ACM - Computers in Entertainment

The big bang

By Larissa Hjorth
SPECIAL ISSUE: Media Arts and Games (Part II), [Vol. 7, No. 2]

DOI: 10.1145/1541895.1541899

Over the last couple of years we have become used to the global media informing us about the revolutionary and democratic possibilities of mobile media. As a symbol of technological convergence, the multimedia possibilities of mobile media have become integral to the rise of UCC (user-created content) on the web. From the mobile novels (keitai shosetsu) in Japan, the OhMyNews netizens of South Korea, and the political use of mobile phones in the Philippines [Raphael 2003], the democratic and creative potential of mobile media have been exemplified in the Asia-Pacific region.

In a way, the rise of mobile media parallels the rise of the webcam [Koskela 2004] by enabling everyday users to document and edit their stories -- but mobile media promises more: a portal to new forms of distribution such as MySpace, Facebook, Cyworld mini-hompy, mixi, 2ch (ni-channeru), YouTube, and so on. Much of the innovative mobile media art work has been conducted around hybrid reality and location-based mobile gaming [De Souza and Silva 2006a; 2006; 2004; Davis 2005] to challenge the role of copresence in everyday life -- forging questions around boundaries between the virtual and actual, online and offline, haptic and cerebral, delay, and immediacy. Examples include the PacManhattan (US), Proboscis' Urban Tapestries (UK), Blast Theory (UK), Aware (FIN), Mogi Game (JP), and INP Urban Vibe (SK). In these projects we can see the melding of various traditions and disciplines, often exceeding the boundaries of games studies and new media discourse, apart from exceptions like the ‘relational architecture’ of new media artist, Rafael Lazano Hemmer.

Because mobile media grew in an interdisciplinary context, we must ask what role it can play in bringing new challenges to new media practice and theory. How can mobile media proffer insight into new media practice? How can mobile media's history as both a socio-cultural artefact and form of communication provide perception into emerging forms of new media politics in an age of global media? In order to address the potential of mobile media as new media, I will begin by discussing some aspects of what it means to be “mobile” in a period of globalization. I will then discuss South Korea as one of the major global leaders in mobile technologies, contextualising the socio-cultural dimensions of its techno-nationalist policy. I will then turn to the South Korean “mobile hacker” project, called Dotplay, conducted by INP. I argue that through this type of hactivist project we can begin to reflect the art of being immobile and mobile in an age of global UCC “flows”.

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