"Ours is an existence characterized by cultural flux and political economic flows, by the virtualization of place and the acceleration of time, the disembodiment of labor, the fluidity of identity, the 'conceptualization' of art, the etherealization of communication. Yet even these financial flows and digital networks rely on physical supports, on material storage devices and infrastructures, and embodied interactions with human actors. This seminar examines media as material objects, as things, as symbolically charged artifacts, as physical supports for communication. In the first third of the semester we'll explore various theoretical frameworks and methodologies - from 'thing theory' to media archaeology - that can be useful in studying the material culture of media. The second third will be dedicated to custom-designed 'plug-ins' that pertain to students' individual research interests. And in the final third, we'll work collaboratively on the creation of (an) online exhibition(s) of material media - an endeavor we'll approach as a form of 'multimodal scholarship,' an alternative means of performing and publicizing academic work. The particular format of our project will also provide an opportunity for us to think through the central concepts of our class: what does it mean to mediate the materiality of media objects, and to create a virtual exhibition that addresses their physicality?"
(Shannon Mattern, 2010)
"...The social axiomatic of modern societies is caught between two poles and is constantly oscillating from one pole to the other. Born of decoding and deterritorialization, on the ruins of the despotic machine, these societies are caught between the Urstaat that they would like to resuscitate as an overcoding and reterritorializing unity, and the unfettered flows that carry them toward an absolute threshold. They recode with all their might, with world-wide dictatorship, local dictators, and an all-powerful police, while decoding - or allowing the decoding of - the fluent quantities of their capital and their populations. They are torn in two directions: archaism and futurism, neoarchaism and ex-futurism, paranoia and schizophrenia. They vacillate between two poles: the paranoiac despotic sign, the sign-signifier of the despot that they try to revive as a unit of code; and the sign-figure of the schizo as a unit of decoded flux, a schiz, a point-sign or flow-break. They try to hold on to the one, but they pour or flow out through the otaxher. They are continually behind or ahead of themselves."
(Deleuze and Guattari 1983, 260)
"The rhizomatic model presents a problem for the dominant systems of capitalism in place in the global economy and the behavior of capitalism in general. According to Deleuze and Guattari, the function of a capitalist system is a schizophrenic behavior which encompasses the 'decoding' and 'deterritorializing flows' of breaking down existing systems of society such as church or family in order to extract the maximum amount of capital and then instigate 'their violent and artificial reterritorialization' through 'ancillary apparatuses' of capitalism such as the government or corporate bureaucracy which reterritorialize grouped elements to extract an even larger share of capital.2 Like any other system within its reach, the capitalist machinery attempts to behave in this schizophrenic manner with regards to the internet. The rhizomatic nature of the internet, however, allows certain anti-capitalist groups to ward off the capitalist machinery on the net due to the particularly advantageous characteristics of the rhizome for these minority factions."
2). Amanda Wasielewski (2005). 'The Antidote to Capitalist Power: Rhizomatic Networking on the Internet as a Framework for the Success of Anti-Capitalist Minority Groups Against the Schizophrenic Capitalist Machinery'.
"The reason that a focus on Web 2.0 is significant and needed is because the popular web applications it represents are driven by users providing endless and virtually unlimited information about their everyday lives. To put it in Lash's terms, they are clearly on the inside of the everyday, they are up close, they afford direct and routine connections between people and software. We have not yet begun to think through how this personal information might be harvested and used. A starting point would be to find out how this information about everyday mundane lives is being mined, how this feeds into ‘relational databases', and with what consequences: the very types of question that are being asked by the writers discussed here. Alongside this it is also important that we consider how the information provided by users, and other ‘similar' users, might affect the things they come across. If we return to Last.fm, which ‘learns' users' tastes and preferences and provides them with their own taste-specific online radio station, it is possible to appreciate how the music that people come across and listen to has become a consequence of algorithms. This is undoubtedly an expression of power, not of someone having power over someone else, but of the software making choices and connections in complex and unpredictable ways in order to shape the everyday experiences of the user. How we find the books that shape our writing could be a question we might ask ourselves if we wish to consider the power that algorithms exercise over us and over the formation of knowledge within our various disciplines. (I know of at least two occasions when Amazon has located a book of interest for me that has then gone on to form an important part of a published work.) This is not just about Amazon, it would also include searches on Google Scholar, the use of the bookmarking site Del.icio.us, the RSS feeds we might use, or the likely coming applications that will predict, locate and recommend research articles we might be interested in. Readers based in the UK will also by now be considering the power of algorithms to decide the allocation of research funding as the role of metrics in the forthcoming Research Excellence Framework (REF) are finalized."
(David Beer, 996-997)
Beer, D. (2009). "Power through the algorithm? Participatory web cultures and the technological unconscious." New Media & Society 11(6).
"the World Wide Web [has become] a space of converging multimedia praxis, has become a vast experimentation and exploration ground with countless artistic ramifications. As it is often related to a solitary adventure led in a very intimate relationship with one's machine, the virtual experience is seldom extended to another dimension of time-space. Projects involving network actors only take place in closed circles, within the network, and hardly ever outside, within a live performance environment. The idea of the WJ's project is to disrupt this tendency by offering a strong, captivating, sensual and slightly altered cybernetic surf where the feeling of being immerged in the flow and the extreme pleasure of browsing are shifted to a live performance environment. Individual and collaborative online productions (in different geographical sites) become collective events (to which an audience is invited). In this way, Wjs become flux stalkers and offer things to see, hear, feel, observe and think about, through a progressive and dynamic process. Guided by their critical spirit and their own personal outlook, they reveal the fragrance of the Web, defragment and confront worlds that make the invisible become visible."
Fig.1 WJ-S Performance Alessio Chierico