The Opposing Statements

The reading of the different manifestos, statements and interviews were very instructive, especially in the way it conveys new approaches to escape the mainstream modes of production, consumption and perception. Each of these readings provoked different questions to arise, questions that I believe can go beyond the scope of the digital cultural and social forces behind the production of these texts.

In “Glitch Studies Manifesto,” Rosa Menkma not only advocates for the acknowledgement that the development of any media brings produces different and unexpected noise or glitches, but also that artists and activists must incorporate these glitches in their works so that listeners, viewers and users can experience what is “outside knowledge.” At the same time, Menkma acknowledges that “Not all glitch art is progressive or something new. The popularization and cultivation of the avant-garde of mishaps has become predestined and unavoidable.” Every scientific, religious, political, cultural and social structure seems to have started as a radical departure of a previously established system that, with time, may get accepted as the new norm if it is successfully implemented. While Menkma does attempt to warn artists to avoid creating works that employ techniques that have been incorporated by the system, this advice seems to be a silent scream in the noise of history. Glitch art, when speaking to most of us in an intellectual and emotional level, will probably have the same fate as the impressionistic art before it.

Nevertheless, when the system incorporates different forms of expression, the system can change. Arguing, then, that we need to rid our minds from established binary oppositions of what is clean and what is noise, like Menkma does, seems particularly appropriate. This merge of apparent oppositions can be found in the way that the authors of “Vector journal’s dynamic editorial statement” speak about the important use of text as the “clearest form of expression” while at the same time encouraging new forms of viewing and reading through vectors that provide unique ways of experiencing and understanding. Particularly interesting was how the searches, including those the statement has not found, stay visible on the screen, creating a kind of a visual map.

This kind of integration of binary oppositions can also be felt when reading McKenzie Wark interview on A Hacker Manifesto. Wark seems not only to have acknowledge, but also to be conformed to the fact that hacking has been incorporated as a mainstream practice in our society, without being able to provide clear paths through which hackers (with all the diversity found in the word) should march (besides acknowledging that the fight has gone from data to metadata).

“Femtechnet Manifesto” did not stay in the confines of its own ontology but is grounded on diverse layers of society. For this reason, it gets closer to abolishing binary oppositions. After all,

“We are a work group.

We are many genders.

We are an innovative learning technology.

We are FemTechNet”.

The Opposing Statements

One thought on “The Opposing Statements

  1. Reading about glitch art becoming a commodity or hacking going mainstream, both in the pieces and your post, I couldn’t help but think of indie music/film or even just hipsters (feel free to laugh at this connection). When glitches are so mainstream and are being producing at such volume, the glitches kind of get lost— or at least the idea behind the glitch and exposing it as art is viewed differently. For this reason, when I see glitch art, it comes with the context of the prevalence of its commodified form. But I don’t know much about glitch art or glitch studies, so I also bring my own naivety and surface level understanding of it (although the manifesto definitely aided my understanding). As for hacking, again, my view has shifted of what I think of when I think of a hacker. As a kid in the 90s, in my mind hacking was this cool and subversive punk like movement fueled by weird movies like the 1995 movie Hackers. There was an “ethical” connotation to what hackers did, they stood up for the little guy, the fought corporations (Occupy, Anonymous, etc.). Obviously that has changed, but Hacktivism perhaps allows for a separation between the mainstream hacking culture (Zuckerberg— I’m think of the movie The Social Network in particular) and the subversive version of it (which makes me think of the new show Mr. Robot— which I highly recommend). Yes, hacking is a mainstream practice, but there are still groups like Anonymous or Wikileaks, and figures like Snowden that allow for some separation. Wark even mentions the complexity, and avoids the term “hacker ethic” while still mentioning that Anonymous and Occupy are dealing with the politics of the unrepresented, airing grievances against the billionaire corporations— sometimes started by hackers to begin with!

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