From May 3 till May 16, during the Biennale and Dakar OFF events the DAI teamed up with colleagues in and around Dakar. Negotiating Equity in particular looks at ‘curation as artistic practice’ in regard to local contexts, in-situ installations and digital technologies. This year we found form and conclusion in the streets, landscapes and with the people of Dakar with the help of our guide Pape Thiam, journalist Bram Posthumus and Kër Thiossane, Villa for Art and Multimedia. We shared our ‘Works in Progress’ during a public ‘class’ on May 14, organized in collaboration with Raw Material Company, center for art, knowledge and society that works to foster appreciation and growth of African artistic and intellectual creativity.

Participants of Negotiating Equity developed projects that include tourist attractions such as the controversial Monument to African Renaissance (MAR), where the former president Wade had North Korea build the monument, declaring ownership while harvesting 33% of the profits shown by Padraig Robinson’s presentation ‘Exported/Imported Identity’. In Dakar, the presidential palace is the site in front of which several cases of self–immolations were executed as desperate calls to structures of power, triggered out of poverty. Maya Hodoscek’s video ‘Postcard’ focuses on the space itself, on the safely guarded landscape in which citizens are being carefully observed and controlled. Drawing on graffiti and the street art scene ‘Absence/Presence’ focuses on images in regard to memory. Magda Mellin joined in with local gaffers to create public works, as well as a performance at Raw Material Company where she invited guests to draw singular images that would were placed on a city wall to create a collective image.

‘Space is the Place’ by Momu and No Es started with an investigation with You Tube lectures about self representation and became Iron Maiden (The Lecture), a sketch for a video starring Mr.Peterson that mixes fact and fiction to approach Africa’s position in the collective consciousness. This research project was based around issues of ethnic difference, postcolonial policies and one’s own artistic research- to what extent the accuracy (in the construction of a “fiction epeculativa”) is appropriated. Traversing two worlds, ‘Roadstead Rhythms’ by Ingeborg Entrop united the distinct aural differences between Ile de Gorée, nowadays a Unesco heritage site that marks its importance as a monument for Atlantic slave trade, and the Dutch island of Goeree which it was named after. ‘Comme Si’ (As if) by Yoeri Guipin refers to the process of observing and absorbing another culture, yet never being able to look at yourself through the eyes of “others”. After all the cinemas have been closed in Dakar, ‘Comme si’ was a street cinema screening where three languages (Wolof, French and English) converge, offering a platform for a collective experience of an historic film from 1966: ‘La Noire de…’ by Ousmane Sembéne.

Thanks to: Ingeborg Entrop, Yoeri Guepin, Maja Hodoscek, Magda Mellin, Momu and No Es, Padraig Robinson, Pape Thiam, Amoniak Graff, Pape Mamadou Camara (Youngnoble Outlaw), Docta, Bram Posthumus, and media-lab Kër Thiossane.

In this last workshop of the academic year, Brian Holmes joined us to present all the elements of his practice: activism, essay-writing, performance lectures, the organization of public events, traveling experiments in social perception, research collectives, archiving. This practice depends on the self-organization of cooperating groups. It’s not about curating representations, but provoking responses. In this way it can offer one reference-point for all of those who are pursuing a transformation of the existing cultural system. Brian began by showing his ‘research’ in the morning with a retrace of the evolution of the Continental Drift project. Originally it began as a research proposal, inspired by artists who configure multi-layered projects involving various media and extending over long periods. It evolved into a public forum organized with Claire Pentecost and the 16 Beaver Group in New York, including four different events, plus a fifth in Zagreb. It morphed into an experimental travelling practice, the “Continental Drift through the Midwest Radical Cultural Corridor,” which gave rise to the Compass group. A structured, month-long “Continental Drift through the Pampa” was undertaken with Claire Pentecost and the El Levante group in Rosario, Argentina. Finally, a recent public seminar project called “3 Crises: 30s-70s-Today” was organized at Mess Hall in Chicago. This can be seen as a reformulation of the previous experiments. The project has finally found a mode of archiving that makes it accessible and useful for people anywhere.

Brian concluded the morning with a specific focus on the opening lecture delivered for 3 crises- in the 1930’s. We are transposed to Mexico City, at the Palacio de Bellas Artes with two huge commissioned murals facing each other: Diego Rivera’s El Hombre En El Cruce de Caminos (Man at the Crossroads) vs. José Clemente Orozco’s Catharsis. Both painters returned from the US and painted grand murals respectively positioning two opposing viewpoints, on the one hand the communist sympathisor, on the other the glorification of capital after the fall of the stock market. For some, this could reflect the contemporary predicament of today where gamblers (Wall Street) are battling protesters (Occupy Wall Street).

The afternoon session was devoted to a group discussion of self-organized cultural practice taking form by flaneuring through Arnhem, where we took a turn (derive) crossed the bridge, gathered for a rest on some steps and discussed the controversies surrounding the Berlin Biennale and our plans and research projects for our forthcoming trip to Dakar.

In the evening Brian delivered ‘ Mirror, Mirror:Art and the 1 Percent’, in collaboration with another DAI project, Situating Artistic Practices organized by Steven van Thije of the Van Abbemuseum and Ahmet Ozgut. The lecture furthermore premises the question “At what price do subjects speak the truth about themselves?” (Michel Foucault). The answer, when it is articulated according to the rules of the knowledge-based economy, defines the contradictory field of social relations that neoliberal cultural institutions have produced, in arying forms from country to country. Focusing on the relation between expressive practices and the increasingly financialized art market over the last thirty years, this lecture explored the space of tension that characterizes a hegemony. The apparent plasticity of self-reflexive identities transforming themselves through experiments with recombinant media is not only captured by the gallery-magazine-museum circuit, but also tracked and evaluated by sophisticated data-aggregators such as A 2008 film entitled Je Veux Voir (I Want to See), by Lebanese artists Joanna Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige, dramatizes the violence of the crisis that now appears to have broken the institutional mirror where the debt-ridden and increasingly precarious middle classes saw themselves reflected in the gaze of the transnational elites. The question (that remains) is whether, and on what basis, new institutions can be forged, able to articulate the energies, problematics and memories of resistant subjects in historical time and across global space, without reductive valuations or exclusive hierarchizations.

We were delighted that Charles Esche, director of the Van Abbemuseum, joined us for the closing discussion and shared some of his thoughts on the present artistic climate and austerity measures in the Netherlands.

Mick Wilson’s lecture entitled, The Doctor is Out: The Doctor is In -Or- Research isn’t everything: Everything isn’t research -Or- Just Do Something That Interests You, And Shut Up Already, Why Don’t You! kicked off our seminar in which we focused on the coinage, ‘artistic research’ with Mick Wilson, dean of Gradcam in Dublin, Ireland and Saskia van der Kroef, editor in chief of Metropolis M. Mick began by mapping out contemporary artistic research with the notion of ‘reputational economy’, showed examples of his own PhD students at Gradcam, contrasted by contemporary art works as artistic enquiry, defined the Bologna accords and even neoliberalism! amongst other things.

Mick states: ‘The question of doctoral level studies and the question of research within art practice is situated as different but overlapping matters. The tensions around notions of “autonomy”, “purity”, and “alterity” – with respect to the institutional “home” and “circuit” of art practice – are indicated within the current debates on the doctorate and on artistic research.’ He deconstructed myths such as artists are pure, artists should be mute, only make something nice to look at, don’t have things to tell-only to show, they need to express themselves through instinct, emotion or the championing of the modern artist as new primitive. These are old conversations, this is now over.

He then introduced the idea of ‘reputational economies’ as a way of describing how work in the art world is organized, comparing this to wage labour. The ‘contest for legitimacy and authority within different, but also overlapping, reputational economies is identified with reference to the competition to name, define, delimit and authorise artistic saliency and cognitive value.’ How do you build your reputation? You don’t give yourself the reputation, other people give it to you, it gets built by others when you leave the room. Reputational economy operates to manage work opportunities. The reward for doing work is in the form of another show. Opportunity is based on having a reputation and the reward for work is more reputation. But it is not only the art world that makes use of reputational economies.

Reputational economy is used to describe how academia works. This was then contextualized within the academic systems and the structures that enforce the reputation. Academia works for organising the distribution or rewards for work: formal training, obtaining a degree, peer review system. There is a debate though concerning how to maintain reputational currency. Where once the professor was king, now managers are taking control of systems of award. Are we paid a lot? No, it means getting more opportunities to do work, to have more shows, the more shows, the more opportunities. When people are cited in the show, this builds up the reputation. So although this reputational economy takes place in the academy (construed as a singular institutional locus dis-articulated from the larger art system) when we come to the question of research, two different economies emerge with the convergence of the university economy and the art world.

Mick then showed us his programme in Dublin as examples of artistic research practices for PhDs. The students are artists, curators critics. They are asked to work around and deal with these four questions: 1. what are you trying to find out? 2. Why is it worth knowing? How do you go about finding it out? 4. How will you know when you have finished finding it out? In the end what you will produce will not be a response to these 4 questions, but the struggle will bring you from production, making stuff- to enquiry and your relationship with the world – not the production.

In contrast to academic research, Mick collected a few art projects that are structured as enquiry. The longterm project in IJburg, NL Het Blauwe Huis, the transport and exhibition of a work from the Vanabbemuseum Picasso in Palestine, the publication Locating the producers a research project that curated texts about curation, re:public in Temple Bar, Dublin, which asked whether something can happen in public again? and East Side Projects in Birmingham, UK, a research undertaking that constantly built layers from previous shows. Although there was much more to Mick’s 3 hour lecture, he summarized this comparison between PhD enquiry and art world enquiry as having similar goals. The artwork becomes a way to release knowledge. Art is a process, as well as knowledge production and it produces insight into how the world is. Therefore it is not necessarily about authorship.

In the afternoon, Saskia van der Kroef, art critic, writer and editor-in-chief at Metropolis M joined us and gave a brief insight about Metropolis M, introduced some of the very recent publications on research-based art practice and the modes in which artistic research is currently theorized. Her lecture DIY or doctorate? Towards a Genealogy of Art Practice as Research, collates some of her research for her MPhil degree. ‘Artistic research’ and the PhD or doctorate in art are still much-debated subjects in the (European) art field, and especially at art academies – institutions in which these discussions initially started, some 10 years ago, as a result of more general reforms in European higher education. In this presentation she detached the subject from its current treatment, which is characterized by a certain ‘present-ness’ and a dominant focus on its position in art education (instead of art production), by zooming into a possible history of research in visual art. Saskia showed us a number of examples of how research has already been part of art practice and can be in the future.

This month we welcomed both Tina Bastajian from Amsterdam and Prayas Abhinav from Bangalore as our guests.

Contoured Topologies: Street, Archive, Database

Tina Bastajian is a film/new media artist, researcher and archival dramaturge, currently a PhD candidate at the University of Amsterdam (Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis) working in praxis and theory to chart and interrogate subjective mapping tendencies in locative media practices that evoke and reconfigure themselves as potential geo-cinematic constellations.

As a media-artist, researcher and experimental documentarist, Tina Bastajian navigated through the processes and contingencies from the project Coffee Deposits:::Topologies of Chance in collaboration with visual artist Seda Manavoglu. This iteration of the work is contoured into a DVD-ROM, a hybrid between interactive documentary forms and the ludic.

By tracing the adventitious technical and contextual detours, what unfolds is a topology of complex spaces: unpredictable and rapidly shifting urban patterns and disparate stories and accounts by those who inhabit, walk, dwell, witness, work and protest in the city. While GPS traces, coffee deposits, and geo-caching tactics were originally to be used as tangential offshoots (narrative, illustrative, statistical), these later resurfaced through the editing and navigational design process in unexpected ways. These emergent tropes negotiated and speculated multiple viewpoints and disorientations, sometimes via ironic and non-linear traversals within street and screen interfaces. Tina also outlined some of the processes of what she calls ‘locative post-scripts’ (i.e. addendums or epilogues) which formed the augmented reality tour (via smart phone/AR browser, Layar), Pera pARkours, and extended the Topologies archive into public space, in the vicinity of Galata, Istanbul. For a more extensive and detailed description of the project please follow this link.

Being procedural

Prayas Abhinav is a media artist living in Bangalore, India. He is interested in simulating and tinkering with systems of information exchange and perception. Prayas was in Europe for Transmediale in Berlin, an annual festival concerning the role of digital technologies in contemporary society. There he presented work from his collaborative project: outResourcing, a notation language for chasing noise in the autobiographical. By approaching outsourcing as a kind of cultural production which can lead to two-way exchanges across different cultural and economical situations, outResourcing explores the pervasive phenomenon of labor outsourcing from a critical constructive point of view. For this project he developed ‘masking’, and within this ‘Insulation’, a set of objects which can be used for privileging and layering the access which others have to our lives online. These objects are meant to be gifted to people they wanted to create a priviliged access to an online resource for. Insulation therefore becomes a way for chasing noise in the autobiographical, allowing personal narratives online to become layered and aquire more depth.

At DAI Prayas conducted the seminar: Being procedural: don’t compose, define grammars where we attempted to understand how compositional rules and traditions work and how generative paradigms in designing can alter them drastically. His work with gaming has dealt with the use of language, pattern recognition and regression in meaning. As a part of the seminar, Prayas introduced nodebox and demonstrated ways to quickly start playing around the tool. Showing grammar as a backdrop he introduced us to the generative software spamghetto: and some nifty software for quick websites like HOTGLUE, a Content Manipulation System that allows to construct websites directly in a web-browser. In between the games Prayas showed us Media Burn by Art Farm. At the end we voted to work on Scratch, from MIT developers where he continued to talk about games and the key technical and conceptual factors behind them as we attempted to collaboratively make speed videos with the sound of meowing cats. We ended the day with a screening of Entracte by Hobbs/Neustetter as part of their residency and Afropixel festival at Kër Thiossane in 2010 in collaboration with students from the Ecole de Beaux Arts in Dakar, in preparation to our upcoming project with Kër Thiossane during our DAI trip in May 2012.

Last week we were joined by n.e.w.s. contributor Stephen Wright, a Paris-based art theorist, writer, and Editorial Director of the Biennale de Paris who teaches at the European School of the Image, (ÉESI) The Interactive Arts Masters program, University of Pointiers.

Thursday’s marathon seminar was entitled Shadowmapping, which encompassed spy art practices, artistic research as knowledge production, cognitive mapping and the ontology of art in regard to art’s specific use value: it does what no other things do. Once everything could be art… what was the everything? If everything is art, then nothing is and this ontological fate is unique. Art can be both what it is and a proposition of the same thing. What makes something art is the frame, or the specific visibility.

‘Nothing can remain in shadow if it can be mapped. Mapping is a form and technique of attention getting, and since there is little point drawing specific attention to that which is already basking in it, cartographers – like documentary filmmakers – tend to focus on the invisible or barely visible. Yet mapping rarely sees itself as antagonistic to what goes on in the shadows; it fancies itself as aiding the invisible in gaining the visibility it lacks but deserves – as if everything craved attention, and invisibility a deprivation! Does mapping aspire to a perfectly luminescent, shadow-free world? Perhaps — though there is certainly a ways to go in a world shrouded in covert data accumulation and concealed agendas, which is what makes the rise of cognitive-mapping practices over the past decade such a compelling critical by-product of contemporary political and artistic culture. However mapping’s white dream inevitably encounters its own blind spot: for, like all refracting and occluding devices, maps, too, cast shadows.’

‘This particular dialectic of enlightenment has considerable consequences for contemporary art. Indeed cognitive mapping may be seen as contemporary art’s ultimate attempt to save representation, to assert the political potential of mimesis. Increasingly, art practice appears to be moving away from representation toward a regime of redundancy, whereby art does not depict something but is actually at once that something, and a proposition of it: increasingly, art operates on a 1:1 scale. What sorts of mapping projects can be envisaged on this real-life scale? What kinds of contemporary practice are based on data aggregation and how can they themselves be mapped? A little-known text by Lewis Carroll, from 1893, provides an unexpected insight. In Sylvie and Bruno Concluded, Carroll tells of a conversation between the narrator and an outlandish character called “Mein Herr” regarding the largest scale of map “that would be really useful”:

“We very soon got to six yards to the mile. Then we tried a hundred yards to the mile. And then came the grandest idea of all! We actually made a map of the country, on the scale of a mile to the mile! (…) It has never been spread out, yet,… the farmers objected: they said it would cover the whole country, and shut out the sunlight! So now we use the country itself, as its own map, and I assure you it does nearly as well.”

This prescient condensé of the ontological shift underway in contemporary art practice opens three parallel lines of enquiry: 1. How does one go about using the country itself as its own map — ie. what are the conditions of possibility and use of redundancy? 2. Were the farmers right — does such mapping actually shed more shadow than light? 3. What recourse to critical cartography can be envisaged after the end of the regime of representation — a recourse respectful of shadows?’

During the course of the day we viewed works by Wikileaks (Collateral Murder); Bouchra Khalili (Mapping Journey,1-8); Till Roeskens (Videocartographies: Aïda, Palestine); Bureau d’études; Francis Alÿs (Sometimes Something Poetic Can Be Political…);;; Lewis Carroll; Öyvind Fahlström, Jeff Perkins, (Taxi Permits:performative documentation)

This month’s guests were Nicholas Malevé and Seda Gürses who discussed Access & Anonymity. We met them in Brussels at Constant Centre for Art and New Media, an interdisciplinary arts-lab based and active in Brussels since 1997. Constant utilizes free software and free licenses and works with artists, activists, curators and reflects on how this free culture is produced, how it develops, and in which context it takes place. Constant organizes workshops, print-parties, walks and the bi-annual multidisciplinary event Verbindingen / Jonctions 13 -(Connections), from 30 November to 4 December.

Nicholas Malevé is an artist, software programmer and data activist 
developing multimedia projects and web applications for and with cultural 
organisations, such as Constant. His current research work is focused on cartography,
 information structures, metadata and the means to visually represent them.
 Nicholas presented the concept of access, the connection between artwork and movement, free-software and sharing code, along with explaining GPL (General Public License) and the Creative Commons licenses. We first defined what copyright is, as it makes you decide how you distribute your artistic work, also with others and the way you want to share what you do. One of his recent, collaborative projects,, is a net tool for connecting spaces of research and knowledge production to be used by an open community of researchers beyond bureaucratic or geographic boundaries. Academy originated from people who have a practice, coming from below, not from top down. A tool with which to collaborate for both students and teachers, it is designed to infiltrate or follow classes when you are not subscribed. It explores a grey zone within the academy, with the position of the ‘free’ student, the guest listener ‘el oyente’ or the ‘l’éleve libré’. It is a website where you can post other events, alternative education of free schools, quite possibly an e-bay of events. Nicholas reflected on the changing the role of the researcher, how can we connect our practice of research, how do we connect with people outside of our faculty? The last part of his lecture was entitled E-traces with a closer inspection of the rapid enclosure of the internet, IP addresses and web 2.0 ideologies. Rather than encouraging re-use, policies are now aimed at protection, restriction and enforcement. It is this shift, and its ensuing consequences that deserve attention and form the basis for reflections on contexts of interpretation and why they matter.

Seda Gürses is a researcher working in the group COSIC/ESAT at the Department of Electrical Engineering in K. U. Leuven, Belgium. Her topics of interest include privacy technologies, participatory design, feminist critique of computer science, and online social networks. Seda elucidated her research on anonymity in technical as well as cultural contexts, the spectrum being anywhere between anonymous communications and anonymous folk songs. She discussed the use of anonymity as a strategy in networked systems like the Internet especially with respect to profiles. What are the different types of anonymity available on the internet, e.g., anonymous communications, database anonymization, anonymous texts, anonymous artefacts? Seda began by introducing Michelle Teran’s work Surveillance Cinema that utilizes CCTV in different cities and spaces by capturing the signals, then projecting them onto public walls. Anonymity is a powerful concept and strategy. It transgresses concepts like authorship, the original, and the origin, presenting itself across important elements of our lives like songs, poems, oral histories, urban legends, conspiracy theories, chain mails. For centuries anonymity has been used by communities to articulate the voice of the collective. Anonymous statements or artifacts, those things that come out of anonymous production, have signified the cultural practices, beliefs and norms of communities past, while enabling a space for future collectives to build. Some contradictions on anonymity range from the fact that it is quite hard to do it, and that it doesn’t actually work. The problem is that any anonymous data can be linked! No data set can be completely anonymized once it disconnects. If you anonymize data, then data protection doesn’t apply, you loose your rights. You become free but have no protection, a paradox. Corporations use anonymity, so it’s hard to make them liable.

Seda then showed us an example of an anonymous artifact, Whose song is this?, a documentary by Adela Peeva. In her search for the true origins of a haunting melody, the filmmaker travels to Turkey, Greece, Macedonia, Albania, Bosnia, Serbia and Bulgaria. The trip is filled with humor, suspense, tragedy and surprise as each country’s citizens passionately claim the song to be their own and can even furnish elaborate histories for its origins. See Seda’s text Pets and their users. The objective of this paper is to show that PETs (Privacy Enhancing Technologies) are indispensable but are short of being the privacy solutions they claim to be.

We traveled through Brussels and in-between our lectures stopped by Wiels Contemporary Art Centre to view the exposition Riffs by Yto Barrada, whose photographs, films, publications, installations and sculptures engage with the peculiar situation of her hometown of Tangier, Morocco. Devrim Bayar, residency curator, was there to greet us and explain their international residency programme. We also visited an expansive survey of the work of Polish sculptor Alina Szapocznikow and Reporter without boundaries, by Annelies Vaneycken, a social design project which reflects the everyday life in Brazilian Favelas through a newspaper, Journal of Unread articles, with these same texts fly posted on walls of the favelas.

This October our guest was Simon Ferdinando. In response to the proposed theme of the Archive he chose to address the idea of the body as archive. He framed the discussion within the apparently paradoxical pairing made by George Bataille in his entry for the museum in the Documents Critical Dictionary,where Bataille proposes an alarmingly lucid linkage between the Museum and the Guillotine.
Violence formed the focus of the morning’s discussion. A short piece of film from You Tube shows Batailles only televised appearance (1958) in which he discussed his book Literature and Evil. This interview sheds a lot of light on a very difficult body of work. No discussion of Bataille can avoid Documents, the journal co-founded and edited by Bataille. Despite its small circulation and brief life, Documents has become influential well beyond its roots in 1920’s Paris. Although the journal is most frequently associated with Georges Bataille, it was a remarkable collaboration that included seminal figures of the avantgarde such as Michel Leiris, Robert Desnos and Karl Einstein. Its project remains as much a belligerent challenge to the laziness of the contemporary world as it was more than eighty years ago. As the exhibition Undercover Surrealism showed, Documents still sets the bench mark for any claim on editorial heterogeneity (Hayward Gallery 2007 London).

Eli Lotar’s photographs from the former La Villete slaughterhouse in Paris (now the site of the post modern La Villete Park), the Black Birds Negro Review and contributions from Jacque Andre Boiffard were all utilized to open up some of Bataille’s ideas and positions on notions of transgression and sacrifice. A brief detour included the still astonishing Une Chien Andelou (1929) by Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dali, best known for the notorious eye slicing sequence (just in case you are unaware Buñuel did not actually slice Simone Mareuil’s eye, the stunt double was an ox’s head probably from the La Villete slaughter house).

The Afternoon session shifted the scene to the Northeast of England with the work of the seminal British performance artist Stuart Brisley, which poses some distinctive questions of physicality, the archive as our own bodies and those bodies ground within bureaucratic mechanisms that continuously confuse the structure and the archive. Brisely also made a defining work for the Artist Placement Group with The Peter Lee Project. Its focus was to create an archival project aimed at mining not the landscape but the memories and knowledge of the people of the area in order to help find an anchorage in what was already a community coming adrift under the pressures of new economics. Peter Lee was intended as a fresh start for post war mining communities of the Durham coalfields, a new town standing in stark contrast to the old unsanitary Victorian architecture of the North East. The development was troubled from the start when it was found that the ground upon which the proposed high rise flats were to be built was riddled with abandoned mine shafts and tunnels (a situation that beautifully evokes Bataille’s Old Mole the ‘drudging fiend’). The focus of this stage of the Simon’s presentation was Victor Pasmor’s Apollo pavilion (though the name refers to the space program it is coherent with Nietzsche’s dichotomy), an architectural sculpture acting as a bridge connecting two parts of a housing estate. After its completion in the late 1960’s it rapidly became a focus for local discontent, the haunt of cider drinking teens and later smack addicts, its graffiti seemed to resonate with a Bataillian ‘formless’ aesthetic.

This is the same violated landscape where Michael Cain stars in the 1971 version of Get Carter where Carter exacts his brutally sadistic revenge on one of his brothers killers. The final scene of the film ends with Carter/Cain’s assassination, his head moving gently, rocked by the slight waves of coal blackened water, all of which bears uncanny resemblance to the recurrent motief of Stuart Brisley’s Arbeit Macht Frei (1973). In what is probably Brisley’s best known and one of his most powerful works the opening sequence as an extraordinarily visceral and prolonged session of vomiting followed by Beckett-like views of Brisley’s head repeatedly rising and falling below murky water. In both the film and Brisley’s documentation there is a remarkable analogue, intense gaze trying to explore the extraordinary in the most quotidian way that eloquently recalls Batailles: Apollonian order from on high confronted by darker tragic currents that seem to well up out of the earth itself.

Negotiating Equity, one of DAI’s projects, presented work from Space the Final Frontier, a 19-day journey to India in collaboration with CEMA and Srishti School of Art and Design in the IT capital, Bangalore. A one-week seminar focusing on space as a concept, locative media and search as more than just a tool, resulted in a series of public interventions in and around the city. Participants collaborated on creating works while filming public protests, recording and transcoding soundscapes, scripting movies, developing solar energy solutions and organizing impromptu public performances resulting in an exhibition at Chitra Kala Parishad, Bangalore on March 17, 2011.

The Negotiating Equity presentation at DAI kicked off at 14:00 in the Gang, Arnhem, part of a daylong programme of presentations at DAI-ArtEZ. Daily blog posts from from Negotiating Equity participants contextualize the excursion with images and text, presented as hanging scrolls in the space. ‘Chaiwalla’, an itinerant ‘tea service’ on wheels, moved through the installation during the afternoon, serving up Indian tea and conversation whilst distributing postcards with the project’s website:

The past year Negotiating Equity addressed the concept of space and all of its manifold possibilities, investigating experimental and conceptual art practices under physical as well as virtual conditions. Drawing upon a wide range of artistic and art-related practices, some off the radar, undocumented and under-theorized, others representative of art historical paradigms, we examined various exhibition and presentation models along with finding other audiences, virtual or otherwise, implicitly or explicitly challenging dominant regimes of spectatorship all too often considered self-evident.

Negotiating Equity first welcomed n.e.w.s. contributor and director of research at CIS (Centre for Internet and Society), Nishant Shah for Face-to-Face meetings with the students on Thursday. Later on that evening he gave a public lecture entitled We, The Cyborgs…

Drawing from contemporary and historical debates in Social Sciences, Artificial Intelligence, Robotics and Cybercultures, the talk looked at the models and processes of cyborgification to understand new ways by which human-technology interactions and relationships can be explored. Nishant framed the lecture around questions of the body, technology and regulation. With the emergence of pervasive and ubiquitous technologies of computation and communication, cyborgs, once the objects of futuristic writing and academic theorization, have become a part of our everyday life.

From prosthetic implants to virtual appropriations, different models of understanding the cyborgs are now available to us. What does this cyborgification of life, labour and language do to our existing notions of being human? We can break it down into two categories, machine centric and human centric, but not every interaction with technologies is cyborg. Although we are born with human centric technologies, we are becoming cyborgs and they shape the way to be human. According to Nishant, cyborgs subsume reality, allowing you to be more human than is possible. But not every interaction with technology is cyborg. The idea of a techno-social subject questions technology not as paradigms but as tools (gadgets). A cyborg does not talk in society, rather they are alone and unique, at the intersection of society. A cyborg does not look at science but technology. Nishant then gave three examples from Asia where the cyborg has moved on to the techno social and described their intelligibility and incomprehension.

Geoff Cox joined us on Friday for an all-day seminar entitled Strategies for the antisocial web. Presently he is a Researcher in Digital Aesthetics, part of the Digital Urban Living Research Center at Aarhus University (DK). Geoff focused on a range of projects that present critical strategies in response to the paradoxes of social media, its promises and its shortcomings beginning with ‘curating technologies’. Although these platforms facilitate unprecedented levels of sharing, the social relation is arguably produced in restrictive form, as personal and collective exchanges are further commodified.

Drawing on examples from his experience as Associate Curator of Online Projects, Arnolfini, Bristol (UK), he began with ‘Anti-social’ media, as an area of concern using examples from a number of online projects he developed for Arnolfini such as “Repetitionr by Les Liens Invisibles, a petition platform that generates fake signatures. unCraftism is another example within this project organized by Rui Guerra.

Some of his artistic collaborations include Notes Towards the Complete Works of Shakespeare, with cooperation from Elmo, Gum, Heather, Holly, Mistletoe and Rowan, Sulawesi Crested Macaques (Macaca Nigra) from Paignton Zoo Environmental Park (UK). It was produced in response to the familiar idea that if an infinite number of monkeys are given typewriters for an infinite amount of time, they will eventually produce the complete works of Shakespeare. It was translated to a computer environment, producing live updates published on the web, alongside a webcam view of the production scene showing the creative activity in its fuller context. Geoff also serves as treasurer of the Museum of Ordure, an on-going collaboration with Stuart Brisely and Adrian Ward that will present its latest project this summer.

‘Coding publicness’ was framed by examples from, which is Geoff’s workspace that maps out his practice, projects and research. The project Data-Browser, in collaboration with Plymouth University, UK and published by Autonomedia, presents critical texts that explore issues at the intersection of culture, technology and society.

These initiatives also relate closely to the work of KURATOR, a research and curatorial platform that has a special interest in the parallels between the ways that objects are assembled in technical systems and in curatorial practices. The symposium organized together with DARE at the beginning of this year in Aarhus, Public Interfaces, is ongoing research around interface criticism, the aim is to broaden issues to encompass the development of urban interfaces, and the changing concept of the ‘public’. Finally, Geoff emphasized how new cultural forms that emerge from coding cultures allow for a reappraisal of the concept of the ‘public’, making it open for further modification and reuse.
Joasia Krysa then joined us in Skype from Plymouth University, UK, where KURATOR is based to explain her past practice at KURATOR which has a particular interest in the emerging discourse and practice that links curating with programming, software and networks. Silicon Dreams: Art, Science & Technology in the European Union focused on the currency for transdisciplinary practice across Science, Technology and Art and was co-ordianted by Joasia. After the net, 3.0 explores the paradoxical development of the Internet by presenting artworks that highlight key developments from cybernetics to free and open source software, and social networking platforms. Joasia then explained the curatorial premise of the forthcoming Documenta 13, in which she will participate as one of the curatorial ‘agents’ and presented some of her research.

At the end of the afternoon we discussed Geoff’s text from 2010, Virtual Suicide as Decisive Political Act. Focusing on social media and the way subjectivity is captured, virtual suicide ‘stands as the stubborn refusal to operate under intolerable conditions of service and affirms the possibility of creative autonomy over work and life.’

This week our guest was Simon Ferdinando, a free-lance curator and writer, describing himself as a de-specialized Bricolleur (French for odd job man). He is presently pursuing a PhD at John Moores University in Liverpool. Simon organized an all-day seminar consisting of anecdotes and films touching on ideas of protest, resistance and presence. He presented themes that weave popular culture activities, sport and music or just hanging out watching movies with political ideas such as Black Power and American involvement in the Vietnam War. These films bring together (within the idea of the Space of Protest), a historical premise that both problematizes and represents the appropriation of spaces governed by the rule of rigid normalities through symbolic gestures and practical action against contemporary and historical traumas. Addressed through the works of artists, news reels, Nouvelle Vague cinema and documentary, and the recurrent presence of the Black Panthers- the militant street level activist wing of the Black Power movement- the day was a marathon with a message: History is not dead and it is still dangerous.

Beginning with Rock my Religion (Dan Graham 1984), this film offers a matrix of text, cine-footage and performance, connecting linkages through American history from the arrival of Anne Lee and her Shaker followers in the 18th Century and culminating in the dystopic ecstasy of Patti Smith. During its course Graham forms a compelling hagiographic, theoretical and biographical essay tracing a parallel history of its emergence in the USA via a particularly American sense of ecstasy that for Graham is embodied in rock ‘n’ roll.

AK Films archives of Newsreel Films vintage footage of the Black Panthers protests and rallies ‘What We Want, What We Believe’ Shows newsreel film. ‘Off the Pig’, ‘Mayday’ and ‘Repression’ highlighted not only iconic images of Angela Davis, Huey Newton and Eldridge Cleaver, but also the role of the Panthers Ten Point Plan, which proposed to tackle issues of poverty and injustice in ghetto neighbourhoods, including the famous pre-school breakfast programme. This footage offers a rare opportunity to see Black Panther protests and the visual and physical iconography of the Black Panther movement in its original context.

‘1+1’ is the Director’s cut of ‘Sympathy for the Devil’ by Jean Luc Godard (1968) an exhilaration of Godard’s political engagement as it turns toward his (so called) Maoist phase. Contemporary with the height of American Black Power movement it creates a remarkable paradoxical picture which concentrates the conflicts inherent in the period, into a remarkable series of tableaux scenes. His lyrical filmic presence interlaces these with reflections of space during the recording of ‘Sympathy for the Devil’ by the Rolling Stones.

In the later part of the 1960′s with the Vietnam war becoming a media phenomenon, sport joined art, music and popular entertainment in a newly politicized arena, in which Black athletes were making their opinions clear. The BBC documentary ‘Black Power Salute’ (Geoff Small 2008) tells the story of the members of the 1968 US Olympic sprint team. Their protest actions in support of the Black Power movement and its agenda was defined by John Carlos and Tommy Smith, in an iconic gesture. During the awards ceremony of their gold and bronze medal for the 200 meter sprint, they raised their clenched fists in a Black Power salute. Almost immediately afterwards they were kicked out of the Olympics, and the film shows the impact of the persecution from the Olympic community and the American establishent in reaction to their radical engagement. Before the days of internet and social media, the Olympic viewership was the greatest the world had ever known of any event and this action became iconic for millions of people around the world.

Taken together in the space of one day, these films developed a complex collage offering a potential for a derive, through memory, theory, politics, iconography, and gesture, whilst opening up an array of possible readings of the space of protest versus the rules of the game (Le Regle du Jeu).