[iDC] Re: Interactive City: irrelevant mobile entertainment?
ryan.griffis at gmail.com
Tue Aug 15 15:52:35 EDT 2006
These are great questions and concerns coming up here, for me. Of
course, they're not new, but i think people, including myself, feel a
certain urgency that may be new due to emerging circumstances.
To play the devil's advocate (or maybe Adobe's advocate in this
instance), i wonder about the explicit and implicit attention to the
problem of commodification.
While the capitalist directive that many of us find troubling in
locative media projects (their existence as commercial R & D and
class-privileged mobile play), i wonder if directing the critical
energy towards the commercial pull of the "market" isn't misdirected.
To be sure, i say this with much hesitation, trepidation even, as i
do think the "market" is the most destructive symbolic force around.
But i wonder if there isn't a need to redirect a bit.
Specifically, i'm thinking of some of the ideas of Bruno Latour, and
his critique of the project of critical theory. Not of its strategy,
but of its tactics. If you haven't read Latour, i think the most
direct examples of his writing on this can be found in an interview
with him in Art Journal (spring 06) and his contribution to _Things_
(ed. Bill Brown). While i'm very suspicious of his attack on
criticism, i also see some very thoughtful analyses of the current
political situation where the pomo-political critique of science has
been become a powerful tool of capital.
Jordan Crandall recently posted an interestingly poetic essay to nettime
where he closes with:
"What possibilities exist, then, for political action? For Brian
Massumi, political action has to learn to function itself on the same
level as affective power: it has to meet affective modulation with
affective modulation. Yet does it not also need to reveal the terms
of this modulation -- in other words, the structuring of the
An affective, performative politics is certainly of the order, yet is
this not the aim of political violence? For Massumi, the crucial
question is whether there are ways of practicing an affective
politics that doesn't rely on violence and the hardening of divisions
along identity lines that it usually brings. Such an expressive or
performative politics would require, following Brian Holmes' reading
of Suely Rolnik, an understanding of political resistance not only in
terms of sterile confrontation with an objectified other, but in
terms of a transformational dynamic of reknitting and even
REINVENTING the relation with the other.
Perhaps, too, the affective FORMULA that traverses form, transforms,
should not only become the object of cultural analysis, but also that
of performative and aesthetic practice? The affective formula that
carries with it formal imperatives both material and rhythmic,
interweaving programs, actors, parts, and tendencies. The affective
formula that is geared to encounter other formulas and transform them
In any case, we are talking about a political practice that is not
"oppositional" but compositional."
To get to a specific practical example of these ideas playing out (in
my reading anyway), i think the C5 Corp ( http://www.c5corp.com/ )
and CLUI ( http://www.clui.org -- who Sarah Kanouse [another referral
to Sarah!] has written on for Art Journal]) are examples of an
embrace of a form of critical positivism (if that isn't blatantly
contradictory!), or what i think looks at politics through a
"compositional" as opposed to "oppositional" methodology. A project
that Kevin told me about that was ISEA that i don't personally know
of, based in China and called "the Long March" sounds interesting in
this direction as well. i'm also conscious that these projects
contain their own forms of exclusion.
i think there are some unsettled points of discussion in Tobias'
"I define "breakthrough" either artistically-conceptually (the
entertainment industry is far ahead of artists here) or via hacker
means (hackers are ahead of artists here in repurposing and
exploiting the technology). What is it that keeps artists at the back
of the pack?"
How does one delineate "ahead of" hear? What is the line exactly that
the entertainment industry and hackers are "ahead of" in relation to
artists? Is it affect? The purpose of my questioning this comes from
my understanding of the "avant garde" as actually always and
necessarily being "behind" in terms of affect, technology and
distribution? There are lots of problems with the avant garde as a
concept, but i have to say that this "slowness" is actually a
positive attribute in my book. The speed that would make Art "ahead
of" the pack, is exactly the speed that's being critiqued in terms of
ISEA, no? That's when art's value becomes one and the same with R & D
and spectacular distraction (entertainment industry) and loses its
potential for criticality and reflection.
But that's the question isn't it? Should we be pursuing an art of
radical invention, embracing positivistic utility and institutional
identifications in the hopes of creating difference technologically?
Or demanding our autonomy from function, grounding our play in
negative dialectics and reflection in the hopes of creating a
difference through consciousness?
Or is it a mistake to make this an either/or proposition? Wasn't this
the project of tactical media -- to conflate the two?
Sorry for the lengthy and unfocused response.
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