Networked_Performance

Reblogged Tracing the Ephemeral: Tactical Media and the Lure of the Archive

Tracing the Ephemeral: Tactical Media and the Lure of the Archive by David Garcia and Eric Kluitenberg

“Tactical Media emerged when the modest goals of media artists and media activists were transformed into a movement that challenged everyone to produce their own media in support of their own political struggles. This “new media” activism was based on the insight that the long-held distinction between the ‘street’ (reality) and the ‘media’ (representation) could no longer be upheld. On the contrary, the media had come to infuse all of society.

To challenge dominant (strategic) structures in society, it was necessary to develop new (tactical) means of producing and distributing media. Not a specialised task separate from the social movements, but a key activity around which social movements could coalesce.” [1]

(From “About the Tactical Media Files“, October, 2008)

In 2003 media theorist McKenzie Wark wrote “Tactical media has been a productive rhetoric, stimulating a lot of interesting new work. But like all rhetorics, eventually its coherence will blur, its energy will dissipate. There’s a job to do to make sure that it leaves something behind, in the archive, embedded in institutions, for those who come after.” [2]

The Tactical Media Files, operating as a repository of “traces” of experience, knowledge and tactics goes some way to answering this call for “something to  be left behind in the archive”.

But the archival must feed a living stream of practice. And so McKenzie Wark’s text requires some qualification, nearly two decades after its initial articulation the rhetorical energy of the tactical has not entirely “dissipated or blurred”. Though full of contradictions Tactical Media has remained strangely persistent. In part because it is more than a rhetoric it is above all a practice. In the era of WikiLeaks and the Arab Spring it is clear that rumours of its passing have been greatly exaggerated. The fusion of smart encryption, smart phone movies and social networks transmitting and receiving in real-time has redefined tactical media from “contingent and local” to being no less contingent but now, certainly global.

The opening sentence of The ABC of Tactical Media (1997) remains accurate “Tactical Media are what happens when the cheap ‘do it yourself’ media, made possible by the revolution in consumer electronics and expanded forms of distribution (from public access cable to the internet) are exploited by groups and individuals who feel aggrieved by or excluded from the wider culture”. Tactical media is literally “what happens”, it is factual, indexical, pragmatic, something that can be observed, an outcome of the way certain processes in society and culture connect to evolving technological infrastructures.

Tactical Media activities have the greatest impact when two apparently contradictory, imperatives are, not so much resolved, as held in dynamic equilibrium. On the one hand there is the imperative to “engage the unbreakable link between representation and politics” (CAE) and on the other hand the recognition that the politics of representation “are badly adapted to an understanding of the increasingly infrastructural nature of communications in a world of digital media” (Matthew Fuller. Towards an Evil Media Studies). [3]

As for this Tactical Media Files  – it is a documentation tool for these ephemeral and fleeting processes – it is not an anthropological undertaking, because it participates actively in what it documents. It is not a science, not an institution, but much more of a tool, an intervention, but one with more long-term aims. More practically we want to create something of a memory, however incomplete, of the practices of  tactical media, knowing that these practices are always in a hurry to ‘move on’.

Tactical Media has always existed in an uncomfortable space between a fluidity of practice that by its nature resisted or outright refused to be named, and the recognition of constantly being ‘saddled with designations’ by those who are uncomfortable with the unnamed (CAE). More than a desire this fluidity of practice has been recognised as a necessity to continue to be able to deploy a nomadic practice that can engage seemingly unalterable social and political practices, and avoid being captured or co-opted by the very forces that Tactical Media practitioners set out to critique and overcome.

CAE observe that “traces and residues are far less problematic than strategic products, which come to dominate the space in which they are placed“. ‘Monumental’ works are for them the ‘great territorialisers’, that refuse to even surrender space. For CAE they are the ‘great negaters of generative difference’, the ‘engines of alienated separation’ [4]. The operation of freezing living practice and everyday life in an authoritative archive embraces the monumental to impose its reading on history. It is the embodiment of strategic power and in every aspect the very anti-thesis of the ‘tactical operation’ and hence of Tactical Media. And yet we know from historical experiences that the monument can be appropriated to become a key-site for social struggle and transformative change.

Our ideal has been to be able to construct a ‘living archive for tactical media’, a task we have as yet not achieved and one we may never be able to fully live up to. With the notion of a ‘Living Archive’ we aim to create a model in which documentation of living cultural processes, archived materials, ephemera, and discursive practices are interwoven, drawing on the possibilities opened up by open source on-line database and content management systems, and digital audio and video technologies. Documenting the ephemera of Tactical Media thus becomes a dynamic open ended process that acts upon present and future events and is simultaneously acted upon and rewritten by these events and their outcomes. The Living Archive can never become an immutable repository creating a stable foundation for the ‘production of meaning, but instead acts as an active discursive principle emphasising the contingency of historical development.

Based on this ambitious and probably unattainable but nonetheless necessary theoretical starting point we accept that we can only move forward with small steps. We look upon the Tactical Media Files website as a inevitably incomplete documentation resource for tactical media world-wide, not a definite repository that crystallises or defines a field of practice. It was born out of the need to trace a rich interdisciplinary field of cultural and political practice that was fading fast amidst the violence of the ubiquitous real-time presence of the present and its destruction of (the possibility of) memory.

Creative imagination requires a degree of forgetting, but critical awareness equally requires a degree remembering. The Tactical Media Files has to navigate this precarious balance.

Modest steps towards an active engagement

We write this short text to mark the start of a new and rather unassuming extension to the Tactical Media Files, by starting up a Tactical Media Blog. This blog will allow us to trace  and indicate more flexibly relevant activity that connects to the sensibilities of tactical media’s evolving practices. The blog is also an appropriate space for commentary and personal observation, and perhaps for discussion.

The distinctive triangulation of hacker culture, experimental art and radical politics, and its manifestation in the streets, remains the essential circuitry from which tactical media draws its energy. The fact that “new media” are not new any more is precisely the point. Clay Shirkey was correct in pointing out that  ‘Communication tools don’t get socially interesting until they get  technologically boring.’ The real political opportunities inherent in DIY media politics arise precisely at the moment that they appear most banal to those always anxious to move on to the next big thing.

The question remains how and where to construct a space for dialogue and social interaction, a dimension that a living archive would certainly require. As much as we believe that the distinction between the street and representation can no longer be upheld, we also do not believe that the ‘social’ can emerge through the purely disembodied and mediated encounter in electronic circuitry – we need physical interaction.

Scale and infrastructures

We have to tread carefully in order to be able to move in the direction of the living archive – we can organise smaller scale meetings and appropriate, temporarily, in a continuous nomadic movement, existing infrastructures, but the real challenge is to build a sustainable infrastructure for the ephemeral.

One thing that has been learned is the importance of scale, of reaching  beyond he safety of true believers. WikiLeaks has demonstrated he power of operating globally, and engaging uncompromisingly with mainstream media,  reshaping their practices by beating them at their own game. But these gestures remain tactical in that they are temporary, nomadic and ultimately fleeting.

Felix Stalder has accurately described some of the inherent contradictions of the Tactical Media concept, pointing out that “providing  infrastructure for projects is a long-term rather than a tactical task that  quickly overburdens loose networks.” [5]  We must be aware that in tracing the ephemera of tactical media practices we can never beat the ‘monumental’ archive at its own game, nor should we want to do so. It is necessary to develop a sustainable space rather than a monumental one.  And this we would argue is our task, to build a strategically sustainable infrastructure in order to remain tactical….

References:

1 – About the Tactical Media Files:
www.tacticalmediafiles.net/article.jsp?objectnumber=38519&pagetype=about

2 –  McKenzie Wark, Strategies for Tactical Media (2003)
www.tacticalmediafiles.net/article.jsp?objectnumber=46245

3 – Towards an Evil Media Studies (for The Spam Book, Jussi Parikka and Tony Sampson eds.,
forthcoming, Hampton Press, New Jersey) Matthew Fuller, Andrew Goffey
www.spc.org/fuller/texts/towardsevil/

4 – Critical Art Ensemble, Digital Resistance (2001)
www.critical-art.net/books/digital/

5 – Felix Stalder, 30 Years of Tactical Media (2009)
www.tacticalmediafiles.net/article.jsp?objectnumber=42801


Jul 11, 18:23
Trackback URL

Leave a comment

Tags


calls + opps performance livestage exhibition installation networked mobile writings participatory locative media augmented/mixed reality event new media video interactive public net art conference virtual intervention distributed second life sound political technology narrative festival tactical lecture art + science conversation social networks social games history surveillance dance music workshop urban mapping collaboration live upgrade! reblog activist wearable immersive public/private data architecture platform body collective aesthetics environment systems city identity film visualization culture telematic wireless web 2.0 site-specific ecology place webcast open source tool software text research intermedia space community audio radio nature hybrid 3-D avatar e-literature audio/visual responsive presence pyschogeography interdisciplinary media object interview physical global/ization ubiquitous theory theater biotechnology relational play code archive bioart generative news DIY robotic light place-specific hacktivism synthetic p2p cinema remix education agency interface language im/material live cinema algorithmic labor copyright simulation mashup animation perception image free/libre software multimedia artificial motion tracking voice convergence streaming reenactment gift economy machinima emergence webcam cyberreality glitch DJ/VJ tv censorship ARG nonlinear tag transdisciplinary touch recycle asynchronous fabbing semantic web hypermedia chance synesthesia biopolitics tangible app social choreography gesture unconference forking 1
1 3-D activist aesthetics agency algorithmic animation app architecture archive ARG art + science artificial asynchronous audio audio/visual augmented/mixed reality avatar bioart biopolitics biotechnology body calls + opps censorship chance cinema city code collaboration collective community conference convergence conversation copyright culture cyberreality dance data distributed DIY DJ/VJ e-literature ecology education emergence environment event exhibition fabbing festival film forking free/libre software games generative gesture gift economy glitch global/ization hacktivism history hybrid hypermedia identity im/material image immersive installation interactive interdisciplinary interface intermedia intervention interview labor language lecture light live live cinema livestage locative media machinima mapping mashup media mobile motion tracking multimedia music narrative nature net art networked new media news nonlinear object open source p2p participatory perception performance physical place place-specific platform play political presence public public/private pyschogeography radio reblog recycle reenactment relational remix research responsive robotic second life semantic web simulation site-specific social social choreography social networks software sound space streaming surveillance synesthesia synthetic systems tactical tag tangible technology telematic text theater theory tool touch transdisciplinary tv ubiquitous unconference upgrade! urban video virtual visualization voice wearable web 2.0 webcam webcast wireless workshop writings

Archives

2021

Aug | Jul
Jun | May | Apr | Mar | Feb | Jan

2020

Dec | Nov | Oct | Sep | Aug | Jul
Jun | May | Apr | Mar | Feb | Jan

2019

Dec | Nov | Oct | Sep | Aug | Jul
Jun | May | Apr | Mar | Feb | Jan

2018

Dec | Nov | Oct | Sep | Aug | Jul
Jun | May | Apr | Mar | Feb | Jan

2017

Dec | Nov | Oct | Sep | Aug | Jul
Jun | May | Apr | Mar | Feb | Jan

2016

Dec | Nov | Oct | Sep | Aug | Jul
Jun | May | Apr | Mar | Feb | Jan

2015

Dec | Nov | Oct | Sep | Aug | Jul
Jun | May | Apr | Mar | Feb | Jan

2014

Dec | Nov | Oct | Sep | Aug | Jul
Jun | May | Apr | Mar | Feb | Jan

2013

Dec | Nov | Oct | Sep | Aug | Jul
Jun | May | Apr | Mar | Feb | Jan

2012

Dec | Nov | Oct | Sep | Aug | Jul
Jun | May | Apr | Mar | Feb | Jan

2011

Dec | Nov | Oct | Sep | Aug | Jul
Jun | May | Apr | Mar | Feb | Jan

2010

Dec | Nov | Oct | Sep | Aug | Jul
Jun | May | Apr | Mar | Feb | Jan

2009

Dec | Nov | Oct | Sep | Aug | Jul
Jun | May | Apr | Mar | Feb | Jan

2008

Dec | Nov | Oct | Sep | Aug | Jul
Jun | May | Apr | Mar | Feb | Jan

2007

Dec | Nov | Oct | Sep | Aug | Jul
Jun | May | Apr | Mar | Feb | Jan

2006

Dec | Nov | Oct | Sep | Aug | Jul
Jun | May | Apr | Mar | Feb | Jan

2005

Dec | Nov | Oct | Sep | Aug | Jul
Jun | May | Apr | Mar | Feb | Jan

2004

Dec | Nov | Oct | Sep | Aug | Jul
Jun | May | Apr | Mar | Feb | Jan

2003

Dec | Nov | Oct | Sep | Aug | Jul
Jun | May | Apr | Mar | Feb | Jan

2002

Dec | Nov | Oct | Sep | Aug | Jul
Jun | May | Apr | Mar | Feb | Jan

2001

Dec | Nov | Oct | Sep | Aug | Jul
Jun | May | Apr | Mar | Feb | Jan

2000

Dec | Nov | Oct | Sep | Aug | Jul | Jun | May | Apr | Mar

What is this?

Networked Performance (N_P) is a research blog that focuses on emerging network-enabled practice.
Read more...

RSS feeds

N_P offers several RSS feeds, either for specific tags or for all the posts. Click the top left RSS icon that appears on each page for its respective feed. What is an RSS feed?

Bloggers

F.Y.I.

Feed2Mobile
Networked
New Radio and Performing Arts, Inc.
New American Radio
Turbulence.org
Networked_Music_Review
Upgrade! Boston
Massachusetts Cultural Council
New York State Council on the Arts, a State agency
Thinking Blogger Award

Turbulence Works

These are some of the latest works commissioned by Turbulence.org's net art commission program.
[ openspace ] wilderness [meme.garden] A More Subtle Perplex A Temporary Memorial Project for Jobbers' Canyon Built with ConAgra Products A Travel Guide A.B.S.M.L. Ars Virtua Artist-in-Residence (AVAIR) (2007) Awkward_NYC besides, Bonding Energy Bronx Rhymes Cell Tagging Channel TWo: NY Condition:Used Constellation Over Playas Data Diaries Domain of Mount GreylockVideo Portal Eclipse Empire State Endgame: A Cold War Love Story Flight Lines From the Valley of the Deer FUJI spaces and other places Global Direct Google Variations Gothamberg Grafik Dynamo Grow Old Handheld Histories as Hyper-Monuments html_butoh I am unable to tell you I'm Not Stalking You; I'm Socializing iLib Shakespeare (the perturbed sonnet project) INTERP Invisible Influenced iPak - 10,000 songs, 10,000 images, 10,000 abuses iSkyTV Journal of Journal Performance Studies Killbox L-Carrier Les Belles Infidles look art Lumens My Beating Blog MYPOCKET No Time Machine Nothing Happens: a performance in three acts Nothing You Have Done Deserves Such Praise Oil Standard Panemoticon Peripheral n2: KEYBOARD Playing Duchamp Plazaville Psychographics: Consumer Survey Recollecting Adams School of Perpetual Training Searching for Michelle/SFM Self-Portrait Shadow Play: Tales of Urbanization of China ShiftSpace Commissions Program Social Relay Mail Space Video Spectral Quartet Superfund365, A Site-A-Day text_ocean The Xanadu Hijack This and that thought. Touching Gravity 2/Tilt Tumbarumba Tweet 4 Action Urban Attractors and Private Distractors We Ping Good Things To Life Wikireuse Without A Trace WoodEar Word Market You Don't Know Me
More commissions