Ask the Subjects :: Electronic Deprivation
Saturday, 9 February 2013
Firstly, huge props to you all for taking one for the creative sector in Oz and worldwide.
Q: Do you have Net access, Twitter access and similar during the residency?
Thanks! No media at all. Not being able to tweet is strange – I am wondering when and if that little 140 character internal narrator will switch off. It’s early days but I’m already missing knowing what is going on in the world. I tend to disconnect to write anyway, so the enforced media fast is quite welcome so far.
We’re surrounded by technology – computers and cameras and TVs and such – but not really in control of any of it. Half of it is surveillance tech. I guess that’s true of the internet too, but online it’s invisible.
You say we’re “taking one for the creative sector” – how do you mean? We’re knowingly entering an experiment, with time to focus on our own creativity and we get paid for it to boot; that doesn’t sound much like a hardship to me! No, we don’t have typical access – by which I mean using our own accounts or devices to send and receive messages & browse the internet. But we can answer questions from outside and broadcast our thoughts/progress/work. And we can request things, although I haven’t tried asking to see if that includes looking something up for us. So we sort of have a kind of access but not in the way I would usually use twitter or the internet. We have access to a computer each but it’s Windows and has no software to speak of (and the clock disabled) and we can’t personalise them. We could bring in a usb stick with our own data and a camera so long as they can reset the clock each time we use it. To be honest the lack of online access is the main reason I’m here. I wanted to place myself outside of my usual contexts and be challenged. And it’s working!
We are completely cut off from all forms of electronic communication, except for an intercom leading to the control room just metres from our walls. So no twitter, no Facebook, no email, no internet. It’s strange being surrounded by so much technology but at the same time lacking this thing we take so much for granted today: the ability to be in touch pretty much instantaneously with pretty much everything and everyone, any time we like. The only way to exchange information with the outside world is via the wonderful people caring for us. Your question was handed to us on individual pieces of paper, like an old-fashioned letter or telegram, and I’m responding by writing an answer in a Word file, which will be physically passed on a memory to the control room, where it’ll be emailed elsewhere and posted to the blog. It feels arduous and time-consuming, but it’s nowhere near as bad as it must have been for people on sailing boats in generations past, or for those living in the country not so long ago. And of course it’s all made bearable by knowing it all end in a few days (unless the zombie apocalypse happens, of course).
I think it is great to be marooned without some technologies, I think it helps to create work without distractions. Apart from the repetitions. To turn off from the world is a gift in this busy time..