At Your Service: Escaping the Progress Trap
At Your Service: Escaping the Progress Trap is a selection of informational videos by artists who use recent technological tools for purposes other than what they were designed to do and, in some instances, in direct opposition to their intended use.
Contestational Robotics, Institute for Applied Autonomy, 3:37, 2005
This video illustrates concepts first explored in “Contestational Robotics,” an essay co-published in 1998 by the IAA and the Critical Art Ensemble, which sets up a context for the use of robotics as a viable option for political resistance. It outlines the creation, life and implementation of several of the first contestational robots, including Little Brother, Graffiti Writer and the Street Writers (versions one and two).
iSee – Now More Than Ever, Institute for Applied Autonomy, 2:42, 2005
iSee is a Web-based application charting the locations of closed-circuit television (CCTV), surveillance cameras in urban environments. With iSee, users can choose to navigate routes that avoid these cameras (“paths of least surveillance”), allowing them to walk around cities without fear of being “caught on tape” by surreptitious security monitors.
Map, Aram Bartholl, 2:47, 2006
Map questions the validity of markers generated by the location-based search engine Google Maps. (The Web interface Google Maps uses small, graphical icons to illustrate location-related search results on city maps, with outputs listed in alphabetical order.) The artist searches for “pizza” on Google, then constructs and installs a giant sculptural A to mark the nonexistent location to which the resulting Google Map points him.
Parking Public: A Journey into the Storage of Utopia, 12:53, 2006
Parking Public is an extended research and tourism project by the Temporary Travel Office, which has conducted research and leads guided tours of parking spaces across the United States. The project attempts to contextualize changes in cities brought by public parking facilities and how they’ve played a role in shaping the urban landscape.
The Floating Clinic, Good Magazine on Natalie Jeremijenko, 4:01, 2007
This short documentary depicts Natalie Jeremijenko at work in her Environmental Health Clinic, a floating desk and research station built from recycled soda bottles. Jeremijenko receives clients on the banks of the Hudson River in order to provide them a direct experience of the effects of water pollution.
Flight Patterns, Aaron Koblin, 1:41, 2005
Flight Patterns was developed by Aaron Koblin from parsed Federal Aviation Association data and displays several interpretations of aircraft flight patterns over the United States. These otherwise intangible routes are made manifest, visualized in both color and form, creating a ghostlike map of power centers.
Primary and Other Remote Locations, Brett Stalbaum and Paula Poole, 3:00, 2006
This project was conceived at Center for Land Use Interpretation’s Remote Location property in Northwest Utah. The site was documented, with the primary goal being to produce landscape paintings in which the agency behind site selection—often assumed to be the natural provenance of the painter—is turned over to an algorithm that digests landscape data through mining and patternmatching.
Panorama Ephemera, Rick Prelinger, 84:00, 2004
Panorama Ephemera is a collage of sequences drawn from a wide variety of ephemeral films—tours of conflicted terrain in twentieth-century America. At first resembling a compilation, the film soon reveals itself as a journey through the American landscape with often-skewed visions that construct a history, filled with both horror and hope, which unreels in alternating yet equally familiar and unexpected ways.