[ISEA2011] Panel: Tris­tan Thiel­mann – The place is the map: be­cause of loca­tive media an a-so­cial map

Panel Statement

Panel: Beyond Locative: Media Arts after the Spatial Turn

Why has col­lab­o­ra­tive cri­sis map­ping failed in Libya? Where is the Bernard-Henri Lévy of the loca­tive arts move­ment? Per­haps he does not exist since loca­tive media art stopped ex­ist­ing a long time ago? This could be one of the reasons…?but the truth is much more triv­ial: loca­tive media only is of use for those peo­ple, who al­ready are aware of their lo­ca­tion, who know where they came from, and where they are going. It is the gad­get no­body needs, as it only grants more priv­i­leges to priv­i­leged places, caus­ing for­got­ten places to be ren­dered even more ob­so­lete. No won­der that the Ara­bic Rev­o­lu­tion does not need any loca­tive media at all!

Loca­tive media is (was) only of im­por­tance in an af­flu­ent so­ci­ety, in a so­ci­ety where the lo­ca­tions are sub­ject to an at­ten­tion econ­omy. Should we for­get about loca­tive media? No: even though loca­tive media failed as a so­cial media, dis­guised as a new, hip, mo­bile must-have, it leads us to re­al­ize that it is a highly hege­monic in­stru­ment of power like any other car­to­graphic medium, shown im­pres­sively by www.?ushahidi.?com. For that rea­son, it is so in­ter­est­ing to media the­o­ries. In­ter­est­ing be­cause loca­tive media func­tions as a map even with­out car­to­graphic rep­re­sen­ta­tion. This puts into ques­tion the de­f­i­n­i­tion of what we un­der­stood to be a map for cen­turies. Loca­tive media leads us to re­al­ize: The place (not the ter­ri­tory) is the map.

  • Tris­tan Thiel­mann is an As­sis­tant Pro­fes­sor in Media Stud­ies at the Re­search Cen­ter “Media Up­heavals”, Uni­ver­sity of Siegen, Ger­many. His cross-dis­ci­pli­nary re­search and prac­tice ex­plores the aes­thet­ics and his­tory of geo­me­dia with a focus on nav­i­ga­tion sys­tems, geo­browsers and geo­sur­veil­lance tech­nolo­gies.

Full text (PDF) p. 2362-2368  [title somewhat different]