ĠBEJNIET [ ˈ ʤ ˈ b e ɪ n ɪ e t ] ARTS & CULTURE DIGITAL PUBLICATION NO.1
for DANCERS & PERFORMERS Research LAB: A Choreographic Exploration of Collective Formations and Ideas 19,20, 22 – 27 July 2012/ 10 – 16:00 Coda Space, DansensHus, Copenhagen
This research explores a choreographic concept 19, 20, 22- 27 July 2012/ 10 – 16:00 which investigates socio-political pattern and notions Coda Space/DansensHus; Copenhagen of community through constant evolving collective structures. • Participation is Free!! • Full Commitment Required. We will explore shapes that trigger different ways of • 27th July Kunsthallen Nicolaj, Public how one group might organise themselves in space as Presentation. one collective. Choreographic scores create a space • Documenting Team will be present. where individual expression and collective metamorphosis are in moving interplay and constant flux. • TO PARTICIPATE: Please send a short E Mail & include a statement, stating Practicing these formations on micro levels, practiyour interest and current practice. tioners experience dynamics also found in the macro outside political world. Ideas such as Collectivity, Community, Democracy, Responsability, IndivdiWORKING TOGETHER A lab is a research method, in which everyone is ivited ual & Collective Expressions (collective emotion, consciousness etc..) are investigated in practical and to share, contribute, collaborate, give and receive theoretical discursive ways, using our bodies, voices, equally. Framed by the main theme umbrella, we will drawing and creative reflective writing as mediums of explore, inquire and play with its complexities, guided by 4 labs, introducing 4 different approaches to ‘Ideas investigation. of Collectiveness‘. Individual contributions are welcome so everyone can grow equally from this one week of creative inquiry and moving together.
More Information & Contact: Minou Tsambika Polleros mail:email@example.com mobil: +43 2610867 /+45 29925828 web: www.minoutsambikawordpress.com
ART, TECHNOLOGY AND BODY “SEXUAL BRICOLAJE GROUP” (Residency) AALBORG (Video)
SEYHOUN ART GALLERY: NAZILA DANESHVARAN (Artist) NORTHERN BLACK (Video)
DATA MINERS & TRAVAILLEURS PSY-HIQUE (Manifesto) CREATIVE CULTURE: FRAGMENTATION (Video) THE ARTIST LIFE IN RIA/CE (Residency)
GLIMPSES: ARTS FESTIVAL ISTANBUL (Review) UNTITLED (Digital Artwork)
FORMATS TODAY (Social Criticism)
19 22 30 31
ELEANOR LEONNE BENNETT (Photographer) THE MATTE WORLD (Sound/Poetry)
DFT: LIMITED CAPABILITY FOR LIVING (Social Criticism)
EDITORIAL AND FOREWORD Editor Anthony Askew
You are reading from the first edition of Ġbejniet. To our knowledge, the seminal peer generated zine opened to global submissions to be released in Malta. Ġbejniet is an opportunity to expose, share, and spread cultural ideas and observations, it is an electronic magazine. Born out of a need to promote arts activism in Malta, this ezine offers another platform for the sharing of arts and culture related discourses. With the call behind us and the articles hereby compiled, one is can offer an observation on the nature of the articles at hand. Consider the question, “How can artists respond to their context?” One cannot be without context, acontextuality is a misnomer, the society, the peer groups, and the history of a person and place are all adding to a sense of contextuality. The social contexts from which each of these articles has originated, and from which impetus came for its’ form, is not necessarily articulated in a textual article. Rather, it is in the form in which an article is written and in observation of the the content of that form. This zine is about art and culture and Culture is itself a context. Culture is social identity that is built on social values, activities and artistic productions. Art on the other hand, reflects culture and is creativity taken by the parentheses of a culture. From the photographers to the writers, the articles that follow begin to suggest the social interests of many different countries. Here we can begin to see similarities and differences between nations and the way that human beings begin to respond to their context critically and creatively. As an aside, it could be said that an artistic idea can be said to be a reflection upon a context and context is inherently present within the creative action itself. Ġbejniet called for cultural critics, contributors, and observers to share their work with you. These are the articles presented as they were intended. The only rule has been that submissions delineate to the theme of arts and culture. Articles have been submitted from Asia, America, and Europe.
Design Anthony Askew and contributors Contributors Adrian Abela, Jimmy Grima, Josef Florian, Irem Aydin, Minou Polleros, Rachael Clerke, Ulrich Gehmann, Valentina Montero P., Pierre Camille, Mae Aguinaldo, Eleanor Leonne Bennett, Nader Seyhoun, William Victor Camilleri, creativeculture.co, Anjuman Matan Kahneek Aur Amali Karkan
SUBMISSIONS If you would like to contribute to this publication you are welcome to send your material to firstname.lastname@example.org. disclaimer
Please note, that due to the contributive nature of this journalistic venture, the articles contained with this e-zine do not reflect the opinions and ideas held by the supporting agents, the rubberbodies collective. The rubberbodies collective takes no responsibility for the contents of the articles hereby contained within the e-zine and neither are they responsible for any consequences that maybe said to be arising from its articulation. The e-zine is intended as an open platform for trans-national cultural and ideological exchange. No submission will be unjustly censored or omitted as long as it meets the criteria for promoting. criticising and advertising cultural activities. 5
Rewire on 2011, Liverpool Approaches Feminism , Art and Technology Art, Technology and Body “Sexual Bricolaje Group”
ART, TECHNOLOGY AND BODY “SEXUAL BRICOLAJE GROUP” Approaches on feminism, art and technology Approaches on feminism, art and technology
Valentina Montero P. Valentina Montero P.
This paper originally emerged from a research on Women, Art & Technology in Barcelona, that we organized in 2009 with Vanina Hofman. The project’s aim was to document, map and analyse the work of female artists in Barcelona working with technology.
(www.maquinaomaravilloso.net) One of the objectives of the research was to determine if there were any gender subjects in their works. Even though the artists came from different countries, mostly from South America, and with different specific ideological and aesthetic backgrounds, the gender identity question was present in almost every artist’s work. One of the projects that caught my attention was S&B, Sexual Bricolage (Sexual Do it Your self) SB consisted of a workshop-Lab in which women could learn how to hack household appliances in order to turn them into sex toys.
The artists Orit Kruglanski from Israel, and Carla Peirano from Chile, started with this project in 2005. They have completed more than 30 workshops in cities such as Barcelona, Milán, Toronto, Tel Aviv, Pamplona, etc. Each workshop introduced some basic concepts of electronics and computers. Participants learnt some basic tasks such as welding, wiring, and making electronic circuits. Also, the women visited sex shops and exchanged opinions about the symbols and
Rewire Conference 2011 - Approaches on feminism, art and technology â€“ Sexual Bricolaje Group (cc) - Valentina Montero
Approaches on Feminism, Art and Technology
representations of each product in relation to their own sexual fantasies. In this way they tried to distinguish whether their fantasies were imposed by the sex industry, mass media or by themselves.
After their visit to the sexshop, participants designed their own customized sex toys, by using components from domestic appliances mixing them with natural and synthetic fibres, through sewing, pottery and embroidery.
The result: different kinds of vibrators, dildos, and Chinese balls. I was interested in this project because it tackled several issues I wanted to explore: Firstly, The relation between gender, art and technology. Technology as a practice that apparently has excluded or marginalized women in a similar way than history of art did. Secondly, the relationship between art, technology and feminism. It is interesting how a feminist perspective could modify our understanding of what technology is. Thirdly, the ideas on subjectivity, identity and the body. And finally, the old and persistent question: is this art? This project tries to move away from traditional conventions of art toward new possibilities. As I only have very little time, I will present briefly some of the issues stemming from this project.
Approaches on Feminism, Art and Technology
The relation between gender and technology Women presence in technology and science’s field Women’s participation in science and technology has been too limited throughout history, and has only focused on basic and simple tasks. Nowadays, certain areas in science and technology still show an important lack of female participation. Studies of the National Centre for Women and Information Technology reported that from 1980 to 2005 only 9% percent of the discoveries in the IT field, included a woman. In the U.S. women represent 56% of all professional workforce, but less than 25% of them have jobs in the area of technology. In Spain the percentage is around 6% only. To some extent this could be due to anthropological factors such as the rigid pathriarcical structure that women were living in. For example in Spanish most job titles in science and technology are male. Another problem is women’s absence from the public space of science and technology reinforcing the message to other young women that they don’t belong there. Technology seems to evolve in androcentric way In publicity we still find technologies made for women and technologies made for men that emphazise traditional and sexist roles. For example, cars are for men, and household appliances are targetted towards women. But I guess that advertisers never suspected that these household items could one day end up as sexual toys. There is also a historiographic perspective to this. Not only have there been very few women working in science and technology, but it is only recently that we come to learn about them. For instance, the case of Augusta Ada Byron (1815 -1852). She could be considered a pioneer of programming, but her legacy has only recently been acknowledged. This case shows how women have been excluded in the narrations of history.
Perhaps, the real problem is not how many women have worked in technology. The problem maybe lies in the paradigm that allowed women’s exclusion and a lack of appreciation of their work. In the history of art we were faced with the same problem. In the 1970s feminist such as Linda Nochlin asked: Why have there been no great women artists? a possible answer could be that practices such as handicrafts were not valued and not considered in the canon of art. In this way, this project intends to revive some practices such as sewing, knitting, embroidery and pottery- that traditionally belonged to women- and were not considered an important part in the history of technology and art in Western culture.
Approaches on Feminism, Art and Technology
Women, art and technology, First feminist approaches It is interesting to note how the first approaches to technology of many women artists were marked by an experimental use and by conceptualizing aspects of gender and sexual identity. If we look back in time for example when photography was still trying to show objectivity and realism the first women-photographers started to manipulate conventions on the use of the camera. I will show you three examples: Julia Cameron, Hanna Maynard and Costanza Diotallevi
In the early ninetheen century Julia Cameron who was not appreciated by her contemporaries, experimented using dark stages, poor lighting and leaving the lens intentionally out of focus. Her aim was to show her own way of observing female sensibility in dream-like atmospheres. One could criticize her for reinforcing an essentialist stereotype of women inherited from romanticism but on the other hand she was one of the first ones to understand that through photography one could construct concepts instead of merely depicting the given reality. We can also find the amazing work of Hanna Maynard who has not been recognised as an artist in her time. She worked as social photographer in Canada in the 1860â€™s, whilst her husband was trying to find gold. In her free time she experimented with photosculpture, multiple exposures and composite images to show herself - in an ironic way - as a multi- tasking woman.
Around the same time in Italy, Costanza and her daughter Carolina Diotallevi used photomontage to create pornographic pictures showing Queen Sofia, the Pope, or Garibaldi in outrageous sexual positions. The use of photomontage for political purposes was later employed by DadĂĄ artists such as Heartfield or Hanna Hoch in Germany.
Rewire Conference 2011 - Approaches on feminism, art and technology – Sexual Bricolaje Group (cc) - Valentina Montero Ġbejniet
Approaches on Feminism, Art and Technology
(Pictures from Fototeca Nazionale, Milán Italy) During the Twentieth Century many women used technology not only as a useful tool, but also seeking to analyse their own sexual role, challenging the separations of gender and social structures. In the examples I have given so far I have shown how technology, such as photography, was used by pioneer women to create art pieces, but I would like to move on now to show how technology, that has not been originally created for artistic purposes such as washing machines, computers, mobile phones etc, have been manipulated by artists to create new concepts under the notion of appropriation.
Appropriation Appropriation allows us not only to dismantle some artefacts, but also to appreciate those artefacts in their symbolic and political meaning. In this project we see the importance of hacking and DIY as a methodology that involves many layers of meaning. I would like to mention some of them: >Conditioning
(Picture from Lila Pagola) On the one hand, we see hacking as a result of the political, economic and social conditions of certain groups of people.
Rewire Conference 2011 - Approaches on feminism, art and technology â€“ Sexual Bricolaje Group (cc) - Valentina Montero Approaches on Feminism, Art and Technology Little Cheeses In most Latin American countries we can find a curious technologic gap. Even though our neo-liberal systems through the free market make high technology easily available it has made very little provision for the use of these technologies. For instance there is a great demand for personal computers BUT there is a low level of computer education or functional alphabetization that could ensure the proper use of them. Moreover the cost of Internet connection in low-income areas in Third World countries â€“even in Spain- is too expensive in contrast to the average wage. For these reasons, hacking and DIY practices become something unavoidable from an economic perspective. But also, we can consider >Hacking as subversive practice
When we buy a high tech product we enter into a continuous, invisible loop. We are constantly asked to update or replace the product with a newer version. So hacking, recycling, circuit bending, etc. can be seen as a political action to subvert the capitalist logic of production, circulation and consumption. The use of the low cost or obsolete elements, the practice of Open source and open hardware aims at demystifying the technological product as a commercial fetish.
>Hacking as a social practice Hacking and low-tech strategies also implies a process of selflearning and the transfer of knowledge in a collaborative and horizontal way. According to Paulo Freire, a Brazilian educator from the 1960s, horizontal learning empowers participants, creates social cohesion and reactivates undervalued and forgotten knowledge that people have.
Approaches on Feminism, Art and Technology
Hacking as de-construction method The assimilation of technology into everyday life has become invisible. Technological devices have become second nature. They surround us, and we don’t try to understand them. We don’t ask how they work. Only a few people seem to know their secrets. The hacking that was performed in this workshop tried to come up with the secrets of those daily machines. Deconstruction of a component not only creates an understanding of the "black box" in terms of Willem Flusser, the German theorist, but also the knowledge of its posibilities and symbols. It’s not a coincidence that many new media artists in Latin America have been influenced by Flusser. Instead of making use of high technologies they preferred to recover and appropriate obsolete or recycled technological devices. Open code, and open hardware shows their intention to democratize technological knowledge. To disassemble a machine is also to disassemble its cultural representations and values.
Body, Technology and Art Another important issue I would like touch upon in this presentation is the relationship between body, technology and art. Can we think of a relationship between humans and technology in erotic terms? Well, for artists this wasn’t such a weird idea. Think of Marcel Duchamp and this work "The Passage from the Virgin to the Bride", or his Large Glass, depicting mechanized sex acts. I also remember the Slovenian artist, Igor Stromajer, who was excitedly explaining the similiarity between a computers crash and the human orgasm. Fluids of information, inability to stop the blinking screen, no control over inputs and outputs... For him, machines are erotic. But in most of these works that show machines in a sexual way, there are methaporical approaches. In BS we can see the intention to bring together art and life; body and technology in concrete way through sensorial experiences such as erotism. In this way, this project could represent a new model of feminist approach. Following the initial euphoria that was predominant amongst feminist groups who saw the emergence of Internet as an opportunity to re-write gender, class and sexual identities, we see a transition from utopic to a more dystopic view about it. The Internet didn’t prove to be the promised garden, because it also involved economical and political forces. And, at the same time, the body, one of the fundamental elements of the feminism vindication was disappearing.
Opposing the idea of “virtual feminism”, BS was trying to recover the body and to go back to an analog reality without giving up on technology.
onGroup Feminism Art andMontero Technology LConference ittle Cheeses Rewire 2011 - Approaches on feminism, art and technologyAâ€“ pproaches Sexual Bricolaje (cc) -,Valentina
This project was supported by local authorities and public institutions. However when their representatives saw the end result of the workshop they were shocked and scandalised. They argued that this had nothing to do with art. Âżis this Art? Art is an independent domain that is constantly loosing its boundaries, but the common perception is still very conservative. We can read this project under the concept of Relational Aesthetic, a term used by Nicolas Bourriaud to refer a set of artistic practices which take, as point of departure, human relations and their social context rather than an independent and elitist space.
But this project is mainly based on the legacy of Neoconcrete artists, Helio Oiticica and Lygia Clark. Although not technologically based, Clark's and Oiticica's works were including interactivity in art. They made glasses, hoods, masks, gloves, capes and created immersive environments which can be seen as early virtual- reality experiments from the 1960s and 1970s.
Rewire Conference 2011 -, Approaches feminism, art and technology â€“ Sexual Bricolaje Group (cc) - Valentina Montero Approaches on Feminism Art and Tonechnology Ä bejniet
Also I would like to mention CADA, a Collective of artists in Chile between the period of 1977 y 1983 . A group of interdisciplinary visual artists, poets and writers used magazines, public spaces, and marginalized territories to create new meanings into daily life. They worked within the context of the military dictatorship and the resulting difficult economic and political environment. In conclusion, SB could be seen as a good example where artistic practices are not confined to the exclusive sphere of passive contemplation, or the mere illusion of interactivity given in any piece of new media art. Instead they use in an alternative way the body, and technology in order to re-write its meanings.
Valentina Montero (Santiago de Chile, 1973) is an independent curator in contemporary art and new media art based in Spain. Phd student in Image & technology in Barcelona University. She also works as researcher and teacher, and is singer and composer. http://www.erratica.info / http://www.soundcloud.com/mujerbionica
AALBORG by William Victor Camilleri
“photographic melancholic landscape art - Aalborg, Denmark”
SAG Nazila Daneshvaran
SEYHOUN ART GALLERY: NAZILA DANESHVARAN
به دور از تمام واژه آرایی های سانتی مانتالیستیِ روزگار کنونی ،آنچه آن را ) هنرنو ( می خوانیم ،مجموعه ای از ساختار گریزی ها و در گوشه هایی بازگشت به ساختارهایی است که طی چند دهه اخیر بارها رد و تایید شده اند. عکس در گذار معنای رسانه ای خود خصوصا از دهه هفتاد به این سو ،دچار دگرگونی های بسیاری شده است. دگرگونی هایی که در ذهن عکاس رخ داده اند .و نوآوری هایی که خصوصا بعد از جا افتادن دنیای دیجیتال در جهان هنر خودشان را به فهرست هنرهای نو اضافه کردند .به نظر می آید ،فتو مونتاژ ،ترکیب کلمه ای در برگیرندۀ مفهومی فراگیر ،از انواع ادیت عکس یا عکس ها ،با اهداف مفهوم گرایانه ،واقع نمایانه ،خبری و ...است ،که بیشتر زیر مجوعه فاین آرت دسته بندی می شود.نن اما اینجا در این نمایشگاه ،نازیل دانشوووران ،فارغ از تمام دسته بندی ها و دسته بندی های آرتیستیک ،کار خودش را کرده است .پارادوکس هایی از نگتیو ها و پوزیتیو ها که با تجمیع شدن در کمپوزیسیون های واحد، نوستالژی هایی از هر دو گروه را برای ما به تصویر کشیده است.اا 16
SAG Nazila Daneshvaran
کودک از دیرباز چه در سینما چه در هر رسانه دیگری ،نمادی از سادگی ،معصومیت ،آرزو و تمام صفاتی است که هنرمند مولف ،خل ق و آفریننده ،دست نیافته های خود را در او تصویر و داستان سازی کرده است .وجود رنگ های تند می تواند نشان از بروز احساس از اعما ق هنرمند باشد.زز ز نگتیو ها و پزیتیو هایی که همیشه زوجند و نه بیشتر ،نشان از پارادوکس نوستالژیک حقیقت و واقعیتند ،آنچه باید به دست می آمده ،و آنچه در عالم واقع ،هنرمند به آن دست نیافته است .این مجموعه را هنرمند ،در مقایسه خود و کودکی از جنس خود ) مونث( به دست می آورد. و ...در نهایت ،وحدت کمپوزیسیون ها به ما می گوید ،تمام این دو نفرهایی که می بینیم ،یک نفرند اما...ززز فتو مونتاژ ،دیجیتال آرت و یا هر آنچه که در قالب کلمه ،بتوان با آن نمایشگاه اخیر نازیل دانشوووران را توصیف کرد ،رنگ و بویی شخصی دارد .و این پرسنالیتی بودن اثر ،ارزشی والتر از توصیف اثر ،بوسیله نسبت دادن آن به دسته و رسته ای خاص دارد.ززز
SAG Nazila Daneshvaran
Paradox Apart from all sentimentalist wordings of the current era, what we call as “Modern Art” is a collection of de-structuralism and in some parts returning to structuralism which has been approved and rejected plenty of times during the past few decades. In their media transition particularly since the 70s, photos have undergone a lot of change; changes which have taken place in the mind of the photographer and the innovations which were added to the list of modern arts after the settlement of digital world in the world of art. It seems photo montage is a word combination that entails a comprehensive concept including different sorts of photo editing with conceptual, realistic, and press aims (to mention a few) which are categorized under the Fine Arts heading. However, here in this show Nazila Daneshvaran has done her own work apart from any artistic categorizations – paradoxes among negatives and positives which are combined in singles compositions and illustrate the nostalgia of both groups for us. Whether it be cinema or any other form of media, it’s been ages that a child symbolizes simplicity, innocence, aspiration and all those characteristics in which a compiling and creative artist has illustrated her own inaccessible features. The presence of deep colors may reflect feelings of the artist deep inside. The negatives and positives which always come in pairs and never more signify the nostalgic paradox of truth and reality _ what should have come true and what the artist has missed in real world. The artist has created this collection by comparing herself to a child of her own gender (female), and eventually the solidarity of the compositions tells us that these two people are actually one; however, … Photo montage, digital art, and any other word by which one can describe Nazila Daneshvaran’s current exhibition present a personal scent and color. And this feature of being personalized gives the works a more precious value than describing them through accrediting the works to a special category. Pouyan Moghaddam Translated by: Reza Asadifar
NORTHERN LIGHTS by Adrian Abela
ADRIAN ABELA: WHITE ON BLACK
BLACK ON WHITE
0. We are a labour union for workers, who make meaning, who work on the extraction, development, generation, control, transfer and communication of meaning. JURY TO ALL LABOUR UNION OF DATA MINERS, PSYCHIC AND DEAD WORKERS WILDLY MULTIPLIES OUR COUNTERFORCE AGAINST OPPRESSORS! Meaning is made by producers and consumers of commodities.
Constitution: We Are The Labour Union Of Data Miners And Psychic Workers 1. We are open to wage slaves, bonded slaves or chattel slaves We are open to workers from any job, trade, industry We are open to workers from any space and time
We are open to workers who are dead
1. We demand subversion of positivist rituals,
2012 will be the year of or-
ganization in the way of ceasing to live according to our habits. We want to oppose, dismantle and supersede education, We want to oppose, dismantle and
We want to oppose, dismantle and supersede capitalist life one because it is based on exploitation
Our aim is a General Strike: Our aim is an economical strike Our aim is a social strike, Our aim is a cultural strike, Our aim is a sexual strike, Our aim is a psychic strike.
2012 will be the year we stopped the quantum time bomb 2012 will be the year we stopped the Freemasons of the Future 0. Social change on a world scale is possible and in progress. INJURY TO ONE IS IN-
0. Any worker can become an instantly revocable delegate. Any worker can become a committee Any worker can become a union himself 1. We want a moral imperative; We want to imagine another life
1. 2012 will be the year of resistance
ze for the specific
We want to become a workers council in space 0 We work with other workers unions and workers councils around the world. We obey workers and workers unions that are poorer than us We obey workers and workers unions that are less organized than us We command workers and workers unions that are richer than us We command workers and workers unions that are more organized than us We look forward for the new constructs of selforganization to dismiss us. 1. Apocalypse and Judgment Day in Hollywood cinema ('2012') supports capitalist ideology of social consensus Apocalypse and Judgment Day in Hollywood cinema promotes passive acceptance of a 'shocking' 'end'. We imagine a different
We take everything from capitalist companies. There is no point in competing with other workers We will steal from our oppressors.
We demand subversion of the cult of productivity, We demand subversion of the idolatry of scientism, We demand subversion of capitalist 'rationalism' ('common sense' which is not so common), We demand subversion of imperial-bureaucratic mentality. 0.
1. talism. We want to take collective control of the means of production We have no bank We want to share all resources together accounts or We want to become a workers council in every place dues. We want to become a workers council in time
Trialectics leads towards direct action.
What belongs to whom?
supersede specialization, mantle and supersede hierarchy, We want to oppose, dismantle and supersede experts, We want to oppose, dismantle and supersede We want to oppose, dismantle and supersede competition, aesthetics, We want to oppose, dismantle and supersede careers, We want to oppose, dismantle and We want to oppose, dismantle and supersede the market, supersede alienation, We want to oppose, dismantle and supersede overproducWe want to oppose, distion, mantle and supersede We want to oppose, dismantle and supersede consumption, serious European We want to oppose, dismantle and supersede categorization, culture, We want to We
0. Trialectics is a tool of dialectic war dissolved into collective poetry.
We will outlive capi-
We are open to workers DATA MINERS & TRAVAILwho do not exist LEURS PSY-HIQUE
want to oppose, dismantle and supersede selfidentification with cultural clichĂŠs. 0.
We are open to all paid or unpaid workers We are open to temporary and permanent workers
We organize for class struggle. We organize in the household, We organize in the leisure, public or private space, We organize in any job, industry, trade or region
We organize on any temporal or class basis. 1. The first labour is the labour of birth so the most important work is the work of women, the work of sexually progressive ones the work of all non-white non-male peoples around the world.
This communication is part of the Day of Protest Against Welfare & Housing Benefit Cuts on 15th December 2010 called by autonomous benefit claimant groups. We have decided to take up their idea of National Troll a Tory Day and Internationalise it by combining it into our current Dead Workers Union Cyber Vigil under way against the monarchies of Swaziland and England as well as the multinationals Foxconn and G4S until this iNcwala. We are particularly eager to support the action against welfare and housing cuts in the UK because, like Workers Dreadnought in their Constitution for British soviets, we see the basic unit of workers organisation as the household soviet lead by women. The original labour is the labour of birth and this is the basis of the labour movement. To paraphrase both Black Mask and Yoko Ono, Woman as Class – and so beyond any Proletarian Nation such as the Muslim National Communism of Sultan Galiev, we must assert that the idea of a British Soviet is a contradiction in terms. - we do not need any Proletarian nation – the proletariat has no nation, and never did. National Liberation Struggle must be seen in relation to class and situation – ie a national consciousness is superseded by a class consciousness – and we are becoming conscious of ourself as the revolutionary class – the gravediggers of this society – the Proletariat. For us it makes no sense to define workers according to nation or indeed occupation, e.g. as miners, students or according to ethnicity eg as Africans or Muslims - as separate from the proletariat. Universities ARE supermarkets and datamines. Education at once exploits and gives one a chance to increase his/her wage and to climb a step in a social hierarchy. The proposals to build New Europe led by precarious intelligentsia makes no sense to us. It repeats the same historical mistakes made by the Situationists in their treatment of the general strike of May 1968. ―The beginning of an era‖ succumbed to Eurocentricity and the fetishisation of the unexpected proletarianisation of students – that avant-garde of the bourgeoisie destined to be the freemasons of the future – when they claim that student occupations and uprisings in other countries following may 68 were a consequence of the events in Paris that summer, which, 'in fact', were a consequence of situationist propaganda. Rather than claiming to have an
armed theory after the event, it was Black Mask‘s idea of the New Proletariat of 1967 that combined the theory and practice of overcoming the worker/ nonworker divide in the working class.
workers themselves as they supersede their leaders and organisations.
To stand with the workers is one thing. Another thing is to stand with a particular group of workers and to deny the international nature of working class in favour of some trans-European bollocks. The proposal to build 'The New Europe' nation reminds us of the 'plural' 'new'-right political organizations, all products of the imperial war machine that creates the jihad and the counter-jihad movements. We therefore oppose the English Defence League (EDL) and stand with the Muslim workers of any area under attack and with the Muslim Defence League (MDL) before but as well as Antifa, Unite Against Fascism (UAF) or any other political group because the MDL is the manifestation of workers self defence against an organised and concerted attack. We will therefore always be with the
across all time. Individual unions cannot currently do this but individual workers can and are.
A curious similarity arises when we see both a fetish of university education and a fetish of art. Uncritical attiAnd yet in London today, even though it was carefully tudes towards these both institutions correspond to stage managed by freemasons, the only viable politics Casa Pound's views – there is hardly a difference. Ideis that displayed by the students who attack the police alist dreams about either cultural production or reline and members of the monarchy who occupied the search activities somehow escaping Capitalist system is party HQ — this is the only reasonable response to contemptible. Art Against Cuts campaign fights the Capitalism. To criticize one political party is to do public sector cuts by occupying but not disrupting the good for another, which, like Labour in this case, has Turner Prize. Education today is a preparation for actually initiated the politics of tuition fee increases work. Art is work. Both these categories are created to during their past rule (it reminds us of the miners' fit Capitalism and divide the working class, and the movement in the 80s, when Labour party was the one politicos are adjusting them accordingly. If something who closed for us goes bad to the extent of us taking to the streets, the most of the it is a moment exposing Capitalism and opening up mines). We possibilities in collective action. stand with Protests are optimistic only in the moments of attack – those who where the occupied the individual interests of the workers connect with the HQ buildgeneral interests of the international workers moveing and with ment, the Proletariat. Students in London join the Unall the stuion of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) dents who workers strike and the upcoming involvement in the have occubenefit and welfare protests. Contrary to the recuperapied their tions of nationalists or transnationalists, they are interuniversity buildings subsuently – not in concert with nationalists - making links with the student movement the National Union of Students or other unions. Bein Iran and drawing from Xiamen Dada and the cause the direct assertion of the self goes beyond the Tiananmen Square students – they are going from economic defence which is manifested through tradewahdat – Union - to kathiral – Multitude. This transiunionism, it goes beyond 'the rights and access'. tion is not just across all space and situation but also
The Data Miners Travailleurs Psychique is a sitUnion of those who make meaning – individual workers, dead or alive, real or imaginary. we pay no dues and have no membership list. We manifest committees at will and are instantly revocable as such. We recognize no front line and no demarcation of zones. We recognize no leadership or due process. We simply and directly take control of the situation, the time and the space.
o ial u t ly- mnn yo A adi co ar bie ting ld in de r of De ike vi ho wi s str e in to rld ring es, art ar ng wo sp in us P‘s nni er off on rad lyt T pla ath or pati f A AM re o g ists ici al e o D e a s t al art ci d nc and s w m i rre ir p so an llia e es ai , su he and me r a itte ngr ur sts d t al , ti s, Ou m co . O dai ase itic ce us nd m o ld 11 a ce ol spa isc a n c wor t, 20 of D ho al, p of to d lture orm t w r d s tio ac t the ugu t-ou ose ultu fiel ique is cu ant f s s a th A ois (th s, c the ych geo lev nd n u 28 -ne sts eer in Ps ur re e fu of joi 2nd - post t arti nd s tive urs y bo very som ath a ac lle ro l s 2 ic de e on itar s, po ges are vai dest nnia erat the tus tor ist , sa o Tra to bie lib ive l o e t au on ts wh d ill t e nti ati h dy an w rik so ou re l a itu rop bo ers od t st , al to ). s t r p o y t n ra ca e d n e), ever a Mi nd g nd a rma t form d (y ,o u o a s a cl t e sts g f n o l t f l a t xu cta e – A es rti rin s a f a du s in flu t spe aliv of D ienc r we enni plea as se r s a a i d e o rts sie ali an ell pe o f l b ry r w rol g a ta n pit d br ex S ra ve ve fan the oi ca , dea um our ons. ultu was it ne d d r ve ing not an rs the nd ati f c at re cle lay or nce rke er rou aliz at o th we d p ct f rie ace and look wo und ad a peci orm n and ace l ase pe pe pl s p ing re t s st f io ce ex ex at ure r to op s s a i s an ali al ca n ho we istic ight lect athe y pr me and apit peri t oc re) i y w nd art e r he t r in t a h u d d r are c im ha ltu bo – ou eci ive , b e s sh ve h n t u i c s n h s y y l d o t i e g r t o s l e g r g ou abol em riou ev it so rin e‘l t to nam de h n o a sin ry w g to m t se tin do sh es s n big n u res ise d t i i e n o t dd m fro (an inv ng t l, bu tivi icia sing idd f a the . art are ni va ac ret res t h o , i d o ce r it l n o So we pla fest sefu the r add ies n tea fa fo ical ns ld se the re u iting ithe bilit o i ou au rad al wh ms w ual c the ltur mo inv s, ne ossi u ts m t are ice nt p m ivis ble ac t up st c co we adv late lis act pro at is o se tali for e and i t a t d for ssion iting italis e wh ody l cap rwar tim e, fe nv ap lif yb ba fo c i r c o y a l k e are bal yda ev f g loo f sp to o we lo er ng s o to g i s v e t l ns se i d c tio di of inv uen an leve bu er are seq lism all tri rth on fu all we con lonia ts in r c or at co n ac g. you m f me rremo anin for al.co elco inte me ng ni w s i n e m ask bie u‘r ru ibu re tus yo d fo ntr e a ly so an co e W w.a n, al ites ur th P yo at MT ww ssio P s for hed A cu MT ng lis e D the DA ed. aiti pub of th ers ( ter lat so w be es pap win Al ns to l issu ews on tio ecia ss n ned sp ngre plan 10). co t is 20 e s & fir lstic rs yine Ps so M rs ta lleu ytus DA avai – Al Tr ue r hiq apte Ch
Burn, Baby, Burn!
After the long of questionthe variforms serious culture and arts, straight assaults on it‘s institutional status in society right now the Biennial looks for an opportunity to join the general strike in 2012 accomplishing it with creative experience and psychic liberation of humanity. Also supports whatsoever attempt to destroy any biennial event, any cultural capital celebration and also we aim to support general art strike as well.
The project Alytus Biennial tion of numerous internaart festivals and events held nian town Alytus since sential element for the town artistic infrastructure (no ums, nor even some exhibihosting 70 000 inhabitants any promises from the muthe events were held distreets and other urbanist The essential element those activities was artistic behavior lematic.
path ing ous of is a logic continuational experimental in southern Lithua1993. So far the esis an absence of any galleries, art musetion hall in the city – sic! - and even no nicipal authorities) rectly in the common places. for any of politicaland prob-
ABOUT ALYTUS BIENNIAL ACTIVITY
000 - The Dead Workers Industrial Union The IWW classify workers industrially from 100600, under three main categories of industry of a modern, capitalist economy: extraction of materials, production of goods, and provision of services. This very roughly corresponds with the IWW 100 – 200 use of Land in the 3rd World (100 Agriculture, 200 Mining), 3rd world Labour in the 2nd World (300 Age of Prophets Construction, 400 Manufacture) and Capital in the 1st World (500 Transportation 600 Land intensive Services). Since this system is from the early 1900s when the taste / smell international Communist movement was in its first amplic Aristocracy phase, capital production has further developed. 2004‘s IWW Time Commitee on industrial classification recommended that the classification be altered in order to account for this development. However this would have expanded the representation of workers in the First World (in Capital intensive production) , effectively mirroring the amplification of bourgeois control in the form of Enterprise as the 4th factor of production and Entrepeneurship as an industrial locus of workers.
Cultural Capital for 2009, calling for Sympathy Strikes all over the world to support The Strike activities in Lithuania during the whole year 2009.
As the art strike is not centered on a job or region or trade – it is not a matter for a Job union, a Trade Union but an Industrial Union – that of culture as an industry. However in IWW 000 – 4th world: Primitive Communism order to attack the Bogdanovist position IWW 300 – 400 IWW 500 -600 where proletarian culture or proletkult is the 2nd world 1st world third part of a trinity of Age of Saints Age of Divinity revolutionary socialism, Whereas the unions would attend to Labour intensive Capital intensive the proletariat‘s economic interests and the touch/ sight Sound / thought Communist Party, their political interests, the Proletariat Bourgeoisie Proletkult would look after their cultural and Space Class spiritual life – we should look to the integration of all of these 0th world? – Advanced Communism activities into our daily life and under the direct control of the workers at large. Just as the art strike Campaign launched in 1986 by Stewart Home which called upon all artists to cease their artistic work between 1990 and 1993 – was, This is one of the aims of the proposed Data Miners unlike the art strikes proposed by Gustav Metzger Strike called for by the Situationist Worker in The and the Art Worker Coalition in the End of the Age of Divinity – a process to lead up to a 1960s, not merely General Strike in 2012. But instead of organizing as Taking a worker centred approach, we can also clas- a boyData Miners, a position based on the idea of miners cott sify production in these 3 dimensions of class as reas proletarian vanguard, it is the real organizational lated to the senses of taste and smell (100-200), sight of structure of the IWW through which the proletariat and touch (300-400) and hearing and thought (500can communicate – which includes the organiza600). Psychic and data mining work therefore sits tion of miners as one of the first Industrial Unbetween 400 and 500 – ie the 1st and 2nd worlds – ions (200 – after Agricultural workers 100). the ages of divinity and saints. This is a further The IWW‘S numerical system of organizing reason why the current imperial world war maniindustrial unions is more than a means of fests as a religious one between innovators and communication – it is a memory system and traditionalists. More importantly it means that an ordering of semantic space – an ontology since as data miners and psychic workers we and topology. It is the situation of proletarihave a direct access to the means of organisation, zation opposed to bourgeois freemasonic we must support and seek to be controlled and systems such as the Semantic Web and the lead by those workers unions who do not – ie Dewey Decimal System. those in land and labour intensive modes of production in the 3rd and 2nd worlds (ages of prophets The IWW structure currently goes from 100and sainthood). In this way we pass organisation 600 and is formed with the organization of power to those workers who need it more thatn us. workers around the world. Its future development On the other hand, we must seek to control and take is open and it could become a hexadecimal system. art power away from those in the more capital domiHowever, while the data miners would be organized institunated areas of production (the 1st world/ age of diin Communications and Computer Workers Industions through artists, trial Union 560 there is currently no IU for artists or vinity). It should be noted that these categories are but a provocation of artists address- indeed those cultural workers who are refusing this not strictly geographical/ temporal or classical but ing their understanding of art and their identity as situgraphically (topologically) interwoven. role – other than Recreational Workers Industrial Union 630. The IWW committee also add 000 section to include precarious 010 , unwaged 020 and unemployed 030 I am therefore proposing that instead of concentrating workers. This is essential and already has become on the different material or media produced – we realised in the formation of an unemployed workers look at the psychic construction and production that union. We suggest that 000 be the dead workers unwe are involved in. The IWW structure currently ion too. So the space of our organising is not just the goes from 100 to 600 and we therefore can theorize factory, the job, the industry but also the home and 000 and 700 as its limits. In proposing 700/007 we other social spaces. Since cyberspace is a distributed are also putting Proletarian organization as the ultiworkspace that can reach any physical space via Permate critique of John Dee‘s systematic Enochian sonal Devices As laptops etc the social factory exsystem of Hermetic Magic. pands the terrain of class struggle. Calcualtions show that the quantum time bomb now has a pycho-social In organizing as psychic workers we can identify the interface to the internet and so the social factory exindustries in which psychic workers currently are tends into psychic and temporal areas beyond those mainly employed as entertainment and the military. of advanced capitalism. We aim to spearhead an asPsychic warfare is already one of the major areas of sault on it via the dead workers union. the military industry‘s recent growth and also demonstrated how cultural production and propaganda are areas where we must create workers power and control. This points to another current omission in the organization of the IWW – that of military workers – in the army, navy or airforce – or indeed in the production and distribution of arms. The question of artists. proletarian armed struggle which is of course inevitaIn these previous strikes there has been a critical po- ble and vital rest upon this organization. sition against Art as a specifically bourgeois conThe Second Temporary Art Strike Action Committee struction, and an adoption of the position of ‗Cultural I hope that the move towards the organizing of psy– Alytus Chapter (STASAC-Alytus) has called for an workers‘. chic workers is a step towards realizing this. Art strike action against Vilnius becoming European
Situationist Worker Towards A Industrial Union of Psychic Workers 007/700
Art Strike Biennial Preamble:
But artists still produce commodities to be sold on the market place, which is why they and their activities remain alienated and deformed. The job of progressive artists is to destroy their privileged role as specialised non-specialists, and the Art Strike Biennial is one way of drawing them towards a place where they can live out the death of art (and the endless small deaths of orgasmic human communion).
A forthcoming Art Strike Biennial has been announced to take place in Alytus (Lithuania) in 2009. Among other things this Biennal will act as a focus for opposition to Linz and Vilnius acting as European 2. Reason(s) Capitals of Culture in 2009. In 2011 a second Art Strike Biennial will take place to oppose the gentrification of Tallin and Turku. The Art Strike Biennial was initially called by Redas Dirzys and other activists from Eastern Europe. The Transient Art Strike Biennial Supreme Council of One (London) will participate in the Art Strike Biennial by refusing to produce new work, choosing instead to plagiarise and recycle pre-existing Art Strike materials; as well as encouraging other forms of cultural cannibalism. Simultaneously our experiments in time travel have enabled us to colonise Elizabethean London where we are busy (de)composing the entire works of Shakespeare, Bacon, Middleton, &c.)
market centre in Europe, and thus the hub around which all hype about visual culture is spun. 3. Tactics Writing manifestoes to discredit good, compromise the leaders, shake faith and spread contempt. We will use base (wo)men, disorganise the authorities, sow discord, incite revolt, ridicule traditions, dislocated supplies, encourage the playing of lascivious music (Barry White, Blowfly, The Pork Dukes etc.), spread lechery, lay out money, and above all demonstrate that we have better jokes than the art establishment (even if most of them are plagiarised from Rudy Ray More) We invite all artists to participate in the construction of a Capital of Culture Destruction Machine (based on both Willhelm Reich‘s orgone research and Nikola Tesla‘s perpetual motion theories). Above all else the Capital of Culture Destruction Machine will demonstrate that pornography is superior to art, causing ‗serious culture‘ to wither and leading to Alytus in southern Lithuania becoming a world centre of sexual energy (and thus far more attractive to anyone who isn‘t frigid or terminally repressed than Vilnius or Linz). This will be the return at a higher level of the 1960s freak dream of ‗rock ‗n‘ roll, dope and fucking in the streets‘. Our programme for the realisation of sexual ecstasy runs as follows: a) free love; b) more shagging; c) even more fucking.
1. Aims To undermine the hegemonic role of art in bourgeois ideology and oppose the innumerable property developers who ride on its coat tails. We will replace ‗serious culture‘ with pranks, fun, parties, and above all sexual experimentation.
To avoid the dangers of bureaucratisation, Transient Art Strike Action Committees should contain no more than one member, this will make Art as a category must be distinguished from our groups completely transparent. Such forms of music, painting, writing &c. Current usage of (dis)organisation will demonstrate our total oppothe term art treats it as a sub-category of these sition to the so called ‗organization of the artist‘. disciplines, one which differentiates between This latter conceit is an ideological racket parts of them on the basis of 'perceived val(dreamt up by reactionaries such as Frank Gehry) ues.' Thus the music of John Cage is considto ensure that they and their pay masters remain ered art, while that of Steve Peregrine Took is completely unaccountable when imposing unnot. Therefore, when we use the term art, wanted cultural institutions on cities they have we're invoking a distinction between different ear-marked for gentrification (under the commusics, paintings, works of fiction &c., one which pletely false guise of economic regeneration but betranks the items to be found within these categories We reject instrumental reason. Reason separated ter understood as property development). Unlike the into a hierarchy from emotion is a form of alienation. That said, full post-democratic practices of Gehry and his cohorts, blown and outright romantic rejections of reason are Transient Art Strke Action Committees will demonWe aim to suppress art and artists and instead involve every bit as silly as deifying the rational. What's actu- strate their communist nature by undergoing schizohe entire art world in the development of new sexual ally required is the selective employment of analytiphrenic splits; the unwanted part(s) of the personality perversions: these will include The Curve, The Edgar cal and/or correlative thinking as is appropriate to a being expelled for failings such as not achieving their Broughton Shuffle, The Gorilla Stomp and The specific situation. erotic potential and mystical cretinism. Mickey Finn (having thought up some new terms for perversions we simply need others to complete our Moving on, ‗serious culture‘ is fucking boring and 5. Follow Up mission by inventing acts these might signify). outside a few international centres (London, New It should go without saying the artist is in many ways a deformed prefiguration of the communised (in) dividual. For Marx, once we had mature communism, we could become hunters in the morning, fishermen in the afternoon, and critical critics at night. As feral vegetarians, we prefer to be egotists in the morning, porn stars in the afternoon, and critical critics at night. We reject alienated roles, instead we aim to realise all the facets (physical, emotional, intellectual) of being human in a polymorphous perversity that will turn the whole world on (to acid drenched multiple orgasms).
York) art acts as a form of imperialism. ‗International‘ art carries the ideology of the market to territories without a developed trade in cultural trifles. A few artists from these subjugated territories might be incorporated into the rigidly centralised anti -world of art; but London remains the hierarchical
Our one hundred year programme necessities we appear and disappear on an annual basis. Therefore all Transient Art Strike Action Committees are instantly revocable, and they will be all the more powerful for being without badge, title or official right. By 3009 (and possibly much earlier) we will be liberated from art. What we are actually striving towards is the destruction of capitalist social relations and the privileged role of the artist within them, so that the real creative energies of (wo)mankind can be released. In a truly free society art would be an irrelevance and all cultural hierarchies will be abolished.
UP WITH SEXUAL EXPERIMENTATION AND FORWARD WITH MIND BLOWING ORGASMS!
Both aesthetic theory and Marx draw heavily on German idealist philosophy, so it isn‘t surprising that there are parallels between them.
Stewart Home, Transient Art Strike Biennial Supreme Council of One (London). October 2008.
16 ATU doesn‘t need to mature – it‘s been already constituted as the sufficiently matured instance.
5 ATU has no fixed name – many different names can be used to call this time limited stream.
INTRODUCTION: Founding the ARTISTS‘ TRADE UNION or REVOLUTIONARY ARTISTS‘ TRADE UNION or ARTISTS‘ REVOLUTIONARY TRADE UNION or ARTISTS‘ TRADE REVOLUTIONARY UNION is a step I have tried to avoid for a long time for my hatred towards the institutionalization changing by its quintessence natural into structural. Now, at the end of the first decade of the 21st century
SHARP WHILE AMORPHOUS IS THE SHIELD OF ARTIST!
10 The essential chaos of this messination will cause absence of any synchronization and will make later investigations (if the things go too far) impossible. 23
Restrictions: are to be self-defined individually.
March 22, 2009 Martin Zet ZCCA-Libusin on Strike Unlimited Co-signed by Redas Diržys, STASAC * Anti-organization, where organic mess is the main instrument to disorient the enemy and the institutions guarding the order.
12 There are two basic operational directions: active help of any kind to humbled ones (including self-help: PROTECT YOURSELF THE WAY TO HELP THE
¡LOS ARTISTAS UNIDOS JAMÁS SERÁN VENCIDOS!
11 Let‘s make it clear: We** don‘t want to destroy our enemies. We love being challenged by them. We want humiliating to become not so easy (some Lithuanian dreamers even call for its complete annihilation – and consider this to be just the first step to the total removal of bourgeois ―serious culture‖ from the society). We want more dignity than we deserve, or at least some. MORE DIGNITY TO CLOSE ONES AND THE DISTANT ONES!
Active solidarity without evidence.
22 The mission of ATU is to initiate by temporary structure the missing communal consciousness and by disappearing enable its natural functioning.
(an extension of Alytus Art Strike Biennial)
It‘s not a secret society in
any sense ATU is TOTALLY PUBLIC, just so messy that it‘s hard to perceive it.
8 The personal policy is formed the way that (each time different) concrete or 20 Main task: PROTECT A BIGGER WHOLE THAN YOURSELF! SUPPORT anonymous artists (and their sympathizers) who are capable of making something in THE CONSCIOUSNESS OF OUR GENERATION! PROTECT OUR MENTAL Mar- hardly imaginable ATU way – will make it. COOPERATIVE!
6 BELATED REASONS: The social call for such messination is growing with 17 The union is mainly spiritual authority with mostly physical activity. each day increasingly sophisticated practices applied by tricky and arrogant crooks in all branches of the society to humiliate the weak and naïve megalomaniac artists. 18 One of ATU‘s strategies which make it untraceable is POTENTIONAL SLEEPING MODE. In fact it‘s never sure in what moment it exists and in what it 7 The willing character of this messination is based on tactical ambiguity doesn‘t. It‘s never sure if it exists or it doesn‘t in general, either. which makes it sharp to effectively protect or revenge and amorphous to disallow the counterstroke. 19 ATU doesn‘t have to be mentioned if something is made in some of its names.
The Artists‘ Trade Union Constitution
15 One year is the limited duration of ATU in full blossom (from August 24, 2009 to August 24, 2010) – to let it search for its shapes, act in an imperfect way and fade away before reaching the recognition. This way I want to save it from transformation into someone‘s interest servable body. ONE YEAR LONG LIFE TO ATU!
3 The discussion has the awakening role – the constitution itself dwells in this document. As well as its dissolution. 4 The discussion also guarantees the diversity of the origin – the ATU‘s favourite quality.
14 There is no dues, no membership – temporary affiliation is possible and very chiming in with the temporary character of ATU. Nobody will ever know who is at moment part of it.
every act of support must be made on purely generous p
rinciple: UNDYING BLAME ON EMOTIONAL INVESTMENT FOR PROFIT!
13 The messinational structure is as following: direct democracy is guaranteed by the fact that nobody delegates her/his voice = power to anybody else. Everybody keeps her/his own one in her/his hands (throats). There are no elections, no hierarchy, no leadership, no instructions – only these initializing lines – which are not instructing – just making artists aware of this new overwhelming instrument, no rendering accounts. Nobody is really represented by somebody else – the possibility of final self representation is offered – in combination with identification with a colleague in need. To act for somebody else is to act for myself. No reciprocity –
COMMUNITY!), social restrain to oppressors.
2 If the United Art Strikers‘ Front is not constituted – to discuss the founding of Artists‘ Trade Union (further mentioned as ATU) as entirely new international messination* of artists.
1 During the Alytus Art Strike Biennial August 18 – 23, 2009 the art strikers are expected to discuss the founding, future existence, main goals and function of Artists‘ Trade Union (of any name), as the descendant of United Art Strikers‘ Front (if it is constituted during the Alytus Art Strike Biennial).
PREPARING THE FIELD AND THE MAIN TRAITS AND PRINCIPLES IN 23 POINTS:
this step appears to be inevitable. The situation is so unsustainable that artists need to unite or at least pretend to be united to face the social atrocities in culture spheres as well as inner self destructive antagonisms and create an effective representative of this brand of extremely egocentric people who in general hate even the scent of idea of being represented.
Los artistas unidos….
AB EY ya rel TO MON ual pu d es an r rit m ics ge n ISH and spi co be nom o lo s o n ic ng c l i on om liv . E wil s. illi ce on n of blem ces roces t, b ndan use Ec tio u r rd o o r olu f da e p ho bu ca rev ate an stic p tical r th wit an a ed be ces. t s cre i t r li de go e To rld log o po hin ons hav was ic fo nd go ne. pic s. o d ym me wo ge p or billi ; we rces nom ey a no lly Ol ga A sto ile idle sou eco on can ent efu the pic .org ess e m h e Of Acc peac hen lym 2012 W ain an r tical for s w plem s for e and ts w 12 O ike rem hum poli eed main t im ent ] r r Fre ply e sta e 20 w.st of geo/ the n r re n no ncem [See t.com ry Sim strik for th ww of hile abou e ca dva ent. en dge m t e W ge l d, w cal a oym ovem dru us. ed Th is li t fro trike a ar gi pl tm the ith at s ch ou w w lo m is e re w tor Call day en 1 for hno une itge her be nd c ney e wh l a Th for a ly od tec r of heze ey is ways all a . Mo ree. on Illeg go t ls fea w.t on ll al s us ties us f cal or k d e for en i t a t w ww ile m k wi lave qual set ni bu tterm to re m oid t v J oi a rn o s wh or ns ne ney be n i e o d w m l the etu its and t n e m t a of oney ocial wil Bu will r ry un null w set sys for m o g a a t e l g t d n nd M i e s nd a g t We one mad mon rk no free stin ak ya hu s no e o ne e. exi nd m lam l m es Al atut o co to w nd th a mo fre all aid ha the t r g t h a f g n e n n s r a i n c l st e i i l a e s m m r o Al urn tu ion r e b u t t e r l e r nd Ab an ill pera ind. ork nsfo mp ge Ar m i n w a k o w ya r u o l . e t l h n o ne ace t a o air ast We co ut nte f n i , n m b h l r l l mo n r nd wi all hu l retu ts us] e and and e wil sh ma ast al a l e i i oli hu r u f of eed w e p ci , s w o p s h y t s lt Ab t the f o We le i tem ll s log of she a i o s h se ng rce ate [w se sy l with techn s. thi sou qu a j ob e a tho wil ng ade y i b r o v o t We sa g ou will a j ss r e n u r rity cce bo loosi bou ecom in rio e a re n of age la ill b ment ur p hav we tur e ou to re . Fre W rk w fulfil e it o eings are n law .y e Wo tual l mak an b lth c mmo [i.e ish fre am to not w now and f lec wil hum d hea he co go s We t all s an ld t ork k to u do u are end i a r o o Th , food l uph n to w e wo or y . Yo isit fr . lter wil etur hav ry] , orry to v ree he f s t t r f e We the o no ndus not w , free ll b k o wi lac On ou d nce i , do lane no net er, ur, t If y fina work jet p n o pla ung e e b a the your on a arty. e fre the ty, h d l rnm e hil ve to jump to p ill b ng on over car o c go th to , free ing w n bei r of p care. ps, n ar of eal ll be a fe ea th ho ily yth f m s l o r e, h wi u a t e e n fre ng Ev ery h m th of he swea rds, be y thi o r ill Ev fro ck dlo n e n a e w l e , ev l b o la Fre nd ter l e l i n a she e fre net ter e w ls, , e r t b e e r pla ee. fre ill Th ca w e g the e fr s dru cie ill b od on l b o n f ng wil aw age avel w free, bei gs n l an ein mo T r ll be um n b o m wi y h ma e c r e h u fre eve l h ld t u o l r f Fo law uph able s vai d s r r r l l pre o an t Al wil onou othe othe a w o t ro n We be h arm from hers n l o g to f mo rk t es e To t to h teal ve ot e trik om wo vic No t to s ecei e fre ke, s and c e no r ser No t to d all b , stri nse hav r you l ff. No wil trike on se f you offe stu We ike, s omm ike, i then e ; od e nsci rs, lud f fo Str ke c e str work o . rs, ke inc e n r o Ma ter th h to . nte , thin ram- s to uti l ca n me Af u wis vices rvice istrib ocia . eri rers rog , mi yo e ser ne se nd d and s n law , exp rs, ca ans, p rses le. lin nt li ion a alth mmo anics orce istici rs, nu peop Fro duct ng he he co ech enf , stat octo s, all Pro vidi ing t ets, m s, law pers ers, d pilot Pro hold s, po eper e kee each ers , ly Up ilder op ke peac ors, t driv ear et , y . N and Bu s, sh ers, inat ers, rld ear tist earch o-ord , farm wo y y an 2 w. the ver th oney cent res rs , c rtists ee he la e ed h e ess me els, a all fr der t here to fe deat on l of m d a d str are al un on is ood e to live lition worl We l equ oluti ugh f starv ation abo the Al e rev eno ople opul th the le of Th ere is 00 pe ld‘s p . Wi peop Th 00,0 wor day g all 5,0 f the lars a givin hal f dol and hal ding fee
The basic reason of disagreement between the artists or lets say art workers is resulted by different treatment of the main positions: what is the artists‘ role in the society and what is the artists can to struggle for. Indeed that is the question of the ends and the means.
beaten by the police. Progressive artists are struggling against whatever form of superiority in creative process. Progressive artists are struggling for the totality of expression. Progressive artists are struggling against the structures of repression: cultural, social, spiritual, sexual. Fighting for concrete objectives divides, fighting against [repressive] structures – unites, fighting for liberation – results dissolving. That is why all the cultural struggles are unstable – they should dissolve before they will be turned into the art product for more sophisticated market. They are always hopeless but their strength is in the perpetual reappearing in the mostly creative forms of disobedience. Tactics Artistic groups and collectives should be organized to attend the concrete aim or to execute preformulated task and then to dissolve – every permanent structure tends to degenerate. Organisation should be perpetual sequence of transient committees bearing the names rather colourful, poetic, and complicated so letting the fantasy to grow. The activities should be arranged from vertical hierjob of archic structures and institututions towards the progreshorizontal forms of organization (councils, comsive artists munes, networkings etc) and never in the opposite is to leave no direction – which one is always done by reactionaries any trace of eventually. detection of ―artistic value‖ which is The forms of sabotage are preferred in social engineering form that ―involves exploiting the human essential to the bourgeois conelements of the system, instead of, for example, using sciousness. The job of progressive artists is to employ all sophisticated algorithms to crack passwords or using other forms of program code to break into secured their creative potential to attend the aims. computer systems. Dressed as an ordinary repairman, What to struggle for? Some artists are about to struggle for improving their ostensibly appearing at the door to "fix the photocopworking and living conditions (good studios, wages, ier", a hacker using social engineering principles might gain access to very secure equipment simply social security and so on). They are far away from by using the receptionist‘s natural on the job habits demands to change the whole system of the cultural and presuppositions.‖[Karen Eliot, Prague, 29 June, production because that would end up their role as 2008]. privileged specialists and so to improve their lives. The action should be arranged directly locally and Some artists are about to struggle just because they never in the generalized form of self-referent and already have nothing to lose – they are just outcasts simply aesthetic and therefore spectacular performfrom the mainstream. They are moved by envy and ance. disappointment. Young artists love to struggle because they still have Spectacularity is something to be avoided as irreleThe role The artists‘ role in the neo-liberal capitalist society is based on the manipulative hierarchic structure which ties them all together as specialized non-specialists (or professional dilettantes). So far the structure is based on the hierarchy and involves endless competition it strengthens individualization and produces alienation. The artist as a ―specialist‖ is nothing else but the tool for simulation of social, spiritual and sensual aspects of human life and so to fit the demands of the liberal ideology. That is why artists are so eager to mock at the bourgeoisie and bourgeoisie is always pleased to face it and offers its maintenance. That is why artists eventually still produce art for the bourgeois market system. The progressive artists are attacking the bourgeois culture and its values instead of the bourgeoisie as social class. The job of progressive artists is to destroy their privileged role as specialized nonspecialists. The
vance. Watching and surveying will be supplanted. Iconoclasm is the form of expression we strive for. Direct experiencing and enjoying are essential elements of the life to be lived out. Enemies ―The main enemies of a coherent revolutionary group are those closest to that group in knowledge and furthest away from it in their lived experience and the sense they give it‖. Raoul Vanegeim. So the bourgeoisie is not a biggest enemy of the real revolutionary artist – it will vanish immediately after the crash of bourgeois culture. In the same way the heart stops without blood supply. The sharpest struggle will be held among artists themselves – traditionally artists hardly imagine their lives without climbing up the illusionary ladder of fame. That is reliable that the cohorts of united reactionary artists will react against. The point is how to mislead them to total selfdestruction. That is arrangeable with the help of pornography. The main tool of capitalism will be turn against its own basement. In general we dismiss pornography in life and in politics as well. Relationship between art and life resembles that of pornography and love. Usually artists are used to think adequacy is that of life to pornography, and art – love. Usually artists are used to oppose art to pornography and so to achieve some hierarchy. Usually politicians in their speeches denounce pornography and exalt art. It seems that politicians are linked more to use pornography. Pornography is repression and it makes people to stay home. Art as social institution is more related to artists them-
selves – it makes artists to stay home. Art is repression against creative people. Usually art and pornography has no clear boundaries – both are simulations of life. There is no clear boundary between artists and other people. Let‘s go out into the streets and enjoy life as it is! We do not know the world we‘ll live in, but we know what we do not want to live with.
E TH 12 20 D RL WO IKE R L ST O
―If the end is the taking of power by the people themselves then the means must be the revolutionary organs of the people – worker councils, community councils, communes etc. If the end is the freeing of man culturally as well socially and economically then the means exist in the destruction of ―culture‖. If the end is the liberation of natural man then the means must be sexual as well as social. If the end is the ―totality‖ then the means must be ―total‖ – all or nothing.‖ Ben Morea. Black Mask No. 7, August/ September 1967.
nothing to loose. They are driven by the process itself which usually ends up on privatization of the common surplus by few top heroes, who eventually develop their successful careers. Progressive artists are struggling for the suppression of the artists in themselves. The last core of the artistness is left just to stay as longer not
Redas Diržys, Second Temporary Art Strike Action Committee (Alytus), November 2008
Anjuman Matan Kahneek Aur Amali Karkan (AMKAAK)
انجمن متن کھنیک اور عملی کارکن
DAMTP Solstice Issue
411 MKC / XMAS 2010 / ASHURA 1432 / 10 TEVET 5771
Trialetics Manual Here are 3 studies of the renewed symbol of art strike (made with deep respect to source image and with high disdain to traditions) + this letter is an example (manual) how to place it/them in official letters. (I think the original 2 hands breaking the brush should develop following the logic of trialectics.)
In 2 of sketches (d cut and e cut):
one can still feel the anachronistic heritage of zetocentrism, but the third (c) comes back to anarchistic letter A which stands behind the original symb
hands (trialectics), but we constantly use 2 symbols to balance left and right hands and their symbolic meaning (dialectics). WHAT A SHAME WE DO NOT HAVE 3 HANDS! Martin Zet, in Libusin, September 20, 2009 (this time not backed by ZCCA – which still is on unlimited strike)
Inverting the DAMTP Logo October 5th, 2010 is the day we invert our logo triangle because of direct aspirations from the prospective of the working class consciousness and it for too long resembled Masonic eye in triangle or the pyramid of ol: capitalism. We‘ll invert (or tumble at least) all top pointing triangles on our way and so During the work one embarrassing question until the final collapse of capitalism – then showed up – urgency to deal with the num- we‘ll see. ber of left and right hands – what ratio to apply or in case all hands are the same if the proper one is the left or the right one. The variant c offers a very simple solution: to reverse when needed. I actually suggest using the symbol each time in both variants: normal way (all hands right) in the upper right corner and the reversed one (all left) in upper left corner. This leads us to kind of in between way – that on the symbols are each time 3
Creative Culture: Fragmentation
CREATIVE CULTURE: FRAGMENTATION “Fashion film, animation, photography, music, art, poetry, design, architecture and the internet all play an important part to make CreativeCulture a source of information, entertainment and communication.” creativeculture.co
Taking inspiration from an industrial and robotic world Fragmentation brings to our attention what might happen to humans in an ever changing environment. 30
The artist life in RIA/CE
THE ARTIST LIFE IN RIA/CE The Raghurajpur heritage craft village in Odisha, India is a favorite tourist spot, being less than two hours away from the main city Bhubaneswar. But more than the art and craft products, which you could find anywhere in Odisha, the allure of this village comes from being able to visit the artisans in their own homes, and beholding a community of some 125 artisan families that are organized and sustained by the making of Indian craft. The village is also a regular stop for local and international artist groups that frequent the Indian state. And it was through such visits that local Odishan artist and art festival organizer Khitish Dash conceived the idea of RIA/CE.
The artist life in RIA/CE
Partnering with American contemporary artist Carol Hummel, the two artistorganizers set off to make the Raghurajpur International Art/Craft Exchange (RIA/CE) a reality. The two artists had previously worked together in several art festivals in India, and already had an idea of the things that work and didn’t work for the artist during such events. Things like feeling restricted with the time to do or make their art, or having to stick to a rigid group schedule that encroaches on their workflow. The organizers, with the help of village president Prabhat Prusty, planned RIA/CE in such a way that avoids or at least minimizes these impediments and others. And so for five weeks in September and October 2011, 21 artists from Asia, Europe, and North America converged in Raghurajpur. While the days were spent attending workshops, the nights were spent exploring the nearby market, visiting the neighboring ashram, or bonding with the village folk, who opened their homes to the artists. Some of the artists also used the time to work on their individual projects, practice performances, or attend private lessons with their chosen artisan. The artists attended a workshop each week, where Indian artisans taught the basics of their craft, be it Pata Chitra painting, stone or wood carving, cow dung toy making, or the traditional dances of Odisha. One of the more memorable workshops was cow dung toy making. U.K. artist Kate Marshall considers the moment she plunged her hands into fresh cow dung as one of her unforgettable RIA/CE moments. The workshop was also very significant for American experience artist Melissa Daubert. Instead of copying the toy goats that the teacher was making, Melissa thought of making tiny gopis out of the cow dung. By the end of RIA/CE, she had made 108 of these tiny sculptures, which were representations of Krishna’s gopis or female devotees – an eye-catching work that had the villagers and foreign artists intrigued. During the final days of RIA/CE, an exhibition of the artists’ works was mounted in Raghurajpur. The works were a sight to behold – a collection of stylized, modern versions of the Odisha craft forms. The villagers regarded each piece with curiosity, studying the make of the artwork from the painting technique down 32
The artist life in RIA/CE
to the choice of color. Some of the artists also left their mark in the village by creating wall or door paintings within the village. Filipino designer-maker Mae Aguinaldo got the villagers involved in the making of a “RIA/CE Village Banner”. The banner had fabric scraps forming the shape of a house, a bird, and a leaf at the center, with the hand prints of several of the villagers and artists surrounding them. U.K. artist Marigold Hodgkinson created the stone sculpture titled “Nabaganjar” during her stay in the exchange, and decided to leave the work in Raghurajpur as contribution. On the last night of RIA/CE, as they did every Friday during the exchange, the entire village gathered in the public square for a program of performances that were mostly Indian dance and drama. These programs had the active participation of the foreign artists, who performed alongside the village performers in full Indian costume and make-up. These programs, which became end-of-theweek celebrations to cap off the good work done for the week, were extensively covered by the Odishan media, having local government officials and other VIP guests in attendance. 33
The artist life in RIA/CE
The artist life in RIA/CE
American artist-performer Stephanie Rae Dixon considers her performances as Lord Rama and Lord Shiva during these programs as her favorite moments during the exchange. “When I did Rama, the community was so supportive of an outsider playing a very traditional role. They embraced the experience with open arms. For me, it was indoctrination into the community life,” Stephanie recounts.
RIA/CE had its share of frictions and complications – the demands of the 5-week event, which was actually an art residency, exchange, and community immersion in one, at times taking a toll on everyone involved. In the end, though, the village saw an increase in tourist/artist/collector traffic with the publicity it gained from hosting RIA/CE. Moreover, RIA/CE strengthened Raghurajpur’s profile as an international heritage crafts learning center. The experience has inspired further cooperation amongst the artists, as well as with the artisans of the Raghurajpur village. For more information on the RIA/CE, visit www.riace.in or the author’s blog www. wearmesa.blogspot.com . 35
The artist life in RIA/CE
The artist life in RIA/CE
PHOTO DESCRIPTIONS 1 - Village performers practicing their dance in the public square 2 - Stephanie Rae Dixon performing as Lord Shiva 3 - Pata chitra teacher during a demonstration 4 – The making of a village banner 5 - Mae Aguinaldo’s RIA/CE village banner 7 - Site for the stone sculpture workshop 6 - Melissa Daubert’s 108 cow dung gopis 8 - Marigold Hodgkinson’s stone sculpture Nabaganjar Photo credits go to Mae Aguinaldo and Khitish Dash 37
Glimpses: Arts Festival Istanbul
GLIMPSES: ARTS FESTIVAL ISTANBUL May and June have passed, two months that saw Mona Hatoum’s seminal solo exhibition as well as Istanbul’s 18th Theatre Festival. The festival of course burst into its extensive yearly program of local and foreign performances including productions such as ‘Hamlet’ by one of the world’s great theatre houses Berlin’s Schaubühne, ‘Orphée’ by Théâtre National de Chaillot and ‘Kafka’s Monkey’ by Young Vic Theatre Company and performed by Kathryn Hunter.
From among the incredible works on show, it would be a pleasure to write about the turkish adaptation of Beckett’s play, “Play”, directed by Sahika Tekand and an adaptation that has a unique and very special place in turkish theatre. Through use of her various ‘Performative Staging and Acting’ methods Tekand divides the original number of three characters into fifteen entirely separate characters. Divided and grouped, each quintette of characters represents an angle of the tragicomic love triangle; cheating man, cheated woman and a mistress. Every single character is captured in their own separated section on the same linear platform. A presentation that expressed and stated the ironic home truth of contemporary life: ‘solitude in multitude.’ 38
Glimpses: Arts Festival Istanbul
When the lights in their sections are on the characters break into very rapid speech, then suddenly comes an absolute silence that melts into an absolute darkness. Lights oscillate on and off, simultaneously causing a dissonance of crosstalk. The usage of light, sound and gestures perfectly match with the text and each other. Tekand has created a poetic and organic performance out of a discipline that in this case requires a serious kind of mathematic execution. This is the characteristic that makes her work mesmerizing.
Glimpses: Arts Festival Istanbul
Coinciding with the theatre festival was Mona Hatoum’s first solo exhibition in Istanbul. Born in Lebanon and living in London, video and installation artist, Mona Hatoum is one of the most important names in contemporary art. In her collection of the last two decades there are productions including, ‘You Are Still Here,’ wherein she touches on problems of belonging and not belonging, closeness and distance, loss and separation. In ‘Deep Throat’ (1996), the video of an entire journey through the digestive system from mouth to anus and back again. Only this takes place on the surface of a plate that has been laid out in standard formal fashion on a restaurant table and it is this bizarre but preminiscient set-up that strikes the casual observer unexpectedly. Two other notable presences in the space were, ‘Silence’ (1994), a child’s cot that has been reconstructed through innovative use of glass laboratory tubing. Evocatively representing the fragility of the human body. Then there was the ‘Grater Divide’ (2002), a piece that I found most fascinating. Hatoum turns apparently innocent objects into dangerous and threatening forms. A sculpture that is known as a ‘paravent.’ On closer inspection this cheese grater body boasts 40
Glimpses: Arts Festival Istanbul
an curious Arabic-style window, a style of cutout that appears to be consciously present within this metal sculpture. Hatoum’s remarkable video, ‘Roadworks’ (1985), is notably impressive. Hatoum walks barefoot through the streets of Brixton dragging a pair of large boots attached to her ankles by their laces, an act that is significantly made to mention the police presence at the violent race-riots in Brixton the previous year. Poignantly, she chose ‘Dr. Martens’ boots, boots that have been traditionally worn by British police and are also identified with the skinhead movement. The irony of Mona Hatoum’s work, commenting on human nature and human behaviour has been a joy to experience at the Istanbul Theatre Festival.1 Throughout the festival and exhibition there were highs and lows, bursts of indignation, surprise, exhalations and happiness. However despite the Festival’s success a sour tasting undertone lingered over the festivities. Leaving a sad scent behind it there was the one disappointing statement made by the conservative ruling party AKP (Justice and Development Party) on the subject of denationalising The State Theatre. This act would be done with the intention of appointing a commissioner to The Municipal Theatres who would then be called upon to make decisions on which plays will make it to the stage. This statement was made in order to facilitate an act of censorship and an attempt at preventing members of the public from being exposed to the negative influences of “filthy” stories. Whilst such an act is undesirable and detrimental to the development of expression in Istanbul, to the many who are not concerned with the arts and are not mutually politically aware or engaged, this news will go unnoticed. And perhaps this is the saddest news of all. Article by İrem Aydin
FORMATS TODAY ULRICH GEHMANN ABSTRACT Today, processes of formatting are coining our entire life, also our social one. In addition, they channel our world perception in the word’s direct meaning: how we perceive the world at all, and what ‘world’ means to be at all. Taken in their total, it are processes that colonize and habitualize us, in an extent that even exceeds “conventional” approaches to understand them, like for instance presented in Bourdieu’s habitus-concept or in sociotechnical approaches to better comprehend the matter. Therefore, as a base for further discussion, a new concept shall be introduced here, that of formatization. Keywords: Formatization, value chain, habitualization, colonizing Author’s mail: email@example.com
WHAT IT IS ABOUT In the following, a new concept shall be introduced, that of formats, and of formatting, respectively. Of course, the notion as such is not unknown: inside the technical realm, we use formatting procedures since long, and as a result, we have got acquainted to them; too since long, which is the peculiar point of interest to be looked at here. Because such procedures, together with their results, namely formatted performances plus their products (in short: formats), embody the material base of our so-called ‘civilized’ life. Take alone the DIN A 4-format these sentences are written down, or the diverse formats needed to compute them into an article, that bulk of technical algorithms necessary to make the ideas expressed by the sentences readable; and hence, in a metaphorical but nevertheless essential way, viable at all. This simple example from proverbial everyday-life shall demonstrate the dominance of formats, and our dependency on them. As the example should reveal, when one speaks about our so-called ‘techno-civilization’, the latter would be unthinkable without the use of formats. But this is not the whole story. Although formats might be technical by their essence, they do not confine themselves to ‘techniques’ and the technical in the latters’ narrower, conventional understanding. Formats comprise more than just being technical devices like machines, DIN A 4, the Internet, a computer program, or similar things of such kind. They became a habit of living (the thesis runs), and alongside with it, they habituated us. They dominate our very existence beyond the fact that “we depend on technique”, and even beyond the additional fact that it is technique which shall be even implemented into our body (as is the case 58
with nano-technological devices), to make us more perfect, more adapted to the conditions of our recent modalities of existence which seemingly demand for such kind of perfection – provided we believe the respective announcements. Beyond those facts, considerable as they already are, we deliberately formatted ourselves; so the thesis. Since the nineteeth century, the epoch where the use of formats was to emerge on large scale, formats colonized us, and we colonized ourselves.1 Before we start to go into the matter, some preliminary remarks seem necessary. First and foremost, this is not to say that all sociocultural phenomena are formats, or the result of formatting processes; this would be a severe exaggeration not suited to match the issue we are confronted with. What is stated instead is that quite a majority of them became subjected under formatization, due to their deeply technological character, in peculiar phenomena concerning the forms of how the socially and culturally ‘relevant world’ is organized today; and that this “deeply technological character” can be comprehended in a most suitable way (to comprehend what it is, in its essence) by a new conceptual frame, that of formatization. The term had been chosen as an umbrella, to enclose both the structures of what it is all about here: the formats; as well as the processes we are dealing with: the formatting. Both those structures and processes have been subsumed here under the encompassing term of formatization. The organization of real world-belongings through formatization, important as it is in itself, is superseded by another phenomenon probably even more severe (so the thesis): that also our entire perceiving of what ‘world’ does embody, in its presumed essence, has been coined through such a formatization, too, and hence, our general forms of social communication (and not just of communicating), and in consequence, our sociality as such. Brought to its core, the thesis claims that formatization does not just coin the outer appearance of the phenomena which are dealt with, in fixing their structural as well as processual shapes, but also their very content. It seems evident that we cannot but perceive at least many things in this world (including our own social relations and actions) through a formatized lens – and thus, perceive them in a formatted way. Second, what gets presented here is only a preliminary rough sketch, offering the possibility for envisaging a variety of todays’ social phenomena, as well as 1 To colonization in its dimensions see Albert MEMMI, Der Kolonisator und der Kolonisierte. Hamburg; Europ. Verlagsanstalt 1994 [original (1966): Portrait du colonisé précédé du Portrait du colonisateur]. 59
their socio-technical cultural correspondants, under such a new perspective. In enlarging the above thesis by an additional one, both those outcomes and procedures are more widespread than we are aware of, since they turned out to become intrinsic factors of our daily life. And will continue to do so, due to a new wave of formatization to be expected in the near future, when one looks at the forthcoming nano-technization of processes in daily life, accompanied by its encompassing digitalization already taking place right now. In short and summarized, these are the central theses of the sketch to follow. It begins with a traditional view on formats, continues with an outline of their characteristics and specific ways of operating, then goes on in illuminating the genesis of formats; afterwards, the working of formatization in both its general and specific terms shall be looked at, and formatization in its recent aspects, as a colonizing agens of social reality and individual perception alike. The sketch closes with a look at the generation of new contents resulting, and how they are colonizing us further.
FORMATS IN THEIR TRADITIONAL UNDERSTANDING When we think of formats, normally ‘technical things’ come into our mind; it does mean that ‘normally’, formats are comprehended to embody (a), devices which are (b), essentially technical and (c), whose purpose is to serve purposes, i.e. in final terms, to serve our needs – which are still our ones, we tend to think in that normal manner described here, and not those of the formats installed. To provide an example from plain everyday life, I think that I use my SmartPhone, and not my SmartPhone uses me. Or expressed in traditional terms of an occidental view upon the world, when we think of formats we see them (just) as an embodiment of a mechanics2 in its wider sense, as technical means helping to achieve something, in order to to fulfill certain functions as a device – nothing else, and nothing more. It is a conceptualization of formats and of formatization in general that recurs to a likewise “primitive” but nevertheless present conception of technique and of technicality as such, a conception not confined to laypersons: that it is a body of means designed to meet some ends, to be achieved via a certain functioning of those means; that this is technique, and nothing else. In its intuitive grip, it is an understanding not far away from the truth of real conditionings – but only as regards the technicality. The ‘designed’ character of those means does indicate the idea that we have those means in our hands, that we can manage them at any time, and in any 2 Recurring to the conception of the technical to represent "machines", a mechane in the Greek notion (where it first appeared explicitly, as notion), denoting composed devices like machines of war etc., as opposed to more "simple" technical devices which had been labelled organon, organ. And interesting to see with regard to that what follows, mechane (μηχανη) also denoted "trick", the ruse or the 'artfulness' to overcome something in order to realize one's own purposes. From Jürgen MITTELSTRASS, Das Wirken der Natur, in: RAPP, F. (ed.), Naturverständnis und Naturbeherrschung. München; Wilhelm Fink 1981, p. 36-69: 53f. 60
direction we want; that they are mere instruments. Because we were the ones who designed them, who planned them in a deliberate manner to serve our purposes. The very notion of management goes back to such an idea, indicating that we have the proverbial strings in our hands – i.e. are the masters in command at any time. Management, a neologism, originates from the Italian maneggiare, to keep horses at bay, to keep control over otherwise untamed forces.3 And that we use procedures of formatization in doing so, procedures ever expanding in covering ever new domains of life since those times where maneggiare had its origins, the Italian Renaissance as the beginning of new times leading to our ones of a so-called modernity and later, to its aftermath, a so-called post-modern, and nowadays, an even post-human era.4 But posthuman or not, we are still the masters in command, despite all the problems that ocurred aligned to the increasing use of formats; since formats, and formatization in general, are a technological issue in the end. We are able to cope with this. And will keep it, due to proper management techniques whose appliance will lead to the intended results.
WHAT FORMATS ARE, AND HOW THEY OPERATE Let’s take again a simple everyday example to challenge such an everyday understanding. As a clerk in an organization, I have to follow the prescribed processual routines; the only alternative consists in leaving the organization. Because I am “free” to leave the organization any time if I want to do so, because we are all liberated individuals, the latest since modern times. But what this freedom is good for when I have to earn my living? It comes out to be a merely virtual freedom, even in case when I decide to actually leave this organization. Because then, I left only this one but have to go to another, working under the same conditions. If this is unavoidable, what to do in my longing to be a real, that is, a real liberated individual? Do I devote myself to work, in working for ‘my’ task inside the frames of ‘my’ organization? But opposed to an euphemism often used in management, it is not my organization and my tasks for which I work; in fact, I belong to the organization, because in that organization’s real terms of operating I became its functionalized part, in submissing myself under its routines. It means that I – as a Self, as an individual being – got functionalized. And hence, that I am not myself any more, at least not during work time. 3 Yannis GABRIEL, "The Hubris of Management". Administrative Theory & Praxis, September 1998, Vol. 20, No.3, p. 257-273: 266. It recurs to the Roman manu agere [from Friedrich A. HEINICHEN, Lateinisch-deutsches Schulwörterbuch. Leipzig/Berlin; B. G. Teubner 1903, p. 506)], to hold the things firmly in one's hands, to be the master of the things and processes in question. 4 To a post-human character of a modernity as it meanwhile is, but first of all of how it is conceived cf. the format of youtube where it can be looked at live: http://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=GjpeFeWDqmU. [cit . 24.01.2012] 61
These are important aspects for understanding the nature of formatization in its totality. Such circumstances (or better since more precise, such conditionings) hold valid also in cases where a seeming relief occurred, thanks to advances in technology and management techniques; that is, thanks to the circumstance that we nowadays live in advanced modern times. To cite other euphemisms, in times where a “flat” or “user friendly” hierarchy of such operations exists, or in cases of “flexibilized work” where I can work at home, at various times, or even as a free lancer. Although they became seemingly liberal, the outlined conditionings remain the same, and our only freedom consists in choosing their respective variants; but not in choosing a real alternative. Ranging from business organizations and other institutions to computer programs and internet-based social media, systemic circumstances of such kind hold valid not just during work but are moulding entire life conditions. Sometimes, etymology might be helping to gain a deeper understanding of the phenomena in question. The notion of the format originates from the Latin formatum, the formed, and denotes – besides the extraordinary rank of something or somebody – a fixed entity, a normed relation according to a structure that is defined ex ante.5 And the process of formatting then consists in arranging entities in line with such a structure, that is, to norm them according to it; in one word, to align entities to a scheme. To better comprehend what formatization is about, we have to look at the notion of a scheme, too, at its different original connotations. Because these connotations in their interlinkedness help to reveal formatization’s nature. What is a scheme, in its original terms of understanding? Derived from the Greek schema, figure, a scheme denotes an “illustrative”, nearly self-evident “presentation of facts” that only contains the “relevant and important to understand”; and at the same time, it stands for a prescribed pattern.6 Which then, of course, does only comprise the relevant and important – otherwise, it would be no pattern, and above that, not a one prescribed. Therefore, a scheme too denotes a cause that is “simultaneously dynamic and systematic”,7 an understanding that includes anticipation. In other words, if schematizing is understood as a process of formatting, then such a process consists in the act of norming, in the standardization of formerly distinct, diverse individualities according to some program. It means the transformation of these individualities into something other, in making them identical, literally uniform. The program is the format according to which something gets formatted, it is a formatting device. This is one source of its power. The other is the programs’ anticipation – when we get aware that something is programmed, we expect that the program in question will not just apply for the moment but will be prolonged 5 From Duden's Etymological Lexicon (1994), p. 480; and to the norm, also as process, see HEINICHEN (op. cit.), p. 561 6 Johannes HOFFMEISTER, Wörterbuch der philosophischen Begriffe. Hamburg; Felix Meiner 1955, p. 536 7 Georgi SCHISCHKOFF, Philosophisches Wörterbuch. Stuttgart; Kröner 1991, p. 638 62
into the future, will virtually last forever.Once started it will continue without major deviations. In other words, that it can be applied repetitively, in a non-interrupted, non-changed manner, like for instance the production flow of an assembly line, a computer software, or any other organizational routine. Metaphorically speaking, a program works like a machine – after it came to birth (as a conceptual idea) and has been put into operation (becoming a reality for the first time), it will determine everything within its reach and thus will turn into the domineering reality (thus becoming a reality for the second time), at least for the ones subjected. What goes on for the moment will go on in the future. Formats are repetitive. As long as the program obtains the inputs it needs for its operations, and unless it gets significantly disturbed, or destroyed, or unless the subjected do not leave the domain of its operations. Because all the time, the subjected are transformed into something other than they have originally been. What is intended to convey by the metaphor of the machine is that formats seem to embody a specific kind of order, a kind that distinguishes them from other kinds of order, a mode of being organized, but not every order is eo ipso a formatted one. And it seems that in embodying such orders, a formatted way of being organized is closely linked to the notions of the programmatic and the schematic, in all the dimensions the latter does own, also with regard to its dynamic properties. That the notion of the format and that of the program belong together, and that such programs have to serve certain functions (e. g., to produce cars in a production line), both of them defined ex ante, fixed and laid out before the respective processes of formatting begin to operate at all. That formats as ideas are predefined fixed structures which are imposed onto reality then, to make the reality in line with the predefined. In other words, to mould the entities falling under a format’s reign in only certain ways, to receive only certain outcomes; outcomes which have to be predefined, too, because the entire process of formatting, the program to produce these cars and no other ones, has to serve this aim. Otherwise, it would be “useless”. Expressed in classical and general terms, the generation of types of outcomes is the telos of formatting. That formatting, and the phenomenon of formatization in general, does equal the production of types, in a literal sense.8 And it seems that it is this trait which distinguishes formats from other kinds of order; that formats are (a), planned (“predefined”) orders which (b), are then leading to certain results only. That formatted orders have little or none degrees of freedom, neither as process nor as result, opposed to unplanned orders “growing out of themselves” like for instance the order of a tree, or a pattern of historical development. Of course, there are also ‘types’ of trees resembling certain species, but as such, the order of such a certain species is just a general frame, allowing for the individual tree to nevertheless unfold its “personality” – being this individual tree and no other one. That opposed to cars of a certain type, trees are not identical, even if they belong 8 From the Greek typein, to coin; based on the notion of the typos, which denotes model, (fixed) pattern, in one word: the coined one. Cf. HOFFMEISTER (op. cit.), p. 623f. 63
to the same species. That a tree owns individuality and considerable degrees of freedom in becoming a tree, opposed to cars, workers on production lines and other clerks. And that it is this lack of freedom, this being basically identical which makes formats to formats, and evokes their ‘technical’ impression. To exemplify this, we can look at man’s the “cultural animal” central place to live, the city. The functionality of formatted processes of producing items on large scale for instance evoked the formatization of other spheres of an industrialized Lebenswelt the city was made up then – the division of work and ‘private’ life, the departementalization of the city area into certain functional domains (of housing, of working, of transport, of producing, of consuming), and so on. The old, “historically grown” city became functionalized, following a certain format of how to produce items (e. g., cars) and by that, became an entity which got functionalized as a being, that is, in its total. Here, we have the case that one starting format, namely to produce items in a certain manner, led to the emergence of other formats being in line with that starting one, in following the inner logic of the starting format. And despite the single subsequent formats have been planned, in themselves, as prefixed orders, i. e. in the same manner as the starting format – the order of the transportation facilities, the suburban housing areas for resting from work and leading a “private life”, and so on – nobody intended that the functional city emerged as an overall outcome. That it will look like this, in the end, together with all the problems evoked by it. To sum up, here we are confronted with the case that formats tend to generate other formats, even unwillingly. That a certain kind of functionalized order came to spread out over the whole domain which was thought to embody a domain deeply human, namely a city as man’s genuine place to live – and not merely to exist, in working, consuming, and resting from work.9 To better understand how formats work and how they tend to generate other formats, we can look at them also from a formal side. In its most general terms, a format is a fixed structure that is normed, either as result (e. g., cars of a certain type), and/or as structural pattern for further norming (e. g., the structure of the production line leading to these cars). ‘Normed’ means here that the structure in question follows a certain scheme, a scheme installed to norm the entities to fall under its regime. Apparently, a “fixed structure” can denote not only structures in their plain sense, static entities, but also processes, dynamic entities. Moreover, it seems that many formats are not standing alone, do not lead an existence by their own but are linked to other formats, are interacting entities – as we have seen in the case of the functional city. In other words, an interdependence between certain formats does occur forming a ‘system’ (technically speaking). That formats are not just functioning in themselves but in addition, have to fulfill 9 To the city and related capitalist developments in the age of neoliberal sway, see Stephen GRAHAM/Simon MARVIN: Splintering Urbanism. Networked infrastructures, technological mobilities and the urban condition. London, New York 2001. Routledge 64
other functions, mostly for other formats. The latter circumstance enhances the impression of a teleology of formats. Behind those teleologies to be realized through the functionalities of the formats in the foreground – e. g., the teleology of the processes in the assembly line to produce items – it looks as if there exists an additional teleology, expressed in a hierarchical order where the different formats which make up a system are placed; a kind of meta-format, consisting of a hierarchy of functions linked to each other. In case of the cars produced, it is the meta-format of a value chain with its telos of profit generation, a meta-format all the single formats of producing and selling cars are embedded in; an aspect to come to. In any case, it seems that formats are not just functioning in themselves but in addition, have to fulfill other functions, mostly for other formats. Aligned to it it seems that as a normed, fixed structure, a format can adopt different shapes, or Gestalten. Albeit schemes and formats are not identical. It is true that a format does work in a schematic way, and in that, does own a “schematic” nature, and it is even true that formats are almost identical with schemes; but almost is not always. It is the same problem as with the relation between formats and the technical: although formats work in a technical way, they are not identical with technique. We can comprehend a format as a peculiar kind of scheme, an algorithmic one, i. e. “an exact sequence of work steps, given in a formalized language.” 10 This is the general shape belonging to a format, its overall Gestalt, and this general shape can adopt additional shapes now, as its modifications. What is enclosed in such an understanding? That a format is either (a), the result of an algorithmic procedure. This is an additional shape formats can adopt, next to their general, encompassing one of being algorithmic. It means that some formats can be understood as outcomes of formatting processes which lie beforehand, processes of an algorithmic nature which constituted them as these (and no other) outcomes. For example, the cars coming out of the assembly line are formats of a certain kind, or the pictures in my SmartPhone, or the housing blocks in the suburbs of the functional city. Or (b), that a format embodies a blueprint (another shape formats can take) of how to process entities into further formats: the format of this assembly line here leading to the format of those cars there, in using the “entities” of different inputs to do so. Whereby (a) and (b) can often overlap, also in an unintended way, as has been shown in the case of car driving looked at earlier. It means that formats as blueprints generate other formats which then turn into blueprints for other, additional formatting processes; and this not only willingly (intended), but also unwillingly. As regards the latter case, these ‘new’ formats work although nobody intended them to do so, wanted them to work as formats – probably one of the most important cases of formatization, in particular today (see the case of the 10
Brockhaus Encyclopedia (1986), Vol. 1, p. 365
city); so the thesis. The point is about a formative causality, a phenomenon to be examined later on. Or (c), it stands for the formatting process itself (still another shape), for the actual processing of the entities in (b); e.g., when the system of the processes needed to produce exactly these cars (these formats) and no other ones is in operation, in actually producing these cars. To recapitulate, regarding formatization as a general phenomenon, the categories (a) and (b) have been subsumed under the label of ‘formats’ (in a narrower sense), and (c) has been called ‘formatting’. In other words, we have structural formats: formats as fixed structures, and processual formats: formats as processes. And we have seen that both kinds of formats interact, that structural formats can lead to processual ones which again lead to further formatting and thus, are able to generate self-referential and self-producing systems.11 In the beginning it was said that we are formed by formats, or formulated more cautiously, that we are influenced by them in a high degree, first of all in the direction of becoming habitualized to, and through them. If this is the case, then two dimensions of habitualization would simultaneously exercise their impact upon us: on the one hand, we habitualize to existing formats; on the other, we get habitualized through formats, i. e. format ourselves by using formats.12 And it is easy to see that the latter dimension is by far the more dangerous one, and moreover, that these two dimensions making up habitualization cannot get explained sufficiently by just building categories of the above kind, no matter how helpful they might be for a first orientation. The more since habitualizing (to something) and getting habitualized (through something) does not equal the mere adaption to someting. As its two dimensions are revealing, habitualization contains more than just adaptation. Otherwise, the traditional, common-sensed perspective upon formats and formatting would be right, the perspective we looked at in the beginning, a perspective relying upon a belief in the universal disposability and manageability of formats. Therefore, it might be of help to return to (c) again, the very process of formatting, and to examine it more closely, in peculiar as regards its supposed algorithmic nature. Again, we can approach it in a formal manner. In its most general terms, an algorithmic procedure is a one that is fixed (according to predefined criteria) and that follows the logic “apply these steps in this sequence in the ever same manner, and you will get the ever same results”. Examples are the mentioned processes 11 Due to its complexity, an aspect of formatization to be treated separately, referring to an understanding of 'social systems' presented by Niklas Luhmann and others, and going back to concepts of autopoiesis as it is presented in the works of Maturana/Varela. At this place, it shall be just addressed as an aspect of importance. 12 A conception of habitualization that exceeds the habitus-concept of Bourdieu, due to its "colonizing", that is, formatting properties; aspects to come to. 66
going on in a production line, or the processes of information proceeding in an organization, or...the reader can imagine a lot of processes falling under this category, also comparatively simple ones, like for instance driving a car, guiding a plough or using a hammer to nail something. Due to their rigid logic, those processes are a technique to achieve something, they can be trained, learned, and repeatedly applied, no matter the concrete circumstances (if this nail is brass or steel) since they remain always the same: irrespective of its surroundings, the process as such has not to be altered, at least not significantly. As long as the essential premises for its application are met, it can be applied. These consist not only in the immediate conditions which have to be met in order to ensure the respective format’s performance, but too in those of the respective meta-formats (e. g., of a value chain) for which the formats in question become applied at all.13 As mentioned, common to all those processes is their algorithmic character, a character that can be described in its ideal form by the formula y = f(x), that every y as an input to the process (which as a whole, is described by the formula) will be the function of an x “behind it”, so to say. And that the procedure according to which the y is processed will never change, remains always the same, like the resulting y’ does after the original y has been processed. A function is a prescription. This algorithmic character distinguishes formats from other kinds of organizing. But first and foremost, it is this algorithmic character that makes those processes function, in making them suitable for achieving certain ends. In short, applying the same will lead to the same, no matter what the original y was, or still is. But it can have very differing outcomes, depending on the magnitude of operations and their degree of impact. This is what distinguishes modern formats from their premodern forerunners, and this is, too, what distinguishes their postmodern succesors. To provide again a simple example: it’s a big difference if the format of ploughing is applied inside the terms and conditions of a medieval society, or inside those of modern agriculture where whole square miles of one and the same field are ploughed by huge machines, and not by horse ploughs guided by only one man in just some acres of field. With regard to both nature and human beings affected, in the modern case, the degree of impact is simply of another dimension; despite it remained the same format that became applied, namely the “technique” of (merely) ploughing. So, expressed in its general terms, the problem of formats is not that formats exist – probably, they do so since ever, at least in human history – but (a), their range (magnitude plus impact) and (b), their intentionality of operation. Whereby the range depends on the intentionality, and not vice versa; and not only, but first and foremost. Since the intention in question is defining the range, either willingly or unwillingly. As regards the relation between intention and range, Spengler said in times long before our age, times labelled “the age of hard modernization”: if we want to understand the nature of the technical, it is not about a technique of 13 Both aspects are included in the traditional understanding of technique, cf. HOFFMEISTER (op. cit.), p. 603 67
machines, and surely not about the idea that the creation of machines and other utilities is the purpose of technique. Technique cannot be understood if we start with the instrument. Since what counts is not the creation of technical things but how we use them; it is not about the weapon but about the fight.14 The creation and usage of techniques, of the mechane we looked at, it is a question of the intentionality: what shall be achieved with them, to which intended ends I am using which means. And as regards the ‘technical’ about formats and formatting, what can be stated about technique holds valid for formatization, too.
FORMATS IN THEIR MAKING To recapitulate, the processes of an assignment of functions performed in an algorithmic manner and of habitualization are the core of formatization, no matter the concrete shapes it does take, and independent from its concrete (and rather diverse) domains of application. Because it should not be too hard to realize that what happens to clerks, workers, and cars also applies to other phenomena as well. Formats, in embodying a certain kind of order, namely an algorithmic one, are widespread, as one can easily imagine, they range from the grid of a rectangular town plan to organigrammes of an enterprise or institution to computer programmes, to name just a few; altogether with the processual routines (the processual formats) they elicit and sustain, as modes of habitualization and of producing the ever same, both willingly and unwillingly. It leads to another aspect of importance: the mentioned technical character of formats in general, and of formatting in peculiar, that very process of applying formats and generating further formats as well as the formatted, those differing but nevertheless same results of the ever same. And the consequences are not just technical; which too means that they cannot be treated solely in a technical manner, e. g., by so-called ‘technological’ assessments. Despite the respective phenomena can be looked at, in themselves, under a technical perspective, namely as functional systems working in a technical, or at least technique-like manner (algorithmic performance is an issue quite ‘technical’) – functionality is assigned to technicality in that it works in a technical manner but at the same time, it seems to be more than (just) this what it is all about. Instead, the famous saying of Heidegger seems to hold valid that the nature of technique is nothing technical,15 and if seen in this respect, that ‘technique’ is not to be confined to some devices, to some usages only. But that the usage itself does change us, the more we get used to it. As Rammert put it, when we speak of everyday life in a technical context, it is not only about work routines but about our entire social life outside the 14 After Oswald SPENGLER, Der Mensch und die Technik [man and technique]. Beitrag zu einer Philosophie des Lebens. München; C. H. Beck 1931, p. 6, and 7f. 15 Martin HEIDEGGER, Die Frage nach der Technik [the question about technique]. In HEIDEGGER, M., Vorträge und Aufsätze. Pfullingen; Neske, ed. of 1990, p. 9. It was first published 1954, i. e. in a time when formatization had reached its full sway already. 68
working space, as for example household, family, leisure time, the community of neighbours, and the local public. We speak about what Siegfried Giedion called an anonymous history and what has caused a fundamental change in all our forms of living.16 The anonymous history is a one of technization, he says, and the thesis is that the phenomenon of formatization is closely linked to it. In his Mechanization Takes Command, Giedion states that our time – labelled “the time of modernity” – is characterized by a rupture between thinking and feeling, caused by an encompassing mechanization. And he states it is this mechanization that drives our epoch, as a result of a “rationalistic attitude towards the world”. It first started with the production of items, and consisted in a fragmentation of the entire work process into its constituent sub-processes.17 What begun inside the domain of producing physical items dispersed soon into all domains of working where such modules could be built; that means, inside each domain where essentially identical items have to be produced en masse, on large scale, and on the top of that, in a continuous manner – in a manner that has to go on uninterrupted, so to say forever, endlessly. No matter what the individual matter of producing is – physical products, software, clerks, or otherwise seemingly “individual” products. In such a mechanizing way, Giedion claims, many streams of inventing and acting in quite different domains of social, technological and economic life came concordantly together, unintended but definitive, and thus revealed the tendencies, and sometimes even the meaning of a historical epoch.18 Mechanization can be seen as outcome of an embracing formatization going on beforehand (in causal terms), and all the time (in real terms); so the thesis at least. And the meaning mentioned appears under a new light, in the meantime, since the question has been raised if it is reasonable any longer to hold up the traditional division between man and his techniques – not just between him and the products of his techniques, but between him and these techniques themselves. In other words, if that basal understanding of mechanics introduced in the foregoing, that of a means-end relation where man has the strings in his hands can be propagated any longer.19 An understanding that is prevalent even in up to date-approaches 16 Cited from Werner RAMMERT, Technik aus soziologischer Perspektive (2 vol.). Opladen; Leske & Budrich 1993, vol. 1, p. 179 17 Sigfried GIEDION, Die Herrschaft der Mechanisierung. Ein Beitrag zur anonymen Geschichte. Hamburg; Europa 1994: P. 13, to the rupture and its cause, and p. 51, to the driving force of mechanization. The original Mechanization Takes Command has been published 1948, at Oxford University Press. That is, at a time when formatization had already reached its full impact upon Western societies, long before the times of a second wave of a further, and more deeply reaching formatization going on at the moment. 18 GIEDION (op. cit.), p. XIV. In this respect, he states (p.19): the meaning of history gets revealed in detecting relations; relations which are described here under the umbrella of formatization. 19 The discourse about that topic is widespread. One of the most thoroughful studies (in the autor's eyes), also in directing at a posthuman age, is Günther ANDERS, Die Antiquiertheit des Menschen [man's being antiquated], 2 vol. München; C. H. Beck 1958. Like HEIDEGGER'S saying above, a work that appeared in the era of a so-called high modernity already, long before 69
like for instance in the so-called SCOT (social construction of technology20) which look at man-technique relations under the perspective that of course, technique does influence man, but that man is still able to define the ways in which it is used, even if these uses were not in the line of usage intended by the original technical devices. What if even such seemingly ‘progressive’ approaches to the technical fall too short? In that they rest upon a myth still prevalent, a myth of domination claiming that man – in the sense of management looked at earlier – ist still the master in command, that he is the one who decides upon the ways we use such devices (as if they were nothing more, and nothing else), that critical factor Spengler spoke of. What if such ‘devices’ became part of ourselves? If they make up our Self in a considerable degree, and are about to do so in a degree even more considerable, e. g., in referring to a “cyborgization of the individual” discussed at the moment, when such devices become miniaturized parts of the human body, as is planned with nanotechnology? When they become, in other words, not just the indispensable “devices” without whose we couldn’t survive (this they are already, see Rammert) but moreover, the intrinsic parts of our Self.21 Although we haven’t to go so far to articulate the problem. Because it already exists for a long time. It is the technotope22 we live in, to be interpreted as a prolongation, and at the same time, as a fulfillment of a myth of domination: the plain fact that we live in a world we created by our own, a world as technisized artefact. And that in this context, we cannot speak about ‘technique’ any longer but have to deal with an encompassing technology – literally translated, a Logos, a meaning of the technical – that has superseded any singular technical approaches and the old nature-culture antagonism that coined occidental history for so long. And in this respect, technology is not a body of techniques but a mindset, a general attitude towards the world that had poured into an embracing societal praxis of how to shape the world; a logos of the technical that became the predominant societal praxis as a technology, as a technoid functionalized mode of how to approach reality at all, and hence, in its totality, no matter the domain.23 It is a mindset the general intention of which is to dominate, following the myth of domination and the present state of digitalization and nano-technization. And for the mentioned "meantime" see W. RAMMERT/I. SCHULZ-SCHAEFFER (2002), who challenge the traditional point of view that man's intentional acting is still to be treated as being independent from the technical: http://www.ssoar.info/ssoar/files/2008/286/tuts_wp_4_2002.pdf [cit. 21.01.2012] 20 Presented to a broader public first in Arjun APPADURAI (ed.), The Social Life of Things: commodities in cultural perspective. Cambridge/Mass. 1997 21 See for instance Bernd FLESSNER (ed.), Nach dem Menschen [after man]. Der Mythos einer zweiten Schöpfung und das Entstehen einer posthumanen Kultur. Freiburg; Herder 2000. Or Frederic JAMESON, Postmodernism, or The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism. London; Blackwell 1991, p. 36 22 After Günther ROPOHL, Eine Systemtheorie der Technik. Zur Grundlegung der Allgemeinen Technologie. München/Wien; Hanser 1979, p. 12 23 Arno BAMME, Homo occidentalis. Von der Anschauung zur Bemächtigung der Welt. Weilerswist; Velbrück 2011, p. 21f. An understanding of the technological going back to Bruno Latour (cit. p. 21), and exemplified as a connex between science, technique and technology on p. 692ff. 70
by that alone (not to speak of other outcomes), defining the ranges of such an intention’s applicability: that they should enstretch everywhere. Which makes the notion of a ‘range’ obsolete, since such a notion would indicate some limitations on moral or whatever grounds. It is a mindset that has been characterized as the attempt to “objectivate nature” (in consequence, also that of humans), of abstract thinking and formal logic.24 This mindset is the specifically ‘technical’ about formats, and of formatization in general. In line with a myth of domination, it consists in the will to subject everything within its reach under terms which functionalize (so the thesis), as an outcome of the “rationalistic attitude towards the world” Giedion spoke of. What indeed is a new historical meaning. In its final terms, it became expressed in the algorithmic logic outlined above, and as a result, in the ubiquitous itemization of its objects, i.e. of the entities to come within the reach of the respective algorithms. Because every y = f(x) transforms the respective y into an item, into an identical quality. It makes a product out of the original y, an y’; and nothing but a product – of the x in question – even in cases where the product-character is not so obvious at first sight. For instance, when we take the classical period of formatization in the so-called era of Fordism – to put it into a historical perspective, an era before those of a “society of wealth” after World War II, and a “postmodern society” to follow; the latter a state “after modernity” which was superseded again by our recent “posthuman age”: the workers of the production line in the era of Fordism are formats in nearly the same degree (if one refrains from the well known ‘human factor’ being such an obstacle for management since ever) as are the products they produce; and they are so not only during work but also in their privacy, since whole life processes, alongside with the concomitant shaping of cities (the space where such processes occurred) followed the formats of mass production, mass transport, mass consumption, and mass housing, with the functional city emerging. With these formats formatting themselves again into a system of interdependent qualities – the old city core became the mise en scène for consumption and the posed, pre-formatted individualities25 of post-modernity. Although they became ‘liberated’ in their hedonistic longing, individuals who were still an anonymous mass, also after the classical worker had turned into the status of an endangered species and Fordism was thought to have vanished and with it, the so-called “mass society” of those days. Expressed in general terms, the space conceived as typical for man as a cultural animal, the one of the city, it too became functionalized; or more precise with reference to formatization, even such an essential space for the human became an y’, a mere function. It became a derived entity serving other purposes than those of being just a city as cultural 24 ibid., p. 26 25 Exemplified (inter alias) for a so-called postmodern era in case of the linkages between globalization, urban space, and life style: Peter NOLLER, Globalisierung, Stadträume und Lebensstile. Opladen; Leske & Budrich 1999. 71
animal’s space to live in. We realize how formats tend to generate other, and additional, formats. In the case of Fordism looked at here, the old system of interacting formats turned into a new system – of ‘production on demand’ with seemingly ‘individual’ products, designed for ‘individualities’ in search for their ‘life styles’ – it turned into something different which remained nevertheless the same, in terms of formatization. To come back to the general mechanism underlying such (and other) examples, the whole procedure gets tautological in its embracing teleology: an y is only an y if it is a function of some x, and thus turns into an y’. Such a process is completely resting in itself, from production lines to cities; in order to function, it does not need any other justification (or moral, or ethics) than just itself. It became its own ethos. This equals technicality, brought to its core. In order to function...the operative goal of formatization consists in functionalizing the entities, to objectivate them. In its performance, a format is self-referential.26 Which is only logical, one could argue, since the essence of technicality is to achieve functions (the argument runs), or in broader terms, to ensure functionality.
THE FRAMEWORK: HOW FORMATIZATION WORKS We have to envisage two major domains where formatization occurs in its technical terms, as way of functioning: the capitalist process, and its concomitant functionalization of life spheres; not just of some, but of all. To begin with the first domain, if embracing functionalization in line with Giedion’s saying about a “rationalistic attitude towards the world” is the magic ruse to ban the Being, then we cannot speak about formats without speaking about capitalism. Or more precisely, about the “meta-format” of functioning inherent to the capitalist process: of grouping phenomena (people, processes, techniques, other formats) according to their usability for profit generation. Since as phenomena of modernity and its subsequent epochs, formats are inextricably linked with this “final” format of the capitalist process, and (so the thesis continues) can be understood only from there. Whereby (the thesis still continues) the maximization of profit generation does embody a format by its own, since triggering all the others which in their total, as a system, make up that capitalist process. Expressed in classical terms, profit generation is the causa finalis all those other formatted entities (as people, as processes, as iPhones, as whatever) are devoted to; it is their final raison d’ etre. Furthermore, it is stated that in such a total, the capitalist process is a meta-format resting in itself, is in other words a self-referential entity that bears its teleology in itself, does need no other justification than just being itself – the heart of technicality, it was said earlier. What makes the capitalist process to a technical one, both in its ways of functioning and its consequences. To exemplify this, the 26 This characteristic of formats would deserve closer attention but cannot investigated here, due to its complexity. 72
basic algorithmic procedure – the basal format underlying profit generation as well as its connected ‘capitalist’ formattings – shall be examined, that of the so-called value chain. Next to the network of the capitalist process as a whole, it is another meta-format, a one constitutive for that process. It reveals that the technological aspect mentioned by Bammé isn’t confined to ‘techniques’ in their narrower understanding but represents a mindset of how to approach and therefore, of how to mould reality in its total.
Fig. 1: Value Chain, the functional cosmos of today 27 What is depicted here – to recur to the beginning, a format as “idea” serving as a model to shape belongings – embodies the essence of todays’ cosmological relations, in a literal sense: it is the Logos of the world we live in, brought to its point. Formulated in the terms of a cosmos that from its functionality, is a closed one, what we have here is a real cosmos in its classical understanding, despite it is universal in its embracement of almost everything our todays’ world is consisting of, in the latters realities. This scheme of how to form the world became encompassing, since in its reach, it is prolongeable into every direction of impact, everywhere when and where it becomes possible to turn the ‘things’ in question into mere things. Irrespective of their former, and original, individuality. That is, as indicated by their naming, to envisage them as raw materials – as something which has to get transformed for having a value at all. Otherwise, the individuality in question would have no value, it only gains value if becoming transformed into something else, and that again means: if it can serve – in its genuine state of being, in that what it is, e. g. a tree in a forest, or a human being before it became a clerk or a consumer – as input for a technique of transformance, as raw material. Otherwise, it is completely uninteresting. It owns no value before it becomes formatted.
27 After Michael Porter, in Ralph D. STACEY, Strategic Management & Organisational Dynamics. London etc.; Pitman Publishing, 2nd ed. 1996, p. 175. In more detail, this metaformat is explained in the author's contribution about a "capitalist cosmos as mythical longing", in Ulrich GEHMANN (ed.), Virtuelle und ideale Welten [virtual and ideal worlds] Karlsruhe; KIT University Press 2012, forthcoming. 73
“The value chain traces the path a product or service follows right from the raw material stage through production and distribution to the final customer. As it travels along this chain, value is added at each point, accumulating into the combination of values the customer is looking for. The total value chain therefore consists of a number of firms...The value chain consists of primary activities and support activities that together ultimately produce the firm’s profit margin.” 28 The real individual in the above cosmos is the firm, the individual enterprise; or any other kind of organization posing as such a firm center of this cosmos. Because the latest since the sway of neoliberal privatization trying to overcome the old Keynesian terms of economy, any kind of how to functionally organize can be brought under the terms of this scheme. Too organizations not directly devoted to the aim of generating profits, like for instance universities, or other kinds of “not for profit”-organizations. As well as in case of profit organizations, the center may shift in its concrete terms, depending from the individual perspective: for instance, a firm out of the group labelled “suppliers” can pose itself in that center, or a one belonging to the group “distributors” – the center as a concrete entity may shift (as an individual, so to say), but this doesn’t affect the logic of the scheme. As such, i. e., as a format, it stays unaffected by these individual perspectives; its operating remains the same independent from the individualities participating (a supplier-firm as new center also has distributors and suppliers from whose it depends then, and so on). It means that an abstraction is the center of this cosmos, a center the other abstractions needed for its operations (symbolized by the other boxes) are congregated around. In other words, that inside the terms of this meta-format of todays’ functionalities represented by the value chain, a format stands in the center of other formats. Because this entire cosmos is an abstraction, a model of how to format realities; and therefore, it does abstract in the word’s literal meaning29 at the same time, in (a), defining the genuine individualities as mere raw materials, serving solely as inputs for (b), the processes of transforming them, i. e. of formatting them according to the modules of the above scheme. This is such a cosmos’ real value: a format as idea, in virtualizing real beings into derived ones, becomes a reality in making those derived beings real.30 In the beginning, it has been stated that formatization does not only format existing contents, but on the top of that, is generating new ones through its very process, i. e. through its very fact to take place at all. The process described here, the making of derived beings to become a new reality, is the first, and most fundamental step in such a direction (so the thesis), a step the other ones to follow can settle 28 STACEY (op. cit.), p. 174f. After M. Porter, who formulated the competitive strategies for such an environment of the Hobbean fight of all against all in the 1980ties, the times of neoliberal sway to privatize anything, and anybody. 29 From Latin ab-strahere, to rob away (HEINICHEN, (op. cit.), p. 7); like the meaning of privatization to meet, an act of robbing. 30 It is the real magic ruse to ban the Being, and a fulfillment of Giedion's "rationalistic attitude towards the world" we met. 74
upon: after they went through the formatting functionality of the value chain, the beings in question are changed, they are destined to become other beings than they were before, according to the processes (a) and (b) from above. A tree becomes a panel for furniture, a human a clerk, etc. – which are other beings then; functionalized new beings, beings formatted to serve some functions. Which particular functions these are, in the concrete case, is of minor importance when compared with the fact as such: that new beings emerged. By this, it is the perfect form a colonization can adopt, and that right from its very start. Because the beings to be colonized are not colonized in such a way that they have (just and only) to obey to some formats (merely) imposed on them – which would evoke the association that despite colonizing, they would remain more or less the same, would not change their identity but essentially stay as they are. It is more, like in case of the clerks we looked at earlier: the beings are colonized in that they are made to the colonized, become objects, adopting the identity of objects, and in many cases even willingly.31 Colonizing and the colonized get identical. Which is the ideal colonization, in other words. And as regards those beings which are ‘human’ ones (means us, the involved), their mentioned habitualization is coming up to be hundred percent then; it is total. Coiningly, the process as a whole, if properly managed, does add value to the formatted (the colonized), and it does so the more the formatted are further formatted, until their end use for the final user, the consumer. If they are consequently processed in such a teleology of being used. Whereby the final user is also used, namely for serving another format not depicted here, the one of profit generation. As said, it is a real cosmos; also in this sense, because the circuit of being used closes here (and a cosmos is conceived to embody a closed entity) – with us, the consuming ‘individuals’ who are used for consuming. Therefore, in order to be more precise, the box labelled “final user” has to be renamed in “final used one”. Since opposed to a myth of the free market, stating that free market equals democracy equals freedom, the final freedom for all participants ist not the one of using products for those participants own sake, in satisfying the participants “needs” we met, but the one of being used. And the only democracy remaining consists in the demos of the products, the bulk of those value-added things to be used by the used ones. Looking at the mechane of such a modelled world from a different albeit related angle, every individuality participating here becomes deprived, due to the sole fact of participating in this universal, self-referential functionalization; let alone the collateral damages (a management term) caused by that – in its original meaning, privatization denotes an act of robbing.32 With the human individual having two functions: to work (the box “labour”), and to consume. 31 Such processes have been examined in full clarity in Günther ANDERS' man being antiquated (op. cit.), the start of becoming posthuman long before the 'official' announcement of a posthuman era today. 32 From the Latin privare, to deprive, to rob somebody of something (here: of its original, genuine Being). From HEINICHEN (op. cit.), p. 673 75
All the other functions the human individual has to fulfill inside the terms of such a privatized cosmos, functions we looked at in the examples given earlier, the functions of recreating (resting from work), of housing, of taking food inputs, even of playing and other “apps” of such an individual, they exist only for one purpose: for fulfilling these both central ones, namely consuming and working – the latter to be understood as the sum of value-adding labour, plus those works needed to assist it, like for instance organizing (managing) them. Therefore, those other assisting functions are summarized under the term of “non-value adding activities” (a technical term of management) and are not depicted in the cosmos presented in fig. 1 – because they are no essential parts of it. They are needed, but only in a kind of compromise since without them (the “human factor”), the two central ones couldn’t work. In addition, also they can be made useful in that they too can become marketed, i. e. become part of the cosmic functionality presented in the value chain. Formats as ideas, and formats as realities: if in its broadest terms, a formatted artefact is understood as a constructed, functionalized entity (e. g., a production line, or a computer program) serving other functions – if this isn’t a world as artefact, what else is?
HOW FORMATIZATION WORKS IN ITS SPECIFIC TERMS Such circuits of functionalization, following their diverse auto-logics of formatting, are the base of our technoid world, and in their consequences, generated the second domain we wanted to look at, the functionalization of life spheres. They did so although the circuits described, if looked at in themselves, embody processes deeply a-historical. Since they are relying upon the maxim of the creative destruction – as an explicit term, first introduced by Schumpeter but as an activity, present from the very beginning of such a cosmos – because efficiency, and its accompanying processes of constant melioration devoted to value adding are future-, and not tradition-oriented; aspects to come to. But they nevertheless have their historical roots, of course. They can be traced back to the middle ages33, and in their modern shaping, they reach down to the 18th century, the time when an occidental spread-out over the globe happened on large scale. From that era of colonizing onwards, the two principal dimensions inherent to each colonization took shape: an outer, and an inner colonization. The latter refers to the habitualization, to the “content generation” (to use a term from computer language) on behalf of the colonized which equals their self-colonization; the former to its prerquisite, namely the moulding of the physical and systemic conditions on the base of which a habitualization can take place then. Bayly gives 33 Italian town states with a capitalist economy oftenly described, but even more important as regards formats as ideas, that is, as explicit concept to create a world as artefact, going back to the method of Nicolas Oresme. Who tried to capture the nature of changes not just of quantities but of qualities, and to model the nature of movement and velocity (and hence, of change as such) in his Tractatus de uniformitate et difformitate intensium. Cf. GIEDION (op. cit.), p. 35f. 76
examples for both dimensions in their spread-out and interaction.34 As a result of their evolutionary history, such circuits turned into fixed causalities of own rank, and magnitude. In systemic terms, they embody a so-called formative causality, a one in which the dynamics of the system in question (e. g., of different formats) causes the patterns of behaviour that emerge. Over time, it leads to the effect that “[...] a network configures itself into closely connected clusters, separated from each other to some extent, making it difficult for perturbations to cascade through it. This happens because of canalization, which means that many agents follow the same rules so that there are many chances of the same responses and patterns of response being reproduced.” 35 How deeply this works, first and foremost with regard to self-colonizing effects – summarized here under the term of ‘habitualization’ – can only be imagined; we have no records of real evidence what happened to those affected in earlier centuries. The more since all of us have been socialized under the motto “we are not our experiences”, in line with Giedion’s saying about a rupture between thinking and feeling that characterizes modernity. That is, because we have been trained in neglecting our own experiences with formatization in such a way that we do not allow ourselves to consciously feel them (despite this might sound paradoxical). For an indirect evidence, we can only look at cultures not yet affected by the mindset Giedion describes, and alongside, at people who were those happy primitives specially functionalized travel tours offer us to visit (except the primitives, for mutual profit). The Kung! people of the Kalahari desert were conversed to a free-market economy, by governmental decree. Soon after this happened, their former life style, valid for thousands of years, changed in a few months time: opposed to their former habits to share everything, to have open huts and no private property, the Kung! replaced their huts in such a way that the neighbours had no sight into their inner, and inside their huts the families had special boxes, locked, to store their private property.36 Normally, one should assume that formats like these would not even begin to occur in a sociocultural context not dependent from value chains, and moreover, that the tradition of living practiced over such a long time would be able to prevent outcomes like the ones described. But apparently, it seems to be ‘normal’ that the mindset standing behind, and enabling such formats is much stronger than every historical groundedness. What happened to the Kung! happened to us since long; the more we’ve got formatted since long, in more than one respect. Judged from such a historical perspective, the phenomenon which Habermas called a colonization of our 34 Christopher A. BAYLY, Die Geburt der modernen Welt [the birth of modern world]. Frankfurt/Main; Campus, German ed. 2006: p. 13, 18, 23, 28, 35. 35 Ralph D. STACEY/Douglas GRIFFIN/Patricia SHAW (2000), Complexity and Management. London/New York; Routledge: p. 117, to formative causality, and p. 115, to the effect. 36 ZEIT magazine no. 46, November 10th, 2011, p. 23; also the citation about the machine to come. 77
Lebenswelt may reach deeper than even he had expected.37 Coming back to the metaphor that formats work like machines, the article reporting about those convertites closes, in summarizing our experiences we don’t allow to be: “it lies at hand to comprehend the whole system as one huge machine, a machine that produces things, more and more, year after year.” On the one hand, this metaphor resembles our overall experiences with the ‘system’ for which it stands: the seeming inurement of its processes constituting ‘the machine’ in its total, in its efficacy as well as efficiency taking no respect of human belongings (nor to those of other living beings); the powerlessness of such belongings in face of the machine, them being insignifacant compared to the machine’s operations (that is, its functioning).38 On the other hand, the metaphor’s vicinity to technology, or more general, to technical processes of the most various kinds becomes apparent. In itself and as a total, ‘the machine’ can be seen as a kind of meta-technology, a closed (“machine-like”) cosmos of functionalities tuned to each other, follwing in its essentialities the cosmic circle of unlimited growth and functionalization pictured in fig. 1; and it is a meta-technology that in itself, as a being so to say, is constituted out of technical processes, ranging from ‘techniques’ in their traditional, and narrower meaning to their more refined relatives, like for instance management techniques, or those of financial markets. Whereby formatization as a ‘technical’ issue is assisted and enhanced by those technological processes in their traditional understanding; in other words, it seems that ‘technology’ and formatization through capitalist processes embody just the two sides of the proverbial coin. In their combination, they led to a “living inside program-segments”, as Guggenberger called it39, to the situation that we cannot but exist and perceive inside the terms of some formatted existentialities that in their total, make up our world, from the car I drive, the news I receive, the city I’m living in with its “authentic historical core” (which isn’t but a consume mile) down to my “individually” composed apps in my SmartPhone – apps which are the “applications” of technically formatted images about the world which in their random because personal composition are believed (by me, the user) to embody true images of the world. Therefore, next to be value-chained and habitualized, an additional central perspective of colonization has to be examined, concerning the interconnectedness 37 Cited in Gunter HOFMANN, Das Soziale und der Zeitgeist. Eine Einlassung auf das letzte Jahrzehnt. In Wilhelm HEITMEYER (ed.) (2012): Deutsche Zustände. Folge 10. Berlin; Edition Suhrkamp 2012, p. 42-60. Hofmann says (p. 58): what Habermas called "colonization of the Lebenswelt" became everyday business, in the context of an "economy of competition" that neglects the social and markets even its critique. 38 As regards machines of management, i. e. of domination right from their start in history, see Lewis MUMFORD, The Myth of the Machine; 2 vol. New York (no further indications) 1964-66. 39 Roland GUGGENBERGER, Zwischen Wohnzimmer und Welt. "Virtuelle Welten" und die Auflösung der alten Raumordnung. In Ulrich GEHMANN (ed), op. cit., p. 197-214: p. 204f. 78
of ‘technology’ in its traditional meaning – the sum of machinery, apparatuses and algorithmic procedures to use them in a given sociocultural context, included scientific experiments and comparable constructions – and formatization. It is a mutual dependency reflected in the common phrase that we all are depending from technique.40 It means that since the functional (and thus, formatted) cosmos depicted above became the only relevant world for us, we cannot live without technique; that technique became our very substrate for existing at all. But as mentioned, it is not about ‘technique’ in its narrower meaning, in particular when we envisage the technical functionality of a value-chained world. Because plain and simple, ‘technique’ became its intrinsic element. In more than one direction: on the one hand, this functionality itself, in its format-generating abilities, embodies a technique of own kind; on the other, in order to work, it needs ‘technique’ in its traditional meaning. As regards the latter direction, it denotes the bare fact that in order to operate, a format constitutive for our todays’ Lebenswelt – the capitalist process expressing itself through the cosmos of the value chain – is in need of other technical formats. Formulated in the terms of a traditional understanding, it denotes that “technological progress”, the “technologization of our world” increasingly taking place, or whichever wordings are chosen to characterize the situation that we are depending on ‘technique’, that all this has one causa finalis: value-adding for profit generation. And as regards colonization and habitualization, it denotes that it isn’t so that we, the liberated individuals of today living in a liberated and by that alone, ‘pluralistic’ society, have abandoned such teleological notions and with them, the mindset that there must exist a meaning in life since metaphysics is dead. Except the one to “realize ourselves”, to lead a hedonistic life inside the demos of products, a life devoted to self-realization with the help of such a democracy. That we abandoned every causality except one: the causa efficiens, to make the hedonism becoming increasingly efficient for me, the individual, the new post-human idiotes of the new democratic reign.41 We still have our superordinated meaning, irrespective of all such beliefs: that of the value chain and of techniques. Moreover, it is a meaning justified since the new bonum commune is not the community any longer but the one of consume, and eo ipso, consume is an individual matter because in its final terms, I can only consume alone. And by this alone, I am an “idiot” in an original, “old European” sense.42 Wherefore it needs techniques. Like in every 40 To the evolutionary dynamics triggered by this alone, see Friedrich RAPP, Die Dynamik der modernen Welt. Hamburg; Junius 1994.Who summarizes it in its major outlines existing already before the onset of a so-called posthuman era. As regards the related "theo-ontological" status of functionalizing the world by science: Wendy WHEELER, http://www.lwbooks.co.uk/ register.php?r=journals/newformations/articles/50wheeler.pdf [cit. 21.01.2012] 41 In order not to be misunderstood, in its original Greek understanding, the idiotes was just the layperson not participating in public affairs. To the new democracy see Levi R. BRYANT, The Democracy of Objects. Michigan 2011. To its cultural background and dispersion cf. Victoria DE GRAZIA, Irresistible Empire: America’s Advance Through Twentieth-Century Europe, Cambridge, Mass. 2005 42 It refers to Luhmann's chapter "Self Descriptions", where he speaks about classical 79
true cosmos, the circuit closes. As we have seen, it is a cosmos expanding. The more since it needs to expand in order to survive (the sayings about the necessities of “economic growth”, and the like), and next to fulfilling the logics of value chains, this is a question of technique.43 Because in their final, technological and economic progress belong together, and they do so the more since we rest upon a so-called knowledge-based economy to be sustained only with the help of the Internet; that icon of the technical which of course is in itself an issue deeply technological, and does expand in considerable degree, like its related economy does. So, if all this is inevitable, why to bother about it? Because it creates its own contents, and alongside, a new world; culminating in that ‘posthuman’ era suspected to arrive. Which is an additional dimension of colonization and habitualization, and a dimension of a new quality. Since it embodies an additional dimension of value-chaining at the same time. The consumer (that is us) gets customized and by that, becomes a commodity in an even higher degree than it was already before. Since it was already an “it”, following the logic of the value chain, irrespective of the euphemisms used to disguise that fact. Now, it is in the danger to become an it even more.
FORMATIZATION AS ONGOING COLONIZATION Because it is creatively destroyed, in succesively liberating it from old European meanings towards new ones. With the help of various techniques, these new meanings settle upon a process of commodifying via content-generation, the next central perspective to be considered when we speak about formatization as a general phenomenon. To place the process as a whole into a broader historical perspective: after the loss of the pre-modern ancient world, and after the construction and universal spread-out of the new world as cosmos of functionality described so far with man becoming a working consumer, now he tries, privatized as it has got, to create new worlds ad libidum, consequently by its (former man’s) own; adopting the Gestalt of an embracing privatio able to create its own contents in a commodified way. In economics, a commodity is the generic term for any marketable item produced to satisfy the wants or needs of customers; that is, translated into the terms of understanding elaborated so far, any entity that became a formatted thing (item) conceptions to conceive society, in his attempt to carve out the essential functional subsystems making up "the" todays' society. Cf. Niklas LUHMANN, Die Gesellschaft der Gesellschaft, Vol. 2. Frankfurt/Main; Suhrkamp 1997, p. 866ff. 43 For an exemplary case, also with the mindset and functionalities standing behind it, see the assessment of the Washington-area 2003: http://www.technology-alliance.com/ documents/benchmark_report_final.pdf [cit. 21.01. 2012]. For a more general discussion, including historical development and the mindset of a new epoch to come at the turn towards a new millennium, see Danny QUAH: http://econ.lse.ac.uk/~dquah/p/0010mlynch-tex.pdf [cit. 21.01.2012] 80
to fulfill the myth of the free market (that wants and needs liberate, and that this equals democracy). You can express it also more technical: in the mindset of the value chain, a commodity is an item that can be produced as efficient as possible – means, with the lowest effort possible, whereby the effort, with a look at profit generation, gets expressed as costs – for reaching as many consumers as possible who contribute to such an items’ profitable sales.44 Revealed by the very naming, such items shall become as common as possible. Of course, only for those who can afford them, living inside their respective market segments (too, a technical term) the world got divided into.45 And following this logic, it would be ideal if the whole world could get itemized, or at least, could be subjected to an itemization of its “contents” as wide-ranged as possible, in order to generate new contents which can be sold now, for profit; because then (and only then), the functional cosmos established by this logic would be perfect. Necessarily, the first approaches to reach this goal were not so; in those outdated times of ‘hard modernization’ and ‘mass society’ populated by non-liberated individuals who lacked the possibility to construct their worlds by their own, people living without iPods, -Pads, Skype, or other “apps” to liberate themselves, the items were comparatively clumsy – mass products for masses of people who had to accept them, products all identical irrespective of the individual life styles of their customers. But a lot has changed, since those medieval days of formatization. Now, the items become adapted to the respective life style of their users; like the life style, too a beloved post-modern term to designate the illusion that the “user” (as the naming reveals) is enabled to actively make use of the items, to re-arrange the prefabricated into things of their own, things destinated to serve only him or her, in fulfilling solely his or her wants and needs. As if there would exist no value chain any longer, no masses of an It being customer still – the used ones we met in fig. 1, inside the customer-box of the neatly defined cosmos presented there. Those masses, despite still existing (formats own the tendency to be stable) independent from their naming, they became re-named now, the’ve got another label; as if mere re-labelling would change the basic relationships that already existed, and continue to exist. The customer, consumer, end user, or however It is labelled (because it still is an It) got another label; a one promising 44 The following is based on the experiences of the author who spent much time of his "work life" in marketing and consultancy, the latter to be understood as the delivery of methods of how to functionalize. 45 To better comprehend the logic inherent to such processes of functionalization, this does not mean that in each case, the sheer amount of potential (or actual) customers is the critical factor. Also less people can buy more, as the nouveau riche-discussion shows. Decisive is the fact that out of a given market segment, as many as possible are buying, that the degree of market penetration (a technical term from Marketing) is as high as possible, together with the market share actually reached there. The military ductus of the language used is of interest, too. 81
Its active participation inside such a democracy of the itemized: It is user, free to use the other labels It is surrounded by. It became liberated to actively participate (like in a real democracy) in the use of Its items.46 The only thing that changed was the demos of the products, the assembly of the itemized labels; it became varied, more flexible (“user-oriented”), and it created still other needs and wants. That is, it created characteristics which were thought to belong exclusively to the user, to be Its (the user’s) signs of individuality. But even this, the artificial creation of wants and needs for evoking the desire for things that nobody really needs, is not new; it already was present in the ‘medieval’ of classical modernity and mass society.47 Now, it merely reached a new stage since Internet-assisted images of the world (which one?) disguise themselves to embody ‘world’; laid out as a scheme of conception, as a fixed despite dynamic pattern (see above), the overall process of becoming habituated to such a kind of perception was present still before the days of TV and Internet.48 But what means “merely”, inside such a context? What’s new except the situation that the real demos of this strange democracy, the masses of products, became more varied and even exploded, thanks to new technical possibilities and ever new wants and needs? Which, we have to keep this in mind, are not the genuine wants and needs of the individual Its of the masses of users but artificial ones, generated ones. Those masses of users are told that they need them, and as a result, they mean to need them. Or, to illuminate the phenomenon from another perspective, this is perfect habitualization. If these new needs would be really needed – that is, would represent needs really wanted since necessary for the existence as a human being – what the people did in former times, without iPods, -Pads, and all these things? Apparently, they did survive, also without such achievements. Achievements which are marketed to embody real achievements since we are told that they are necessary for individual expression. That is, for expressing ourselves as genuine persons, as true individual human beings. It means too – as long as such an habitualization works because it is firmly believed in on behalf of its habitualized ‘users’ – that those things, this bulk of the achieved, became parts of ourselves. That we (the users) believe that they intrinsically belong to individuality. That they are inalienable for our individual “content generation” – for those ‘contents’ (as if humans would be containers to be filled up with contents) we need in order to be realized as a visible, i. e. recognizable individuum. But even with this, the colonization via habitualization came not to its end. The entire process of formatization went still further, in several directions simultaneously. First, not only the It (the user, that is in its final, and still: us) became perfectly 46 To the democratic aspect of the capitalist format and raised doubts, see the Süddeutsche Zeitung, January 12th, 2012: http://www.sueddeutsche.de/kultur/thesen-gegendie-auspluenderung-der-gesellschaft-kapitalismus-braucht-keine-demokratie-1.1255949 [cit. 12.01. 2012] 47 Cf. Vance PACKARD, The Hidden Persuaders. London; Penguin Books 1957. 48 See Günther OETZEL, Technotope Räume – vom Naturraum zum verbotenen Raum. In Ulrich GEHMANN (ed), op. cit., p.63-82: cit. p. 66 82
commodified by the processes described, in expressing It – that is, Its individuality – also Its social relations became commodified, with far-reaching consequences. That is, the very base of what it means to be human – the Zoon politikon, the human being not only as a cultural, but first and foremost as a social animal. Although I, as a user, can consume only alone, in the final, there existed nevertheless social relations; and amongst the latter, even such ones which were not formatted into some respective functionalities of working and consuming.49 Even though I was primarily a ‘user’ formatted to the value-chained cosmos, I still had some non-functionalized relationships; I had friends, comrades, a wife, and the like. Relations which were not technisized yet, which remained free from becoming formatted into the algorithms of technical schemes in their direct sense and which did not exist for merely serving other functionalized purposes (e. g., for profit generation) – which remained truly liberal, in one word, opposed to the liberated value-chained individual. Now, even this changed. Those last residuals of being directly, non-technisized human became technisized, too, with the technical help of so-called social media. On the top of it, these media didn’t just remain one form of social communication existing merely in parallel, so to say in peaceful cohabitation next to others but became the domineering form. Translated into the terms of understanding formatization developed so far, it means that all social communication perceived as relevant is taking place inside the format of these media now. Opposed to former times, even to those which were ‘modern’ already, where these last residuals of being directly human remained human yet, and did not become a matter of the technical, too. We needed no instruments to be human. As regards the speed of developing into the domineering form, that is, the rapidity of change, it is comparable to the case of the Kung! people we looked at: the new media of the social became the domineering ones right after their emergence. A fact revealed by a technical term: they became the ‘social platform’. Translated into a non-technical diction it means that the human being, in being a Zoon politikon, can live this trait only if the latter is tied to a technical format. It again means that I can be social only to the extent to which I am formatted. Again an example out of the midst of our contemporary Lebenswelt: Californian car users denied to accept a planned series of new cars – that is, in the terms described so far, they denied to accept items in whose design they actively participated, in being the democratized, liberated users the capitalist format in its new version suceeded to generate. The reason was: “I don’t want to die when I get into my car”. Asked why they answered: because they are disconnected from FaceBook, their social platform, while driving. So the car builders had to create a new version of the classical format ‘car’, a one that allowed for the use of another format originally not planned for it – since colliding with it, because in former times at least, sociality took place majorily outside cars – that of the new social medium which became 49 To this, see the foregoing about the users' prime reason to be at all, inside the terms of the value chain. 83
the platform for sociality as such.50 The example reveals that people die when they are not connected to their platform (that is, to a technical format), that their whole existence stands in the danger to cease. That being social gets identical with using such technical formats. Coming back to the “several directions” mentioned above, it is an example of interest in more than one respect, and for reasons of simplicity (formats are simple, in their essence, since they are algorithmic), we can continue with a plain enumeration of those directions. And next to the social becoming formatted in platforms, the second direction is about creative destruction, the formatting principle of adding value in modern times (our recent one included). As revealed by the example, due to their rapidity of change, formats may collide sometimes. Because of their claiming functionality – every format wants to be all, since everything can be algorithmisized under its terms – some claims begin to compete each other, and the former harmonious contingency of the functional cosmos gets disturbed. But what means “former”, in the context of value-chaining? Nothing. To cite Henry Ford, history is bullshit – also that of Henry Ford, because formatization, in being a ‘technical’ issue, does not stop, and needs no tradition to respect. Because in itself, a format is a-historical; it can be replaced by other formats fulfilling other purposes, or by other formats fulfilling the same purposes in a better, meliorated way. Whereby the meliorated way is the more efficient way, a point to come to. In its consequences, it means that any given format has no genuine right of existence, it has no value in itself existent by, and in its own –like for instance a flower has, or a wild animal, or a work of art. In that sense, formats are no genuine but derived entities, they have to “justify” their existence all the time, so to speak, since depending from the purposes and meta-functionalities standing behind and above them, in giving them purpose and thus, the right to exist at all. Which too is a technical aspect of formats, in addition to the one already looked at, namely the fact that formats – as algorithms – work in a ‘technical’ manner. All that denies them the rank to have a history by their own account, opposed to flowers, animals, or works of art.51 Which rises severe problems when ‘human’ formats like the above social media are concerned – since although they have a history and from that, are ‘historical’ entities, they nevertheless are at the same time algorithmic, ‘technical’ entities, and hence, in the meaning outlined here, a-historical. In sum, they embody a-historical entities genuinely historical ones like humans are relying upon; the history of those humans gets dependent, and that in an ever-increasing manner, from the a-historical of human histories’ technical substrate.52 50 Rolf-Ulrich KUNZE, personal communication about the problems of the R&D-department of a car manufacturer, December 11th, 2011. 51 It does not mean that they have no history of their own – there are genealogies of formats, and formats evolving out of other ones. This is a different aspect of the historical with regard to formats. 52 Which comprises more than "only" the problem of data conservation: that due to rapid 84
Metaphorically, a reversion took place: in the course of history, the a-historical became the base for further history; the real became virtualized and the virtualized turned real. This is the center of the processes belonging to the magic ruse to ban the Being via functionalization, processes leading to an encompassing formatization and to a world as “ideal”, i. e. completely formatted artefact. One has to imagine this, in its full force of impact going on right now, with a digitalization and nano-technization of nearly everything (“nano” means, as an image: to pour into every strain of the Being), to comprehend what is formatization all about, in both its general terms and reach-out. And in both its practical and “ideal” terms (means: as a concept), it equals a transformation of the world on grand, not just on large scale. But of which world? Of the ‘old’ one, of course, of that world which used to be ‘world’ up to now, before the age of modernity and in peculiar, before the world that set its stage in recent years, with those “technical” processes of digitalization etc.; as if those processes were mere technical ones – and hence, processes which could still get “managed”: which could still be treated in the mindset predominant for so long times, settling upon a myth of domination illuminated earlier. On the contrary, it seems that such a myth of domination led to the worlds portrayed here, and by that, led to its own dissolution caused by its consequent pursue.53 It dominated the old world to such a degree that the new world became a construction and then, a collapsing one full of colliding constructions. Unimpressed by all these problems, the underlying fact of creative destruction remains; as regards the formatization issues illuminated here, it is their only true historical constant, so to say. Because a new world as construction can only be erected and maintained in its being through constantly destructing it. The process as a whole owns two dimensions: it is about destruction as principle constantly applied; and settling upon it, about the ever new constructions going on, them leading to a re-moulding of the constructed world(s) that never comes to its ends. Because it has no inherent boundaries. As a principle, creative destruction tells that in order to function at all, the valueadding cosmos of fig. 1 needs the destruction of the achieved so far, in creatively bringing forth the new, at the price of destroying the old. And all that in a constant, relentless manner.54 That the ever better competes the better achieved thus far which becomes a ‘worse’ now; e. g., the classical telephone became ‘worse’ than a mobile phone, and the latter becomes ‘worse’ compared to a SmartPhone...etc.: we get aware that such a process of constant melioration (believed to be valueadding) can be prolonged virtually endlessly, is to be conceived as a progress ad changes in technical formats, historical essence (adopting the shape of "data sets", technically speaking, of "contents") gets lost. 53 The final fragmentation of a world as artefact by the very formats it is constituted of is described in G. OETZEL (op. cit.), p. 76 54 After Joseph A. SCHUMPETER, Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy. London; Allen & Unwin 1943, p. 83 85
infinitum. To reformulate the myth of the free market we met: on the base of this, it sounds destruction = freedom = democracy (of the produced). Inherent to this logic is on the one hand: history counts nothing since the traditional – equivalent to the sum of the ‘betters’ of yesterday – is a worse, and not an existence of its own rights. Its only right is to become superseded, that is: not to exist, in the final, to be erased by a theoretically infinite sequence of the respective ‘betters’. By that alone, the world, also the new world of the constructed, condenses into mere presence; into a point, metaphorically speaking. And a point has no extension, is ephemeral in a quite direct meaning (to be superseded by the next point coming, and so on). Inter alias reflected in a sociological phenomenon on behalf of the “users”, a so-called presentism embodying one more shape of an inner colonization: that only the most advanced – identical with the most present – is worth to exist at all.55 The SmartPhone of the first generation counts nothing compared to the one of the second, and so forth. And I am only “I” if I own the latest point-version of such a sequential infinity. Seen in these respects, it is of little wonder that a metaphysics of the hedonistic individual could occur, an adoration of the momentaneous. ‘The world’ then condenses into a virtually endless chain of moments which have to be consumed, and through that, it becomes continuously “value added”. Also from this side, the self-referentiality of the functional is guaranteed, and the formatted world of fig. 1 becomes once more a world really closed, a true cosmos. On the other hand, inherent to the logic of creative destruction is a mindset of optimization, which is a mindset deeply ‘technical’. Because as a technical process, nearly everything can get optimized nearly every time; the more when it is profit-oriented, i. e. has to serve the causa finalis of such a cosmos. What means optimization, inside such a context? Saving costs by increasing efficiency and related, by miniaturizing the items in question (therefore nano-technologies). Because for the logic of the value chain, profit equals revenues minus costs. So, in order to rise profits, we can either rise revenues (equalling items consumed) or diminish costs. According to the author’s experiences made inside such chains, it is as easy as that, at the end of the day (a management saying). Costs we can diminish by becoming more efficient, and by technological progress again, things (no matter which ones, humans included) can become even more efficient all the time. Except certain categories of costs which eo ipso cannot get diminished, for instance taxes (but at a given locality only, wherefore we can move), or social costs, or the like. The rest can be diminished = made more efficient, in becoming even more formatted than it already is formatted = “meliorized”. Which equals creative destruction. Wherefore we need techniques, or in sum: technology. And the ongoing of further formatization of the already formatted is called “technological progress” then, from the refining of items to that of management techniques, to 55 Presentism is not identical with presenteeism, the being present of clerks at their working places (the box "labour" in fig. 3) despite the fact that they are sick, in order not to loose their job. So far to liberated individuals. 86
sustain the process. At the end of such days, it is as easy as that; and destructive as that.
FORMATIZATION AS ONGOING CONTENT GENERATION But creative destruction is not only a question of value chaining, nor confined to it; neither are its sole outcomes a colonization of the “users” and an annhiliation of history, or more precise, of historical consciousness. Albeit closely linked to the logics of value chains described, at the top of it, creative destruction started to develop its own circuits whose emergent, unplanned functionality consists in the phenomenon that the contents generated were developing their own contents. Or posed in short words: creative destruction started to perform its own constructions. A phenomenon resembling the third domain of the several directions mentioned above, and a one which deepens the outer and inner colonization already existing, by habitualizing the “users” in their final terms and thus, is leading to formatted perception in final terms. It is a phenomenon whose full impact can be understood only in the entire context of formatization portrayed so far. As frequently addressed, in its close interactions with the most diverse kinds of technical formats (in a traditional, narrower understanding of the technical), it sums up to an “irresistible empire” of a selfreferential systemics, as Victoria de Grazia named it,56 or formulated in the diction used here, it constituted a meta-format constantly sustaining and re-creating itself in a probably autopoietical manner, at each single moment of its operations.57 It started with the processes described by Bayly, continued with getting momentum in the 19th century, in transforming a world and its perception altogether, by increasingly virtualizing it up to the present day,58 poured into the technotope described and is now resembling something for which even a characterization like ‘technotope’ appears not sufficient to explain it. It became something other than even a technotope already is, namely a world-space for which the connotation technogene space seems to be most suited. Such a space is a new world as artefact that superseded even the “old” artefact established in surrendering the “old world” of pre-modernity. It is a new self-formatting universe where space in its total, as world, became a sole function of the technological potential, as 56 op. cit., also BAYLY. 57 Which alone, as a phenomenon sui generis, would require further investigations on its systemic grounds, i. e. examined from the base of its operating as a system.
58 See for instance Dolf Sternberger in his portray of the 19th century, also with regard to virtualization: D. STERNBERGER, Panorama, oder Ansichten vom 19. Jahrhundert. Hamburg; Goverts 1938: his chapter 1, dealing with the dichotomy of "natural- artificial". Also in developing vistas of the world which come close to todays' immersive environments, virtual worlds which cannot get perceived by the human senses in their 'natural' ways of operation, e.g. the panorama of the Sedan-battle at p. 11-14. 87
Günther Oetzel put it – of the virtual becoming the real then, in the sequence of progresses examined above – a space that needs neither individuality nor history but only submission under the primate of technical efficacy.59 With regard to content generation, in peculiar formatted content generation, this world equals a teleonomic universe which nevertheless is aimless in itself. To understand such a seeming contradiction, we have to illuminate this world’s main facettes one by one. Because it seems to be a contradiction – isn’t efficacy the epitome for the goal-oriented? Why then should such a world embody an aimless one? And why the goal-oriented should be destructive? First, regarding all these effective, i, e. goal-driven “technical achievements” – and their concomitant value chains, a fact not to be neglected – it is about dynamics and acceleration.60 An overall dynamics which in its total triggered an increasing fragmentation of ‘the world’, concomitant to such a world’s ongoing refining in terms of technization and functionalization. Metaphorically spoken, although it is a functional cosmos, it is an expanding universe at the same time: meticulously planned in its details but exploding in its total. A refining that meanwhile reached even the nanodimensions of physical reality and which – as a processual dynamics – represents a teleonomy sui generis. It alone led to the phenomenon that in the evolution of this world, artificially created contents tend to generate their own contents, and that in an ever-increasing manner. Since the basic logic of functionalization (and hence, of formatting) is a one of optimization, following a myth of the efficient progress not only in economic value chains: everything can be refined still even more, can be made still more “efficient” than it was (already) before. Of course, such a progress has physical and financial barriers, but as such, as processual logic, it is virtually endless. This combines the ‘capitalist’ with the ‘technical’ logic – from their “mindset”, they can be applied endlessly since they are endless in themselves. Because the logic inherent to functionalization is a technical one, in value chains and (other) technical formats alike: it never reaches its end. Everything can get colonized via formatting it, and when we reached the end of the line (a management term) in one domain, we can continue with another. As a consequence, such a logic of growth constituted also other chains of values besides the economic ones; and hence, contents. Second and related, it is about the world-perception mentioned in the beginning, about the circumstance that a world which became increasingly technisized and functionalized is increasingly conceived in such a manner then, as a total, as ‘world’ as such. What combines the two facettes mentioned so far, leading to the third one: because we are conceiving the world only in such terms, we make the world to become like this, and as one consequence out of many others, the world becomes even more technisized and functionalized. Now, the circle closes: the 59 A conception presented in G. OETZEL (op. cit.), p. 71 60 An attempt to describe them encompassingly, also in their social dimension, is presented in Hartmut ROSA, Beschleunigung. Die Veränderung der Zeitstruktur in der Moderne. Frankfurt/ Main; Suhrkamp 2005. 88
world gets other contents in a progressive manner, and the contents continue to generate their own contents. Superseding each other in a virtually endless chain of creative destructions. In their total, processes like these have led, and do lead to a literal re-forming of the world – in its total. In other words, they generate contents, all the time. That those ways of content generation got familiar to us does not mean that they are trivial in their influence, first and foremost upon our conception again. Since in the meantime, the proverbial whole world turned into a content-generating artefact, of living and meaning altogether. Expressed in the terms of computer language, it became our immersive environment. The only world we can conceive really, and truly, as world. It leads to the fourth of the several directions mentioned above: It is a direction to be illuminated just in its preliminary terms since it begun only quite recently to unfold its impacts, first of all in enhancing the phenomenon labelled “inner colonization”. it is about world-perception related to the fact that our images of the world tend to become the world; that they, in “telling us” about an ‘old’ world mentioned, begin to tell their own stories – stories which creatively destruct it, and thus generate another kind of world. Seen in its total, it is a process that can be described as an ephemerization and virtualization of the ‘old’ world, leading to a new world of icons which then is conceived to embody the relevant world for us, that is, the world for us. That we colonized ourselves to the icons we produced, in creating such a virtual reality which became real then; as process, analoguous to the process of value-chaining described earlier, making the virtual becoming the real. To sum up the thesis presented here, as a process, it started before the Internet-age, prolonged itself into that age, unfolded there and led to a new evolutionary niveau of world-construction. It was a twofold process, covering the old world of physical reality (the 1.0-version of ‘world’) as well as the images of it. Both strains, so the thesis, triggered an increased, and still increasing iconization of the world until that point where the icons about (another, old) world became the new world mentioned, a one of – essentially formatted – icons. The first strain is portrayed as a general process (also with its historical, so to say genetic development) in Henri Lefebvre’s Production of Space, first of all with the “geometric formant” (he calls it) leading to a progressive abstraction of the spatial.61 The endpoint of which was the generation and multiplication of so-called transit spaces described by Marc Augé’s non-places, where we can exemplarily realize the process of iconization: the old world 1.0, the formerly real, becomes virtualized by iconisizing it, and by that, turns into a new reality which then is the reality – at least for our world-perception mentioned. To provide again a simple example from everyday life, the French highways (the autoroutes) described by 61 Henri LEFEBVRE, The Production of Space. Malden etc.; Blackwell Publishing, 1991, p. 285ff. 89
him produce another world by signing the realities of the old world – here you can see a historically grown (and hence, valuable) thousand year-old site, a few miles later another site, and so on. It means that the iconized signs for a valuable (old) real – a real being on its spot, i. e. on a place not moveable – is perceived (a), on the move, and (b), by its icon signing at it.62 In later times, its equivalent became what we called the SmartPhone-effect: the pictures of a (world 1.0) party turn into the party (in world 2.0), because the images transmitted by them are the party now – for all who see the pictures and for whom the pictures are “posted” in the relevant social media; the image of the party becomes the party, its correlative world 1.0-”event” is not of relevance – and hence, not constitutive – any longer.63 Taken exemplarily, both phenomena signify the process of creating a world as artefact, a format which then generates its own contents, in becoming a world of its own independent from the ‘old’ world (of the original sites) it signs upon. Since the latter world has been functionalized to turn into an abstraction; an abstraction from a former real, the original sites. And this, so the thesis, is taking place not only in case of highways but appears as a general phenomenon. In its total, it formed itself into a new reality of the abstracted, a reality (here, the world of the highway) which nevertheless is quite concrete, that is, “real”. Examined from their morphology – from the basic way of how they are structured, as processes – similar processes take place in the so-called social media we met, and in other cases of an “augmented” or “mixed” reality-generation. So the thesis at least. It is a thesis to be investigated more closely, since a lot of processes of such a “world generation” are falling under this category, ranging from the mentioned “social” media to other formatted, technique-assisted creative destructions of a former real that becomes constructed into new ones.64 To conclude with one more case study out of “real life”, serving as an exemplary case, as a pars pro toto for manifold similar processes of formatting: the Smart Window presented recently to the public; a world-formatting device created to generate worlds ad libidum (according to the so-named needs and wants of the individual user we met), adopting the shape of essentially ephemeral installations of a real.65 To close the circle, a device to get value-chained – wherefore it was 62 Marc AUGE, non-places. introduction to an anthropology of supermodernity. London etc.; Verso 1995, p. 96ff. 63 A finding from our working group about social media, at the Hochschule für Gestaltung, Karlsruhe, Germany, http://www.hfg-karlsruhe.de/vorlesungsverzeichnis/ws-20112012/ postdigitale-welten.html [cit. 23.01.2012] 64 Due to reasons of spatial confinement, the genesis of those phenomena in the course of modernity can just be addressed: Susan Sonntag's industrialization of the view for instance, or Villem Flusser's genealogy of a technization of images and the cultural evolution settling upon it; and many comparable approaches not named here but all aiming in the same direction – of meaning and being altogether. 65 The wording installation refers to a trend in contemporary art industry (because art too became part of the value chain), signing an art work to be an ephemeral expression only, an installed snap shot of a real around it; a real it has to reflect, together with the mood and world view of the artist "performing" it. 90
presented at all, because the public shall use it, that mass of users in the democracy of products. Besides the question of being smart for whom, in the final, the Smart Window66 enables the user to perceive the world as a personal window. It (the user) may look out of it like in case of a classical window, presenting the scenery of an old reality before his or her eyes; the one of the respective technogene space he or she is momentanuously surrounded by. At the top of it (which is the real innovation, in creating realities), the user can place extra sub-windows inside the cosmic frame of the smart window, for instance the social media-window, or any other application It wants for the moment, in order to satisfy Its momentarily needs and wants. That is, It can format the world of relevance (for It, at the moment) as an assemblage of icons that is representing the world – at the moment. The world of the user in question, a world which by that becomes a consequently individualized world to be changed any time; which has not to obey to any historical, i. e. grown and continuous genesis with its confinements. It is a world that can be destructed and constructed any time, and, as mentioned, it is a world completely individual – ad libidum in a literal meaning, ready to be disposed and consumed. Standing exemplarily, it is a new format to lead one’s life. The former proverbial window to the world became the world, and the world became nothing but a formatted projection surface of individual needs and wants; of some images what the world is believed, and first and foremost, wanted to be. Of needs and wants which are easy to use because they can rely upon preformatted items, and which serve many processes of added values in one or another direction. If this isn’t liberation, what else? Except the preformatted items we need (really need to serve our needs and wants), we are freed from any pregiven, and by that, from any confinement – free from being formatted by old inherited values, history, or other old worlds with their social, moral, and physical restrictions. With the help of new smart formats, we are free to construct what we want, and to create new chains of values.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m5rlTrdF5Cs&feature=youtu.be [cit. 23. 01. 2012] 91
Eleanor Leonne Bennett
ELEANOR LEONNE BENNETT
is a 16 year old internationally award winning photographer and artist who has won first places with National Geographic,The World Photography Organisation, Natureâ€™s Best Photography, Papworth Trust, Mencap, The Woodland trust and Postal Heritage. Her photography has been published in the Telegraph , The Guardian, BBC News Website and on the cover of books and magazines in the United states and Canada. Her art is globally exhibited, having shown work in London, Paris, Indonesia, Los Angeles,Florida, Washington, Scotland,Wales,
Ireland,Canada,Spain,Germany, Japan, Australia and The Environmental Photographer of the year Exhibition (2011) amongst many other locations. She was also the only person from the UK to have her work displayed in the National Geographic and Airbus run See The Bigger Picture global exhibition tour with the United Nations International Year Of Biodiversity 2010. firstname.lastname@example.org www.eleanorleonnebennett.zenfolio.com
Eleanor Leonne Bennett
The Matte World
THE MATTE WORLD
Josef Florian Micallef ‘The Matte World’ was initially, and simply, a poem written by Josef Florian Micallef, in November 2011. Micallef’s poem developed as he began converging different mediums. He sought to bring together aural and visual senses through soundscapes and text, to create, in essence, a new experience. After completing ‘The Matte World’, he produced an 11 minute soundscape that attempts to follow the poem’s meaning through different sounds and through music. This sensory collaboration ultimately creates a new layer of meaning that would otherwise be impossible through one medium alone. Of course, it remains that every experience for every listener and reader is individual, one is free to create his or her personal meaning. Below is the poem, as well as a link to the soundscape. Away from the matte world into restless dreams All that exists dances As pointless as it seems.
one self with the One. The Ruler of all The guardian of Nature… nothing will fall.
Its beauty you’ll witness, simplicity at best. Flaps of a cool breeze float in your head.
The deeper you dive, Perception keeps cleansing. Yet fear of the unknown makes sinking so frightening.
Infinite perfection All elements seem right. Thyself extend in wonder with shapes previously tight.
Pulled up slowly Colours re matte, Sounds are less holy, Black light’s ahead.
Shapes you’ll shift are notes, colours and glee, an invite for free, a step closer to be
Back in the matte world, oblivious souls linger, No spirit is witnessed, no spirit is known, Caged by the forces of your flesh and bone.
Listen Online: http://www.mixcloud.com/josefflorian/the-matte-world/ 94
The Life Capability Assessment
DFT: LIMITED CAPABILITY FOR LIVING
*see 'Note on Photograph' below
In 2008, Labour introduced Employment Support Allowance (ESA) to replace Incapacity Beneft for people who are too ill or disabled to work. Unlike its predecessor, claimants of ESA are assessed by way of a questionnaire and outsourced health assessment, rather than by their GP or consultant. The current coalition government has begun the next step to move long-term Incapacity Beneft claimants over to the new scheme (it previously only applied to new applicants) and have stated that approximately 40% of claimants are in fact ‘ft to work’. The private organisation contracted to process the questionnaires and conduct medical examinations, Atos Healthcare, has been widely criticised for conducting an unacceptable number of incorrect health assessments, and have in the last four years declared many seriously – or even terminally – ill claimants ‘ft to work’. Clearly this is a highly flawed system This case seems indicative of the recent wont for quantitative rather than qualitative data that has emerged in the last 20 years. The fact that our governments are no longer willing to trust highly trained human beings, instead fnding a tick-box points based system ‘more reliable’, is highly worrying. There is no successful way the one can judge a persons disability, which may be incredibly complex, by asking questions like, ‘Can you lift one of your arms above your head to reach for something?’ It strikes me that this is no more ridiculous than asking someone who is religious, ‘when was the last time you spoke to god?’ or judging how in love someone is in by asking, ‘how long can you bear to be away from your lover?’ We would never expect the latter to become a part of an official government process: the idea is laughable. I have for some time now been interested in the possibilities that arise when we subvert the official, and am inspired by the Lettrist international movement’s detournement tactics and satirists such as Jonathan Swift. In 2008 to mark the closure of Dartington College of Arts I created Void, a re-writing of the Dartington Hall Trust’s Space leaflet, which marketed the soon to be vacant spaces. The leaflet was distributed across the estate, mixed in with the trust’s original pamphlets and handed to passers-by. The fctional Department for Trust ‘Limited Capability for Living’ questionnaire aims to ridicule the original Atos Healthcare ‘Limited Capability for Work’ questionnaire. By taking the example of measuring the efect that being in love may have on a person’s day to day life – something that is accepted as being unquantifable by tick-boxes – I hope to point out the flaws in this system for judging disability. I am making this work because I care about it, and because it afects people who are close to me. Because I have never been forced to declare my diferences on a piece of paper, and send it to a big corporation, in order to live my life, and I don’t believe that anyone should have to. In no way to I wish to ridicule those who are forced into a situation of having to fll out these forms, tick the boxes, get the ‘points’. Instead it is my hope that the questionnaire ‘Limited Capability for Living’ will serve its purpose to detourn and point ridicule at the assumption that humans can be defned by anything so inhuman and inefective as the ‘Limited Capability for Work ESA50 questionnaire.
The image that the Department for Work and Pensions use on the section of their website dedicated to this questionnaire shows a woman, probably in her sixties. She is smiling, wearing makeup, stylish. She looks fne. But we assume that she is not fne – she is applying for Employment Support Allowance. ‘Look’, it says, ‘people can be normal/happy and disabled’. Its very PC. My photo is of myself. Like the older woman I am smiling, wearing makeup. ‘I’m fne!’ it says. I was not fne, I had just ended a fve year relationship. I wasn’t sleeping or eating, and the photo isn’t very convincing: I don’t think I hide my ‘disablility’ as well as the DWP woman.
© Rachael Clerke 2012