Historicizing Hybrid Spaces in Mobile Media Art

Authored by: Adriana de Souza e Silva , Ragan Glover-Rijkse

The Routledge Companion to Mobile Media Art

Print publication date:  July  2020
Online publication date:  July  2020

Print ISBN: 9780367197162
eBook ISBN: 9780429242816
Adobe ISBN:


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Hybrid spaces emerge when people, carrying mobfile technology devices, are able to communicate and interact with others while mobile in urban physical spaces. As such, hybrid spaces occur across the physical and the virtual and unfold when different contexts (digital and physical, remote and contiguous) are embedded into each other. Mobile media artists have often inquired about the relationships between physical and virtual spaces by exploring how our interactions in hybrid spaces are shaped by a diverse range of mobile technologies, including mobile phones, proximity sensors, and wearable devices. While these mobile technologies are relatively new, the inquiries that they provoke are not. A look back at early telecommunications-based art, also known as telepresence art, demonstrates that efforts to merge physical and virtual spaces were already occurring long before contemporary mobile electronic media and its array of sensing technologies. Such art can be viewed as the first examples of creating a hybrid space, prior to the widespread diffusion of mobile phones as easily portable, information-networked devices. In this chapter, we historicize hybrid spaces by examining how early telecommunications-based art has reinterpreted public places, using telecommunication technologies (e.g. satellites, telephones, videophones, flip phones) as interfaces for artmaking and the city as a canvas for artwork. In doing so, we situate telecommunications-based art in relation to mobile media art, emphasizing telecommunications-based art as a foundation for mobile media art. We argue that the artists who created these works transformed sociability and human interaction in urban places and spaces.

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