Roberto Bui (Wu Ming Yi) on Tue, 22 Feb 2000 01:26:42 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> wu-ming



wu-ming is a laboratory of literary design, at work on different media.

The wu-ming trademark is administered by a collective of writers/activists
who have constituted an independent business company providing "narrative
services". This expression has the broadest meaning and describes all
activities connecting literature and the new media.

The founders of wu-ming are Roberto Bui, Giovanni Cattabriga, Luca Di Meo
and Federico Guglielmi (formerly members of the Luther Blissett Project -
from 1994 to 1999 - as well as authors of the novel *Q*), however, names
are of little importance.  As a matter of fact wu-ming is mandarin for "no
name". In China, this is often used as a signature for dissident writings.

The name itself is reliable evidence of our unwillingness to become VIP,
appeased salon writers or trained literary prize monkeys. On the contrary,
the new project thrives on the same features which made great the Luther
Blissett Project: radical forms and contents, heteronyms and shifting
identities, communication guerrilla tactics... All this is more focused on
narrative design or, to put it less specifically, it is aimed at telling
stories (no matter the medium: novels, screenplays, reports, concepts for
videogames or board-games etc.) and/or taking care of stories designed by
other people (editing, talent scouting, promotional advice, translations in
and from different languages etc.)

As established in the months following the publication of *Q*, our conduct
will be: "show up but don't appear; be accessible to readers and opaque in
the media". Such behavior is not to be mistaken for Pynchon-like (or
Salinger-like) pathological bashfulness: wu-ming will participate in the
productsí promotion (interviews, readings etc.) as long as it does not
degenerate into the worn-out camera-propelled VIP-spotting game (photo
sessions, TV appearances, gossiping etc.). wu-ming will turn down every
such request and demand that the firmís official logo be published or
broadcast instead of the writers' faces. The logo is composed of the two
chinese ideograms making up the name.
The adoption of a chinese trade name is also due to our belief that the
future of human communities depends on what is going to happen in the East.
Nowadays, no social ecology, no practical critique of the unbalanced
relationship between demographical growth and capitalist forays can
prescind from throwing cultural bridges to the Far East, to mainland China
in particular. Thatís where our destiny is at stake, as far as the global
catastrophe and the pursuit of alternatives are concerned. Thatís where
mankindís imaginary is moving to. 

wu-ming's approach to cultural production implies the constant derision of
any idealistic/romantic prejudice about "the genius", individual
"inspiration" and all that shit. wu-ming foster the crisis of the copyright
logic. We do not believe in the private property of ideas. As happens in
the Luther Blissett Project, every product bearing the wu-ming trademark -
no matter the medium - will be free from copyright, each time with the
specifications and limitations that wu-ming will deem necessary.

The fact that an enterprise of mental labor - i.e. the most typical subject
of post-fordist capital - wants to supercede the myths, rituals and
remnants of intellectual property is a fruitful paradox which brings the
conflict into the inner depths of the market, beyond the praxis of such an
informal subject as the Luther Blissett Project. If one can't help looking
for affinities, wu-ming is on the same battlefield as the programmers and
entrepreneurs working on open source software, "free software" and the likes.


wu-ming is an autonomous political enterprise.

"Enterprise", for the brainworkers of the world must re-appropriate this
form from the grassroots, with the clear intention of assaulting the
"heavens" of economy, against and beyond corporate parasites and state
dinosaur andropause. Being free-lance is not enough, we have to acquire
more strength, get control on the production process and the results of our
creative labor.

"Autonomous", because wu-ming will never apply for public funds: we make a
bet on the self-valuation of mental labour, i.e. on our own entrepreneurial
ability. wu-ming aim at relations on a parity basis, not subordinate
partnerships with any local, regional, state or continental bureaucracy. 

"Political", for culture is long past the existence of "the Intellectual"
as a figure separated from the whole of production (and from politics,
which has never had any autonomous status). Nowadays information is the
most important productive force. The machine we used to call "cultural
industry" has a symbiotic relationship with the entire galaxy of
commodities and services. Everything is multimedia, and there is no longer
any distinction between "humanistic" and "technical" knowledge. What kind
of privileged status can an "author" claim, now that telling tales is just
one of the many aspects of mental labour, of a greater social co-operation
integrating software programming, industrial design, journalism,
intelligence activities, social services, gender politics etc.?

As a consequence, we are past "engagement" as a choice which "artists" and
"authors" might make. Mental labor is completely within the production
networks, indeed, it is their main driving force. "Creative workers" are
left with no choice, they simply cannot avoid intervention. To write is
part of production, to narrate is politics. Now the distinction is between
those who are aware and the legion of reactionaries, whether the latter are
self-conscious or not.


What kind of tales and stories are wu-ming interested in?

First of all, stories that have a beginning, an end and a plot in between.
Experimentation is acceptable only and exclusively if it improves
narration. If experimentation is nothing other than an excuse for mediocre
or bad narrators, then - as far as weíre concerned - they can shove it up
their ass.

Those we like are tales of conflicts, woven at the handlooms of epos and
mythopoesis, adopting the mechanisms, styles and manners of genre fiction,
biopics, militant reports or so-called micro-history. Novels that process
raw materials found in the gloomy zones of history, real stories told like
fiction and vice versa. Recuperation of forgotten events, at the core or at
the margins of which our plots can unfold: 

"Our continuing narrative line is blurred past truth and hindsight. Only a
reckless verisimilitude can set that line straight." (James Ellroy, premise
to *American Tabloid*). 

The important thing is keeping light-years of distance between us and
bourgeois fiction: the real protagonist of history is neither the Great Man
nor the monadic individual; quite on the contrary, it is the nameless crowd
of second and third leads and, behind them (or through them) the nameless
and swarming multitude of events, destinies, movements and vicissitudes: 

"In the fresco, I am one of the figures in the background. At the centre
the Pope, the Emperor, the cardinals and the princes of Europe stand out.
At the margins, the discreet and invisible agents, who peep out from behind
the tiaras and crowns but actually sustain the whole geometry of the
picture, fill it and, keeping themselves undetected, let all those heads
occupy the centre." (Qís diary, first sentence). 

We want to narrate the constitution, emergence and movement of multitudo.
Multitudo  has nothing to do with the mass, which is a homogeneous block to
be mobilized or, alternatively, a "black hole" to be sounded by opinion
polls. Multitudo is 

"a horizon of overt corporeality and savage multiplicity. A world of
interlacements and phisical combinations, associations and dissociations,
fluctuations and materializations which,according to a perfectly horizontal
logic, actualizes the paradoxical cross between causality and
fortuitousness, between tendency and possibility. This is the original
dimension of multitudo." (Antonio Negri, Spinoza sovversivo).

To sum up, wu-ming intend to praise social cooperation both in the form and
the substance of immaterial production: the power of collectivity is
simultaneously the content and the expression of our narratives.

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