Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Rewind Italia Part One

From Laura Leuzzi, links to resources in the history of Italian Video Art

The opening convivium of this new research project is in Rome in April

You can watch some videotapes online:
Michele Sambin (artist who worked at Cavallino)'s films and videotapes at
Guido Sartorelli (artist who worked at Cavallino)'s videos at
some of Federica Marangoni (who worked at Ferrara with Lola Bonora)'s works

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Machine as other than Other

The following is a section form a talk I'm doing at the Digital Capital symposium at Johns Hopkins Tuesday-Wednesday 13-14 March 2012. Speakers include Wendy Hiu Kyong Chun, P{aul Goodrich and Paul Vanouze: worth tuning in to the live stream at https://connect.johnshopkins.edu/digitalcapital/

The paper begins and ends riffing on the previous post about the Kelly Gang

The ethical question, whether boring and stressful, repetitive work should be done at all, even by machines, then concerns how we conceptualise the labour condensed into the design of our technologies. The Western industrial tradition has lost its grasp on the dead, whose accumulated knowledge and skills is massed and condensed into our tools. Where traditional societies reverence and dialogue with the ancestors who gave them the techniques they use today, the techno-rationalist approach of capital, reverencing nothing but the pursuit of profit, crams the ancestors into the black boxes of our 'intelligent' machines. Technology is where the West keeps its ancestors, and the question then concerns how right it is to enslave the dead, even after they have passed on, in the service not of the living but of the mechanism of capital. The question is more than hypothetical, because it is a synecdoche of the idea of freedom: the possibility of an autonomous machinic phylum is today not only the pars pro toto of any larger autonomy but the Levinasian ground on which we might confront, in the autonomy of our technologies and therefore their claims upon us, the very possibility of our own freedom.

After all, as Marx is at pains to demonstrate, workers found themselves subjected to the technologies in which were concretised their own skills, and forced to work to the pace dictated by the factory, alienated and oppressed through the medium of the labours of the past congealed in the machines they served. Today, if we work not to the clock but the key-stroke, nonetheless, and perhaps to a greater degree than in the last century, our time is accounted for in relationships mediated through and accounted by machines in which the communicative skills of our ancestors have been encased. The embedding of the human past in technologies should make them our allies: instead we confront them as slaves, in the sweatshops of the global South, or as masters in the global software and finance industries which, it could be argued, are only the first to adopt the new servitude of artificial life and intelligence. A new question then emerges, which we can call the Levinas question: do our constructions (a) of the parameters of a-lifes, and (b) of the systems we use to visualise them and their functioning, act as screens in the sense of folding screens or room dividers, to hide rather than open onto an Other or other way of being? Do our relationships, as either servants or masters, to machines never open us up to the infinite demand of the Other that would come from a face-to-face encounter with the ancestral dead? Are we, in that case, ethically impoverished by our constriction of this Other as other-than-Other, as that which places no demand upon us?