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how many does it take to turn things around?

a billion people

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06.08.2018 Shinjuku, Roppongi

The galleries and the art—you might as well say all other ends—are as nothing to the city. Benesse’s ethically informed and ecological business, putting the engine of capitalism to scaling up a public and cultural interest, are nothing beside the electricity bill of a single district, beside just the electricity bill of Shinjuku.

We went to Mori Art Museum today—again the policing of photography, so few snaps, an exhibition tracing genealogies of architecture in a Japanese cultural context—and the idea of scale was given graphic representation, of human scale: the measurement of a standing body, the reach of an arm, the height of a seat under a seated body, the headheight of one sitting on the floor, the length of a footstep and a stride. But there is also a scale to human dreams; there is a scale to a life: and to the dreams of one living. The question What is to be done? is abstract, purely speculative, beside the question What do you want to do? What do you want to do? expresses a human scale. However What are they doing? What are they doing behind their counters? What are they doing walking in the streets? What are they doing working? What are they doing paying for the service provided? What are they doing looking at the local colour? What are they doing using the subway? What are they doing at the nuclear plant? These are questions that scale up rapidly to encompass other ends: What? What, the energy you draw from the thermonuclear reaction is just for the trains? It is just for the lights? It is just so at night you can carry on selling yakotori at night? (The energy for the hibachi barbecues comes from charcoal … but the charcoal is shipped into the centre of Shinjuku … and so is the meat, as are the vegetables, the drinks. The glasses are from factories. The beer is from an industrial brewery. Consider the size of Asahi: Asahi also supplies streetvending machines; it manufactures peppermints … at least its brand is on peppermints.)

What is every good effort at improving human life compared to the dreams of one living now? Who is not Japanese, serving in Memory Lane, at a yakotori counter barely over a metre wide. But who is Chinese, as are the two women working with her. They are studying at university. What you asked was—put in mind of the women running the ramen place in Kyoto—Is this business yours? The answer given: We are not Japanese. We are Chinese. I am a student. What are you studying? Business studies.

Where do you come from? New Zealand. I would like to go there. To New Zealand? Yes. It is big. It is bigger here! No—more… space. Yes.

To try and get closer to the question: Will you find a Japanese man? No. Japanese man drinks too much. In New Zealand… No. New Zealand men don’t drink at all! Laughter.

Another of the young women was also studying business. In Japan for 4 years, she dreamed of going to New Zealand. This was her dream. She was shy, shy about not having very much English.

Stepping out into the street, after the most expensive meal we’ve had here, we were immediately among the throngs of tourists, all attracted to these few lanes and alleys—Memory Lane!—by a recommendations of others. Look at them, with their cellphones, getting as close as they could to the natives in the area, in their tiny bars, doing their native things in their native tongues, drinking and eating and talking—pressed tightly together in their native humanity. But we are not Japanese.

And then the play of lights above, in the streets, the signage, the displays just for the sake of display: the scale of the city.

The press of people is Japanese. Genealogies of architecture in Japan, from Japan, and the Japanese influence on the contemporary world—of architecture and architectural thinking—did not include the press of bodies, the scale of one compressed on the subway. I felt the bones of the short woman in front of me, in the squeeze.

We were trying not to panic. It was the Oedo line, Roppongi to Shinjuku, the return trip from Mori Art Museum, just after 6pm. The first train that pulled up, although we were only three or four people back in the queue, we did not board. The way to board, when the press is so great, is backwards, pushing back first into the others in the doorway cavity. Then, use the door jambs and overhead lintel for leverage to pull in your legs and arms. If the doors can’t close, they will reopen, so you can push harder back, and pull in the remaining foot or hand. You are holding your bag close against you.

The second train came and J. was determined. The price of success was to be squashed tight in the door area—those standing in the aisle protected their space; those seated were safe. We were squashed so tightly I could not raise my arms. And with a righteous indignation that is embarrassing, when the press increased, with one large guy determined to get on, we yelled Hey! This did attract attention. But the large guy, using the lintel to pull his body in through the door, did get on—the skin of his face would have been pressed against the glass windows of the door, like we had seen with the earlier train: vacuum-sealed skin, faces, arms, bodies.

The fear was that at the ensuing stations—we had seven to cover—more people would be waiting, more would squeeze on: and what if the train broke down? Or what if there was some kind of scare and the crowd got spooked? What if we lost our footing and fell?

At the next station, a few got off, and more got on, but we had made our way, like those puzzles where you slide letters around a square with only one space free, to the corner, to the door opposite the one where we boarded. We had breathing space. I could grab the hanging strap and handle. Another gaijin next to me: he was using his back as a baffle and concentrating on his phonescreen.

What we decided we had meant by Hey! was Hey! That’s enough! That’s not how we do things! … And it was really unnecessary. These people, determined to board, to the discomfort of others, would know there would be another train along in minutes. Another question—because once on, J. said let’s get off, at the next station; we didn’t: If we had not got on the train, had known what we were in for, how long would have had to wait before the commuting press subsided? Or would we have walked? Right across Tokyo.

The Golden Gai, like Memory Lane—tourist gaijin prowling, cellphones at eyeheight.

But the snaps you want—the world is not designed for you either.

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you want to be liked I like you & your dissertation linked below

 

Figure 8.6 Sondra Perry, It’s in the Game (2017), screenshot of video demo

 

from Megan Philipa Driscoll’s Art on the Internet and the Digital Public Sphere, 1994 – 2003

© Copyright by
Megan Philipa Driscoll
2018

(shared on Nettime by Cornelia Sollfrank 25.06.2018)

 

abstract

This dissertation narrates the development of internet art, a diverse set of practices united
by their interrogation of the technological, social, and/or political bases of computer networks.
Covering the period from 1994, when “internet art” began to coalesce around the rise of the
World Wide Web, to 2003, when both internet art and internet culture writ large began to
respond to the rise of social media and “web 2.0” technologies, the dissertation homes in on a
select number of net art projects that variously engaged or challenged this period’s most
persistent claim: that the internet is a new, digital public sphere. By studying how these artworks
critiqued this claim, the dissertation uncovers three major models through which net art has
asserted the publicness of computer networks—as an interpersonal network that connects or
unites strangers into groups; as a virtual space akin to physical spaces of public gathering,
discourse, and visibility; and as a unique platform for public speech, a new mass media
potentially accessible to all.

Claims for the public status of computer networks rest on their ability to circulate
information and facilitate discussion and debate. This definition of publicness is rooted in the
concept of the classical public sphere as theorized by Jürgen Habermas. The dissertation will
thus review Habermas’s model of the classical public sphere as well as its most significant
critiques in order to interrogate the terms of a digital public sphere. The dissertation will also
engage Michael Warner’s work on the formation of publics, counterpublics, and the mass-
cultural public sphere; Oskar Negt and Alexander Kluge’s analysis of shared experience as the
foundation of the formation of public spheres and the role of mass media in this process; Henri
Lefebvre’s articulation of the social production of space; and Gilles Deleuze and Alexander
Galloway’s respective analyses of the role of network logics in contemporary systems of control.

The dissertation begins with a chapter overview of the emergence of computer
networking during the second half of the twentieth century and the different ways in which
artists experimented with it to explore new modes of communication, collaboration, and
exchange. With the appearance of the web in the mid-1990s, and with growing art institutional
interest in its novelty, these experiments crystallized into what we now know as internet art,
bringing with it challenging questions regarding the viability of the internet as an unprecedented
digital public sphere.

The second chapter turns to this emergent field of net art and how some artists tried to
define the terms of a new public sphere as an interpersonal network that allows people who are
not in physical or temporal proximity with each other to form publics. The chapter explores
Douglas Davis’s The World’s First Collaborative Sentence (1994) and Heath Bunting’s Project
X (1996), two works that use the strategy of accumulation to make visible the collective presence
of internet users, either as a reading public formed through the circulation of discourse or as a
public united by the articulation of its members’ shared experience. The third chapter introduces
practices that challenge the presumed universality of the digital public sphere by foregrounding
gender and race issues, which are often obscured in dominant discourses regarding computer
networks. The chapter focuses on Cornelia Sollfrank’s Female Extension (1997) and Mendi +
Keith Obadike’s Black.Net.Art Actions (2001 – 2003), demonstrating how these works help to
define the counterpublics of the digital public sphere by circulating marginalized discourses on
the web in opposition to the mainstream.

The fourth chapter examines the spatialization of computer networks and how the
internet’s communication platforms have become conceptually analogous to ancient forums or
seventeenth-century coffee shops. Through analyses of Ben Rubin and Mark Hansen’s Listening
Post (2001) and Natalie Bookchin and Jacqueline Stevens’s agoraXchange (2003), the chapter
attends to both utopian and skeptical views regarding the viability of the internet as a (virtual)
space of public gathering and discourse. Chapter five further interrogates the idea that the
internet is a theater of visibility, where actions are public because they cannot be private. The
first artwork in this chapter, RSG’s Carnivore (2001), critically addresses computer networks as
a surveillance technology and part of a system of social control. The second work, Eva and
Franco Mattes’s Life Sharing (2000 – 2003), explores what happens when internet users embrace
this condition of (hyper)visibility, freely sharing not only their personal information but also
their intellectual property, thereby eliding spatial and juridical notions of public domain.

The sixth chapter addresses the notion of computer networks as a new mass medium of
public speech, a platform for publicity that is also a site of struggle to exert influence on the
public sphere. Homing in on the work of net art collective ®TMark, the chapter follows how the
collective uses parody to challenge institutions that seem complicit in the commercialization of
ivthe network and the suppression of individuals’ access to the network’s platforms for public
speech. In the seventh chapter, the dissertation turns to artists’ responses to a legal challenge that
threatened their speech rights on the network, a set of actions known today as Toywar (1999 –
2000). The chapter also contends with how etoy, a collective of artists involved in the litigation,
took up corporate branding as artistic practice to reframe internet communication platforms as
tools of mass publicity in a mass-cultural public sphere.

The final chapter concludes with a reflection on the changes in the forms of net art and its
place in the field of contemporary art that followed the first phase of net art, the central focus of
the dissertation. While acknowledging the transformation of the online environment brought on
by social media and other “web 2.0” technologies, the chapter argues that the question of
whether computer networks can function as a digital public sphere remains an open and
contested one. The dissertation as a whole thus provides an historical account and critical
analysis of internet art that encompasses not only its technological evolution but also its
confrontation with the claims of publicness upon which our understanding of computer
networks, and the art made on and about them, are founded.

 

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production of the fold is critical not only for resistance but for new possibilities from the event of bio-, neo- or neuroliberalism

…Deleuze picked up the notion of the fold from the Baroque and Leibniz, but it is Foucault who helped him develop a politically enabling understanding of the concept. In his book on Foucault, Deleuze discusses the way Foucault’s understanding of the fold developed after the first volume of the History of Sexuality and took shape with the subsequent two volumes. Recognizing how, after his first book, Foucault found himself at an impasse regarding how to find a relation to oneself in relation to power and knowledge, Deleuze sees how Foucault began to move beyond this impasse in subsequent books. In the second volume he begins to develop not a theory of the subject, but a theory of the fold as a force of subjectification, as a force bending in on itself, creating points of resistance. This folding enables resistance, as it produces ‘a specific or collective individuation relating to an event’.

— Frida Beckman, Gilles Deleuze: Critical Lives, Reaktion Books, London (2017), p. 63

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the window is open a crack; but I will not sober up and shut it.

The Jacobin’s Branko Marcetic sniffs the breeze and smells the austerity on the breath of Ardern’s Labour Party.

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what is the blockchain? (or the death of the other, any other; and the death of ethics)

With the advent of the blockchain, we will not need to trust each other in the traditional sense, because trust is built into the system itself. … and the system is bigger than both of us.

enter the new episteme

(on loading this image, I saved it inadvertently to the Deligny file … the grapher of autistic networks)

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defaced theatre: Théâtre Hardelot

Andrew Todd’s 388-seater Elizabethan theatre on the grounds of Château d’Hardelot cost €6m. That is in answer to the graffiti of the National Front, about which here, and but for which it wouldn’t be here.

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please share with every body

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field recordings 2015:04:06 12:21:35 – 2015:05:15 9:59:52, including an ANZAC Day Special

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Copenhagen, 3 – 4 July, featuring Bron Broen & graduate works from the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts

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