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<nettime> Under Fire
Jordan Crandall on Tue, 17 Oct 2006 04:18:07 +0200 (CEST)


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<nettime> Under Fire


Under Fire is a programmatic zone that allows for three different modes of
engagement:  discussion, enaction, and assembly.  Each of these modes
involves varying degrees of materiality, incorporating both online and
onsite locations.  A continuous flow of discussion runs through the core
of the project, yet this discursive material gets assembled and enacted in
varying forms and rhythms to meet very specific conditions of reception --
whether in terms of geographical context, media environment, or social
setting.  Each enaction and assembly provides a vital platform, to help
synthesize the material and bring it to a new level of organization, as
well as to catalyze new relationships between participants.

What emerges is a communications ecology of actors, intensities, and
rhythms both synchronous and dissonant.  It is a communications ecology
that connects people in very real historical circumstances, who
participate from different cultural locales and disciplinary perspectives,
ranging from the humanities to the social and political sciences to
journalism and activism.  It allows for the manifestation of agencies,
identities, and drives and the development of interdisciplinary,
cross-cultural social networks, cultivating new forms of assembly.

The *discussions* will take place online continuously from 16 October to
10 December 2006.  During the course of the forum, eight invitees will
present material for discussion, each responsible for a specific theme. 
The ensuing conversation is open to all forum subscribers.  A edited
selection of conversational threads is continuously updated on the Under
Fire website.

The *enactions* will take place online during this same period, at various
points during the span of the discussion forum.  These will occur in the
form of visual and performative interventions that are precisely timed in
order to respond to the conversational flow.  Enactions will also take
place onsite in Seville during the 24-25 November.  A selected group of
four participants will be invited to enact and expand upon their forum
postings, opening up forms of engagement with the onsite audience.  Since
the material flows between one medium and another and gets enacted in a
very different kind of space, it gives rise to new meanings and
intensities.  These are subsequently introduced back into the online forum
and website.

The *assemblies* consist of edited arrangements of images and texts.  A
"top-level assembly" of images is instantiated in two forms:  in material
form in Seville, and in digital form on the Under Fire website. These
images are not simply a collection of photographs, for they are embedded
in a very specific ecology, defined by the flows of information, dialogue,
and presence across the Under Fire programmatic zone.  They are presented
in terms of this embeddedness -- situated in terms of the specific rhythms
of activity and patterns of concentration that uphold them.  They are to
be understood not only in terms of what they signify, but how their
significance is negotiated within this ecology.

A final assembly will occur in the form of a book, to be published in
mid-2007.

THEMES

Under Fire is an ongoing art and research project for the analysis of war
and political violence.  It explores the organization, representation, and
materialization of armed conflicts:  their structural, symbolic, and
affective dimensions.

At the structural level, Under Fire foregrounds the structural conditions
of violence.  It addresses issues of economic production, territory, and
operations of power.  It looks to the history of the western
military-industrial complex and its expanding network of extraterritorial
enclaves and communications infrastructures.  It looks at the rise of the
privatized military industry and the global commercialization of arms,
espionage, security, and military force.  It looks at the production of
militancy and its construction of the enemy other.  It understands acts of
violence as symptoms or effects of structural conditions, and situates
cycles of conflict within the workings of a global system.  In this way it
probes the nature of power and its resistance.  Yet, at the same time, it
also aims to understand the intersection of space, system, and power in
non-socioeconomic and semiotic terms.  To this end, it draws from the
physical sciences, philosophy, and science studies to incorporate recent
theories of emergent organization and the ontogenic, nonlinear generation
of behaviors and forms.

At the symbolic level, Under Fire looks at the representation of violence
and the role that images play as complex registers of symbolic meaning. 
It aims to decode media using the tools of semiotic analysis, focusing on
the social and cultural construction of knowledge.  In this way it
furthers development of a critical spectatorship.  Yet at the same time,
it explores non-linguistic-based networks of interpretation.  Here
representation is understood less in terms of a discrete visual artifact
and more in terms of a dynamic, processual assembly -- or what could be
called a media ecology.  The image becomes a malleable, reproducible, and
re-frameable event, produced by a multiplicity of human and technological
applications.  Such a media ecology involves not only perception but
sensation.  It operates at the symbolic, imaginative, and affective
levels. It necessarily incorporates material, intensive realities that
resist symbolization, but which in every case play a powerful role in
shaping consciousness and the belief systems that motivate action.

Following from this, at the affective level, Under Fire does not simply
focus on meaning but on the affective and motivational realms of human
experience.  These include the embodied qualities, sensations, magnitudes,
and textures that form the substrata of communication, argument, and
judgment.  In other words, on par with the content of a particular
message, equal attention is given to the quality of embodied resonance it
engenders.  Under Fire explores the ways that affects are harnessed and
molded -- through drill, routine, and symbolic ritual -- in the training
technologies of war, marketing, and religion.  It therefore explores the
role that affects play in the production of collective identifications,
aggressions, and "militarized subjectivities."  As such, it explores the
politics of affect -- whether in terms of the politics of fear, desire, or
otherwise.  It positions the affective realm as a biopolitical frontier. 
It seeks to understand how power operates at the level of the affective,
and, in turn, how the affective becomes political.

This leads to important questions.  How, then, is politics is constituted
in this space between affect and discourse?  In other words, how is
politics constituted between ineffable states of embodied expression on
the one hand, and larger rhetorical strategies on the other?  Under Fire
follows this line of questioning.  It asks:  When is expression or action
rendered intelligible as a political force?  When does expression cease to
simply turn around and around itself, and instead erupt into the arena of
the political?  What are the operations of power that determine its
legitimacy? What is the role of the imaginary?  What is the difference
between violence and politics; when does violence become political?  How
are new political spaces opened or invented?  And in turn, how is
subjectivity constituted therein -- in terms of self-affectivity or
discursive construction?  In terms of the repetitive, embodied
internalization of expressive acts, or symbolic insertions into the public
arena?

Addressing these and other questions Under Fire inquires into the status
of political speech and moves toward what could be understood as a
performative politics -- a politics that can incorporate a multiplicity of
somatic and symbolic registers, filtered by cultural fictions,
imaginaries, intensities, and arts of the self.  A performative politics
that has the potential of inventing a new form of public speech and
existence.

Under Fire brings together a diverse cross-section of artists, media
makers, educators, activists, political analysts, media researchers,
writers, performers, cultural theorists, social scientists, architects,
organizers, networkers, and other scholars and practitioners who are
interested in contemporary media culture, political violence, technology,
power, social movements, and global politics.

Complete schedule and subscription information at:
http://underfire.eyebeam.org


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