Weeknotes 19

Connecting Cities Urban Media Lab
Having just written up my notes from the talk I gave at IMAL's Connecting Cities Urban Media Lab, the video is now published in which I joyfully bumble my way through 45 minutes of categorised extracts from the Designed Conflict Territories tumblr and try to think to myself about why anyone might care and why it might be important.

School of Tomorrow, Venice Biennale
Next week I'm leading a summer school for RCA Design Interactions students (and recent grads) at the Venice Biennale's Swiss pavilion as part of their program 'School of Tomorrow' a series of design-schools-in-residence happening throughout the period of the Biennale. There's some info on the brief I wrote for it here.

UrbanIxD Stuff
The guys at UrbanIxD just hosted an exhibition in Split, Croatia as a run up to their show for the Venice symposium which I'll be attending at the end of September. There's some photos here which look pretty cool. They had James Auger over to deliver one of his guest lectures and exhibited Blackspot from the Monopoly of Legitimate Use as well of a couple of films from the students at the summer school I taught on last year.

The Venice Symposium - City Data Future - is on from the 24th September in Venice and there's a symposium on the 25th which I'll also be attending.

In addition to this I was also part of an online conversation about UrbanIxD, what it is, what it could be etc, with Han Pham and Manu Fernandez which is online here. To round it off, we conducted a live twitter chat for an hour last Friday as well which has been storified here.

Web Directions South 2014 Keynote
This year I'll be giving a keynote at Web Directions South in Sydney. The conference is 30th-31st October and I'm hoping to come up with some brand new and mega fresh stuff to talk about particularly following some of the plans I have for the summer to start messing around with mesh networks and so on.

Bracket: Takes Action
I'll also be producing a paper for Bracket's latest issue on politicisation and space. Here's the text from the submission:
Exit Spaces: From Koreshan Cults to Wireless Mesh Networks By Tobias Revell
This paper examines the modern potential for exit spaces, places of exile and protest, disengagement from the mainstream and agonistic practice, with reference to historical precedents. Taking Albert O. Hirschman’s concept of Exit, Voice and Loyalty as responses to political upheaval, the paper examines a history of the securitisation or ‘flat-packing’ of protest through legal restraint, the militarisation of the police and political manoeuvring.
Three case studies are used as examples of alternative modern responses to the desire to create exit spaces outside of the standard political hegemony. Firstly, the rise in neo-Randian libertarianism among the Silicon Valley elite, in which increases in private funding for space programs, earnest seasteading startups and rhetorical conflicts with government and legal bodies show a distinct desire amongst the ‘custodians’ of modern technology to flee or exist outside of the restraints of government. In this example, the ideas of Mars colonies and artificial islands as tax havens are representative of a real and pressing drive to break the state’s regulatory bonds over business. Secondly, the Silk Road provides an example of extra-statecraft operating from within the network, where, through the use of anonymising technology, a narcotics marketplace actively traded, utilising state infrastructure such as postal services and public wi-fi in the sale and distribution of illegal drugs. The third case presents the rise of mesh networks in Athens as a response to government shutdowns following public protests against austerity and its role as activist network infrastructure. The popularity of these ad-hoc networks has since been further accelerated by the Snowden revelations of NSA surveillance. Though mesh networks are relatively slow and inefficient, they represent the construction of a new class of territories, wherein the relinquishing of state-backed infrastructures of pipes, routers and wires promises a space of free discourse and political empowerment.
We face a new age of political upheaval, chronically lacking in space for polities to act without corporate power or illegal subversion. Chantal Mouffe highlights that we lack agonistic spaces for real political conflict that enable us to feel that our Voice (in Hirschman terms) is valuable or caries power, while David Graeber speculates that political apathy is born of an 'apparatus of hopelessness.' These Exit Spaces present examples of how new apparatuses might lead to new kinds of political action might be built in an adversarial role.
I'd better get on with it. x