International Research Forum Data Publics

Goldsmiths, University of London

with keynotes by Lev Manovich and Ravi Sundaram,
and contributions by Luciana Parisi, Ignacio Valero, Stephen Graham, Jennifer Gabrys, Matthew Fuller, Paolo Gerbaudo, Dani Admiss, Cecilia Wee, Lise Autogena, Joshua Portway, Simon Yuill, and others.

Bringing together artists and scholars from different fields, the research forum has explored the following intersecting themes:

  • Cognitive Capitalism: Retheorising Calculative “Reason” within the Context of the Digital Infrastructure of Neoliberalism.
  • New Forms of Labour in the Creative Economy: Creative Economy as a Mode of Digital Labour Reform.
  • Digital Relations and Affective Capital: Breaching the Limits of Neoliberal Prosperity Theology.
  • New Vulnerabilities: the Precarious Life of Big Data as Performed through Social Practices.
  • Banking the Social: Shaping and Anticipating the Future through Social Data Mining.
  • Digital Self-Crafting: The Ethics of Individual Mediation through Self-tracking, Self-surveillance, Self-improvement Self-care and Self-governance.
  • Design Technology: the Interface between People, Architecture and the City.

FOOTNOTES

    PEOPLE & ABSTRACTS

    Joshua Portway and Lise Autogena ,

    All data lives within a frame of reference. Data is meaningless outside the system which encodes it. When we’ve worked with data it’s always been in the service of thinking about these underlying structures and systems rather than the data itself. In this talk we’ll mainly be talking about three projects: Untitled (superorganism), Black Shoals and Most Blue Skies - each of which, in their way, chronicle our changing ideas about the relationships between capitalism, nature and technology, and the ways in which we might respond to them.

    Black Shoals (1999, 2015) is ostensibly a visualisation of the global financial system, in which the flows of global capital are represented by a planetarium in which every star represents a company traded on the world’s stock markets. Amongst the stars live a colony of artificial life creatures who feed on the movements of capital. The project was, in part, a reaction to the naturalisation of the system of global capitalism in which the market is increasingly perceived as a mysterious force of nature rather than an artefact of culture. Since the seventies the language of complexity theory has built a bridge between biological ecologies and financial systems that has served to reinforce the legitimacy and the “naturalness” of the market. The emergence of complex behaviour from dynamic systems has become the dominant touchstone of “nature”. Adam Smith’s Invisible Hand is now recognised as a feedback property of a self organising ecology, and this seems to position it as a comparably fundamental force. We used a similar feedback effect as part of the work we produced in response to the “Monument to the Anthropocene” exhibition; “Untitled (Superorganism)”. The project was a re-creation in the gallery of an “ant mill” - a phenomenon in which hundreds of thousands ofarmy ants lose their pheromone trail and begin to follow each other in an endlessly rotating circle until exhaustion and death.

    Most Blue Skies is an attempt to come to some sort of peace with the very problematic idea of nature and its relationship to the technological and social systems in which we’re embedded. The project is a quixotic attempt to answer a simple childhood question - where is the bluest sky in the world? We approached the problem using the most advanced resources available to us, including satellite sensing, atmospheric modelling, real time sensor networks and radiative transfer models developed by NASA. There is an apparent paradox between the simple prelapsarian beauty of the blue sky and the disproportionate complexity of the technology we employ to try to answer the question.The work struggles to resolve this paradox in a synthesis which hopefully emerges as a more optimistic aesthetic for a data-saturated world.

    Joshua Portway is a UK-born artist and computer programmer and Lise Autogena, a Danish-born artist and Professor of Cross-Disciplinary Art at the Cultural Communication and Computing Research Institute (C3RI) at Sheffield Hallam University. Based in London, they have worked together since the early 90’s using custom built technology and visualisations of global real-time data to develop large scale multimedia installations, site-specific works and performances, usually in collaboration with organisations, communities and experts across many specialised fields.

    Recent projects include: Kuannersuit; Kvanefjeld, a film investigating the challenges of siting a uranium mine in Greenland, the difficult decisions and tradeoffs faced by a culture seeking to escape a colonial past and define its own identity in a globalised world (Bildmuseet, Sweden 2016), Cities like Plants, a robotic installation exploring how the regulatory systems underlying plant growth relate to principles of city planning (Cambridge University, 2016), Black Shoals; Dark Matter, a long term exploration into data visualisation and financial belief systems, visualising the financial markets as a planetarium, where stars representing companies on the world markets form constellations and galaxies depending on the movements on the markets. Live trading on the stars generate light, which provides food for an ecology of artificial life creatures that live and evolve amongst the stars (Somerset House, ArtScience Museum Singapore 2016, Nikolaj Kunsthal 2004, Tate Britain 2000). Untitled (superorganism) an installation simulating the phenomenon of the “ant mill”, a side effect of the self-organizing structure of certain ant colonies, where hundreds of thousands of ants can walk in a circle until overcome by exhaustion and, eventually, death (Abattoirs Museum 2014, ZKM 2015). Most Blue Skies, an enquiry into the changing psychological perceptions of the sky space. The project responds to real-time changes in the atmosphere using a complex system of satellite data acquisition and atmospheric simulations, in order to visualize and locate the currently ‘bluest sky’ in the world. (Domaine de Chamarande, 2012, Tensta Kunsthal, 2010, Nikolaj Kunsthal/COP15, 2009, Gwangju Biennial 2006) and Foghorn Requiem, a site-specific performance - a requiem for the lost sound of the foghorn, composed by Orlando Gough and performed by three brass bands, the Souter Lighthouse foghorn and fifty ships on the North Sea. Custom designed computer software and hardware dynamically compensates for time delays from horns being played on ships miles away from the listeners, allowing the timbral effects of distance and landscape to be directly incorporated into the music (Souter Lighthouse, North Sea, UK, 2013).

    autogena.org

    Cecilia Wee and Dani Admiss ,

    Co-Building World’s: Data-Discourses and Other Stories

    #Data-Capitalism; #Curating; #Collaborative-storytelling; #Data-Discourse. This performance-based research and praxis presentation presents the curatorial project "PostHuman Unit for NeuroCapitalism" (PHUNC), a research and design unit engaged in co-creating new visions of post-consumer and post-producer subjectivities through community-based neuro and data-capitalist research. Against a backdrop of new neuros (Pykett) and largescale technoscientific information structures forming super-advanced capitalism’s new frontiers for growth (Neidich), PHUNC proposes that the challenge for those working in arts, technology and social change today is to design interventional acts of ‘radical sensing’ that expand on‘representational forms that enable articulations of change’ (Rossiter) embracing an experimental process of curating as world-building, a way of taking on personal entanglement and global complexity (Haraway) in response to the normative economic and epistemic goals outlined by data capitalism.

    Over the next two months, the curators will collate reports from a worldwide network of PHUNC researchers working in arts and cultural contexts, as well ain think-tanks, policy-based organisations and higher education. We will ask PHUNC researchers to reflect on how data works in relation to local agency, the identities produced through globalised work and consumption, and the negotiations materialising for people operating in opposition to dominant frameworks of data-discourses within the Capitalocene (Moore). This highly specific evidence will form the basis of a collaborative performative narrative to be presented to the forum audience: emerging worldviews from a variegated set of lived geographic and socio-economic realities under the umbrella of ‘data capitalism’. Bookending the presentation, the curators will discuss evolving methods to working with complex, contradictory and chaotic subject matters in the arts and analyse this specific technique of collaborative storytelling.

    Dr Cecilia Wee FRSA is an independent curator, researcher and Tutor in the School of Communication, Royal College of Art. Cecilia produces projects that investigate the role of art and design in creating a more equitable society, particularly working with experimental sound, performance, visual art and design practices. Her research interests span cultural understandings of public space, financial and economic systems, relationships with technology, environmental change,organisational behaviour, security and dialogue. Cecilia is Chair of the Live Art Development Agency, trustee of Resonance FM and part of the core group behind the Radical Renewable Art and Activism
    Fund.

    Dani Admiss is a London based independent curator and researcher. Her projects focus on the exchange between art, design, technology and sociocultural production. She is an AHRC researcher with CRUMB, a network for those who 'exhibit' new media art, at the faculty for Art and Design at Sunderland University. Her research explores emerging types of curatorial practice, focusing on the phenomena of ‘world-building’, in the context of knowledge production, new subjectivities and critical infrastructures. Recent curatorial projects include, ‘AI in Asia’, Digital Asia Hub, Hong Kong, ‘Big Bang Data’ Somerset House, London, 'Digital Revolution' the Barbican Centre, London, and 'The Institute Effect' at 'Close, Closer' the 2013 Lisbon Architecture Triennale, Portugal.

    Matthew Fuller,

    In Praise of Plasticity
    Matthew Fuller, Goldsmiths, University of London

    What has happened to data? Firstly, things that were not considered quantifiable, that were always in excess of description or enumeration, are now at least generative of data that can, with greater or lesser acuity, stand in for such things. Secondly, what counts as useful, significant, or 'clean' data is now of a much messier, loosely correlated kind. Something similar has happened to publics, that may now be seen to coagulate around various kinds of quasi-cognitive debris as much as the 'grand issues' that hitherto provided their visible means of coming into being. What results form this seems incoherent, but it is systematically so; and with the conditions of plasticity, and possibilities for construction that the particular scaffolds of computational media provide this may be opportune. This talk will aim to examine some of the basic elements of logic and mathematics in computing that give it this quality and to address some of the constructivist approaches in cybernetics and anarchism, amongst other currents, that anticipate such a condition.

    Matthew Fuller is the author of the forthcoming, How to Sleep, in art, biology and culture, (Bloomsbury, Autumn 2017) and How to be a Geek, essays on the culture of software (Polity, Spring 2017). Other titles include Media Ecologies, materialist energies in art and technoculture (MIT), Behind the Blip, essays on the culture of software and Elephant & Castle (both Autonomedia). With Andrew Goffey he is co-author of Evil Media (MIT). He is editor of books including Software Studies, a lexicon (MIT), and is a co-editor of the journal Computational Culture (http://www.computationalculture.net). He is Professor of Cultural Studies and Director of the Centre for Cultural Studies, Goldsmiths, University of London.

    Jennifer Gabrys,

    Sensing Air and Creaturing Data
    Jennifer Gabrys, Goldsmiths, University of London

    In citizen-sensing projects, more extensively and democratically gathered data are typically presented as “the reasons for measuring air pollution,” since it is through collecting data that everything from enhanced participation in environmental issues to changes in policy are meant to be achieved. The impetus to monitor and gather data is bound up with established (and emerging) processes of understanding environments as information-based problems. Within citizen-sensing projects, data are intended to be collected in ways that complement, reroute or even circumvent and challenge the usual institutions and practices that monitor environments and manage environmental data. Data are seen to enable modes of action that are meant to offer effective ways to respond to those problems. With more data, potentially more accurate data, and more extensively distributed data, environmental problems such as air pollution are anticipated to be more readily and effectively addressed. Data are intertwined with practices, responses to perceived problems, modes of materializing and evidencing problems, and proposals for political engagement. But how are air-quality data constituted, whether through expert or citizen practices? How do differing practices of environmental monitoring inform the character and quality of data gathered, as well as the possible trajectories and effects of those data? What are the instruments, relations, and experiences of air-quality data generated through these distinctive engagements with environments and technology? And in what ways do environments become computational through the use of low-cost air-pollution monitoring technologies? In this presentation, I consider how citizen-sensing practices that monitor air pollution experiment with the tactics and arrangements of environmental data. Drawing on Whitehead, I suggest that these monitoring experiments might be approached as practices that “creature” data in particular ways, where the actual environmental entities that come together are creations that materialize through distinct ways of perceiving and participating in environments. These creatures may have scientific legitimacy. Or they may form as alternative modes of evidence presented in contestation of scientific fact.
    But in either or both capacities, they are creaturely rather than universal arrangements of data.

    Jennifer Gabrys is Reader in the Department of Sociology at Goldsmiths, University of London, and Principal Investigator on Citizen Sense, a project funded by the European Research Council (2013-2017). Her books include a techno-geographical investigation of environmental sensing, Program Earth: Environmental Sensing Technology and the Making of a Computational Planet (University of Minnesota Press, 2016); and a materialpolitical analysis of electronic waste, Digital Rubbish: A Natural History of Electronics (University of Michigan Press, 2011). Together with Gay Hawkins and Mike Michael, she has co-edited an interdisciplinary collection on plastics, Accumulation: The Material Politics of Plastic (Routledge, 2013). Prior to joining the Department of Sociology, she was Senior Lecturer and Convenor of the MA in Design and Environment in the Department of Design at Goldsmiths. She completed a PhD in Communication Studies at McGill University in Montreal, during which time she was engaged as a research fellow on the Culture of Cities and Digital Cities / Mobile Digital Commons projects. While in Montreal, she was also Researcher in Residence at the Daniel Langlois Foundation for Art, Science, and Technology, where she focused on archives from Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T.). Her work can be found at citizensense.net and jennifergabrys.net.

    Paolo Gerbaudo,

    Fighting against data monopoly capitalism
    Paolo Gerbaudo, King's College London

    The rise of large digital companies as Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple and Microsoft sometimes described as the Big Five constitutes one of the major political economy developments in recent years and one of the most troubling for the purposes of economic justice and democracy. These companies, which, now feature among the largest for market capitalisation are the clearest manifestation of the new data-driven business model also visible in so-called sharing economy companies as Uber and AirBnB incarnate an highly aggressive form of capitalism which is inimical to political communities on a number of levels. First, these companies business model revolves around the disruption of pre-existing markets and economic activities, and the installing of a monopoly system within small market niches which puts all other companies at a serious disadvantage. Second, these companies are well known for their tax avoidance practices, and the way they use their internet-based character as an excuse to transfer their profit to locations that are most convenient for tax purposes. Up until now there has been very little success in counteracting the rise to dominance of these digital giants. Alternative grassroots projects have for the most only managed to construct marginal areas of resistance, but have been unable to challenge the dominant position of the Big Five. In my presentation I will discuss the strategies that are currently being developed in response to the rise of large digital companies, the dominant position they have acquired in the economic system, and the negative effect they play on competitors and on tax revenues. I will argue that action against these companies has been made ineffective by the lack of sufficient resolve from state authorities both at local and national level who have often been surprisingly slow in punishing serious corporate malpractice committed by digital companies. This reluctance is a result of the dominance of cyberlibertarianism which pervades digital culture and its suspicion towards government intervention and its predilection for grassroots action as seen for example in the context of platform co-ops as an ethical alternative to corporate companies. Furthermore, it is a reflection of the fact that in order to seriously challenge the dominant position of the Big Five quite illiberal measures would need to be taken including IP and DNS filtering of companies not abiding by tax regulation or licensing laws, tactics that are the same of those used by authoritarian countries as China and Iran against political opponents. This tragic bind thus raises serious dilemmas for any politics that aims at mounting a credible strategy of counter-attack against digital monopoly capitalism.

    Paolo Gerbaudo is a cultural and political theorist looking at the transformation of social movements and political parties in a digital era. He is the Director of the Centre for Digital Culture at King's College London and the author of 'Tweets and the Streets: Social Media and Contemporary Activism' (Pluto, 2012), and of the forthcoming volume 'The Mask and the Flag: Populism, Citizenism and Global Protest' (Hurst/OUP, 2017).

    Stephen Graham,

    Enigmatic Presence: Vertical Satellite Geographies and Data Publics

    At the margins of the Earth’s atmosphere and the threshold of the vast realms of space we enter a world of orbits. At this point we start to encounter the crucial but neglected manufactured environment of satellites and space junk. As part of a bigger project on the political aspects of the vertical dimension, this review-style paper reflects on the pivotal but enigmatic roles of this fast-expanding array of around 950 active satellites to the data publics which are increasingly pivotal to the organisation, experience – and destruction – of contemporary life on the earth’s surface. Emphasising how regimes of power organised through satellites and other space systems are intimately interwoven with production of violence, inequality, injustice and visual cultures on or around the terrestrial surface, discussion begins by exploring the difficulties involved in visualising and understanding satellites’ enigmatic presence. In such a context, the bulk of the paper then centres on exploring the tactics through which critical scholars ands activists are working to render the often arcane and secretive worlds of satellite-based data publics more visible, contestable and (to some extent) transparent. Discussion centres, in turn, on discourses of national security through space and satellite power; efforts by artists, activists and scholars to contest the secretive (geo) politics of national security surveillance satellites; and the complex visual politics which surround the complex of sensing, mapping and visualizing practices which surround Google Earth.

    Stephen Graham is Professor of Cities and Society at Newcastle University's School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape. He has an interdisciplinary background linking human geography, urbanism and the sociology of technology. Since the early 1990s Prof. Graham has used this foundation to develop critical perspectives addressing how cities are being transformed through remarkable changes in infrastructure, mobility, digital media, surveillance, security, militarism and verticality.

    Prof. Graham’s work has been extremely influential across a wide range of urban, technological, social and political debates across the world. It has been translated into twenty languages. His ten books include Splintering Urbanism; Telecommunications and the City (both with Simon Marvin); the Cybercities Reader; Cities, War and Terrorism; Disrupted Cities: When Infrastructures Fail; and Infrastructural Lives (with Colin McFarlane). Prof Graham’s 2011 book Cities Under Siege: The New Military Urbanism was nominated for the Orwell Prize in political writing and was the Guardian’s book of the week. His latest research focuses on the political aspects of verticality and develops an explicitly three-dimensional perspective on the politics of geography and materiality both above and below the earth’s surface. Prof Graham’s major new book on this them- Vertical: The City From Satellites to Bunkers (Verso) – was published in November 2016. Another Guardian book of the week, it was in the books of the year lists of both the FT and the Observer.

    Ayesha Hameed,

    Ayesha Hameed is an artist whose work explores contemporary borders and migration, critical race theory, Walter Benjamin, and visual cultures of the Black Atlantic. Recent presentations and performance lectures include Black Atlantis at ICA London (2015), Labour in a Single Shot, conference at Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin (2015), at The Chimurenga Library at the Showroom, London (2015), Oxford Programme for the Future of Cities, Oxford (2015), Edinburgh College of Art (2015), at Goldsmiths MFA Lectures (2016), and Empire Remains (2016). A Rough History (of the destruction of fingerprints) has been screened or presented at Forensic Architecture at the House of World Cultures (Berlin) in 2014, at Social Glitch at Kunstraum Niederoesterreich Vienna (2015), at Pavillion, Leeds in 2015, at Qalandiya International Palestine Biennial (2016), at Ashakal Alwan/Homeworks Space Programme, Beirut (2016) and the Bartlett School of Architecture (2016). She is currently the Joint Programme Leader in Fine Art and History of Art at Goldsmiths.

    Lev Manovich,

    His digital art projects were shown in over 100 group and personal exhibitions worldwide. The lab’s most recent projects were commissioned by MoMA, New Public Library, and Google. Selfiecity won Golden Award in Best Visualization Project category in the global competition in 2014; On Broadway received Silver Award in the same category in 2015. Manovich is in demand to lecture on digital culture around the world. Since 1999 he presented 550 lectures, seminars and master classes in North and South America, Asia, and Europe.

    Lev Manovich is one of the leading theorists of digital culture worldwide, and a pioneer in application of data science for analysis of contemporary culture. Manovich is the author and editor of ten books including Cultural Analytics (forthcoming 2017), Instagram and Contemporary Image, Data Drift, ( Software Takes Command, Soft Cinema: Navigating the Database and The Language of New Media which was described as "the most suggestive and broad ranging media history since Marshall McLuhan." He was included in the list of "25 People Shaping the Future of Design" in 2013 and the list of "50 Most Interesting People Building the Future" in 2014. Manovich is a Professor of Computer Science at The Graduate Center, CUNY, and a Director of the Cultural Analytics Lab. Lab's projects were funded and comissioned by Google, Twitter, New York Public Library, among others.

    Louis Moreno,

    Louis Moreno is a lecturer in the Department of Visual Culture and Centre for Research Architecture, Goldsmiths, University of London. He is also a member of the curatorial collective freethought who were one of the artistic directors of the 2016 Bergen Assembly in Norway.

    Luciana Parisi,

    Statistical Intelligence and Data Capitalism

    As machine learning AI has replaced symbolic logic with statistical reasoning, no longer can the means or instruments of capital be associated with teleological metaphysics and ontological totalities. Whilst some arguments against the digital infrastructure of neoliberalism point out that the cognitive capacities of machines are a manifestation of an affective order of governance, others have instead defined intelligent machines as instruments of the war machine of Capital (in the form of debt) and the State against populations (organic and inorganic life). This paper discusses these views in light of a profound transformation in the history of machine intelligence demarcated by the automation of learning developed in the fields of cybernetics and computation. The paper suggests that a critique of data capitalism, as involving the self-generation of socialities (through the use data for health, security, logistics, the self etc..) may be in need of a closer re-envisioning of the political possibilities of techno-logics in order to unpack the underlying limits of today’s polarized views about data appropriation and data refusal.

    Luciana Parisi is Reader in Cultural Theory, Chair of the PhD Programme (Centre for Cultural Studies), and co-director of the Digital Culture Unit (Goldsmiths, London). She has written Abstract Sex: Philosophy, Biotechnology and the Mutations of Desire (2004, Continuum Press) and Contagious Architecture. Computation, Aesthetics and Space (2013, MIT Press). She is currently researching the philosophical consequences of logical thinking in machines.

    Irit Rogoff,

    Irit Rogoff is a writer, teacher, curator and organisor. She is Professor of Visual Culture at Goldsmiths London University, a department she founded in 2002. Rogoff works at the meeting ground between contemporary practices, politics and philosophy. Curatorial projects have included A.C.A.D.E.M.Y. in Hamburg, Antwerp and Eindhoven and “De-Regulation with the work of Kutlug Ataman” (Antwerp, Tel Aviv, Berlin) and “Summit—Non Aligned Positions in Education Culture” in Berlin. Rogoff has written extensively on contemporary participatory arts practices and on arts expansions into the social through educational, activist and epistemological incursions. Her book on Seriousness (co-authored with Gavin Butt, Sternberg Press) appeared in 2015. Her current work is on new practices of knowledge production and their impact on modes of research, under the title of The Way We Work Now (forthcoming 2017).

    Evelyn Ruppert,

    Evelyn Ruppert is Professor of Sociology at Goldsmiths, University of London. She studies the sociology of data specifically in relation to how different kinds of digital data are constituted and mobilised to enact and govern populations. Evelyn is PI of a five-year European Research Council funded project, Peopling Europe: How data make a people (ARITHMUS; 2014-19). She is also Founding and Editor-in-chief of a SAGE open access journal, Big Data & Society: Critical Interdisciplinary Inquiries, launched in June 2014. Recent books are Being Digital Citizens (authored with Engin Isin) published in April 2015 (RLI International) and Modes of Knowing (edited with John Law) published in August 2016 (Mattering Press).

    Beverley Skeggs,

    Beverley Skeggs is Professor of Sociology, at Goldsmiths, University of London. She has published The Media; Issues in Sociology (1992); Feminist Cultural Theory(1995); Formations of Class and Gender (1997);Class, Self, Culture (2004); Sexuality and the Politics of Violence and Safety (2004)(with Les Moran) and Feminism after Bourdieu (2005)( with Lisa Adkins), and with Helen Wood, Reacting to Reality TV:Audience, Performance, Value (2012) and Reality TV and Class (2012.

    Ravi Sundaram,

    Everyday disjunctions: public expression after the mobile phone

    A growing plurality of populations in Asia, Africa and Latin America have now got regular access to mobile devices. In India, Internet access is now increasingly mediated through mobile networks. Unsurprisingly, this has produced great challenges for postcolonial power, now confronted by media-enabled populations previously seen only as social political actors. Today, mobile media objects attach themselves to shifting platforms of political-aesthetic action while disrupting older partitions of postcolonial governance. As in the rest of the world, media periodically overflow from one channel to another leading to unanticipated consequences: the expose of a police atrocity or political secrets, a leaked intimate video. The transformation of public speech and expression in contemporary data infrastructures open up questions of collectivity in ways unimagined but a decade ago in the postcolonial world.

    In this lecture I look at volatile incidents involving street crowds broadcasting in real time through mobile applications like Whatsapp. The blurring of street crowds and online agglomerations, private chat networks and public expression raise all kinds of questions – for media theory as well as the performance of postcolonial sovereignty.

    Ravi Sundaram is a Professor at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), Delhi. In 2000 he founded the well-known Sarai programme at the CSDS along with Ravi Vasudevan and the Raqs Media Collective. Since then, Sarai grew to become one of India’s best-known experimental and critical research sites on media, spanning local and global sites. Sundaram is the author of Pirate Modernity: Media Urbanism in Delhi and No Limits: Media Studies from India (Delhi, 2013).

    Sundaram has co-edited the Sarai Reader series, The Public Domain (2001), The Cities of Everyday Life (2002), Shaping Technologies (2003), Crisis Media(2004). His recently edited No Limits: Media Studies from India came out in 2015.
    Sundaram’s essays have been translated into various languages in India, Asia, and Europe. He is currently finishing his next book project, Events and Affections: post-public media circulation.

    Ignacio Valero,

    The Emotariat, Accelerationism, and the Republic of Data: An Inquiry into an EcoDomic Aesthetic(s) of the Common(s)
    Ignacio Valero, PhD – California College of the Arts, San Francisco

    Neoliberalism, as Capitalocene, is “undoing the demos” and the planet. It has become a fundamental enabler of a synergistic convergence of deeply destructive political, economic, ecological, racial, religious, patriarchal and xenophobic forces. This is an epochal “legitimation crisis” which seems to be accelerating across the globe, under emerging or consolidating post-equality, post-ethical, post-truth, post-ecology and post-government populist and neo-fascist regimes. These falling geopolitical dominoes are availing themselves of an entire arsenal of authoritarian tools, including the manipulation of public data, that involve the intentional systematic destruction of liberal democratic institutions and legal traditions, going all the way back to the Greek Polis, the European Enlightenment, the French Revolution, and the American New Deal. The internal contradictions of bourgeois liberalism, hijacked by the vast expansionary wave of a runaway neoliberalism, seem to be at the limit of their elasticity, preparing a super-toxic, new round of “creative destruction” on the backs of a global precariat, toiling under merciless inequality, where 62 multi-billionaires “own the same as half the world.”(Oxfam Davos Report, 2016)–In this Data Publics Forum, I emphasize three areas: 1) What I call an emotariat condition, or the emotional exploitation of “affective labor,” more recently expressed in the fierce worldwide explosion of an angry, disoriented, and enraged precarity, signaling an unsustainable neoliberal/capitalocene project imploding in the face of massive inequality, ecological devastation, fanaticism, political chaos, war, consumerism, nihilism and psychological fragility. It is a new intense level of suffering where the Lacanian "graph of desire," accelerates to an undecidable topology, a kind of schizoid "particle and wave," strange attractor, gravitating along the physical exhaustion of the industrial proletariat and the new data cognitariat, This implosion seems to be giving birth to a janus-faced, contradictory, neofascist and decolonial dialectic, frightening but possibly liberating. The strenuous tension that this situation is creating can lead us anew into the jaws of a Reichian "mass psychology of fascism," where a sort of Jungian "collective unconscious" is devoured by the void of a massive capitalist shadow-- Yet, potentially, it may lead us also to an empowering re-birth of human agency and the Common(s), Spinoza, Marx, Negri, etc. 2) Accelerationism, stemming from the above, becomes that"quasi-Marxist strategy where the 'cure is posed as more of the disease,' or more of the disease than capitalism can stand." (John Russell) – Paradoxically opening avenues to new forms of hybrid capitalisms and post-capitalisms, hopefully transforming capitalism’s neocolonial financial, machinic, techno-sphere and ideology into more emancipatory and humane world alternatives. Different interpretations of these historical process may go as far back as Marx's "Fragment On Machines," Fedorov, Veblen, Benjamin and the Frankfurt School, Lyotard, Deleuze & Guattari, to the "speed and politics," accelarationist theoretics of Virilio, Fisher, Williams & Srnicek, Terranova, Land, Noys, Shaviro, Mackay & Avanessian, and others. 3) "The Republic of Data," would be a suggested alternative praxis to the accelerationist "shared economy" of cognitive capitalism and big data. I envision that elements of my Eco-Domics concept could be inscribed within an ongoing “representative democracy of data”– facilitated through an "ecoDomic aesthetic(s) of the common(s)."
    For, under a democratic data publics regime, new human agencies are urgent and necessary, as we are ever reduced to post-truth netizens and consumers, and postgovernment subjects. We must be aware, resist, and explore beyond the straight jacket of this monetized exponential data tsunami, where the pathological dissociation of real embodied life and virtual disembodied numeracy, constantly splits and represses the fluid connectivity of affect and emotion, and cunningly becomes the all consuming fuel of commodity fetishism, banality, rabid discrimination, hate speech, fake news and outrageous propaganda, monopoly capital accumulation, ecological destruction, and tyranny, degrading us to a neo-medieval precariat serfdom, made of an always expanding dispossessed emotariat, cognitariat, and proletariat. One possible avenue I suggest is to return to more joyful and compassionate sensible ecologies of life, or aesthetic(s) of the common(s) – Actively engaged social movements and social practices, where we can “come to our senses,” and be newly creative, building and rebuilding our future ecoDomic "communities of sense” and data commons.

    Ignacio Valero, PhD
    California College of the Arts – San Francisco

    Education: PhD (Latin American/Environmental Studies/Cultural Geography/Intellectual History) University of California at Berkeley; Diploma (Development/Natural Resources) ITC-UNESCO Centre/ Faculty of Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation, University of Twente, Enschede, The Netherlands; MAT (Sociology/Development/Education) University of Florida; B.S. (Economics/Sociology) Missouri State University.

    Experience: Currently: Associate Professor, Humanities and Sciences (Critical Studies/ Diversity Studies/Design/Fine Arts) California College of the Arts - CCA/San Francisco; Formerly: Dean, School of Fine Arts, CCAC; Director, Humanities and Sciences, CCAC; Presidential Environmental Advisory Council for the writing of the new Colombian Constitution; Acting Director/Deputy Director, Colombia’s Environmental Protection Agency-INDERENA; Latin American Coordinator, (Environmental Education, Technology, and Sustainable Development,) Centro Internacional de Formacion en Ciencias Ambientales - CIFCA /United Nations Environment Programme – UNEP, Madrid, Spain; General Coordinator, Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta Eco-Development Pilot Project; Environmental Consultant International Development Bank/ US Agency for International Development - USAID/ United Nations Development Program – UNDP/ Colombian National Planning Agency – DNP; Environment/Science/Technology Researcher, Colombian Science Foundation – COLCIENCIAS.

    Current Research Interests: EcoDomics/Political Economy/Political Ecology/Cultural Geography/Affective Labor/Biopolitics/Governmentality/Post-Government Governance; Commodity Aesthetic(s)/Media/Social Media/Epistemology of the Image/Post-Truth, Propaganda, Public Relations, and the Society of the Spectacle/Design Thinking; Science Fiction as Social Criticism/Social Movements/Aesthetic(s) of the Common(s).

    Recent Publications: “EcoDomics: Beyond Palm Trees, Orangeries and the Ecology of Illusions,” in Natasha Wheat’s Self Contained (Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art, July 2010); “EcoDomics: Imagining a Way To Come Back to Our Senses,” in Farming 2050, Free Soil No. 1, January 2011; “The Picture(s) of Michael Jackson: Notes for a Faustian EcoDomics,” in Jaime Cortez with Tisa Bryant & Ignacio Valero, Universal Remote: Meditations on the Absence of Michael Jackson, January 2011; “10 ∞” Interview, A Variation on Powers of Ten, Edited by Futurefarmers with Elizabeth Thomas, Design Geoff Kaplan, General Working Group, Berlin-New York, Sternberg Press, co-published with Bildmuseet, Umeå University, Sweden, 2012; “EcoDomics, Gentrification, and the Aesthetic(s) of the Common(s),” in Asterisk San Francisco Magazine, Idea Issue, 2013; “EcoDomics and Cultural History: Valuing Art Labor Under Neoliberalism,” in Art Practical, Special Issue “Valuing Labor in the Arts,” 5.4, 2014; “How Free is Free?” in Ted Purves and Shane Aslan Selzer What We Want is Free: Critical Exchanges in Recent Art (Albany, NY: SUNY / CCA 3wattis,2014); “EcoDomics: Life Beyond the Neoliberal Apocalypse” in Peter Mortenbock, Helge Mooshammer, Teddy Cruz and Fonna Forman, Informal Market Worlds (Reader): The Architecture of Economic Pressure (Rotterdam: nai010 Publishers, 2015).

    Simon Yuill,

    The “Values and Value” of Algorithmic Time

    There has been a great deal of interest in how capital has intervened in almost every area of life, leading some to propose new forms of labour and capital e.g. ‘immaterial labour’ and ‘emotional capitalism’, and others to suggest that processes of valuation are now the major method for understanding the social world. This has become particularly evident in the processes through which social media platforms, such as Facebook, generate immense financial value from the exchange of what for some people appears to be often mundane and value-less information. The relation between time and value (defined in various ways) is integral to the accumulation of capital in this context and it is evident that algorithms play an important mediating role. Analysis of this, however, has often been largely speculative due to the difficulties of obtaining empirical data. Furthermore, despite being a medium that is engaged with over time, and one that is often intimately intertwined with the rhythms of its users' daily lives, platforms such as Facebook have rarely been studied from a temporal perspective. As part of a study of the transformation of personal value into financial value through social media, the Values & Value project has developed a set of custom software tools that combine several intersecting perspectives of temporal activity across participants' use of Facebook, how they are tracked by Facebook as they browse the web, and how it fits within their daily routine. The project has been able to gather forms of empirical data not previously utilised in such research. In analysing this, we propose that platforms such as Facebook effect an attunement between different temporal activities, from personal social interactions to speculative investments in advertising and the circulation of capital within financialisation. Capital is captured from interventions within these circulations rather than from direct production. This suggests a different relation between time, technicity and capital from that of the industrial factory and recent concepts of the social factory. This relation between time, technicity and capital as attunement is analysed through concepts drawn from Lefebvre’s rhythmanalysis in which different rhythms interact with one another in ways that do not simply correlate but are rather conflictual and overdetermining. In doing so the project seeks to make more explicit the ways in which algorithms intervene in and constitute processes of the capture of value and circulation of capital. In this talk, Simon Yuill will present the custom software tools that were created for the project, the approach to visualisation used within these, and how they relate to the larger themes of our analysis.

    Links
    Values & Value website: https://values.doc.gold.ac.uk

    Dr. Simon Yuill is an artist, programmer and a researcher with Sociology, Goldsmiths, developing custom research software and working in the fields of Software Studies and Digital Sociology. He was the inaugural winner of the Vilém Flusser Theory Award (Berlin, 2008), has been a Research Resident at the Piet Zwart Institute (Rotterdam, 2005), Visiting Fellow at the University of Warwick (2013), and is a Visiting Research Fellow with the Digital Culture Unit at Goldsmiths College.

    PRESENTATIONS

    Lev Manovich’s talk, how i edit my instagram: big data, algorithms, and the study of global visual culture (intentionally all lowercase), introduces his ongoing research project on the social networking and photo sharing platform, Instagram. The analysis centres on the way data capture and visualisation technology interact and represent large data sets, particularly images. As huge quantities of often sophisticated imagery are uploaded to Instagram daily, Manovich argues, this pl... more
    Date:
    26th – 28th January 2017