On Sherry Hocking’s “The Emergence of Video Processing Tools”
The definition of open-source, in its technical essence, immediates the platform of open-source software: a platform which grants access to any users willing to participate in it its realm. With the evolution of the open-source concept, this notion seeps into the realms of ecology, education, digital toolkits, archives and collections, and even, sustainable proposals for “portable” humanitarian programs. I realize the discourse which stimulates the questioning of this field lies in its very definition: if open-source operates on accessibility, how can we define when “open-source” is acceptable, whether it is the collaborative energy of a community (such as painting a city mural that in turn, represents the cultural distribution of the participants who made it possible), the permitting of digital access to a toolkit library of industrial machines, or the passing on of “dark information” as destructive memes (warfare). Then, is (and should) the concept of “open-source” only be bounded within a digital virtuality?
Open-source has become a conceptual revolution in the art world (facilitating an unofficial artistic movement as well), propagating the contemporary fields of video art and new media— whether it is an artwork which depends on users on the internet or an internationally collaborative digital drawing. In Sherry Hocking’s essay, “The Emergence of Video Processing Tools,” Hocking examines this very place of the open-source movement: yet in relation to the emergence of independent video. As Hocking writes, “…Particularly striking is an ongoing shift away from art as commodity and from artist as creative genius to desiring machines and open networks of artistic production and conceptual collaboration” (225). I am perplexed by the idea if it is necessary to label “open-source” with a concrete definition, and if so, what its parameters entails in regards to the larger realm of art. More importantly, who are the people who are interested in the argument by those who argue the merit of its authorship? For example, Hocking asserts that the convergence of the development of tools in video and electronic media happened in conjunction with the “opening and articulation of parallel discursive and theoretical spaces” in interdisciplinary disciplines. She divides her explanation into three categories in particular: the artistry of process, the fantasy of the open, and the tactical media.
Tactical media, a media I myself am currently exploring, was indeed the most interesting theory to me that Hocking introduces. To me, interactive media and virtual spaces almost allow audiences to transcend into realms beyond themselves. The immersive experience is what moves the participant most intimately, for example, as Hocking states, “…at stake is a return to critical reflection on the dynamics and performativity of process” and then explains the need of “desiring machines from open source to open minds” (238). Because of the participatory and user-dependent quality of these mediums almost equivocally, the participant is just as psychologically dependent and immersed in the work as their experience is what makes the work conceptually isolated and refined. The most fascinating notion lies in the reward of simultaneous participation: the fact that the one who views the work is actually a part of the artwork itself, and anyone who joins the audience becomes the witness of the entire performance of which the last viewer was once involved, almost like a domino effect of unconscious participation.