Tactics & Practice #3: Networked Disruption

Tactics & Practice #3:
Networked Disruption

Rethinking Oppositions in Art, Hacktivism and Business

Seminar
11–12 March 2015
Kino Šiška, Trg prekomorskih brigad 3, Ljubljana

Exhibition
11 March–3 April 2015
ŠKUC Gallery, Ljubljana

Curated by
Tatiana Bazzichelli

Part of the conference series Tactics & Practice and programme Masters & Servers


In parallel with the group exhibition, the seminar develops the topic of Networked Disruption through five discussion sessions and presentations organised over two days, followed by a collective round table. In the last decade, the critical framework of art and hacktivism has shifted from developing strategies of opposition to embarking on the art of disruption. By identifying the emerging contradictions within the current economic and political framework of information technology, this seminar presents a constellation of activist and hacker practices, as well as those of artists, who work on the interferences between networking participation, political criticism and disruptive business innovation. It adopts a historical perspective on the notion of social networking, by connecting together disruptive practices of networked art and hacking in California and Europe. Furthermore, the concept of disruption is applied to the recent debate on geopolitical surveillance after the Edward Snowden’s disclosures, investigating critical practices and new strategies of oppositions that are happening within closed systems.

THE TALKS

Tatiana Bazzichelli
Networked Disruption
Introduction

In the last decade, the critical framework of art and hacktivism has shifted from developing strategies of opposition to embarking on the art of disruption. By identifying the emerging contradictions within the current economic and political framework of information technology, this seminar presents a constellation of activist and hacker practices, as well as those of artists, who work on the interferences between networking participation, political criticism and disruptive business innovation.


Vittore Baroni, Florian Cramer
Social Networking Out of the Box
Moderated by Tatiana Bazzichelli

The current meaning of openness, and the rhetoric of decentralisation, freedom and exchange in social media cannot be fully understood without tracing back the practice of networking in the underground artistic contexts over the past decades. This session proposes to analyse the roots of social networking based on both analogue and digital networked art, and connect them with the post-digital critical reflection. Social networking is seen as a practice of community creation, towards the imagination of common spaces of intervention – and identity identification – where symbols, myths and memes are shared. This panel describes the genesis and the creation of a number of grassroots artistic networks between the Eighties and the Nineties, across both Europe and the US, and question the practice of networking today. A common thread connects the network of mail art, Neoism, Luther Blissett and, more recently, in the post-digital era, the Anonymous entity. Such practices of disruption have been “social networks out of the box”, therefore generating viral practices, strategies of networking and “radical play”, both online and offline.


Janez Janša, Loretta Borrelli
When Art Goes Disruptive
Moderated by Tatiana Bazzichelli

The presentations in this session share a philosophy, which works towards the embodiment of a shared identity, generating semantic disruptions, questioning social and cultural categorisation and closed systems. The case of the Anna Adamolo fictional identity (Italy, 2008–2009) demonstrates how to conceive of strategies of un-representability during demonstrations and strikes. Such action emerges from inside the Italian students movement, acting through the cracks and interstices of institutional Italian politics and viral business logics of social media and Web 2.0. Alongside, Janez Janša focuses on the acts of changing one’s personal name and the effects of such a gesture in mainstream press and institutional politics, opening up a series of questions, from what is real and what is mediated to the questions of identity and political in art.


John Law
Chaos Cacophony and Dark Saturnalia: How an obscure secret society in San Francisco in 1977 changed the way adults play for decades to come 
Introduction by Bani Brusadin

Urban exploration and pranks group The Suicide Club, founded in January 1977, was the protean cradle of ideas that, while obscure at the time, have gone on to influence world-wide trends, sub-cultures and social movements. Starting in 1986, The San Francisco Cacophony Society, a more open experimental organisation that rose from the ashes of the secretive Suicide Club, was the group that created the Burning Man Festival. Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club, arguably the most influential American novel of the 1990s as well as a statement defining an entire generation’s cultural displacement, was directly inspired by Cacophony and the earlier Suicide Club. The first decade of the 21st century saw the rise of a mass movement of street games and urban play epitomised by the new social media phenomenon of “flash mobs” and the world-wide “urban exploration” culture. Cacophony was one of the primary sources in the early encouragement and implementation of these types of play. Street art and media pranking were a part of the scene as well, embodied in the advertising pranking of the Cacophony affiliated Billboard Liberation Front (starting in 1977) and the punk rock circus and bike rodeo underground that blossomed in the 1990s, instilling a DIY spirit into the alternative performance scene world-wide.


Baruch Gottlieb, Dmytri Kleiner
Common Participation and Networking Enterprises
Moderated by Bani Brusadin

The proposal of an alternative to capitalism by working within capitalistic logic is suggested by the notion of Venture Communism developed by the Telekommunisten collective, who present the latest miscommunication technologies, including the new release OCTO P7C-ES, a metaphor of a centralised social network made of intertwined pneumatic tube offline-technology, ready to be disrupted by the visitors.


Annie Machon
Disrupting from Within
Introduction by Vuk Ćosić

In the last session, the concept of “disruption” is taken from business contexts to the realm of surveillance systems and geopolitical forms of control. How can we apply the strategy of disruption today, in the context of increasingly invasive corporations and surveillance by government agencies, and with the threat of your every move being recorded? Inspired by whistleblowing – revealing social injustices or misconducts by corporations and governments to a wider public – disruption becomes a strategy to start “fighting” the systems we want to oppose from within, reflecting on conscious modalities of “oppositions” that come from the inside of the machine. Annie Machon, a former UK MI5 intelligence officer who left the Service to help blow the whistle on the crimes and incompetence of the British spy agencies, discusses how to empower people to act consciously in society, culture and the media environment, and become protagonists of their lives.


Networked Disruption Round Table
Participants: Annie Machon, John Law, Vittore Baroni, Tatiana Bazzichelli, Loretta Borrelli, Luther Blissett, Baruch Gottlieb, Janez Janša
Moderated by Ida Hiršenfelder

Miha Fras

More about the seminar and its participants: HERE

THE EXHIBITION

Networked Disruption is an exhibition and a series of events produced by Aksioma and Drugo more in collaboration with several partners, curated by Tatiana Bazzichelli, and hosted by Škuc Gallery in Ljubljana and the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Rijeka. This exhibition is centred on the concept of “Networked Disruption”, as an opportunity to show new possible routes of social and political action in the line of disruption. This exhibition focuses on the mutual interferences between business and disruption, by shedding light simultaneously on heterogeneous practices of hackers, artists, networkers, whistleblowers, activists and entrepreneurs who engage deeply with network activity.

Artists: Anna Adamolo, Anonymous, Billboard Liberation Front, Burning Man Festival, Cacophony Society, Janez Janša, Janez Janša, Janez Janša, Julian Oliver, Laura Poitras, Les Liens Invisibles, Luther Blissett, Mail Art, Neoism, Peng! Collective, Suicide Club, Telekommunisten, Trevor Paglen.

The increasing commercialisation of sharing and networking contexts since the middle of 2000s is transforming the meaning of art and that of business. What were once marginal practices of networking in underground hacker and artistic contexts have in recent years become a core business for many information technology companies and social media enterprises. In Bazzichelli’s analysis, art intertwines with disruption beyond dialectical oppositions, leading to a discovery of subliminal and distributed strategies, which emerge from within the capitalistic systems, or act within it. In the exhibition and seminar, she involves actors who directly engage with hacktivism, art, civil liberties and social networking exposing contradictions of capitalistic logics and power systems. Such interventions hijack the logic of business itself, appropriating and détourning it by operating disruption. The challenge is to collectively rethink oppositional hacktivist and artistic strategies within the framework of (social) networking, information economy and increasingly invasive corporations and government agencies.

The Networked Disruption exhibition is based on Bazzichelli’s book Networked Disruption: Rethinking Oppositions in Art, Hacktivism and the Business of Social Networking (DARC Press, The Digital Aesthetics Research Centre of Aarhus University, 2013). Bazzichelli’s hypothesis is that mutual interferences between art, hacktivism and the business of social networking have changed the meaning and contexts of political and technological criticism. Hackers and artists have been active agents in business innovation, while at the same time also undermining business. Artists and hackers use disruptive techniques of networking within the framework of social media, opening up a critical perspective towards business to generate unpredictable feedback and unexpected reactions; business enterprises apply disruption as a form of innovation to create new markets and network values, which are often just as unpredictable. Bazzichelli proposes the concept of the Art of Disrupting Business as a form of artistic practice within the business field of information technology.

The artworks and collective projects are conceptually and visually interlinked in the exhibition spaces, which constitutes a network of networks. By applying the strategy of “working from within”, some sections of the show are conceptualised in collaboration with people deeply involved in the networks under scrutiny: Vittore Baroni (Mail Art), Florian Cramer (Neoism), Gabriella Coleman (Anonymous), John Law (Suicide Club and Cacophony Society), Andrea Natella (The Luther Blissett Project) and members of the Anna Adamolo network.This choice reflects the perspective that a new methodology of curating a research should open a metaphorical (and physical) space to encourage and provoke feedback loops among theory and practice, and among subjects and objects of analysis. The result is a constellation of networking practices, which aims to actualise – and to question – the notion of “direct participation” itself.

The exhibition overview: HERE

THE CURATOR

Tatiana Bazzichelli is a curator and researcher, author of the books Networked Disruption (2013), Networking (2008), and co-editor of the book Disrupting Business (2013). She is director of the Disruption Network Lab, an experimental curatorial project on art, hacktivism, and disruption, based in Berlin. She was programme curator at the transmediale festival from 2011 to 2014, initiating the year-round reSource transmedial culture project, and was a Post-Doctoral researcher at the Centre for Digital Cultures, Leuphana University of Lüneburg.

RELATED EVENTS

Olivier Bonin
Dust & Illusions – 30 years of history of Burning Man
Film screening
THU, 26 February 2015 at 8 pm
The Old Power Station (Stara mestna elektrarna), Ljubljana


Julian Oliver
COVER ME
Exhibition
SAT, 28 March 2015 at 6:30 pm
Link Point, Brescia, Italy

Originally conceived for the exhibition at Link Cabinet on January 2015, the artwork is now on display for the first time in a physical venue.

CREDITS

Curated by: Tatiana Bazzichelli
Head of production: Janez Janša
Artistic directors: Janez Janša (Aksioma), Vladimir Vidmar (Škuc Gallery)
Producers: Marcela Okretič, Joško Pajer
Executive producer: Sonja Grdina
Assistant: Boris Beja
Technicians: Atila Boštjančič, Valter Udovičić
Public relations: Hana Ostan Ožbolt
Documentation: Miha Fras, Adriana Aleksić, Jernej Čuček Gerbec

Production: 
Aksioma – Institute for Contemporary Art, Ljubljana; Drugo more, Rijeka, 2015

Coproduction:
Abandon Normal Devices, Škuc Gallery, Kino Šiška, Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Rijeka

Partners:
Moderna galerija Ljubljana, d-i-n-a / The Influencers, Link Art Center

Thanks: Andrej Savski, Galerija Kapelica

Networked Disruption is realized in the framework of Masters & Servers, a joint project by Aksioma (SI), Drugo more (HR), AND (UK), Link Art Center (IT) and d-i-n-a / The Influencers (ES).

This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This communication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

Supported by:
the Creative Europe programme of the European Union, the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia, the Municipality of Ljubljana, Istituto Italiano di Cultura in Slovenia.

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