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NEW-MEDIA-CURATING  March 2014

NEW-MEDIA-CURATING March 2014

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Subject:

Re: March Discussion Begins: The Performativity of Code

From:

Ami Clarke <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Ami Clarke <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 26 Mar 2014 20:20:09 +0000

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Hi all, thanks for inviting me Victoria, and apologies for not being able to contribut until now.  


I’ve been trying to find an
appropriate place to butt in, with these great threads of thought that are
unravelling here.  I’ve not managed to
read everything, so apologies if this is just a repetition of stuff already
said.  I’m not someone who can comp code
either – I come at it from a post-digital publishing and natural language pov.
and various performativities I can see at play. 
 
I’m Ami – I run a reading room with
an archive dedicated to Artists’ publishing and experimental project space on a
train platform in Hackney: Banner Repeater – the location’s important for a
number of reasons but crucially to site critical art within what might be termed the public realm.  We open at 8am
in the morning (4 days a week) to take advantage of the public transport
networks to distribute Artists works, publications and pamphlets to a packed
platform of commuters (4,000 footfall a day – they don’t all stop…).  
 
There’s a long back story to the
conceptual framework of the project (that I tend to call a technical object) -
railways regularised time during industrialisation – concepts of time and
labour (and diagrams) play an important part in the programme – as are the
transport networks to distribute artists publishing (and other alternative publishers) - it
allows us to consider both material and immaterial networks of communication,
in relation to what I call post-digital publishing (both digital and paper) –
which takes into account the history of publishing – ie authorship, issues of
copyright, intellectual property and so on. 
 
I’m both facilitator of this space
as an artist and specifically I’m interested in the performativity of language
(in terms of it always having been so) but now amplified due to digital media
and extensive interconnectivities.  My work that runs in tandem with the running of the space also address' these concerns in a variety of ways.

 
Of importance to my thinking is
Christian Marazzi (the political economist’s) comments that 
 
“language operates in the symbolic realm of 'institutions like
money, property, marriage, technologies, and work itself” 
 
and that
 
“communication
processes [are] the crux of today’s social and political transformations”,
 
I would include publishing, as a form of
performance, and as an instrument of production, bringing forth through
creative acts for all extents and purposes, our lived reality.
 
What I’m really intrigued by – and
this relates to structures (cybernetic theories of homeostasis, feedback loops,
autopoiesis and so on) now in place through a variety of coding mechanisms – is
what is actually creatively possible within these structures?  – that isn’t immediately assimilated into a whirlpool of images and a
torrent of text that slips by at such speed as to be incomprehensible – that
doesn’t profit the old hierarchies that exploit through a lense of
efficiency and profit.  I’m v
interested in intensified uses of these same structures as potential
strategies - especially related to language.
 
I’m afraid my comments may be a
little broad for this conversation, so apologies if that’s the case.  
 
I’ve really liked what I’ve had time
to read – especially a few comments:
  
 
Hi
Barbara and list,
>>
>> So a diagram of this, then, would be a line made up of points, with no
>> hierarchy of parts or actions, so that each point can cross-reference
>>any
>> other.
Victoria
 
And then the comments from Barbara
Lattanzi and Laura Plana Gracia were great too
_____
 
Picking up on Stephanie’s point
below about digital labour makes me think about code performativity from the
other end. In Stephanie’s examples, people are effectively performing for
code.  Tom Schofield
_____
 
I wanted to pick up on Victoria's
question around bodies and performativity as well as comment on something
Rachel mentioned. I actually don't think the body is always the one giving the
code life per se (although in my Hacking Choreography example it is) but the
human element is what is interesting to me.   Kate
____
 
Observing the cybernetic feedback
loops in each of those cases, both for myself and for my students has been
rather a challenge. How is one inside and outside of such a loop? How are we be
both inside and outside of language?   Justin Lincoln      
_____
 
Beyond the look of code, though,
what interests me these days are various strategies to unpack ideology in code,
or ways power, though code, is formed/masked via its operation in culture.
Critical Code Studies, Software Studies, Platform Studies, E-Lit, and “digital
humanities” (troublesome as the term may be) in general, are exciting in this
regard
______
 
But in some sense, programming
cannot be live at all. Programmers
don’t program *in* time, they program *with* it. Back to that knitting
analogy; programmers work with the thread of execution, or the
timeline, by working on the higher-order level of the knitting
pattern. The thread of time does not run through their fingers, but it
does run through their ears, and their computers. Their fingers are
instead working on the knitting pattern which are working outside of
time, controlling the whole process, composing and manipulating
patterns for present and future iterations.

No wonder then that live coders rarely look present at all in the
performances they give. Their audience experience the music now, but
the live programmers step out of time, abstracted out into an amodal,
ungrounded timeless void. In a strange reversal the audience create
all the spectacle, and the performers sit quietly in the corner,
completely still apart from flurried typing and the occasional sip of
mezcal. Maybe the next step for programmers is to learn to work with
time while being in it.  Alex.
______
 
Jack mentioned Gregory Ulmer, and I
find Ulmer's take on Derrida (in _Applied Grammatology_) super provocative and
productive. The idea is that human language progresses via slippages which
happen during actual utterance events. So rather than always concerning
ones-self with adhering to the etymology of a word (as if a word's historical
etymology was somehow God-ordained), one can also concern ones-self with the
future evolution of a word.   Curt

Ami
 
 
Banner Repeater
Platform 1
Hackney Downs Railway Station
Dalston Lane
Hackney
E8 1LA

www.bannerrepeater.org


>________________________________
> From: Jack Stenner <[log in to unmask]>
>To: [log in to unmask] 
>Sent: Wednesday, 26 March 2014, 12:42
>Subject: Re: [NEW-MEDIA-CURATING] March Discussion Begins: The Performativity of Code
> 
>
>Thanks again for assembling this discussion Victoria and Suzy. It's been wonderful and I've learned a lot...the creative juices are flowing!
>
>
>On Mar 24, 2014, at 9:29 AM, Victoria Bradbury <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>
>> In the spirit of CRUMB's practical approach to research, I propose that we
>> spend the final week giving examples of
 performativity and code within our
>> own work by responding to a question of When:
>> 
>> When, in your own art practice, does performativity occur?  Is it when the
>> code is written? Is it when you perform with your body or voice?  When a
>> participant encounters your work?  At all of these points, at another time,
>> or not at all?  Can you give a specific example?
>> 
>> You may choose to comment on the way you are defining performativity in
>> your answer (many definitions have been offered over the course of the
>> month).
>
>All of the above, + life. Life is a performance that is revealed through the artifacts we construct.
>
>Game-Space (2008-10):
>The performativity
 of spectatorship. Institutional looking, local and distributed looking, what it means to look at and be looked at. Human and machinic looking. Not only do we use computer vision to track lookers, we simulate their “viewpoint” and mirror that to the network. The machine performs the look, creating a hybrid subject (complete with errors). Here, the situation is a sort of "stage set" for the performance of viewing.
>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TasxQbTFeDU
>
>Open House (2010-2):
>Again, a stage set for the play of looking, but also the tangibility of interacting. The squatters embody the space/place simultaneously living in an artwork. Viewers, both local (neighbors), and distributed (network via computer or mobile) commingle with the space/place/squatters, so the encounter is performative and durational
 (2+ years). The set of performances discussed in the video below, are more traditionally structured “acts” that play out specific aspects of conceptual interest within the “set.”
>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HwpUJdU2yiU
>
>Maintaining Appearances (2010):
>The performance of social code; the act of obscuring “reality” to preserve order. Simultaneous performativity from first and third person points-of-view. Documentation of a first-person life performance.
>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ypTuiD3a9E
>http://jackstenner.com/art/maintaining-appearances
>
>Murphy’s Well-Being (2012):
>Multiple levels of performance here. We, the EmerAgency (collective), performed as an art consultancy, advising the community on social policy, privileging well-being to complement the typical advice provided by corporate, governmental and scientific experts. While that was a “performance” we took it seriously: art can provide/perform the missing balance in social deliberation. Then there was the performance of the community in our dealings with the issues surrounding ecological disaster, particularly when the work was unveiled to those on opposite sides of the battle. The code was performative in that the set of conditions that structured the display of information was designed to create dynamic associations through montage, etc.
>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A2Hs1K495Pc
>http://emeragency.electracy.org/projects/murphys-well-being
>
>That's more than enough. I think any work that incorporates interactivity necessarily engages performativity. I recall a sculpture I made back in the '90s called "Blink" that was essentially a Donald Judd chrome box with a switch and shutter. I was reading (and barely understanding) Whitehead at the time, and like Curt mentioned for himself, it had a HUGE impact on me. I was thinking about how interaction (computer or otherwise) interrupted classic notions of contemplation and context.
>
>So for me, performativity, via code or otherwise, naturally emerges from concept and context. Very often it is the way we assist understanding rather than illustrate it; doing versus showing, enacting versus watching, emphasizing behavior more than
 process.
>
>Jack
>
>

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