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Douglas Rushkoff Program or Be Programmed, OR Books
Jussi Parikka Insect Media, University Of Minnesota Press
Marshall McLuhan, W. Terrence Gordon Counterblast, Gingko Press, Inc
In the early days of digital networks there was a set of social conventions, called Netiquette, meant to facilitate interaction over networks (they were even codified in an official Internet Engineering Task Force document: RFC 1855). The time/space coordinates of the new medium (the network) were causing various embarrassing communication problems among online users, so the rules were compiled as a resource. Two decades later and the situation is more intricate. Time/space coordinates have radically changed again thanks to new, powerful mobile technology and to the ubiquitous networks they connect to. The almost vanished borders between our online and offline life is compelling evidence. The ten "commands" written in this book about time, place, choice, complexity, scale, identity, social, fact, openness and purpose, are in fact ten small but dense, coherent and exquisitely written chapters. Rushkoff is, as always, lucid and consequential, and here he's been able to write a subtle and substantiated call for (missing) humanity in networked daily life. He accomplishes it through recognizing digital media biases and finding ways to balance them effectively. In this process he never forgets to emphasize computer programming and the crucial role of software. In fact, the original utopia of networked communication has still some unexpressed potential. We should definitively stop using machines to "program one another" and better understand how machines work now and how to program them to work for us.
For networked societies, emergent intelligence and swarms have taken on important explanatory power in terms of highly distributed modes of behavior. Indeed, as new media theorists Alexander Galloway and Eugene Thacker have argued, the recurring power of this bestial figuration today demands historical clarification beyond being simply a naïve metaphor applied to digital and networked technologies. Of course, aspects of biopolitics, informationalism and capitalism are touched on, but this is not the main focus of this text. Rather, Parikka is more concerned with a lineage of virtualities and actualizations across human and nonhuman milieus that gradually elaborate an ecosophic perspective on 'the not yet existing in the sphere of bodies, sensations, and ethological relationality'. The book is split into two major sections, initially following the rise of 19th century entomology and then moving to connections with more recent histories of cybernetics, programmable media and software. The strong claim is made that while certain strains of entomology historically allowed for the temporal and spatial externalization of 'primitive animal life' into the technological apparatus, this equally unleashed strange potentialities, disruptive formations and metamorphoses beyond the scale of instrumental rationalization. The final question would then be one of experimentation with these transversal connections by tapping into not only the bestiality of this organisation of life, but also its potential lines of flight. > Michael Dieter
McLuhan "zine"?!? This must be the first reaction once exposed to Counterblast. In the early golden era of the mimeograph, which also lead to a wave of science fiction zines in the U.S., the visionary theorist was already experimenting in communicating his own sharp and enlightening ideas. In the year of the McLuhan centennial, Transmediale festival has cooperated with Gingko Press to reprint a facsimile of the original Counterblast publication. But to understand the eighteen mimeographed pages, here carefully reproduced, the first thing to consider is the reference to Blast, the radical large format magazine edited by Wyndham Lewis in 1914. If Blast used radical typography in the guise of its contemporary Futurists on the other side of the ocean, Counterblast, forty years later, embodies recognizably early McLuhan communication theories, well before the major books arrived. He plays with the Blast/Bless alternating lists of concepts, inspired by the original Blast, often referring to Canada, and brings compelling new intuitions about the media of the time. Talking about the work McLuhan suggested that "Counterblast 1954... offers a view of... the direction of the winds of the new media in these latitudes." Here, concepts are fired at the readers' eyes, evoking changes and multi-media juxtapositions. If it is true that he handed out copies on street corners and in the cigar shops of Toronto, this would have been a proto media performance with his typical dialectic spirit, serving the manual transmission of new media culture. ONOMATOPEE 54
THE DESTRUCTIVE CHARACTER
by Dick Raaijmakers replying to Walter Benjamin
BOOK PRESENTATION AND EXHIBITION
10 / 06
10 / 07
Edited and translated by Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei
“Creative clearing,” destructively discovering news paths, makes us understand that every destruction always implies a new beginning. By means of a series of telling examples,
from Fluxus and Glenn Gould to Laurel & Hardy, John Cage, and his own work, electronics pioneer, multimedia artist and theorist Dick Raaijmakers (1930) discusses the characteristics and the peculiarities of the destructive character inside and outside the arts.
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