A Line of Questioning

Perhaps because I began with the provocative “Glitch Studies Manifesto,” I was really intrigued by the tension between linearity and interruption that seemed to pervade all of the readings (or should I say, media experiences) for the week. Menkma’s manifesto sets the table for this dichotomy most cleanly: “the dominant, continuing search for a noiseless channel [read: uninterrupted linearity] …has been—and will always be—no more than a regrettable, ill-fated dogma” because “flow cannot be understood without interruption.” This basic premise of championing the unexpected interruption immediately bore fruit when I moved on to the Vector editorial statement, what appears to be a traditional few paragraphs curiously ‘interrupted’ by an invitation to click an image and move to an interactive display for the actual statement. Within this interruption was another series of interruptions, as the words I entered soon revealed themselves as part of a larger hierarchy that if not completely linear is at least conceptually adjacent. My own agency allowed me to skip around the hierarchy in my exploration, shifting the tension to myself as the user to sink or swim in an interrupted statement.

The McKenzie Wark interview was the most intriguing piece to this puzzle in my opinion, as my read of Wark’s answers versus Melissa Gregg’s questions pointed to a shift in his view of the “vectoralists” in relation to the hackers from the publishing of his book ten years prior. Where the initial idea of A Hacker Manifesto seemed to echo Menkma’s same championing of understanding the interruption to understand the flow, I read Wark’s current answers as somewhat disinterested from that ideological position; Wark seems far more concerned with simply explaining the state of hacking in 2013 (and consistently pushing his anti-carbon agenda) than in championing it. The notion that hacking as the interruption of the “vectoralists’” linearity is beneficial has given way to a more distanced view of the situation as almost deterministic: “few hackers end up owning the rights to what they produce. They become part of the vectoral class. But apart from a lucky few, they end up working for someone else.” I wonder if ‘hacking’ has become too antiquated to be truly counterculture, the technological equivalent of children dressing up as hippies for Halloween. If hacking is now an accounted-for piece of the vectoral class, what is the next step?

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“Death to the fascist insect that preys upon the life of the people!”

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A Line of Questioning

3 thoughts on “A Line of Questioning

  1. danbyd1 says:

    Hi Jeremy,
    It is interesting that I had a very similar reading of Wark’s interview to what you presented in your post. I would go further and state that sometimes I had the feeling that Wark appeared to want to distance himself from certain previous beliefs (the noise of the mainstream can also affect the cleanness of the glitch). While my following statement could be very controversial and lack a needed comprehensive study on Wark’s life and development throughout the years, my impression is that he himself became part of the system in the same way that Glitch art, according to Menkma, can become popularized in mainstream media.

    I do not think, though, that this is necessarily a positive or a negative development. But I do think that, if that is true, it needs to be acknowledged because it is the only way we can understand what is mainstream and what is marginal as opposed to what has the appearance of mainstream and the appearance of marginal.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I had a similar experience going from the Glitch Manifesto to the Vector editorial statement— the idea of disrupting linearity and championing that interruption came to a quick fruition when I moved to the statement. Like you I couldn’t resist the click before I got to the end of the written text, and even though I didn’t know what was happening I kept typing in more words into the search. There was something funky and weird about the way this statement was interacting with me, seemingly communicating with me. It did feel like I was understanding the flow by interruption, mostly because on the left side search was something that made me feel as though I was looking under the hood, at the inner workings of the machine as it were. Was I really understanding it? Probably not. But I did FEEL like I was understanding. There was something about the movement of the words as well, after I typed in “text” the word form appeared with a list of words and then “system” made technology pop up and there was quite a bit of movement as well, which was an oddly satisfying visual. Like you, I felt the same sense of agency shift over to my end as I played around, but rather than feeling like the statement was uninterrupted after the click, I felt like the each word was interrupted by the odd array of visuals and lack of clear explanation.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Nicole says:

    I felt the same vibe moving between the Vectors statement and the Wark interview. I think the Wark interview somewhat shifts the meaning of the Vectors statement when read together, bringing to question what is place of the hacker now? And how does that interact with the supposedly similar subversive tone of the manifesto? My understanding of hacking (and this could be wrong since I haven’t actually read The Hacker Manifesto) is to take something that is created for one purpose and distort, misshape, repurpose it into something completely different. While I feel what you felt at first glance regarding the Vectors manifesto (oh look at this different way of putting this together; it’s interactive, that’s nifty), upon further exploration, a frustration arises, a sort of limited agency – an ability to make visible objects through an input, but only within the framework of a predetermined set of entries. Upon reading your rumination on costumery, I started thinking of the Vectors manifesto in terms of the fetishization of the hack. While attempting to “hack” the form of typical journal manifestos through repurposing the interactions between user and text, the manifesto seems to fall flat on truly hacking the manifesto itself. It’s as if it takes on the “light” or hollow form of subversion embodied by the hacker movement (much as the new EDM scene repurposes parts of the counterculture movement of the 60’s, but without the subversive call to action that the movement originally embodied), begging the question: is the hacker now a commodity? A fetish? A job? Certainly, as Wark points out, it has lost its subversive bite in the its place in society today.

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