Locative Histories: exploring the continued influence of early Locative Media art
Venue:Stockholm School of Economics
This paper, which draws on aspects of my recent doctoral thesis, traces the influence of early Locative Media Art (LM) on the current form and application of location-aware technologies. The mechanisms and impulse for this influence are introduced and analyzed and it is proposed that they point to new approaches in the consideration of the agency of media art. I return to the origins of LM at the Karosta workshops and the ambitions of early practitioners to argue that the practice was based on a prescient analysis of the potential for ubiquitous networked location-awareness. From this analysis was developed an ambitious program aimed at repositioning emergent locative technologies as tools which enhance and augment space rather than surveil and control. It is demonstrated that LM art projects have foreshadowed all of the key categories of current location-aware applications and services. This is not co-incidental but is, I suggest, the result of an intentional desire and associated actions to shift the meaning of these technologies. As location-awareness has become part of the everyday I advance that the forms it takes and the ways in which it is employed are co-constructed by LM art practice and that this continued influence represents the agency of Locative Media Art. Drawing on Krzysztof Ziarek’s treatment of avant-garde art and technology in “The Force of Art”, STS, software studies and their surrounding debates, I build an argument for this agency and explore the mechanism for this influence. While this influence is historical I contend that once its pathways are fully understood it can be sustained or renewed with future emergent technologies and propose that this approach offers new paths for the consideration of media art.