[-empyre-] time, context, participation?

Johannes Birringer Johannes.Birringer at brunel.ac.uk
Fri Oct 23 06:19:21 EST 2009

hello all

this last longer post by Gregory Ulmer was not easy to read, and partly i began to stop, reading,  and then went back to a post a few days ago, by Ian M Clothier  -- about contexts and context shifts.
Did not also several commentators bring up the issue of "time" again, and the simultaneities of (different) threads at some same time?  
this month i cannot seem to focus, although the subject appears to be clear ---- networked_book, collaborative/participatory writing...

i had a little time today and went to the networkedbook.org/  - to have a look at the participations and the transformations or changes in the writings, and then i tried to leave a commentary (observations on lack of comments and participation) in/on alongside Anna Munster's "Data Undermining"  - thinking my comment on the lack of comments would show up on the right side, that large empty margin (inviting duets, layers in the score....), but it didn't, it got sucked away and disappeared, apparently when you post comments they are moderated/screened first. this has probably been pointed out and i had forgotten.

"leaving a reply" is not participation.  It is like (mis)placing a coat in the coathanger room and forgetting it. 

now,  I gather there's not much participation happening in the networked book site; yet there is in the empyre list, i have enjoyed the discussions at times - especially recently the remarks made on "infrastructural aspects of networked practices" and the harmless and non-transgressive nature of (networked)(media)(activist) art.

What, if i may ask Anna, are the interesting shifts " in aesthetic and design practice toward the underlying conditions in which knowledge is currently and might differently be produced in networked cultures" -- if you are trying to collaborate on new knowledge production in this context (networked book), and this context, it appears to me, is not what Ian asked for 

2. Context that is media independent. 
Much context to date is dependent on the media that is under discussion however there must be a context on practice that is not limited by media. Everyone knows that net.art is not a category like 'sculpture' but we currently persist in media associated context. 

3. Context that is not necessarily anchored in a sense of place. 
This is necessary because media practice is occurring within, beyond and in-between the art/museum institution and the broader spacetime of social communication media and it's adjuncts. Social communication media are driving creative possibilities rather than vice versa. 

4. Context that is relevant multi-culturally. Really important in global context, many are all a little tired of Western only context.

5. Context that is shared. Rather than singular contextual identity (Foucault, Baudrillard, Hayles, Manovich) context is provided by several simultaneously (us).


I am particularly worried that Gregory's frame of academic references is precisely what Ian is hoping it would not be.

If I misunderstood Ian's post, then can we have a discussion please, and also a closer look, if possible, at these contexts and how you would mash up (here on soft_skinned_space?), or  alter the languages, modes of collaboration, cultural perspectives,  etc, multiplying the contextual identites away from the naming that occurs here. 

Lastly, the issue of generational differences interests me of course (Alan Sondheim, i trust, was not born digital), and i wish to know more about what it takes to be born digital or grown digital, and why this would matter in the discussion on the participatory writing.  i don't see much participatory writing (in book or essay or diary or dissertation form), since, as in a dance, as I tried to explain to Anna's Data Undermine margin, 
you need breathing room, open spaces, gaps, intervals where you can see / hear an other move, perceiving how such movement evolves and unfolds. 

 The texts in the networked_book site don't have that rhythm,  they seemed static, en bloc, blcoked or blocking,  but then again, i have very little experience with electronic (mutlmedia writing) literary practices.  I am not sure about any of the claims made for the consumer as author.  Therse claims never worked in the theatre either. 


johannes birringer
director, DAP Lab
School of Arts 
Brunel University
West London 
UB8 3PH   UK

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