : (Computer Networks always need to be refered to in Non-Sites)
  5. Le comité invisible, L'hypothèse cybernétique, 2001?

Also of interest?
- Deleuze, Guattari, Foucault...
- Rosalind Kraus et Yves-Alain Blois, A user's guide to entropy, 1996
- Robert Morris Anti-form, 1968 (Art as process rather than stable objects)
"Permuted, progressive, symmetrical organizations have a dualistic character in relation to the matter they distribute. This is not to imply that these simple orderings do not work. They simply separate, more or less, from what is physical by making relationships themselves another order of facts."
- Antoine Lavoisier? (no loss of matter)
"Nothing is lost, nothing is created, everything is transformed."



- Louis Pasteur, La dissymetrie moleculaire (1848?) - only as the scientifical root of concept
"The universe is asymmetric and I am persuaded that life, as it is known to us, is a direct result of the asymmetry of the universe or of its indirect consequences. The universe is asymmetric."


  1. Robert Smithson, various essays, 60s (entropy)

"By drawing a diagram, a ground plan of a house, a street plan to the location of a site, or a topographic map, one draws a "logical two dimensional picture." A "logical picture" differs from a natural or realistic picture in that it rarely looks like the thing it stands for. It is a two dimensional analogy or metaphor - A is Z"



  1. Theses on Distributed Aesthetics. Or, What a Network is Not, 2005, Anna Munster & Geert Lovink

"It could be more interesting, then, not simply to look at the map but at what desires network mapping is trying to satisfy. If cartography has in the past been linked to imperial conquests of space, what space is there left today to conquer; the space between the nodes or even the space of all potential connections and links to be made?"

"Network mapping itself underwent a significant shift in geometry and visualisation around the late 1990s (Dodge and Kitchin, 2000: 107-128). As we moved from the superimposition of flows onto geo-political space toward the abstraction of topology, similarly our understandings of what comprised networks shifted. We became interested in relations, dynamics and sociability as opposed to traffic, connections and community. This change in network mapping visualisation has had advantages and disadvantages – we are now aware that networks are different kinds of formations that cannot be understood according to the old distinctions between society (Gesellschaft) and community (Gemeinschaft). But the increasing abstraction of topological visualisation removes us from an analysis of the ways in which networks engage and are engaged by current political, economic and social relations."