Mieke Gerritzen and Geert Lovink (eds) Style First, Birkhauser Publishers, 2007.
The Contagion of Style [with apologies & thanks to Akseli Virtanen for my plagiarism of 'communication without ends'] Ned Rossiter Did you catch it? That wonderful virus of style? Dont look for any handbook or how-to-guide. There is none. Invent your own. No point in hiding away youll find nothing there except your mirror-image. Narcissism needs an audience. Theres a trick to all this. Remember: the best place to catch a cold is on the airplane. Its all about relation. And so is style. Can there be an economy of style? Sure, if youre some whacko who believes the latest creative economy directives dished out by the policy-wonks and cultural commissars desperate for investment pensions. But lets think of counter-economies, modes of infection and distribution that enable collective transmissions of style. Were talking about modalities of life here. And who, really, wants to find themselves grid-locked on termination street? Style, then, is one of many kernels of difference which makes a difference (Bateson). Remember childhood? The time of high-style, to be sure. I dont know about you, but for me style was always something kids a bit older than me possessed. By association, style travels. This is regeneration. Im next to you, hanging out, and filter your style (aesthesis as sensation) through relation. And turn it into something else. Copying is the technique of invention. Mimicry is not about fidelity, its a process of individuation. Just as a virus adapts to its host, so style is reproduced in singular ways. No proprietary control here. As much as culture is up for sale these days, the best check-out chicks will still say: here, have it for free. They know that culture only excludes if youre the idiot who asks how much? So is there such a thing as non-style? Well, read a policy document on the Creative Industries. This is a version of copying without creation. And that means: no contagion. It doesnt matter that fashions are recycled. Its the register that counts. Not the cash-register, but the palpability of sensation. And what about uncertain style? This is style in its embryonic phase. Yet can it even be called style? The primary element of relationality is operative with uncertain style: it has to be sensed, after all. But the expression of the relation is still to become concrete in a way that makes one style distinct from another. Here we find perhaps the most exciting moment of style generation. This is the time of experiencing experimentation. Communication without ends coupled with action predicated on outcomes. An antagonism subsists within the meeting between experience and experiment. I consider this tension as the political of style. Here is the basis of a political theory of style that is still to be written. # distributed via <nettime>: no commercial use without permission # <nettime> is a moderated mailing list for net criticism, # collaborative text filtering and cultural politics of the nets # more info: [EMAIL PROTECTED] and "info nettime-l" in the msg body # archive: http://www.nettime.org contact: [EMAIL PROTECTED]