[-empyre-] Welcome to Week 3: Social Media: algorithms, untruths and insurrection

Alex Taek-Gwang Lee tglee at khu.ac.kr
Tue Feb 16 18:58:54 AEDT 2021

Dear all,

Many thanks for Renate's kind introduction and invitation. I have enjoyed
the previous discussions and been excited by those ideas of algorithms and
other things. These days, I am working on the effect of mechanical
surveillance and its impact on us.  I want to share my ideas of "mechanical
algorithms" with you.

The COVID-19 pandemic does not mean the crisis of capitalism but instead
compounds the existing problems within the capitalist mode of production.
The precarious status of the essential workers, regardless of their living
condition, has been worse off. In contrast, unrestricted capitalist
accumulation in valorizing the market above everything else has been more
efficient and has exacerbated social inequality. These contradictory
consequences of the pandemic situation prove that the nature of capitalism
does not need workers for its completion. The pandemic serves as not so
much the end of capitalism but as another moment to sustain its paradox.
Indeed, what is being observed at the moment is the more traumatic
experiences of capitalist restructuring. It means the modification of work
as such by the introduction of technology to the workplace.

This transformation dramatically evolves to the idea of mechanical
management based on surveillance technology in this pandemic. In other
words, the mechanization of work, the perversion of Taylorism, reconstructs
the labour force’s fundamentals and drives each worker to be a part of the
mechanism. The financial bull market on technology investment precipitates
this shift further and reformulates the distribution of labour. I would
call this inversion of capitalism the very essence of “pure capitalism,”
i.e., the “free” economic system that encourages individuals’ voluntary
competition to produce and trade without government intervention. It is not
easy to determine where administrative interference could engage the system
if the workers have no human management. “My Boss Is Not Human”(我的领导不是人),
an article recently published in *Caijing*, a Chinese economic magazine,
proves how this mechanical surveillance reorganizes the workplace. You can
find it at this link:

According to the report, many Chinese enterprises have adopted artificial
intelligence for more efficient and standardized management. The new system
works with more than 20 surveillance cameras all over the workplaces and
records every worker’s behaviours and activities. An electronic roll call
at the entrance is necessary to identify each person and monitor the group.
This algorithmic scrutiny, the mechanical transformation of all human
actions into data, totalizes the whole process of work like a single
machine. The monitoring camera transcribes workers’ performance per second,
and the central operating system checks up its efficiency. Each component
is designed as a prescribed processing time by the algorithm, and the
“Intelligent Task Distribution System” will recognize and facilitate the
due sequels of the worker’s actions. The electronic time attendance system
refines the check-in procedures previously set at the company gate. Workers
must swipe their cards if they leave the workplace. If they are absent at
their seats for more than 15 minutes, the recorded data will be submitted
to the central operating system, and the sum of the salary will be
automatically deducted at the end of the month.

My point concerning this Chinese version of Taylor’s scientific management
does not lie in the fact that Orwell’s imagination of Big Brother has come
to be realized. Instead, the administration aims to modify the human
behaviours for the algorithmic mechanism. There is no such thing as Big
Brother in the system, but the technological stupidity to control the
workers by simplifying their actions. Any digressive and unpredicted move
does not seem to be allowed in this process. However, the workers follow
the rules not because the system tightly governs them but because of the
new scientific management's norms, i.e., the command of the mechanical
surveillance, which forces them to obey the axioms of the mechanism.
Therefore, the algorithmic organization of the workplace is not a crucial
factor in the new management. The problem is that there must be an
invisible decision-maker behind the automatic system in solving any
accidental and unpredictable outcome, even though the algorithmic mechanism
operates without the presence of the human boss in the venue. My argument
is that the void of the surveillance, i.e., the subjective articulation, is
always already included in the mechanism and preserves the locus of
resistance. I want to know what you think.

All the best

2021년 2월 16일 (화) 오전 9:33, Renate Ferro <rferro at cornell.edu>님이 작성:

> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> Hello -empyreans-
> Many thanks to our Week 2 guests:  Ana Valdés, Derek Curry, Jennifer
> Gradecki, and Geert Lovink.  Also, thanks to our subscribers:  Brian
> Holmes, Jon McKenzie and Amanda McDonald Crowley for joining in as
> participants.  We appreciate all of your contributions and we hope that if
> your schedule permits that you will continue to post through Week 3.
> We welcome long-time subscriber Alex Taek-Gwang Lee for joining us once
> again on -empyre-.  We always love to have Alex share with us his
> perspectives especially on the pulse of things in South Korea and Asia.  A
> warm welcome to our new subscribers:
>  Paul O’Neill, Domenico Barra, Robert Collins, Roisin Kiberd, Ricardo
> Castellini Da Silva, and Kerry Guinan. Their biographies are listed below.
> Looking forward to hearing more about each of your research areas and work
> as relates to this topic and extending our discussion.
> Best, Renate
> Paul O’Neill (IE)
> Paul O’ Neill is a media artist based in Dublin, Ireland.  His practice
> and research is concerned with the implications of our collective
> dependency on networked technologies and infrastructures. This discourse is
> reflected in his academic background, a graduate of Dublin City University
> with a BA International Relations, he followed this with a MSc Multimedia
> also from Dublin City University and then an MA in Digital Art from the
> National College of Art and Design, Dublin.  Paul is currently completing a
> practice-based PhD which focuses on media art practices that critique and
> subvert techno-solutionist narratives and histories.
> www.aswemaysink.com
> Domenico Barra (IL)
> Low resolution, High vision. Glitch is the event. Pixel is the element. My
> aesthetics is to be found in the realm of machines failures where I
> interpret the glitch in various environments and digital styles. The error.
> The limit. The unexpected. The diversity. The fragility. The imperfection.
> The vulnerability. Departing from these grounds of elaboration, I develop
> my research and practice on various topics related to temporality,
> functionality, accessibility, opportunity, the influence of new
> technologies, design and politics, have on human relations in terms of
> interactions and values, in the relation human and machine, with a focus on
> networks and community, behaviors and languages, memory and identity, how
> those contribute in the evolution of a new world, society, human, their
> conception and perception through machines, individuals new self-awareness.
> My works have been published on sites and magazines including Motherboard,
> Bullet Magazine, Hyperallergic, Monopol, Observer, Artribune, Exibart,
> Widewalls and Digicult. I am listed in the second volume publication about
> art and technology promoted by the Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs. I
> took part in many curatorial projects, my works exhibited at the DAM
> Gallery in Berlin, at the Media Center in New York, at the Galerie Charlot
> in Paris, at the Digital Art Center in Taipei, online at World Intellectual
> Property Organization [WIPO], at the Central Academy of Fine Arts [CAFA] in
> Beijing, at the MediaLAB of the University of Brasilia, at the Wrong
> Biennale and in many other galleries and cultural art events worldwide, and
> also included in academic talks and lectures at international institutes
> and universities. I directed the organization of the first Glitch Art group
> show in Italy, Tactical Glitches, curated by Rosa Menkman & Nick Briz. In
> 2016 I was among the artists invited by the School of Art Institute of
> Chicago [SAIC] for its 150th anniversary where I gave a lecture and a
> public talk about piracy pratices, the impact of the internet and digital
> media on the production, distribution and consumption of NSFW materials. I
> am part of the curatorial projects of Sedition Gallery, ELEMENTUM and
> Snark.Art. I collaborated with the MoCDA Museum, Hard Disk Museum and The
> Wrong Biennale. I teach glitch art and dirty new media at the Rome
> University of Fine Art [RUFA] and I give lectures and presentations about
> glitch art and related topics at academies, schools and festivals. I am the
> creator of the online art network and community White Page Gallery/s.
> Alex Taek-Gwang Lee (KR)
> Alex Taek-Gwang Lee is a professor of cultural studies at Kyung Hee
> University in South Korea and a visiting professor at Jamia Millia Islamia
> University in India. He is a member of the advisory board for The
> International Deleuze and Guattari Studies in Asia, Asia Theories Network
> and the board member of The International Consortium of Critical Theory
> (ICCT).
> Robert Collings (IE)
> Robert Collins is an artist and designer based in Ireland.His work
> explores the inherent noise and saturation of information in contemporary
> society, through speculative objects, abstract interfaces and digital
> ethnography.Recently he has moved into the area of Post-Industrial Design,
> seeking to explore design methodologies which can empower the public to
> answer the questions raised by Critical and Speculative Design. He holds an
> MSc in Interactive Media, where he explored the creation of spaces for
> adversarial discussion and common ground.
> http://www.robbycollins.com
> Roisin Kiberd (IE, DE)
> Roisin Kiberd is a writer from Dublin, currently living (on and off) in
> Berlin. Her essays and journalism on technology and culture have been
> published in the Dublin Review, the White Review, the Stinging Fly, the
> Guardian, Vice and others. Her first book, The Disconnect, will be
> published by Serpent's Tail in March 2021.
> Ricardo Castellini DaSilva  (BR, IE)
> Dr Ricardo Castellini da Silva is a media literacy educator with an
> interest in studies and practices at the interface between education and
> communications, especially in relation to digital media, multimodal
> learning and new literacy studies. His research investigates the many ways
> in which new digital technologies can be used to promote media literacy for
> secondary students and enhance teachers’ practices in the use of technology
> in the classroom. Since 2015, Ricardo has been designing and delivering
> workshops on media literacy to both teachers and students in secondary
> schools in Ireland. He also teaches on undergraduate and graduate
> programmes at both Dublin City University and Trinity College Dublin.
> Ricardo holds a PhD in Media Literacy from Dublin City University, and a MA
> in Media, Culture and Education from the Institute of Education, University
> College London
> Kerry Guinan (IE)
> Kerry Guinan is a conceptual artist based in Limerick, Ireland. Her
> multi-disciplinary practice
> critiques capitalist relations through interventions, performances, and
> digital media. She also writes, curates, consults, teaches, and organises
> politically. Recent projects include a residency in Bill Drummond’s Curfew
> Tower in Antrim (2019), the curation of TULCA Festival of Visual Arts:
> TACTICAL MAGIC (2019) in Galway, and the solo exhibition ‘Our Celestial
> Sphere’ at Pallas Projects/Studios, Dublin (2019). Upcoming projects
> include a public art commission for The Museum of Everyone, Offaly and
> exhibitions at Rua Red, Dublin, the Glucksman, Cork, and Govan Project
> Space, Glasgow.
> In 2018,  Guinan was awarded the Arts Council of Ireland’s prestigious
> Next Generation Award to develop her practice. She is currently a research
> scholar at the Limerick School of Art and Design where she is developing
> the practice of relational socialist realism: an artistic methodology that
> gives form to global social relations.
> www.kerryguinan.art
> Renate Ferro
> Visiting Associate Professor
> Director of Undergraduate Studies
> Department of Art
> Tjaden Hall 306
> rferro at cornell.edu
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au
> http://empyre.library.cornell.edu

Dr. Alex Taek-Gwang Lee

School of Global Communication
Global Centre for Technology in Humanities
Kyung Hee University
1732 Deogyeong-daero, Giheung-gu
Yongin-si 17104
Gyeonggi-do, South Korea

Mobile: +82 (0)10 2787 1459
Telephone: +82 (0)31 201 2285
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