Black Box Life

30 Aug

The charger question has a friend, the associate question that usually arrives before the white cube issues. Yes, somehow it is the black box problem, and yes it is all a question of power and regulation. Here we go…

“- What’s the network?”

In the land of digital communication sharing network implies a multiplication of opportunities without consequences, without being obliged to form a group, having secrets or agreements. The agreement is structural not strategic, it is impersonal and inconsequential. We don’t fill up our bit-torrent client when bandwidth is going thin. It’s rather simple, when I click in I’m whoever, not a history of prominence or marginal who wants to get in – there is no hierarchy between users or engaged ones. When I close the laptop I’m history and keychain, no string attached, no lobby to maintain. The structural level of alignment, or the absence of composition is attractive. It operates on the bases of permission rather than under auspices of license. I like it cuz it offers navigation without ownership.

“-What’s the network?”

Dance festivals and season programs operate exactly the other way around. Yes, I dare say without exception, because if you are not in you don’t work whatever it is that you do. In dance networks operate strictly on strategic levels, without any concern for structural or tactical openness or deployment. Networks in the cultural sector are absolutely closed and are all about membership. You have to make yourself worthy of being part, you will have to go through a test, and you have to invest a fare amount on energy in lobby and travel-costs.
If digital networks are somehow a masochistic mechanical structure, then networks in the cultural sector can be said to be a sadistic organicity. This is interesting in relation to surveillance. Masochism is dealing with contracts and conditions and as long as the condition is fulfilled the subordinate is liberated. Sadism is the flip side, it deals with conventions and operates through ubiquitous control, and the surveillance necessarily operates dialectically. Networks have become self-perpetuating, worse and better than a panopticon. Networks in cultural businesses operate due a mode or production known as “dynamique d’enfer” or dynamics of hell, the basic ideology of which is:

Identify a reason for engagement

Convince partners to chip in

Make sure all players are involved in a manner where it becomes too expensive (actually or symbolically) to withdraw.

This is the network situation in dance, it is about fear and pressure without a face. It is: “-If you don’t do as we say…” It is the call for the rookie, the already weak, to kill his best friend, the childhood buddy who fucked up some minor drug deal, s’cuse me co-production.
It’s not about you… It’s so not about you, but you know that if you don’t do it somebody will lose face and killing will not end. And losing face is the only thing that matters. If there were a Hollywood film about dance networks the boss, the initiator, would be played by Al Pacino on a really bad day. Dignity is all that counts. So in dance networks we keep it in the family and there is no deals, no action, no transactions without the silent approval of a very old Sicilian.

No you kill for the greater good. It’s not even you who does it, it is the organization and you, you are just a… What are you responsible for?
You are responsible for the maintenance of hierarchies, the preservation of an aristocratic society that operates like a flock of vampires, like apologetic blood suckers that obediently confess there compulsive lust. “-I do my best, but after all I’m a vampire. I was made a vampire, it wasn’t my desire, and now I’m destined to destruction.” No, even a vampire can choose for a different route, it is rather simple stop being apologetic and/or enthusiastic, be fanatic and take your own life.

“-What do you mean, enthusiastic?”

Rather simple, enthusiasm is one of these contemporary gestures, which mean absolutely nothing, are completely soaked with liberal attitude and have zero consequences. Enthusiasm is the ultimate vampire, the proactive attitude of a murderer. Fuck enthusiasm, be a fanatic, allow yourself to be rich enough to be categorical. Enthusiasm is for those that have already given up the possibility of an alternative. Enthusiasm is like renting a car, it’s not yours. You have no autonomy.
How does it feel to give up your autonomy and sell out to the network just in order to obtain short-term economical breathing space? Are you aware that the network is making your program, composing your season? Al Pacino runs your business. It is not you, who kill but it is also not you who makes anything happen. You are a victim of your own life, and you know what, you will spend the rest of your life in a black box.


2 Responses to “Black Box Life”

  1. Dmitry September 3, 2010 at 13:04 #

    This can be brought down to the difference between random networks and scale free networks. In random networks most nodes have approximately the same number of connections close to the mean – that is, most P2P networks; in scale-free networks the distribution of connections among the nodes follows a power law: a few, but significant number of nodes accumulate most of the connections, all the rest enjoy the remainder – these are most real-life networks, the dance community, but the most extreme case is Facebook.

    The thing is that scale-free networks are self-destructive and susceptible to attack, so unless they start a backwards motion towards the random by themselves, you won’t even need fanatics to break them down.

    Some very smart people who were researching disease propagation and epidemic spreads in networks found out that random networks synchronize much better and have much higher epidemic threshold (in other words it takes a lot of effort to fuck them up or distribute a certain piece of information). On the other hand, scale free networks that follow power law distribution cannot synchronize, are very susceptible to attack, especially if you target the most connected hubs, and have a very low (or none at all) epidemic threshold. Besides, the lower clustering they have (or the less nodes are embedded into their neighborhood), the easier it is to spread disease (or information).

    In this case being fanatical is one of the possible rewiring strategies, bringing scale-free back to the random – sort of an individual “cry” breaking through the web and going for the winning throw into the random void. Like the Stalker or a schizophrenic person who avoids double bind by performing the crazy.

    Another possibility is to gather the “foam” – all the elements on the periphery of the network that are not part of the most interconnected component. This is what happened in the 30s with fascism for example. You just give the “foam” some very simple ideology that will enable random links (establishing a much resilient network), they form a “mass”, and start an attack on the main component (for resources, for fun, or just to revenge).

    Both of the possibilities above are too destructive, so one other strategy could be for the network to realize that it’s perpetually destroying itself and start the backwards motion. For this the individuals within the main interconnected component need to start redistributing the power (in case of networks the main currency is the connections it has), forming new random links, purposefully weakening the hubs, continuously integrating the periphery and the “foam” to avoid the formation of uncontrollable “mass”. In this case these simple strategies will work in opposition to the natural tendency of humans to form power law distributions, so we’ll have a self-inflicted prey-predator relationship, which is one of the most stable models for non-equilibrium stability. Something like this:

  2. U.C September 4, 2010 at 06:39 #

    Working observations from my inbox ( on another form of life in caranteen)

    A day ago I got an e-mail from an ex- artist, and upcoming art manager entitled:”performance arts residency needs”, sent to the private e-mail network of still artists-friends. And it goes like this:

    Dear yous,
    I will be attending a working seminar on the foundation of a network of performance art residencies at Schloss Broellin, Germany.

    I would like to collect some voices to get an as wide as possible idea of WHICH ARE THE NEEDS FOR PERFORMANCE/THEATRE/DANCE ARTISTS IN RESIDENCY?
    Why do we go on residencies?
    What are the ideal working conditions for our practice?
    What do we expect (facilities, money, support, time etc)?
    How do we fund our residencies when there is no financial contribution from the hosting centre?

    And who would like to give a voice: what are we willing to give back to the residency centre? (whether that is work-in-progress showing, workshops, lectures, work, other help, etc)

    Just some bullet points thrown down are perfectly fine and very much appreciated. The sooner the better…
    Thank you very much,

    I could not, twisted mind I am, not to not hear this: Hi! How is life down there? I got the chance to take care of you, please give me some ideas of it, so I can fight for your rights. I say we because we stay closer like that.

    There was something, oh so wrong in this caring message.
    We deleted the message.

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