Live Stage: Tyrannies of Participation [tr Istanbul]

kimjohn_image1.png[Conceptual mock-up of Se­cu­rity Gate 26.11 by Molly Reichert] ISEA Istanbul presents Tyrannies of Participation — Chair Per­son: Seeta Peña Gan­gad­ha­ran; Pre­sen­ters: Jon Lei­decker, Joshua Kit Clay­ton, John Kim, An­thony Tran, Vasily Tru­bet­skoy :: Sep­tem­ber 16, 2011; 9:00 am – 10:30 am :: Sa­banci Cen­ter Room 3, Sa­banci Cen­ter, Lev­ent.

The pur­pose is to ex­plore the con­struc­tion and val­u­a­tion of par­tic­i­pa­tory dis­courses, de­signs, or ex­pe­ri­ences and chal­lenge re­ceived wis­dom of par­tic­i­pa­tion’s power. When does the dis­course of par­tic­i­pa­tion mask power? Who has ac­tual ver­sus per­ceived au­thor­ity? How do bot­tom-up, col­lab­o­ra­tive-based, lev­eled so­cial, cul­tural, and po­lit­i­cal ex­per­i­ments cre­ate new in­equal­i­ties?

Work­ing across the arts, music, and pol­i­tics, this panel con­sid­ers the dy­nam­ics of power in me­di­ated par­tic­i­pa­tion. Bor­row­ing its title from the work of Bill Cooke and Uma Kothari, who ques­tioned the le­git­i­macy of par­tic­i­pa­tory de­vel­op­ment pro­jects led by the World Bank and other in­ter-gov­ern­men­tal bod­ies, this panel ad­dresses the un­in­tended con­se­quences of, and the power strug­gles in, col­lab­o­ra­tive music plat­forms, so­cial net­works, wire­less in­fra­struc­tures and open gov­ern­ment ini­tia­tives. The pur­pose is to ex­plore the con­struc­tion and val­u­a­tion of par­tic­i­pa­tory dis­courses, de­signs, or ex­pe­ri­ences and chal­lenge re­ceived wis­dom of par­tic­i­pa­tion’s power. When does the dis­course of par­tic­i­pa­tion mask power? Who has ac­tual ver­sus per­ceived au­thor­ity? How do bot­tom-up, col­lab­o­ra­tive-based, lev­eled so­cial, cul­tural, and po­lit­i­cal ex­per­i­ments cre­ate new in­equal­i­ties?

Paper Ab­stracts

A Brief His­tory of Mu­si­cal Au­thor­ity
by Jon Lei­decker

This pre­sen­ta­tion fo­cuses on the re­la­tion­ship be­tween record­ing, au­thor­ship and the idea of com­po­si­tion. Work­ing across three dif­fer­ent pe­ri­ods, I ex­am­ine the ten­sions be­tween in­di­vid­ual and col­lec­tive mu­si­cal cre­ation and look at music as a liv­ing so­cial prac­tice as op­posed to an ob­ject. West­ern no­ta­tion im­mor­tal­ized in­di­vid­ual com­posers and cre­ated a mu­si­cal hi­er­ar­chy in which music be­came a less col­lab­o­ra­tive so­cial prac­tice and more an in­dus­trial fac­tory re­pro­duc­ing the com­poser’s prop­er­ties. In the early twen­ti­eth cen­tury, record­ing tech­nol­ogy chal­lenged the in­di­vid­ual com­poser’s au­thor­ity by grant­ing the same im­mor­tal­ity to im­pro­vis­ing mu­si­cians and other live per­form­ers. Since the year 2000, new tech­nolo­gies have en­abled col­lec­tive tools for col­lab­o­ra­tive com­po­si­tion (e.g., Rocket Music, Ind­aba). Though these tools promise dis­trib­uted au­thor­ship, they may also be re­in­forc­ing in­di­vid­u­al­is­tic ten­den­cies in mu­si­cal cre­ation, com­po­si­tion, and recog­ni­tion.

Cor­don Off the Con­tempt in a Word Com­part­ment (and Other Whis­per­ing Mo­ments)
Joshua Kit Clay­ton

A video-di­rected group ex­er­cise/med­i­ta­tion/con­ver­sa­tion by Joshua Kit Clay­ton, Cor­don Off the Con­tempt in a Word Com­part­ment (and Other Whis­per­ing Mo­ments) in­ves­ti­gates the uses and val­ues of con­tempt, hy­giene, lan­guage and im­por­tantly, of whis­per­ing, as a means of con­tain­ment- para­dox­i­cally through the process of prop­a­ga­tion. The video asks au­di­ence mem­bers to con­sider and/or dis­cuss their own re­la­tion­ship to con­tempt and other top­ics within the space of the video it­self.

Among other top­ics, this work plays with the no­tion that given a propo­si­tion (for ex­am­ple, a par­tic­i­pa­tory art­work) there is value in one’s con­tempt for the propo­si­tion and its ar­ti­facts, as a means of main­tain­ing one’s agency in the face of the propo­si­tion. Propo­si­tions them­selves may be con­sid­ered au­thor­i­ties and their pre­sen­ta­tion is­sues de­mands to the ob­jects of their “tyranny”, ei­ther im­plic­itly or ex­plic­itly. This work is an ex­plicit, though hu­mor­ous, tyrant, and re­in­forces its au­thor­ity through the iden­ti­fi­ca­tion, en­cour­age­ment, and ma­nip­u­la­tion of the ob­ject’s re­sis­tance to au­thor­ity. A ques­tion for dis­cus­sion is whether given such a de­f­i­n­i­tion of au­thor­ity, is it ever pos­si­ble to elim­i­nate au­thor­ity, and if so what is the value in our ef­forts to do so?

Se­cu­rity Gate 26.11
by John Kim, An­thony Tran, Vasily Tru­bet­skoy

Se­cu­rity Gate 26.11 is an Ar­duino-based, in­ter­ac­tive, elec­tronic art­work that de­tects wire­less emis­sions given off by in­di­vid­u­als, in­clud­ing cel­lu­lar and smart­phone trans­mis­sions, wifi, blue­tooth, RFID, and oth­ers. Se­cu­rity Gate 26.11 pro­duces in­di­vid­u­al­ized au­dio­vi­sual re­sponses to these trans­mis­sions. Our lives are sub­jected to daily forms of sur­veil­lance via mech­a­nisms that are less rec­og­niz­able to us as such, pre­cisely be­cause they are not vis­i­ble. Today, wire­less trans­mis­sions are the cor­pus of con­trol and re­pres­sion, as ev­i­denced by so­phis­ti­cated gov­ern­men­tal sys­tems of mass sur­veil­lance and snoop­ing (Car­ni­vore and its vari­ants) and cor­po­rate mon­i­tor­ing (data-min­ing and soft­ware rec­om­men­da­tion sys­tems).

Se­cu­rity Gate 26.11 demon­strates how we vol­un­tar­ily par­tic­i­pate in tyran­nies of our own cre­ation. Var­i­ous crit­i­cal the­o­rists have com­mented on how in­ter­ac­tive par­tic­i­pa­tion is the ide­ol­ogy of cap­i­tal­ist con­sumerism over in­for­ma­tion net­works. By our par­tic­i­pa­tion in in­for­ma­tional net­works (in­clud­ing cell phone usage, on­line brows­ing, email, SMS and oth­ers), we ac­tively vol­un­teer in­for­ma­tion about our­selves to forms of gov­ern­men­tal and cor­po­rate sur­veil­lance. Data are di­rectly and in­di­rectly col­lected about us in our use of these net­works. Se­cu­rity Gate 26.11 ren­ders vis­i­ble these in­vis­i­ble mech­a­nisms of dis­ci­pline and con­trol and doc­u­ments our par­tic­i­pa­tion in pos­si­ble tyran­nies of our own cre­ation.

Par­tic­i­pat­ing in Par­tic­i­pa­tion: Pol­i­tics and Cit­i­zen Power
by Seeta Peña Gan­gad­ha­ran

Sim­i­lar to the cul­tural zeit­geist in the 1970s, the past sev­eral years have been marked by an op­ti­mistic dis­course about the tech­nolo­gies of po­lit­i­cal par­tic­i­pa­tion in Amer­i­can gov­ern­ment. From elec­tronic town hall meet­ings to Pres­i­dent Obama’s Cit­i­zen Brief­ing Book to the Face­book pages of politi­cians and po­lit­i­cal in­sti­tu­tions, the cur­rent po­lit­i­cal cli­mate is com­mit­ted to in­stan­ti­at­ing ideals of par­tic­i­pa­tory democ­racy in tech­no­log­i­cal tools for cit­i­zens. But what power have these tools cre­ated?

In this pre­sen­ta­tion I apply a sem­i­nal dis­cus­sion of par­tic­i­pa­tory pol­i­tics writ­ten in the 1970s in re­la­tion to mod­ern day ex­pe­ri­ences of cit­i­zen par­tic­i­pa­tion. Writ­ten by Sherry Arn­stein, A Lad­der of Cit­i­zen Par­tic­i­pa­tion, looks at the pal­lia­tive ef­fects of par­tic­i­pa­tory pro­jects, cit­ing the prob­lem of “par­tic­i­pat­ing in par­tic­i­pa­tion”. Seen in re­la­tion to cur­rent ef­forts to har­ness cit­i­zen power in po­lit­i­cal de­ci­sion mak­ing, the prob­lem of “par­tic­i­pat­ing in par­tic­i­pa­tion” un­masks the su­per­fi­cial­ity of par­tic­i­pa­tory pro­jects and prac­tices. Ex­am­ples will be drawn from the Unites States’ pre­mier reg­u­la­tory body for media, com­mu­ni­ca­tions, and in­for­ma­tion pol­i­cy­mak­ing.

Bios of the Par­tic­i­pants

Jon Lei­decker (aka Wob­bly) is a San Fran­cisco-based mu­si­cian, com­poser, and lec­turer on ex­per­i­men­tal elec­tronic music. He has re­leased works on Tiger­beat6, Il­le­gal Art, Alku, Ph­thalo, and oth­ers. He has been pro­duc­ing music since 1987 and on­go­ing stu­dio and live pro­jects in­volve col­lab­o­ra­tions with Peo­ple Like Us, Thomas Dimuzio, Kevin Blech­dom, Tim Perkis, Mat­mos and The Weath­er­man of Neg­a­tiv­land. He is also a mem­ber of the Chop­ping Chan­nel and Sagan. In 2002, Lei­decker was re­spon­si­ble for the first mon­tage and final cleanup of the Keep the Dog album, That House We Lived In (2003).

Joshua Kit Clay­ton is an artist, mu­si­cian, and com­puter pro­gram­mer, liv­ing and work­ing in San Fran­cisco. He is a grad­u­ate of the Bard Col­lege MFA pro­gram in Film/Video. He pro­duces dance music for post-rave ca­su­al­ties both on his own and in the band Pi­geon Funk. He is re­spon­si­ble for the de­vel­op­ment of Jit­ter, a video and 3d graph­ics ex­ten­sion to Cy­cling ‘74’s Max vi­sual pro­gram­ming en­vi­ron­ment. His per­for­mance and video based pro­jects ex­plore com­mu­ni­ca­tion, spec­u­la­tion, value, di­rec­tive, and the space be­tween artist and au­di­ence.

John Kim is an As­sis­tant Pro­fes­sor of New Media The­ory and Prac­tice in the de­part­ment of Media and Cul­tural Stud­ies at Macalester Col­lege. Be­fore ar­riv­ing at Macalester, John taught at the Uni­ver­sity of San Fran­cisco, Stan­ford Uni­ver­sity and Williams Col­lege. In ad­di­tion to re­search­ing new media, he is an artist as well and has ex­hib­ited in­ter­ac­tive in­stal­la­tions at mu­se­ums and gal­leries across the United States.

An­thony Tran is a new media artist re­sid­ing in Min­neapo­lis. His art­works ex­plore and prob­lema­tize the tran­si­tion be­tween con­tem­po­rary hu­mans and fu­ture tech­nolo­gies. He is also a stu­dent at Macalester Col­lege, where his re­search in­ter­ests in­clude cog­ni­tive res­o­nance, vir­tual in­ter­group dy­nam­ics and tag­ging/rec­om­mender sys­tems.

Vasily Tru­bet­skoy is a stu­dent of physics and math­e­mat­ics at Macalester Col­lege. Past re­search has fo­cused on crys­tal­liza­tion and bio­min­eral sys­tems. His in­ter­ests span both dig­i­tal and ana­log elec­tron­ics.

Seeta Peña Gan­gad­ha­ran re­cently com­pleted a Ph.D in the De­part­ment of Com­mu­ni­ca­tion at Stan­ford Uni­ver­sity. She is a post­doc­toral fel­low in the In­for­ma­tion So­ci­ety Pro­ject at Yale Law School. Her dis­ser­ta­tion in­ter­ro­gates con­ven­tional the­o­ries and de­signs for pub­lic par­tic­i­pa­tion in com­mu­ni­ca­tion pol­i­cy­mak­ing. She has sec­ondary re­search in­ter­ests in the cul­tural his­tory of com­mu­ni­ca­tion tech­nolo­gies. She has also worked with ad­vo­cacy and ac­tivist groups, in­clud­ing Cen­ter for Media Jus­tice, Pub­lic Knowl­edge, Media Al­liance, and Prometheus Radio Pro­ject.

Aug 31, 2011
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