This article reflects upon a mobile art ethnography that sought to understand and rethink some of the tensions around regional/rural experiences of the digital. Using creative practice-based methods, it provides new insights into this regional/urban divide through the motif of working mother commuter as digital wayfarer, a term used to define on/offline digital entanglement through the lived experience of quotidian wayfaring. It contributes to debates around mobile communication and mobile media studies by connecting conceptual analysis of mobilities and its relationship to regional commuting with a creative approach to movement, play and a sense of place. Much of the academic research on mobile media and internet studies stems from an urban focus rather than engaging in the unevenness of the online as is much of the experience in the rural region of North Central Victoria, Australia. Being a working mother commuter for almost a decade, the researcher also took an autobiographical approach to aspects of this project through the lens of digital wayfaring. The artefact used ethnographic case study methods and is a creative non/ fiction sound and moving imagery work made using the mobile phone, within the context of the regional Vline train. Utilising sonified global positioning system (GPS) data as part of the soundscape, it addressed problems in the production of this train activity (i. e. work, creativity, play, rest and playbour) regarding social and material participation of the commute infrastructure and overlaid internet connections. It showed how multisensorial art-making highlights the commute to be a journey to and from - and of - work, within the ecology of the Vline train, and therefore provides new ways of perceiving this copresent, mediated and entangled digital experience.
With online access heavily restricted, Cuba has one of the lowest internet penetration rates in the world. Yet, Cuban citizens have found a way to distribute all kinds of web content in the form of El Paquete Semanal, a one terabyte collection of data that is compiled by a network of people with various forms of privileged internet access and then circulated nationwide on USB sticks and external hard drives via an elaborate network of deliverymen. In this article, I show how El Paquete has come to constitute a nested media ecosystem that facilitates the publication of independent local media content, hosts several digital marketplaces, and offers an otherwise non-existing space for advertisement. Its enormous local relevance and scope sets it in competition with the Cuban state that reacts ambiguously: it largely tolerates the Paquete as long as compilers continue to self-censor overtly political content. While state officials have repeatedly criticised the “banality” of its material, the government recently felt obliged to distribute its own alternative weekly data compilation called Mochila (backpack) via its youth computer clubs and official cybercafés. I therefore seek to understand El Paquete as an arena in which the relationships between citizenry and the state are currently being re-negotiated.
As media objects, video games are imbued with values held by their makers. This is done intentionally by serious games practitioners but also occurs independently of design goals. One of the more problematic manifestations of ‘values at play’ is playbour, a putting-to-work of play that recalls Agamben’s mourning the loss of ‘menuchah’, an inoperativity that is more than a means to prepare one for more work. But is there a way to rescue leisure from its subservience to labour? Or, if not, is there a way to make the work done through play operate against the logics of late capitalism? To make sense of the conversations around player, game, power, and labour, I articulate two concepts: visibility, or the degree to which a system can account for the actions of those operating within it, and perception, a measure of an actor’s understanding of the methods through which a system understands their movements. Through several gameplay examples, I use these concepts to lay the foundation for suggesting that play is a force for critique, for laying bare a game’s operational logics so that they may be subject to our scrutiny. To conclude, the concepts of glitch and queer failure are introduced to argue for a working on and at play that interrogates not only video game machines, but the larger machines of ideology that drive them.