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

marc sparkle at c-level.cc
Fri Apr 16 16:30:14 EST 2010

As a constant adjunct, it initially saddened me initially to read the  
assessment Beatriz and others of radical politics on campus.
Ever the idealist, the university I think, should to be home to the  
possibility  of a gainful employment that allows for the expression of  
political and cultural desires. While I clearly understand the  
distinction between work about activism and activism itself, is it not  
the just thing to do to demand the ability to make the activism? I am  
here specifically making a distinction between scholarship (in this  
case, art) and teaching(which is powerful in its own way when giving  
the students the tools for free and generative thought).  Scholarship,  
our creative labor, is ultimately a question of free speech, not paid  
work. While I can fully acknowledge the reality of giving up the  
ground already lost, I would argue that here, on our territory, that  
its worth while to demand our right to return (to a place there never  
was...) So, "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."
Why not? Or better, why not try and see if it sticks?

> If the window for passing politicized tactical media tool  
> development as legitimate research activity is closing, maybe its  
> time to change wigs?

Then again, yes perhaps  it is time. Perhaps there is a time stamp.

I do think there are at least 2 things to remember:

1. The difference between strategies (long term goal oriented motion)  
and tactics (positioning.)
(we published this piece with a good little something on this ...http://www.journalofaestheticsandprotest.org/new3/thompson.html) 
  by Nato Thompson a few years back.

2. What can be done outside of the university. A lot. Remember, very  
few movements begin in universities.

But, for the sake of this topic, lets keep the role of the independent  
academic in mind.
Smartmeme (smartmeme.org), coming out of the bay area radical non- 
profit complex, applies tactical media in explicit relationship to  
movements. They approach their work in an educational mode with  
movements if the project allows it.
Recently, I have noticed academics and artists begin to play with the  
idea of  group that explicitly applies aesthetic and cultural  
knowledge to movements (college of tactical culture, Institute for  
Aesthetic Research etc...) A post on the Groundswell blog by Chris  
Kennedy asks a great question of these recent incarnations that  
applies both to academia about movements AND movement artwork from  
within academia "but I can’t help but wonder – what if anything comes  
from these projects if they are temporary or event-based….how can we  
move beyond art as an event-economy in many ways – can the idea of  
this “Institute” be something long term and meaningful for an actual  
situated community"

Explicitly in regards to the  UC situation; many folks including Micha  
Cardenas and myself strategically organized a project in relationship  
to the UC situation (and neoliberalism in general) through an outside  
agitator (the Public School in Los Angeles). The project (either The  
UC Strikes and Beyond, or Beyond the UC Strikes at http://occupyeverything.com/) 
  uses the distanced pedestal of the exterior to help create  
solidarity between and outside of UC campuses. It was thrilling that  
during one of the groups' events (the 2 day Continental Drift Seminar)  
to hand out March 4th strike posters printed with UC money to students  
who'd come from some of the quieter UC's to tune in to the radical  
spirit of both the movement and the event.

The institution is only solid in retrospect.

Marc Herbst


On Apr 15, 2010, at 10:14 AM, Beatriz da Costa wrote:

> 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 discussion.
> 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
> www.beatrizdacosta.net
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
> http://www.subtle.net/empyre

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <https://mail.cofa.unsw.edu.au/pipermail/empyre/attachments/20100415/8f88ff95/attachment.html>

More information about the empyre mailing list