Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Performative media commentary

Is this commentary, in which the tv presenter cries on behalf of the audience/ the state/ the big Other, any different to mass media in other political regimes? Do our commentators do the same, albeit usually in other contexts? Is political regime maybe not an essential factor in how media is delivered, or at least overstated? ]

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


It has been a commonplace reaction to draw a connection between the Occupy movement and social media. It is a connection that resonates and seems logical. The common sense is that it empowers people to organise and communicate more effectively. 

What I propose is that the connection between protesting and social media is a rather different one: what we are looking at in the Occupy movement is a protest movement that can take a position of legitimacy by engaging in practice that mirrors the now dominant notions of "work".

Prior to the internet, protest consisted of congregating dissidents who inevitably could be portrayed as marginal hippies: their clothes are dirty, their pamphlets are ugly and their methods for gaining attention are intrusive. The "work" of protest thereby would engage in seeking and stretching scant resources and media channels by stealth and force. This could be contrasted with traditional work practices at the time which involved doing "work" that is concrete, materially productive and "actually makes a difference".

Now this has changed. Western economies are nearly wholly in the business of selling lifestyle, creating spectacle and capitalising on social networks. In other words, marketing. And most interestingly, the channels for such marketing has become homogeneous - law firms accountants and marketers spend time building their business on facebook and twitter.  All of a sudden what was once the same ragtag bunch of hippies can now be presented alongside "legitimate" business on both the plane of spectacle (they look the same) and practice.

Hence, I am looking at the Occupy Melbourne Facebook page and their feed is just as slick as any other, it is full of videos and considered opinion articles. They are engaged in full time work of self promotion that can now not be dismissed as an illegitimate practice. Their "work" now consists of exactly the same productive process as any other western business practice. 

In this context I would suggest that the mere fact that protesters and their adversaries play off through the same media channels in itself is the cause for the resurgence in protest and that the similarity in work practice provides them with necessary legitimacy. 

Monday, December 12, 2011

Neo-Liberalism IS the alternative to capitalism?

So I was thinking, maybe I've come to a point where I actually in align with some Neo-Liberal thought in the sense that the Neo-Liberal condition, as espoused by its adherents in its ideal form is a kind of utopia for free labour. If I've got it right one of the basis on a practical level is for the free movement of labor, short-term contracts and the removal of worker benefits in the name of higher wages. Apparently, Germany adopted these strategies in the early 2000's when its economy was stagnating and unemployment was high and because of that it is now the strongest economy in Europe. I've come to believe in using capitalism on your own terms, basically only working for short periods of time in order to make enough to live how you want to live, and a job market where there are lots of short-term, high wage jobs is conducive to that. I actually think that having job security entails a concomitant, unavoidable internalization of the ideology of capitalism where corporations start creating bio-political structures like health benefits and pensions to the obligation to attend corporate social functions for their employees exemplified to the highest degree by the kind of neo-corporations like Google and Apple. So, in these terms, Neo-Liberalism is the alternative to this.
Of course this is completely abstract and theoretical for me, never having worked in a corporation and only having worked for four months in the past three years, is there anything in this?

South Korean twin-tower project

Controversial design ... developer stays firm on 'Twin Towers' despite fierce objection from the US and 9/11 victims.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

zizek jokes book

btw i really hate that zizek jokes book
its not because it trivialises him 
it is not necessarily a vacuous or flippant gesture
he is sort of being psychoanalytical in reading the jokes as the symptom, 
as the the noise that can seemingly be separated from the substance but is in fact crucial, 
but somehow it leaves me feeling really fkn cold like i need to take a shower

Are creative people more dishonest? ]

Alexander Singh

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Demographic drivers

In his very well known blog entry " Twenty reasons why it's kicking
off everywhere"
which you sent me a while ago, Mason lists the very first driver of
current global resistance movements as follows:

"1. At the heart if it all is a new sociological type: the graduate
with no future"

he continues that:

"11.To amplify: I can't find the quote but one of the historians of
the French Revolution of 1789 wrote that it was not the product of
poor people but of poor lawyers. You can have political/economic
setups that disappoint the poor for generations - but if lawyers,
teachers and doctors are sitting in their garrets freezing and
starving you get revolution. Now, in their garrets, they have a laptop
and broadband connection."

In this context is it a fait accompli that it is capitalism that has
produced this condition of failure. Could it rather be driven by
demographic factors?
If you look in most post-industrialised western countries their ageing
populations look like this


could it be that what is driving the lack of opportunity among
educated youth is rather the fact that baby boomers are hanging on to
top jobs beyond the traditional retirement age of say 65 and this
causes a certain bottleneck of oppurtunity being felt by the educated
youth today?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Americans and the state

Following the line of thinking in "The Art of Not Being Governed",
could we make the case that the USA is, and perhaps has always been in
principle, a stateless society?

We continually see this pathological fear of the state in america;
there is a suspicion of taxes to the extent that people would starve
the government entirely out of existence if they could. There is also
the will to annihilate all sense of public commons and to privatise
all things, even to the extent of having gated communities with their
own police forces. Then there is stateless communities in fact, such
as rural settlements such as some amish and mormon communities and
also the ozarks.

Could it be that some parts of the USA all along have really resisted
statehood to the extent that this antagonism is what is being played
out now? Are using the terms of libertarianism and maverick capitalism
actually misplaced?

Great art is always prescient

"Following the news coverage of his interview gaffe, Cain cancelled a meeting with New Hampshire's largest newspaper, Union Leader, less than an hour before the scheduled interview on November 17th. Additionally, at a rally in Nashua, New Hampshire, he addressed the situation by saying no official can know all the details about every situation across the globe and that America needs "a leader, not a reader. Several sites including Buzzfeed, Uproxx, Mediaite and Business Insider noted that this phrase was eerily similar to one spoken by the President in The Simpsons Movie: "I was elected to lead, not to read."

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The limits of Zizek's radicalism


I think this is pretty good and it diagnoses something I've thought for a while, that there is a limit to how far radical European intellectuals like Zizek and Adam Curtis can go, and its boundaries are delineated by their ties to 20th century European history and their fundamental belief in 'politics' as such. Zizek is at odds with the idea of a completely decentralized, non-ideological way of looking at the world as the basis for new progressive forms of social organization emerging out of the various youth revolutions and protests. There's something, and I cant put my finger on it, which accounts for the affinities between the adamant silence and refusal to make demands at the center of the violence at the heart of the London riots and the Occupy movement as well as the refusal for the movements to coalesce around leaders. I think it has something to do with the ostensibly democratic systems out of which these two events have emerged where having agendas and demands are associated with a paralyzing and ultimately corrupt party politics which have consistently failed them but also the ability of various forces in these systems to co-opt revolutionary talking points.



Monday, October 31, 2011

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Re: Ricardo Hausmann on Economic Complexity

So, in effect is economic complexity theory taking a macroeconomic approach to microeconomics? So its focusing on the economic statistics in all the different strata of an economy but then taking a broad brush approach and linking them all together to see how they function in a complex whole to create the relative growth of that economy. I think I disagree with the notion that more succesful economies are more diverse, I think some of the most advanced economies like Germany and Switzerland and South Korea have succeeded, in their post-industrial phases, by specializing in a few key industries and excelling on the basis on those, like chemicals and high end scientific equipment. So by dividing the world into poor countries which produce a few simple things and the rich that produce many complex things he's leaving out the rich countries which produce a few complex things. I am also wary of when he says that in countries where the reality doesnt align with his models, reality is wrong-I guess his banking on the predictive prescience of his models but I am not so sure. Like Zuckerman says, it still doesnt explain why Asian countries like Thailand and Korea were at the exact same points three decades ago as African countries are now miles ahead. I feel its more a governance issue in terms of the economic stagnation of countries so his models aren't very useful for generating comparative data.

On Wed, Oct 26, 2011 at 8:15 AM, gav <> wrote:
whatcha rekn?

Sent to you by gav via Google Reader:

via ...My heart's in Accra by Ethan on 10/12/11

The member meeting at the Media Lab features speakers from within the lab, like César Hidalgo and Joi Ito, and outside speakers – in that latter case, the invited speakers reflect César's wonderfully idiosyncratic take on networks. One of his major collaborators is Ricardo Hausmann, director of Harvard's Center for International Development and former Minister of Planning for Venezuela.
Hausmann argues that to succeed economically, humans have learned how to specialize. Someone who's marvelous in one area is likely mediocre at others – consider Michael Jordan's ill-fated attempts to play professional baseball. Some tasks require a full human's worth of knowledge – a person-byte – to carry them out successfully. Others require much more knowledge – building a complex product like a computer might require a kilo-person byte or more – the highly specialized knowledge and skills of a thousand different people. "Modern man is useless as an individual. Making a computer is a team sport."
By understanding how much knowledge and coordination different economies are capable of, we might understand their economic growth potential. In the US, the average employee works with 100 coworkers. In India, the average employee works with 4 coworkers. Hausmann explains that's not coincidental – the difference in wealth and income between the nations is closely related to the ability of firms to take on complex tasks. This also helps explain recent disappointment with the limited impacts of microlending – those loans go to small firms that are limited in terms of personbytes. They've only got so much knowledge they can apply to producing complex and high value products.
We might characterize economies in terms of those where lots of people do very simple work – he illustrates this with a marvelous Edward Burtynsky photo of assembly line workers processing chicken in China – and those where indiviuals do complex things in consort, like the players within a symphony orchestra. Hausmann shows us a "map" of the world, a complex graph that represents nations and what products they produce. Most nations produce a few things, and a few produce many different things. Some products are made everywhere, while others are made in very few places.
There's an underlying pattern to this. The nations that make only a few things all tend to make, more or less, the same things. Basically, we can divide the world into two sets of countries – those that have sufficient personbytes of knowledge to produce a wide range of goods, and those that can produce only a few simple things. The places that make everything make things that few others make. Hausmann explains that products require a specific set of personbytes to produce. When you gain additional personbytes of skill, it's like getting new letters in Scrabble – you can produce a new set of words, but only within the constraints of the letters (skills, knowledge) you already have.
"Poor countries make few things, and things that everyone makes. Rich countries make unique things. And this is true for municipalities as well as for countries." He shows a graph of manufacturing in Chile that looks curiously like his graph of the world – on the top is Santiago, where people manufacture all sorts of things… on the bottom "is where there's nothing but penguins" and capacity for manufacturing is very low.
Global economics, Hausmann explains, is a little like the BCS scoring in college football. It's not just about who you beat, it's about who they beat as well. What do you make, and what does everyone else make? What do you make that no one else makes? What new products could you manufacture based on what you already make?
Why pay attention to this idea, the "economic complexity index"? It's a very good tool for explaining the classic question of "Why are some countries rich and others poor?" Specifically, it explains 73% of the variances of incomes across nations. And where the predictions economic complexity theory offers differ from reality, it's possible that reality is wrong. The index suggests that India should be richer and Greece should be poorer, which suggests that error in the index is predictive of future growth. If you want to bet on economies that are undervalued, Hausmann suggests you invest in China, India, Thailand, Belarus, Moldova and Zimbabwe. (On the last, he suggests that Zimbabwe's main economic problem is a single persistent individual, but that there are many personbytes of knowledge ready to produce goods once the political situation changes.)
Is economic complexity actually measuring another phenomenon, like education? Probably not. We can look at investment in education and economic growth, and education appears to correlate more weakly than economic complexity. He suggests we look at Ghana, which has invested heavily in education since 1975, and Thailand, which hasn't invested as heavily. Ghana hasn't moved far from a largely agricultural economy, while Thaliand has moved from producing jute and sugar to becoming a major manufacturing center. They've accumulated many personbytes even if they didn't invest heavily in education.
This raises a tricky question – how do you become a watchmaker in a country without watchmakers? The answer is that you move from what you currently produce to products that require only a fractional increase in personbytes, from one product space to a closely related one. The question for economic success may be how close you are to good products from what you already know how to make.

I find Professor Hausmann's theory fascinating, in part because I've had the chance to play with the gorgeous visualizations César has built of economic progress in different parts of the world based on economic complexity. What I still don't understand is how Thailand kicked Ghana's butt economically. How do you get from jute to microcircuitry? And why couldn't Ghana get from aluminum production to more complex manufacturing. Looking forward to reading his papers and understanding a bit more, as the core concept of complexity is a very compelling one.

Things you can do from here:

Tiny Gaps in Culture

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Rumbula Holocaust in Latvia

Aftermath at the pits on the first day

"By the end of the first day about 13,000 people had been shot but not all were dead. Kaufman reported that "the earth still heaved for a long time because of the many half-dead people." Wounded naked people were wandering about as late as 11:00 am the next day, seeking help but getting none. In the words of Professor Ezergailis:
The pit itself was still alive; bleeding and writhing bodies were regaining consciousness. ... Moans and whimpers could be heard well into the night. There were people who had been only slightly wounded, or not hit at all; they crawled out of the pit. Hundreds must have smothered under the weight of human flesh. Sentries were posted at the pits and a unit of Latvian Schutzmannschaften was sent out to guard the area. The orders were to liquidate all survivors on the spot."

Monday, September 26, 2011

Interior Semiotics and 4chan

I think this is kinda classic, where contemporary art kids are totally into 4chan and the internet aesthetics and the culture it generates, and I guess tries to feed off its subcultural cache and assert their edgy, avant-garde pedigree when the actual subject of their attention hates it's guts and sees contemporary art as synonymous with hipster fags and are actively resisting this co-option by 'high'-culture.


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Assemblage Man


Sent to you by gav via Google Reader:


via Larval Subjects . by larvalsubjects on 19/09/11

Today my students and I began working through Bennett's account of thing-power and assemblages as developed in Vibrant Matter. For Bennett, every thing that exists possesses a conatus or a "will" to persist in its own being. This conatus is defined by its affects. Following Spinoza and Deleuze, affects are capacities to act (active affects) and to be acted upon (passive affects). The active affects are what a thing can do. For example, the ability to play a piano would be an active affect. By contrast, the passive affects define the receptivity of an entity or the manner in which it is open to interaction with other things in the world. Within the framework of my own thought (and I'm very much on the same page with Bennett on all these points), the passive affects define a "transcendental aesthetic", defining the field of receptivity entities have to other entities. Thus, for example, a great white shark's passive affects consist of things like it's olfactory powers, the ability to sense the world through the electro-magnetic fields of other entities, etc., whereas my passive affects consist of things like vision, scent, smell, touch, the ability to discern desire in certain slips of the tongue due to my psychoanalytic training, and so on. If there is a transcendental aesthetic at work here, then this is because a certain "distribution of the sensible" must precede empirical sensings to be possible. Each thing has its modes of openness to the world.

The affective conatus of things fluctuates and can be enhanced or diminished as a result of encounters with other things. My power of vision, a passive affect, for example, is enhanced through my glasses. My voice (active affect) and ear (passive affect) are enhanced through my smart phone. The large Texas meal I ate yesterday diminished my passive and active affects, drawing me into a catatonic state where my powers of acting and of being acted upon were reduced (I passed out for two hours), but which might nonetheless increase the power of my active and passive affects by either increasingly my gravitational pull on other objects (i.e., it perhaps made me fatter) or by increasing my strength and ability to perceive and think in a variety of ways.

read on!

From all of this Bennett concludes that things never act alone, but rather always act in assemblages of things. Assemblages, for Bennett, are ad hoc groupings of diverse and heterogeneous elements. They have, she contends, uneven topographies insofar as, at particular moments, some elements might for a time contribute more than other elements and serve a greater regulatory function with respect to other elements of the system. From these assemblages we get emergent qualities and powers that can't be found in any of the elements taken alone. Like fireflies, the elements of these assemblages flicker back and forth to one another, producing all sorts of surprising results; and for this reason they are open-ended. Assemblages are thus something more than a mere heap of unrelated and individual things and something less than a structure. If they are less than a structure, then this is because they are open-ended and the components of the assemblage are never locked into the assemblage, but rather can separate from the assemblages into which they enter or enter into new relations with the other elements.

It seems to me that Jackie Chan's style of fight provides an excellent example of an assemblage:

Within a modernist framework our tendency is to think of nonhuman things as brute clods of passive matter that await us to receive action. Nonhuman things are either blank screens upon which we project our meanings (the value of the dollar bill comes from us, not the dollar bill) or mere mediums of which we make use as tools. In the Chan clip above we see something very different. Chan, of course, is an actor or operator within these networks or assemblages, yet he is not a sovereign unilaterally transferring meaning and use to the entities about him. Rather, Chan is what might be called "assemblage-man". Where "sovereign-man" transfers meanings and aims unilaterally without the things acting back, assemblage-man is the man of the "and". Chan is never simply Chan, never simply an origin, but is rather Chan+wall+tree or Chan+table or Chan+ladder or Chan+crates, etc. Throughout his misadventure, Chan must respond to the surprising actions of the new mediums he engages with as much as he acts upon these things. With each encounter a new set of affects erupt on to the scene, new powers of acting and being acted upon, new constraints that he must contend with, only for these affects to disappear with new encounters, the dissolution of prior assemblic relations, and the formations of new assemblic relations.

Chan is not a sovereign of these other entities– though certainly he relates to them quite skillfully –but rather enters into alliances and sympathies with these various nonhumans which, in each instance, require him to reconfigure his own ways of moving and acting. He is as much acted upon as he acts, as is quite evident from the differential changes that arise due to gravity in the assemblage he forms with the table or the ladder. This is how it always is with assemblages. Within assemblages agency can no longer be located in any particular element of the assemblage, but rather is like sparks in a Jacob's Ladder that jump and dance as they trace their course throughout the world.


Things you can do from here:


Sunday, September 18, 2011

Arbitrary Constraint

Is this a strategy you (still?) ever use?

Its obviously a common strategy in producing work. DO you know any (famous) people that used it as a strategy in their life in general? 

Trevor Paglen

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


This months e-flux by BIFO seems to touch on a lot for me; how time structures desire, body, meaning.

Nevertheless I'd be greatly assisted by your interpretation. I particularly am concerned with this separation of language and body, language and desire:

The end of modernity arrived with the
collapse of the future, as Johnny Rotten
signaled. But postmodernism, as far as we can
tell, has only produced a techno-linguistic
machine permeating every recess of daily life,
every space of the social brain. In a 1977 book by
American anthropologist Rose Goldsen entitled
The Show and Tell Machine, Goldsen wrote that a
new generation of human beings will gain its
primal impressions from a machine rather than
from the mother.
That generation is here. This
generation, which experiences a problematic
relationship between language and the body,
between words and affection, separates
language from the body of the mother, and from
the body in general Ð for language in human
history has always been connected to a fear of
trusting the body. In this situation, we need to
reactivate our ability to connect language and
desire, or the situation will become extremely
bad. If the relationship between the signifier and
the signified can no longer be guaranteed by the
presence of the body, we lose our relationship to
the world. Our relationship to the world will
become purely functional, operational Ð
probably faster, but precarious.

more nomad - Deleuze "what children say"

The libido does not undergo metamorphoses, but follows world historical
trajectories. From this point of view, it does not seem that the
real and the imaginary form a pertinent distinction. A real voyage, by
itself, lacks the force necessary to be reflected in the imagination; the
imaginary voyage, by itself, does not have the force, as Proust says, to
be verified in the real. This is why the imaginary and the real must be,
rather, like two juxta posable or superimposable parts of a single trajectory,
twO faces that ceaselessly interchange with one another, a mobile
mi rror. Thus the Australian Aborigines link nomadic itineraries to
dream voyages, which together compose "an interstitching of routes,"
.. in an immense cut-out [decoupe) of space and time that must be read
like a map. " 7 At the limit, the imaginary is a virtual image that is interfused
with the real object, and vice versa, thereby constituting a crystal
of the unconscious. It is not enough for the real object or the real landscape
to evoke similar or related images; it must disengage its oum virtual
image at the same time that the latter, as an imaginary landscape,
makes its entry into the real, following a circuit where each of the two
terms pursues the other, is interchanged with the other. "Vision" is the
product of this doubling or splitting in two (doublement ou dedoublement],
this coalescence. It is in such crystals of the unconscious that the
trajectories of the libido are made visible.

Outside language

As Proust said, great writers invent a new language within language, but in such a way that language in its entirety is pushed to its limit or its own "outside." This outside of language is made up of affects and precepts that are not linguistic, but which language alone nonetheless makes possible.


.. I think the same is true of technology, do you?  I guess the challenge is to push some limit within the internet

Love letters ]

Aren't these the sort of gestures that need to be internal to our institutions? Shouldn't our institutions be anthropocentric rather than impartial, rational and modern?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Paul Chan

For me, Paul Chan is probably the most interesting internet artist working right now;
"In the winter we’ll publish a collection of essays by Saddam Hussein. He wrote them in the 70s, before he became the president of Iraq. They are perverse and fascinating to say the least, because they are about democracy. We’ll also put out more experimental erotica by Jean Paaulhan, a great young writer."


Guthrie Lonergan

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

marisa olsen

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Someone shared a clip with you on Vimeo

You can watch it here:

2010 Silberberg Lecture Series: Boris Groys

2010 Silberberg Lecture Series: Boris Groys

About this video:
"Tuesday, October 19th, 6:00pm

Silberberg Lecture Series
Boris Groys, Global Distinguished Professor of Russian and Slavic Studies, New York University; Professor of Art History, Philosophy and Media Theory, Staatliche Hochschule fur Gestaltung, Karlsruhe
"Rules of Repetition: Reflection of the Medium in the Time-Based Art""

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67 Bows Nira Pereg Black Box Hirshhorn DC

Baldessari Sings LeWitt

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Ryan Trecartin

So where do we sit with this? The younger reviewer is more reactionary than the old conservative in their response to Ryan Trecartin, who is being resistant and who is being duped? I didn't know he was a part of the Rhode Island Paperrad scene and it makes a lot of sense, but he brings up good points about how its like youth and internet culture for old people and very retro.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Amy Whitaker

'In the winter and spring of 2011, she will be teaching economics as a fine art studio course at the Rhode Island School of Design.'

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Stop Blaming Neo-Liberalism for Everything

For what do you think about this counter-explanation for the riots? Welfare dependency and invasive government intervention has created a enfeebled working class...


Monday, August 22, 2011


So a lot of the internet based work I see in gallery shows, online, seems to be using the parameters of internet aesthetics eg. cut and paste, bad feathering, arbitrary juxtaposition of disparate imagery, 'slicing' etc. and then translating it into traditional media like sculpture or painting-eg. the current trajectory of AIDS 3d , et al.'s work suitable for the gallery and commercial environments. Internet art is gonna be huge, I think its at a tipping point in New York and I can imagine critics very soon, if they are not already waxing lyrical about the way these artists have used the aesthetics of the internet to rejuvinate and bring back seduction and sensuality to contemporary art.
I can't really pretend to know very much about internet stuff, but I think the Andrew Wilson stuff is great and exactly what internet art needs to be.
"This understanding of the ecologies that our personal computing takes part in is crucial if artists explicitly engaging the internet are to have an impact on broader cultural planes."
The networking piece he did really hit the nail on the head in that it references something Zizek critiques about the celebrators of cyberspace and the idea of the freedom and democratization of knowledge in cloud computing, that the cloud is materially owned and controlled by corporations with an accompanying system and structure of labour relations that don't necessarily transcend the Fordist production models. Take for example this article [] about the emerging rare earth economies on which the information technologies software and hardware markets are dependent on which seem to hark back to earlier 19th century trade wars and the material exploitation of (neo)colonial natural resources.
"Embodiment no longer coincides with the limits of flesh; disembodiment initially experienced on the internet opens the possibility for collective re-embodiment through new technologies."
From the description of the Avatar 4D exhibition on JstChillin
See there seems to be a tone of self-celebratory post-humanism, and we both know that post-humanism is just ideology spouted by corporations to distract us from the very human toil, in a 'bare life' sense, that it takes to produce the physical technological infrastructure to create post-human avatars for white nerds with high speed access to the net living in the developed world.
More interesting for me would be work about internet exclusion, global uneven internet speed distributions and the impacts thereof and the interface between developing countries and technology, basically if someone were the artistic equivalent of what Ethan Zuckerman covers. Intrestingly enough, I don't know how informed they are but AIDS 3D inadvertently reference Danny Millers work in Jamaica vis a vis the internet and culture when they quote the wiki on virtual continuums in their 'Free Internet' pdf. So basically my position is that I really like internet art when it doest self-consciously draw attention to itself as internet art and become what I was saying, regressively Modernist foregrounding the conditions of the medium itself rather than exploring the social/political/economic issues that the medium raises.
Ok I get it now. Internet aesthetics are actually a form of hauntology. So as a repository of information and images, of lost data and dead links and millions of geocities sites exisiting in some kind of cyber limbo Parker Ito and the chick call it a 'ruin' and a kind of neo-gothic, thus the proliferation of naked, vectorized lawnmower men in internet art. What it is is 90's retro, maybe a little in the same way Tim and Eric are and all clip art and online stock photo imagery is but its coming back to us repackaged in the wrapper of web 2.0, youtube video loops and IM screen caps and those single page scrolling image blogs. And thus it resonates with our generation who came of age in the 90's and appeals to our latent nostalgia for a lapsarian as well as political/historical idyll perhaps.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

McKenzie Wark: 'The Logic of Riots'


Sent to you by gav via Google Reader:


via by Mc Kenzie Wark on 16/08/11

Riots have their own logic. Both those who celebrate and decry them tend to think of riots as irrational outbursts, which can be channeled back towards order either by offering a few concessions or by sending in more police. There is invariably some moralizing that goes along with all this, none of it terribly helpful for understanding why riots are a constant of modern urban life rather than some inexplicable exception.

There's a short text that always does the rounds whenever riots occur again. It was written by Guy Debord, legendary co-founder of the Situationist International, and bearing the jargon-heavy title of 'The Decline and Fall of the Spectacle-Commodity Economy.' These days you don't have to hunt around for the photocopies passed from hand to hand, it can be easily googled. Its subject is the Watts riots of 1965. Its leading provocation, and the reason for its underground popularity, is this: "But who has defended the rioters of Watts in the terms they deserve?

"The Los Angeles revolt was a revolt against the commodity," Debord said. It was at least partly so. "The flames of Watts consumed consumption." In the spectacle of consumer society advertises a life in which all that is good appears on television and all that appears on television is good. This constant circulation of images of the consumer lifestyle, which came into its own in the sixties, could but be a cruel reminder for African Americans in particular of the inequities underlying such images.

The spectacle of consumable life ranks goods in order of their desirability. The fancy brands are so much better than generic knock-offs. But this is also an order that ranks its subjects. To be Black in the sixties is to be at the bottom of the visible order. Just as the ranking of which are the better brands changes over time, so too does the league table of desirable kinds of people. You have your Kate Middletons, and then you have your chavs.

The Watts riot was a moment when African Americans saw through this hierarchy of images. As Debord says: "they demand the egalitarian realization of the American spectacle of everyday life." This is a constant of the modern riot. Those who are told, at one and the same time, that these and the things they should desire, but that they themselves are not desirable, will periodically get the message, and respond in kind. Like the Watts rioters, they see the swag on offer - and loot it.

The signature Situationist concept for such - recurring - events is potlatch. Where Marx compared the transformation of the object of labor into a commodity to a transubstantiation, the Situationists were interested in a kind of reverse miracle, by which the thing lost its status as commodity and became the gift. The looted object is no longer a commodity. But the perversity of the gesture is that its seizure does not break the spell of exchange and return to things their value. Rather, looting takes the spectacle at its word. In the spectacle, what is good appears and what appears is good. The looter jumps the gap between desire and the commodity. The looter takes desires for necessity, and necessity for their desires, but freeing the commodity from exchange does not expunge exchange from the commodity.

The riot contains a quite contrary movement as well - arson. The arsonist is not quite the same as the looter. The arsonist's is a negative relation to what appears, particularly to the built environment. The arsonist's actions are marked by the refusal of spectacular form. Enormous energy is being withdrawn from the labor process and it finds no other outlet than in aggression prompted by dissatisfaction. In the riot, that aggression turns against two of its sources: against the time of the commodity form; against an alienating urban space.

Looting and arson are recurring events within what the Situationists called the "overdeveloped world." They are the mark of overdevelopment, of the quantitative expansion of production outstripping the qualitative transformation of everyday life, of desires spinning their wheels, without traction in the elaboration of needs. The proximate causes may vary, and are usually to do with the thuggery of the police and the indifference of the state.

What the Situationists point to is the consistency and persistence of what follows, the twin forks of seize it all, or burn it down. Sometimes, the riot takes a different form, and passes toward rebellion, even toward revolution, or perhaps those in the middle of it think it does. This is why May '68 has a special place in not only the theory but also the mythology of the Situationists. It was more than a riot. It was the fabled general strike.

There is a lot that is missing from Debord's account of Watts: The thirty dead, the thousand injured, the four thousand arrests. Still, it might have interested him that later investigations upheld his hunch that while the riots were leaderless they were not without organization. Impromptu meetings in the park after dark coordinated movements, for example. Riots are neither irrational, spontaneous outbursts, nor the secret workings of some conspiracy or other.

They, are rather, the working out of an inner tension in commodified life. That tension is usually finessed through the fine idea that if everyone just knuckles under and does their best, all will be well. The yawning gap between the promise of the spectacle and its actuality can be narrowed with hard work and a bit of luck. When that carrot turns out to be a rotten promise, then there's nothing for it but the stick. The modern, spectacular society would prefer to be loved, but when push comes to shoved it will settle for being feared.


Things you can do from here:



On the Gradual Production of Thoughts Whilst Speaking

In the first of his larger essays, "On the gradual development of thoughts in the process of speaking", Kleist shows the conflict of thought and feeling in the soul of man, leading to unforeseeable results through incidents which in their turn provoke the inner forces of the soul to express themselves in a spontaneous flow of ideas and words, both stimulating one another to further development. Kleist's view of the hidden forces in the human soul and the quite instable and endangered position of the mind in their struggle can be compared to Freud's psychoanalytic model of the soul, especially to his notion of the "unconscious" and its hidden influences on the ego.

Kleist claims that most people are advised to speak only about what they already understand.[3] Instead of talking about what you already know, Kleist admonishes his readers to speak to others with "the sensible intention of instructing yourself."[3] Fostering a dialogue through the art of "skillful questioning" is the key behind achieving a rational or enlightened state of mind.[3] And yet, Kleist employs the example of the French Revolution as the climactic event of the Enlightenment era whereby man broke free from his dark and feudal chains in favor of liberty, equality, fraternity. It is not that easy though for Kleist. Man cannot simply guide himself into the future with a rational mind as his primary tool. Therefore, Kleist strongly advocates for the usefulness of reflection ex post facto or after the fact.[4] In doing so, man will be able to mold his collective consciousness in a manner conducive to the principles of free will. By reflecting after the fact, man will avoid the seemingly detestable inhibitions offered in rational thought. In other words, the will to power has "its splendid source in the feelings," and thus, man must overcome his "struggle with Fate" with a balanced mixture of wisdom and passion.[4]

The metaphysical theory in and behind Kleist's first essay is that consciousness, man's ability to reflect, is the expression of a fall out of nature's harmony, which may either lead to disfunction, when the flow of feelings is interrupted or blocked by thought, or to the stimulation of ideas, when the flow of feelings is cooperating or struggling with thought. A state of total harmony, however, cannot be reached. Only in total harmony of thought and feeling life and consciousness would come to be identical through the total insight of the mind, an idea elaborated and ironically presented in Kleist's second essay "The Puppet Theatre" or "On the Marionette Theater" (Über das Marionettentheater).

Monday, August 1, 2011

social entrepeneurship

..and social art

Unlimited Detail Real-Time Rendering Technology Preview 2011

i suspect that in the near future the uncanny valley will apply to real life and not virtual life.

(Deleuzian) Schizo-linguistics

Trecartin shows where we are with the commodification of language in the google-era. But Lil B shows where we are going with the full schizoid position, in which language becomes material object and can be hurled like primordial muck. Every word of Lil B is designed towards google search, meaning is quantitative, signification has departed.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A list of things banned by al-shabaab

I am kind of interested to see a list of what isn't banned. It's quite specific, it it possible to do a Levi-Strauss structural analysis of it to find the binary system they're following? Could be an interesting thesis topic, 
'The Structural Patterns and Binary Divisions of Prohibitory Lists Issued by Terrorist Militias in the Horn of Africa'

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Chinese

In the interests of equality and symmetry I am starting this topic without content with an open invitation for any thoughts you might have regarding the topic.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Slavoj Žižek's lecture in Tel Aviv

I haven't watched this yet but perhaps it is interesting to your current forays

Friday, July 22, 2011

What is this about?

I am very sensitive tol our cultural sensibilties being very much affected by management ideas and also "cultural ternd forecasting"

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Jews

So I've been thinking a lot about the Jews recently, and what it means to be Jewish. This is prompted primarily because I've been listening to this podcast by this Jewish American standup comedian Marc Maron, in which he basically every week interviews a different. often Jewish comic, and they discuss the art of standup and comedy and their neuroses which prompted them to become standups in the first place. There are two common characteristics between Maron and his subjects which are curious to me a) That every comic is in therapy b) That I find the interviews really useful, edifying and relate able as an artist and gentile. That the drive to become an artist is similar to the drive to become a comic comes from some compensatory mechanism for some essential defect or personal neuroses which developed from their upbringing.

 The second point about this is something you mentioned about this blog, that it is success through failure, which is an idea I've never really come across, but since you mentioned it I've come to recognize it as a definable strategy common amongst many Jewish artists and creative types. Marc Maron started the podcast after he divorced from his wife in his mid-40's, was broke with no immediate career prospects after devoting 20 years of his life to comedy, it was an act of reaching out and desperation in that it was the only thing he had available to him at the time-why not just interview his comedian friends in his garage and put it out onto the internet and from that over the last few years has become wildly successful and managed to put his career back on track. Success through failure.
There's this poet Kenneth Goldsmith, who Dj's as Kenny G on WFMU and is the guy who started ubuweb who was recently invited to Michelle Obama's poetry night in the Whitehouse who I am presuming is Jewish and whose seminal work is 'Fidget' which documents precisely every sensation in his body for a 13 hour period of time doing nothing in his office, it's like a literary equivalent of Cage's silence. According to wiki his work is concerned with 'Uncreativity as Creative Practice'. Success through failure.

Is this a Jewish thing? I made a mental list of all the great Jewish artists and intellectuals and I feel like there's a pattern from Kafka to Larry David. And if so, is this a strategy you should be pursuing at the moment?

And on the topic, what the fuck is this film meant to be? It's like the worst movie ever but all the characters have been replaced by Hasidic Jews and everything automatically becomes comical.


And did you see the trailer for Spielbergs Tintin movie? Obviously no one told him about the uncanny valley.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Emergency infrastructure

Have you even given thought to emergency infrastructure?
Clearly the purpose is never to help you in an actual emergnecy, but to stabalise day to day life by signifying and appearing to make concrete (reifing?) radical contingency.
It is always comforting to look at emergency infratructure with the realisation that we are not using it at that moment and therefore we assume that "at least it hasn't come to that".
I, in fact, have 2 such instances: an emergency bottle of alcohol in my desk (which is not for ever drinking but a gaurantor that things haven't hit rock bottom); and in the pantry at home we have an army produced instant meal which is the gaurantor that I have some domesticity left intact. Consuming either of these items would be nothing short of traumatic.
What other items act in this way, as empty signifiers to insulate us from the Real?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

PHD Game

Okay so we havent managed to make any headway on a PhD thread so I propose a different methodology:
1. This thread is for proposing the most ridiculous and archetypal titles for fictional PHD theses.
2. The second step os for us to propose what that PHD could actually possibly be about.
3. Hopefully I will end up with the most ridiculously ambitious PHD topic and it will have a hilarious name.
The Peculiar Neurodegenerative Inhabitants Of The Kazawa Atoll

Marc Auge

...and non place
know much about him? (following on from the hauntology article)


- I've never really turned my mind to ...

but would you consider internet art as a form of hauntology?

Ariosto and the Arabs - Borges

No man can write a book. Because
Before a book can truly be
It needs the rise and set of the sun,
Centuries, arms, and the binding and sundering sea.

So Ariosto thought, who to the slow pleasure
Gave himself, in the leisure of the roads
With the shining statuary and black pines,
Of dreaming again on things already dreamed.

The air of his own Italy was dense
With dreams, which recalling and forgetting,
With shapes of war that through harsh centuries
Wearied the land, plaited and schemed.

A legion that lost itself in valleys
Of Aquitaine into ambush fell;
And thus was born that dream of a sword
And a horn that cried in Roncesvalles.

Over English orchards the brutal Saxon
Spread his armies and his idols
In a stubborn, clenching war; and of these things
A dream was left behind called Arthur.

From the northern islands, with the blind
Sun blurring the sea, there came
The dream of a virgin, waiting in sleep
For her lord, within a ring of flame.

From Persia to Parnassus — who knows where? –
That dream of an armed enchanter driving
A winged steed through the startled air
And suddenly into the western desert diving.

As if from this enchanter's steed
Ariosto saw the kingdoms of the earth
All furrowed by war's revelry
And by young love intent to prove his worth.

As if through a delicate golden mist
He saw a garden in the world that reached
Beyond its hedge into other intimacies
For Angelica's and Medoro's love.

Like the illusory splendors that in Hindustan
Opium leaves on the rim of sight,
The Furioso's loves go shimmering by
In the kaleidoscope of his delight.

Neither of love nor irony unaware,
He dreamed like this, in a modest style,
Of a strange lone castle; and all things there
(As in this life) were the devil's guile.

As to every poet what may chance –
Or fate allot as a private doom –
He traveled the roads of Ferrara
And, at the same time, walked the moon.

The dross of dreams that have no shape –
The mud that the Nile of sleep leaves by –
With the stuff of these for skein, he'd move
Through that gleaming labyrinth and escape;

Through this great diamond, in which a man
May lose himself by the hap of the game,
In the whereness of music drowsing,
Be beside himself in flesh and name.

Europe entire was lost. By the working
Of that ingenious and malicious art,
Milton could weep for Brandimarte's
Death and Dolinda's anguished heart.

Europe was lost. But other gifts were given
By that vast dream to fame's true scions
That dwell in the deserts of the East,
And the night that was full of lions.

The delectable book that still enchants
Tells of a king who, at morning's star,
Surrenders his queen of the night
Before the implacable scimitar.

Wings that are shaggy night, and cruel
Claws that an elephant grip,
Magnetic mountains that with loving
Embrace can shatter a ship,

The earth sustained by a bull, the bull
By a fish; abracadabras, and old
Talismans and mystic words
That in granite open caves of gold;

This the Saracen people dreamt
Who followed Agramente's crest;
This the turban'd faces dreamed
And the dream now lords it over the West.

And Orlando is now a region that smiles,
A country of the mind for miles
Of wonders in abandoned dreams;
And not even finally smiles, but seems –

By the skill of Islam, brought so low
To fable merely and scholarship,
It stands alone, dreaming itself. (And glory
Is oblivion shaped into a story.)

Through the window, paling now, the quivering
Light of one more evening touches the book
And once again the gilding on the cover
Glows and once again it fades.

In the deserted room the silent
Book still journeys in time. And leaves
Behind it — dawns, night-watching hours,
My own life too, this quickening dream.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

How to Stop Worrying and Learn to Love the Internet

Zuckerman quotes this article by Douglas Adam's on the return of interactivity in culture through the internet, "one about technology being "natural" if you were introduced at a certain age, and the other about how technology allows us to return to being villagers..."

I haven't gone through the article completely yet, but does this set off warning bells-the idea of internet being natural to people born into it and that's it's making us like villages. Are we in the process of witnessing the fermentation of a new ideology, where it is assumed that the internet and its various manifestations are becoming 'naturalized', I guess it's fairly innocent now but could it get to a point somewhere in the future where certain coercive arms of the internet become enforced as natural. And the idea of it turning us into villagers, is there an element of nationalist myth making, where we're all returning to a pre-lapsarian, innocent earlier era through this liberating new /ideotechnology?