livedspace issue 1
Table of Contents
2. An Excess ofReality -The Power
The forms of disruption of public space are manifold, from demonstrations blocking arteries for the circulation of goods and capital accumulation, to interventions into urban infrastructure, state strategies of control and affective dictates as propagated by the media. The past year has seen a variety of forms of protest through the reclaiming of public space in marches and demonstrations, as spurred by the implementation of neoliberal imperatives within academic institutions and the increased pursuit of the state to profit from selling off state assets and freely exploit natural resources, despite the long-term repercussions this might have culturally and environmentally. Marches have often entailed a manifestation of collectivity transcending clear mandates and identities, where demonstrators' agency can rest in its reaction to concrete state measures, but also in its unfolding outside markers
Ron Hanson 3. Towards a Theory ofthe
Distracted Image: Part One
6. Local Time: Horotiu (16-Apr2012, 0900 +1200)
8. Une autre raison de s'indigner (courrier des lecteurs du 1 juin)
Sophie Le-Phat Ho, Kevin Lo, Faiz Abhuani, Amber Berson, Dominique Desjardins, GwenaĂŤlle Denis, Farha Najah 10. Buzz Off: Spatial Control Through Audio Frequencies
11. Sport, Shopping and Walking Shama Khanna
of status, profession or identity. The political manifestation of these subjectivities having rejected identities and conditions of belonging have drawn the ire of the state through their shared commonality in public space. The political agency of these singularities can manifest itself in unison across the built environment in a way that calls to attention possibilities for space to be transfigured and freed from the directions of capital. These actions have come in the face of economic imperatives building on the spectacle of capitalism. The spectacle is â&#x20AC;&#x153; capital to such a degree of accumulation that it becomes an image [...] It represents a world in which the forms of the State and the economy are interwoven, the mercantile economy attains the status of absolute and irresponsible sovereignty over all social life .â&#x20AC;?1 It is this image of the spectacle that methods of transfiguring space through dissent can render void. How can the spatial apperceptions
determined by the image of the spectacle economy turn into an apprehension of space that is rid of the spectacle's influence? Recent demonstrations across commercial arteries and highways in Quebec for example, have shown through their performative repetitions, the value of a communal apprehension of space outside the purely pragmatic movements through spaces and non-spaces formed by commuting. The transgression of speed and its prominence in a regime of cyclical renewal and forgetting can take hold, for instance, as a pace set by a collectively-defined trajectory transforming an artery of capitalism into a space performing the common and social. This pace sets in motion an iconoclastic gesture for the beginnings of a voiding of capital's images. In what way can we understand this transfiguration where the images of capital circulate, from the reinvestment of space through strikes, occupations, and other
forms of struggle, to the way that media have played a role in refashioning the spaces of habitual exchange? Riots in August 2011 in London have seen the images of capital in its fetishized form taken literally, through the shoplifting that major news channels have called “violent consumerism”. In the face of this, the Olympic Games of last summer – which took place exactly a year after the London riots – have had the function of building a nationalist feelgood sentiment, and by harnessing the spectacle of this corporationdetermined event, attempt to erase the injustices addressed by a year of protests, riots and popular uprisings.
An Excess of Reality – the Power of the Strike by Ron Hanson
The punitive and repressive measures enacted by the Quebec government in response to the 2012 student strikes demonstrate the threat to institutional power that these strikes represent. In disrupting the day-to-day flows of civil society what is revealed is the functioning and structuring of society itself, rippling the veneer of naturalness that is the neoliberal state’s greatest power. Deleuze and Guattari describe the state as an apparatus of capture in which “work” is the capture of “activity.” The
crowds of other kinds, say at a football match or at an underground subway station. In these later occasions, as channelled as they are, energy always threatens to overspill its constraints, but these are small spurts rather than unregulated flows. In the strike, energy threatens to overflow in all directions in overwhelming force. There is a reconfiguring of networks that presents a myriad of challenges to the technocratic order. There is a feeling of empowerment in realising that one is not alone. In the Occupy Wall Street movement and the Arab Spring, suddenly we were presented with empirical evidence of what Antonio Negri and Michael Hardt
The recurring idea of disruption throughout the contributions within this issue explore the various ways in which spaces of capital accumulation can be reinvented, in defiance of the spectacle. This defiance can take the form of the strike and its negative mobilisation reacting to capitalism's intensifying pace; the possibilities of reassesing and reimagining the uses of current civic infrastructures taken for granted, and a re-investment in the media and images circulating in the everyday. 1. Giorgio Agamben, ‘Shekinah’, The Coming Community, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis and London, p.86.
dissolution of work back into activity is revealing of its constitutive power and the limits of the state, or of sovereign value of any kind. The state can master the flows but it cannot control them once and for all. Implicit in this act of capture is the effect of that which escapes its grasp. If not effectively curtailed, the trickle can become a tidal wave. Once it reaches a certain level of fluidity, the apparatus can be reconstituted but not exactly as it was before. The effective strike disrupts the symbolic order by creating a new symbol, monstrous it its dimensions and productive in its capacity. It is interesting to compare the effect of a large-scale strike with large gatherings of
have theorised as the “multitude”. The multitude is opposed to the idea of the people – which Negri and Hardt say is a concept which emerged with the state – the dissolution of the ensemble of individuals into the One. The multitude by contrast is made of non-representable singularities that are beyond measure. It is this immeasurability that makes it such a threat to a system of control. “If on the one hand we oppose the multitude to the people,” Negri writes, “on the other hand we must put it in contrast with the masses and the plebs. Masses and plebs have often been terms used to describe an irrational and passive social force, violent and dangerous precisely by virtue of its being easily manipulated. On the contrary, the multitude is an
active social agent, a multiplicity that acts. Unlike the people, the multitude is not a unity, but viewing it in opposition to the masses and the plebs, we can see the multitude as something organised. In fact, it is an active agent of self-organisation.” The ability to self-organise, in new and unforeseen ways, is crucial to the success of the emerging protest movement and much has been made of the use of social media in doing so. But a further dynamism needs to be achieved if the movement is to become seriously consequential. Occupy Wall Street was an astonishing initial success in the symbol it created in the centre of the financial district and the shifting of the national discourse to include subjects, such as economic inequality, which were previously banished. But the failure of the massive constellation of people and energies in Zuccotti Park to morph into new forms and intervene in other symbolic fields showed a lack of imagination and understanding of the power networks. In the end the virus was contained whereas it could have easily spread. The creation of alternative social and communication networks is more important than any message of truth a movement might spread. If the state can be viewed as an act of capture, more thought needs to be given as to how to hijack and redirect its flows and gain agency within the technosphere. The energy of a massive strike can so quickly dissipate. More thought needs to be given into how to enable such energy to continue to circulate after the event so it becomes more forceful the next time round, until a true tipping is reached.
Towards a Theory of the Distracted Image Part One by Aaron Tan
The triumph of capitalist relations lie in the complete aestheticisation and abstraction of its own tragedy: in the wake of one of the worst financial crisis in modern history we see the capture and capitulation of contemporary modes of agitation and dissent to the single instant of a twitter hashtag. The production and expression of this aesthetic barbarity find its sustenance not so much in counter-forces of capitalist agency but in the mediating technics of capitalist reproduction and its transmission of the social. In this sense, the locus of capitalism’s self-alienation can be found in its technical reproductive body where mass culture works to structure and colonise collective experience. The communicative and informatic regime, pushed to the extreme in the Internet age, is an inhabited space of dispersed proximities, where different temporalities and geographies collide in real time producing a radical distribution and participation of social and cultural life. Central to this new modality is the production of another form of crisis, one that can be said to define the historical experience of capitalist modernity itself: the crisis of attentiveness. It is in this habitual space of human perception where this essay is interested in tracking its collective character, in so far as there can be said to be an unprecedented global inhabitation and reception of technological time with the Internet. I take my theoretical premise from Walter Benjamin’s formulation of a ‘reception in distraction’ and the ability of art to open up this psychic space to critically reflect an image of collective experience. The first part of this essay will expand on the philosophical stakes in Benjamin’s incomplete theory of distraction so as to animate the centrality of the historical distracted form in both his writings on a politics of art and his philosophical system at large. The essay will claim that a theory of the distracted image will
have to be read ontologically and dialectically so as to formulate a revolutionary materialist force of the artwork. The second part (which must await a later date) will be the projection of this expanded theory of distraction onto contemporary conditions of production. The question as to whether art can dwell in the time and space of the Internet will be pushed beyond the medium specific articulations (i.e. ‘Internet art’) into a dialectical space where the global character of the Internet can find its critical formulation and reconfiguration in the distracted image of art. In his canonical essay “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” 1 , Benjamin postulates the conceptual transformation of the artwork from its traditional Kantian format of contemplation to a new post-auratic one in technical reproducibility. For Benjamin in the 1930s, it was film that could embody this new transformation in both its technical structure and reproducibility, unlocking new modes of affective, perceptive and temporal connections that traditional art strove to represent. This radical shift of the function of art into a political one contains the potential to mobilise a collective body through the appropriation of capitalist technologies, alongside the burgeoning formation of the masses in modernity. Industrial forms were surpassing the bourgeois, representative role of art in society, be it the illusionary power of advertising or the communicative immediacy of the newsreel, shaping what we now term as mass culture. Benjamin’s philosophical investment in mass culture (although he never used this term) vis-à-vis the work of art was heretical to the Frankfurt School that he was associated with. The school’s caution against the ideological domination of mass culture in modern society can be seen in Theodor Adorno’s writings of the culture industry and its totalising administrative effects 2, where he juxtaposed ‘light art’ against his affirmation of the ‘autonomous artwork’ which has an auratic basis 3. For Adorno, the disengagement of the ‘autonomous’ artwork from society will foreclose the antagonisms of the latter, so as to dialectically reflect its utopic
truth content and the gap of reality- the non-existence of its existence. However, Benjamin’s competing dialectical structure of the artwork, perhaps influenced by Bertolt Brecht, would seek to fuse the pedagogical possibility of the artwork into the technological body of the masses via an alienating mediation. This mediation would be developed in the alienated reception of the masses, or more precisely in distracted reception, that till today remains largely under theorized. The conventional usage of distraction denotes a disengaged and partial reception to the object of attention, used metonymically for the abandonment to entertainment and its divergent forces in contemporary mass culture. The negative, ideological function of distraction in capitalism has been the subject of much scholarly research, both as a prolongation of work and the suppression of proletarian political consciousness. However, the positive theorization of distraction as a form of resistance under mass culture can solely be attributed to Benjamin and his ‘work of art’ essay (only anticipated by the work of his colleague Siegfried Kracauer); although it must be noted that Benjamin’s earlier writings on Brecht held the negative orthodox view on the subject4. A large part of the reason as to why his theory of distraction remains obscure is due to the fact that the theory itself was never completed. In the ‘work of art’ essay, distracted reception occupies just a small part before the epilogue, but its theoretical significance to Benjamin lie in a notational appendix to the second draft of the essay, entitled “Theory of distraction” 5. For Benjamin, distracted reception in its revolutionary format had to be understood both dialectically and ontologically, and his notes will serve to animate what will be core to Benjamin’s historical materialist project: an imagistic politics of art.
Distraction and destruction (word conjectured) as the subjective and objective sides, respectively, of one and the same process6 For Benjamin, the new possibilities contained in the development of forces of
production have to be dialectically constructed in its destruction7 of the auratic artwork. Distraction as ‘symptomatic of profound changes in apperception’ 8 was wearing out the contemplative state that the auratic artwork was traditionally received in, but this paves the way for a productivity of a new type of artwork, one which could seize the ideological mastery of technological forces and divert it into a collective body to ‘mobilise the masses’ 9. The fusing together of physis and technics towards a revolutionary aim was anticipated in his earlier writings on the poetic politics of the surrealist project in his blueprint of technology, body and image: The collective is a body, too. And the physis that is being organized for it in technology, can, through all its political and factual reality, only be produced in that image sphere which profane illuminations initiates us. Only when in technology, body and image so interpenetrate that all revolutionary tension becomes bodily collective innervation, and all the bodily innervation ofthe collective becomes revolutionary discharge, has really transcended itselfto the extent demanded by the Communist Manifesto . 10
Crucially, “reception in distraction” will act as the fulcrum that serves to animate his tripartite blueprint when Benjamin begun work on the ‘work of art’ essay. In one of the fragments in his theory on distraction, Benjamin enigmatically writes: “Reproducibility – distraction – politicisation” 11 . The collective body formulated in Benjamin’s first blueprint will become a distracted one- as the productive forces of reception acting under technical reproduction, distracted reception can express and construct a revolutionary image that was conceived by Marx. In the meeting of the two tripartite structures, a new constellation in Benjamin’s politics of art emerges: Technology = Reproducibility Body = Distraction Image = Politicisation The centrality of the collective body of the masses in Benjamin’s theory can only be articulated and organized in the collective inhabitation of the artwork, more specifically in the receptive
possibilities in the new medium of film. In his discussion of architecture as the prototype for the distracted space of an artwork, Benjamin asserts that the tasks of organizing human apperception cannot be achieved simply in contemplation, but crucially through a habitual reception that would fuse with the artwork: “the distracted mass absorbs the work of art” 12. The constant interruption of the moving images in film has the potential to create a new type of audience, one in which “the critical and the receptive attitudes of the public collide” 13 into a heightened but distracted state of mind. Art then, has a political and pedagogical function in which the image, both optically and philosophically, can liberate the collective kinetic body under domination in the culture industry, “correcting the process of reification which takes place in a work of art.” 14 Benjamin locates distraction as the counterdiscursive form immanent in mass culture, which the production of any revolutionary art has to take into account. This dynamics between the reception and production of the artwork has philosophical bearings in Benjamin’s thought, and a rethinking of the ontological constitution of the artwork will transport this writing of a politics of art into the contemporary technological context. The conceptual relationship of production and reception in the artwork can be mapped onto Benjamin’s idea of ‘forelife’ [Vorleben] and ‘afterlife’ [Nachleben] 15, conceived in his writings on Eduard Fuchs and expanded in the ruins of his incomplete opus, The Arcades Project. For Benjamin, the truth
of a historical phenomenon is constituted by its fore and afterlife, which emerges as the object enters into the present, and these dialectical forces acts upon the object in the social in as much as they themselves are changed by it: For the dialectical historian concerned with works ofart, these works integrate their fore-history as well as their after-history; and it is by virtue oftheir after-history that their fore-history is recognizable as involved in a continuous process of change. 16
We see the philosophical implications for both the artist and the cultural historian involved in historical materialist research: for the work of art to inhabit the space of the present and critically reconfigure its conditions, both the production and reception ontologically constituting the work have to be dialectically engaged in order for the historical force of the presentation to emerge. As a presentation in a state of social flux, the artwork has to critically refract the historical experience of the work through its conditions of production and vice versa, and it is here where distraction, as the productive forces of reception under mass culture, can serve to ontologically and dialectically mediate the artwork “as the present instant interpenetrates it.” 17 The inscription of the masses in distraction can congeal the dialectical forces acting onto the authentic artwork, where the production of an image of the collective can be possible. Thus, this essay’s claim that it is in the distracted image where the production and reception of the artwork can collide for revolutionary aims has to be
projected and brought into tension with the contemporary modality of inhabiting technology. As the state of distraction is pushed to the extreme in web-based technologies, we see that the character of collectivity in the inhabitation of the Internet will differ from traditional modes of technical reproduction in mass culture. In the global interconnectedness of the Internet where communicative content is consumed and produced in real time, the relation of art to its conditions of production and reception is radically challenged. The question as to how art can dwell in these new modalities and critically reconfigure this spatially diffused network of temporal (dis)connections will be explored in the second part of the essay. September 2012
1. Walter Benjamin, ‘The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction’, Illuminations, Hannah Arendt (ed.), Pimlico, UK, 1999, p. 211-244. 2. “But what is new is that the irreconcilable elements of culture, art and distraction, are subordinated to one end and subsumed under one false formula: the totality of the culture industry.” Theodor W. Adorno and Max Horkheimer, Dialectic ofEnlightenment, Verso, UK and USA, 2008, p. 136. 3. “In the work of art that duplication still occurs by which the thing appeared as spiritual, as the expression of mana. This constitutes its aura”. Op. cit., p. 19. 4. Howard Eiland, ‘Reception in Distraction’ in boundary 2, vol. 30, no. 1 (Spring 2003), p. 57-58. 5. Walter Benjamin, ‘Theory of Distraction’, Selected Writings, Volume 3, 1935-1938, Howard Eiland and Michael W. Jennings (ed.), Harvard University Press, USA and London, 2002, p. 141-142. 6. op. cit., p. 141. 7. In his discussion on the task of the historical materialist, Benjamin formulates: “‘Construction’ presupposes ‘destruction’”. Walter Benjamin, The Arcades Project, trans. Howard Eiland and Kevin McLaughlin, Cambridge, Mass. and London, 1999, p. 470. 8. Walter Benjamin, ‘The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction’, p. 233. 9. op. cit. 10. Walter Benjamin, Selected Writings, Volume 2, 1935-1938, Howard Eiland and Michael W. Jennings (ed.), Harvard University Press, USA and London, 2005, p. 217-8. 11. Walter Benjamin, ‘Theory of distraction’, p. 142. 12. Walter Benjamin, ‘The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction’, p. 232. 13. op. cit., p. 227. 14. Walter Benjamin, Selected Writings, Volume 3, 1935-1938, p. 269. 15. These terms have also been translated into ‘forehistory’ and ‘after-history’. 16. Walter Benjamin, Selected Writings, Volume 3, 1935-1938, p. 261. 17. Walter Benjamin, The Arcades Project, trans. Howard Eiland and Kevin McLaughlin, Cambridge, Mass. and London, 1999, p. 470.
Once a file is shared on the Internet, and the divider becomes either publisher or coÂauthor, its value changes. In this project (an exercise in signiďŹ cance), downloaded ďŹ les from The Pirate Bay are transformed into physical printed copies. Now, the material does not only grow in quantity but also in dimension. As the content is presented into a new metaphorical format, this way of multiplying digital property guides you to a new way to read the content. Manetta Berends
Local Time: Horotiu (1 6-Apr-201 2, 0900 +1 200)
Local Time1 are a collective of artists, writers and teachers based in Auckland, Aotearoa New Zealand. We facilitate sitespecific art projects and events with a particular interest in finding methodologies responsive to local and indigenous knowledge. While our previous projects have taken shape outside the gallery, our four week inhabitation of Gallery Two at St Paul St (16th April 11th May 2012) investigated the site of this universitybased gallery that sits above Nga Wai o Horotiu, “the waters of Horotiu”, a name traditionally given to the Queen Street area and the gullies that are bounded by Auckland University of Technology and The University of Auckland.
Taking the question of naming as our theme, we developed a multidisciplinary, practicebased research investigation with a wide range of collaborators, using the gallery as a site for display, discussion, and hospitality. The project aimed to involve the artistic and academic communities that are part of the gallery’s audience, increasing all participants’ knowledge of the site while also opening a range of questions about the role of the gallery in the colonial university and our own positions as practitioners, teachers, and publics between “educational” and “cultural” institutions. Local Time’s methods take a measure of the daily rhythms of where we are working, and the values and practices that determine them. Working “at work” this time, within the university and the gallery, we found ourselves on a familiar kind of contemporary “local time”: one that involves early starts and late finishes to combine making art and making a living. The actions, public events and more intimate gatherings that made up Local Time: Horotiu are as follows. * A 1994 Toyota Hilux Ute was re registered as “ARTUTE” the day before the Local Time project commenced. The ARTUTE enabled the relocation of the Suite Seven Collective’s 14 customcovered mattresses and floor mats from Artspace to St Paul St Gallery Two, for
use during screenings, panels and workshops.
* The gallery was used as a base for a studentled project to initiate a student group for Maori and Pasifika AUT art and design students. Coraallan Wickliffe and Morgan Tahapehi served over 100 guests in the gallery atrium in their “Fry For Kai” project supporting students on campus.
* Water was collected daily from Te Wai Ariki spring near the Auckland Law School to share with reading group participants and other guests. Each morning began with a reading group on Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak’s An Aesthetic Education in the Era of Globalization. * Tuesday evenings featured an open discussion of the project, clarifying our intentions, methods and discovering more about the knowledge of the site held in the school and community.
* Later in the evening on Tuesdays three screenings were held:
* On Saturday April 28th Local Time performed a boat action on the Waitemata Harbour, flying banners and flags from the Mahi Kai thundercat in support of the Aotearoa Is Not For Sale hikoi3.
* The climax of the occupation was a party on Wednesday May 9th. For the work Two Hour Opening, AUT Facilities were commissioned to uncover three manhole covers on the concourse directly in front of the Gallery Two window, providing a view of some of the waters underneath. The ARTUTE did duty as a chilly bin, cooling the beer in gallery one while a BBQ was served.
The Hornsey Film (dir. Patricia Holland), a 60 minute 1970 film recreating and reflecting on the studentled occupation of the Hornsey College of Art, May and June 1968.
Bastion Point: The Untold Story (dir. Bruce Morrison), a 44minute 1999 documentary on the 1977/78 occupation of Takaparawhau/Bastion Point led by the Orakei Maori Action Committee. This screening was graced by the attendance of Poppy Hawke, co producer Sharon Hawke and photographer John Miller.
* Jonty Valentine contributed his Risograph machine to make a number of posters during the exhibition (one of which is reproduced below). Taarati Taiaroa and Nell May have worked with the documentation of the show for the online platform www.elevatorcopy.org
Throughout all these events, a continuous stream of archival research into the history of the site was undertaken by Taarati Taiaroa and shared in the gallery space. This material, combined with information gathered during the other events, led to the development of a text written for the gallery’s written profile information, providing additional layers to the name St Paul Street and the history of its location.
Local Time are Danny Butt, Jon Bywater, Alex Monteith, Waka Huia, Series 2010/2011, Episode 21 | Nga Natalie Robertson. We Wai o Horotiu a 59minute documentary on the acknowledge the generous development of Nga Wai o Horotiu, the marae2 support of all who participated, at Auckland University of Technology in the and thank the St Paul St staff heart of Auckland's CBD. for the invitation to work in their space. * On Thursdays, two panel discussions were held: 1. <www.localtime.net> On May 3rd a panel on contemporary Maori public art featured Carin Wilson, Desna WhaangaSchollum, and Layne Waerea. It was accompanied by a titi (muttonbird) boilup and brisket boilup.
On May 10th a group heard stories and oral histories of what staff and student life has been like in the past at the local art schools of Elam, AUT (and ASA), and reflections on the pacing and timing of teaching and learning between then and now.
2. marae: a meeting area central to Maori customs and philosophy. The central built structure is the wharenui or meeting house, where ceremonial, social and political meetings take place according to that marae's specific protocols. 3. hikoi: a walk or march. The hikoi is a significant form of protest in the history of Maori activism for civil and political rights.
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qui l i c i è r e s ts e t o p t e ta n i er s s p o l i c d e s m a n i fe s e l e u ce q v er s t!) . E s t r a c i s te s e n p e c n n co s te s v oi l à u s ent des ge ns ? au … é t i ti o ar al s ai ne i dér és po a d i t l n m i e o c e s s u u l o l a ons am i q s ur l t des pr op nt des ha l a d y n c i to y e n n e s c b é c o i s o u e i n e a e r d n u n e a e s ti ué oi gn s et s ta n te i r e té m d e s c i to y e n té s q u e n u l Q v o i r l u tte r a t n m a n i fe e que om m tr o c i e de , s o n c p ta b l e l ’ i d é e v é c u d e s a e r e n p l u s d s m e b i e n t n e m me ce i ne ac i ie a s ti fi D eux i è qui r end ac ont une par t oi v ent s e j u i que. Le «r r e l ai ne» qu une c m u d Q u é b e n d e z o n e ( d d e s a v i e ) à d i r e s y s té r e s s i s te s « p i n a n t. C i te r l u n m o i t g ra d e s e c o i s e n e v e r o ti d i e n , c ’ e s i d i s a n t p r o s y s tè m e d o r a n t) s e r a i t e c o g u u i é s q d b m n i d Q ué l e r ac i s m e l e m or t de e pouv oi r b o n i m l e m a ti n a f e l , d g r i n e s c o n tr t» , c ’ e s t l ’ a e s r e l a ti o n ( A m i r K h a d d i r s e l è v e l a n pens a e r epr odui r e e m as c ul i ne qu’ A m i r K h s me u l tu r a l i s n te fo n t q u n a l i té p u b l i q , c r o y e z v o u c u l tu r e l l e ? u c r e t é s r ta r l’in per s on ar d? D e pl u e s a m i nor i t bat s u qu’ une i m po e é d s d e l a t c pur h er au nom e l p o i n l u s i n s u l ta n t u n ( e t l i s e n t u q m à i r r le nt p mm ta te s ’ ex p t c o n s l a e s t d ’ a u ta p o r ts e n c o e z p a s q u e p r i s d e s e ’ c , y s r n u e s ti o tr o g r a d e . C e e n t l e s tr a n l l e s . N e c r o u s s e r e z s u e m a i n . q a l r P o s e b e c e s t r é s q u i p r e n n i té s c u l tu r e . S i n o n , v o c i é té d e d o r é au Q u es per s onne de c es m i no et hom ogène v oy ons l a s s d s p a r ti e s o n t i s s u e s o i t u n i fo r m e r e d o n t n o u ô te d e C ) è l s i s l a n n e n a a r c tu j ou am n, d m ent a et de l te n s i o x E c r m o u v e e n d i c a ti o n s s Pa v es dan v ous ! l o r nos r e ins, e s z c as esjard e l D l s i e e e l u v u end ? Ré miniq us ent c or di a on, D o o s n r v o e z C B e r e e is Av i, Amb ebec o u to u r d n u a a q , u s s h p e Ab N ei g printem , Faiz n Lo 0 8 0 8 /u Kevin 8 , / t o n H ia t a ajah e tu d Le P h arha N siers/conflit F , Sophie is n s o ëlle De c o m /d Gwena urnalmetro. /jo <h t t p : / e > in purela
Buzz Off: Spatial Control through Audio Frequencies by Bopha Chhay
In 2008, a sonic device known as the Mosquito was being employed on estates in the United Kingdom, as a way to control groups or crowds of people. Its utility would discourage and disperse groups of teenagers from gathering in certain areas, by emitting a high-pitch sound causing physical discomfort. Referred to as an “anti” device, ‘anti-teen’, ‘anti-gang’, ‘antiloitering’, anti anything that could lead to potential disruption. The device emits a tone between 17.5kHz and 18.5kHz, which appears to be inaudible to people over 25, effectively exploiting the ability of people under 25 to pick up these higher frequencies. 1 After 5-10 minutes of being subjected to this frequency, it becomes irritating enough for those gathering within a distance of 15-20 meters to promptly leave the vicinity. A campaign -‘Buzz off’- was launched in opposition to the device, on the basis that it infringed human rights and discriminated by targeting youth. 2 Despite these concerns there were those who continued to support the implementation of the Mosquito within public urban spaces, to prevent groups from gathering, raising questions about the right to occupy public space. The overwhelming sensory attack, from audio irritants to invisible pain is reminiscent of the technological speculation of a science fiction narrative. Sensorial attributes have frequently been harnessed for the means of creating technological weapons and devices exploiting the sensory system through either deprivation or inundation. Similarly, smell has long been utilised as a weapon. The Israeli defense has since 2009 employed Skunk (a combination of chemical compounds combined to mimic the foul odor of its namesake) against rioters and protesters. 3 Seemingly harmless, the chemical concentration produces an odor-based chemical weapon. While these technologies are often referred to as devices, they more accurately possess the attributes of weaponry. More recently, during this year's
Olympic Games in London, another form of sonic weapon, the Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD) remained on standby. While the mosquito was deemed a low-level sonic device, the LRAD upped the ante with its ability to actually harm. Official statements have referred to the LRAD as an acoustic device used to communicate and transmit messages over a greater distance than an ordinary loudspeaker. This seems more a case of manipulating semantic nuances, as those standing within range and proximity of the device are subjected to directed and intensified frequencies which cause headaches and potentially permanent auditory damage. The installation and the presence of such weapons are legitimised under legislation enforcing counter-terrorism measures. LRADs have become a regular security feature on cruise ships, in which they have effectively prevented attacks from pirates. 4 More often they are employed as an arm of law enforcement in opposition to protests and demonstrations at large scale international events such as the G20. Alongside the hype and speculation on the impending success of countries dominating the Olympic medal board as an indication of economic and political global muscle, the news during the lead up to the games was also punctuated with stories on the security measures being established throughout the city. It is seemingly apt that discussions surrounding the deployment of surveillance technologies such as the LRAD and missiles stationed on civilian rooftops should be raised in relation to the Olympic Games held in London5, since as a city, London has long epitomised Orwellian ideas of surveillance and the subsequent control of space. Determined and justified by international events such as the Olympic Games, the militarization of the city is something Giorgio Agamben refers to in State ofException , whereby during crisis situations the state is vested with an increase in power to impose repressive measures which may override the individual rights of a citizen, to protect and safeguard the interests of the state. Largescale international events may harness forms of dissent, calling
for heightened surveillance and control, which the state quickly deems permissible under the banner of ‘counter-terrorism’ activities. Counter-terrorism acts here as a blanket justification for the withholding of the law and civil rights against anything that could be construed as a potential threat to the state. The justification of heavy surveillance is a starting point in which to question responses by the state and the control of the space of the city and its citizens. What are the shared interests and imperatives at stake that call for heightened surveillance and control of the city during events such as the Olympic Games? 6 The research of urban geographer Stephen Graham has focused on what he describes as the new military urbanism, technologies going beyond CCTV and online tools such as Google Earth, where military style surveillance means civilians are subjected to constant scrutiny, leading to the subsequent control of aspects of everyday life. 7 Graham discusses how the infrastructure of surveillance, while considered temporary during high profile international events such as the Olympics, is in fact left in place, with surveillance technologies becoming imposed and part of the permanent security fabric of the city, and essentially part of the quotidian without little awareness by citizens. Indiscriminate surveillance presupposes a criminal potential lying within the urban fabric. George Orwell's fictive account of the all-seeing eye of the state in 1984 resonates with Foucault's discussion of the structure of The Panopticon (designed by the English philosopher and jurist Jeremy Betham) which influenced the spatial planning and architectural design of prisons characterized by a model of vigilant observation at its core. The continual deployment of the LRAD as an extension of law enforcement against opposition protests and demonstrations at international events not only raises questions about technological forms of spatial control but also the right to demonstrate and democratically speak in opposition to the ideas being espoused and reinforced at such international events. The Mosquito is indicative of the way technologies of control may
not be immediately visible, but can create deep seated feelings of anxiety, determining one's relation to oneself, constituting a form of biopolitics. While surveillance technologies can create the illusion of security, it also has the ability to increasingly define the subject's relation to public space and its potential for agency. Foucault has described this violation of privacy through the infrastructure of surveillance as a type of “colonisation of space”. Considered unproductive, the act of loitering is seen to disrupt the flows of capital. In its ability to deter loitering, the Mosquito acts as an affective form of fortification, by forcing people to keep moving. Urban housing estates, shopping malls and businesses have reacted to loitering by employing such devices as the Mosquito, discriminating against certain groups, predominantly children and young adults who frequent these areas and public spaces. Strategies of surveillance have regulated the behaviour of citizens and by deterring an idleness, has enabled an increasing privatization of public space. 1. “‘Anti-teen’ security device ban”, BBC News, 13 June 2008, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/kent/745 3675.stm. 2. Tamasin Ford, “Sonic mosquito 'demonises teens'”, BBC News, 12 February 2008, http://news.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/hi/newsbeat/newsid_ 7241000/7241090.stm. 3. Ned Beauman, “Law and Odor: Scent as a Chemical Weapon” In Cabinet, Issue 46, 2012, p. 3638. 4. Adam Blenford, “Cruise lines turn to sonic weapons”, BBC News, 8 November 2005, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/4418748.stm. 5. Gavin Thomas, “Sonic device deployed in London during Olympics”, BBC News, 12 May 2012, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london18042528 and Richard Norton-Taylor, “London tower block residents lose bid to challenge Olympic missiles”, Guardian , 10 July 2012, http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/2012/jul/10/residents -tower-government-olympicmissiles?INTCMP=SRCH. 6. While the philosophy of the games heralds unified goals through sports, the Olympic Games itself has often staged political forms of opposition through boycott. 7. Stephen Graham, Cities Under Siege: The New Military Urbanism , Verso, London / New York, 2010.
Sport, Shopping and Walking by Shama Khanna
It has taken me longer than I expected to start writing about my thoughts on the Olympic development, and the Olympicsized shopping centre recently arrived in Stratford. I’ve found it hard to reconcile my enjoyment of shopping and people watching, which are both much in evidence at Westfield Stratford City, with my other desire to connect with (to see myself within) the city through unfettered walking, passeggiata, Debordian derive, call it what you will. In this sense, it’s interesting to consider famous urban walker Iain Sinclair who writes as if he’s in the process of absorbing the city into his consciousness as he goes and when he rubs against something as inorganic as the Olympics, he blisters. In a review of Sinclair’s latest book Ghost Milk , Robert MacFarlane describes the title’s reference to the bureaucratic effluvia produced by Newham Council and the Olympic Development Authority in the name of topdown regeneration: “Ghost milk” is Sinclair's term for the cultural ooze that such projects exude: all those delivery documents, those primary strategic objectives, those maquettes and futuramas of the world-to-be. “Ghost milk,” he writes, means “CGI smears . . . Real juice from a virtual host. Embalming fluid. A soup of photographic negatives . . . The universal element in which we sink and swim. . . . Ghost milk will swill away ‘Ghost Milk’” 1 Even by believing the best intentions of Olympism, of teamwork and sportsmanship, regeneration never seems to be in the interests of developing the economic prospects of the people already living there. Campaigner David Harvey speaks about how undemocratic these initiatives are, with developers simply confining their social responsibility to the appendices of big building plans. The affordable housing made available through the Legacy will only be around 20% less than the market price, which is more than the people who lived there before could afford. With the increasing privatisation of public space – the
rise of gated communities and concierge-assisted apartment blocks, I doubt that those who do move in will feel the need to, or feel safe to contribute to the street life of the place. Nor, I guess will this concern register for the Qataris and other foreign investors who are now the new remote landlords of most of these developments sold off by Newham. In this climate, Harvey’s proposal of a “right to return” for evicted residents, if they would have anything of their old communities to return to in the first place, seems like nothing more than a utopian pipe dream. ***
Sinclair talks generally about our surveillance culture, the irony of being filmed by CCTV cameras 24/7, but as soon as we groundlings attempt to take pictures ourselves we’re quickly clamped down on. But during a recent visit to Stratford with artist Nina Manandhar with the express aim of taking photographs we weren’t interrupted at all. For me this was an anticlimax. My brain,
trained extensively in critical theory, recognised this situation as a neoliberal double bluff to increase the sense of paranoia i.e. they’re allowing us rather than we’re getting one over on them. I realised how defensive my reactions had become, my journey rebranded according to what MacFarlane perceptively describes as “flâneurism radically repurposed, a kind of weaponised walking.” Analysing my reactions once I’d reached home, I thought perhaps rather than paranoia, it was disappointment I felt in failing to imagine whatever, or whoever existed in this space before the developers started work just 4 years ago. Other elephants in the room include the pressing news that radioactive thorium, which was exposed and inadequately contained during the demolition of the Clays Lane Housing Estate in order to make way for the Athletes’ Village, now blights the whole site with low levels of contamination. And crowding the room still further, the missile launchers positioned on rooftops around Hackney, pointing towards the airspace above the enclosure, ready to intercept who knows what, falling onto who knows what? And finally, topping this list of depressing reality checks, this week (29 June) a fatal stabbing incident took the life of a young man while he walked along with friends on level 2 of the shopping centre. If it didn’t
sound so much like fiction, it might be easier to take the whole situation at face value. *** Reading David Foster Wallace’s essay “How Tracy Austin Broke My Heart” helped me consider why sport might be as effective as “ghost milk” at deflecting political criticism. Writing about his disillusionment on reading an obtuse autobiography by his teenage crush, child tennis prodigy Tracy Austin, Wallace realises that there is no imperative for sportspeople to self-analyse their talent: It is not an accident that great athletes are often called “naturals, ” because they can, in performance, be totally present: they can proceed on instinct and muscle-memory and autonomic will such that agent and action are one. Great athletes can do this even — and, for the truly great ones like Borg and Bird and Nicklaus and Jordan and Austin, especially — under wilding pressure and scrutiny. They can withstand forces ofdistraction that would break a mind prone to a selfconscious fear in two. Those who receive and act out the gift ofathletic genius must, perforce, be blind and dumb about it — and not because blindness and dumbness are the price ofthe gift, but because they are its essence. 2
So therefore we could say in
sport, when our bodies outperform our rational minds, any attempt at criticism falls away. I can’t help but wonder if this analogy can be applied to shopping in a recession? Foucault’s theory of biopolitics, of control administered at the level of our bodies’ basic needs, points to an insidious reality where we’re not sure why we end up following a certain pattern of behaviour, craving accessories to idealised lifestyles we can’t attain, or discriminating against people without recourse to knowing why. Less metaphysically, Rule 51 of the International Olympic Committee’s official charter (last updated in 1992) outlines how “No kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas.” Increasing in strength, it seems the Stateʼs growing repressive force is perceived as a necessary sacrifice to live our lives free from hostility which we are told is a constant threat anyway. Looking at an overview of the Games, the clamp down on free political expression commensurate with the rise in
security measures and capitalist motivations seems to have begun some time ago: since the Games held in Berlin in 1936, where sporting perfection was marketed as synonymous with the ideals of the reigning fascist ideology; through to the politically fraught 1968 Olympics in Mexico City remembered for the Black Power salutes of the victorious US athletes, and the brutally suppressed protests of students outside; the police violence against the Israeli team and their Palestinian captors in 1972; and the anti-apartheid and Cold War boycotts by key sports teams during the 70s and 80s 3, the Olympics have now become known as a cash cow, rather than a place of non partisan sport. Lucrative broadcasting deals, sponsorship by the biggest brands (the Stratford flagship branch of McDonalds is probably the only one you can see from space) and merchandising are the magic words which open doors without, in Wallace’s words, “self-conscious fear” of the livelihoods existing on either side – before and after – the development.
1. Photo: Sydney Hart
2; 8-9; 12. Photos of the popular movement in 2012 in Quebec by Thien V Qn quelquesnotes.wordpress.com
livedspace issue 1 Fall 2012 2nd edition
4-5. These images are part of a larger Graduation Project by Manetta Berends www.manettaberends.nl
Design: Sydney Hart
6. Photo: Local Time; Map designed by Taarati Taiaroa and Jonty Valentine from action by Local Time 7. Floating Easement by Melissa Laing; Special Event, poster design by Jonty Valentine from image by Local Time 11. Photos: Nina Manandhar www.ninamanandhar.com
Although for the most part the trip was disappointing, the act of walking we performed at Westfield, taking pictures and talking to people who seemed to be taking ownership of the space – canoodling on the seating outside, parading around in curlers in anticipation of the night out ahead, relaxing in the indoor piazzas – helped me to connect a little with this peculiar urban scene. But at the same time, it seems important to be able to form a mental picture of the frame before and after – a future and a past —just as you would in any journey, which for the reasons laid out here, and after the news of the stabbing this week, I find it near impossible to do.
1. David Foster Wallace, “How Tracy Austin Broke My Heart” In Consider the Lobster and Other Essays, Little, Brown and Company 2005 2. Robert MacFarlane “Iain Sinclair's struggles with the city of London,” Guardian 15 July 2011 http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2011/jul/15/ghostmilk-iain-sinclair-olympics 3. Jules Boycoff, “The Anti-Olympics,” New Left Review 67 Jan – Feb 2011 http://www.newleftreview.org/II/67/jules-boykoff-theanti-olympics
Editors: Bopha Chhay and Sydney Hart Publisher: LIVEDSPACE Publications #102, 349 East 7th Avenue Vancouver, BC Canada V5T 1M9 ISSN
Thanks to Jaz Halloran, Jeff Khonsary, Brian McBay, Layla Tweedie-Cullen and Asumi Mizuo of split/fountain. livedspace is a research and publishing organisation investigating the social production of space in relation to modern and contemporary cultural production www.livedspace.org email@example.com Printed by the Newspaper Club www.newspaperclub.com All content © 2012 the authors, artists and contributors