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

info at aswemaysink.com info at aswemaysink.com
Thu Feb 18 04:35:54 AEDT 2021

Hi everybody,

Thanks to Renate for the invitation and for what has been a very
interesting discussion so far.

I am currently working on a PhD that focuses on critical media art
practices influenced by media archaeology and tactical media. A lot of my
attention was/is framed around the (many) issues associated with the
platform giants of the ‘cloud’. Like with the ‘cloud’ itself, it is easy to
consider these platforms as some sort of abstract, corporate entities,
which they are not.

As I’m sure many of you are aware, most of the companies associated with
the idea of ‘Big Tech’ maintain a presence here in Ireland, mostly in
Dublin. The Europeans HQs of Facebook, Google, Twitter, AirBnB are all in
the city centre, whilst many hyperscale data centres can be found in
various business parks and industrial estates in the surrounding suburbs.
Over the last couple of years, my research/practice has been focused on
documenting the presence of these companies here through writing, talking
and walking. Influenced by artists such as Ingrid Burrington, Mario
Santamaria and others, I’ve lead walking tours that visit the corporate and
physical aspects of the ‘cloud’ in the city in an attempt to demystify
‘tech’ and its techno-political infrastructures through participatory
shared experiences and knowledge.

This has all informed my view on many of the issues and debates surrounding
tech platforms including those that are the focus of this group. These
companies are no longer abstract entities to me – they have become a large
part of the socio-economic fabric of the city I live in – impacting on
housing, policy and general public discourse. In 2019, YouTube suspended
the account of an individual associated with the Irish Alt/Far-Right for
violating hate speech laws. This led to a series of protests outside of
Google’s Dublin HQ by this individual and their supporters, supposedly
defending ‘free speech’, which in turn led to counter demonstrations –
Trolls vs. SJWs IRL!*

The question of regulating these companies is, of course, complex. As a
consequence of GDPR, Ireland has become the de facto data regulator for all
of these companies. In 2020, the annual budget of the Irish Data Protection
Commissioner was $25 million – Facebook's revenue for 2020 was $28 billion.
So how then can we regulate ourselves, or each ‘other’ in relation to the
algorithms and untruths of social media? I’ll borrow from Geert’s post here
 - ‘we’re stuck on the platform and need multiple exit strategies’. The
exit strategies that I focus on in my practice/research are from artists
like Ben, Derek & Jennifer who critique social media platforms through
their work, and in doing so draw attention + generate discussion about the
issues, whilst also often acting as a cultural bellwether for what may be
coming down the line, or indeed, in the next upgrade.

Overlapping with this is education + understanding. Dominico mentioned in
week one about the need for greater digital literacy, and I couldn’t agree
more. Ricardo has also addressed this in his post. In her essay ‘What is
left to subvert: Artistic Methodologies for a Post-Digital World’, Daphne
Dragona uses the term ‘soft subversions’ to describe artistic strategies
and methodologies that engage in critical pedagogy through workshops. Such
workshops reflect the artist’s practice – concepts will be tested and
participants can adopt and modify when and where needed. Dragona suggests
that as the ‘logic of subversion’ has been recuperated by states and market
forces, there is a need for greater awareness of how infrastructures of
power function – from this perspective, knowledge sharing is a subversive
act in its own right.

Artistic interventions in the educational sphere are just one exit
strategy. People are being manipulated by algorithmically propagated
untruths, and trolls are taking to the streets in greater numbers – all at
a time when we’re being urged to stay at home in order to protect each
other. This time will (hopefully) soon pass, but the content generated
chaos will remain.

*I was one of those SJWs.

Cited text:


On Tue, Feb 16, 2021 at 12:32 AM Renate Ferro <rferro at cornell.edu> wrote:

> ----------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
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