Tuesday, 29 September 2009

visual image proposal

Landscapes in Internet/Computer Networks

Internet and computer networks are forming special landscapes other than geographical landscapes, as they are the combination of positions/locations of real world and cyberspace. Artists, programmers and scientists create many images to depict Internet/network to cope with the fast development of Internet/ computer networks. These images are not only visualizing the distribution of connections, but also reflecting the cognition and understanding of human beings for Internet/ computer networks. Body is the elementary tool to conceive our living world, so I will explain how body helps us to conceive Internet/computer networks and construct a cognitive system to represent them by different visual images.

In figure 1, ARPANET map includes two parts, physical map and topology map. It displays terminal as nodes in the network and the relation among them. Figure 2 creates a virtual coordinate system through IP address and computer still act as a node in a networks. In their images, Internet/network is simply a point-to-point and hardware-based relation.

However, the popularity of Wi-Fi access points stimulates us to imagine “range-based” network other than “point-based” network and they construct noticeable urban landscapes. Figure 3 represents Wi-Fi signal and channel in colors. The fog-like colour images imply Wi-Fi is a range-based network rather than a point.

In figure 4, it shows Wi-Fi distribution along Chicago’s metro stations. Interestingly, this map does not connect every Wi-Fi access point in one network like figure 1 and figure 2, rather, it shows that Wi-Fi access points have limit/restricted signal ranges. The artist also aimed to show the connection between Wi-Fi distribution and urban wealth/poor areas, which is attempting to link Wi-Fi into the real world landscape.

Figure 5 and figure 6 convert Wi-Fi access points’ MAC address into colours and show Wi-Fi names and geographical areas inside colours on web pages[1]. These images present Wi-Fi access points as buildings in cities and produce urban Wi-Fi landscape portraits. From Figure 4 to Figure 6, they depict the geographical positions of Wi-Fi in social and cultural context, such as wealth difference and distribution areas.

The different images reflect that the relationship between technology and cognition is complicated. For example, the previous images are representations of a multitude of conceiving and cognitive ways with our bodies. As Mauss said, “[t]he body is the first and most natural tool of man” (Mauss 1950), figure 1 illustrate the connection of network devices just like neural network concept is applied to explain the relationship among cells. Figure 2 to figure 6 are involved with seeing and moving behaviours. The landscape is not seen by naked eyes but with the mechanic devices and they transform human beings to cyborgs to see the landscapes. Above all, these images argue how we understand and construct the combined landscapes via different visualizations. Exactly, these images show landscapes via the cognitive and conceiving systems of “cyborg body” beyond text can describe.

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