[-empyre-] tactical media & the university

micha cardenas azdelslade at gmail.com
Mon Apr 26 11:36:00 EST 2010

As I said at our rally/sit-in at the visual arts department the last
time ricardo went in to meet with the vice-chancellor, i think its
very important to also see this action not only in the context of a
broader set of hundreds of investigations and prosecutions against
people involved in actions on march 4th, but also in the context of
the strategy of budget cuts and reducing the number of tenured
professors any way possible, despite the polite statements of
disagreement from just about everyone. I would speculate that if the
visual arts department lost a tenured faculty member, they would never
get the funding to replace ricardo.

I also wonder what is next for this movement, and this is where the
the questions of civil disobedience become important, because as
someone said to me at UC Davis, the administration doesn't care if you
have hundreds of people sitting outside of their investigatory
meeting, they're just grinding along with the process. And while I'm
not sure that is totally true, (perhaps someone with more experience
in academia than me can attest to that) I think that the hundreds of
people engaging in actions like occupations, strikes and freeway
takeovers in the last few months indicate to people that simply making
our dissent is not enough, direct action will be necessary to change
the course of or prevent or route around the neoliberalization of the

2010/4/15 Green Jo-Anne <jo at turbulence.org>:
> Hi Rita,
> You wrote "it’s not at all surprising and even not contradictory for a
> university to tenure someone on the basis of ECD and then one year later
> make noises about how the matter needs reinvestigation ... it is ...
> consistent with the university’s function as an institution of control, one
> that works by continuous monitoring and assessment."
> This "continuous monitoring and assessment" is both internal and external,
> and it's often the external forces that pressure it to reassess. So that,
> internally, it might support ECD but when external pressure is applied it
> backtracks and appears to contradict itself.
> Warm Regards,
> Jo
> On Apr 14, 2010, at 3:43 PM, Rita Raley wrote:
> Hello, all, and thanks to Renate and Tim for organizing this discussion. As
> I said to them, I wish that this were not the occasion for my delurking but
> here we are. I have very much enjoyed the contributions thus far and am
> looking forward to more.
> One note to start: as chance would have it, Ricardo Dominguez and Amy
> Carroll visited UC Santa Barbara this past Friday to give a talk on
> "Dislocative Media: The Transborder Immigrant Tool as Aesthetic Sustenance."
> We had been planning the visit for about a year and certainly in different
> circumstances but, as it turned out, their presentation on the TBT was all
> the more powerful for its incorporation of all of the utterances (hate mail
> included) that are situated under the rubric of "response." We are working
> on the video and I hope to be able to circulate it by Thursday at the very
> latest.
> http://lcm.english.ucsb.edu/?p=513
> Because we have to begin where we are, the point of entry for me into this
> conversation is to think about the differences between writing about
> tactical media and actually doing it. I am aware of course of the ways in
> which that distinction can be complicated and am certainly willing to think
> about the extent to which writing can have a material effect on the world,
> but I cannot imagine a university calculus that would regard (even “count”)
> a book and an act – even if it were but one instance in a larger
> “performative matrix” – in the same terms.  So, from the university’s
> perspective, all of the critical discourse on tactical media, including
> Ricardo’s own essays on ECD, is valuable because it can so to speak be
> written under the sign of research.  But an actual act of ECD crosses the
> line from saying to doing (again these are institutional optics).  Even the
> Transborder Immigrant Tool as an object is legitimate in a gallery
> exhibition but illegitimate when put to actual use.  Geert is on the same
> page here in his delineation of different strategies of solidarity, one that
> would align with “strategies, tools and fights” and one that would embrace
> the mantle of academic freedom.  Put more crudely, universities like us to
> write about activism; they just don’t like us to be activists.
> Here, too, one would have to consider both the ways in which certain
> practices have been coded as legitimate (writing letters to the editor) and
> others illegitimate (ECD) and the different matrices in which such
> distinctions are drawn (ECD was ostensibly permissible when the targets were
> Mexican servers).  All of which is to say that the Corpiversity, as Arthur
> says a paradigmatic instance of “technocratic liberalism with rationalist
> excess,” works with such amorphous metrics – “excellence,” “innovation” –
> that it maintains the privilege of deciding what is valuable and legitimate
> in the context of its core mission at that particular moment.  Even the
> noted evangelical scholar whose endorsement of evolution can be coded as
> “free speech” can suddenly become illegitimate, which is to say not
> Excellent, and summarily dismissed.  This for me is the truly unsettling
> aspect of what now has to be understood as a juridical case:  it’s not at
> all surprising and even not contradictory for a university to tenure someone
> on the basis of ECD and then one year later make noises about how the matter
> needs reinvestigation.  On the surface it appears to be a contradiction but
> it is in fact absolutely consistent with the university’s function as an
> institution of control, one that works by continuous monitoring and
> assessment.  As we well know, however, control and discipline are not
> mutually exclusive so on a purely practical level I think it may be time to
> start a legal defense fund.
> Onwards,
> Rita
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Rita Raley
> Associate Professor of English
> Director, Literature.Culture.Media Center
> UC Santa Barbara
> Santa Barbara, CA 93106-3170
> raley.english.ucsb.edu
> _______________________________________________
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> http://www.subtle.net/empyre
> Jo-Anne Green
> Co-Director
> New Radio and Performing Arts, Inc.
> 917.548.7780 or 617.522.3856
> Turbulence: http://turbulence.org
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> Networked_Music_Review: http://turbulence.org/networked_music_review
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micha cárdenas / azdel slade

Lecturer, Visual Arts Department, University of California, San Diego
Artist/Researcher, UCSD Medical Education
Calit2 Researcher, http://bang.calit2.net

blog: http://transreal.org

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