The Invisible Landscapes: The Construction of New Subjectivities in the Era of the Mobile Telephone

Miya Yoshida

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (artistic)

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The interventions of portable digital devices such as mobile telephones, mp3 players, PDAs and many others, have contributed to the formation of contemporary notions of space. The impact of these devices' mobility (informing the users' mobility) could even be paralleled to the shift from the effects of still photography to those of film in the 19th century. Especially important for the perspective of this study is the notion that mobile

telephony is said to enhance the complexity of subjective space - for example by its passive aural communication functions questioning and relativising existing spatial boundaries. As this study can exemplify in many cases, the shift in spatialities is one that is first and foremost one that involves subjectivities - ?objective? space remains

unchanged, although the rhetoric of telecommunication hastens to suggest this. What has actually changed are the social institutions in public environments, implementing a variety of significant changes in the relation of public and private space as well as introducing critical changes in the perception of and attention for the self as

related to an external social reality. This implies not only a transcendence of spatial models, but also modal change of our being-in-space.

In order to think about these questions, I have developed the concept of a methodological ?juxtassemblage? out of the manifold evidence of historical and contemporary mobile communication - a quasi-?cubist?, multi-perspective research method that involves the retrieval and juxtaposition of artistic materials as well as found ?non-artistic? elements - as my adisciplinary working approach, since it promises to facilitate thinking about and in newly emerging spaces, which are complicated, if not impossible, to grasp within the confines of

a single discipline. In order to develop this ?juxtassemblage? based on concrete materials and observations in different fields of ?commonplace? knowledge about mobile communication, I curated two interrelated art projects under the title The Invisible Landscapes - one in Malmö (2003), the other in Bangkok (2005). In both cases, I used a curatorial platform for testing, examining and collecting artistic and theoretical knowledge.

As a result of the valuable contributions of artists to these two exhibitions and the curatorial process connected to them, I was able to unfold the inherent contradictions, paradoxes and disjunctures in the way the space of mobile telecommunication is perceived individually and socially, and I have further developed them

with an exploration of a collection of visual materials from the realm of mobile network communication. By navigating through these concrete materials - artistic, non-artistic / subjective, less subjective / visual and

non-visual -, my study comes to conclude that phenomena to be described by a psychological ?flatness? - a ?flattening-out? of subjectivities to conform to a mode of existence that is replaced by capitalist economies and geopolitics mostly organized in networks - can be observed as one pervasive aspect of new modes of being in space produced through individual and collective uses of digital mobile communication.

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Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Malmö Art Academy
  • Maharaj, Sarat, Supervisor
Award date2006 Sep 15
Place of PublicationMalmö
ISBN (Print)91-628-6921-3978, 91-628-6921-2
Publication statusPublished - 2006

Bibliographical note

Defence details

Date: 2006-09-15
Time: 10:00
Place: Lunds Stadshall

External reviewer(s)

Name: Mouri, Yoshitaka
Title: Associate Professor
Affiliation: Musical Creativity and the Environment, Faculty of Music, Tokyo National University of Fine Arts & M


Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Arts


  • Subjectivities
  • Art History
  • Digital Network
  • Mobile Telecommunication
  • Geopolitics


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