[iDC] On Media and Memory

Scott Kildall scott at kildall.com
Mon Nov 5 19:28:37 UTC 2007

I think Brad had brought up a helpful way to frame the move from a  
culture of the use of forms: one where ownership is dipping into  
ambiguity. As he points out, structures of capital manipulation are  
still very much in place. What appears to be a global culture of  
media sharing is being run by unaccountable structures. de Certeau's  
distinction of tactical production is certainly useful: we are  
carving out a space in a larger system of strategies.

I agree and don't suggest (as Bourriaud and others might) that the  
emergence of this hyped sharing culture posits any sort of structural  
revolution. The powers of capital are more firmly entrenched than  
ever. They own this territory of systems for aggregating and  
navigating media and information. We merely traverse through nodes in  
planned and also some beautifully unplanned ways.

Isn't this the usual the case for any modern cultural production: a  
dialogue between the planned and the unplanned? I do see new patterns  
of production emerging from a specific gap in between the collection  
and the catalogue. This is In two distinct ways does this seem to  
manifest itself:

The first is more direct, that of anonymity. Many do seek celebrity  
status either as real auteurs or artificially-generated celebrities.  
Others become celebrities through no intent of their own. At certain  
points, the intent to become anonymous holds, fighting against a  
celebrity. Attachment to a branded facial form is a dominant theme in  
most cultures, perhaps in they way that humans operate in that  
patterned familiarity creates a sense of comfort.

The second in a separation from media from its source; the clip now  
dominates in video; music samples and sound recordings are likewise  
cleaved from their original. Sometimes we can identify its origin and  
sometimes we can't. More so with faces in video and less so with  
music which affects different portions of the mind.

It is at this secondary site that the collapse of authorship begins  
to take form. Intent is meaningless at this locus. The examples of  
this begin as two-source mashups of already familiar cultural content  
(see examples below...warning...I use them as example only). These  
begin to point to a larger cultural event.

To elaborate on Brad's point about folklore..I suggest that this is a  
new media folklore. but stripped of its nostalgia-value. The oral  
tradition is supplanted by the passing of links to videos. No one  
cares who these authors are. Upon further research, we are left with  
one-word nonsensical names, a location and links to others. I doubt  
that these links will have much staying power as they are passed  
along ahistorical trajectories.

Additional thoughts?

Scott Kildall

On Nov 2, 2007, at 12:44 PM, Brad Borevitz wrote:

>> the effects of the recent blurring between media producion and  
>> consumption.
> the idea of a transition from an ideology of ownership to a culture  
> of the
> use of forms is provocative. i wonder if de Certeau's notion of use as
> production in his "The practice of everyday Life" is relevant. he  
> makes a
> distinction though between the realm of production he calls  
> strategic, which
> depends on power, and the triumph of place (the proper) over time,  
> and the
> tactical production through use which is the revenge of the weak,  
> who have
> no proper place, no power, and only the cunning of time in which to
> manipulate the givens of the powerful to their own ends.
> these categories, i think, help make sense of the landscape of  
> struggle that
> is social media. it is important to shake off the tendency towards  
> utopian
> dreaming and realize that the explosion of cultural production that  
> we focus
> on so fixedly is contextualized within a nexus of legal and technical
> infrastructure that is designed and deployed by and in the interest of
> global capital.
> whether it is the network itself, its protocols, the vast server  
> farms of
> google, or youtube, or myspace, their software, their terms of  
> service, the
> great edifice of international intellectual property law and  
> multitudes of
> lawyers that police the proprietary holdings of  
> megamediacorporations ...
> all of these are the constraining location of our use - of our game of
> sharing. they determine the horizons of possibility while we invert  
> and
> subvert their meanings in spaces hacked out of, and borrowed from  
> their
> territories. we rent. they own.
> so i don't see a change of structure in our time; it is possible  
> that there
> is an intensification of struggle. but every tactical victory is  
> countered
> by strategic maneuvers: youtube has mechanisms for the removal of
> proprietary content; napster was killed, news reports show that  
> comcast is
> blocking filesharing at the network level, people are being taken  
> to court
> for sharing music; we are unprotected from electronic surveillance  
> by the
> government ...
> the insight that an art of appropriation depends on a tacit  
> acceptance of
> the proprietary is useful. but i can hardly conceive of a way to  
> get beyond
> that and to remain "art". and i don't believe that popular culture  
> exists
> outside of some idea of authorship - rather i think it is dependent  
> on it
> for its existence.
> can we even cite a work of art without simultaneously citing its  
> author?
> even more so than in literature, the work of art is tied to the  
> authorizing
> hagiographics of creative identities. all experiments in  
> renunciation and
> disavowal of intent and authority have failed, either outright or  
> in the
> recuperative movements of the market and historiographic circuits.  
> The most
> popular of popular productions are identified with the simultaneous
> production of identity, either in the figure of the star, or in  
> that bastard
> of identity, the corporate brand (o holy fandom, o brand loyal  
> minions).
> but there may be a cultural realm (more) immune to claims of  
> identity --
> this is not some new technoshpere, it is simply folkculture - which  
> must
> have its memic technological counterpart (although anonymity is not  
> the
> default in cyberspace, rather it seems something that must be  
> laboriously
> produced and achieved). is there folk culture in cyberspace? the  
> authorless
> song? the "traditional". the (urban) legend. the tale.
> maybe in those viral meanderings of misinformation, chain letters, sad
> stories, fear mongering, and get rich quick schemes ... maybe in those
> endlessly circulating and authorless texts, there is some clue to  
> what could
> come if we managed to become authorless.
> Brad Borevitz
> <http://onetwothree.net>

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