Graduation Project Proposal Draft 1 – September 2018
What do you want to make?
A platform or tool which allows for the sharing of knowledges still considered precarious or dangerous in the context of Indonesia / other emerging locales in Southeast Asia. A space for publishing information which exists in the grey area of what is allowed or accepted. Or an interaction which challenges current modes of knowledge production and encourages young people to explore the social and cultural potential of networked media. [D: what do you mean exactly by "dangerous" in the Indonesian context? Maybe useful to illustrate the forms of censorship]
How do you plan to make it?
I would like to start by researching the current media landscape in my home country of Indonesia. In particular, I want to analyse the role that new / digital media has had in the economic, cultural and political revolution of the country. How does it contrast to the way traditional media is produced and consumed? Where are the opportunities and barriers when it comes to censorship, class struggle, legal and social control? What about in terms of technology, literacy and access? Then, I would like to research how other groups / artists / publishers have tackled this issue in other countries – what kind of tactics do they use? What kinds of reactions and outcomes did they have? [d: maybe an interesting case studies: https://slate.com/technology/2018/07/blockchain-is-helping-to-circumvent-censorship-in-china.html // And these people in NL: https://disroot.org/en]
During this time I want to continue last trimester’s experiments of prototyping software that would allow for (file) sharing. For example, could I make local networks which allow for ‘safe’ dissemination of information? What modes of sociality could I embed into a publishing platform – whether that be an online magazine, a chat room or a peer-produced library?
Once I narrow down my interests I’ll start building that platform and also experimenting with how and where it would take place in the real world.
What is your timetable?
September - October: research and make an analysis of the current role of digital media in Indonesia, find where the gaps are, specify what is really needed and where I could intervene. Research existing digital tools, platforms and services which play in the same context.
October - November: Prototype / make sketches of possible outcomes. What kind of structure would it have technically? Who is the user? When and where would it be useful? What is my role – editor, facilitator, gatekeeper? What are it’s specificities? Touch base with relevant figures in Indonesia. Finish project proposal.
November - April : Develop prototypes, define scope of the project (technically and theoretically). Will it be just a platform or tool? Will it be the beginning of a series? How will I present it in the final exhibition? Complete thesis.
April - June: Finish practical project.
[d: just an idea, would you also incl the findings in the platform?]
Why do you want to make it?
As someone who wants to return to Indonesia, I am determined to participate in opening up the media landscape there. The technological revolution means there are hundreds of millions of (young) Indonesians who are now online. But because media literacy is still so low, and social critique still so narrow, there is still a serious lack of publishing practices which challenge the status quo. And with right-wing, religious extremism on the rise, freedom of speech is under massive attack in Indonesia today. That’s why I want to explore the potential that networked media has in sharing knowledge and creating democratic discourse. I think we need to find alternative ways to connect with each other and share films, books, thoughts about things we’re (apparently) not supposed to talk about: like the state of LGBT rights or the government sanctioned 1965 genocide.
Who can help you and how?
Clara Balaguer, for her experience running an alternative publishing platform in the Philippines. Amy Wu, for her knowledge on techno aesthetics and the political use of new digital media (memes, social media etc.) Other designers / artists / publishers working in Indonesia today, perhaps in the film or design industry (e.g. RuangRupa or Antirender).
Relation to previous practice
Questions explored during the OuNuPo project: What cultures do we reproduce when we write algorithms? Who is included / excluded in the process of knowledge production? Feminist methodologies?
Questions explored during the XPPL / Interfacing the Law project: How do you engage with UNSTABLE libraries? Can we design reading / searching interfaces that are able to represent uncertainty, locate outsides, explore provenances? How can we intervene during the process of ‘downloading’ and ‘uploading’ information? Where are the grey areas when it comes to accessing knowledge? The idea of the ‘knowledge comrade’!
Relation to a larger context
Tactical media, pirate libraries, and how to spread information across political and legal barriers. Media literacy, censorship and democracy. Pop culture as a medium by and for the people, in a landscape where traditional media (print and tv for example) are still in the hands of the elite. Culture jamming and plagiarism as a way to undermine existing power structures.
[d: maybe also netizen identity in the context of Indonesia if you are trying to involve other people]
Liang, Lawrence (2011). Beyond Representation: The Figure of the Pirate in Access to Knowledge in the Age of Intellectual Property.
In this essay, Liang unpacks the representation of the pirate throughout history, making connections between the philosophical, the legal and the everyday realities of how we access knowledge around the world. In tracing the cultural politics of both extralegal distribution and outlaw production, he pays special attention to the caricatures of the 'Asian pirate' and his counterpart, the 'creative innovator'. He advocates for a more situated, non-binary approach to understanding the phenomenon of media piracy and all the underlying social structures that produce it.
Joe Karaganis (ed.) (2011). Media Piracy in Emerging Economies.
This book attempts to map the social and economical structures which sustain media piracy in the developing economies of the world. Situating film, book and music piracy within the context of globalization and the digital revolution of the last two decades, and the low-income, low-enforcement media landscapes of countries such as India, contributors like Liang and Balasz explain that Asia’s copy culture has less to do with crime and illegality and more to do with the region’s stop and start processes of urbanization, modernization and access to information. The conclusion is that piracy, whether in the form of street vendors selling DVDs or P2P protocols serving files between local machines, is less of a threat to development than the continued dominance of high-priced media-markets served by IP-lobbyists and multinationals.
Cramer, Florian and Balaguer, Clara. The Moral of the Xerox.
This publication consists of notes from a conversation between Florian Cramer and Clara Balaguer, on the ethics of piracy and cultural appropriation, paying special attention to the power relations between the East and the West, the inside and the outside, the visible and the invisible. Cramer also traces the evolution of art practices such as culture jamming and plagiarism, looking at how it is used in surrealism, situationism, punk, and internet memes – all as a way to undermine Western notions of property, individuality and capitalism.
Steyerl, Hito (2012). In Defense of the Poor Image in The Wretched of the Screen.
In this essay Hito Steyerl comes to the defense of the ‘poor image’ – exploring its role in contemporary art, culture and capitalism. Through challenging the hierarchies of the image, questioning our fetish for resolution and unpacking our faith in the cult of the original version, she addresses the politics of the digital image and the social and technological forces that govern its circulation.
Miao Ying (2018). Online within limits.
This interview with Miao Ying focuses on her latest art object, Blind Spot, which is inspired by the state of censorship on the Chinese web. By searching for and cataloguing every censored word on Google.cn, Ying tries to perform and make clear the oppressive and yet almost invisible impact of government censorship in the country. In her own words, "the Chinese Internet operates in a gray area." So what is the role of the public library – and indeed the pirate – under such a restrictive political and social system?
Hito Steyerl (2006). Notes about Spamsoc.
In this article Hito Steyerl turns her analytical eye on to pirated DVD’s – those produced and sold in countries like China and India, boasting a collage of appropriated images, mis-translated captions and garbled blurbs in ‘look-a-like English’. Calling this language ‘spamsoc’, she examines its role in reflecting and stretching the politics of the image, asking: ‘Who owns pictures, words and their meaning?” One especially interesting example in this article is a jumbled copyright license Steyerl found on a DVD cover.