Re: nettime The Society of the Unspectacular

2007-06-18 Thread Morlock Elloi
I'll propose a purely information-theory and somewhat mechanical
answer to this issue.

As the art is effected through the exposure to information (which will
hopefully fire some unused synapses and modify the future behaviour
of its customers,) the real change with the networked society is that
the noise floor of the information intake is going up. Until up to
few decades ago, information feed was mostly a matter of choice - one
would go to the church, read a book, watch something on the screen,
peep through the hole, etc.

Today the choice is mostly about which information gets stopped - our
decision efforts are about what we don't want to find out - we are
burning brain cycles not for seeking but for defense. Getting less
shit is considered to be a success. There are few resources left for
finding gems.

It's like wartime - you are lucky to find uncontaminated food and
bullet-proof shelter, there is no time for chefs and architects.
Unlike regular war where most eventually get pissed at the carnage,
it is not clear that there is a viable opposition to the information
carpet bombing. It is clear, however, that while it's going on you can
forget about art.



end (of original message)

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Re: nettime The Society of the Unspectacular

2007-06-12 Thread Keith Sanborn
We all like to stand on the corpses of giants; it 
makes us seem taller, but one should note, that 
it makes the footing mushy. A superficial 
attachment of the historical limits of the 
situationists to a particular set of technologies 
or their social configurations is very old and 
very tired news, nor is it particularly accurate. 
The same condition of pseudo-agency, which the 
situationists described as the spectacle-once 
again: not a collection of images but a 
relationship among people mediated by images-can 
be seen to reign in the inter-passivity of the 
internet. What once reigned in the corridors of 
domestic architecture devoted to worshipping 
television, now reigns on the screens of laptops 
in Starbuckstm worldwide. The commodity form 
still reigns, but it reigns as information. Its 
masters may have become more shadowy, but they 
exist. What's the difference between banks of 
films, tapes, and servers?

Youtube has, in fact, become yet another 
parasitic distribution medium for the materials 
of the spectacle, the way tv became a 
distribution medium for cinema; Youtube is now a 
distribution medium for tv.

There is revolutionary potential in the new 
media--it should never be referred to without 
quotation marks-, lest it be naturalized i.e. 
reified--remains. It was there in the old 
media, but not in its dna, in its social use. It 
was just more difficult of access. And if you 
made something, the community of individuals who 
would see it, would likely be small as your work 
would get lost amidst the noise of the 
spectacle--advertising.

While there is interest in the fact that your 
postage stamp sized video may be seen by hundreds 
of thousands, it will still be accompanied by the 
ads in which google or youtube embeds your 
material; like those embedded journalists, 
who became infected by the spirit of the 
mission. You remain part of the spectacle of 
pseudo-agency, just the way you did when you 
bought the star commodities advertised on tv. The 
difference is the more direct appeal to 
narcissism, in order to seduce you into producing 
the visual trappings proper to selling 
products--think of the cost saving to industry. 
The labor of commercial making has simply been 
displaced on to the users of Youtube, keeping 
in its familiar place the relationship between 
those who think they are consuming and those who 
are actually consuming them. We are again the 
authors of our own slavery.

The search engines which make it possible for 
others to find your work on Youtube are simply 
the latest attempt of the basic motors of 
capitalism to observe the myth Marx refers to in 
a footnote to the beginning of Kapital: capital 
is predicated on the myth that buyers have an 
encyclopediac knowledge of commodities. Of course 
there is potential for subversion. The way google 
bombing can work, or browser sit-ins, or the way 
the do-it-yourself car ads were subverted for 
statements about the damage done to the 
environment, but the dream of being famous for 15 
minutes--is it still that long, Andy?--is just 
another phantasm of the unconscious of capital. 
Plus ├ža change...

Keith Sanborn


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Re: nettime The Society of the Unspectacular

2007-06-11 Thread Felix Stalder
On Sunday, 10. June 2007 19:42, Morlock Elloi wrote:

 If empowerment of the public by cheap self-publishing has demonstrated
 anything, it is that a vast majority has nothing to say, lacks any
 detectable talent and mimicks TV in publishing the void of own life (but
 unlike TV they derive no income from commercials.)

If media are made by, and for, one's own community (which might be very 
small) then talent and excitement are measured very differently. The 
material on youtube etc is boring, mainly, I guess, because it was not 
made for you. Most of us produce lots of stuff that is boring to all but a 
hand full of people. But to them, it's great. It's the stuff that used to 
be called private, but is now online because it's the easiest way to get 
to the intended audience of 5 (or 500, or 5000).

 So I wouldn't say that the classical notion of public has changed in
 the sense that it got fragmented around new media. It's new media
 giving content-free personal smalltalk the ability to be globally
 visible (not that anyone looks at it in practice, but they could, in
 theory.)

The technical possibility that everyone can watch it is pointing into the 
totally wrong direction. It's doesn't mean that everyone should watch it, 
it only means that the size of the audience is not determined on the level 
of the technical protocol but can scale freely up or down.

This does, in some from, lead to a fragmentation of the public, not the 
least because the public in modern democracies was constituted through 
the narrow bandwidth of mass media. Though I'm not sure if this is the 
reason, as Eric suspects, for the very manifest trend of governments 
withdrawing from public discourse. Yet, for whatever reason, there seems 
to be a inverse relationship between the degree of privacy of ordinary 
people and the secrecy of governments. 

Felix

--- http://felix.openflows.com - out now:
*|Manuel Castells and the Theory of the Network Society. Polity, 2006 
*|Open Cultures and the Nature of Networks. Ed. Futura/Revolver, 2005 


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