[-empyre-] Reply to Anna's questions...

Will Pappenheimer willpap at gmail.com
Sat Oct 24 14:45:09 EST 2009

On Oct 21, 2009, at 11:52 AM, Lichty, Patrick wrote:

> author/producer/reader/consumer/editor/intervener/etc. has become  
> such a set of flickering signifiers


I went to a panel discussion entitled "Changing Labor Value" recently,  
featuring works by your sometimes collaborator Scott Kildall and  
others. The panelists, Andrew Ross and Tiziana Terranova, and the  
ongoing conference were connected with Trebor Scholz and his concerns.  
Summarizing their presentations would be difficult here but I think  
are worth mentioning. The network content or knowledge "commons",  
which emerges from the reader/producer flows (Roland Barthes), is also  
becoming co-opted by an adapting business model which seeks free labor  
for its capital. I don't think Barthes anticipated this nor would he  
be so pleased. The labor and capital in this case is of course derived  
from social relations in participatory media. Each time you write an e- 
mail in Google, for example, related advertisers pop up. This is a  
situation developing in very recent years and I am myself a huge fan  
of these media, However, I am mindful of this turn. The panelists in  
the conference were extremely pessimistic about what it will mean for  
the labor value, paradoxically, even for the compensation of writing.  
The rise of reality television, its extensions in YouTube, are what  
Andrew Ross describes as a "jackpot economy"  in which the audience it  
is supposedly the authors (for free) but only one or two participants  
win, not to mention the producers. Foucault has more insights into  
this picture (Panopticon). When asked about what the art world had to  
offer, the panelists painted a similar scenario.

I don't mean to say that I agreed with every aspect of their analysis,  
nor that it represents a doomsday picture of network culture, nor that  
I believe it is fully representative of what we do as network artists,  
but simply that is a flip-side of the developing picture that needs to  
be considered. So I think we must be careful in conflating "author/ 
producer/reader/consumer/editor/intervener/etc." as one persona, and  
that's what you perhaps meant to by "flickering"?  In some significant  
way it makes me think of "wrestling" with language...

Will Pappenheimer
Assistant Professor, Digital Art
Pace University, New York

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