After Borriaud’s discussion on Relational forms and artworks within he context of an ongoing encounter with the other; as well as Kwon’s assertions and recount of the debate on community-based art projects I immediately thought of Nicholas Negroponte’s project One Laptop per Child, which attempts to provide affordable and durable custom-built laptops-filled with open source OS and Software-to children in impoverished countries. Some issues and questions arise:
0. Can we consider computers artworks? If so, do they construct (and promote) encounters with users/audiences in completely new fashions than gallery-based artwork? are they closer to mass media (television and film as Borriaud says) or to pieces of interactive 3D art?
1. What were the qualities that Negroponte and his team looked for when identifying the community(ies) they served with OLPC? The community they serve doesn’t seem to be joined by ethnicity or geography-although a look at this map of impact could suggest a worldwide community of people below and around the equator being served by OLPC.
2. The identifiable community trait seems to be need. Is need as a trait for a community equally problematic as the ones brought up by Foster in Kwon’s article? Can need truly be identified by anyone but the person experiencing it?
3. While OLPC’s goals are of course altruistic, the laptops still need to be paid for (either by NGO’s or even Governments themselves). In this sense has OLPC created a new community of consumers (NGO’s and Governments)?
4. Furthermore, is OLPC creating lifetime consumer community of digital content in places that may not be ready to sustain such a community?
5. A lot of the technology used in building the XO computers (as OLPC’s laptops are called) ended up going towards the creation of what are now identified as netbooks, inadvertently creating a whole new market and (you guessed it) a whole new consumer community for technology.
6. Can consumers be considered a community at risk?
7. By asking who do you look and smile like, I am not suggesting that you recognize yourself in the face (and form) of the other, but in the face of the consumer same.
8. I ADORE Nicholas Negroponte and OLPC. Truly one of the actually worthwhile projects that used technology and design as a tool for social and educational change; BUT there issues within it that must and can be addressed through the ideas in Borriaud’s and especially Kwon’s article.
encounters with the Other as form individual and community do not and should not be reduced to any one kind of experience or any one kind of context mediated or not