- Infrastructure as Community
When we talk about seizing the means of production, we ought not to be simply talking about the production of commodities, but about the production of our communities. And when we say seize, we ought to mean the whole thing, from our bodies to the pipes that connect our bodies to each other. And we ought to do it together.
- Hannah Arendt's The Human Condition and Social Media
I love thinking about what would happen if Hannah Arendt were still alive to write about the internet and social media. But since that isn't possible, I'm going to take the step of trying to interpret some of her work as if it were about the internet, with all the hazards therein.
- Virtual Space Aesthetics
This is a presentation that I gave for the New Media Studies class taught by Carl Diehl at Pacific Northwest College of Art in November 2015. The idea was to talk about virtual spaces, and how they "feel," and how we struggle to represent them to others, especially when they are difficult to understand from a technical perspective.
- Meditation on Hiroshima 2015
Today we have "smart cities." We have "personal data." We have "remote, automated weapons." We forget about it in our attempts to wrap our heads around the mindset of Cold War apocalypse, because the idea of total destruction seems so foreign and strange to us. But, it was the mundane horrors of today's surveilled, prison-state, extrajudicial murder world that people in the 1960s and 1970s feared.
- Ski Mask Selfie
The beginning of 2012 was when Pussy Riot staged their famous performance in the Moscow cathedral, bringing the powerful image of women in brightly colored ski masks to the world. If one was the sort of person to make gross epochalizations of history, one might say that Pussy Riot "kicked off" a period of amplified feminine weaponization. Alternatively, one might say that Pussy Riot's political protest and subsequent imprisonment resonated strongly in a world already agitated by the rampant misogyny occurring in many cultural contexts. The sort of person who believes in epochs might say that we are riding a wave of backlash to the backlash—the progress made by an inter-related era of civil and gender rights was pushed back by a conservative reaction, which is again being pushed back against by a new movement for progress. Or alternatively, one might simply say that women around the world are sick of the violence, the bullshit, and the refusal to acknowledge both, and are tired of asking nicely.
- Vaccinations, Ridicule, and Racism
"Pro-vaccination" is not an identity that needs to be defended to counter that of "anti-vaccination," nor should it be. What someone who gets a vaccination gets from someone who does not vaccinate, is not in anyway analogous to what someone who is black, gay, or trans receives from those who consider themselves to be white, straight, and cis (let alone those who encompass multiples of these identities). Vaccination is a public health issue, and should be treated as such. While not vaccinating is doing real harm to people, we must keep in mind that the harm comes from the disease that we are attempting to fight, not the anti-vaccination crowd. The goal should always be getting as many people vaccinated as possible, according to the science of epidemiology.
- Building Anarchist Logistics
This is anti-capitalist, but is it anarchist? The reason this question comes to mind is a subject I've been thinking about, which I might call "infrastructural anarchism". Most of my consideration on this subject is trying to figure out exactly what that means. I don't believe that anarchism is against logistics.
- Memo on New Normalism
New Normalism goes by plenty of names and guises. We might call it majoritarianism, or progressivism, or normalization, or even accelerationism, in the sense that such an aesthetic adopts a mantra of change for change's sake. The shape of the thing is a truncated pyramid, a plateau supported by an ever-widening base. It is pushing through history like a dulled wedge, bulldozing across differentiation, attempting to introduce the solid form of compression architecture where once diverse and complicated structures existed.
- New Year's Note
I have a fortnightly newsletter, in which I boringly discuss what I've just worked on, what I'm currently working on, and what I want to work on in the future. Given that this is the year end slow period for publishing, I thought I would take a couple weeks to reflect on things I had done the past year, and also things I haven't done in the past year. But this is the much more exciting variation on that theme: things I'd like to do over the next year. This is my mostly neglected website, which I mostly maintain in order to store my CV and as a thing to re-design as a way of procrastinating. I'm not saying that I'm turning over a new leaf and announcing some grand plan to make this site more active. But, I feel like maybe a list of projects I'd like to work on deserves a seat here.
- About My Jewishness
This identity, for me, is not just a name, a religion, or a set of holidays and traditions. This identity is a form of vigilance. I remember the importance that roots of my identity allowed my ancestors to leave their old homes, for whatever reasons that they did, and establish a continuity of their lives and identities here in the United States. I remember that our shared identity, in our own minds and in the minds of others, is what makes us not-white, both when we are discriminated against, and when we are privileged. It is this identity I use to form a coherent identity that is not reliant upon national borders, names, or privilege. The identity that I have today is based upon my family's historical ability to migrate and adapt, while maintaining themselves as individuals. The sort of Jewishness from which my identity is formed, is that which is both a memory of the way that racism functions, and a commitment to an identity that will never allow it to happen again.
- The Futurist Manifesto
We will sing of the great crowds agitated by constant downloads, in-app purchases, and five-star reviews; the multi-colored and polyphonic surf of push notifications in gentrified capitals: the nocturnal vibration of the dating app beneath the reassuring electronic satellites: the gluttonous shopping center devouring flows of customer preferences; point-of-sale tablets suspended from the clouds by the thread of their data; WiFi hotspots exchanging access for information across the diabolic cutlery of the smart city: adventurous startups sniffing the horizon; great-breasted databases, puffing on the server like enormous hungry mobs with each smart phone as a fly-crusted mouth, and the gliding flight of drones whose propellers look like the roll of a downloading icon and the eyes of enthusiastic customers.
- The Youth: A Lower Class
My entire life I've been hearing younger generations talked about in disparaging tones. I've been told that my ideas and dreams are hopelessly immature and naïve. When I'm older I'll understand, they tell me. I just turned thirty-one, and finally I believe I get it. Generations don’t really exist—they are arbitrary distinctions, identified by any number of cultural traits (music genres, common technologies, clothes, etc). The so-called young generations have always been mistrusted by the so-called older generations. But this isn't just a cultural conservatism. Generations are just a misnomer for class relations.
- The Chastised Generation
A group of children are walking down the sidewalk, boisterously noisy and taking up space. Adults, perhaps parents themselves, glare at the youth, and with their mind squish them together into a single unit. A single person, with two arms, two legs, skin tone precisely in the middle. Clothes ill-fitting, thrifted out of the past fashions, off-the-off-rack garments not quite matching limbs that don't know whether they ought to be growing or shrinking. A grimace on the face of this composite youth. A sneer, a gesture, a cock of the hips, and the young person raises a camera, lens side in, to take a photo of itself. We'll call this youth Generation.
- Occupying Strategic and Tactical Media Space
The narrative of the Occupy movement made possible by its technological means of publication was largely that of social media: individual expression without any further program. While there was some success with the deployment of new strategic narratives, by and large the technology limited the media space to an arena of self-expression through the means provided by free media platforms.
- The Looped Gaze of a Vine
A Vine--a six second looped video--shows the moment of a bombing on a crowded street, recorded off of a television screen. What does it mean?
- Dark Theory
It is with myths that we color the outlines of our cultural terrain. We collide with the shapes whether we like it or not, but it is with narratives that we shade in the fields, providing us with a sense of depth at a distance. With this color, we more easily recognize repeated patterns from afar. We know the difference between the sea and the sky, and we give ourselves an aesthetic sense of the cyclical changing of the seasons, and of the differences in light frequencies between sunrise and sunset.
- White Paper: Open Card Deck Standard
The OCDS will be a format for creating cards that can be incorporated into any other deck made from cards that are similarly to OCDS standard. Any person will be able to create a card deck from any grouping of OCDS cards that they choose, selecting or ignoring cards at will to formulate the best deck for their purposes. The OCDS standard will be coupled with an OCDS Library and License, to promote the sharing and creation of any cards with the OCDS standard.
- Visual Documentation of UFOs: a New Question of Authenticity
In a move similar to how "outsider artists" received increasing legitimacy throughout the twentieth century, Wertheim asks how outsider theories of physics can shed light on the role scientific thought has in ordering individual perceptions of how the world, and indeed the universe, function. As our understanding of how the universe is structured increasingly incorporates scientific understanding, can we look at the visual documentation of individuals who encounter UFOs in the same way as an "outsider artist's" art or an "outsider scientist's" body of work?
- Cascadian Drone Ballads - An Introduction
Cascadian Drone Ballads are a style of folk music originating in the disputed territory known as Cascadia. They represent a cultural internalization of the impact of the American and Canadian governments' violent, technological incursion into this undeveloped natural terrain on the northern Pacific coast of North America, a identifying narrative device for those who live an off-the-grid lifestyle, and serve as a rallying point for activists fighting for Cascadian sovereignty both in the rural, mountainous areas and in the cities. This article will briefly theorize the music lineage of Drone Ballads and their context in the political and technological situation in Cascadia, and then illustrate this relationship as found in the lyrics of several songs in the Cascadian Drone Ballad style.
- New Aesthetics - New Politics
The real danger that technology poses is precisely why we can’t “debunk” the aesthetic appeal and pretend that it doesn’t exist. You can ignore a work of art, but a drone or a surveillance array won’t be ignored. Not for long. Our consciousness is invaded and controlled via real space.
- Enter the Hutong
The project of planning urban space is fundamentally a colonial one: it seeks to change reality to its benefit by flags and force. While it may succeed, the negative repercussions are legend. Alternatively, there is another urban strategy, that rather than attempting to deliminate the territory into design, finds its method of improvement in a more ecosystemic fashion. Rather than plan the urban space, support the space.
- All Real Atemporal Shit
Maybe it's because of the internet, maybe its because we all carry computers in our pockets, or maybe it's just because there are so damn many of us we can't see over the heads of our immediate friends to get any good "big picture", and mainstream media is only as existent as the last meme that we saw. But there are people who aren't old enough to know that record players went obsolete, out there buying records, as if there was nothing odd about it in the world. Wearing Victorian fashion is a now subculture, not an attempt to mimic something so uncool as "real life history".
- The Story of Those that would Stay
The 250K who are only interested in sending a “power message” are not in it for the change. They are in it for their conscience. The 500-plus who refused to leave when the police informed them their stroll was over? They were in it for the change. For the long haul. For the sit down, and stay until you are listened to, and not just tolerated. And they were branded criminals, not only by the police, but by the 250K strollers who condemned those unfortunate, misguided kids.
- Marx and the Cyborg
It was all the rage on the social networks, to read these 20th Century works of theory and to highlight and link, to be involved in the asynchronous, continuous conversation about the modern, electronically augmented body. The philosophy was simple enough, ideas that conformed to the thoughts she already had. It was nice to read something theoretical as a break from the fiction, the news, the gentle critique of various musical artists, and so forth. On the surface of the multi-touch screen, guided by the subtle vibes of haptic feedback emanating from the words, she responded to the text.
- Military Industrial Punk
Although we could debate the definition of True-Punk endlessly (and some would like to), this dialectic is the essence of the term, to me. Something born to fit the place and time; something that is not the missing piece, but fits so well that you can’t dig it out, and then after a week, you think, well okay, I’ll just wait for it to scab over and fall off. Punk as a reaction to disco, to rock, to new wave, steampunk as a history that didn’t exist but fetishistic elements of culture desperately wish could have, ____-punk as the new fusion that was just primed to develop from two or more component elements and so did, like a blossoming bacterial bloom on a plate of sugar water in the sun, whether those elements are short loud guitar chords and cheep beer, cheap black mall gear and disaffected teens, technology and victorian mystique, tattoos and porn, or, in this case, the Cold War, the 1950s, and the U2 spy plane.
- The Passenger List
The flight time was supposed to be four hours and forty-five minutes. Canino had already said that there would be no sermon on the flight, and so the passengers prayed individually. Some of them sang hymns, led by Adam Montez and Clara Reatrow, a failed journalist and a musician, respectively, who were the last two passengers on the plane. Above the constant whine of the engines and the omnipresent roar of the slipstream, the congregation sang the praises of their belief, their togetherness, and their journey. Ferg French said the Departure/Arrival prayer to herself quietly, counting the number of times on the edge of her boarding pass, making small indents with her fingernail. Zephyr Megalia handed out packets of peanuts, which the parishioners held in their hands, cupping the small crinkling foil packets, not a one opening them.
- Letters to the Past
We proclaim a silent revolution. The poems above our heads, without tongues, are tired of talking to each other over the gabble of our beliefs, our literary personalities, our attempts to project their silent conversation to an audience. When we give tongue we amplify. We are telephone switchboards deluded into becoming hi-fi sets. The terrible speakers must be allowed silence. They are not speaking to us.