- 1 CONTEXT
- 2 RELATION TO LARGER CONTEXT
- 3 WHAT DO YOU WANT TO MAKE?
- 4 HOW DO YOU PLAN ON MAKING IT ?
- 5 WHY DO YOU WANT TO MAKE IT ?
- 6 WHO CAN HELP YOU AND HOW ?
- 7 RECENT PAST
- 8 NEAR FUTURE
SHIFT OF POWER
There’s this cycle of Jupiter and Saturn.
They come together every 20 years, roughly, and it is called the Grand conjuct.
According to it’s astrological meaning it is cyclical conjunction and is a marker of historical eras in traditional astrology. When Jupiter and Saturn come together there is both the intensity of old forms dying and a new growth taking shape.
Since 1802, Jupiter and Saturn have been aligning in earth signs, and this year, in 2020, Jupiter and Saturn will align in the air sign of Aquarius. It’s a new cycle that will last until 2159 ! Also known as the great Upheaval, this conjunction is extra special because it marks the start of a new roughly 200-year cycle during which Jupiter and Saturn will form conjunctions in the same element: air.
In 1980, we got a glimpse of it, when they briefly conjunct in Libra, the beginning of the internet revolution, of information technology revolution, if you like. But it really gets moving at the end of 2020. That’s a very significant point.
Any way this means that these planets that have been ruled by earth up until now (oil extraction, heavy machinery, earth industries) have just shifted into the air sign of Aquarius, the sign of progress, innovation, and community. That means that the extractive forces that have been focusing on earth for the past 200 years will now re-orient their interests (the strive towerds more and more data, more controle over communication ressources).
RELATION TO LARGER CONTEXT
Infrastructures can sometimes represent some of the innermost and inherent materializations of violence, power, and control. Architecture and urban infrastructures, for example, are both fields that have been massively utilized and weaponized to service the expansion of authoritative or imperial powers.
THE DISSOLUTION OF ARCHITECTURE
Over the summer I was re-reading Yona Friedmann - "Architecture of survival", in which he explores the ideas of "architecture of survival" as the opposite of "the survival of architecture", in the sens that master creators will never truly answer the needs of the people as much as systems of self-organisation may do. He suggests an approach to architecture where architects would only be consultants supporting collectively determined projects.
The main questions he is trying to answer throughout this synthesis of his work are :
"Who has the right to decide, and the power of agency over architecture?
How to ensure this right to those to whom it belongs?
How to do it in a world that is heading towards increasing poverty?
How to survive in such a world?"
ON THE DELUSION THAT TECHNICAL WORK IS MORALLY NEUTRAL
There are people -very well educated people- designing our schools, our communication systems, our social media platforms… There are also people designing the prisons, there are people drawing maps, drawing borders…
The original drive for both my project and my thesis was to explore the idea of the "impossibility of innocence" of the architect, the master creator: the delusion that technical work is morally neutral, in the hopes of understanding how different forms of power have been sustaining their dominion by appropriating and corrupting infrastructures to their advantage.
THE CONTINUING AFFILIATION
If their is a shift in the way the quest for power manifests itself, what are the patterns that we can analyse in order to prevent this spread of authoritarian and centralized powers undermining the possibility of justice and equality ? How could we translate and apply patterns of resistance, like self organization, to potentially new, scarce, digital spaces or ressources, see how this might merge into new forms of organization.
"When we decide to approach architecture as 'the discipline that organizes bodies in space', countless texts can be commissioned and written about how architecture materializes various forms of political violence. Yet, it is much harder to articulate a tactical ‘positive’ discourse about political architectures as we propose to do throughout this issue."
The Funambulist Nº23 - Insurgent Architectures
In this context, I guess my thesis would be an addition to the countless texts that have been commissioned and written about how architecture materializes various forms of political violence.
Parallelly, this project will be looking into a more ‘positive’ tactical discourse, and exploring a new forms of insurgency.
Recently I also found this project, which I realized they were aiming for the same methodology but the other way round: looking into free software and open-source cultures to find new answers in urban infrastructures.
WHO ARE THESE GHOSTS THAT ARE STALKING OUR SYSTEMS ?
I guess the starting point for this research was the idea that architectures and infrastructures can be corrupted to support and cement certain ideologies. Even though ideologies can be criticized, and political regimes can be overthrown and disowned, it always leaves behind some kind of heritage, some ways of thinking and feeling, some good old habits, some obscure and abstruse drives.
In The Funambulist: "ARCHITECTURE AND COLONIALISM", they state these two arguments: "colonialism is not an era, it is a system of military/police, legal, administrative, social, and cultural system of domination; and, architecture is not (only) an aesthetic vessel, it is an apparatus organizing and hierarchizing bodies in space"
With this project, I hope to somehow contribute, to embedding the discussion around media and information theory within the context of the imperial and colonial heritage of its infrastructures. I would like to participate in this research by using the insurgent narrative of this shift of power to engage in a process of investigation, through cross-examination and juxtaposition, of the varied pervasive methods that have been used on land. Look for analogies, similarities, and translations that could be happening in our more intangible (soft) networks.
WHAT DO YOU WANT TO MAKE?
🚧 No no
THE INSTITUTION OF CARE FOR CORRUPTED INFRASTRUCTURES (OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT)
The battle over the Internet infrastructure is often articulated around actual events like the Internet Roundtable for Emerging Countries in Beijing 2012, the World Conference on International Telecom in Dubai in 2012, or the NetMundial in Sao Paulo 2014. I would like to set up, through some kind of fictive simulation, the website of some institution taking part in these meetings (a fantasy of mine).
What kind of wider strategies is taking shape in the infinite quest for power? The institution’s goal is to establish a clear understanding of the relationships of dominance, through logic/systems of division and exclusion, and compare the ways in which they develop throughout different economical and cultural sectors, in order to prevent them.
This website would be an aggregation of the studies and practices of the institution for the care of corrupted infrastructure, that aims at articulating the ways in which some tactical discourses about political architectures could be translated, or applied into the digital arena, where the needs to materialize resistance against imperialism, border enforcement, capitalism, patriarchy, and/or neoliberal forces, are just as urgent.
This institution will be investigating concepts like deterritorialization - privatization - delimitation of spaces - master planning - through a multidisciplinary approach, to prove that we are constantly subordinated by powerful forces trying to imisse themselves constantly in our life through infrastructures.
Depending on how prototyping goes, I see the project being a sort of mash-up of different modules, files, text-based stories. I see this website being supported by several smaller modules that could be open and interact with. Each module would carry a part of the narrative, and the story-telling would be done through the interaction with them.
I want the person arriving on it to feel like they have to engage with it in order to make sense of it as they have just entered a world they have yet to understand (http://www.fraternityofshadows.com/wiki/The_Grand_Conjunction), depicting some kind of Kafkaesque involvement with secrecy orders and litigation: a text-based adventure through the institution’s research and documents. As you dig a bit through the, I want the feeling of having crossed some certain boundaries between what "should" be considered sharable, and what is actually shared through this page that you have just fallen upon. You realize you have access to the whole research process of this collective. This will happen through different modules.
Not particularly for the esthetic, but for the shape of being able to open files and interact with different modules, I was shown this : https://www.windows93.net/
HOW DO YOU PLAN ON MAKING IT ?
THE ASTERN OPERATOR
Recognizing the patterns is the first step to healing.
"Corruption is not one phenomenon, but many different sorts of abuse, minor and major, all aggregated together. Disaggregation between the different types of corruption is essential in order to tailor the reform measures to the specific problem. In CurbingCorruption we advocate two-levels of disaggregation: First by Sector, second by specific corruption type."
The first module is a research tool, a naked bare structure will allow for the dissection of what might be considered corruption (as in abuse of power for private gain) on the infrastructural level (meaning on a systemic level). It was built for both prevention and detection of these occurrences.
This formation of nodes, aggregations, clogs, and all sorts of linking systems will provide the research with an almost infinetely expandable analysing tool. As it fills up with new quesited projects, it will be able to propose alternative trajectory to reading, linking and archiving, a non-liner reading paths that will form the data base, for all the investigated structures.
When each quesited project is stored and analysed through the module, if the magic works, the different nodes should be easily reorganized to form a coherent thesis in three chapters (see thesis outline).
It will be accompagnied by a finding aid
that will explain how to navigate it :
(This finding aid could be a wiki like the Fraternity of shadows one I pasted higher)
MY CONTRIBUTION TO THE E-DEATH INDUSTRY
The second module would be some sort of pop-up window which would open up a chatbot. By talking to it (and eventually going through a "read me" file, you understand that this bot is building up an AI, trying to use astrology to make an immortal version of you. At this point in the narrative I’m hoping the person going through the website starts feeling perplex about the intentions of this collective.
* BE RIGHT BACK *
The rest of the story and modules is to come (see near future).
WHY DO YOU WANT TO MAKE IT ?
"Urban infrastructure is a gear of political power. Its aim is to conquer the territory of the city and hold dominion over certain city relationships. Public space is more than just a polygon delineated by coordinates, it is a factory of social realities."
- Ximena Peredo in "Infrastructure & Corruption", a photo project by Alejandro Cartajena
WHAT IS BENEATH
Infra- is what is below; beneath; after. We can understand infrastructures as not only the basic systems and services that are needed to support a company, an industry, economy, or any other system, but also as a network of technologies built to support all that constitutes the ideologies, philosophies, the true aspirations of these said "any-system", and the doctrines embeded whithin the minds of whoever is building these networks.
Lately we’ve been (un)lucky enough to see quite the explicit picture of the disfunctionning of our political infrastructures, and the course of events has been depicting what tends to look like some ugly hybrid formations coagulating someplaces inbetween economical unilaterality and increasingly martial policies. So why does it feel like there’s such a gap between the current state of democracy and even the bare minimum aspirations one might have towards a truly responsive and democraticly fair system ? (I know that "democracy" falls a bit out of nowhere here, I have intentions of clarifying it in the future)
The words we use, the streets we walk, the flats we’ve lived in and the language.s we speak shape us, and themselves are deeply rooted, embodying, and/or adapting from the forms they have taken throughout history.
Maybe that’s what’s urging me to be researching infrastrure. Something with that infra-, this places in the realms of the whithin, of the around, but never of the "as". It feels like this question can only be answered by understanding what is further, more deeply, rooted within it. By understanding corruption as not only active methods, but as a constant and perpetual abuse of entrusted power for private gain, deeply deeply rooted into our infrastructures.
WHO CAN HELP YOU AND HOW ?
Be cause the structure of the project is strongly based on the astrological system, anyone who could open up or clarify my understanding of this structure, even through casual conversation, could help me.
I would also like to engage with people who are receptive to these forms of narratives, who themselves have other stories to tell, other corruptions to account for, and want to prepare together for this shift of power.
I’ve also very profoundly been inspired by the funambulist magazine, and I believe if I managed to reach out at one point, to Leopold Lambert or anyone working on this project, I could get clearer understanding of architecture as the organization of bodies in space, and share perspectives from a more strictly architectural stand point.
David Marroto also really helped me by introducing me to the idea of "family ressemblance" in philosophical investigation, which is the concept that things that appear to be similar because of one common shared feature may appear to be that way due to many shared similar features that overlap with each other. This really helped me shape the way I understand my project as a fuzzy entanglement of similarities and correlations. I guess anyone who is interested in the use of fiction, and more particularly of fiction embeded within some sort of systems could probably help me strenghten my concept.
Of course Michael and Manetta and I believe plenty of other people can help me with the technical side of the project.
As I came in to this Master program, my major focus were Myth-Science and Science Fiction. I was singing the song of Outer Space incorporation https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S6rq_GT6RIk at least six times a day and I was reading "La Horde du Contre Vent", a (shamefully untranslated) novel by Alain Damasio. My ideas were mostly revolving around "Myth-science" that I understood as fiction works that produced alternative perspectives and models to revealing "the habits of thought of the physical, historical and social realities as yet more myth".
The central project was a story which was also the work of a collective called the "Metatown Spirit committee". Now that I look back on it, actually, I was spending most of my time trying to fabricate fake legal document (post search reports, transcrits from official conversations that never happened, a Fake Writt or Cert.)
During SP #12, Radio implicancies, I was working on the "MYTH, MYTHODOLOGY, MYTHOD", where we investigated, for 3 weeks, the different ways in which we could use fiction as a method to convey messages. The "Insecurity Hotline", for example, "the hotline where we turn insecurities into securities", was a fictive phone service that you could call all day, any day, so that together, we would "reshape a community for you to fit in." This framework allowed us to tackled subjects like memory loss, individual identity, or even the impostor syndrome, in a playful yet compasionate way.
Two other works I have done for the Radio Implicancy project were called "Democracy (60 Hz Gamma Waves for faster learning)" and "Public Damage N2992". Both of them were already a first step in trying to identify (in a playful yet critical way) the eventual points of corruption within our systems. The first one, a read out thread about how the incarceration system in the USA is corrupting Democracy, and in the second one, how the abusive french police system is being supported by an increasingly authoritative and censoring governement. (Both of them can be listened to on our station : https://issue.xpub.nl/12/ )
Some of the earlier works from last year also resonate with this project, and more particularly the work I had started during SP #11, Post digital Itch, where I embarked in the journey of "recongnizing patterns" of a dictatorship in twillight. With the rich archive I had at hand, I had started to delineate the different ways in which dictatorships form. What are the swelling points, how can we define and observe the rise and fall of a dictature, of an any other abusive form of power. This work was never published, or shared, but I will be using it to form some of my arguments throughout this project.
December: Finish the first module for the project : Technically this means that the Astrochatbot I’ve been working on (at my own little pace) for the past months needs to be up and running soon.
By Febuary: Start having some sort of structure for the website and start embeding some of the modules in it already.
Mid-febuary: as I conclude the first draft of the thesis, I will carry on working on the plateforme structure and the last modules.
April : should be just perfecting everything (hopefully)