Our society is inevitably changing, driven by many global trends arising from technological, ideological, economic, financial and other perspectives. These changes have been especially visible during the last quarter of the 20th century, and in the first decade of current century. The changes are intensifying in the course of time, and it is even difficult to forecast what our society will be like in 30 or 50 years. The dynamic of changes and the creation of a new global culture are of particular interest to researchers, and there are several models considering the main layers of changes in the world. Among these studies one of the most impressive is the work of Arjun Appadurai called “Modernity at large: cultural dimensions of globalization”.
Appadurai outlines five dimensions of the global cultural flows, such as ethnoscapes, mediascapes, technoscapes, financescapes and ideoscapes (Appadurai 32). All these are landscapes affecting virtually all manifestations of international culture. The suffix –scape means that these phenomena are multifaceted and from different angles of view they might yield different perspectives. According to Hopper, in the context of cultural dynamics these landscapes serve as the building blocks for the “imagined worlds” – worlds particular to the communities or groups of people, shaped by their personal landscapes of reality and their perceptions (Hopper 45). Appadurai states that these worlds interact and form the diverse reality around us together with its various manifestations.
As I am dealing with information technology, the closest and the most comprehensive dimension for me is the technoscape layer. The technoscape is a “global configuration, also ever fluid, of technology” and the fact that “technology, both high and low, both mechanical and informational, now moves at high speeds across various kinds of previously impervious boundaries” (Appadurai 33). Technoscapes often become out of reach of the social sciences, since they are formed by the technological developments, by the agreements between countries and even the groups of enthusiasts driving the technology further or disseminating knowledge are part of the technoscapes. The changes in technologies are immense and every year brings something new into technologies and the ways people are using them. Science fiction writers have forecasted some of such changes, but even they were unable to estimate the speed of technoscape deployment.
The consequences of these changes and the future which is awaiting for us have inspired me to create an artwork called “The House of Madness” – a three-dimensional model of a very unusual house created using Maya software package. In fact, there are two messages embedded into this artwork – common and allegorical. I hope that every viewer can associate some personal opinion or feeling driven by the technoscape when looking at the “House of Madness”.
First of all, I wanted to create something that would remind about the artificiality of the imaginary worlds that many of us already live in (and that many of us are creating). The house is comprised of various details and textures which seem not to go along with each other – and altogether they create the picture of organized chaos, symbolizing someone’s inner world (imagined world) where the rules and principles radically differ from the generally accepted ones. Irregularly shaped lines, different technological devices mixed together resembling the laboratory of an alchemist – all these parts of the artwork are united to illustrate that each of us, to a certain extent, is living in an imaginary world shaped by the technology and its applications. I also wanted to show two related ideas at the first layer of perception of this artwork: that even a combination of virtually unrelated details and mechanisms might shape something specifically beautiful and reflecting the personality of the owner, and that creating a virtual world following own rules should be aligned with the reality to a certain extent, otherwise this can be turned into a madness. Indeed, in the modern world the impact of technoscapes is immense, and many teenagers get lost in these virtual worlds and often “disconnect” from the reality (Robins and Webster 2). My artwork should remind people that creation of own personal space should not turn into a madness.
There is another perspective in this artwork, a deeper one with a more global outlook. This is the scope of technological development itself, and the evolution of different branches of technology. It is possible to see that “The House of Madness” shows various devices and constructions merged together, but these constructions are very different in nature and often do not seem to get along with each other. This is the reflection of technological development which is taking place worldwide: new technologies emerge with the unprecedented speed, and though all of them are useful and innovative, attempts to combine these technologies and to unite them into something functional might result in a construction like my “House of Madness”. The face of the technoscape which is moving the world further and which is affecting all people on the globe currently resembles this house, and I wanted to illustrate in my artwork how unstable this development was, and that in order to avoid “madness” of such rapid development, people should synchronize their vision of future technology and establish its future perspectives.
Appadurai, Arjun. Modernity at large: cultural dimensions of globalization. University of Minnesota Press, 2003.
Hopper, Paul. Understanding cultural globalization. Polity, 2007.
Robins, Kevin and Frank Webster. Times of the technoculture: from the information society to the virtual life. Routledge, 1999.