Work, Musings, Writings and Projects from FLEFF's Checkpoints Lab 2011
Friday, April 8, 2011
Interview with Elvira Dyangani Ose, curator and art/architectural historian, in preparation for the upcoming FLEFF11 Checkpoints Panel entitled Activist Retooling, Fourfold, to be held on 12 April from 7-9PM in Business 104 on the Ithaca College Campus.
Interviewed by Claudia Costa Pederson; video edited by Nicholas Knouf.
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Week 7's student summary comes from Annie Bunyavadhana.
In Code is Speech: Legal Tinkering, Expertise, and Protest among Free and Open Source Software Developers, by Gabriella Coleman examines how Free and Open Source Software developers were able to use their techno-craft to defend against the legal efforts that try to constrain their autonomy.
Connecting code and speech as presented in a haiku written by Schoen for a protest, Coleman argues that source code is speech. Developers construct new legal meanings by challenging the idea of software as property and by crafting new free speech theories to defend the idea that software is speech.
The essay used jurisgenesis to demonstrate how F/OSS (Free and Open Source Software) developers explore, contest, and specify the meaning of liberal freedom with the development of new legal tools, how developers bolster this legal expertise to engage in “contentious politics,” and how this technology based movement emerged into freedom and much more, the democratic citizenship. What is impressing to me is that this was a time where tens of thousands of technologists, who call themselves as hackers, were able to develop and enhance a project all virtually on the web, instead of trying to destroy the other person’s work. They were also reliable too. The free software developed by MIT hacker Richard Stallman, could be copied, shared, circulated, and modified, unlike proprietary software. The Linus kernel project later transformed Free Software into a larger scale movement where thousands of contributors can alter the legal and ethical principles of Free Software. By the late 1990’s, Eric Raymond revamped Free Software to attract business investors into “Open Source Software.”
Soon enter the legal issues where Coleman suggests that the law and technology blend into each other. With copyright laws and patents restricting developers from modifying and accessing the already made programs, the General Public License (GPL) or copyleft was invented to allow users and hackers to appropriately “transform to include a more specific language of free speech” (424). Coleman presents an insightful discussion on how political policy has placed restraints on creativity in that of copyrights from the time of print to today’s culture of programming. Hackers, or the artists, themselves have been successful in fighting the legal and political battle to suit their needs to be transformative and populist ideals to have their source code open and free to the public.
This idea of how free and public should information be relates to the project on Wikileaks. Who owns the right and control over the information? Should the owner/artist/programmer/investor profit from the information at the public expense? How does this correlate to our economic system and political ideals? If we are to have free speech, shouldn’t it be a right for citizens to have access to these information and freely share it without legal institutions coming in the way?
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Week 7 looked at the phenomenon of Wikileaks, and especially how it intersects with digital and physical borders on the so-called "immaterial" Internet.
Geert Lovink and Patrice Riemens, “<nettime&rt; Twelve Theses on Wikileaks by Geert Lovink & Patrice Riemens”, December 7, 2010, (accessed January 23, 2011)
Alexander R. Galloway, Protocol (Cambridge, MA, USA: MIT Press, 2004), 28–53, 240–246
Gabriella Coleman, “Code is Speech: Legal Tinkering, Expertise, and Protest among Free and Open Source Software Developers”, Cultural Anthropology 24, no. 3 (2009)
Gabriella Coleman, “What It’s Like to Participate in Anonymous’ Actions - Gabriella Coleman - Technology - The Atlantic”, December 10, 2010 (accessed January 23, 2011)
Faculty of the College of Ontopoetic Machines, “<nettime> Six Anti-Theses on WikiLeaks”, December 11, 2010, (accessed January 23, 2011)
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
This week's student summary comes from Julian Weisner.
Since the assimilation of computers and machines into daily human life there have been questions about the benefits of these “advancements” Recently more than ever as a culture filled with technology I have seen and heard of many downsides to these “advancements”. Just as we have gained new materials and media for communication, art, and interaction; we have lost touch with who we were and how we used to communicate, depict ourselves, and interact. Hakim Bey discusses this idea in art and play, and portrays this quite vividly by pointing out our losses: “We miss the directness of play (our original kick in doing art in the first place); we miss smell, taste, touch, the feel of bodies in motion”.
There are mixed interpretations for why we seem to be growing more and more distant from what we were. There are fingers pointed at capitalism and greed, machines and computers augment production and accomplish tasks faster, and time, is, money, or as Anthony Dunne depicts, large corporations develop these technological instruments to coddle us [as in the masses(sheep)] into select roles, rooting out ingenuity and creativity and laying it all in the hands of top engineers and scientists in corporations who appease to the lack of human initiative, which allows us to let this easier way of life to envelope us.
Either way human life has forever changed due to our technology. We kill to keep up with it, quite literally. In central Africa there is an abundant amount of Coltan. An element necessary for cell phones, computers, and video games ... William Shaw depicts the conflict that has ensued as such:
The Congo has the world’s largest coltan reserves. These have been systematically fought over by the new kleptocrats, the warlords, and exported clandestinely via neighbouring countries, Uganda, Burundi and Rwanda. The boom in mobile phone sales coincided precisely with the eruption of what has been the world’s bloodiest conflict since WW2. Around 4 million have died so far in the violence and its aftermath. Disease and ongoing violence means that Congolese are still dying at a rate of 45,000 a month.
He even links the conflict to its true source…technology.
Hakim Bey writes about a new way of battling the invasion of technology into what should be purely human. Like creativity, interaction…life. He notes on the creation of Imediatism. A form of art or activity in which the product cannot be sold, and the action cannot be taken back. The idea is to create more human interaction and ideas, allowing us to root out the corporate and technology that has penetrated every medium of life. It isn’t to get rid of it, just to loose it for a bit and Play.
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Week 6 explored the poetic and the political in design, and especially how they interface with what can and cannot be done with technologies.
Anthony Dunne and Fiona Raby, Design Noir: The Secret Life of Electronic Objects (Basel, Switzerland: Birkhäuser, 2002), 57–73
Anthony Dunne, Hertzian Tales: Electronic Products, Aesthetic Experience, and Critical Design (Cambridge, MA, USA: MIT Press, 2005 ), “(In)human Factors”, 21–42
Hakim Bey, “Immediatism”, 1994 (accessed January 23, 2011)
Michael Connor, “Rhizome | Interview with Graham Harwood”, January 28, 2009 (accessed January 23, 2011)
Mongrel, Tantalum Memorial (2008)
Norene Leddy, Platforms (2006)
Dunne & Raby, Between Reality and the Impossible (2010)
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
The selected summary for Week 5 was written by Annie Bunyavadhana.
"Precarias a la Deriva: A Very Careful Strike" uses the theory of the derive to develop four hypotheses on the duty of care and the caring labor which is maintained mostly by women in a patriarchal and capitalist society. The first hypothesis states that sex, care and attention were historically traditionally assigned to women. Tracing from Biblical characters such as the pure Virgin Mary to the harlot Eve and her followers assumed the bipolarity of the maternity and the sexual woman. It soon becomes the stereotype and the stigma that endures in time and transitions into a new context in the age of industrialization and urbanization. The capitalist economy places economic value on the feminine sexuality. Now, enters the manner of prostitution we come to know today. The bipolarity of the good woman and the over-sexed woman becomes evermore distinct and the border between the two would be more rigid than ever.
The second hypothesis states that we must find the connection and think from the point of view of the communicative continuum, that combines our relationships and enhance new positions. The traditional contracts of matrimony and prostitution have transformed from the the Fordist nuclear family to other forms of cohabitation in monoparental and transnational families. The transition and market development also shifts domestic work to outside the home and into factories and commercial markets. Women can play a part in the consumption model.
In the third hypothesis, there needs to be four elements: affective virtuosity, interdependence, transversality, and everydayness to the careful know-how. Security finds itself in fear and precarity makes us drift into isolation and containment. We must look to the matter of our social ecology and the four elements to help us break the precarity.
The forth hypothesis states that we should place care in he center, without separating it from the sex nor communication. Although care is already in the center, we need to re-place it because it has been misplaced in the patriarchal world. The duty of care has become exploited and objectified. There needs to be a new revolutionary logic that recognize the fundamental value in the social wealth that care produces. One of the tools to revive it is the caring strike. Those in the field: the maids, the whores, social workers, and other women need to break the barrier and rediscover their fundamental role. There cannot be an imposed attribution to the roles of gender that will confine us in our limited economy. It needs to be replaces with the ecology of care.
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
This week focused on issues of movement and possibility within the space of gender and the environment.
Amanda Schaffer, "Prescriptions for Health, the Environmental Kind - NYTimes.com", August 11, 2008, (accessed January 23, 2011).
Sabine Falk and Christoph Schäfer, "THE THING Hamburg: 'You have to deal with the corrupt apparatus of culture'", February 26, 2009, (accessed January 23, 2011).
Precarias a la Deriva, "A Very Careful Strike".
Natalie Jeremijenko, Environmental Health Clinic (ongoing)
Critical Art Ensemble, Peep Under the Elbe (2008)
Kate Rich, Feral Trade (ongoing)
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
This week's best summary is from Bri Padilla.
According to Miriam Webster, there are ten potentially definitions for the noun "space." Interestingly enough, in addition to being a "three-dimensional expanse where matter exists," space is also defined as "freedom to assert identity."
The connection of space with identity is an intriguing one and one that was pointed out particularly well in Trevor Paglen's article, "Experimental Geography: From Cultural Production to the Production of Space." The article takes the field of geography, which itself encompasses an ambiguous position in the world of academia, and presents it as more than a tool for recording what already exists; instead he proposes that we consider geography—and its vagaries—as the means by which we've already created the realities we're recording.
By explaining the creation of space in this way Paglen attempts to exemplify how, through our understandings of the spaces we inhabit, we are producers of not only our own material surroundings but also of our own identities.
The connection between identity and geography—and the ramifications of separation from those spaces—was highlighted in Faith Warner's study on Social Suport and Distress among Q'eqchi' Refugees Women in Maya, Tecun, Mexico. Warner's study focused on the social and natal kin networks of support lost by Guatemalan Mayan refugee women. In it, she explains how the identities of these indigenous peoples were built around their proximity to family and their access to the support of "natal kin." Once this was removed, women in particular experienced increased levels of distress and vulnerability. Taking into consideration what Paglen asserts about the creation of spaces and Warner's study, I believe that a core element to their distress is the displacement of their identity through the loss of their support systems. In these tribes, daughters no longer had mothers to teach them, comfort them or support them. As a result, daughters were left not knowing—or insecure in their abilities—how to be a mother. The entire structure of their society, which was incredibly geographically focused, had shifted and now they felt unequipped.
I believe this this cycle of identity loss reinforces the need for Paglen's call to action: that we move beyond critical reflections, critique alone and experiment with new spaces, new ways of being.
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
This week was all about mapping, and the ways in which maps create and reflect socio-political-aesthetic realities.
Trevor Paglen, "Experimental Geography: From Cultural Production to the Production of Space - The Brooklyn Rail", 2009 (accessed January 23, 2011).
Christiane Paul, Digital Art (Thames & Hudson, 2003), 174–189, "Databases, data visualization and mapping".
Jacques Derrida, Archive Fever (University of Chicago Press, 1995), 1–5.
Lev Manovich, "Database as Symbolic Form", Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies 5, no. 2 (1999).
Josh On, They Rule (2004).
Nicholas A. Knouf, Journal of Journal Performance Studies (2010).
Martin Wattenberg, Smart Money’s Map of the Market.
Monday, March 7, 2011
Week 2 involved exploring various types of so-called "immaterial" borders, especially as they intersect with physical ones. We looked at the US/Mexico border, and a series of online projects that examine through games and fiction; the Straits and Gibraltar, migrant labor, and attempts to setup non-state electronic networks across it; and borders of gender, and especially how that intersects with the right of women to move freely throughout the city.
Shilpa Phadke, Shilpa Ranade, and Sameera Khan, "Why Loiter? Radical Possibilities for Gendered Dissent", in Dissent and Cultural Resistance in Asia's Cities, ed. Melissa Butcher and Selvaraj Velayutham (London, UK: Routledge, 2009)
Andhra Pradesh, "Game on public space and women", March 11, 2009, (accessed January 23, 2011).
Editorial Team, "technological observatory of the straits", in fadaiat: libertad de movimiento + libertad de conocimiento, ed. Pilar Monsell Prado and Pablo de Soto Suárez (imagraf impresores, 2006), 169–174.
José Pérez de Lama, "notes on emergencies at the straits of gibraltar", in Prado and Soto Suárez, fadaiat: libertad de movimiento + libertad de conocimiento, 201–205.
Javier Toret and Nicolás Sguiglia, "mapmaking excess. labour and frontier by the movement’s paths", in Prado and Soto Suárez, fadaiat: libertad de movimiento + libertad de conocimiento, 193–199.
Mark Tribe, Tijuana Calling (2005)
Gender & Space Group (Pukar), Gendered Strategies For Loitering (2008)
Thursday, February 24, 2011
For the first week we introduced the students to ideas of borders and checkpoints within and beyond their normal definitions. The following are the texts and projects we discussed.
Christiane Paul, Digital Art (Thames & Hudson, 2003), 204–211, "Tactical media, activism and hacktivism".
Critical Art Ensemble, The Electronic Disturbance (Autonomedia, 1994), 10–33, "Nomadic Power and Cultural Resistance", http://www.critical-art.net/books/ted/.́
Alex Dunbar, "FOLLOW THE GPS, ÉSE: The Transborder Immigrant Tool Helps Mexicans Cross Over Safely”, 2009, (accessed January 23, 2011).
Robbin Murphy, "Artists and Legal Ambiguity on the Internet", (accessed January 23, 2011).
Heath Bunting and Rachel Baker, BorderXing Guide (2002–2003).
Ricardo Dominguez and Brett Stalbaum, Transborder Immigrant Tool (ongoing).
Thursday, February 24, 2011
We are happy to announce the opening of the FLEFF Lab: Checkpoints Project class blog! We'll be posting about the goings on of the course, including a selection of student writings each week as we move through the syllabus. Here's the description of the course:
FLEFF LAB: Checkpoints Project explores the concept of checkpoints, the FLEFF 2011 festival programming stream, through a range of theories and practices of social media, social networking, emerging technologies, user-generated content, and other structures. Students will engage in group projects that combine conceptual investigation of open space modes with digital interfaces and social media. Finished projects and prototypes will be mounted on the FLEFF website.
The syllabus for the course is available online; later posts will go through what we've discussed so far, including further links to projects we've discussed in class.
We welcome your comments and hope you enjoy following what's taking place in FLEFF Lab: Checkpoints Project!
Nicholas Knouf and Claudia Pederson, co-lecturers
Nicholas Knouf is a new media artist, technologist and software/hardware designer whose research explores the interstitial spaces between information science, critical theory, digital art, and science and technology studies.
Knouf’s artistic projects have been shown internationally in Spain, Greece, and Brazil. Recent projects have been featured in international exhibitions such as “Esse, nosse, posse: Common Wealth for Common People” at the National Museum for Contemporary Art in Athens, Greece (2010) and electro_online (2009). Past and current work has been recognized by a number awards, including an Honorary Mention by Prix Ars Electronica in [the next idea] category (2005), the Leonardo Abstracts Service (LABS) for his master’s thesis (2008), a memefest Award of Distinction (2008), and a special transmediale “Online Highlight” (2009). Additionally, his work has been discussed in print and online media, including ID Magazine, the Boston Globe, CNN, Slashdot, Afterimage, and networked: a (networked_book) about (networked_art). Knouf is currently is a PhD candidate in information science at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY.
Claudia Costa Pederson is a "play" theorist and creative collaborator with national and international artists. Her research interests center broadly on the interactions of creativity and collectivity in modalities of thought and artistic practices. Her research and work brings these interests to bear on transnational electronic arts, including videogames and digital performance.
Pederson is currently a PhD candidate in the History of Art and Visual Studies at Cornell University, with dissertation research on how digital play reconfigures the technical, formal, and social in relation to the politics of everyday life. Her research examines the convergence of the fields of art, entertainment, the military, and medicine, through experimental game design. She has published on digital culture, gaming and play in such journals and online research collaborations as Afterimage, Research Center for CyberCulture Studies, Empyre, and other scholarly and new media publications.