RE: response to back online (2)/Mandinka

Johannes Birringer (
Tue, 2 Sep 97 16:01 +0100

Good to see your voice again, Scott, and thanks for your comments and responses.

Your commentary on...

< Diana's response to the issue of collaboration between
<'dancers' and 'technicians' .... and Stephan's project.......
< I wonder if anyone will be writing something in-depth as an observer about the
<project (both its on-line and off-line manifestations)?

and your questions concering the growth and expanse of the project &
participants are quite fascinating.

Your point is well taken, I believe, when you argue that such a large event on
and off line becomes a

>information management issue where I begin to slip into increasingly larger and
<more general categories. Or do I get lost in the increasingly random selection
<efforts which will be utilized by an overworked and overwhelmed team of
<artists who are actually, physically, bringing the project to fruition on 17
<September. What happens when information reaches a critical mass where
<different strategies for information management have to be deployed? What is
<the impact on the artistic project?

I think I had the same questions (implicitly) in my friendly ironic response to
the data base management algorithms utilized by Nik. It makes me wonder to what
extent a huge on/off line event such a webbedfeats also uses algrithms
(metaphorically speaking), since as I argued many time it is not possible to do
an in-depth rehearsal and choreographic/compositional process that would do
justice to individual contributions, develop them, shape them further through
interaction and shared process. The process is likely to be different, and
that's why we need to hear about it. I checked, following Diane's suggestion,
but didn't find statements by the dancers. Can you help me Diane, or could you
excerpt them and post them to us?

The issue of community, Scott, can be discussed in a number of ways, and with a
range of political ideas in mind. There is a current discussion about it in net
activist circles, and Geert Lovink, who is running "Hybrid Workspace" at
documenta X, just edited a book called "Netzkritik" (published by "nettime"
which is an online activist discussion group which calls itself a "semi-public
collaborative text filter" ----- for

I think these discussions about how alternative net communities or network
exchanges are constructed and upheld are important, and Lovink writes,

(I translate from the German)
>these mailgroups and networks have a social dimension which cannot be
<underestimated, since apart from the "group name" or identity" [of a mailgroup]
<of project there exists e definite tendency to realize shared projects and
<build "networks of trust", to support each other, to exchange, and to form
<decentralized alliances and technical coalitions (helping each other with
<technics), in order to create a context without which the meaningful building
<of content is not possible...

I saw the interfaces and meetings of many of these network activists, media
artists and producers and hackers this summer, there also was HIP ("Hacking in
Process), a meeting in Holland in August, and other teams traveling to visit the
artists at documenta, and exchange visizs and projecst planned, and physical
relionships among the people established. I met several of these folks at such
occasions, and feel I am getting a better insight into their activities, their
logistics, their priorities.

I suppose, the same is happening when some of us who are interested in
collaborating are beginning to share and collaborate and exchange.

Again, I do not know how this proces functions on the "global level" of on-line
input (webbedfeats) when such input surfaces, blip, on a local site where folks
are working hard to make a public event, and where the event structure in terms
of personnel seems decidedly old-fashioned in in the representation of hierarchy
(see "credits" to directors, composer, and so on in the website)

Finally, I have an odd observation to make on Scott's final paragraph, where he
criticizes Nik's use of the "bantaba reference" in the building of the database

<communities of information (for that is what we all here are
<essentially) .... I think we should be careful here, how we
<use the idea of community.... and I have problems with
<unreflexively borrowing a term from the Mandinka which seems to relate so
<clearly to a smaller community made up primarily of somaticized corporeal
<entities -- not abstract data frameworks.

I have no objections at all to Scott's careful examination of the "data base" in
regards to community. But to call people "somaticized corporeal entities,"
Scott, is a bit much for me. You are applying a very objectifying technical
(abstracting) language to real people whose cosmological metaphors you find
ill-applied in Nik's reference guide.

Thanks, by the way, for your kind response to my workshop process description.

with regards to all,

Johannes Birringer
AlienNation Co.