Issue #37
With: Julieta Aranda, Brian Kuan Wood, Anton Vidokle, Lawrence Liang, Metahaven, Amelia Groom, Nato Thompson, and Claire Tancons
It is hard to avoid the feeling these days that the future is behind us. It’s not so much that time has stopped, but rather that the sense of promise and purpose that once drove historical progress has become impossible to sustain. On the one hand, the faith in modernist, nationalist, or universalist utopias continues to retreat, while on the other, a more immediate crisis of faith has accompanied the widespread sense of diminishing economic prospects felt in so many places. Not to mention…
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7 Essays September 2012
Shadow Libraries
Lawrence Liang
Over the last few monsoons I lived with the dread that the rain would eventually find its ways through my leaky terrace roof and destroy my books. Last August my fears came true when I woke up in the middle of the night to see my room flooded and water leaking from the roof and through the walls. Much of the night was spent rescuing the books and shifting them to a dry room. While timing and speed were essential to the task at hand they were also the key hazards navigating a slippery floor…
We are the voluntary prisoners of the cloud; we are being watched over by governments we did not elect. Wael Ghonim, Google’s Egyptian executive, said: “If you want to liberate a society just give them the internet.” 1 But how does one liberate a society that already has the internet? In a society permanently connected through pervasive broadband networks, the shared internet is, bit by bit and piece by piece, overshadowed by the “cloud.” The Coming of the Cloud The cloud,…
There was once a typist from Texas named Bette Nesmith Graham, who wasn’t very good at her job. In 1951 she started erasing her typing mistakes with a white tempera paint solution she mixed in her kitchen blender. She called her invention Mistake Out and began distributing small green bottles of it to her coworkers. In 1956 she founded the delectably named Mistake Out Company. Shortly after, she was apparently fired from her typist job because she made a “mistake” that she failed to cover…
In 1963 NASA launched the first communications satellite, Syncom 2, into a geosynchronous orbit over the Atlantic Ocean. Since then, humans have slowly and methodically added to this space-based communications infrastructure. Currently, more than 800 spacecraft in geosynchronous orbit form a man-made ring of satellites around Earth at an altitude of 36,000 kilometers. Most of these spacecraft powered down long ago, yet continue to float aimlessly around the planet. Geostationary satellites…
Once again, the press has dismissed a popular movement as carnival—this time not Occupy Wall Street, but the anti-Putin protests. On March 1, 2012, in a Financial Times article titled “Carnival spirit is not enough to change Russia,” Konstantin von Eggert wrote, “One cannot sustain [the movement] on carnival spirit alone.” 1 A little over a week later, Reuters sought to close the debate with an article by Alissa de Carbonnel, in which she announced, “The carnival is over for Russia’s…
Breaking the Contract
Anton Vidokle and Brian Kuan Wood
1. The Contract The Duchampian revolution leads not to the liberation of the artist from work, but to his or her proletarization via alienated construction and transportation work. In fact, contemporary art institutions no longer need an artist as a traditional producer. Rather, today the artist is more often hired for a certain period of time as a worker to realize this or that institutional project. — Boris Groys 1 When his readymades entered the space of art, Duchamp…

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