[iDC] Periodizing cinematic production2

Michael Bauwens michelsub2003 at yahoo.com
Wed Sep 9 10:23:14 UTC 2009

As is probably obvious, I do not share the ambient pessisism about social change that is so characteristic of most academics, and I do not look nostalgically for a 'marxist alternative' but rather I feel inspired by the manyfold prefigurative social practices that are emerging within the dying system.

How important are those? We generally tend to think that these are still very incipient emergent practices, done by tiny minorities, and perhaps that is true. And compared to that, we may feel its insignificant compared to the negative trends such as biopolitical surveillance and control, etc...

However, doing a recent visualization exercise on behalf of the Paraflows festival in Vienna, i.e. the construction of a mindmap on open social practices and infrastructures, I was surprised by the magnitude of the changes already happening and by the comprehensive social blueprint that already emerges out of these practices.

Have a look here at http://www.mindmeister.com/28717702/everything-open-and-free

Every concept and link here represents not a vague dream for the future, but actual and real projects in which real people are involved.

Some explanation of this draft visualization:

First the red links, that’s the most unsuccessfull part of this
draft: they are meant to represent the process of ‘Circulation of the
Common’, the means by which the Commons socially reproduces itself,
i.e. by open and free input, which is participatorily processed to result in a universally available commons, which in turn represents open and free input for further iterations.

The main body of the visualization contains 6 aspects of processes
representing the cycle of reproduction and growth of openness in our

I. Aspects of Openness,

i.e. the requirement of inclusionality or open access; the demand
for participation, i.e. permissionless contributions; the demand for
holoptism or full transparency of that process, and finally, for full
shareability and ‘changeability’ of the common material. All these
represent new social expectations, and are key ingredients of
commons-based peer production as well.

II. Enablers of Openness

These aspects or fundamental characteristics of openness are then
embedded in enablers or ‘guarantors’. First of all are the Open
Definitions, the social charters that determine the boundary conditions
of the open communities and which define the minimal conditions for
openness to be recognized; these are further embedded in open code,
open licenses, and open standards; as well as the basic conditions
which are open access and open data.

III. Infrastructures of Openness

To make it all real, we need infrastructures in which these enabling
elements are embedded, i.e. we need open platforms, both virtual and
physical, which alllow us to produce in a open way: open collaborative
technical platforms, open places where we can gather, open media and
communication infrastructures we can use, open and free software,
knowledge and scientific data; and the ability to live in open and free
villages and urban spaces, which connect local production with global
open design communities.

IV. Open Practices

All the preceeding enablers, will allow us then to engage in open
practices, especially open design and open manufacturing, but also free
currencies and new forms of sharing (ownership).

V. Open Domains of Practice

These practices are obviously embedded in topical domains, such as
education and science, where these practices are contextualized and
made real, to finally result in all kinds of …

VI. Open Products!!: the actual social artefacts being produced by I to IV

All of the above gives us a circular process, leading to new iterations of open characteristics.

----- Original Message ----
> From: Sean Cubitt <scubitt at unimelb.edu.au>
> To: "Dean, Jodi" <JDEAN at hws.edu>; Jonathan Beller <jbeller at pratt.edu>
> Cc: idc <idc at mailman.thing.net>
> Sent: Tuesday, September 8, 2009 8:50:32 PM
> Subject: Re: [iDC] Periodizing cinematic production2
> On 7/09/09 8:45 PM, "Dean, Jodi" wrote:
> > Where was/is the Marxist alternative?
> There are a couple of answers to this. One is that we may be looking in the
> wrong place. Marx himself does suggest some key ways in - not least the
> concept of the general intellect in the Grundrisse, a passage which, as
> Virno (or was it Lazzarato?) suggested needs to be rethought by every
> generation - in our period that is about once every five years. If, as marx
> argues, machines are 'dead labour' ossified and turned to exploitation, it
> is time to liberate them. Technology is the form of our ancestors: Autonomy
> for the dead. 
> Second, pace Jonathan beller's superb analysis, there is reason to argue
> that the raster screen has overtaken the cinema projector as the model for
> the database economy of the early 21st century. The grid's trajectory begins
> in the early 19th century with Fox Talbot's first essays in halftone
> printing, is industrialised in rotary gravure, standardised in wire
> photography and facsimile by the 1930s, inherited by the Cathode ray tube,
> and standardised in raster displays by the 1960s. Now it is integral to the
> design of CMOS and CCD chips.
> The grid - think the 'modernist grid' of Rosalind Krauss' art history, but
> more importantly the grids of map projections, bookkeeping (spreadsheets)
> and filing cabinets (databases) and you have in formation the critical tool
> for biopolitical management of populations. Add in the standardisation of
> unit measures and the abstraction of average values for each square of a
> grid and you have the basics of the interchangeability of everything.
> The raster screen, which is the default view of cinema (even more so as we
> move towards digital cinemas) is the default vision of the world. Are
> careful look at the codecs governing its use in transmission (even
> transmission from raw data to visual display) ­ keyframes, blocks, groups of
> blocks (GOBs), groups of pictures (GOPs) ­ and you have a cultural formation
> as closely allied to the informational commodity form and the statistical
> management of probability as the gothic cathedral to mediaeval catholicism.
> The alternative which is not especially marxist is the road not taken: the
> vector screen which Ivan Sutherland used to demo his Sketchpad, the first
> visualisation tool, in 1963. Now relegated to radar and oscilloscopes,
> vector screens do not have the same arithmetical structure, and potentially
> open p a whole other construction of vision. Plasma screens were, until
> recently, a similar backwater. No reason vector screens couldn't be
> resuscitated. To me they suggest a profound autonomy from the predictive
> geometries of contemporary screen, chip and codec design.  Can the structure
> "political economy => visual technology" be reversed? Only one way to find
> out. 
> Not wishing to sound techno-determinist, but accepting Jodi's reference to
> Schmitt, A) yes, liberalism is antipathetic to democracy but B) because
> "sovereign is he who decides on the exception". Do we wait for another
> sovereignty, or seize it? Do we accept the sovereign decision that the
> banking crisis is 'only' an exception, and that the norm can be restored
> painlessly? Do we wait for the revolution before we demand a technology
> adequate to our desires? Or do we start building our future now, in the face
> of the timeless, futureless rule of the norm?
> Prof Sean Cubitt
> scubitt at unimelb.edu.au
> Director
> Media and Communications Program
> Faculty of Arts
> Room 127 John Medley East
> The University of Melbourne
> Parkville VIC 3010
> Australia
> Tel: + 61 3 8344 3667
> Fax:+ 61 3 8344 5494
> M: 0448 304 004
> Skype: seancubitt
> http://www.culture-communication.unimelb.edu.au/media-communications/
> http://www.digital-light.net.au/
> http://homepage.mac.com/waikatoscreen/
> http://seancubitt.blogspot.com/
> http://del.icio.us/seancubitt
> Editor-in-Chief Leonardo Book Series
> http://leonardo.info
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