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The Horizontal Reading Group

 

Within the Akademie Solitude's Ecosystems of Knowledge platform, the Horizontal Reading Group warmly invites to meet online during these lockdown times to discuss a series of texts and ideas around a wide range of subjects that are of interest to its members. The goal is to share knowledge from our different perspectives, along an underlying exploration of non-hierarchical ways of existence; a safe and inclusive environment for everybody.

 

 

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Thursday 8 July 2021 (guest series)

The Horizontal Reading Group is pleased to welcome author Tiziana Terranova, the last invited guest of the lecture series. Terranova has prepared for us Network Culture: 15 Years Later a workshop and lecture that will discuss the thesis proposed in Network Culture: Politics for the Information Age (2004), one of the first books to propose that digital networks required a significant shift in modes and categories of analysis of culture, especially those which had been shaped by the paradigm of mass media and communications. Foregrounding ideas such as information, digital labor, soft control and communications' biopower, the book provided a new set of concepts to understand how culture was transformed by the digital internetworking of social life. The author discusses what seems to have changed in the very intense 15 years since the book's publication, and the kind of new analyses and concepts needed when thinking about today's technosocial mega-network.

 

Tiziana Terranova is Associate Professor of Cultural Studies and Digital Media in the Department of Human and Social Sciences at the Università degli Studi di Napoli ‘L’Orientale’, Italy . She has written and lectured extensively on the political implications of digital networks and information technologies. She is the author of Network Culture: politics for the information age (Pluto Press, 2004), and the forthcoming The Technosocial Question ( Minnesota University Press), and Mega-Network: Technology, Subjectivity and Economy after the End of the Internet ( Semiotexte). She has been part of many groups involved in the task of collectively thinking about the politics of technology, including the Italian collectives Uninomade 2.0 and Euronomade; Robin Hood Minor Asset Management; the Centre for Postcolonial and Gender Studies at L'Orientale University, Naples; and the Technoculture Research Unit (www.technoculture.it).

  

The event will be held in English. Admission is free. No prior experience or knowledge is necessary. Joining me as moderator is Mara-Johanna Kölmel â™¡, please register in advanced here 

Sunday 4 July 2021

We'll continue studying Network Culture: Politics for the Information Age by Tiziana Terranova in preparation for the last of the HRG guest speaker series on July 8th. It presents a post-marxist and materialist critique/understanding of our increasingly internetworked world, foregrounding ideas such as information, digital labor, soft control and communications' biopower.

Sunday 27 June 2021

In preparation for the last of the HRG guest speaker series, the next (2) Sundays are going to be dedicated to the study of Network Culture: Politics for the Information Age by Tiziana Terranova. ​The innovative work investigates the political dimension of the network culture in which we now live, and explores what the new forms of communication and organisation might mean for our understanding of power and politics. Book cover by Stephen Samuel Gordon.

Sunday 20 June 2021

We'll be looking into Never Again: Refusing race and salvaging the human by Paul Gilroy. In his Holberg Lecture, Paul Gilroy, winner of the Holberg Prize for 2019, advocates turning away from the defaulted racial ordering of life in pursuit of a new humanism.

Sunday 13 June 2021

We'll be looking into Hannah Arendt's short essay The Conquest of Space and the Stature of Man. The essay asks us to think on how science and technology transform the human condition.

Wednesday 2 June 2021 (guest serie)

Join us on Wednesday, June 2nd from 6PM for a tour of my virtual solo exhibition We Are All Under the Same Sky curated by Mara-Johanna Kölmel, followed at 7PM by Karen An-hwei Lee’s guest lecture and writing exercise.

 

As part of the Horizontal Reading Group, poet and author Karen An-hwei Lee will give us a short introduction to her novel The Maze of Transparencies which has an important reference frame for the solo show followed by a creative writing workshop. Joining me as moderator is Mara-Johanna Kölmel.

Sunday 30 May 2021

On Touching the Stranger Within – The Alterity that therefore I Am by Karen Barad. What does it mean to interconnect our everyday world with the seemingly counter-intuitive field of quantum science?

 

"The quantum theory of touching is radically different from the classical explanation. Actually, it is radically queer, as we will see."

Sunday 23 May 2021 

The crowdsourced text for this Sunday is 1 (life) ÷ 0 (blackness) = ∞ − ∞ or ∞ / ∞: On Matter Beyond the Equation of Value by Denise Ferreira da Silva. Ferreira da Silva’s work addresses the ethico-political challenges of the global present.

 

"With a thought experiment that I call the Equation of Value, designed to help the imagination break away from the enclosures of modern thought, this speculative exercise reaches for The Thing,4 which is the referent of blackness, or that which in it is exposed as the excess that justifies otherwise untenable racial violence."

Wednesday 12 May 2021 (guest serie)

Tatiana Bazzichelli will join us as guest author. Her research reflects on the meaning of disruption and opposition; what it means to challenge the notion of power and hegemony, with a focus on art practices, hacktivism and the business of social networking. Joining me as moderator is Mara-Johanna Kölmel.

 

With the title 'Tactics of Disruption: Between Art, Hacktivism & Whistleblowing' she will speak about a variety of methods around disruption to make people understand that it is more a mindset for cultural and political interventions rather than just a business concept. She suggest to have a look at the exhibition version of her research 'Networked Disruption', read the introduction and check some works to discuss together specific artistic practices, to inspire future concepts.

 

"[..] Is it still meaningful to consider hacktivism as a radical criticism of a system, when hackers have contributed to its creation and its strengthening? And, if capitalism and what was once called 'counterculture' share similar rhetoric and strategies, is it possible to imagine alternatives to the current state of capitalism?"

Thursday 6 May 2021 (guest serie)

The Horizontal Reading Group is pleased to welcome Mandy Harris Williams as guest speaker. She will discuss Edward Said's 'Representations of the Intellectual' in the context of the current technological era.

 

In her words: "I'm curious about the role of the intellectual in today's day and age, critical in that so many people are beginning to consider what is the materiality between hashtag and praxis. Or, more specifically, what is "doing the work" vs. representation of "doing the work?" How does social media work to shift and change our behavior such that intellectualism is more or less desirable or important?"

 

Mandy Harris Williams is a critical theorist, writer, multimedia conceptual artist, performer, Brown Up Your Feed Radio Hour Host on NTS radio, educator and internet/community academic. She has been dissecting algorithm bias on social media, and she wants users – especially Black and brown people – to reclaim their space online.

 

Joining me as moderator is Aouefa Amoussouvi â™¡

Sunday 2 May 2021

We will study an excerpt of Representations of the Intellectual by Edward Said in preparation for Mandy Harris Williams' HRG take over on May 6th. In her words, "I'm curious about the role of the intellectual in today's day and age, critical in that so many people are beginning to consider what is the materiality between hashtag and praxis. Or, more specifically, what is "doing the work" vs. representation of "doing the work?" How does social media work to shift and change our behavior such that intellectualism is more or less desirable or important?"

 

Harris Williams is a critical theorist, writer, multimedia conceptual artist, performer, Brown Up Your Feed Radio Hour Host on NTS radio, educator and internet/community academic. More information on Mandy's talk here.

Sunday 25 April 2021

We will continue The Maze of Transparencies, a novel by Karen An-hwei Lee. Speculative fiction that sheds a very interesting light into the inner life of data. It is set in a near future post-technological collapse and narrated by a cloud.
 
"Dispossessed, I was a homeless cloud. Without users to shepherd, without a server, without a flock to accommodate, I roved the data dumps of cryptoshredding..."

  

Sunday 18 April 2021

☁️ The Maze of Transparencies by Karen An-hwei Lee. A novel set in a near future, post-technological collapse, narrated by a data cloud named Penny. She describes herself as “a panoply of people’s data . . . a whisperer of dreams . . . a nebulous puff in a starry noosphere of human consciousness.”; an insight into the inner life of data.
 
"Once upon a cloud, I accommodated Yang as a user. We've parted ways, in a manner of speaking. Or rather, I never left Yang, who can't log in."

Sunday 11 April 2021

Blessed is the Flame: An introduction to concentration camp resistance and anarcho-nihilism by Serafinski. What does it take to resist in absolutely futile and overwhelming situations?

 

"The underly­ing point is that the progress of society has nothing to offer us and everything to take away. Often it feels like we are giving it away without a fight: when we sell our time for money, allow our passions to be commodified, invest ourselves in the betterment of society, or sustain ourselves on the spoils of ecological destruction, we openly (though not consensually) participate in our own destruction. [...] This has been theorized in a thousand ways, described in environmental, social, and political terms, it has been prophesied, abstracted, and narrated in real time, and still we are unsure of what to do with it."

Sunday 4 April 2021

Undrowned: Black Feminist Lessons from Marine Mammals by Alexis Pauline Gumbs. This book has a very interesting mix of fact-fiction poetic sensibility and naturalist observation for social movements and our whole species based on the subversive and transformative guidance of marine mammals. Refusing capitalism and rethinking relation, it offers some points of practice for looking at the world through a post-colonial lens.

 

"[...]Once upon a time there was a giant sea mammal, who weighted up to twenty-three tons, swimming in the Bering Sea. In 1741, a German naturalist 'discovered' Hydrodamalis gigas swimming large and luxe, at least three times bigger than the contemporary manatee. Within twenty-seven years, the entire species was extinct, killed on thousands of European voyages for fur and sealskin. So she knows what we know. It is dangerous to be discovered.
 
Twenty-seven years. Who else could only tolerate twenty-seven years among western humans? Jimi Hendrix, Jean-MIchel Basquiat, even Amy Winehouse, and Kurt Cobain. Twenty-seven years is such a short time..."

Sunday 28 March 2021

We'll be looking at Capital Is Dead. Is This Something Worse? by McKenzie Wark. Exploring some of our contemporary conditions, contemporary labour, capital; existence in our new information economy.

 

"Which punk rock goddess are you? I'm Kim Gordon. Or I was. Not happy with that answer, I took the online quiz a few more times, until I got Patti Smith. I don't know what company made that quiz, but I agreed to give them access to a whole bunch of information in exchange for the privilege of playing it, in order to learn what I already know, that I'm more of a Patti Smith type than a Kim Gordon type.

The quiz held my attention for long enough to escape boredom, and it gave me something to post on social media, presumably to snag other people's attention. Some people get rather freaked out about algorithms that seem to know so much about us, although I always thought of privacy as a bourgeois concept. What is dystopian here may be less the sharing of information than the asymmetry of the sharing.

If you are getting your media for free, this usually means that you are the product. If the information is not being sold to you, then it is you who are being sold."

Sunday 14 March 2021

We'll be looking at Entreprecariat: Everyone Is an Entrepreneur. No Body is Safe. by Silvio Lorusso. Irony and sarcasm are weaponized in order to shift our collective understanding of work ethic, labor, leisure, production, competition; self-entrepreneurship, the miseries of precarity and the aesthetics of productive anxiety.

Sunday 7 March 2021

We'll be looking at the intro of Networked Disruption: Rethinking Oppositions in Art, Hacktivism and Business by Tatiana Bazzichelli. This book reflects on the meaning of disruption; what it means to challenge the notion of power and hegemony, with a focus on art practices, hacktivism and the business of social networking.


“The opposition to a communications monopoly and capitalist mindset expressed by many members of the underground digital culture over the past years has reached a state of paradox whereby those involved in opposition are also those being opposed. Such 'coincidentia oppositorum' (or unity of oppositions) also mirrors the crisis of encompassing political ideologies and confrontational activist strategies in Western countries. Since, as the Greek philosopher Heraclitus stated, 'the road up and the road down are the same thing' (Hippolytus, Refutations 9.10.3), this begs the question as to whether the dualistic conflict between capitalism and anti-capitalism should be considered a path to provoke social change.

[..] Is it still meaningful to consider hacktivism as a radical criticism of a system, when hackers have contributed to its creation and its strengthening? And, if capitalism and what was once called 'counterculture' share similar rhetoric and strategies, is it possible to imagine alternatives to the current state of capitalism?"

Sunday 28 February 2021

After reading some parts of the article Cyber-Pirammmida: Exposing Fake Horizontals and Perverting Power Verticals, we'll just a have kiki-online-gathering talking about our thoughts on horizontality, how we would like to live it, our experience within the group... or wtvr we feel like 

"The pyramidality of socio-political structures is embedded in our collective human imaginaries, materialities, and passions; it has survived a multiplicity of plagues, wars, natural disasters, and other calamities over the centuries. The current COVID-19 outbreak is no exception. The plague is not a leveler."

Sunday 21 February 2021

We'll be looking at the article Against the Supremacy of Thought by Manuel Arturo Abreu. We'll pause quantum specifics and get some insights on supremacist ideology and how has this been interrogated through art. Abreu discusses modernism, violence, reparations, Blackness, and Black art in the context of contemporary art. 


“By means of 'lack of reason'—with religion, language, appearance, and other aspects serving as a litmus—the animalization of Black and brown people has been a critical tool of domination, invented to justify the white conquest, genocide, slavery, and other violence that engendered the contemporary.

What does it mean, then, that art today prizes thinking and the aesthetics of thought such as criticality, divestment from the sensory, and a demeanor of philosophical objectivity? The white West used these very criteria to dehumanize the global south and facilitate Euro expansion; in a specifically aesthetic context, modernism itself was premised on the spoils of imperial conquest...”

Sunday 14 February 2021

We'll be looking at an excerpt of Black Quantum Futurism by Rasheedah Phillips. Then again, exploring what does it mean to interconnect our everyday world with the seemingly counter-intuitive field of quantum science. And how have these entanglements been interrogated through art.

 

“Why BQF over the present state of reality? Because a linear mode of time, which dominates time consciousness in Western society does not allow access to information about the future and only limited information about the past. The ways in which we are situated in time comes to be reflected in how we think about, talk about, and conceptualize the community, world, and universe around us. In a linear conception of time, which is built into our language, behavior, and thought, the past is fixed and the future is inaccessible until it passes through the present. The present moment is fleeting, but ever-present. Time's asymmetrical, uni-directional quality, however, is not an inherent or apriori feature of nature. It only appears this way because we have learned to order and make sense of the world this way.”

Sunday 7 February 2021

Our first reading is Zeros + Ones by Sadie Plant. We are going to explore what does it mean to interconnect our everyday world with the seemingly counter-intuitive field of quantum science? And how have these entanglements been interrogated through art?

 

“Those were the days, when we were all at sea. It seems like yesterday to me. Species, sex, race, class: in those days none of this meant anything at all. No parents, no children, just ourselves, strings of inseparable sisters, warm and wet, indistinguishable one from the other, gloriously indiscriminate, promiscuous and fused. No generations. No future, no past. An endless geographic plane of micromeshing pulsing quanta, limitless webs of interacting blendings, leakings, mergings, weaving through ourselves, running rings round each other, heedless, needless, aimless, careless, thoughtless, amok.”

 

The entanglement proposed by Sadie Plant will serve as the connecting thread to review upcoming texts related to quantum phenomena and the pyramidality embedded in our socio-political structures, our collective human imaginaries, materialities, and passions.

 

Find here some guidelines for respectful (horizontal) engagement.

 Gabriella Torres Ferrer