Syndicate: expect innovative poetry, multi-media artworks, interactive live performances, lively debate and sparkling wine.

Syndicate is a unique initiative bringing together writers, musicians, artists and researchers working in, and in response to, digital technologies, new media and evolving network practices. It is organised by Lila Matsumoto, Jo L Walton and Samantha Walton, in collaboration with New Media Scotland and with the support of the Edinburgh Fund’s Innovative Initiative Grant.

Syndicate #2: Reports from Real Time Strategist Jo Walton

(THESE words and images have been lifted from Jo’s blog, ).

On the 15th of April I delivered a paper-poem at Syndicate in Inspace in Edinburgh, worked up from this post in March on the Amazon / Solid Gold Bomb “Keep Calm” T-shirts affair. Here’s a bit of it.

B. 60%. 30%, Percentages include saddle, reins and so forth because for Tesco, Every Little Bit Counts.

C. There are all kinds of reasons the incident had such long dull resonance. Chief among these reasons surely is that the horse is a lovely animal. You wouldn’t eat a horse, would you?

D. Maybe among those reasons is a certain quasi-repressed awareness of the deceptive status of all food products and indeed all commodities. It’s almost relief: we knew there was something funny about that lasagne, something we knew all along . . . or them kicks, or that Kindle . . . or pancake mix . . . oh thank f . . . ‘s just horse meat! Nothing worse. But it is worse because, to put it in somewhat Marxian terms, all commodities contain human meat. 

E. Buried deep in the arcane dungeons of Volume Eleven of Das Kapital: “It is […] the ultimate money form of the world of commodities that actually conceals, instead of disclosing, the social character of private labour, and the social relations between the individual producers.”

F. Here’s Keston Sutherland on how “human labour in the abstract . . . mere congellations, semisolid, tremulous comestible mass, Gallarte, of homogeneous human labour” is gathered in commodities.” Marx’s German readers will not only have bought Gallerte, they will have eaten it; and in using the name of this particular commodity […] Marx’s intention is not simply to educate his readers but also to disgust them.” Maybe one good translation would be Spam.

G. Meanwhile, back on the virtual environment of Second Life, widos grief innocent townsfolk with Object Spam. Elsewhere Findus “horsemeat” lasagne appeared on eBay, starting at £70. The brand Find-us encloses a kind of pun, as if we can still save the horses. 

H. Part of the reason we tend to have objects in categories like “pencil” and “teacup” is economies of scale: it’s sort of cheaper to make many objects that are the same. But a flatter marginal cost, as with ubiquitous 3D printing, encourages experimental manufacture. Consider a material culture that must be lip-read, facets become poor heralds of the polygonic extension, the texture, heft, and hinginess affixed. Lip has a secondary etymology of edge, the lip of a cup or a crater. Think of objects more Lego-like, more mercurial and chimerical. Objects tied to specific locations, objects that are not robust in a similar way to how evolved computation is not robust. Think of a teacup that is slightly cheaper because only Rooibos doesn’t leak. Think of objects manufactured with glitches, or manufactured for purposes of debugging. Objects sporting easter eggs hidden by hackers or hacking algorithms. Objects with bloatware extension, physical features not intended by the proximal manufacturer, but perhaps of use or value to someone somewhere down the line. Think of hackers scouring dumps and charity shops for discarded objects in whose manufacture they have covertly intervened. Of objects infused with their own one-shot 3D printers to change shape when a condition is satisfied. E.g. an object called a “teacup until 2020, thereafter an edible pencil.” And possibly a puddle. The front of a teacup is currently a good indicator of the back a teacup not far away. In a world of Object Spam, a world of commodities behaving a little bit more like online viral ecologies, the far side objects might be a really scary place.

Think of real tangible griefer object spam. Changeist pictures crapjects, & scavengers “tossing aside misshapen busts of Mozart and two-headed Star Wars stormtroopers, pushing past a half-finished TV stand or crunching through the remains of several attempted drone-prints.” Think of objects shaped by all kinds of processes we associate with text — cut and paste, cut-up, spinning, rephrasing. Not just rephrasing objects, synonymising them, but also building them according to the kind of rainmaking, satisficing, scattershot, perhaps post-ironic expression I talked about earlier. Objects dictated not by function or design, but by experimental glissandos up spectra along which it is guessed functions and design forms may lie. In Scotland we call groceries the messages because we are brilliant. Could the object ensemble even borrow form from that domination for which objectification & reification has been such a beguiling & false face?

Bad Lip Reading (YouTube).

Techno-literary paparazzo Chris Scott’s photos of the Syndicate event.

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This entry was posted on May 15, 2013 by in Uncategorized.

Series Image: Power Out, by Georgie Lord

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