Fabio Cristiano & Emilio Distretti
Along the Lines of the Occupation: Playing at Diminished Reality in East Jerusalem.
Augmented reality enables videogame experiences that are increasingly immersive. For its focus on walking and exploration, 2016 Niantic’s location-based videogame, Pokémon Go (PG), has been praised for allowing players to foster their understanding and relationship to surrounding spaces. However, in contexts where space and movement are objects of conflicting narratives and restrictive policies on mobility, playing relies on the creation of partial imaginaries and limits to the exploratory experience. Departing from avant-garde conceptualizations of walking, this article explores the imaginary that PG creates in occupied East Jerusalem. Based on observations collected in various gaming sessions in the city, it analyzes the ways in which PG’s representation of Jerusalem legitimizes a status quo of separation and segregation. In so doing, this article argues that playing in East Jerusalem, instead of enabling an experience of augmented reality for its users, produces a diminished one.
Marx identified ways capitalism produces its own gravediggers. What, then, is the corresponding move in communicative capitalism? I look to the “commoning of faces” as a possibility. To explore this commoning, I develop the idea of ‘secondary visuality’ as a feature of communicative capitalism. Reflecting on the repetition of images and circulation of photos as communicative practices, I present secondary visuality as an effect of communication that blends together speech, writing and image into something irreducible to its components, something new. With secondary visuality, faces lose their individuating quality and become generic. Faces in common push back against the individualism of contemporary capitalism, suggesting a way that it is producing new possibilities for collectivity.
Can the Dividual Self be Organized?
This presentation asks whether the “dividualization,” or segmentation, of the contemporary self in a myriad electronic transactions can be considered as a point of departure for the emergence of new processes of subjectivation. According to Gilbert de Poitiers, a unuum dividuum is a singularity that is divisible and governed by the principle of similarity. As compared to the individual, which is governed by the principle of dissimilarity and distinction, a dividual can be easily combined with other dividuals that share some properties with it. Nowadays, “con-dividual” assemblages that emerge from the combination of dividual transactions can be found everywhere in the online world, from financial derivatives to Big Data to networks of infected computers known as botnets. But if this type of condividuality is predicated upon an algorithmic reduction of heterogenous elements to homogeneous data sets, there is also a condividuality that can be conceived as a process of becoming different. For this to be possible, we will have to look for a type of con-dividuality that is not a functional interaction of dividual components, but emerges instead from a shared ethos and a memory of its prior individuations.
Heretical Facial Machines, or the Ambivalence of Faciality in the Politics of Digital Dissent of Anonymous
Deploying heterogeneous media actions under a shared moniker is one of the key aspects of the digital resistances of Anonymous. The multiple-use name of Anonymous implies a radical, collective form of subjectivity that allows minor processes of subjectivation, guaranteeing the continual proliferation of differences (Deseriis). Accordingly, Anonymous connects to a longer lineage that had opposed the emergence of always-novel power relations, but this time confronting with the mass distribution of digital networks. Furthermore, Anonymous deploys its media resistances under a common face/mask, which signals the decisive involvement of processes of faciality in its active media resistances. The process of making (or ‘dis-making’) a face – or faciality (visagéité) – is a political affair, since despotisms hierarchically originate faces with the objective of separating from otherness and defining themselves (Deleuze and Guattari). The employment of a common visage – the white face with black moustaches – in Anonymous is a heretical stratagem. It is the attempt to turn around despotic facial machines without taking a reactive path that returns to pre-modern, idyllic collective facial traits. However, this is a very ambivalent process too: it allows the reformation of asymmetries, which are key to strike distributed power nodes, but it equally entails specific power relations, because the many forces at play are caught under one leading face. This paper discusses the politics of digital dissent of Anonymous arguing that its potency of active resistance resides precisely in the ambivalent attempt to originate a refraining point, a temporary crystallisation that stratagematically operates as a fixation of heterogeneous assemblages: a face/mask that allows the (un)stable manifestation and deployment of various media actions, a face/mask that is able to let multiplicity swarm and combine within the possible creative outputs that are continually originated.
Disaster in the Second Plane: Selfies as Indirect Reports of Unsafe Reality
Self-portraits, precursors of selfies, were commonly described in terms of impossibility and discontinuation of the self-perception and self-mediation (Derrida, Memoirs of the Blind, 1993), or a limited world set in front of the viewer, the mirror in which someone was perceiving the own self. Still, with mobile phone imaging technology with incorporated wide lenses and selfie sticks controls, much more space is depicted as – «the world behind a back» of a selfie-maker. Such a «world behind a back» reports on people dying in hospitals, suicidal people jumping from the bridge, or even bomb explosions and terrorist attacks, similarly to CNN-s live reports from disasters sites… Reality becomes yet another story, and at first, it seems that it does not make much of the difference if it is the Auschwitz or another tourist site behind. But, the second plane can be described in terms of the epistemology of the image, in which the world is becoming a secondary, mediated experience in general, a world whose direct perception become a painful experience. And the mediation of reality, clearly, is a quote from the mass media report.
The divided Subject – A new Definition of the Online Self
Considering the current response on social media platforms to nationalist reactions toward migrants and refugees in Europe, the first thesis of this paper will be that social media users are acting within a framework of power, institutions, economy and politics. Since they are no longer understood as a (passive) audience but as a part of the system, they are participants. It is therefore important to ask about the role of social media in international politics. Following Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe, political identity, and, as a result of this, the social selfunderstanding, cannot be stable. A society’s identity is produced through the defining of social groups and the claim of dominance of one of these groups, resulting in the repression of other groups. Thus the constitution of hegemony evokes strategies of hierarchy (Antonio Gramsci). The paper will discuss how we find this strategy in all social media platforms, and will argue that social media structures accept this cultural separation in order to stabilize a social and political hegemony. To explore the state of the online self, it is important to scrutinise the political role of online communication, which seemingly encloses the users in their social, cultural and political environment. In this light, some media and communication theorists argue for a new perspective of collectivity that describes a ‘dividual’ form of behaviour and communication (Michaela Ott, Gerald Raunig), leaving the subject divided into data records, presumptions and likeliness by the political-economic capitalism of online platforms. But unlike the ‘individual’, the ‘dividual’ enables new forms of resistance. We can understand this as a new heterogeneity, which re-creates our understanding of ‘community’. The ‘dividual’ describes processes of evolution and continuous change, resulting in new perspectives on self-determination, which includes social and political acting. To design new models of subjectivity, we need a higher understanding of the politicised aspects of an increasingly mediated communication. In a medial context, theoretical constructions of social hegemony, power and political self-understanding are important for digital communication. As social media formats reflect political actuality and, in consequence, reality in form of everyday life, the paper will argue that we need a new definition of the online self and its representational capability.
Daniel de Zeeuw
“No Picture Available” and other Grotesque Masks: Performing the Internet’s True Face
4chan is often metaphorically described as the sewer or cesspool of the Internet. But where does all this shit come from? Once we flush – entropy apparently defied – we forget where the dirty secret things travel; we return to our carefully decorated living rooms as if nothing happened. While an estimated 150.000 low-paid, third-world “content moderators” plough through thousands of images an hour, the one more disturbing and obscene than the other, so that our beloved Facebook and Instagram feeds may be cleansed from materials foul and unbeloved. At least on 4chan, that ‘oasis of horror in an ocean of boredom’, the burden of this terrible fate is carried collectively. It has devised just the phrase for this: What has been seen cannot be unseen. When horror meets the mind’s eye and installs itself like a parasite in memory, the innocence of the world is lost forever, there’s no turning back. To grow up means to face that ‘reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away’. While the rats continue to gnaw away at the foundation of the house, the party upstairs continues like never before. 4chan’s militants report back from their descent into the Internet’s purgatory, those hidden abodes of consumption. Juvenile immoralism: ‘I must relate myself to the immense, comical, painful convulsion of all of humanity’ (Bataille in On Nietzsche, p. 11). So what did they behold? Not faces, for sure! Not selfies reassuring, personal, intimate; not communities friendly and caring. But gaping holes where faces used to be, suits with their heads missing … and masks frozen and grinning. For they have seen the True Face of the Internet. ‘Tu le connais, lecteur, ce monstre délicat, —Hypocrite lecteur,—mon semblable,—mon frère’.