[-empyre-] Geert Lovink UNFINISHED

Brian Holmes bhcontinentaldrift at gmail.com
Sat Sep 7 00:57:57 AEST 2019

I'm sure the HK street movements have a thousand directions and tactics on
the ground, but it's also transparent for the city's inhabitants that the
spectacle of provocation and repression has pragmatic effects. It pits the
Chinese authorities against the watchful financial markets, via all
channels of globally distributed media. China wants authoritarian control,
but it needs the HK financial center. Finance wants access to China, but it
needs the rule of law. And street protestors want autonomy and
self-organization in the moment, but they also want democracy and human
rights over the middle term. This is how global politics works through the
scales, from the network to the nation to the city to the streets, then
back again. Theories based on total spectacle or full autonomy can't begin
to account for scalar relations that are intricate, for sure, but still
fairly clear in this case.

The lesson for resistant media is: you have to want something, and know
what you want. When people gain that knowledge massively, control is no
longer internalized as compliance. Media breaks free along with bodies in
the streets. It can spread to a whole population when the stakes are
freedom or torture, life or death (which is what extradition comes down
to). #BlackLivesMatter did this a few years ago, with major consequences on
both social institutions and political classes. Climate movements will get
their chance in the near future, probably after some metropolis is
destroyed by a hurricane. The effects of such moments are double:
individual liberation from control, and real shifts in the balance of
political power. I think media makers ought to take on that double reality.
"No demands" is bullocks.


On Fri, Sep 6, 2019 at 7:46 AM shulea cheang <shulea at earthlink.net> wrote:

> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> but if Hong Kong's street movements, applying all social media. mobile
> media, mesh network, P2P network, bluetooth limited area transmission is
> not the SPECTACLE, where we are at?
> sl
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Menno Grootveld
> Sent: Sep 6, 2019 1:07 PM
> To: empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au
> Subject: Re: [-empyre-] Geert Lovink UNFINISHED
> Hi all! I would say that the spectacle is manifesting itself in all media,
> not just social media. The spectacle consists of politicians and their
> corporate allies throwing up lots of dust, trying to blind us for what is
> actually going on in the world. And yes, eventually social media play a
> role here too, by blowing up some of these tales by endlessly repeating
> them or by enticing people to engage with them (even from a negative
> perspective). The situation is much more complex than a simple dichotomy
> between old 'broadcast' media and (not so) new 'narrowcast' media, it is
> both at the same time.
> Best,
> Menno
> Op 06-09-19 om 12:43 schreef Geert Lovink:
> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> Thanks, Josie! I really like it that you bring in and say about Debord. I
> still wonder if there is something like a social media spectacle. Can we
> still talk about a spectacle when the audience is that much dispersed,
> fragmented, individualized, personalized, isolated, insulated, jailed in
> their own filter bubbles? Maybe we can. Perhaps this individual reading of
> information processing is just a dream. It is unreal, no doubt. Is is also
> something that we passively consume? I struggle with that idea.
> Centralized… for sure. Are social media turning into a television 2.0
> experience? What does this mean for current mobilisations? Best, Geert
> On 5 Sep 2019, at 11:01 am, Josephine Berry <j.berry at gold.ac.uk> wrote:
> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> Hello SL and Geert,
> I've been dipping into our old friend Guy Debord and his still invaluable
> Society of the Spectacle while this discussion is running and I think that
> much of his analysis still bites in regards to our questions about media,
> social organisation and politics. I like his way of discussing the
> contradictory consistency of the spectacle that, while producing a realm of
> communication split from 'the former unity of life' and social production,
> and used to enforce a feeling of pseudo-reality, separation and
> helplessness, is not only a product of that self-same unified life and
> production, but one that distills its character and mode of organisation.
> The distortion and the reality circle through each other.
> "Understood in its totality, the spectacle is both the outcome and the
> goal of the dominant mode of production. It is not something added to the
> real world - not a decorative element, so to speak. On the contrary, it is
> the very heart of society's real unreality. [...] It is the omnipresent
> celebration of a choice already made in the sphere of production, and the
> consummate result of that choice. In form as in content the spectacle
> serves as total justification for the conditions and aims of the existing
> system. It further ensures the permanent presence of that justification,
> for it governs almost all time spent outside the production process
> itself."
> (Debord, 1967)
> I am interested in thinking about the consistency of social production and
> the way it has changed since the 90s, and the way the spectacle reflects,
> distorts and impels this reality. Ok, maybe the obvious point is that the
> mailinglists of yore were somehow expressive of a mere potential, as yet
> virginal and unexplored. of a globally integrated 24/7 communications
> capability, one that we filled with all our critical passions and utopian
> schemes - and again, to stay close to Debord, these were not mere fantasies
> either, but reflective of a genuine social possibility that was hoving into
> view at that time as the Communist Bloc crumbled, Fordism fell apart, the
> West needed to reinvent itself, and less and less labour was required to
> produce the goods and commodities needed by the planet's population to
> survive.
> Since then, the infrastructure has been centralised and monopolised as a
> lever and reflection of an asymmetrical tendency towards wealth
> monopolisation and political control that goes 'all the way down'. This, as
> we have discussed endlessly, is one that neoliberalisation conjoined with
> financialisation has accelerated beyond all imagining. The tendency, it
> seems, is one that requires humans to supplement the highly efficient
> technological production that has extended planet wide, fixing the
> algo-fuckups, injecting creativity, and more than anything doing low-value
> work that the capitalist apparatus 'sucks up', due to the same
> technological efficiency, into the hands of fewer and fewer.
> How then does our 'attraction' to the spectacle of social media and
> streaming reflect this transformation of social production, and how should
> we respond? Undboutedly, passivity is important. We only need to chip-in
> and combine fragmentary thoughts across social media. We don't need to go
> to the agora or the cinema, but as Flusser says, are driven into separate
> corners to receive information. This creates a more powerful sense of being
> together, like chatting round a table, while the reality is we are less and
> less together, and increasingly phobic of each other. This also looks a bit
> like the gig economy - contract work without regularity, without the
> workplace community that creates consistency of identity, activity and
> relationships. And as we know, the fragmentary quality of these
> environments which we also all enjoy (maybe a big part of this is their
> combo of low engagement expectations and lots of pictures), help to further
> fragment the social body as we are seeing with all the extremist and
> turbulent politics of our times. The consistency then is that social
> relation is being mined as the resource of economic profit, like fracking
> or the end-of-the-line process of oil and gas extraction, and leaving
> behind it a kind of mangled and exhausted social field.
> I'm interested in how we can think about the unfinished project of radical
> media and alternative communications within this situation - one for which
> alienation is a double-sided experience of isolation and reality of the
> means of our relation. Should we be at the crux of this, in the most
> fleeting (e.g. the blue-tooth meshes people are talking about), or take
> distance? I guess this is the old question of critique, and what its
> possibilities are.
> Ok, that's it for now - I need to get back to some gig-work and my mind is
> fragmenting.
> Josie
> ------------------------------
> *From:* empyre-bounces at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au <
> empyre-bounces at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au> on behalf of Shu Lea Cheang <
> shulea at earthlink.net>
> *Sent:* 05 September 2019 07:52
> *To:* empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au <
> empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au>; Geert Lovink <
> geert at networkcultures.org>
> *Subject:* Re: [-empyre-] Geert Lovink UNFINISHED
> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
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