The paradox as condition of emergence for a location-aware society

The urge and pleasure to be located in an environment, which obviously is increasingly experienced as discarnate has been mentioned before. D.Hemment describes it even as

.. we now live in a present, […], characterised by “scopophilia”, a mix of voyeurism and exhibitionism, and an ontological need to be observed….

The interesting points of the article The Locative Dystopia are his observations on the ambiguous aspects of the locative, which points towards two important factors: to surveillance and tracking issues as well as towards a location-aware perception and its logics, or better the ability to reveal mechanisms of representation .. and also to the high ambivalence of status of embeddedness.

Like surveillance, locative media is a social project, but the grass-roots, social networks it advocates offer a critical distance to the system of domination of the control society. Locative media exults in the pleasure of locating and being located, and finds in this the basis for an emergent sociality – driven not by marketing but by networks of reciprocity and trust – as well as new ways of representing, relating to and moving in the world. Just as it contests the top down approach of conventional cartography to open up a manifold of different ways in which geographical space can be encountered and drawn, so in appropriating and refunctioning positioning or tracking technologies, locative media indicates how they may be used not for pinning down but for opening up.(4) In dispersing interventions and applications outside the State- and corporate-led technology push, it transforms a system of domination into a participatory milieu. And in bringing location and the coordinate system into the foreground, by examining location-aware experience or perception and its relationship to the dominant logics of representation, it creates distortions or moments of ambiguity by which mechanisms of domination become both apparent and less certain.

This does not yet allow a simple opposition to be made between locative media and surveillance or control. Locative media remains upon the same plane as new forms of pervasive surveillance, and this is a plane upon which emancipation and domination intertwine. It is not a simple question of emancipation _or_ domination, but of both at once. In many ways the locative utopia _is_ the dystopia of total control. After Systems Theory we might say that this presents a paradox that is not there to be resolved, but which is productive of the conditions of emergence for a location-aware society.

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