The art of traveling with technology

The availability of inexpensive, digital communication devices has aided the lonely traveler on the long and absconding road to fresh perspectives in a myriad of ways, but then again, if used unwisely, they can diminish travel and make it yet another expression of day-to-day ordinariness (so leave grumpy cat at home!) That said, travel is not really about where you go, but what you take with you, it is about moving away from familiar perspectives into new and challenging ones and trying to understand and cope with them, inescapably, through references to previous knowledge and experiences.

Otto misses his mobile phone! (from Otto; or, Up with Dead People (2008).
Otto misses his mobile phone! (lifted from
Otto; or, Up with Dead People (2008).
















The same could be said about ‘travel’ in the broader sense, of moving about the myriad of cultural/social/economic contexts in large complex cities. To be effective at this, one must fully recognise that there are in fact innumerable social/cultural/economic contexts, each with their own set of hierarchies, notions of winning and losing, of geographic and social mobility, language, values, religion, consumer patterns, Queen Bees etc. (and some people believe there are only two cultural contexts, ‘us and them’).

The problem with all mobile communication devices is that they are designed generically with little or no appreciation of moving through cultural complexity and far from being advanced and sophisticated, if used indiscriminately, they make one look like a mass-produced zombie, dragging their knuckles on the pavement, walking up London’s Stand drooling and gawking at the red buses in amazement, ringing other zombies on the telephone and telling them about how amazing red buses are. In other words what can appear to be technically advanced can also be culturally primitive, there is a balance to be struck and that balance starts with a curiosity and willingness to understand the cultural world in which we live, zombies and all

The Shahnama Project (Iran)

One of my favourite projects within the broader Digital Humanities field; a masterpiece of Persian art and a damn fine piece of Digital Humanities scholarship as well.

Firdausi’s Shahnama (Book of Kings), completed in eastern Iran in around A.D. 1010, is a work of mythology, history, literature and propaganda: a living epic poem that pervades and expresses many aspects of Persian culture. Thousands of manuscript copies of the text, the earliest dating from 1217, exist in libraries throughout the world. Many hundreds of these are illustrated with miniature paintings, some of them among the most magnificent masterpieces of Persian art (link).


GRIT 02: Illusions of Homogeneity

Let’s hope that the grand dreams of eResearch aren’t about ‘research homogeneity’ as cultural homogeneity may have become the case in other areas of cultural activity (thanks to Andrew Garton, the performer, for the link).

GRIT 02 examines the death of analogue broadcasting by way of readings from numerous sources describing the process of enclosure on public spectrum, the airways and the cultural diversity it affords humanity. The digital spectrum promises to further the spread of sameness the world over.

GRIT 02: Illusions of Homogeneity / Illusionen von Homogenität from andrew garton on Vimeo.

New Muslim Art: Saatchi Gallery

(picture taken with my crap Samsung 1.3 mega pixle thingees phone)

The Saatchi gallery is a free private gallery in West London (near Sloan Square and owned by Charles Saatchi), that exhibits new contemporary art.  Charles Saatchi is a co-founder of the mammoth advertising agency Saatchi and Saatchi that has close links to the Conservative party. The exhibition of New Muslim art is worth checking out; my favourite piece is of Muslim woman at prayer made out of foil.