Big Brother really is watching you: Literature in mobile dataspace

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Abstract (in English): 

The starting point for this essay is William Gibson's image of locative art in his latest two novels, Spook Country (2007) and Zero History (2010). In these books Gibson creates a very clear and comprehensive picture of the term 'locative art'. The essay compares this purely fictional image with the appearance of locative art and poetry in reality.

Experiments with new technologies, such as mobile networks, Wifi and GPS for mobile and internet devices use and open urban data spaces for any digital application. It has become easy to trace users of these devices, and one is constantly tracked by GPS-satellites, surveillance cameras and other kind of signals and devices. Locative and adaptive poetry makes use of the interplay of urban space and transmitted data and renders it tangible for the player. Doing this makes the player aware of being under constant surveillance by "Big Brother" from outside and inside his gadget.

The essay reviews projects including "Objects of Desire" (2008) by Ludic Society, AndOrDada (2008) and Sniff_jazzbox (2008) by AND-OR and the very constricting project "Constraint City. The pain of everyday life" (2008) by Gordan Savicic. The project "BeforetheSatelliteDetectsYou" (2010) by AND-OR works with similar premises and makes the player aware of being constantly tracked: He has to hide in house entrances, under bridges, roofs and in the signal-shade of bigger buildings on his path through town. These projects show the dangers of an electronic data space that offers possibilities to ammass personal data and set up a tight control via satellite and other networks.

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Eric Dean Rasmussen