Politics as networked performance; Trump, LeBoeuf, pepe and the election

I wrote an article for upcoming magazine Attenzione on Shia LeBoeuf’s artwork ‘He Will Not Divide Us’ and the subsequent street and stream battles that took place.

Excerpts below, full article released on publication.

Utilising the structure of an always-on webcam, the invitation of narcissistic self-exposure, exquisite timing and Hollywood star power, Le Beouf activated adoration and admonishment. The HWNDU platform brought fans and trolls from their bedrooms, dorm rooms and basements to physically, symbolically and verbally enrage each other on the streets of New York. Capitalising on discontent once left to stew behind a keyboard, Le Beouf’s art work succeeded in creating a networked political reality show with its own cast of performers, repeat visitors and individuals drawn to troll the setup in-person. Footage streamed online was subsequently cut into fragments by users, providing the project with its own sustaining viral spread over networks. On Youtube and message boards mythologies began to circulate telling of the performative interventions of characters. These repeat visitors were tagged with nicknames by the online watchers; ‘Jackie 4Chan’, ‘AIDS Bjorn’, ‘Based Pole’. Mixing between them were more well-known YouTube and Twitch figures including Brittany Venti and Sam Hyde.

After Le Beouf was arrested for assault at the Queens location the Museum for the Moving Image shut down the project citing a ‘violent and unsafe environment’. The project moved to Alberquerque New Mexico until drive-by shootings led it to being relocated once more. The next iteration of the HWNDU stream initiated a proxy game of ‘Capture the Flag’ or Massively Multiplayer Realtime Trolling. The same Helvetica font with He Will Not Divide Us was applied to a white flag and run up a flag pole with no other geographic or contextual information provided. A white flag with black text framed by a blue sky. Within minutes of establishing a live connection from this new location the self-proclaimed ‘weaponised Autism’ of message board users on 4Chan.org was deployed. Such highly-networked and coordinated intelligence resulted in flight paths being triangulated, geographic analysis shared of regional frog croaking sounds and astronomical star tracking all used to pinpoint the new location of the flag. A video game physicalised into the world, with many points of online cultural cred to be unlocked per each imagined tear of Shia.

Art and Politics in the Age of Cognitive Capitalism

In late May 2018 I will be attending the Saas-Fee Summer Institute of Art at Otis College of Art and Design, Los Angeles.

http://saasfeesummerinstituteofart.com

Saas-Fee Summer Institute of Art (SFSIA) is a nomadic, intensive summer academy with shifting programs in contemporary critical theory academy that originated in Saas Fee, Switzerland in 2015 and moved to Berlin in 2016. SFSIA stresses an interdisciplinary approach to understanding the relationship between art and politics. This year, in addition to the Berlin academy, we are hosted in Los Angeles by Otis College of Art and Design with participation of the MA Aesthetics and Politics in the School of Critical Studies at CalArts.

The academy was founded by fine artist and theorist Warren Neidich, is co-directed by art critic and poet Barry Schwabsky. Sarah Beadle is Director of Administration. It was conceived in 2014 as part of an ongoing effort to engage contemporary artists in political, socio-economic, philosophical and historical discourses concerning the power of art. Importantly it realizes that art plays both a generative and emancipatory role in producing theory while at the same time being aware of Neoliberal capitalism’s recuperative prowess.

The program runs two weeks and is structured with half-day seminars, deep readings, and workshops. In the evening SFSIA holds a lecture series, which is open to the public.

Faculty
Alva Noë, Andrew Culp, Arne De Boever, Barry Schwabsky, Candice Lin, Ed Finn, Eleanor Kaufman, Florencia Portocarrero, Graham Harman, Jason Smith, Jennifer Teets, Johanna Drucker, John C. Welchman, Juli Carson, Kenneth Reinhard, Mary Kelly, N. Katherine Hayles, Nima Bassiri, Renee Petropoulos, Reza Negarestani, Sanford Kwinter, Suparna Choudhury, Warren Neidich.