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Re: <nettime> The Art of the Undercommons
xDxD.vs.xDxD on Sun, 27 Feb 2011 21:39:58 +0100 (CET)

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Re: <nettime> The Art of the Undercommons

hi Snafu and everyone,

On Sat, Feb 26, 2011 at 4:18 PM, Snafu <snafu {AT} thething.it> wrote:

> But if the Right has very clear in mind how to link the new
> ideoscapes that are storming the public imagination, what could be
> the role of radical art practices in creating imaginal connections
> not predicated on a politics of fear? Is this the moment to concern
> ourselves with how the radical imagination may be recuperated? Or
> isn't it rather the moment of understanding whether, for instance,
> the wisdom of tactical media can be leveraged by those movements? To
> be sure, ideally, we should be able to produce forms of practical
> knowledge that are both secret and public, or, as Debord put it in
> the first paragraph of the Comments on the Society of the Spectacle,
> a wisdom that can be shared by those who have ears to hear while
> flying below the radar of the society of the spectacle. But is this
> form of obfuscated knowledge really possible in this transparent age
> where, literally, there is no place to hide? What if rather than an
> art of the undercommons we would need an art of the overcommons, an
> art of weaving knowledges from below that are too rich and excessive
> to be confined to a specific subculture, a sector of the labor
> movement, a local student movement, even a "global and neutral"
> techno-cultural milieu? What if the strategic task of the reality
> engineers of our time is to make worlds by shaping new imaginal
> formations en plein air? Is there a way of undertaking such a task
> in a non-reductive manner by drawing the poetry of the social
> revolution of the 21st century from the future rather than the past?

i don't have answers to these questions, either. And i also don't
think that this can be a time for answers: transformations are too
fast and, possibly, the only answer i can think of for anything
that concerns use of media and technologies (and the practices that
are enabled by them both) is a continuous state of "beta" and of

Ubiquitous media can (and is) changing the way we perceive public
spaces, relationships, time and space.

Mobile devices and the possibility to bring technologies to the
body are factors that are not only creating new opportunities (and
problems, obviously), but also new senses and new points of view on
ethics, noetics and anthropologies.

The possibility to create new layers on the world through these
technologies and practices can be used as a chance to enter a
continuous state of methodological reinvention of reality, requiring
new languages, new gestures, new grammars and a rapid and aware
gaze onto the changes that are around us, rapid, uncontrollable and

In this scenario arts can provide fluidity and multiplication.
Arts (and publishing practices, as well) are finding their way
(and have already found beautiful and meaningful ways) to turn
from producing "paintings" to producing "platforms". Arts that are
focused to producing "platforms" are able to produce new, autonomous,
uncontrollable spaces for expression that seamlessly and powerfully
mix with both sciences and activism.

I don't want to go into "advertisment mode" :) , but i guess (and
hope) that some of you will find interesting the projects which
we are working on in these days all over the world and, this last
month, in London. REFF is one of them. It is a fake institution. (
http://reff.romaeuropa.org) It has been created to fight against the
invasion of digital cultures by large global operators. REFF uses the
slogan "Remix the world! Reinvent reality!" to suggest the project's
main strategy: using the practices of fake, remix, reinvention,
recontextualization and reenactment as tools to reinvent reality. As
a fake institution we are promoting an Augmented Reality Drug. The
drug is a metaphor for the possible uses of ubiquitous technologies to
create new autonomous layers on the world: of information, action and
performance. Thus creating the possibility to change our perception on
reality, just like a psychoactive drug.

As a fake-real institution should do, we are promoting an education
program whose main focus is the methodological reinvention of reality:
we produce open platforms that allow anyone to produce independent,
ubiquitous content and to use it for critical, tactical purposes. We
are (trying to) building international connections between movements
and active communities through an intensive series of workshops in
which we teach how to use these technologies and support people in
inventing new languages and usage grammars and scenarios for their
use. We have been in multiple universities (6 only in London during
the last month, and today we are going to do a workshop at the Black
Horse, a recent occupation in the centre of London, and then two more
with student movements and active groups during the next few days) and
we try to support people coming together through these practices.

It is wonderful how people's imagination explodes when presented
with the possibilities. And there is a definite will to unite, and
escalate, and widen the conflict and the interconnectedness of
actions. We see REFF as a work of net art.

And then FakePress ( http://www.fakepress.it ), our publishing house
exploring the boundaries of the next-steps of publishing practices. We
do not produce "regular" books, but platforms for expression. But we
call them books to extend language towards the new possibilites. Our
latest book has 35000 authors, and growing. We started from analyzing
the limits of anthropological writing and producing what we called
"ubiquitous anthropology": platforms for autonomous and interconnected
expression through which multiple authors can produce ubiquitous,
emergent, open ended narratives that allow to stratify points of view
on the world, creating forms of expression that are truly polyphonic.

We created publications that act as social networks inside logos
(using augmented reality: frame a corporate logo with your mobile
phone and a social network interface pops up: you can write on it,
read, connect it to data... we, as a publishing house, use it to
connect the logos of products to realtime information sources on
sustainability, corporate responsibility, ecology and activism, and
to subversion and culture jamming projects which we are currently

We created urban screens whose purpose is to create cities and
architectures that are also displays: of the visions, projects,
ideas, imaginaries and emotions of the people, who can use multiple,
accessible, barrier-free technologies to write on their city,
stating what they imagine, desire, hope and want, and also to
relate to other people around them in building such imaginaries and
visions. Multiplied and natively interconnected, layered, stratified,
emergent, accessible, autonomous histories of the same city. With
each publication we also release the software that is used to build
them, as open source, accessible, remixable platforms. And we create
processes for education and collaboration on these practices.

Without going into the details (but please feel free to ask for info
if interested in what we're doing), by listing these two projects
(among the others) i wish to describe how a reinvention of reality and
of the roles of multiple subjects (activists, artists, publishers,
institutions) is possible, and how it is based on a constant state
of research, collaboration, knowledge sharing, experimentation and
performance. And how these efforts make lot more sense if implemented
in international ways, going beyond the struggles of the past and
rapidly advancing through mutations.

We feel that a new art can come along. An art that is concerned
with the meta-creation of expression. The creation of artworks that
are platforms for multiple subjects to autonomously express and
perform. Artists as fluid subjects of creativity, activism, sciences,
humanities, politics: remixing, recontextualizing, reinventing,
reenacting, remediating, recombining. In a continuous state of
workshop. In a continuous state of change.

Arts producing infrastructures for expression more than single
artworks and performances.

This is the only (non)answer i can think of to Snafu's questions.

all my best, ciao!

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