[-empyre-] Transparent gestures/Opaque gestures

Ricardo Dominguez rrdominguez at ucsd.edu
Thu Dec 11 22:25:26 EST 2014

Dear Tod at s,

Yes, I do agree that the best tactics in relations to what platforms are
used and when-are to use jump-mode as much as possible, especially in
terms of sharing
information. Also, using temporary peer-to-peer mesh wireless
networks-like Fire Chat:


And similar apps. Even better building your own.

In terms of transparent gestures that connect data-bodies and real-bodies
during actions on the streets and on-line. Electronic Disturbance Theater 1.0
and 2.0-have always insisted on connecting the two in extreme intimacy.
During our VR Sit-Ins we always state who we are, where we are, and what is
happening. In order to connect our data-bodies to the streets, for instance,
in our recent e-action:


That focused on the limited, tactical question, pushing the Mexican .gov to
release 11 students that had been arrested. The Mexican .gov knew who we
Nothing was hidden, including the code. (And of course we understand that we
are citizens of Empire and a great deal of privilege to be transparent).
We did the same thing with the Transborder Immigrant Tool (this allowed a
great deal of back and forth the "authorities").

At the moment a number of artivist and activist have been pushing the
developing of opaque/camouflage gestures to deal with the question of
surveillance as being a core tactic.

Also, because of Transborder Immigrant Tool, Amy Sara Carroll who
developed the tactical poetry for it-initiated the question of
translucency as important part of the projects aesthetics.

> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> I wanted to clarify that when I noted "Also grounded activists rarely
> have a technological bias" in the earlier email, I may have sounded
> ambivalent considering the next sentence. What I meant was "Grounded
> activists rarely are technological determinists."
> Also, in light of discussions on surveillance and of bodily
> disconnections in the earlier threads by Anaïs and Tim, I was curious
> if at some point we might want to think more closely of the
> entanglements of data bodies and street bodies.
> Another aspect was the public-ness of social media. Social media help
> organize public protests in materially public places, but they too are
> to some extent public spaces (of discussion), albeit privately owned.
> Social media cannot be idealized as public sphere or public space
> because they are often privately owned: they are semi-public forums as
> Thérèse Tierney among others have argued. They also can be relatively
> anonymous. A related point: do social media need to idealized public
> spheres/public spaces for social justice efforts? Sometimes, perhaps
> anonymity would help more than online visibility.
> Quoting mrahul at sas.upenn.edu:
>> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
>> I appreciate the focus on entanglements of social media and social
>> justice with power. Indeed, social media is being used by different
>> groups for different reasons as David and Tim note. Social media
>> itself as something very different from broadcast or mass or
>> mainstream media needs much debate (though differences exist and
>> need to be accounted for). The proclivity to suggest that social
>> media is essentially decentralized or distributed, and not
>> hierarchical, is again untenable. To be selective about social
>> media's uses would also be a mistake. All this said, activists in
>> situated contexts are trying to find ways of using social media for
>> translocal resistance: they are disrupting and shifting flows of
>> capital for lobal gestures, to borrow from Ricardo. Activists, I
>> talk with, understand electronic medium's power dynamics, are aware
>> of capital's (re)appropriations and sometimes are disenchanted too,
>> but more often than not, they seem to remain committed to tactical
>> trespasses believing another world is possible. Activist
>> idealizations can be problematic and yet one can be self-reflexive
>> about them.
>> Also grounded activists rarely have a technological bias: as I
>> earlier noted, an activist said knowing Twitter Trends algorithm can
>> help only to a limited extent; unless enough urban people can be
>> found in Twitter who are interested in rural issues and can
>> circulate them, algorithms cannot work by themselves. Furthermore,
>> as I mentioned before, social movement organizing in campaigns for
>> social justice, depends on many kinds of media and not just social
>> media (if we really have to categorize or separate social media from
>> rest of the media at all). In the cases I discussed, Twitter was
>> only one social medium in a configuration of multiple media. In some
>> cases, text messages sent from a cellphone (with a dying battery
>> (life)) proved most crucial. In medial configurations related to
>> environmental movements I discuss, media include radiation
>> detectors, protest performances, street graffiti: one could argue
>> these media are pretty social. Much can be said about (and should be
>> said about) surveillance in social media, data bodies and metadata
>> collection,and journalists and activists battling surveillance (in
>> social media) negotiate these challenges. A very everyday practical
>> exercise I witnessed was platform jumping - shifting from one
>> platform (where one's identity or anonymity is threatened or
>> expression/article is blocked) to another.
>> Thanks, rahul
>> Quoting David Golumbia <dgolumbia at gmail.com>:
>>> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
>> _______________________________________________
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>> http://empyre.library.cornell.edu
> _______________________________________________
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Ricardo Dominguez
Associate Professor

Visual Arts Department, UCSD
Principal Investigator, CALIT2

email: rrdominguez at ucsd.edu

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