I have just finished watching a BBC documentary by Adam Curtis called Normalization. The documentary film explores the interweaving narratives of cyberspace and developments in technology with the turbulent political scene over the past number of decades. This investigation into our strange contemporary situation is a very challenging and unsettling one, but particularly the look into the developments of ‘cyberspace’ has given me a number of things to think about with regards to my current practice.
Initially Cyberspace (defined as: the notional environment in which communication over computer networks occurs) can be seen to exist as a system serving corporations, but later following a number of political developments was adopted by counter-culture as a way of exercising control over a world in which the efforts of the ‘little man’ seemed in vain. It is this in particular that I am interested in – the micro control that the internet offers us in response to a contemporary culture that exists anxiously and vulnerably.
The documentary proceeds to talk about how the nature of cyberspace, and the technologies developed within it, offer us a new world in which to exist, where we can present ourselves in any way want to be seen, and also be presented with the world that we would like to see. Complex algorithms guide what we are viewing by monitoring our usage and directing us to similar materials, they slowly guide us to what Curtis calls isolated ‘bubbles’ – completely oblivious to an enormous amount of information that does not fit the world we want to live in, and ignoring any information that would challenge us.