Monitoring Devices and Media Practices from the 19th Century

By Seraina Valtsani.

Published by The International Journal of New Media, Technology and the Arts

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

RFID technologies are gaining ground in our society with unlimited ways and art practices are no exception. From simple every day features to artworks, entertainment industry and science projects RFID is an innovative technology, or at least it is presented as that. But, RFID technologies do not consist something new, as they are based in older technologies that their use began in the late 19th century and continue evolving until today. RFID devices have traits that dominate former technologies marked by the notion of distant communication options. The telegraph, the radio, the Theremin, the television and the personal computer are technologies that promise the same aspirations as the RFID using devices. The distant communication options are not the only thing promised here but also a future marked by electronic or not devices, such as the stereoscope, the phenakistiscope, the phonograph and the phonautograph, for monitoring and recording our every day habits, chores and choices. Foucault’s discipline and punishment theory, linked with capitalism, can be applied and extended to RFID technologies of the contemporary western civilization, which are expressed and criticized through media artworks such as "Immaterials: Ghost in the Field" and "Hørbar/Audiobar." The methods of these artworks are proof of the capitalistic notion that dominates the western culture since 19th century.

Keywords: RFID Technologies, New Media Artworks, Capitalistic Notion

The International Journal of New Media, Technology and the Arts, Volume 10, Issue 2, June 2015, pp.11-21. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 635.497KB).

Seraina Valtsani

Historian of Media Art, Graduate Student, Media Art Histories, MA, Danube University Krems, Austria, Volos, Greece