[-empyre-] Transparent gestures/Opaque gestures

mrahul at sas.upenn.edu mrahul at sas.upenn.edu
Sun Dec 14 12:30:51 EST 2014

Thanks, Ricardo, for sharing these tools, initiatives, and gestures. I  
admire your generosity in appreciating macro-critiques but at the same  
time avoiding some of their sweeping generalizations by your grounded  
theorizations and engagements with local situated experimental  
activist-art practices.  Some of the dissident  
journalists/bloggers/artists outside the United States, in Africa and  
South Asia, I have met over the years, are cognizant of how their  
goals of using social media and mobile technologies at a micro-scale  
during contingent circumstances do completely vary in ideologies from  
the neoliberal subjectivities that the social media companies want to  
create. It is somewhat ironical when, at times, activists advocating  
for political reform and human rights through social media/blogs in  
Africa and South Asia find themselves embedded in funding structures  
of NGOs who in turn are related to neoliberal discourses/capital.  
These are challenges that have to be overcome. At other times,  
connecting local resistances together does not seem to lead to a  
scaling up, but as you note, local particularities/singularities do  
not need to (should not) be stepped on for the sake of finding global  
scale answers.  In any case, as you note, complete withdrawal on the  
part of dissident/creative scholars-activists-artists cannot be an  
answer, and I agree, that ways will(have to) be found.

Acts of shifting and disturbing state and capital emerge in Richard  
Grusin?s discussions of roadblocks and disrupting network service, if  
I am reading correctly, as ways of thinking of premediation as force  
of resistance. His influential conceptualizations of ((re)mediation  
and) premediation also help to problematize the tendencies to  
ontologically fix social media as being of a particular kind.  For  
some reason, I feel we have discussed more about social media (and the  
mutual imbrication of social media and social justice as well) than  
social justice (I maybe wrong about this feeling). I understand we  
have to think relationally here. And so, here is a question I have  
been pondering: If as some critics note, social media help the status  
quo to accumulate (more and more) social capital as much as they allow  
the ?marginals? to amplify their resistance (sometimes resistance is  
curbed or rendered invisible online too) against brutalities,  
inequities, and injustice; what is social justice, and what is its  
relationship to social capital?

Thanks again, rahul

Quoting Ricardo Dominguez <rrdominguez at ucsd.edu>:

> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> 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:
> http://www.cnn.com/2014/10/16/tech/mobile/tomorrow-transformed-firechat/index.html
> 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:
> http://www.thing.net/~rdom/TodosSomosAyotzinapa/
> 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
> were.
> 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----------------------
>>> _______________________________________________
>>> empyre forum
>>> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
>>> http://empyre.library.cornell.edu
>> _______________________________________________
>> empyre forum
>> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
>> http://empyre.library.cornell.edu
> --
> Ricardo Dominguez
> Associate Professor
> Visual Arts Department, UCSD
> http://visarts.ucsd.edu/
> Principal Investigator, CALIT2
> http://bang.transreal.org/
> email: rrdominguez at ucsd.edu
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
> http://empyre.library.cornell.edu

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