Thursday, October 7, 2010

Box Ghost/Robots

My office has been moved into a corridor that is split between PhD students in my department, robotics graduate students, and an electron microscope. A few nights ago working late into the night a fellow PhD and I spied what we thought to be some sort of moving camera, box robot, scooting across the ceiling of a neighboring building.

On revisiting the issue we wondered aloud whether or not that odd, dark box was actually the ghost of Max Headroom, MTV's quasi-virtual creation, a supposedly artificially intelligent VJ, and main character of a series (similar gimmicks occurred throughout the 1980s where an artificially intelligent agent posited as the show's central protagonist is actually mostly a tool for human betterment in some way or a means of comic relief) as in below:

Examples like this I think unmask internet ideologies that construe the web as a kind of place of play and free interaction by dating them, yoking them to history, and therefore underlining how the internet is not some universal expression of the essence of Modernity. At the same time the centrality of the glitch to Max Headroom's character highlight's a moment when machines were not self-effacing themselves as products of work (as in the iPod).

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