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

Jon McKenzie jvm62 at cornell.edu
Wed Feb 17 00:21:43 AEDT 2021


 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.

Yes, the phamakalogical “nature” of both techne and physis (world as pharmakon) (assuming for  a moment that physis techne ‘like’ life death are distinct spaced out; if not… ) insures their unmasterability, so yes I agree that algorithmic governance suffers constitutional, cosmic glitches. The question for me is why/if that glitch is subjective—or rather how does something like a subject ‘ride’ that glitch into a plane of consistency or collaboration that makes a difference that makes a difference (Bateson’s definition of idea/info carried into action)?

A similar question can be posed regarding the state: the US govt just suffered an attack on one of its primary bunkers, the US Capitol, demonstrating the limits if not the error of CAE’s “the streets are dead” manifesto long ago while opening up America’s governing components to examination, critique, reform and possible mutation—how to follow and widen potentials here?

Stiegler connects this pharmacological condition (at least in relation to techne) to intergenerational care and the destruction of attention/critical thought by generational marketing coupled to devices (in one of his last seminars, he was working with Paris youth).

How are Chinese youth engaging with COVID and other crises of care through media? Are there Gens X,Y, Z, etck, and how are their lifeworlds shaped algorithmically?

This connects with an errant post I sent to the list yesterday in response to question by Amanda.

The questions all loop back to this: howwhat to make of algorithmic glitches (such as al Khwarizmi<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muhammad_ibn_Musa_al-Khwarizmi> himself) at different scales across different sites and times?


Letting kids rule ASAP is a noble objective, Jon: but which kids, we might ask?

Good question. Answer: all kids! They’ll rule one way or another but COVID and preexisting global crises of care offer pharmakological S/CARE Package of cosmic potential, imho: a giant pharmakon Event. Anecdotally, semi-officially, reluctantly, and urgently, folks glocally sense “something big is up” — something for which Seattle, 9/11, Arab Spring, Occupy Wall Street, Chernobyl, Ruby Ridge, BLM, etc were all prototypes or rehearsals, something's up that’s systemic and historical, transformational and destructive, something massive that’s already affected all psyche, indeed, all breath (psyche).

From art to design: I hold a BFA in painting, MA in English and media studies, and PhD in Perf Studies: I’ve made theory and art for decades: over the last 10 years, I’ve come to reframe my work as design rather than art  or critical theory: art and theory, cultural production and conceptual analysis still unfold but within a wider, post-disciplinary field Lyotard described as performative language games ruled not by true/false tables but input/output matrices. As satellite TV taught us with moonlandings and 9/11, global experience design is a thing. The Anthropocene is slow-mo experience design by human agents: is another possible at scale and fast?

StudioLab is not making art with or for our partners, nor are we representing them or theoretically critiquing them or even their situation. We trust that our partners know their situations while offering them media and models to reframe them in productive ways. Eg, in Golan, we are working w Al Marsad to craft a int’l media campaign “simply” to tell the story of occupied Syrians (not Palestinians. Syrians): together we think outside a box surrounded by 2 million land mines. Right now, it’s a storyboard graphic narrative about Emir, a boy killed by a mine but whose spirit will guide the strategic storytelling: it took months to craft the storyboard but it contains the seed of many other stories across many platforms for many stakeholders to address a series of structural challenges. This week, partners introduced themselves to a new set of students who will learn to dream and iterate and actualize with them, the essence of design thinking. It will take years.

The Her Whole Truth team became part of a wider coalition when Lisa’s execution date was set: Trump reframed the entire project in a single moment. Their transmedia storytelling, the grappling with tragedy in words and images and interactions, suddenly went national, aided by lawyers, PR, and advocates who could write, place, and/or provoke stories in the Times, Newsweek, Vice News, and the conservative National Review. Protests and critique and direct action were not options, as they were making an ask of Trump and his intimate circle. It failed but that was the game design. Everyone was devastated and are now recouping.

StudioLab teams don’t study users or perform and present for audiences: we co-design, co-create, collaborate with stakeholders who have a stake in the process, who are thrilled we’re spending time helping them, who will be upset if we don’t show up, etc. The experiential architecture of trust and care forms the sociotechnical performance of our desiring-machines, the langue of our parole. We do fuck up but fail fast iteration works. We prototype ideas across media forms, situating ideation within DT’s media cascade. Alternatively, we break frame, know that they live there, we live dispersed in Ithaca, Jersey, CA, Singapore—wherever students Zoom in from. Using a theater model: we are all Brechtian performers whose roleplaying as designers (few have any design background, some have media powers, all are passionate) is helping to invent rapid response design justice in real-time digital space. The class is recorded and available on Box here<https://cornell.box.com/s/jz8ck4djcagemiqa4v6ecjbsexwf2feo>. Documentation of past classes here<https://blogs.cornell.edu/designmediacommunity/> and here<https://blogs.cornell.edu/designthinkingcommunity/>.

A monstrous side project is relevant to this list with its wide network of media artists and activist. Along with Ricardo, Generation Thunberg<https://generation-thunberg.org/projet/objectifs>, and colleagues from around the world, we are beginning development work toward a 7-year RPG called:

TOYWORLD: Professional Amateur Development Hour for Kids of All Ages

The idea is to support youth activists from the ground up glocally, foregrounding power-knowledge games and rules, playing with roles and structures to access the play “at work” in all beings, animate and inanimate, all structures, intimate and extimate, providing intergenerational care by any media necessary. Workshops, resource sharing, learning to work at scale… whatever emerges as important and fun.

Frankensteinesque, TOYWORLD is composed of TOYWAR, Institute for the Future, Bolo Bolo and Hardt & Negri’s Empire, SCTV, the Communist Manifesto, Taylorism, Nollywood and Pentacostal Evangelicals, Ben & Jerry’s, and Minnie Moore. Here is a surreal ckonsult on TOYWORLD<https://vimeo.com/501496144> and DC events by Ricardo Dominguez and I. StudioLab is working with NYS 4H on its summer Career Expo: think Girl Squads, Micky Marx Clubs, Geek Squads, Science Rappers, DJs on A Thousand Platforms, etc.

Year 1 is R&D.


Jon McKenzie
Director, StudioLab
Professor of Practice, Department of English
Kaplan Family Distinguished Faculty Fellow
Faculty Affiliate, Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research
Cornell University, 104 Klarman Hall, Ithaca, NY 14853
jvm62 at cornell.edu<mailto:jvm62 at cornell.edu> • labster8.net<http://labster8.net/> • podcast<http://teachbetter.co/blog/2017/01/23/tbp-episode-46/> • PechaKucha<https://vimeo.com/220262141/d22b8a22c7> • TEDx<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YmYgTy2VkBU> • TOYWORLD Zoom<https://cornell.zoom.us/j/95554666699?pwd=RTBTbFlvV3NMMWFxbkZVUnZQM3BvUT09>
Transmedia Knowledge for Liberal Arts and Community Engagement: A StudioLab Manifesto<https://www.dropbox.com/s/q6vyrbtxflp6n6e/2019_Book_TransmediaKnowledgeForLiberalA.pdf?dl=0>

Data must be visualized, those visualizations wrapped in stories, and those stories shared with the right people at the right time by any media necessary<https://vimeo.com/435546100>.

On Feb 16, 2021, at 2:58 AM, Alex Taek-Gwang Lee <tglee at khu.ac.kr<mailto:tglee at khu.ac.kr>> wrote:

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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:  https://news.caijingmobile.com/article/detail/428729?source_id=40

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<mailto:rferro at cornell.edu>>님이 작성:
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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.

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.
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.

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

empyre forum
empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au<mailto:empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au>

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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