DESIRE OF CODES, 2010, Sensoren, Projektoren, Roboterarme
Kuenstlerhaus Vienna  "SPACE INVENTIONS" - on artificial spaces

Seiko Mikami
Double existence : Desire of Codes

Desire of Codes is a "twofold existence" themed interactive installation that explores individual existence from the boundary between public and private, with the ultimate aim to highlight the increasingly blurred dividing line between "the body defined by data" and "the body of flesh and blood". In today's information society, one can saythat swirling desires keep accelerating new desires,resulting in a spirally developing twofold identity of the individual, with personal data being exposed,reflected, analyzed and updated. For example, let's assume I buy a teddy bear book as a birthday present via the Internet. The Internet then stores my data in the category of "people who are interested in teddy bear books," and eventually keeps sending me e-mails recommending "products that other customers who bought teddy bear books also bought" from categories that don't interest me at all. Such "people who likes teddy bear books" eventually appear in front of me one after another, and all those data are certainly stored somewhere.Once such "data of desires" are hammered into my mind, the fact that they are "desires" means that they don't disappear but rather multiply. The user's behavior records are visualized in graphical charts, and his behavior is still being traced in this moment. Search engines such as Google accumulate information directly out of our brains– information that we aren't even aware of yet.At some point, the various keywords I've come up with and typed into search engines in order to find something I was after have perhaps transformed
into a mirror of myself. Even after death, we will probably remain floating around the Internet in the form of coded skeletons of e-mail and other data. The "double existence" is not only a matter of the Internet. For example, a look at all the data of receipts, credit and membership cards collected during yesterday's shopping tour tells you that you
bought bread at A in the morning, took a train to B, got some C at D, borrowed a video of E at F, et cetera. The sum of these data can be analyzed as a manifestation of your true self, which inspires the question whether it is your actual body of flesh and blood that defines your identity, or if you are in fact nothing but an accumulation of data. Now what if your identity card and your personal code came with their own desires as well? The problem of personal data is going to gain weight in the future, and it is not unlikely that your passports, annual income, spending, taxes, traffic violation records, hospital records, and all kinds of other personal information will be stored in one single code, as it
is already the case in the "Juki Net" resident registry network. Above that, given that this will not only contain your own medical records, but coded data of the DNA that had previously determined what illnesses were to cause the deaths of your grandfathers and even earlier generations, it is possible that these codes will be analyzable to the extent
that they suggest details of your future illnesses,and ultimately, your death. These codes refer to the written source codes describing commands in programming language. The source codes are defined according to the specifications of the programming language used, and by transforming these,the computer can read the commands. On the
other hand, codes in a biological sense generallyrefer to genetic codes. I am creating artworks not simply with the aim to sound warnings about such issues, but my intention is to highlight matters of"existence" related to the question expressed at the beginning of this text. "Is the real you definedby your data, or by your actually existing body of flesh and blood? " If codes have desires, we can consider these as reflections of our own desires.


Kazunao Abe (YCAM Curator)

Surveillance /Dataveillance –Desire as da ta communica tion Surveillance is a subject that inevitably follows changes in human civilization and technology.
When human beings form a community by some sort of a social rule, or when something that exceeds or confuses normality emerges unexpectedly
inside the community or from outside, functions for checking, anticipating or preventing them as well as confronting or corresponding to the consequences
begin to work. That is a starting point of surveillance. What is more, surveillance has an element to develop not only direct contact perception, but also remote-access sensory perception. When you have to grasp a situation at a long distance, to say nothing of a phenomenon or area that you can directly view, technologies to expand human perceptions are additionally required, such as optical instruments with lens or the invention of new communication tools. In today's highly advanced information- oriented society, such a technology has developed as informative perception/dataveillance accompanying more complex, multi-layered structure as well as access to database through the network. What must be clearly defined here, however, is that the function of surveillance is not conceived only from subordinating the sense of sight to social
functions. Before that, the function of surveillance has been working even on the individual level of a creature based on homeostasis that originally keeps creature's ecology normal. For instance, there are human cells called surveillance cells and the
function of surveillance takes place when cells are in data communication (immunologic surveillance). When germs invade, saccharide chains detect the invasion and communicate information to cells. As a known function, the information is conveyed to attacking cells to boost the immune system. Thus, surveillance is a function generated for life maintenance itself, and in this case, you may view it as an element that requires communication among data through dataveillance, rather than the
control technology of perception. It can be said that in Desire of Codes, Seiko Mikami has aroused attention to the two types of surveillance platforms –conventional socially-functioning surveillance and eco-biological surveillance in data communication, to shed light for on how human beings produce desire for surveillance between the two platforms.

Primarily, surveillance produces two positions– to observe and to be observed. A well-known example of such spatial formalization is Panopticon described by philosopher Jeremy Bentham in the late 18th century. An observer is positioned in the center of a building so as to have a full view of all people within 360°range. This architecture
has formed the basis of accommodation facilities such as jails and prisons. Thinking about panoramic image expression and amusement facilities such
as recreation and theme parks where similar surveillance systems are employed to control safety as well as stability, you will understand that not onlysocially negative factors like isolation and enclosure but also the productivity of visual and physica pleasures share underlying relations with spatialized surveillance. If you consider that Panopticon and the Industrial Revolution took place around the same time as phenomena of the same roots, you will find this link very interesting that capital and
desire are enclosed as a relationship producing the process of objectification and materialization. In the central parts of contemporary megalopolises like New York, London and Tokyo, electronicallycontrolled surveillance cameras are installed in quantities almost every street or block performing 24-hour automatic scrutiny. The volume of surveillance information has amounted to the level that it is impossible to escape its visual meshes, and human's eye and consciousness alone are not sufficient
for monitoring them. The high automatic monitoring system with free use of search technology is functioning to send the data to the memory of databases to be encoded. It is no wonder that one's perceptivity to observe a phenomenon is linked to the networking technology and computer programs of the artificial intelligence, which has begun to show unpredicted expansion. Particularly, after the Gulf War in the 1990s and the 9.11 terrorism in 2001, surveillance technologies withinnovative sensor technology have surveillance actions that took place locally are linked to databases of information network. Theyhave been expanded, through inter-operable functions of data connection and networking, as information that is omnipresent globally on the macro micro level. And the social function of the surveillance networks has become doubled – something that threatens one's private space at one hand and maintains safety in a public space on the other.What is more important than the technological
arrangement of surveillance, however, is the fact that the perceptivity of surveillance function is connected to data communication whose amount of information is so enormous that it is difficult to represent them. As a result, the observer as the subject and those observed as the object turn out to be empty. Codes of desire are automatically converted to desire of codes. They are almost sent as feedback as something physical with more pluralistic sensory functions, exceeding the monistic externalization of brain on the assumption that we acquire knowledge as vision/consciousness.


You will see this phenomenon in the installation veloped overwhelminglyto strengthen public safety, so that of "Desire of Codes" that places great importance on the movements and sounds produced by clusters which stimulate tactile sensations rather than monistic visual substitutions.In this "Desire of Codes," an approach is taken to go beyond the social aspect of surveillance in the opposing terms of private space/public space. The starting point is a question about how we, who live in this information latent world where surveillance perceptivity has become ubiquitous and are actu-virtually watched at all hours whether the surveillance is really on or off, should understand the changes and development of our consciousness and desire as well as the changes observed from the angle of physical information ecosystem. In our present society, everything from programming language, human genetic codes to personal information including all about the record of personal interests and ideas can be encoded in huge
memory. Now we are in the Age of Twitter communication, and always carrying a personal communication tool equipped with potential and actuvirtual multi-modal functions, we are recording and memorizing our everyday or every-minute life logs (texts, images sounds and other traces). There is no longer a single being of existence (the origin of perspective) that should be viewed ahead subject of surveillance. There is only a void, and the function of surveillance turns recursive feedback.In short, only information network physically enveloped in the perceptive act of surveillance can exist.Desire to be watched is fed back to desire to watch through networks. Is it already transformed into a new desire? Physical body is a target to be observed and felt in a phenomenon, and at the same time, it can be an interface and a fader rotating in particular areas production and consumption, which are multiplying in information networks.
In Multiperspective Search Arms of Desire of Codes, six cameras which look like insect arms are installed to track visitors by sensors from manydifferent angles. While shooting the subject, each camera immediately projects the shooted video movie of the subject at his or her feet using a minimum- sized laser projector. In short, the observer becomes the observed in the same instant, evading the eyes and existence of someone else ahead of surveillance. A function such as zooming-in by the telecontrol system of a monitoring satellite flying and scrutinizing around the earth surface is based on an idea that a person who is far-off and out of your view can become an observer. Such a function has reached a stage where there is no observing subject for surveillance in the circuit of database without hierarchy. Here, codes of desire are connected to desire of codes.

Commissioned by Yamaguchi Center for Arts and Media (YCAM)
All photo of "Desire of Codes" and New version of gravicells : Ryuichi Maruo YCAM