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Arts & Exhibits

Technology and Interaction

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The new technologies produced by the telecommunications and electronics industries have revolutionized the way we inhabit space. Before the introduction of the phone, Global Positioning System (GPS), and computer, people interacted much more with the immediate environment. Now, most interaction is mediated; there is usually a keyboard, scroll wheel, or touch screen standing between an individual and a space.

The transition from the natural world to a haptic, artificial environment is exemplified by the relationship of the sun’s path in the sky and the clock. There is a direct connection between the two systems. The timepiece, based on the sun’s movement yet altered to meet people’s needs, is an artificial, consistent measure of the passing of a twenty-four hour day, whereas the sun’s arc through the sky changes throughout the year. Most people do not realize the connection.

The human race has experienced many such shifts. In addition to that above, examples include the transition from partial shelter, such as caves and wooded refuges, to houses and dwellings, as well as the transition from manual labor to the use of machines.

Each step of evolution of humans’ interaction with and enhancement of the world has led to a more developed conception of space and existence. The ability to abstractly conceive of, define, and manipulate physical elements has allowed people to be more efficient and effective, removing the messy impediments of the natural world. Critics of this transformation state these changes make the environment more sterile. On the other hand, as technology improves, material and energy consumption is minimized. However, this efficiency promotes an increase in the complexity of systems, possibly leading to an increase in consumption and the mechanization of being.

It is conceivable that the evolution of systems of interaction will lead to a wholly new and unique way of life. Some scientists, authors, and engineers have discussed the possibility of a singularity where the mechanisms of human ingenuity will be able to build upon and outstrip the initial designs of people. In this scenario, the self-evolving system might estrange humanity, leaving people without a direction or purpose. Though this might be only science fiction, it could be a parable of mankind’s ignorance of a higher existence or intent. On the other hand, it could be a rediscovery of paradise.

One might lament the change in interaction with our world, but the new technologies may allow a more human-oriented mode to act. Nonetheless, we must not forget or ignore the natural world whether because of the possible failure of our own technology or the loss of humanism. Though we move forward, we should not forget our former understanding and values.

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