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by John Hopkins

AS A BASIC TENET OF EXISTENCE, I intentionally seek to inhabit all spaces that I encounter as personal spaces of genuine dialogue and interaction -- humane intervention based in a mutual recognition and engagement of the Other.

I have always approached technology from a passively critical point-of-view. As the son of a technology analyst and forecaster, technology was introduced into my life from the very beginning of awareness. Machines were not only a means of control and extension of control but also of remote sensing -- an extension of the sensual capabilities of the organic body. From guns to telescopes, TV, walkie-talkies, HAM and short-wave radios, cameras, and early on, in the late 1960's, the networked computer terminal that I first experienced at my fathers office -- the Office of Technology Assessment. At home, I was surrounded with the glory of technology as expressed in popular literature, scientific journals, and in practice. The future was the future of Science and Technology. I later studied engineering, specializing in terrestrial remote sensing using electro-magnetics, gravity, and magnetics techniques. To sense what cannot be seen.

The failure of this technological existence was not the imperfection of present form, but a lack of content. Dialogue was always a possibility but did not often happen. There was always the monologue of television and radio, but I needed more. As a family, we moved several times -- in the service of the Military-Industrial complex. Since I left home 20 years ago, I have relocated more than 30 times. Sustaining contact-in-absence and in presence became a daily issue. I learned the Morse code system in order to communicate by radio. I collected stamps like many children do. I dreamed of these far-off places depicted in strange forms and languages. I wrote letters to others both known and unknown. Part of me existed in the virtual and suspended ether of waiting for an answer. I moved, wrote to old friends, made new friends, moved away, wrote to them -- always wrote letters, sent images, and began to understand the essentials of tele-presence. I linked people through writing and visiting and telephoning. I carried stories as travelers do. I discovered there was a name for this type of activity -- Networking. I was/am a networker by nature and need. I extend that nature into whatever medium is available to me including, but not limited to the Internet. By carrying on what Martin Buber classifies as "genuine dialogue" through the affirmation of the Other, there can be a mediation of conflict between humans. Re-evolution is not a solution but rather a constant state-of-being defined externally by dialogue.

I have no illusions of a dialectic Utopia spawned by AT&T and MCI and DeutscheTelekom. I look on any material intervention of expression in the same way -- as corruptible conditions impressed upon spiritual existence -- an existence tempered and tested by physical be-ing. I simply make use of what material transformations are available to me by virtue of my life-experience. At the moment, I find it possible to inhabit the space of the Internet humanely and personally -- not as a territory within which to impose the will, but a space of personal cohabitation and dialogue. If, in the future, that becomes impossible, I will no longer use the medium.

Suomenlinna, 22 September 1996

Accompanying photograph

"Self-portrait, Selatangar, Iceland, on the Summer Solstice, 1995."

More writings and visual art by John Hopkins can be found at:

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