Category Archives: practice

cfp: Activism and Technology

From the bailout:

CFP—Issue 24 Fibreculture Journal: Entanglements: activism and technology

(pdf attached)

http://fibreculturejournal.org/cfp-entanglements/

Please note that for this issue, initial submissions should be abstracts only.

Issue Editors: Pip Shea, Tanya Notley and Jean Burgess

Abstract deadline: August 20 2014 (no late abstracts will be accepted)
Article deadline: November 3 2014
Publication aimed for: February 2015

all contributors and editors must read the guidelines at:

http://fibreculturejournal.org/policy-and-style/

before working with the Fibreculture Journal

Email correspondence for this issue: p.shea@qub.ac.uk

This themed issue explores the entanglements that arise due to frictions between the philosophies embedded within technologies and the philosophies embedded within activism. Straightforward solutions are rarely on offer as the bringing together of different philosophies requires the negotiation of acceptance, compromise, or submission (Tsing 2004). This friction can be disruptive, productive, or both, and it may contribute discord or harmony.

In this special issue, we seek submissions that respond to the idea that frictions between technologies and activists may ultimately enhance the ability of activists to take more control of their projects, create new ethical spaces and subvert technologies, just as it may also result in tension, conflict and hostility.

By dwelling in between and within these frictions and entanglements – through strategic and tactical media discourses as well as the very concept of an activist politics within technology – this special issue will elucidate the context-specific nature, constraints and possibilities of the digital environments that are co-habited by activists from proximate fields including social movements, human rights, ecological and green movements, international development, community arts and cultural development.

Past issues of the Fibreculture Journal have examined activist philosophies from angles such as social justice and networked organisational forms, communication rights and net neutrality debates, and the push back against precarious new media labour. Our issue extends this work by revealing the conflicting debates that surround activist philosophies of technology.

Submissions are sought that engage specifically with the ethics, rationales and methods adopted by activists to justify selecting, building, using, promoting or rejecting specific technologies. We also encourage work that considers the ways in which these negotiations speak to broader mythologies and tensions embedded within digital culture – between openness and control; political consistency and popular appeal; appropriateness, usability and availability.

We invite responses to these provocations from activists, practitioners and academics. Critiques, case studies, and multimedia proposals will be considered for inclusion. Submissions should explore both constraints and possibilities caused by activism and its digital technology entanglements through the following themes:

Alternative technology versus appropriate technology
Pragmatism and technology choice
The philosophies and practices of hacking technologies
Activist cultures and the proprietary web
Digital privacy and security breaches and errors
Uncovering and exposing technology vulnerabilities
Technology and e-waste
The philosophies of long/short term impact
Authenticity and evidence

Initial submissions should comprise 300 word abstracts and 60 word biographies, emailed to p.shea@qub.ac.uk and t.notley@uws.edu.au

References:

Tsing, A. 2005 Friction: An Ethnography of Global Connection. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

The Fibreculture Journal (http://fibreculturejournal.org/) is a peer reviewed international journal, associated with Open Humanities Press (http://openhumanitiespress.org/), that explores critical and speculative interventions in the debate and discussions concerning information and communication technologies and their policy frameworks, network cultures and their informational logic, new media forms and their deployment, and the possibilities of socio-technical invention and sustainability.

Ambience, Affect, Autodocumentary (slides and notes)

Here are my talking notes, slides as image gallery below.

[Slide 2]
My brief presentation today comes from earlier research in interactive video, combined with recent work in affect and interactive documentary. Today I am going to look at a variety of new online services and then use these to speculate about new forms of nonfiction.

In a nutshell I am using Deleuze’s concept of the movement image to provide a theory of interactivity, and this theory of interactivity allows me to think of affect as a particular site and quality of interaction within interactive media.

To be very schematic, Deleuze sees the cinema of the movement image as made up of perception, action, and affect images. Perception images are those shots (and even films) that emphasise noticing, for instance someone watching something. The action image is the shot, sequence or film that emphasises a reaction to what has been seen. The affect image is what falls between perception and action images. It is characterised by Deleuze as an interval between perception and action, and is defined by indeterminacy because the automatic relay between perception and action is interrupted or expanded, allowing the opportunity for decision and so other, non automatic, actions to occur.

This tripartite schema is a material economy of action, decision and reaction, where generally the action that arises as a consequence of the perception image is, more or less, an adequate answer or response to it. Yet importantly affect, and by implication the affect image, falls outside of this economy for affect is understood to be a remainder or excess that is not spent through action.

[Slide 3]
I think this is the most elegant account of interactivity available. In the simplest model there is an interface that requires and facilitates a user to make a decision. I notice, decide, and do — perception, affect, and action. Furthermore, affect becomes the most important term in interaction because this is where experience design and consideration are located, and if nothing else I’m interested in making and theorising interactive work that allows the consideration of ideas and the world.

Such a model of affect and interactivity, within this sensory motor schema, offers a productive way to think about contemporary media platforms in networked environments as sites and practices that document, record, list, and notice, and in so doing enlarge, slow down and otherwise interrupt the everyday. That is, they are affective systems.

[Slide 4]
Which brings me to today.
I have a phone in my pocket. In my phone there is a HD camera, GPS, accelerometer, micro computer, bluetooth, wifi, and 4G. My phone makes it trivial to informally make, distribute, view, and curate media through the documentation of my everyday life practices, in situ.

[Slide 5]
Each have a very similar affordance of being small chunks existing within a web of services that have public APIs so that they can be addressed and reused by other services and people. Each is then very porous to the network and each in their own way has made their technological constraints an aesthetic plus.

[Slide 6]
These services allow for personal profiles to be created, however the most notable profile that each enables are the informally curated series of artefacts that each app lets us create — our Twitter, Instagram and Vine streams. These self declared ‘indirect’ descriptions are the media trails we leave as a consequence of our everyday practice, and unlike professional media their specificity as particular types of media is secondary to this primary role of documenting the everyday, as it happens. I am not a photographer who then Instagrams, but a person who happens to take a photograph.

[Slide 7]
However, these apps still revolve around media as a single artefact. By this I mean that Twitter is principally for individual tweets, Instagram photographs, and Vine single brief video clips. While these are easily woven into other places using the services available they remain single media objects. These objects may be a mix of highlights and the mundane, but they are an everyday media vernacular that is marked, absolutely, by our intent. I first choose to write, photograph, video, and to this extent these (and all similar services) have an affinity to previous media where they are deliberate artefacts (our moral panic about their apparent triviality notwithstanding).

[Slide 8]
However, there is now the rise of new services that are best thought of as ambient media machines. They are an always on media making that creates a new type of everyday media trail that, like previous apps, makes itself available for its own sorts of reweaving.

One example is Moves. The screenshots here are a record of a recent Saturday of mine. They show an approximate guess of how many steps I’ve taken, plot my movements, including types of transport and location, and even allow for the editing of these. Moves defines itself as an “Activity Diary”, and it is this diary aspect that I am, at the moment, intrigued by.

Now I do not here have time to go into the diary as an observational, confessional, personal narrative form. However, as life writing diaries are a variety of nonfiction and a significant contributor to the essay form in writing,sound, and cinema.

[Slide 9-10]
Moves, by itself, doesn’t do much. However, when combined with journaling apps, such as the one here, Momento, things change. Momento automatically talks to a variety of services and auto curates these all by itself. In my case Momento automatically collects my Moves, Instagram, blog, and Flickr content. This is a burgeoning area for apps that leverages the affordances of the device while also making explicit the extent to which our media trails are secondary effects of lived experience. Momento is a mix of life journaling and diary and partly falls within the lifestyle practice of what is known as the ‘quantified self’. My curiosity here is not in the Californian mobile fitness–lifestyle as self actualisation aesthetic but in Momento’s automaticity of affect. This translation of what I do, casually, almost indifferently, and its capture for reuse.

[Slide 11-12-13 ]
We also now have things such as Jawbone UP, FitBit, and the extraordinarily named and described Mother.
Each of these have dedicated hardware and an app that collects ambient information that is aggregated and visualised. While some of these are personal (e.g. Jawbone UP) things such as Mother loosen this by extending the orbit of the individual to other people and things.

[Slide 14-15]
Finally, we find Narrative Clip, a wearable camera that continually photographs your day as you go about doing it. It describes itself as a “photographic memory” with two days of battery life and storage for up to 4000 images.
Aside from all the problems this raises about privacy and the social what I’m wanting to think about further is the role these sorts of emerging services and devices can, and will, play in emerging forms of audiovisual nonfiction, and more specifically thinking past this current generation to what they may inaugurate or foretell of what is to come.

[Slide 16–17]
These are speculative ideas to think about this intersection of gadgetry with audiovisual nonfiction. What could happen if Narrative Clip has an API that lets other apps and services talk to it? So its pictures get tied to my self reporting via Instagram, Flickr, Vine, Twitter and FaceBook? What sort of personal documentary making would this allow? And then what if this ’thing’ could also then exchange content and information with other’s stories, things, objects, and events?

[Slide 18]
I’ll conclude with some informal propositions.
My first is that these might be theorised, following Donna Haraway, as cyborg documentaries.
The second is that with the example of autoethnography and ethnographic film these are clearly ‘auto documentaries’.
Third, all of these services are aggregators of affect, and fourth, I hope for the development of new, different, platforms and services that find a middle path between a digital narcissism and the critical project of documentary more broadly.