[iDC] The Participatory Challenge

Ksenija Berk ksenija.berk at siol.net
Wed Jul 5 14:41:50 EDT 2006

Hello Trebor and all,

This is also my first post here, so let me introduce myself. I work as a
freelance art critic and theorist in the fields of visual arts and design in
Ljubljana (Slovenia). I am also in the middle of my PhD study in philosophy
of visual arts at Polytechnic Nova Gorica (SI). My research thesis focuses
on contemporary graphic art and the economies of vanishing object of art
that reveal themselves through biennials of graphic art.

In theoretical research, I try to challenge the solid disciplinary bounds
and open the intersections between art, design, architecture, technology and
social networks. Research topics: visual arts, design, contemporary
aesthetic, French critical thought (esp. A. Badiou, J. Ranciere), new
curatorial approaches, the role, gole and mission of  contemporary museums,
art and politics.

Must say that it is pretty hard to follow the long text discussion, because
they are very concise and detailed. I could contribute to several parts that
provoke my thought but for the begining I'd like to focus my attention to
the so called emancipatory potential of computer mediated technologies.

I could agree to some point that computer technologies can be extremely
liberating in a certain way. Yes, they help me to participate to
discussions, conferences and many events from my virtual office. Which for a
student is ok, since I live in a European country where the average salary
doesn't exceed 750 EUR? It is true that internet enables me to stay in touch
with my colleges in art theory and philosophy, since sometimes I can
contribute my texts via e-mail or participate to a conference online and
save the travel expenses.

However there is an 'underside' to all the benefits as Didi-Huberman would
express it. Let's just face it that we live in a very special form of
colonialism, of tehchnological colonialism, which compared to other forms of
colonialisms is very soft and mostly hidden. There are several organization
who offer you the wireless-communication devices almost for free. As a
student you have a free access to internet in several institutions, if you
have a good modem, also at home.

I think that at this point we should not be naive how new and emerging
technologies have a huge liberating potential. The neo-liberal capitalism is
quite aware how an investment in technology is a tiny cost for all the
information they can collect with the help of it. In a virtual community you
can hide to other participants using another name or profile, but you cannot
escape the big corporations who, based on your digital footprints you leave
each time you use the www know you better than you know yourself.

The big brother has not disappeared, just dispersed itself smoothly through
all the web system. And a little brother, since there is no place left to
hide anymore, can't play a little exhibitionist anymore and at the end
becomes nothing else but Zizekian pathological narcissus.

Best wishes,

Ksenija Berk

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