Commit f6b4d7f9 authored by colmoneill's avatar colmoneill

more cleaning

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#Research methodologies
####Steve Rushton - research methodologies seminar
Art in the Age of... Asymmetrical Warfare
##### *Autonomy cube*, 2014 / Trevor Paglen with Jacob Appelbaum
![IMG_20150916_155837.jpg](IMG_20150916_155837.jpg)
The piece stands on the exhibition floor, placed on top of a white stand. It contains a cluster of circuit boards, neatly organised together, cables linking them together, and one cable bundle piercing through the base of the cube, through to the stand.
The total amounts to a height of 116cm, and is described by the gallery as *mixed media*. That is no understatement. The work is described as a sculpture, and also comes with the artist given tagline<sup>[1]</sup> meant to be "seen" and "used".
---
Photographer, sculptor and journalistic investigator. Paglen *looks for art to develop ways of seeing, things that help us see historical events of today* <sup>[2]</sup>. He takes concern in the topic of privacy, in some cases very directly, but for the majority of his pictural work, he observes the practical techniques that (american) governmental bodies employ to hide their activities.
---
Within all of the topics eluded to in [...] Asymmetrical warfare, this portion of the exhibition deals with data processing. It is the closest we get to the software mechanics of this asymmetricality.
The scenographic relation with the **James Bridle** piece *The Fraunhofer Lines* is thematic, but passive because of the relatively simple visualization ambition of the prints, whereas the *autonomy cube* attempts to be active, and work on a few different levels.
![IMG_20150916_155902.jpg](IMG_20150916_155902.jpg)
<figcaption>*The Fraunhofer Lines* <br>006 (MH17 Documents A), 2015 <br> 007 (MH17 Documents B), 2015 <br> 008 (MH17 Documents C), 2015 <br>**James Bridle**</figcation>
Firstly the sculpture itself. The thickness of the plexiglass really gives off a sense of strength. It looks bullet proof: it is both strong and transparent. This a direct image. A way of saying this computer object is transparent, you can see how it works, and understand it's components, but you can not destroy it.
Then it's functions; the cube creates it's own wifi signal. It distributes an access to the internet that is borrowed from the gallery. Not only this, but it give you the added value of routing your traffic after connection through the Tor network. This is what the artist means when saying the piece is meant to be 'used'.
Tor stands for The Onion Router:<sup>[3]</sup>
> Tor is free software for enabling anonymous communication. The name is an acronym derived from the original software project name The Onion Router. Tor directs Internet traffic through a free, worldwide, volunteer network consisting of more than six thousand relays to conceal a user's location and usage from anyone conducting network surveillance or traffic analysis. Using Tor makes it more difficult for Internet activity to be traced back to the user: this includes "visits to Web sites, online posts, instant messages, and other communication forms".
So what does this bring us to exactly?
- A metaphor for open source
- A real symbol of asymmetricality
- An activist's banner held up to the world
- A tool to convince the visitors
- A trust in a self standing apparatus
- A call for art enthusiasts to act
---
The relation between this piece and my work is one of transparency. No hidden parts. In fact, all parts rather be exposed. I focus on processes and applications, and the common ground of trust. The autonomy cube speaks about a previously level playing field. Now this field is being skewed. It aims to display, and act out these points of view, and add a layer of discourse with the sculptural aspect.
---
[1]: http://www.paglen.com/index.php?l=work&s=cube&i=5 "Artist website"
[2]: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SDxue3jGAug "transmediale 2014 keynote: Art as Evidence "
[3]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tor_(anonymity_network) "Tor Anonymity Network - Wikipedia"
# What How Why — research methodologies:
## Galerie Rodolphe Janssen website
#### What
Making a website to enable outwards communications of a contemporary art gallery in Brussels. The project involved building a tool to edit the content of a website that displays and explains the events that the gallery organises. Content editability and ease of use were key.
#### How
With a complex relation between the directors and the people responsible for outwards communication for the gallery. Practically: with a bunch of web based technologies, databases and some connections made between different tools. Personally: with a lot of patience and care and deep, calming, therapeutic breaths.
#### Why
Because I have acquired some knowledge on the techniques that could enable such a project. Also because I enjoy web development, and the gallery's point of view on art. Interchange these items: to make a living, and to pay rent / out of interest for the bigger project.
---
## HEAR - Haute Ecole des Arts du Rhin — HTML 2 print
#### What
This was a workshop I was asked to organise for the students of an art school in Strasbourg in France in March 2015. I developed a set of work sessions around markup languages for the web and the way of styling the content with aims of printing it from the browser.
#### How
With help from other researchers on this topic I devised ways of relating the markup language structures to text hierarchy. Rather than sitting down and plainly learning HTML, we went through versions of this language that let us use extra layers of abstraction. This abstraction helped us to remain focused on structure rather than semantics.
#### Why
Because this is an interesting topic for graphic designers who regularly need to deal with hierarchy in content. Also because the schools project call was interesting. It displayed a healthy dose of openness. Also because I enjoy the idea of challenging schooling models. Teacher to students versus peers to peers.
---
## Drawing curved
#### What
A text attempting to collect the reasons and frustrations of drawing vector curves in graphic design software. A vector curve is an image making —and describing— technique that opposes itself to bitmap, pixel based images. The text exists to think about design processes, and how our tools work.
#### How
In a textual form, in collaboration with a Belgian colleague, taking examples of these issues and then writing about them. Lacing the conclusions from the examples together to attempt a coherent body of text. Also it is made possible by some budget and a publishing environment that encourages these thought processes.
#### Why
Mainly because we're stunned by what digital practitioners accept to put themselves through for production. Because the tools you use influence the way you work. These tools have attitudes. These attitudes can and should be questioned. The project aims to discuss and progress on the topic. It's ambitions are quite low, if only to start discussing.
# Just to write down some thoughts
By now the ideas I meant to write about are all too mashed up in my head, partly trying to combine and link them, mostly just trying to digest.
Maybe I feel like writing now is appropiate because of the recent elections in Belgium, showing huge rifts in a population I thought I wanted to be part of (I am not a Belgian citizen, but could relatively easily become one, if I wanted to, which I was seriously considering until the results of the elections of the 25th May), or maybe it is appropriate because I am nearing the end of my school year (and procrastination is a must) and the completion of my degree, and have been waiting for this break away for a while.
This should talk about graphic design and what I thought it was, what I found out it could be, what it can mean, and why I want to pursue the convictions that those points have brought on.
We, as a team, have more or less finished off our first big design job in our own names. A website, and a pretty important (scale wise) one for a first job. For a school, none the less, a fellow artistic school from Brussels. The experience was great, and there were many lessons learnt but that should be for an other blog post. The clients ended up asking me what I was up to next
I meant for this article to have a more philosophical lean to it... Open source and politics, politics and open source.
Bernard Stiegler. Economie de la contribution.
Stiegler outlines an origin to the economy of contribution through a rapid history of consumerism, preceeded by an industrial capitalist movement. Capitalism had been around longer than industry, but his talking points start at industrial capitalism, a capitalism of investments, where crossing technical abilities and science enable great efficiency and massive production. Nothing new here. The direct cost of this is a dismantling of the everydays person's life through the ridiculisation his abilities, reducing him down into proletariat.
20th century dawns and we see the arrival of consumerist capitalism. Initially associated with Fordism, we note that with this now noted trend, not only have the working class lost all their ability to do but one thing, but also that the consumer loses all ability to live life decently, who lose their savoir vivre.
So then why a contributive economy. Stiegler looks at the Open Source movement to answer this.
He looks at the contributive economy as a model that strives for de-proletarisation. Up to now, industrial expansion lead to proletarisation, and generalised proletarisation, where one loses the ability to even fathom the scope of the field in which he is acting. A reduction to such a bare minimum of function, that the individual can not understand the consequences of his actions. The system has entirely gone above him.
Stiegler points out that this is happening inside higher level education, where industries have moved far enough as to forget (forget to teach) it's origins. Again, an area of a spectrum, leaving the student with the only ability to do, without thinking, with skills but no knowledge. Extrapolating this example leads to Fukushima. Rethinking if it would not be worth to rather rebuild a knowledge than a simple set of skills. Always production orientated.
Generalised proletariat is this learning to work today within ready made systems that do not reveal their histories, their origins, ignoring their makings in the interest of productivity. Ultimately we're loosing our knowledge, by externalising the knowledge by the system we've actually forgotten them.
Stiegler then concentrated on people within the OS community, which he points out are part of an industrial world, a area of working that could not be without industrialism, but and industrialism that does not rely on proletarisation of it's actors. This is very important because in reintroduces the notion of individuation. The ability that I have, on my own, to change myself, to constantly question myself, to become who I am. (Nietszche - Peindard) But that requires knowledge. It is knowledge that enables one to individuate himself. All kinds of knowledge, big and small, contribute to this.
It is when one has knowledge that he individuated himself. Individuation in a group inevitably educes individuation. He calls it co-individuation. I myself, by questioning myself and collecting knowledge of all types, automatically bring you on to individuate yourself. This constitutes a type of a constitutive model.
Stiegler and his group think that this constitutive model can and must generalize itself. Firstly because one of the results of the various forms of capitalism we've known now mean that people do not care, in industries, about their jobs. People only work through sanctions. This means that there is no interest in learning, no desire to better oneself, to continue learning, just the sanctions to keep the worker coming. Max Weber seems to have explained that if capitalism has grown, it was because it created motivation. We know this to no longer be true. There is no more motivation inside capitalism. Or if their is motivation, it comes in the form of addiction, either on the very high levels of people getting rushes out of manipulating extreme amounts of money, or on the low level of simply being addicted to money. The motivations may be apparently hidden behind various types of justifications, but there is no motivation in capitalism.
Producers, in the capitalist model, have become proletarians. Hackers, are the first producers of the capitalist age who have founded their working on de-proletarisation, but is is also true for the consumer. Because open source has at it's roots the need to bridge between producer and consumer.
The 19th century was based on the opposition of capital versus work, the 20th century still has that oppostion, but add to it the opposing producer and consumer.
The contribution system does not work like this, and Stiegler mentionned how this economy must somehow, become generalised, as the need to reinstore motivation on both the producer and consumer end comes back to us through digital abilities. It works only through the participation of all. Participation and contribution are not the same, but by participating, one contributes,
You can participat without being a contributer but the contributer is a participant, and by participating he is not only contributing, he is taking part in a contributive economy. A contributive economy is an economy inside which each participant individuates himself by participating.
The common point in these economies are that the participant is curious. Curious in the old french way of the term: the opposite of incurieux, with it's roots in the word incurie, meaning jemenfoutisme. Or irresponsabilité, and again, lack of motivation. Incurie of the society, now obvious to all. Individuality is king. (cfr. recent elections).
This is a result of a system that is turning us into cretins.
Ars Industrialis look at contributive economies in a theraputical way. A way to consider digital as a commons, that must be taken care of. The internet would be nothing without it's economy of contributions. But these economies must indeed be nurtured in way that we are conscious of all the form digital can take. Digital matter is our new writing, or at least it has as much impact if not more. It could be used as surveillence systems or it could be used to build a huge online encyclopedia, sharing and bettering itself by gathering individual knowledge into the commons.
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# I'm scared.
## Don't cringe, this post is going to be about privacy. Your favourite kind of privacy, the hot and topical digital privacy.
---
It's now a known fact, retaining privacy while using the internet is impossible. So why would one waist energy trying to claim back a little personal space online when it is such an uphill battle? In a nutshell: **integrity**.
My point of view on this general topic is clearly not bullet proof. There are many loopholes, and arguments I can't battle again, but I'll try an expose one perspective of why I am looking for ways to fight back, and stay off the records.
The all to easy, pre-packaged excuse of not caring for internet privacy,
> because I have nothing to hide
is laughable. I can not take this claim seriously because it is clearly not true. For this purpose I'll reuse Glenn Greewald's answer; Then why do you use passwords? If you have nothing to hide, then ship over your password to me and let me snoop around your years of email archive, related documents and interactions. All I want to do is send your stuff to a couple of people, publish some of it, cross reference your usage with other passwords I have, et me just have a quick peek, after all **you've got nothing to hide!**
While this answer Greenwald gives is purposely amusing, it has a ring of truth to it, so keep this in mind because I believe there may well be a good idea in there in some form. That being said, we can't just put the reused claim to bed with this.
> " People can very easily in words claim they don't value their privacy, but their actions negate the authenticity of that belief. "
# Pre-master assumptions
bBelow are a list of assumptions. They are items I believe to be able to explain, but they have not yet received enough attention to be able to be made into givens. They lack context and flesh, but meanwhile;
- Interface is a two faced machine
- Tools Shape Practice
- Proprietary software is a no no
## Interface is a two faced machine
When following a digital procedure, one will, in many cases, have to deal with an interface. On most kind of devices, a graphical interface is overplayed to help us achieve tasks. The screen presents us with a set of human readable actions and options, that are then translated by the interface into actions, that the computer system can run and return to the interface with information to display.
This interface is
## Tools Shape Practice
In most artisan fields, the tools one uses have a specific purpose. They are designed for a circumstance, and for a job recurrent enough to merit direct attention. This is still true beyond artisans. It is true for labour, for technique, and for most professional fields.
The manual tools we use can be adapted, combined, broken, fixed and customized to function better, or more specifically according to a given situation. My current practice involves computers. Computations, or software in general is not always very helpful at letting us fix and customize it.
This adaptability and craftsmanship can not be ignored in the case of software. A practice that involves computers should have the same adaptability, and possibility of customizations that any manual task has.
## Proprietary software is a no no
With customization of tools in mind, it is, in this assumptions opinion, no stretch to accept that a tool that can not share it's inner processes, can not be a tool that is considerable. Proprietary software is a model, often linked to a commercial model, that delivers a software product as is. A finished installer package that has one use case: to be ran, in this version, and with no alterations to the.
The alternate case is a model where sources are distributed and proceeding are shared. Out in the open. For all to review. This does not stop an open source software vendor from also distributing 'frozen' installations versions of said code and sources.
I am not able to understand all of this code, what it does, or to what part of the program it may refer to. But it is an important statement for a software distributor to give out it's sources and be able to prove that it's program is doing what it was meant to do, and not run (malicious?) side tasks.
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