The Information of Street Art Vending

After reading Matthew Fuller’s Software Studies: A Lexicon I was intrigued by the chapter on information. Fuller launches into an in depth explanation about the anomalous nature of information. Information can be in the broadest sense everything and nothing at once. It led me to think about information in regards to my ecology. In a general manner information is necessary for our sites to function. This is information in the form of code that directs the functionality of our website. However it is important that we also gather information that builds to basis of our content on our website. Fuller quotes Shannon and Weber when attempting to define information. Shannon defines information in terms of its instrumental use in filtering out uncertainty in communications. In my ecology I set out to interview street artists as often as I am able to find them. In ways when I approached these subjects and told them of my reasoning for seeking an interview I was in turn informing them and making them more certain that I was not a random stranger, psychopath, or homeless beggar.

Interviews conducted like a reporter asking the hard hitting questions

Interviews conducted like a reporter asking the hard hitting questions

I was much like the news reporter often seen on T.V. who often informs those who they choose to interview of their name, their status, and the company they work for through the labels on cameras, name tags, and the microphone. In my approach these information signifiers can in the form of the camera I held, audio recorder, and my speech explaining ecologies and the assignment.

Furthermore, Shannon states that information derives from a point of “mediation” from which information is dispersed. (Fuller 128). In this way it is effective to think both of the artists that I interview and the interviewer (myself) as nodes from which information proliferates. In asking specific questions pertaining to street vending laws and artistic community I narrow the scope thus lessening the uncertainty of topics which are discussed.  On the other hand, the artist themselves limit the uncertainty by answering these said questions.  A lack of information tends to increase a sense of uncertainty. This was especially evident when I approached Henrik, a vendor selling records on the street, and was promptly denied an interview. I was left with a dearth of information and thus was left with uncertainty even about the correct spelling of his name or even if it was his name at all.

I remember now, his face the shape of a question mark

I remember now, his face the shape of a question mark

Furthermore what is interesting is that even if I was given an interview but the individual chose to remain anonymous. In this sense now I face an issue of lack of visual information. In facing the challenge of not photographing my subject I found myself taking pictures of the street signs around him along with chairs and tables he used. In a sense I was actively trying to lessen the uncertainty of who my subject was by photographing pieces of information that constituted his character. Yet, there continues to be the issue that I was not able to photograph his work creating a gap of information in site navigation of the various artworks sold by the artists. Even more interestingly there exist subfields of information that I am provided as in the case of the street artist who uses the alias of Puppet instead of his real name. In ways this is what Fuller is trying to get at in explaining that information includes the broad and the specific and can encompass a singular form of information or a plural form of information. While some artists I have gathered a large amount of information regarding their motivations, subject matter, location, physical features others I am left with just a name on a business card.

 

Evan Lin

~ by evnlin on October 30, 2013.