events at ®eduxView events listed alphabeticallyView list of guests & artistscontact ®edux
Taking place: January, 2007     [ Photos 1 ]

"We, The Network, The Artist, The Multitude!"
A Handbook of Disobedience

/seconds invites responses to the topic 'network, art and multitude' through presentations of works that this configuration suggests. All media-formats welcomed.

- Introduction
- The Multitude
- Openness in dissent
- Swarm as aesthetic
- A Handbook for the Multitude
- The Undetected Multitude
- Dread/refuge coupling
- Handbook for a Legion

Can Art's pluralities, aesthetic transformations, bifurcations, typologies, and simulations conspire as the radical indifference of reproducibility in collective, social network[s]? Do they act together to produce an 'art' of self-government'? If 'Governmentality' [as defined by Michel Foucault] is an art, in the widest sense, i.e. that the idea of government is not limited to state politics alone, that it includes a wide range of control techniques, and that it applies to a wide variety of objects, from one's control of the self to the biopolitical [to the bio-power of control of populations], is there such an entity as a Multitude to exercise such self-governance? In the rupture [or disobedience] from neo-liberalism's market mechanisms, is the Multitude manifested best in a 'call to arms'? Is an 'exodus' possible to meet the remit of Virno's conceptual analysis? How do the mechanics of the Multitude 'make and do' for any realisation of its 'absolute' democracy?

We offer some related points of reference:
"When philosophy paints its grey in grey then has a shape of life grown old. By philosophy's grey in grey it cannot be rejuvenated but only understood. The owl of Minerva spreads its wings only with the falling of dusk." -- G.W.F. Hegel, 'Preface', Philosophy of Right.

"Even as we seek to have a sense of orientation which will allow us to protect ourselves, we also perceive, often in retrospect, various forms of danger. Paolo Virno

"...and he who listens will go away not only charmed, but wiser, for we know all the ills"

"My name is Nobody..." [Odysseus in The Odyssey, Homer]

"...he was walking back from the Trojan War with Nestor and Idomeneus, and stepped into the cyclone village. Then the great giant and star of the cyclones, Polyphemus, who would eat anyone who stepped in the village, asked, "Are you one of those heroes?" Then Odysseus replied, "Me, I am nobody, in fact my name is nobody." The giant let him go, and then in the middle of the night Odysseus snuck over to the giant and stuck a big wooden block into his belly. In the morning the giant cried, "Nobody is hurting me." Odysseus came over and said, "My name is not nobody my name is Odysseus, remember that!"

"How can I care what you do?"
"I am what I do," said Celia.
"No," said Murphy. "You do what you are..." [from 'Murphy', Samuel Beckett]

A priest once came across a Zen master and, seeking to embarrass him, challenged him as follows: 'Using neither sound nor silence, can you show me what is reality?'
The Zen master punched him in the face. [anon]

Two, since One is Not [anon]  

'We can say that this destiny of marginality has now come to an end. The Multitude, rather than constituting a "natural" ante-fact, presents itself as a historical result, a mature arrival point of the transformations that have taken place within the productive process and the forms of life. The 'Many' are erupting onto the scene, and they stand there as absolute protagonists while the crisis of the society of Work is being played out. Post-Fordist social cooperation, in eliminating the frontier between production time and personal time, not to mention the distinction between professional qualities and political aptitudes, creates a new species, which makes the old dichotomies of 'public/private' and 'collective/individual' sound farcical. Neither 'producers' nor 'citizens', the modern virtuosi attain at last the rank of Multitude.' From 'Virtuosity and Revolution', Paolo Virno

'In control society, subversion is rarely public (because the public is citizens with names, a supposedly open and accountable space for visible, autonomous and recognisable subjects, but operative only in a context of legality and liberal rights). One of the unrecognised potentials of the Internet lies in the anonymity of the user, the opportunity it provides for people whom for whatever reason have been excluded from the old form of public life. It allows for those who do not have a name to speak for themselves. Control society needs to be subverted rather than limited, and this is not a matter of public dissent but rather of making subversion at once public (in the sense of shared) and invisible, of dispersing through multiple points of attack. Control society is not stopped by a re-assertion of the private, data protection acts, and civil rights activism. Ours is not merely a libertarian agenda nor is it an attempt at preserving a constructed category of individual freedom, but it is the very opposition to individuation through forms of socialised disobedience, networked and spread as a form of constitution of new social realities of cooperation as well as exodus. Rather than the visible networks of accountable individuals speaking in the name of others, we are interested in invisible networks, those that cannot be represented due to the content of their association.' From 'The Dark Side of the Multitude', Arianna Bove and Erik Empson

Theodor Adorno's most timely and important contributions to contemporary politics are captured in his writings on pedagogy, education, and school reform. His work on education cannot be read separately from an engagement with either his philosophy or his aesthetics but rather as the nodal point through which the latter two become socially transformative. Adorno will advocate reconciliation between Freudian psychoanalysis and Marxism. With these tools, does pedagogy become equipped to "work through" to a common virtuosity in Multitude?

To chart the internal relations among philosophy, aesthetics, and education through their shared rejection of [fascist] resentment Adorno's entry points are through aesthetics [which maps out the psychology of fascism as the antagonist of democratic virtues; but it is through pedagogy that fascist social violence, amnesia, and racism are to be assembled [in the process of a critique] combated.

In order to accomplish this goal, education for Adorno must offer practitioners and students the opportunity to reflect upon institutional forms reproducing anti-democratic proclivities. Yet we must ask: What are the critical tools necessary to address the pedagogical problematic of such resentment?

The urgent need for an appearance of a pedagogy suggests the development of new consciousness of social subjectivity, within social subjectivity. That is to say it marks some index of activity within society that marks its own consciousness of itself. At the moment however the sense of the need to represent the plenitude of different activities, i.e. Virno's 'acting minorities' conflicts with the implicit imposing of outer limit on the possible forms of its expression - this is ultimately the self-identity of the Multitude. That is in so far as the Multitude is always giving itself expression, generating and creating itself in different configurations and forms acting as constitutive power it is constantly evading definite capture as a quality other than this process itself. Diverse points of alignment, register disassociation from Nationalist identification; refugees, exiles, migrants. [Cultural miscegenation, cultural subsystems, resistances and underground movements, subjects that speaks in different languages: that do not appeal to the traditionally ascribed centres of sovereign power.]

[Virtuosity]: [i]

A question is posed to the strategies of 'belonging', of conforming: to the mechanics of [passive - aggressive] conformity, as problems inherent in any attempted move from resistant strategies of 'refusal' to accommodating strategies of 'acceptance'.


Or in other words, when everything is 'permitted' [except truth] how do we do what is 'not', if 'permission', as a bi-word for the 'super-ego' injunction of a human to enjoy Man's right to 'opinion', is incapable of initiating and constituting a universal truth [art being precisely a truth-process], how do student and teacher begin properly to re-set the languages [simulacra] of opinions that claim to be true, in terms of the subject language of truth? Through the 'conditioning' of art?

Badiou: "There can be no irreplaceable subject without engagement in a process in which, in principle, any subject might take part."

[A Pedagological Handbook] [after Paolo Freir�]

Note: Pedagogy is also sometimes referred to as the correct use of teaching strategies (see instructional theory). For example, Brazilian Paulo Freire, one of the most influential educators of the 20th century, referred to his method of teaching as "critical pedagogy". In correlation with those teaching strategies the instructor's own philosophical beliefs of teaching are harboured and governed by the pupil's background knowledge and experiences, personal situations and environment as well as learning goals set by the student as well as the teacher. This is not to make claims at all for the 'other' but to create a plane of engagement where there is no 'other'.

Is it possible in these situations, to ascribe the dialectic of a subjective process to 'the individual', the teacher and the student, to 'induce' a singular, irreplaceable [and therefore universal] subject, 'in the body' of what was previously, 'indifferent' individuals? The term 'indifferent' is ambiguous and generates discourse. Can indifference be re-situated to what is not true, so as to configure an ethics of singular truths [ and their disagreements] and thus to an ethic relative to particular situations?

'We must also take into account the network of relations it [a situation] sustains, which involves making sense of the way a multiple appears in a situation.' Badiou, Introduction, Ethics.

A network's disposition as 'multitude', is measured in its collective assembly of resistances to a common refusal, or by a greater general intelligence [a shared knowledge, skill] to never have cause to serve to reinforce individual ego, to adapt individuals to the needs and 'nature' of society, to having fully developed a strategy for tactical 'disobedience', to an independent constituency and self-valorisation [without recourse to constituted government.] As Badiou asserts, 'emancipatory politics [Manifesto for Philosophy] must be at least equal to the challenge of capital.' What is tested under a semantic torsion is the term 'virtuosity' located in Gwynneth Porter 'advice' to a young artist with regard to her potential, to a 'success' story of networking in the case of a network, that fits all the categories, From the moment of hesitation on graduation, before entry into the [art world] status quo, to the embrace of its milieu. Emerging from a western neo-liberal educational system, she will have followed the aesthetic / social protocols, rights of passage, entry initiations and final 'acceptance' at court [conform or face exclusion, expulsion, permanent humiliation] practice an etiquette of disinterest, in style and grace of manners, to acquire thereof, the practice of a 'virtuosity', both finding it 'charming' and financially rewarding to belong, Dan Graham compares these behaviours as 'courtly' manners, in 'Two Way Mirror' he compares politics as currency in art worlds, albeit not centred in one authority, yet modus operandi of a culturally diffuse dominance, with that of Louis 14th and the 'court' of the Sun King. If he [as King, and therefore State] was heard to say of you, 'I know him not', you were doomed forever. One should, only at one's 'peril' break 'trust' in a network of power. Or is there a chance, a wager to be risked to develop a fidelity to the work of art that can be educated and transmitted and will encourage such a break?

'...One of the founders of China Art Objects Galleries, the late Giovanni Intra, had left New Zealand in 1996, where he had been instrumental in the excellent Auckland artist-run space Teststrip, to do something stupid and expensive that would no doubt result in something charming, successful, and sure to expose conservatism in thinking. In an article written for the 2001 exhibition Circles in Karlsruhe, Germany, (ostensibly about artists' circles), Intra explained why pure abstinence from the financial scene was counter-productive: 'The shift from alternative venue to something more economically opportunistic - from simply exhibiting artists to representing them - wasn't the result of a gradual change in principle, but a conscious adaptation in order to best exploit the potentialities at hand... We have discovered, after years of research, that money doesn't compromise an exhibition programme. If I keep returning to this 'alternative' point it is because of the pleasure I have taken in betraying its principles. Selling art is a lot of fun. To make money out of art is a kind of revenge against the expense of graduate education and the political imperative, which suggests that it is compulsory for young artists to attend school for extended periods and go into debt... Most days there's a lot of laughter in our gallery, and it often surrounds the perversion of the art system and our part within it.'

Intra's belief of achieving a micro-network qua 'the network' suggests that he may have fallen into the simulacrum of self-delusion, given the premature sense of sanctioned victory, grace and glory.

The phrase 'our part within it' is highly disturbing when we hear that Intra was later honoured for his 'work' [Best Booth, Art Basel] by the Art Fair's bureaucratic community's 'jury'. A gold medal indeed awarded from the 'sovereign'. Is this the only narrative of 'virtuosity' and 'governmentality'' we can speak of? Alain Badiou's cuttingly clear words resound in the mirrored halls of art's 'visibility' where the veracity and 'statist' / market valorisation is performative, acknowledgement of the ethics of a 'free market', 'evidence' of the success of neo-liberalist democracy, yet the evidence of an absolute sophistry of its prescribed 'ethics'.  

'When those who uphold the contemporary ideology of 'ethics' tell us that the return to Man and his rights has delivered us from the 'fatal abstractions' inspired by 'the ideologies' of the past they have some nerve. I would be delighted to see so constant an attention paid to concrete situations, so sustained and so patient a concern for the real [le r�el], so much time devoted to an activist inquiry into the situation of the most varied kinds of people - often the furthest removed, it might seem, from the normal environment of intellectuals - as that we witnessed between 1965 and 1980. In reality there is no lack of proof for the fact that the thematics of the 'death of man' are compatible with rebellion, a radical dissatisfaction with the established order, and a fully committed engagement in the real of situations [dans le r�el des situations] while by contrast, the theme of ethics and of human rights is compatible with the self-satisfied egoism of the affluent West, with advertising, and with the service rendered to the powers that be. Such are the facts.' [From 'Does Man exist?' 'Ethics, An Understanding of Evil'], Verso 2001.

Quote "We are diminished to report the death of Giovanni Intra in New York City on December 17th 2002. Giovanni, artist, critic, gallerist went east to stir up the LA art scene and established the gallery, China Art Objects, and its location, Chinatown, as a fresh new locus that, "changed the landscape" of the West Coast art world and was internationally regarded as one of the most influential new galleries. Giovanni was remembered in Art Forum, LA Times, New York Times, Las Vegas Sun, and The Independent. The British style bible i-D magazine recently selected China Art Objects as one of international art's "outstanding galleries" (April 2001) - high praise for a gallery on the fringes of the conventional art-scene. At last year's prestigious Basel Art Fair in Switzerland China Art Objects was awarded "Best Booth, Established Galleries". In addition, Intra was a regular and highly regarded writer-editor within the pages of Artforum and Artext. Connie Butler, curator at the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art: "He and the presence of China Art Objects have made an incredible mark on the art community here, in fact changed the landscape. Chinatown is now the freshest and consistently most interesting context for young artists' work and the spirit of China Art Objects is largely responsible for this. Their program is a provocative mix of emerging artists and more mature artists' work that is seldom seen in Los Angeles. I admire Giovanni's energy and intelligence, and his low key ambition is a welcome addition to the community." Intra's networking fits the RAND research into networks and their organisational, tribal formation and reformation of the landscape - neatly simulating their own.

And concerning a 'general intelligence' of subversion at work among artists disparaging the 'discontents' of the closeted, [moneyed], art world establishment and its conservative 'art-fair' aesthetic, Porter unwittingly adds insult to injury: "...Perhaps they are playing with the oft-quoted idea from Negri and Hardt's Empire [ed. also Multitude] that 'there is no outside' when it comes to capitalism, or maybe not. But one thing was for certain; there was no point in going outside for long at Art Basel because it was too damn hot. The interior spaces of the exhibition centre were of course luxuriously air-conditioned, and the astounding dumbness of this coolness made the Basel art fair, in my mind, even more of a sinister social text. This feeling was compounded by the selection of the winning pavilion at the Venice Biennale the week before. As far as we could make out, the only reason Luxembourg won was that their show, 'Air-Conditioned', lived up to its name and, unlike the rest of the Biennale, remained beautifully cool during a comic heat wave. I can understand why taking advantage of this milieu would appeal so much to these cunning community-minded young gallerists - but as Intra once quipped [cynically] 'it's not exactly riding the jock of genius.' Gwynneth Porter is herself also a member of an artist-run gallery project, Cuckoo. From M27.

On the aesthetic model of immaterial labour, Maurizio Lazzarato writes: "...Both the creative and the social elements of this production encourage me to venture the use of the "aesthetic model." It is interesting to see how one could arrive at this new concept of labour by starting either from artistic activity (following the Situationists) or from the traditional activity of the factory (following Italian Workerist theories), both relying on the very Marxist concept of "living labour." Walter Benjamin has already analyzed how since the end of the nineteenth century both artistic production and reproduction, along with its perception, have assumed collective forms. I cannot pause here to consider his works, but they are certainly fundamental for any genealogy of immaterial labour and its forms of reproduction."
The Aesthetic Model [from Immaterial Labour, Maurizio Lazzarato]

Is there constituent a multitude composed of 'immaterial labour', which performs a complex and general 'virtuosity' from 'within' the global market institution? 'The strategy of refusal', a seminal essay by Mario Tronti, written in 1965 was applied 'inside' capitalist development, yet 'against it'. Setting up a process of self-valorisation, [The Situationist project was such a collective endeavour of 'self-valorisation', an emergence of social relationships, through which it was possible to discover that "what gives the individual a social value is their variability of behaviour in relation to other people" [Asger Jorn: Critique of Economic Policy (1960)] Tronti's thesis was later developed into a subversive idea of virtuosity in literature from thinkers such as Deleuze and Guattari, Antonio Negri, and Paolo Virno.

On the Multitude, Paolo Virno writes: '...The Multitude obstructs and dismantles the mechanisms of [political] representation. It expresses itself as an ensemble of 'acting minorities', none of which, however, aspires to transform itself into a majority. It develops a power that refuses to become government.'
(Virno, Radical Thought in Italy p. 201)

Tronti advances this concept that Paolo Virno extends in 'virtuosity' to generate subjects, capable of forming new social and creative relations, communities, yet, which are now subsumed in an arena where virtue and the virtual blur to obtain a more nuanced, and less revolutionary 'strategy of acceptance'. The racist, imperial Right also has learnt of 'multitudinal' tactics to reconceive dominance through its 'counter-insurgencies'. [Such as 'Leaderless Resistance']. If this stand-off exists in cunning dissimulation, between 'Art as Network' and the Ego re-enforcement through 'artist-as-networker' can there be nominated any evidence of a rigorous and affirmative politics of the aesthetic, both fully contemporary, 'modern' and fully 'democratic'?

Or is an Imaginary, rooted in an ideological identification with the a priori, as governing status-quo, a passive conformity dissimulated in rhetoric to produce its 'seat of illusions'? The radical proposition is that the Multitude counterpoises the power of 'exodus' to the machinations of imperial governance: 'Democracy today takes the form of a subtraction, a flight, an exodus from sovereignty.' Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri [2004] Multitude

Steve Wright argues that '...Negri is of the opinion that in a time of increasingly complex and skilled labour, and of a working day that more and more blurs the boundaries with (and ultimately colonises) the rest of our waking hours, value can no longer be calculated. As he put it a decade ago, in such circumstances the exploitation of labour still continues, but 'outside any economic measure: its economic reality is fixed exclusively in political terms.' [Negri, A. (1994) 'Oltre la legge di valore', DeriveApprodi 5-6]

'...Hardt and Negri are often uncritical and credulous in the face of orthodox propaganda about globalization and immateriality ... They assert that immaterial labour - service work, basically - now prevails over the old-fashioned material kind, but they don't cite any statistics: you'd never expect that far more Americans are truck drivers than are computer professionals. Nor would you have much of an inkling that three billion of us, half the earth's population, live in the rural Third World, where the major occupation remains tilling the soil.' [Henwood, D. (2003) After the New Economy. New York: New Press, pp.184-5] from an essay by Steve Wright, in Reality check: Are We Living In An Immaterial World? M30:: 14.12.05

[ii] Histoire[s] d'une Multitudine [to be reconfigured in a critique 'Multitude']

Openness in dissent   ^
The Multitude as a political concept aims to capture a form of subjectivity based on dissent, on certain types of refusal, on its disobedience and other forms of action, movement and production that are neither constituted power nor necessarily a direct negation of that power. The Multitude relates to the political as its constitutive force (cf: Negri , Insurgencies) i.e. it is the substance of power and it is to what established power relates. Multitude is the current bearer of constituent power for an aleatory materialism...
In the last few years however, the term has had a particular renaissance in certain areas of political thought, as a more loaded category, destined to express not only quantity but also a distinctly qualitative entity, something of substance. As a distinct political concept it captures a historical development and represents a movement away from previous configurations. The Multitude registers a fluid, multi -dimensional reality from the point of view of agency. Yet this is not just a new concept of agency, some new concoction of social theorists but also a different conception of politics. [citation needed on 'agency']

Hence this concept reflects the reality of an openness in expressive totality, but is invented also to work towards it, to work towards communication between its elements in the form of decentralised networks (see Henwood - Hardt Interview; in this interview Hardt also points to the parallel process of de-colonisation). The tension is this inscribing of political unity into the reality, gained from the potential of the concept rather than the actuality of what occurs on the ground. The multitude should resist any given, a priori conception of what constitutes or limits its subjectivity. The great benefit of the idea is that it precludes a reductionist inscription of necessary political unity into the ontology of the category.

The process of the production of communication tends to become immediately the process of valorisation. If in the past communication was organized fundamentally by means of language and the institutions of ideological and literary/artistic production, today, because it is invested with industrial production, communication is reproduced by means of specific technological schemes (knowledge, thought, image, sound, and language reproduction technologies) and by means of forms of organization and "management" that are bearers of a new mode of production.

Virno writes: 'It is more useful, in attempting to grasp the process of the formation of social communication and its subsumption within the "economic," to use, rather than the "material" model of production, the "aesthetic" model that involves author, reproduction, and reception. This model reveals aspects that traditional economic categories tend to obscure and that, as I will show, constitute the "specific differences" of the post-Taylorist means of production. The "aesthetic/ideological" model of production will be transformed into a small-scale sociological model with all the limits and difficulties that such a sociological transformation brings. The model of author, reproduction, and reception requires a double transformation: in the first place, the three stages of this creation process must be immediately characterized by their social form; in the second place, the three stages must be under stood as the articulations of an actual productive cycle.

The 'author' must lose its individual dimension and be transformed into an industrially organized production process (with a division of labour, investments, orders, and so forth), 'reproduction' becomes a mass reproduction organized according to the imperatives of profitability, and the audience ("reception") tends to become the consumer/communicator. In this process of socialization and subsumption within the economy of intellectual activity the "ideological" product tends to assume the form of a commodity. I should emphasize, however, that the subsumption of this process under capitalist logic and the transformation of its products into commodities does not abolish the specificity of aesthetic production, that is to say, the creative relationship between author and audience.  

... subversion is rarely public (because the public is citizens with names, a supposedly open and accountable space for visible, autonomous and recognisable subjects, but operative only in a context of legality and liberal rights). One of the unrecognised potentials of the Internet lies in the anonymity of the user, the opportunity it provides for people whom for whatever reason have been excluded from the old form of public life. It allows for those who do not have a name to speak for themselves.

Control society needs to be subverted rather than limited, and this is not a matter of public dissent but rather of making subversion at once public (in the sense of shared) and invisible, of dispersing through multiple points of attack. Control society is not stopped by a re-assertion of the private, data protection acts, and civil rights activism. Ours is not merely a libertarian agenda nor is it an attempt at preserving a constructed category of individual freedom, but it is the very opposition to individuation through forms of socialised disobedience, networked and spread as a form of constitution of new social realities of cooperation as well as exodus.

Rather than the visible networks of accountable individuals speaking in the name of others, we are interested in invisible networks, those that cannot be represented due to the content of their association. Drugs, theft, absenteeism, are just a few examples of what are increasingly widespread responses to the criminalisation of any aspect of life that refuses obedience. Expressed in their own terms, none of these instances of often quite individuated actions seems to carry much weight and their non-representability complicates their articulation as common forms of action.

Our power stares us in the face because we know very much from our own experience that fear, panic, depression and paranoia, can be challenged and turned around. Confidence is infectious and cooperation and association with other actors increases ones power. Because subjectivity is inherently social, multiple becoming of instances of immanent connections in life - introspection and self-reflection are the very opposite of this process, they rarely have any constitutive effect. Where the one relates to itself as one, it is really none, and thus in control society, sovereignty (of the individual) is absolutely subverted. Hence the network appears where there is a consciousness of that power. The reason why there are no leaders in the movement is that everyone has become a leader of sorts, more or less effective at certain times of being able to give expression to the common, one formed activity and example.


[Pure surfacing] of the Multitude

Swarm as aesthetic   ^

Brainstorming the One, disunity of extremes, the eventful Two in revolt. The One is not.

Leaderless Resistances versus the Host -
The Semantic Web - Net-wars

The Net-work (internet and intranets) is described by computer science as having properties of a nonlinear complex system, yet unified as a homogeneous surface - semiotic. It functions paradoxically as a 'dissimulation' [to hide, as knowledge, under a false appearance] of interaction and immediacy. A network is in potential a 'reflexive' mega structure, calling itself up from an infinite archival intelligence]. Considering the network semiotic as a linguistic system in which signs and symbols function as complex interactions of information agencies, such a semiotic will incorporate a nonlinear dynamic from which an 'entailment meshwork' emerges, including all domains for information association and function. An entailment is a set of rules pertaining to the emergence of self-organization by a system in which uncertain conditions and influences are present. Emergent conversation (brainstorming) results from self-organizing entailment processes from which inferencing emerges. [Inferencing is the process of deducing [inferring] new information from information already known. This is a very promising concept coming out of the Semantic Web that offers the ability to discover new relationships and new insights across large amounts of seemingly unrelated data.] An entailment mesh was thought to be the principal semiotic agency [data pattern] responsible for concept inferencing resulting from information filtering, association, referencing and substitution. Research involving machine/machine conversation demonstrated entailment as a complex autocatalytic feedback loop in which sub-systems influence a tendency for adaptation towards less than optimum goals. That is, there seem, in dissimulation, no specific objectives or purposes guiding the conversational system, in its immediacy and interaction.

Art as Network, [as the electronic sphere of discourse in any defining of Multitude, as subject, and 'netwar'] verifies the complexity of a semiotic that meshes an aesthetic forged of uncertainty and innovation, into a potential for resistance / virtual war: a nonlinear dynamic between self-organization, homogeneity, and dissimulation alternates, to establish a wobbly framework of illusions of the real [art] in which are present disorganisations of prescribed thinking precisely aimed to destroy the illusions of hegemony. This does concur with Badiou's 'puissance' or power of truth which may be of the order of a re-organisation of non-truths, opinions and rhetoric, e.g. a typical case here being an art-fair that contains partial truths [badly presented works of art] in non-alignment, could be de-concealed as socially organized, yet falsifying? [citation needed]

As Rand's own researchers have observed: 'The point is that these debates between social and organizational networks are far from settled. Meanwhile, where netwar is the object of concern - as in assessing the degree to which an adversary is or is not a netwar actor, and how well it is designed for particular strategies and tactics - the analyst should be steeped in the organizational as much as the social approach. Organizational design is the decisive factor (even when the actors are individuals).

'...In netwars, swarming often appears not only in real-life actions but also through measures in cyberspace. Aspirations for a leaderless swarming doctrine, beginning with a rationale and a capability for "electronic civil disobedience," show up among hacktivists who advocate the usage of online tools to flood (i.e., overwhelm) a target's computer systems, e-mail inboxes, and Web sites, thereby disrupting and even defacing them (see Wray, 1998). Virtually anybody can log into one of these tools and, with a few commands, mount an automated DDOS attack. For example, a device called FloodNet, developed by a collectivity named the Electronic Disturbance Theater (EDT), has been used since the late 1990s against government and corporate sites in Mexico, the Middle East, Europe, and the United States (e.g., against Etoys). Hacktivists associated with the EDT would like to create a new device named SWARM (after our writings), in order to move "digital Zapatismo" beyond the initial emphasis on FloodNet and create new kinds of "electronic pulse systems" for militant activism. A newer device, called Tribal FloodNet, evidently programmed by a German hacker named Mixter, is technically more powerful. It can enable a lone anonymous individual to mount a far more massive DDOS attack than is the case with FloodNet, which requires publicly announced mass participation (a virtual sit-in) to function well. Tribal FloodNet gained notoriety for its usage in shutting down Yahoo! and other U.S. sites early in 2000. But since then, the contrast between the two systems has led to an ideological controversy. Hacktivist proponents of FloodNet - not only in the EDT, but also in the Electrohippies and, to a lesser extent, the Cult of the Dead Cow - prefer to assert "the presence of a global group of people gathering to bear witness to a wrong." They criticize the Tribal version for being undemocratic and secretive."

'The fact that more free music is being downloaded and shared by loose peer-to-peer networks since Napster's activities were curtailed by legal action gives some indication of the power of this advance. It also reveals once again, as seen notably with Colombian drug cartels in the 1990s, that smaller, more nimble networks may spring up as successors to a defeated large network like the Medellin or Cali cartel.

'Yet, net-war can be waged without necessarily having access to the Internet and other advanced technologies. This level may mix old and new, low- and high-tech capabilities. Human couriers and face-to-face meetings may still remain essential, especially for secretive actors like terrorists and criminals.

'It's making sure, even though everybody was independent to do it their own way, they cared enough to keep us all informed so that we all had the power of the smoke-and-mirrors illusion of this huge machinery... And it was, again, the follow up, the constant communication, the building of trust. Trust, trust, trust. The most important element is this trust as its political dimension. Once you blow trust, you've blown it all. It's hard to rebuild"  

'The tendency in some circles to view networks as amounting to configurations of social capital and trust is helpful for analyzing this level. But there are other important concepts as well, notably about people forming "communities of practice" (Brown and Duguid, 2000), and "epistemic communities" (Haas, 1992). In a sense, all these concepts reflect the ancient, vital necessity of belonging to a family, clan, or tribe and associating one's identity with it.

'Meanwhile, the traditions of social network analysis and economic transaction analysis warn against the risks of having participants who are "free riders" or lack a personal commitment to teamwork. Indeed, compared to tribal/clan and hierarchical forms of organization, networks have more difficulty instilling, and enforcing, a sense of personal identity with and loyalty to the network. This is one of the key weaknesses of the network form - one that may affect counternetwar designs as well. It extends partly from the fact that networks are often thought to lack a "center of gravity" as an organization.

'...Peer-to-peer computing can enable its users to prevent censorship of documents, provide anonymity for users, remove any single point of failure or control, efficiently store and distribute documents, and provide plausible deniability for node operators. See Oram (2001).

'...The Russians did succeed in killing Dzhokhar Dudayev during the first (1994-96) Chechen War - triangulating on him while he used a cellphone - but the networked Chechens did quite well even without their 'leader.'

Considering two formulations [from Multitudes-WEB]

1) Video and computer gaming demonstrates the extraordinary success of cognitive capitalism in enclosing emergent forms of general intellect in a smoothly integrated, constantly expanding global circuit of commodification. In production it demonstrates the foundation of a new industry built on the mobilization of an elite immaterial workforce, whose activities are supported by a penumbra of vital but un- or low paid activities conducted either by volunteer prosumers, and underpinned by the immiseration of maquiladora labour. At the level of consumption and social reproduction, games disseminate virtual scenarios appropriate to hyper-militarized finance capital with primary investment interests in the cyborg arenas of biotechnology and digitization. To this extent, video and computer gaming exemplifies the triumphant subsumption of biopower by the forces of cognitive capital.

2) Video and computer games demonstrates how general intellect drives toward the supersession of capital. At the level of production, they reveal the dependence of new media on forms of " dot. communist " activity, such as open source and freeware, and the implosion of the commodity form under the pressure of the escalating piracy inherent to networks. More generally, the digital socialization of youth through gaming discloses a subversive face in a proliferation of cyberactivist and hacktivist practices that both explode within game culture and overspill into more manifestly political spheres. By circulating the skills and technology necessary for virtual experimentation with social organization, video and computer games have unwittingly democratized capacities for popular planning and collective self-organization hitherto been concentrated in the hands of capitalisms military and managerial cadres. Interactive play thus demonstrates the corrosive force with which contemporary biopower undermines cognitive commodification.

Both statements are true. It is by the enfolding of their simultaneously existing yet mutually destructive affirmations that the conditions of class struggle in cognitive capitalism are defined. Hic rhodus, hic salta--or, very loosely translated, here is the game, let's play [Dyer-Witheford, Nick "Cognitive Capitalism Contested: the Class Composition of the Video and Computer Game Industry,"

In light of the ground-breaking philosophical work of Alain Badiou who outlines a series of eventful procedures through which an individual becomes an ethical subject of truth, what happens when Badiou's ethical subject is incommensurable with and interrupts, as an alternative, the neo-liberal subject?

On Art's bifurcations, Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari propose the concept of 'machinic phylum' to reference the overall set of self-organizing processes within a system (including complexity) in which previously disconnected elements suddenly reach a critical point at which they begin to 'cooperate' to form a higher level entity. This 'evolution' is indicative of a set of adaptive alternatives, a systems machinic phylum, through which it may or may not bifurcate.

"It has become inaccurate to discuss the 'the web' as a single entity since this use of a definite article belies the increasingly electrical interconnectedness of a plethora of devices, processes, information and indices. 'The web' is inadequate because it implies a coherence that is not evident in the use of many incompatible formats, private networks, and non-indexed sections of network. This incoherent, frayed mess

of networks is like an expanding and obscure territory for which there are no maps, or at least, no maps with standard keys, scales or control coordinates. In some ways 'surfing' or 'browsing' are increasingly appropriate metaphors for the superficial and indiscriminate ways our browsers allow us to use the web. These limited research excursions are almost entirely dependent on the indices of one of the major search engines (Google in most cases) which has become the limit of the network; everything else is uncharted, unconnected and therefore largely inaccessible." From 'Freemasons Of The Future'

M27:: 12.01.04 [Saul Albert, Simon Worthington, and Fabian Thompsett]

The Undetected Multitude   ^
The special issue on Multitude welcomes projects that, in 'open' media formats. Can there be an art of disruption to neo-liberalist genealogy. Through audio-visual frameworks that consider the contemporary conditions of globalization we invite works that are 'intra-philosophical'. In Inaesthetics Alain Badiou redefines a relation of truth over beauty within the contested field of aesthetics, focusing upon modernism in the arts, to define a new schema for that which comes after the aesthetic, the anaesthetic, which is:
...a relation of philosophy to art which, maintaining that art is itself a producer of truths, makes no claim to turn art into an object for philosophy. Against aesthetic speculation, inaesthetics describes the strictly intraphilosophical effects produced by the independent existence of some works of art.

From P. Virno's 'The Grammar of the Multitude' So, the dividing line between fear and anguish, between relative dread and absolute dread, is precisely what has failed. The concept of "people," even with its many historical variations, is closely bound to the clear separation between a habitual "inside" and an unknown and hostile "outside." The concept of "multitude," instead, hinges upon the ending of such a separation. The distinction between fear and anguish, just like the one between relative shelter and absolute shelter, is groundless for at least three reasons.

The first of these reasons is that one cannot speak reasonably of substantial communities. In today's world, impulsive changes do not overturn traditional and repetitive forms of life; what they do is to come between individuals who by now have gotten used to no longer having fixed customs, who have gotten used to sudden change, who have been exposed to the unusual and to the unexpected. What we have, then, at every moment and no matter what, is a reality, which is repeatedly innovated. It is therefore not possible to establish an actual distinction between a stable "inside" and an uncertain and telluric "outside." The permanent mutability of the forms of life, and the training needed for confronting the unchecked uncertainty of life, lead us to a direct and continuous relation with the world as such, with the imprecise context of our existence.

What we have, then, is a complete overlapping of fear and anguish. If I lose my job, of course I am forced to confront a well-defined danger, one which gives rise to a specific kind of dread; but this real danger is immediately coloured by an unidentifiable anguish. It is fused together with a more general disorientation in the presence of the world in which we live; it is identified with the absolute insecurity, which lives in the human animal, in as much as the human animal is lacking in specialized instincts. One might say: fear is always anguish-ridden; circumscribed danger

always makes us face the general risk of being in this world. If the substantial communities once hid or muffled our relationship with the world, then their dissolution now clarifies this relationship for us: the loss of one's job, or the change which alters the features of the functions of labour, or the loneliness of metropolitan life-all these aspects of our relationship with the world assume many of the traits which formerly belonged to the kind of terror one feels outside the walls of the community. We would need to find a new term here, different from "fear" or "anguish," a term which would take the fusion of these two terms into account. What comes to mind for me is the term uncanny. But it would take too much time here to justify the use of this term (Virno, Mondanita: 65-7).

Let us move on to the second critical approach. According to traditional explanations, fear is a public feeling, while anguish pertains to the individual who has been isolated by a fellow human being. In contrast to fear (which is provoked by a danger pertaining virtually to many members of the community and which can be resisted with the help of others), the anguished feeling of being lost evades the public sphere and is concerned only with the so-called interior nature of the individual. This type of explanation has become completely unreliable. For certain reasons, in fact, it must be overturned. Today, all forms of life have the experience of "not feeling at home," which, according to Heidegger, would be the origin of anguish. Thus, there is nothing more shared and more common, and in a certain sense more public, than the feeling of "nor feeling at home." No one is less isolated than the person who feels the fearful pressure of the indefinite world. In other words, that feeling in which fear and anguish converge is immediately the concern of many. One could say, perhaps, that "not feeling at home" is in fact a distinctive trait of the concept of the multitude, while the separation between the "inside" and the "outside," between fear and anguish, is what earmarked the Hobbesian (and not only Hobbesian) idea of people. The people are one, because the substantial community collaborates in order to sedate the fears that spring from circumscribed dangers. The multitude, instead, is united by the risk which derives from not feeling at home," from being exposed omnilaterally to the world.

SOURCE MATERIAL - from Paolo Virno 'The Grammar of the Multitude'  

Dread / Refuge   ^
Now let us consider the third and last critical observation, perhaps the most radical. It concerns the same dread/refuge coupling. What is mistaken in this coupling is the idea that we first experience a sense of dread and, only then, we set ourselves the task of procuring a source of refuge. These stimulus-response or cause-effect models are completely out of place. Rather, one should believe that the original experience would be that of procuring some means of refuge. Above all, we protect ourselves; then, when we are intent on protecting ourselves, we focus on identifying the dangers with which we may have to concern ourselves. Arnold Gehlen used to say that survival, for the human animal, was an oppressive task, and that in order to confront this task we need, above all, to mitigate the disorientation which results from the fact that we are not in possession of a fixed "environment" (Gehlen, Man: His Nature). Within one's living context, this groping attempt to cope with life is basic.

"Even as we seek to have a sense of orientation which will allow us to protect ourselves, we also perceive, often in retrospect, various forms of danger.

There is more to the story. Not only does danger define itself starting with the original search for refuge, but, and this is the truly crucial point, danger manifests itself for the most part as a specific form of refuge. If we look carefully, we see that danger consists of a horrifying strategy of salvation (one need only think of the cult of some ethnic "enclave"). "The dialectic between danger and refuge is resolved, in the end, in the dialectic between alternative forms of protection. In contrast to the sources of refuge to be feared we find the second rank sources of refuge, those that are capable of serving as an antidote to the poisons of the former sources of refuge. From the historical  

and sociological point of view, it is not difficult to see that evil expresses itself precisely as a horrible response to the risk inherent in this world, as a dangerous search for protection: we need only think about the propensity for entrusting oneself to a sovereign (either in the flesh, or one of those operetta types, it doesn't matter), or about the feverish elbowing to get to the top in one's career, or about xenophobia. We could also say: being truly anguish-ridden is just a certain way of confronting anguish. Let me repeat: what is decisive here is the choice between different strategies of reassurance, the opposition between extremely different forms of refuge. For this reason, let me say in passing, it is foolish either to overlook the theme of security, or (and this is even more foolish) to brandish it without further qualification (not recognizing the true danger in this very theme, or in certain of its types).

The experience of the contemporary (or, if you prefer, of the postFordist) multitude is primarily rooted in this modification of the dialectic of dread-refuge. The many, in as much as they are many, are those who share the feeling of "not feeling at home" and who, in fact, place this experience at the centre of their own social and political praxis. Furthermore, in the multitude's mode of being, one can observe with the naked eye a continuous oscillation between different, sometimes diametrically opposed, strategies of reassurance (an oscillation which the people, however, do not understand, since they are an integral part of the sovereign States).


Abstract intelligence and immaterial signs have become the major productive force in the post-Fordist economy we are living in and they are deeply affecting contemporary structures and mentalities. Virno's essay examines the increased mobility and versatility of the new labour force whose work-time now virtually extends to their entire life. The "multitude" is the kind of subjective configuration that this radical change is liberating, raising the political question of what we are capable of. " Foreword, The Grammar of the Multitude, P.Virno [ Semiotexte]

How does the recently much-invoked 'Post-Fordism' in an essential way affect our existence, our conception of the subject and our labour relations? If it is the case that nowadays 'virtuosity' is in demand and that language and communication have become the decisive powers of productivity, then this has to have consequences also for the production of art.

[ Events ]