The Snark Dance

collaborative choreographies of collective memory

sharing is caring May 10, 2008

Filed under: hotdogs,Networkin',processing,transportation,treasure hunting — danceswithsnarks @ 12:41 pm

courtesy of Passionate at

Image courtesy of Passionate


Social networking has changed the way people are talking about the economy and intellectual property. The FLOSS movement has really opened my eyes to issues that collaboratve development faces especially with regard to intellectual property. I find ownership patterns very interesting and my inner hippy is constantly questioning my own boundaries of possession. One interesting movement that is questioning the nasty seas of cultural property is creative commons. I wrote them about a month ago about starting a creative commons group at Goldsmiths, but I still haven’t heard from them. Oh well, there is still a non-university oriented, creative commons group in London that have some events coming up in July. Their work is really fascinating and just what the doctor ordered for getting people to become more active in the shaping of public policy and cultural movement.

Below is a pretty comprehensive talk from an authors@google event by the founder of creative commons, Lawrence Lessig:

In thinking about making development go public (which is what this blog is experimenting with) I must admit that I second thoughts. I definitely have little voices in me that think that I should be more skeptical about openly sharing my ideas. However, being the socially bounded creature that I am, I am not entirely convinced to what extent these ideas should belong to me. I also think that these questions are at the core of what could shake the way we think about economy and the thought economy. Anyways, I went ahead with the blog because I would like to think that sharing ideas can only lead to better ideas and I should hope that I will keep from running out of them as sharing ideas leads to new ones.

I think some people get nervous when it comes to open source culture and online networking because it somehow threatens intimacy and privacy. In a discussion with the founders of The School of Everything, a site that is a platform for knowledge exchange, or open source education, we thought about when the internet takes the networking thing a little too far. One man brought up a networking site he was invited to where participants were asked to evaluate changes in their friends. This is exactly the sort of creation that points out how online networking can misunderstand the ins and outs of the social it wishes to connect. Then again what new sorts of societies are being created by networking platforms? What are their limitations? A secondlife informant explained to me that Secondlife could be terribly isolating unless you were a creative. Hmmm I will look into this…will keep you posted!!

Discussion/ Future projects:

I think that Open source culture has really put possession and autonomy in the spotlight. Is there such a thing as being too social? Where does collaboration fail? Also what is so important about personal space? How can we experiment respectfully with the boundaries of personal space.

Also I have been doing projects experimenting with the open source poetic by making open source poetry. This way poetry can be seen as software. Also I have been collecting texts from places such as the British museum and reconfiguring them into poems. I want to make a workshop in a library where we can retrieve passages at random and remix them into new stories. I know there has been sftware created to extract random things from the net including software which makes poetry. However I think these programs are rarely succesful. One really good one however is flowerewolf which must be run on nodebox.

Also keeping up with the ritual theme, what about open source ritual making. Thinking about it Present Attempt is sort of like an open source theatre company. Open source film making?

Oh and I guess I should also note that this year I am creating the Black Rock City Fitness Center in the gift economy based Burning Man festival. The burning man festival is about creating a week long experience in sharing and gift giving. Its in the middle of the dessert so sustainability of this way of life is a bit of a joke. Anyways, we are going to be giving free workshops and gateau-aerobics sessions (free chocolate cake weight lifting) complete with a deep fryer. Please comment if you want to take a trip to Nevada this august!

I made love to google images to make this.

I hope I don’t need citations for the cupcake and the fried chicken sandwich??


Just thought I would throw this in… May 8, 2008

Filed under: enchantment and technology,hotdogs,processing,the gaze — danceswithsnarks @ 2:54 pm


Messy Reflections: snarks, dialectics, surrealism and mirrors May 7, 2008

Here I would like to speak about the difficulty Caroline and I encountered in reflecting upon the snark hunt and how we wanted to take our psychogeography further.

We found the absurd, circular-like logic of the snark dance as something useful. We loved absurdity in so far as it made thoughts move in messy directions so that ends could not meet. Even still there is something in this movement I find very meaningful. I think this makes a mess of dialectics and I am pretty sure this is what the surrealists had in mind in their use of strange juxtaposition as a creation of new spaces for thought to roam freely from the fascism of linear logics. The cycle of absurdity is very interesting especially when we look to how this can apply it to the space between polarities (which might be understood as the gaze) in relation to recursion or the application of the absurd to reflection and the infamous gaze.

A side project I had been working on was a documentary or ethnography of a pie and mash shop in East London. A major challenge to this project were the many mirrors within the setting that kept revealing the camera in our footage. This made me very aware of my own Western gaze towards East London. Seeing myself behind the camera and in front of the camera made a maze of my thoughts in determining where I could situate myself in a responsible representation of this project. I reconciled the situation by juxtaposing the mechanics of my cinematic project to the mechanics that were in the shop. The winding sound of the machines used to make pies echoed the sound of a film projector. Using the allegory of mechanical production was actually a very interesting technology with which to confront the gaze. I think that allegory is a useful device in which to make some sense or meaningful experience within the labyrinth created by complicated modes of reflection.

In thinking about the history of cinema in relation to the history of anthropology and this thing called colonialism I began to think about the surrealists. One thing Caroline and I loved about avant-garde cinema was its creative use of the mechanics of documentation in order to produce surreal content. One major critique of surrealism is the feminist critique as the surrealist movement has a very sexist undertone. For example the ubiquitous objectification and disfigurement of the female body in surrealist painting (think Dali). The surrealist manifesto was not signed by a single woman and female contribution to the surrealist project is severely marginalized. Leonora Carrington (a contemporary of Breton) has produced writing and paintings that blow many surrealists out of the water! But I bet even some of the biggest fans of surrealism have never even heard of her.

Magritte (1929): Je ne vois pas la (femme) cachee dans le foret meaning I do not see the woman hidden in the forest. A great example of the surrealist objectification of the female, it depicts prominent figures in the surrealist movement. This image was found in a fantastic article on the blog: Letters from a Librarian.

Now I would like to argue that the objectification of the woman in the surrealist project stems from the movement’s relationship to the history of cinema. The camera is the technology of objectification as its very mechanics are the gaze hatis higly gendered. The cinema allows for the audience to see as flaneur not flaneuse (the prostitute).

Now I do not want to go into this much further. But why the gaze whether it be gendered or colonialist is important to this blog is that it presents something for the interactive project to think about. The gaze should be complicated in interactive based projects and media. The potential for reflexivity in these projects could compromise the simplicity of the gaze and therefore the process of objectification. If the gaze is reflected upon itself it was in my recent experience then what is then objectified?? Does this not echo the complexities of the digital postcolonial age. Do internet networks do the work of multiple reflections opening up passages for the gaze to be distorted?

Using the mirror or echo allegory has really helped me in my filmmaking but I also hope for it to challenge my research for the creation of interactive activities. I think part of role playing is our individual rituals of gazing… Who are we allowed to gaze at and in which context?

Returning to the snark… how does an empty signifyer affect this discussion? What happens when a hunt is for an object that does not exist? This is something that caroline and I did not take into enough consideration before hand. I think in order for this to work we would have to really implement our theatrical skills. Maybe our acting abilities just arent up to par for such a task. However until then, I think something to take a away from this experience is this rethinking of the dialectics that I believe the surrealists were aware of in their praise of the absurd. Through the absurd I think we are able to fill inthe gaps of strange juxtaposition in order to form a new space for synthesis. I am not saying that the surrealists advocated the unraveling of absolute spirit. However, I think there is something to be said for this process.

Also the Surrealists were able to create a playful atmosphere for our thoughts to roam. This is something I really love about the genre. So what I ultimately would like to do is to take surrealist technique and exorcise the gaze. I think this has to come from reflexivity from all sides.. the technology of recursion could underline the labyrinth of our being inorder for us to escape modes of othering. Now if this soundslike a complicated mess, I think it is supposed to be, but maybe such a mess can be magical.


I think that putting absurd cycles into movement would be great. Maybe tryingto walk in a perfect circle around the city. Or playing with the circle line. Implementing different typesof cycles in these walks…The moon cycle, the day cycle, a bicycle?

circulation as allegory: This again approaches my interest in documentation. Circulation of products, the body, etc. Reproductive cycles and the digital age.

Using mirrors in order to create interesting film projections or installation.. This is something I have been thinking about using besides editing for film experimentation.

recurssion in programming and networking…messy feedback loops to reflect the messy dialectics

the technique of absurd juxtaposition in networking