Tonight / this morning, linking Singapore and Washington, DC, I moderated the panel discussion: Connecting People in the Post-Internet World: How are technologies and networks changing social behaviour? The event took place in the physical space of the Post-PopUp Gallery at the Centre for Contemporary Art in Singapore. Simultaneously, it bridged my underground studio bunker here in Washington, DC, some 10,000 miles away, along with guests in Europe, Asia and the US.
Together we were flying high in the cloud, the third space of networked relations, where a discussion concerning issues of adaptation to our tele-society were especially pertinent. For how best to confront the complex issues of connectivity but in the space of the network, where our bodies and minds are linked together by wire and fiber and hubs and switchers, the planetary infrastructure that keeps our global world connected 24/7.
Singapore is one of the most wired societies in the world, where issues of data protection and privacy are particularly relevant. Yet as Singapore lawyer Huifen Zheng pointeded out, with ironic candor: “privacy is dead.” French artist Gilles Massot, who smartly brought the history of photography into the discussion, provided an assessment of our cloud-based culture that was, bluntly and frankly stated: “we’re fucked.” Bernard Leong expressed a cautious hope, referencing the need to educate the digital natives of the future. As for myself, I am the eternal cloud optimist, which is precisely where I like to be as an artist, an educator, and a Netizen. Do I in fact look like I am hovering ever so high in the rarefied atmosphere of the third space?
There is no doubt, this form of global dialogue is the future, and it may very well be the very thing that saves our “tele-species” from extinction. For with the troubled world that we live in, wars and political conflict exploding everywhere we look, it may be that when we fly high in the cloud and under the radar of the geopolitical powers, we are be able to collapse distances, bridge cultures, and problem solve in ways those powers cannot. Tonight we addressed some of the pressing problems that face our adaptation to the digital life – whether we are artists, technologists, or attorneys – by firing up the Web-conferencing software, activating the third space, and using the cloud as a theater of learning.