[-empyre-] Social Media Use across Campaigns for Social Justice

Harold Wells shadoof at mac.com
Mon Dec 15 23:32:08 EST 2014

On December 12, 2014 at 6:45:15 PM, Renate Ferro (rferro at cornell.edu) wrote:

Your critiques of Ricardo's post seem unfair to me. Your claim that 
all social media is problematic and that artists who work through 
these platforms in a critical way seems to provide little leeway.
I should have made this clear, but my contribution was not intended as a critique of Ricardo's post(s), or his (or anyone's) activism. I would propose and support using any and all means at the activists' disposal. My post was intended, rather, to approve and welcome David's necessary remarks.

I accept that all institutions are structurally compromised. The artist works simultaneously with and within many contradictory institutions, not least that of the art world. My intended meanings, the significance and affect of 'whatever I want to say', is structurally compromised by the language at my disposal. But I must speak nonetheless, and empyre graciously provides us with a forum from which some of what we say may find response. I would be structurally compromised by canvas, paint, pencil, and paper.

Google says, 'Don't be evil.' Who is it, now, who writes or speaks these words? The individual spokespersons of Google? or a collective robotic wisdom-voice derived from analytics as applied to their matchless store of data? Can all humans ever truly refrain from evil? Can any human refrain even from whatever they, personally, determine to be evil? Let alone what the state they live in determines as such? Some people among us say: 'Don't be evil: be CIA.' Others say: 'Don't be evil: Vote, protest.'

In my current thinking, empyre is a cultural formation that can be read, that is readable by and for humans. Chiefly. Although there is much that occurs when I send a message to the list that is not readable by me or most others - who are on the list - and the value and use of these other symbolic exchanges are less clear to us. FaceBook, on the other hand, pretends (strong, old sense of this word) to face us, and to be readable, but chiefly, I would say, it is not. Most of what FaceBook does is done by algorithms that are hidden from us and that are serving quite other protocols than those of human sociality.

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