[-empyre-] Mediation, filtering and progressivism

patrick lichty p at voyd.com
Thu Jun 29 00:10:40 AEST 2017

A vantage from the Middle East, and merely propositions.

When I came back to the US for the Summer, I was not shocked to feel, but I 
felt a shockwave when I re-entered the US media bubble.
I was watching ABC News, and suddenly the word TERROR flashed upon the 
screen.  A crying woman, a man who talked about how cowardly the attack was, 
and a law enforcement official said they would get to the bottom of it. 
Punch, Pathos, and Promises of justice.
Normality restored.

I was watching CNN, and Randall's litany of TRUMPism spilled before me. The 
World's Greatest Reality Show, 24/7.
I go to Canada, and TRUMP becomes Trump.
I go to Prague, and Trump becomes trump.
I go to Uzbekistan, and I hear, "Is Obama still your president, or is it that 
Trump person?"
I go to Dubai, and I see shows on Emirati art, and programs about Japanese 
Ikebana, and see billboards for the Trump Country Club from DAMAC.
(true anecdotes, although slightly exaggerated.)

Resistance to the current administration is paramount, but let's be honest. It's primarily an American Problem.
As Geert Lovink and I have been discussing, the problems with trump are threefold:
1: First, he is dismantling every great program since the Great Depression, from The New Deal, to The Great Society.
2: He is, with his dramatism and absurd lack of foreign policy, creating an end to American Hegemony, and worse yet, revealing a left that no longer has much more moral superiority than the right for its lack of motivation and cohesion.
3: Again in conversation with Lovink, the end of Bimodernism and subsequent Unipolar supremacy, results in an impotent USA that allows world order to collapse into Spheres of Influence (Russia, China, USA, Europe, etc). 
4: This signals a possible end to American Moral Exceptionalism created in the World Wars, in which the USA is merely "another very powerful country" no different than China, Russia, or India.  It is also discrediting the moral superiority of the Democrats.

A Problem with the fall of American Western Hegemony is that there is a question as to whether the US will be the center of geopolitics, with Macron and Merkel standing up to Trump. In fact, there may not be one for a while, as China firmly controls its sphere, as does Europe (Minus the UK).  Secondly, with the fragmentation of the Left, Solidarity is faltering.

How does one resist in a world that is increasingly fragmented, and increasingly acts punitively towards negative dialectics?  I have a few ideas.
With my students, I engage a question: "Make the world you want to live in." This is often socially aware, and with good ideas for general welfare. 

Secondly, I look at Ebru Yetiskin's notion of the paratactic; distributed, oblique tactics that work at the edges of the sociopolitical situation.

Third, Coopting local hegemonic media distribution. (See The Yes Men/YesLab)

Fourth, dropping to a finer granularity in engagement, such as groups engaging in interpersonal  acts.

Fifth, understand your regional power dynamic. The Iraq War was a failure due to the lack of a strategic post-war plan, and this is why the Iranians have not risen up, as they know the Revolution gave very mixed results,..  The notion that something else better will come along is a fantasy, and need to be planned before any intervention.

This I feel touches on points of future interventionism.
Guidance and reform.

-----Original Message-----
From: empyre-bounces at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au 
[mailto:empyre-bounces at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au] On Behalf Of Randall 
Sent: Wednesday, June 28, 2017 6:52 AM
To: soft_skinned_space <empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au>
Subject: Re: [-empyre-] Week 4: Welcome Lindsay Kelley, Anna Munster, 
Randall Packer, and Ana Valdex

----------empyre- soft-skinned space---------------------- Yes, I am fully 
aware that there have been suggestions in past weeks for ways in which 
artists have challenged and mediated the various issues of fakery. I stated 
that I am interested in furthering this effort, and more specifically, how 
we might focus a discussion (and critical solutions?) on the current 
situation in the White House, which as you all know, is a complete disaster 
and threatens our democracy and the stability of the world at large.

So much has already been said and written about TRUMP, ad nauseum. This is 
precisely his intent, to burrow himself deep into the consciousness of the 
body politic, until we are so utterly fatigued, so fed up, so unnerved, that 
we no longer resist.

TRUMP has lodged himself into the global zeitgeist, well beyond America. He 
has penetrated the minds of everyone, everywhere, within earshot of the 
media. His aim is to distort our perception of reality by blurring the 
difference between truth and fabrication, at the very nexus of our 
democratic system. With each lie, each exaggeration, each false twist of the 
truth, TRUMP closes the distance between the real and the imaginary.

But this has hardly been thought through. TRUMP’s omnipresence is that of a 
blindly mad narcissist playing the role of a demagogue in a reality show, 
which is extemporaneously performed in the Oval Office each and every day. 
It is an improvisational tour de force that plays out on the grand stage of 
the White House, in which we are ALL watching, ALL fixated, ALL tuned in, 
ALL the time.

We must do more than resist, we must understand this phenomenon that is 
boiling up in the body politic. TRUMP preys on our reality, and loss 
thereof. How? By refuting the facts, the truth, declaring the media as fake 
when challenging his fantastical narrative. In doing so, he collapses the 
space between truth and fiction, the real and the imaginary by eroding the 
distinction. TRUMP is a torrent of contradiction, a ship without a rudder, a 
leader without a moral compass. He is a performer constructing a 
gesamtkunstwerk (total artwork) built solely on the power of the suspension 
of disbelief. TRUMP is a breakdown of the real.

When efforts to authenticate are declared fake, when there is no longer any 
separation between that which is real and that which is not, systems of 
shared belief (i.e. democratic ideals) are unraveled. In the face of this 
post-real obscuration of truth, reality collapses. TRUMP is now using the 
Presidency to lure us all into his fake world of pseudo-greatness, the cult 
of celebrity, or as Michael Moore calls it: TRUMPland.

In TRUMP’s world, criticality withers. Democracy is founded on clear and 
distinct polarities: right and left, Democrat and Republican, right and 
wrong, which allow for debate, argument, and reason. But TRUMP is intent to 
abolish all that. Not through some through-composed Hitlerian Mein Kampf 
ideological system of German supremacy, but out of a wildly impulsive, 
self-absorbed need to be rooted at the center of the public consciousness.

If we are going to preserve our freedoms in this dystopic time, we must, 
above all, defend reality against its demise.


On 6/27/17, 6:24 PM, "Renate Terese Ferro" 
<empyre-bounces at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au on behalf of rferro at cornell.edu> 

    ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
    Thanks Randall for posting this.  I’m not sure if you were following 
last week but Byron Rich, Kevin Hamilton, and myself were talking about the 
tactics and methodologies that artists employ to create resistance.  In 
Byron’s work particularly as a bio-artist with interests in politics, global 
climate change and others he uses (intentionally) imagery both still and 
video that has been “constructed” and humor to push against the system. 
Many artists actually use irony, satire and other forms to comment and 
critique cultural and political issues. We have talked about a number of 
artists from the YES Men to others that use these strategies as art practice 
and theory. This is no way diminishes the seriousness of the issues but it 
does highlight some of the injustices that are actualizing before us 

    So I mention these just briefly just in case you were not able to sign 
in last week.  I’m hoping that Ana, Lindsday and Ana Munster will also chime 
in to talk about some of their own work and resistance.

    Thanks Randall for starting out this week.  Appreciated.  Renate

    Renate Ferro
    Visiting Associate Professor
    Director of Undergraduate Studies
    Department of Art
    Tjaden Hall 306
    rferro at cornell.edu

    On 6/27/17, 4:14 PM, "empyre-bounces at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au on 
behalf of Randall Packer" <empyre-bounces at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au on 
behalf of rpacker at zakros.com> wrote:

    >----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
    >Dear List:
    >Since August of 2015, I have been chronicling the TRUMP phenomenon, 
which I refer to as XTreme TRUMPology. Here are 50 posts I have written to 
date: http://www.randallpacker.com/category/xtreme-trumpology/
    >I see the developing fake news issue as the catalyst of a much greater 
problem: the intentional distortion of reality for the purpose of gaining 
political control. Fake news is a means to an end, what happens when morally 
bankrupt demagogues are in pursuit of absolute power.
    >To this end, it beholds us to construct critical “weapons” that we can 
use to deconstruct and defuse this diabolical fakery, and it is my hope, 
that during this next week, the empyre list can serve as both a virtual 
roundtable for discussion, as well as a space for developing tactical 
methods we can employ as media artists, theorists, and educators in our 
everyday lives and work. Some of these methods have already been identified 
in past weeks… I hope to see more!
    >These are dangerous times and I am interested in the kinds of critical 
tools we can develop collectively to combat the torrent of fakery and 
disinformation that is consuming our government, our country, and the world.
    >It’s time for action.
    >Best, Randall
    >On 6/27/17, 8:48 AM, "Randall Packer" <rpacker at zakros.com> wrote:
    >    Greetings all… I am gathering my reportage on this critical issue, 
one that threatens to engulf our collective grip on reality. Here in 
Washington, DC, the tension is palpable as we see democracy hanging by a 
thread in the face of the steady, hypnotic torrent of disinformation 
emanating from all corners of the government. I don’t take this 
responsibility lightly as an empyre reporter, and will be posting my first 
dispatch later in the day.
    >    Best,
    >    Randall :::: from the underground studio bunker in Washington, DC
    >    On 6/26/17, 5:17 AM, "Renate Terese Ferro" 
<empyre-bounces at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au on behalf of rferro at cornell.edu> 
    >        ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
    >        Thanks to Kevin, Byron, Murat and Aviva for participating this 
week as we reflected on the notion of the fake in regards to science and 
art.  I realized about midway through the week that the questions that arose 
were important and thoughtful ones that actually would make an excellent 
month long topic in the near future on -empyre-.  Kevin reminded us of the 
trend where truth-claims of scientists have been undermined for political 
causes. It also reminded me of the  fraud that big science and the 
pharmaceutical industry have been accused of where research studies have 
been manipulated for economic gain.  Artists can provide the critical space 
using  the tools and methodology of science to create critical spaces where 
the public can pause, reflect, and activate a sense of resistance.
    >        Welcome to Randall Packer, Ana Valdes, Ana Munster and Lindsay 
Kelley.  Ana Munster and Lindsay were our guests during week one and we 
welcome them back as we close down our topic.  Ana Vales has been a long 
time participant of -empyre- and we welcome her back this week.  Randall 
Packer participated in a panel with me at ISEA in Singapore last year.   We 
warmly welcome all of them to further discuss Fake News within a global 
context. Bios are below.
    >        Lindsay Kelley (AU) Working in the kitchen, Lindsay Kelley's 
    >        practice and scholarship explore how the experience of eating 
changes when
    >        technologies are being eaten. Her first book is Bioart Kitchen: 
    >        Feminism and Technoscience (London: IB Tauris, 2016). Bioart
    >        Kitchen emerges from her work at the University of California 
    >        Cruz (Ph.D in the History of Consciousness and MFA in Digital 
Art and New
    >        Media). Kelley is a Co-Investigator with the KIAS
    >        funded Research­-Creation and Social Justice CoLABoratory: Arts 
and the
    >        Anthropocene (University of Alberta, Canada).
    >        Anna Munster (US) Anna Munster has been at UNSW Art and Design 
since 2001 on a full-time tenured
    >        basis. She is an active researcher with two sole published 
books: An
    >        Aesthesia of Networks (MIT Press, 2013), and  Materializing
    >        New Media  (Dartmouth College Press 2006). Her current research
    >        interests are: networked experience, media arts and theory, 
data and radical
    >        empiricism, nonhuman and perception, new pragmatist approaches 
to media andArt.
    >        Anna regularly collaborates artistically with Michele Barker in
    >        the School of Media Arts, COFA. Barker and Munster are working 
on a large-scale
    >        multi-channel interactive work, HocusPocus, which explores the 
    >        between perception, magic and the brain. They have been awarded 
a New Work
    >        Grant, 2010, from the Australia Council for the Arts to realise 
this work.
    >        Recent collaborative projects include: Duchenne’s smile 
(2-channel DV
    >        installation, 2009), The Love Machine II (photomedia 
installation, 2008–1¬0),
    >        Struck (3-channel DV installation, 2007).
    >        She is a partner in a large international project, Immediations 
<http://senselab.ca/wp2/immediations/>, hosted
    >        by Concordia University, Montreal and funded by the Social 
Science and
    >        Humanities Research Council, Canada. She has held two ARC 
Discovery research
    >        grants in new media and art: 'The Body-Machine Interface in New 
Media Art from
    >        1984 to the Present, 2003–5' and 'Dynamic Media: Innovative 
social and artistic
    >        uses of dynamic media in Australia, Britain, Canada and 
Scandinavia since
    >        1990'.  She is also an investigator on an ARC Linkage project,
    >        'Australian Media Arts Database', which will utilise innovative 
user-lead and
    >        open source databases to create a history of Australian media 
arts in an
    >        international context.
    >        She is a founding member of the online peer-reviewed
    >        journal The Fibreculture Journal 
<http://fibreculturejournal.org/> and has co-edited two special issues on 
    >        Aesthetics  <http://seven.fibreculturejournal.org/>and Web 2.0 
<http://fourteen.fibreculturejournal.org/>. and on the editorial advisory
    >        board of LeonardoBooks (MIT Press), Inflexions, CTheory,
    >        Convergence, and Scan
    >        Randall Packer (US) Since the 1980s, multimedia artist, 
composer, writer and educator Randall
    >        Packer has worked at the intersection of interactive media, 
live performance,
    >        and networked art. He has received critical acclaim for his 
socially and
    >        politically infused critique of media culture, and has 
performed and exhibited
    >        at museums, theaters, and festivals internationally, including: 
    >        InterCommunication Center (Tokyo), ZKM Center for Art & Media 
    >        Walker Art Center, (Minneapolis), Corcoran Gallery of Art 
(Washington, DC), The
    >        Kitchen (New York City), ZERO1 Biennial (San Jose), 
Transmediale Festival of
    >        Media (Berlin), and Theater Artaud (San Francisco). Packer is a 
writer and
    >        scholar in new media, most notably the co-editor of Multimedia: 
>From Wagner to
    >        Virtual Reality and the author of his long running blog: 
Reportage from the
    >        Aesthetic Edge. He has written extensively for publications 
including: MIT
    >        Press, Johns Hopkins University Press, the Leonardo Journal for 
the Arts &
    >        Sciences, LINK, ART LIES, Hyperallergic, and Cambridge 
University Press. He
    >        holds an MFA and PhD in music composition and has taught 
multimedia at the
    >        University of California Berkeley, Maryland Institute College 
of Art, American
    >        University, California Institute of the Arts, Johns Hopkins 
University, The
    >        Museum of Modern Art, and most recently at Nanyang 
Technological University
    >        (NTU) in Singapore. At NTU, he is an Associate Professor of 
Networked Art where
    >        he founded and directs the Open Source Studio (OSS) project, an 
    >        initiative exploring collaborative online research and teaching 
in the media
    >        arts. At NTU, he organized the Art of the Networked Practice | 
    >        Symposium, a global event which featured participants from more 
than 40
    >        countries around the world. Currently he is organizing the 
Third Space Network
    >        (3SN), an Internet broadcast channel for live media arts and 
creative dialogue.
    >        Ana Valdes (UR) Ana Valdes writer
    >        Art curator and social anthropologist born in Uruguay and 
political prisoner
    >        during several years. Lived in Sweden and became engaged in the 
    >        struggle for an own state. Now she is working with a former 
inmate of
    >        Guantanamo writing a book and making a film.
    >        Renate Ferro
    >        Visiting Associate Professor
    >        Director of Undergraduate Studies
    >        Department of Art
    >        Tjaden Hall 306
    >        rferro at cornell.edu
    >        _______________________________________________
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