[-empyre-] Tactical Intervention or digital revolution?

Renate Ferro rferro at cornell.edu
Sat Feb 6 07:57:28 AEDT 2021

Thanks to Alan, Tim, Domenico, Leo, Geert and Ben for sharing their posts thus far.  Our interrogation of tactics, strategies, utopias for immediate solutions and long-term utopias continues until Sunday when we introduce a new set of guests. I invite our guests and subscribers to post freely but it is clear we have the opposites of two extremes:  tactical intervention or digital revolution. 

Just to review where we are thus far, Ben pointed out that there are two important concerns to consider: surveillance systems built into online social platforms and the capitalistic profit algorithms that feed and grow social media companies. He proposed that many artists have used tactical media obfuscation interventions to challenge these conventions as well as general plug ins for consumer use like Go Rando and Not For You to name two.  Leo shared a net project from 2012, YouAreMe.net, and another URME Surveillance which seeks to manipulate the materials of identity.  

While Ben and Leo believe that obfuscation creates aesthetic/artistic information this alsoa allows the infestation of big data by proliferating noise which is likely to encourage critical discussion and engagement. 

Domenico responded: “The scale of what we are discussing is huge, considering the amount of people, billions, interested and influenced by our online day by day, everyday emotional scrollacoaster.”  

She posits a different approach: a call for emotional interrogation into vanity, ego and culture.  Is it not time to invest a bit into critical digital thinking? I think about this quite seriously myself especially with the recent news of US Senator Marjorie Taylor Greene’s rants of QAnon conspiracies that she learned about via Twitter and You Tube.  She consistently questioned school mass shootings and instead promoted the fact that they were staged by gun control activists, she openly endorsed Pelosi’s execution, among other outlandish beliefs.

There is a never-ending spiral of this round robin of misinformation that reminds me of the kindergarten game we used to play called “telephone” where one person says something, whispers it to another, and as it goes around until the information gets shifted, expanded, blown out of proportion and context.  In the case of the current condition, lives are at stake, governments are in chaos, election systems are being questioned.   

Geert’s five-year proposition seems like the only alternative: abandon the past and start fresh, develop a culture of refusal, assert political pressure to break up the monopolies, build a public internet, ban the corporate, pave the way for the socialization of data centers and ocean cables, and subvert geo-political regions.

This month we continue to consider algorithms, untruths, and insurrection and how an environment of cynicism, distrust, and distain has allowed communication and the network flows to organize, promulgate, and maneuver through the citizenry in real time.   
Looking forward, 

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

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