[-empyre-] Fwd: Minor Simulations, Major Disturbances

Beatriz da Costa beatrizdacosta at earthlink.net
Fri Apr 16 03:14:19 EST 2010

Dear Jo, Rita et al,

Thank you all for your thoughtful postings, I am glad I finally joined  
-empyre- and am getting the opportunity to follow such a lively  
Amidst all the events down at UCSD and the responses and comments on  
this list, my initial thoughts seem to be most closely aligned with  
Jo's statement below and Rita's dire summation of the university as an  
"institution of control" that clearly has the ability to distinguish  
between scholarship about activism and activism itself (and yes,  
writing is of course a form of "making," but one that fits in much  
more neatly with the rubrics of academia). Sadly, I am not surprised  
at all about UCSD's behavior towards Ricardo and EDT's work.  
California is broke, the UC system is in deep trouble (to say the  
least), and overall the senate faculty has been playing along with  
this situation just fine. Some letters, some really smart ones  
indeed :), some protests, some attempts at organizing, but most of us  
are still going in to teach our classes and attend meetings in the  
same way we always did. Some of us have used the funding crises and  
increased push towards privatization of the UC as an educational  
backdrop to sharpen the political literacy of our students, and in  
many ways the publicity around the bang.lab events appears to have a  
similar effect. However, what this situation really seems to indicate  
is a somewhat broken approach to the negotiation between Tactical  
Media and academia. We can't simultaneously ride a career as  
"interventionist artists," claim a political edge and demand funding,  
space and support from an institution like Calit2. It simply won't  
work, at least not in the long run. Eventually, the support will  
either stop, or the political "edge" won't be quite as edgy anymore.  
Its a wonderful thing while it lasts, and kudos to everyone who tried.  
For a while, we really seemed to have quite a few Tactical Media  
enclaves splattered between different universities in various parts of  
the country. But there is a time stamp on these moments of convergence  
and activity, and we shouldn't really be surprised by that. Operating  
in plain daylight is one strategy, and apparently the one the bang.lab  
has chosen up to date. But it seems that Tactical Media has equipped  
us with a few other tools that might be worth revisiting in this  
context. de Certeau's describes his rendering of the french "wig"  
concept to us in the following way: "La perruque is the worker's own  
work disguised as work for his employer. It differs from pilfering in  
that nothing of material value is stolen. It differs from absenteeism  
in that the worker is officially on the job. La perruque may be as  
simple a matter as a secretary's writing a love letter on "company  
time" or as complex as a cabinetmaker's "borrowing" a lathe to make a  
piece of furniture for his living room ... ."
If the window for passing politicized tactical media tool development  
as legitimate research activity is closing, maybe its time to change  
wigs? Or is it just a matter of never using our tools in any way that  
could be traced back to the university? I don't know. I tried the  
latter a few years ago, and it horribly failed.

On a much more mundane note: could anyone provide an update about what  
is actually happening now at UCSD? I checked the bang.lab website, and  
the last posting appears to be from last week. What happened since?

In solidarity,
Beatriz da Costa

excerpt Jo-Anne Green post:
> You can't accept grants, teach at a university, and desire tenure
> without these negotiations and compromises. The best one can do is
> enter these negotiations armed with knowledge, awareness, and a well
> thought out strategy for the best possible outcomes for your project.

Beatriz da Costa


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