David Mandl on Wed, 22 Apr 1998 15:17:08 +0200 (MET DST)

[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

<nettime> Intro & Presentation of Adilkno Media Archive, NYC, May 1


Book Release Party for Adilkno's "Media Archive"
(published by Autonomedia, April 1998)
with a presentation by Geert Lovink

Date:  Friday, May 1, 1998, 7 p.m.
Place: The Thing
       601 W. 26th St. (16th floor), New York City
Price: FREE

For more info: Tel.: (212) 366-9738 (The Thing)
               Web: http://thing.desk.nl/bilwet (Adilkno)
               Email: dmandl@panix.com (Dave Mandl, Autonomedia)

Adilkno ("The Foundation for the Advancement of Illegal Knowledge") is
a Dutch group of (extra-academic) media theorists. In 1994,
Autonomedia published Adilkno's first translation in English,
"Cracking the Movement," which dealt with the squatting movement in
Amsterdam and the games it played with the media. Adilkno's second
English-language collection, "Media Archive," brings together fifty
short essays, dense conceptual writings in the tradition of
speculative negative thought.

The central motive is the (impossible) attempt to imagine a world
after (or beyond and besides) the ever-expanding mediascape. Instead
of quality, censorship, and other elitist forms of media ecology,
Adilkno is celebrating the excisive overload of data, channels, and
concepts in the hope that a total proliferation will one day exhaust
us and decrease media power altogether. The motives and masks are
various: from the Data Dandy to Wetware, from Sovereign Media to Vague
Media, from Electronic Solitude to the Society of the Debacle.

The orginal edition of this book (published by Ravijn) appeared in
Amsterdam in 1992. The German translation (published by Bollmann
Verlag/Cologne in 1993) turned out to be a success and is now in its
second printing. The Croatian version (published by Arkzin/Zagreb)
appeared in April 1998. Slovenian and Japanese translations are now
in preparation. But now it is time for the one and only English World
Edition. Only one member of Adilkno (Geert Lovink) will be there.
David Mandl of Autonomedia will speak with him.


Table of Contents

      01 Introduction: Writing in the Media 


      02 Sovereign Media 
      03 Normal Media 
      04 Vague Media 
      05 Topical Media 
      06 Incorrect Media 
      07 Old Media 
      08 Total Media 
      09 Intelligent Media 
      10 Probing McLuhan 


      11 Media or Barbarism 
      12 Media in the New World Order 
      13 Virilio Calling 
      14 What is Data Criticism? 
      15 The Demand for Engagement 
      16 Media of Death, Death of the Media 
      17 Warriors and Their Media 
      18 The Socialist's Media 
      19 Secret Socialism 


      20 Living in the Media 
      21 The Door in Our Consciousness 
      22 The Occult Traffic Sign 
      23 Beyond the Public Screen 
      24 Billboard Studies 
      25 Video Silences 
      26 The Data Dandy 


      27 Wetware 
      28 Artificial Love 
      29 Triptych on Drugs 
      30 The Dominant Ear 
      31 The Third Body 
      32 Labor, Sex, and Media 
      33 King Theweleit 
      34 King Theweleit II 
      35 Virtual Writing 


      36 The Society of the Debacle. Critique of Adulterated Reason 
      37 Provocative Watching 
      38 Electronic Loneliness 
      39 The Revolt of the Media Ecologists 
      40 Contemporary Nihilism. On Innocence Organized 
      41 The Homeopathy of Evil. The Coming Man Revisited 
      42 Out of Context 

      GO: BEYOND

      43 The Alien and Its Media 
      44 Communication Catastrophe 
      45 The Fatal Attraction of Reality 
      46 The Extramedial 
      47 Remember Baudrillard 
      48 The Artist's Media 
      49 The World After the Media 


      50 Life Without Care 
      51 Self-Reception 


Introduction of Adilkno - Media Archive

Writing in the Media

"The archive! It cannot count on my wholehearted support. The A. is a 
philological and dusty thing, that interests no-one; even the 
Nietzsche-A.: - who knows of it, who ever visited it, whom has it 
impressed?" - Gottfried Benn

To write about media is to raise the question of what gives writing the
presumption to speak for other media. Language presents itself as the
metamedium to contain all past and future media. In Western textual
culture, phenomena are only considered understood once they have been
included in a final story. Theory is believed to possess an extraordinary
gift, lacking in audio and video, to solve the mysteries that drive the
phenomenal universe. Whereas the word still maintains that the question of
the world is in writing, the symbol has long since assumed it is a
geometrically representable master plan. Once, the harmony of the spheres
was a musical program. 

Preaching, drama, cinema, television, museum, sports, and concerts all
unite their audience in a collective ceremony. Conversely, solitary
reading creates a distance from the receptive ritual's shared experience,
so that the reader feels as if he or she were the only one receiving this
medial transmission. The immanent silence in reading creates an imaginary
space where language appears to soar above the immediate tumult of the
mass media. The idea of order, which gives language its charm, is a medial
effect that is abruptly disturbed when someone reads over your shoulder.
Insight is as much the technological circuit's noise as it is an authentic
source of information unique to primates. Writing is no exception to the
rule. Media constitute a closed system which sends off sparks into the
cosmic void every once in a while. Amidst the media landscape, we are
never more than tourists who keep stubbornly looking for landmarks. 

Media writing ought to situate itself within the media network. Even those
who believe they can place themselves outside it in some heroic gesture
and deny the omnipotence of the media remain just one among many media
figures. This puritanical, old-fashioned ambition, as surely as any other,
will result in an end product to be included in the universal media
archives. The consistent response to this is to destroy one's complete
oeuvre, which will not only serve to create a legend but a mountain of
waste as well, at the disposal of many an inquisitive generation to come.
The halfway approach - to merely shut down all links to normality for a
time, in order to lead the personal medium to ecstasy within an artificial
desert - is to dream of conquering all other modes of expression on one's
return. All that the outsiders ever notice of this totalitarian claim by
certain media tribes is a brilliant book, a good film, or a pleasant
evening. No matter how one-dimensional the talented presentation, in the
media sphere the unique commodity is always and instantly classifiable as
part of a genre, period or development. The figure of the alien who grazes
on history and deposits its droppings in it may be real enough - at the
end of the day, it's just another modern artist who realizes the state of
its art and acts accordingly. 

The media text is not concerned with the secret intentions lurking behind
an information transmission. Media are not carriers of cultural or
ideological values. Rather than transporting messages from A to B, they
form a parallel world of their own which never touches on classical
reality. Media see the world as raw material for their own project,
nothing else. Writing in the media does not seek the media's internal
logic within their processed material, but within their ecstatic
strategies. Media are forced to constant development, since all their
ecstatic routes can be taken only once, after which the technique used
becomes obsolete. Media never mature past the trial stage. Every medium
must, time and again, discover its own dynamics in order to bring itself
to a new conclusion. 

The path followed by the various media thus far is the subject of
textual-materialist media theory. The way in which media suck up material
from reality is the theme of communication studies, while the field of
cultural studies sides with the viewers. The media text, on the other
hand, forgets about dialectics and strives for ecstasy, having understood
itself to be part of the media. The media text, like the media themselves,
can never produce a final understanding that might be established in a
dissertation or magnum opus. Caught in the stage of experiment, it carries
on in its own irresponsible but methodical way.  The media text looks for
trajectories, models of thought, tactical maneuvers, and magic words that
will help it spell itself out to the point of exhaustion. 

The media text describes no reality or ideas beyond the text. Its material
are the media themselves - not their equipment or programs, but their
possibilities. The electrosphere is full of potential media and media
forms. Their present or future being is uncertain, but nonetheless open to
examination. The media text offers an irresponsibly rash insight into
them. It speculates on chance, danger, dream, nightmare. It challenges
potential media to get real, starting with the media text itself. It
provokes language to take on these forms. Potential media exist only as
options, but once they are described, you run into them everywhere. 

Liquid theory does not aim at an overall text, to be constructed chapter
by chapter. The media text is no rhizomatic elaboration on schizoid
currents, nor is it about stretching difference yet further. It focuses on
the vaguest possible contours with the utmost sharpness. In its compelling
will to text, it treats any concept or info that breezes by with
systematic arbitrariness. It does not need to categorize its subjects -
the magic words just cling to the media text, refusing to let go until
they've crystallized. A media overview is by definition unfeasible. The
media text enables the potential media field to download on the level of
language, so as to condense the mega data package which scrolls by as the
limited, but (to us) comprehensible, Compact Text format. 

Generation, manipulation and recording are no longer sequential stages in
data handling, but always take place simultaneously. Preservation does not
take place after the fact, in the service of history, but is a
technological a priori (F10). The unlocking of the media archives does not
take place in the post-medial world, though they anticipate it will.  The
archives wish neither to raise an ode to transience and its traces nor to
unleash protest against it. The construction of a new freeway attracts
previously immobile traffic. To switch on a medium is to conjure up
previously unregistered data. To establish a media archive is to attract
files that would otherwise never have been compiled. To compile is no less
to generate, than to generate is to compel to compilation;  simultaneity
works both ways. Starting an archive is sufficient to have it fill up with
new material. There exists no more gratifying task than to write for the
desk drawer. 

Passive storage is not enough; data must be retrievable as quickly and
efficiently as possible. While it is relatively easy to optimize access to
one's personal archives, the real trouble starts with visits to other
people's datasheds. On the other hand, this inaccessibility is an
essential condition for amazing discoveries. Permanence is the hallmark of
all structured attempts at preservation. The media archives will prove to
be modernity's Alexandria, and likewise go up in smoke. Once the bookshelf
has fallen over, it may be a small disaster to the author, but a giant
step for the readers. The greater the gibberish beheld by the writer, the
more clarity is gained by the audience. The media archives are open to any
unsuspected cross-connections, and generously invite misreadings. They do
not strive for the ultimate aha-experience, but anticipate the
metamorphosis of their own content. To read books = to destroy books. 

The Media Archive presents computer-aided theory (CAT) from the era of
word processing (WP 4.2). The empty screen is an essential feature of word
perfection, an electronic tabula rasa whose only known factors are the
coordinates of the theory-to-come (Doc Pg Ln Pos). The soft page has not
yet supplanted the letter-size thinking of the typewriting era ("to the
end of the page and no further"), a poor use of computing capacity that
shifts the computer into suspension gear: The PC processes nothing, the
LCD screen's restricted parking area leaves all options open. Menu bars,
sidekicks, windows next to or behind the text, even simple subscreens:
They were either missing or remained unused. CAT is as flat as a pancake.
No hidden codes, no footnotes, no registers. The keyboard's greatest
literary achievement is the delete key. The computer serves as an
unprecedented text compression tool, and this is where it comes in handy
in media archiving. 

Compact hermeneutics rears its head as a compressed file, unzipped by the
reader when requesting a book into an overall text, suddenly rich in
slanted distinctions. The theoretical signal has been divested of its
superfluous profundity. Even with 70 percent of the argument omitted,
discourse still comes through loud and clear. There is no question of
clandestine advertising for other registered authors. Our subliminal
discomfort, which would like to have the diagonal text related to
something at least, is not rewarded with specific clues. 

Those in dataland who believe they have the hang of pattern recognition
soon embark on a quest for the exclusive keyword to disclose new
universes. Such magic words, however, may also settle in from outside, and
start to suck up charged particles of theory, factoids and semi-quotes.
The massive assault on keywords continues until the inevitable overload
occurs: time to reset. Unidentified Theoretical Objects (UTOs) are chance
theoretical field compressions. Their vocabulary is discovered on desert
islands in the web of scanned-in text.  UTOs are crystal balls gleaming
with the dim light of a yet nonexistent theorem. 

The peremptory essay ends the discussion before it has even begun. The
arguments surrounding a given problem area are surveyable and refutable
from the start. This fact lies at the basis of theoretical modesty, of its
hope that all existing problems seem so familiar because they are never
more than extensions of the twentieth century. To take debates never held
to their logical conclusion holds a promise that beyond every existing
issue there lies a hinterland, the "world after the media," in which the
eve of destruction will not be repeated again, but we will end up way
beyond World War IV instead. 

Deconstruction, like semiotics, is a traditional method of reading. It is
not an intellectual project to dismantle culture as a whole, but a faculty
which - provided it is exercised a little - enables you to get your own
show on the road. Once everything has been analyzed, it's time to think
through the non-deconstructible remainder. Text destruction launches word
processing. Critical casuistry test drills a promising topos, taking a
maniacal interest in paradigmatic splinters. It tries to say as much as it
can about the smallest imaginable clues, without paying much attention to
the entire exegetic field that surrounds them. It provides precision
arguments about the how, not the why, of phenomena breezing by. By
contrast, the study of disciplines - with its expanded-theory toolkit -
carries out full-time research of the overall outline and places
miscellaneous partial issues within a framework that provides insight as
to why things are experienced as problematic in the first place. It seeks
an arbitrary methodology that will suggest hitherto nonexistent relations.
Since it claims no truths, it is dismissed as pseudo-science by the
schools of thought analyzed by it. A negative thinking which denies all
claims to unicity and the universality of actually existing attempts to
interpret the world, is itself the gay science par excellence. Media
theory cracks up over the determination whereby movie theory, art history,
or dramaturgy defend their specific "extensions of man" and challenge
their rivals by accusing them of cultural deterioration. 

The media archives contain all the data in the world. The adilkno branch
is a scant and paltry thing; all this archive contains is instructions on
the impressionability of the media, and proposals as to how to get rid of
them. It was unpremeditatedly compiled in the period between 1988 and
1995, in response to the short summer of the media. Now that autumn is on
its way and permanent tourism is likewise coming to an end, the question
of the media is becoming more urgent. Both the global and alternative use
of media have become stuck in perfect professionalism. Even without a Gulf
War, infotainment is just no fun. The reality effects are superseded more
quickly than technology can produce them. Now that it becomes clear that
the media have no answer to their own global questions, we see a revival
of premedial affairs, so that after a period of liberating breakdown and
decline there threatens a dismal stage of reconstruction.  The archives,
on the other hand, stumble blindly into the postmedial world's state of
uncertainty. It is only from that future that they can look back with
pleasure on the media, without bitterness or nostalgia. 

#  distributed via nettime-l : no commercial use without permission
#  <nettime> is a closed moderated mailinglist for net criticism,
#  collaborative text filtering and cultural politics of the nets
#  more info: majordomo@desk.nl and "info nettime-l" in the msg body
#  URL: http://www.desk.nl/~nettime/  contact: nettime-owner@desk.nl