[-empyre-] answers and comments

Gabriel Menotti gabriel.menotti at gmail.com
Fri Aug 8 01:13:26 EST 2008

Hello again ppl!

I was taking my time to accumulate and comment a lot of things
together, but I think it's best to go 'release early, release often'
style to favour the debate. ^^

Here are the answers to marcus' questions and a brief consideration
about anna's post. I'll get back later with other ideas sprawled from
what Marc and Sarah said.


>could you talk a bit further about the lawsuit you mentioned? Do you
>think it happened only because you decided to host your project on an
>institution? Wasn't it part of a broader process of misunderstandings
>:about the role of p2p in culture?

I don't think media companies misunderstand p2p architecture and the
way it produces new cultural models. But they stick to the old rules
and regulations, because it protects and reinforces the cultural model
in which they can exist.

The technical-technologic structure of movie distributors (for
example) is directly related to the way they work, which only makes
sense in relation to a certain kind of production model, and if the
market is organized in a given way (in the end, it all has to do with
how profit is made, isn't it?).

(That's way new media institutions can't take these big institutions
savoir-faire as a model – it's not just a difference of scale
(big-small) and hierarchy (vertical-horizontal). We are doing complete
different things, in completely different socio-mediatic-economic

About the lawsuit:  we were taken as a scapegoat. If we were just an
independent group, we could get under the radar quite easily, and they
would keep targeting bittorrent and pirate dvd sellers. Because of our
link to the university, they had where to aim.

As a rule of thumb, the more technology you use (be it digital, social
or legal), the more vulnerable you get (to lawsuits and general
protection failures).

> Also, I was wondering why you guys screened blockbusters when
>you could have chosen other materials (like in Platoniq's Burn-Sation,
>for example, http://www.platoniq.net/eng/fbstation2.html)...

It's nice to get a million dollar movie, made (mainly) for the profit
of the producers, and use it just as an excuse to get people together
(and off multiplexes). Like using pirate windows to hack into
microsoft servers: it adds insult to injury. ^^

But we should also consider that, from the point of view of
consumption, there's not much difference between Batman the Dark
Knight, Les Quatre Cents Coups and Revolution OS.

All these movies were made to be seen in the same way. It doesn't
matter if they advocate in favor of free software or just tell the
story of the psychotic vigilante of gotham. The relation they expect
the audience to stablish with them is equal. The structure in which
they expect to be difused and exhibited is the same.

So, why not the blockbusters? For us, it's not the work shown that
matters, but what the audience can take from it; what the audience is
capable of doing with it. The remix, as a modality of critical media
consumption (and not production) is an extreme case of this

It seems to me that new media architectures do not create new models
for cultural interfaces automaticaly; they do things like making
production vulnerable and "empowering" the audience. The reform (or
even complete dissolution) of institutional structures should come in
response to this.


> In a very similar way but on a much smaller scale, my research
> project involves the same thing - if I want to see people's work and
>engage with their processes, I need to meet up with them and travel
>and so I need funds and so I get them from an institution - the university.

Well, that's one situation in which digital communication networks can
allow us to work differently, and go beyond of (the bigger)
institutions. To see other people's work (be it pictures of it or the
works/ processes themselves, provided that they are networked), I only
have to connect. The amount of resources needed to connect is much
fewer than the ones needed to travel abroad, for example.

(*hint hint*)

(Through networks: that's how we could get movies before brazilian
distributors, movies they couldn't get at all, paying almost nothing
for it.)

It may seem just a difference of scale, but that changes a lot what it
means to distribute movies, see artworks or do research. Having the
right password, the right .torrent file, you don't have to have money
to buy a book or rent a movie. Metadata comes into play - with new
responsabilities, new ways to generate meaning and value and to
structure cultural interfaces.


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