There’s already a sense, for us, that the Occupy survey which follows is out of place, belated. We asked for submissions before Thanksgiving of last year, circa the Zuccotti Park eviction. But we knew we’d come late to things, or others would arrive on the dot; so we asked writers, artists, musicians, for materials from the past that might be material for the future. This winter, consensus: Now’s the time to get real (practical, pragmatic). But we’d like to think reality, or possibility, is more capacious than that, can admit more than an American election cycle. “Don’t let other countries win the race for the future.” We’d prefer not to. We’d stay right here. Do we contradict ourselves? Very well. Whitman’s multitudes, Melville’s intransigent, contra immiseration and crisis. We have our resources and we will have theirs.
American radicals today want nothing to do with the 1960s. In the many meetings I’ve attended at Occupy Wall Street and the many left-wing articles I’ve read about it, the ’60s haven’t been invoked once—not as a source of ideas, tactics, or organizational forms. Like most other Americans, radicals want to leave the ’60s behind. It’s important to remember, however, that the ’60s have been subjected to four decades of reactionary revisionism. An amazingly fecund era has been reduced to a string of harmless clichés: free love, bell bottoms, rock ’n’ roll, etc. There is no better time than now to penetrate the platitudes that surround the ’60s in order to excavate what can be useful to our present struggle.
Abbie Hoffman’s Steal This Book is just such a useful artifact. After forty years, its advice remains exceedingly relevant, especially to embattled occupiers: “If a pig grabs you by the wrist, you can break the grip by twisting against his thumb,” “Ski goggles or the face visor on a crash helmet will protect against Mace but will offer no protection against the chemical warfare gasses being increasingly used by pigs to disperse crowds. For this protection you’ll need a gas mask.” But even more instructive than Hoffman’s advice is his sensibility. Steal This Book is the opposite of dull, mirthless leftism. It’s downright exuberant. While Hoffman is dead serious about destroying “corporate feudalism,” he’s also dead serious about having fun doing it. Crucially, this fun is not merely a way to lighten the dull business of building a social movement (although it is that). It also embodies a specific form of life that the “Pig Empire” seeks ruthlessly to repress, one where desire is the driving force of politics. Steal This Book is useful for learning how to puncture police tires and make stink bombs, but even more for learning how to heed our political desires.
1. The basic unit of reality is not a thing but a relation
1a. A work is a form of relating
1b. Essence is relation
2. Change > contradiction
3. The first division of labor is sex
4. Law = tendency
5. Value is transfigured nature
6. Echo reconciles
… that it may not be
too late for those who want to win, but not with
of the old, desperate weapons …
That one must sacrifice coherence
to the incoherence of life, attempt a creator
dialogue, even if that goes against our conscience.
—Pier Paolo Pasolini, “Victory,” 1964
Heads bowed fists in the air a collective gasp. A defiant and symbolic protest. In solidarity and in silence. In the future all revolution is silent.
The artist poses more questions than he answers.… For we notice, too often, alas, that people answer with assurance and self-satisfaction, without even knowing the questions, much less thinking about them.… Nobody can understand his neighbor, or a group or a class, of a country, or humanity, if he does not know their particular questions.
—Ernst Toller, Man and the Masses:
The Problem of Peace, 1923
What connects me to this photograph is not a scholarly reflection or a sovereign and distanced observation but what Roland Barthes called a punctum, which “rises from the scene, shoots out of it like an arrow, and pierces me.” The phrase global uprising escaped many a mouth in the past twelve months. It is difficult to pinpoint exactly the last time people of otherwise lukewarm, muted political temperament spoke so plainly and widely this way. Rebellion—if one dares evoke revolution—often carries a hue of embarrassment in the polite global North, not least of all in the one industrialized country on earth where capitulation to powerful and inbred ruling elites has been par for the course. In a communiqué about this image, Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos wrote, “Do these pictures lie when they show the look in those Zapatista women’s eyes? Do you see submissiveness or shyness in those looks? The government says they’re not persecuting Zapatistas, that their army is helping the population. Do you see gratitude in those eyes?” What traces this image (taken during arguably the first major alter-globalization uprising) to the present and, one hopes, the present-future, is the loss of submissiveness, shyness, and gratitude.
January 1969: The inauguration of Richard Nixon, a tightwad and a crook. This Life magazine cover from the same month seems prescient. The Washington Monument—ominous, rising as a black monolith, its red eyes beaming—is the panopticon personified as the Terminator.
“Rhetoric Meets Reality.” A time to think back to the rhetoric of the 2009 inauguration. Barack Obama spoke of optimism. He told us that the direction of regressive conservatism and imperial gestures would be best fixed from the inside out, through a new sense of unity and purposefulness. Three years later, this optimism has all but burned away.
Today, two camps. The first, a Frankenstein’s monster of corporate interests, sucks the life from a Congress already reduced to a cancerlike growth on the process of governance. The second is more amorphous, less defined by past ideologies. It aims to bleed the established order of things, slowly, one pinprick at a time. The Tea Party and OWS: Two poles of activism against a government buttressed by the hydra-headed corporate behemoth. How far we’ve come since that day in January 2009! The ’60s don’t feel like they said they would.
Since Jay Cooke had closed his Philadelphia bank in 1873, the country had fallen into a depression, and those whose diminished wages were inadequate to feed and clothe a family and those who had no work suffered, simmered, and occasionally struck. They regarded the big capitalists with bitterness, and none were more visible or more hated than the heads of the largest corporations of the day, the railroads.
In July 1877 railroad after railroad cut wages that were already savagely low, and the anger boiled over. The Great Strike broke out spontaneously across the country, in Baltimore, St. Louis, Louisville, Pittsburgh, Scranton, Reading, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Toledo, Buffalo, Albany, Binghamton, Terre Haute, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Chicago, Manhattan.… It began at the railroad town of Martinsburg, West Virginia, when the militia shot a railroad striker on July 17. In response, workers shut down the rail traffic until 600 freight trains were idled there. Women, children, the unemployed, all sorts of citizens, poured into the streets to join the railroad workers in Martinsburg, as in so many other towns.
Even in towns where there was no strike, citizens gathered in groups on the corners and in front of the newspapers and telegraph offices to talk and listen, and ordinary life came to a halt. The strike was about the pervasive power of the railroads and the pervasive hatred of them, and it was spread by the wire-service news that made it possible to read daily accounts of what was going on across the country and to act in concert with those far away. Half a century earlier such widespread coordination would have been inconceivable. Nothing quite like it had ever happened before in the United States, and nothing quite like it has since.
—Rebecca Solnit, River of Shadows, 2003
Some of the biggest men in the United States, in the field of commerce and manufacture, are afraid of something. They know that there is a power somewhere so organized, so subtle, so watchful, so interlocked, so complete, so pervasive, that they had better not speak above their breath when they speak in condemnation of it.
—Woodrow Wilson, The New Freedom, 1913
real planets. Giant
I feel anatomically
everywhere. I’m here
to save you people.
This is the new
existence. The future
all over my face.
(A sound is heard that seems to come from the sky, like a breaking harp-string, dying away mournfully. All is still again, and there is heard nothing but the strokes of the axe far away in the orchard.)
—Anton Chekhov, The Cherry Orchard, 1904
FINAL ATTEMPT: If, by this evening, there is no affordable housing, we will jump.
This is the message of Helke Sander’s first installment of her reconstruction series From the Reports of Security Guards and Patrol Services. Uncompromising, though far from absurd, Nr. 1 is the logical conclusion to a desperate situation. Nr. 1 demonstrates both the aggressive refusal to be taken hostage by society and the implicit belief that that very society will indeed care. This is not about failure, but about how we can recuperate ourselves through radical acts of hope.
If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical; but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.
Frederick Douglass, “West India
Emancipation” speech, 1857
Possibility is not reality: but it is in itself a reality.… Possibility means “freedom.”… That the objective possibilities exist for people not to die of hunger and that people do die of hunger, has its importance, or so one would have thought.
—Antonio Gramsci, Selections from
the Prison Notebooks, 1929–35
—A sign-off between activists has long, beautifully, been “Solidarity.“
—The drive to slang shorthand is a delight.
—When they come we must be immovable.
—And make our possibilities into actualities.
So to occupiers everywhere—
For years I’ve pondered the conclusion of Albrecht Durer’s collection of images, titled The Triumph of Maximillian. These pictures were commissioned I think, by the Emperor Maximillian in the 1520s and executed possibly by Durer himself, possibly by his school. This work which I have admired all my life, was published some years ago in a cheap reprint by Dover Books, it has been out of print for some time but was a boon to the public, to people like myself. The part of it that attracts me is where the procession that forms the subject of this great work trails off or thins out from a great imperial progress to finally, a straggling group of scouts. Irregulars who are not under any visible military discipline but are simply foraging their way through the country. Somehow these final images rooted themselves very deeply in my mind, I have dreamt of creating a work that would trail off in the same way as The Triumph of Maximillian, from something grandiose and processional into something that had lost its original character and became unrecognizable as a group that was under a special kind of discipline or formative patterning. Of course the patterning in the Durer work is very strong and very beautiful but the ending no longer has anything to do with an imperial triumph, or with the values, I suppose, of organized culture and civilization. I should add to this that these scouts do not in any way resemble Quantrell’s Rangers or other similar raiders. A very notable aspect of their appearance is that they are not threatening; they do not look like a group of dangerous evil fellows, to the contrary they look almost as if they might be harbingers of a future golden age or utopian state. They certainly do not look like cutthroats or bandits but perhaps pioneers of a new and different world. However this point is left ambiguous, happily so, the whole scene is enveloped in mystery that I find magical when I consider this work and the way it trails off into a kind of organic shapelessness.
—David Rattray, “Feb. 17, 1993”
The industrial modality appears when the source of information and the source of energy separate, namely when the Human Being is merely the source of information, and Nature is required to furnish the energy. The machine is different from the tool in that it is a relay: it has two different entry points, that of energy and that of information.
—Gilbert Simondon, “Technical Mentality,” Parrhesia, 2006
The insight at right by Gilbert Simondon regarding the second industrial revolution is not meant to underline a continuum between different technological ages—to say that informationalism is the same of industrialism—but, on the contrary, to record a bifurcation of the technological lineage, or machinic phylum, in the words of Deleuze and Guattari. The subterranean history of information appears to start even earlier. Information can be found haunting the instruments of the first industrial revolution: The Jacquard loom, invented in 1801, was in fact a mathematical device controlled by a punch card almost identical to the one standardized by IBM as a data-storage device in the twentieth century.
While Simondon defined the industrial machine as a relay between the two flows of energy and information, I propose a distinction within the Turing machine itself, between three kinds of flows: information, metadata, and machinic code. While Simondon noticed that the flow of electricity could be used to carry both energy and information, I suggest looking at the raw flow of digital information as the medium of a machinic component—software code. The overlapping of these four dimensions—energy, information, metadata, and machinic code—on the same medium of electricity is, of course, a source of confusion.
If Simondon recognized the industrial machine as already being an info-mechanical relay, today a further bifurcation of the machinic phylum can be introduced to recognize the information machine as a meta-informational relay, handling information and metadata (information about information). Metadata are the “measure” of information, the computation of its social dimension, and, more important, its transformation into value.
The Turing machine can be defined more generally as a machine for the accumulation of information, extraction of metadata, and implementation of machinic intelligence. The diagram of the Turing machine offers a pragmatic model to understand how living information is turned into machinic intelligence. As thermo-machines measure surplus value in term of energy per time, info-machines set value inside a social hypertext and measure it in terms of links per node.
Metadata have three uses. First, metadata are used to measure the accumulation and value of social relations, turn them into commodities—e.g., the attention economy of Facebook and the prestige economy of Google’s PageRank algorithm—and describe the network surplus value. Second, metadata are used to improve the design of machinic knowledge, from software programs to knowledge management, from production design to interface usability, from mobility to logistics. The digital sphere is a sort of self-adjusting automaton: The flows of information are used to improve its internal organization and to create more efficient algorithms. Here metadata describe the code's surplus value, where the code is the crystallization of living knowledge and Marxian general intellect. Third, metadata are used to monitor and forecast mass behaviors, with the government tracking social media, population flows on public transportation, commodity supplies on distribution chains, and so on. Metadata describe a society of metadata evolved from the “society of control” introduced by Deleuze, based on live datastreams produced by the everyday activities of users.
Turing machines are devices to accumulate valorizing information, extract metadata, calculate network surplus value, and feed machinic intelligence. To borrow some metaphors from Brian Holmes’s work on financial cybernetics, I suggest it’s time to move from the white cube of “digital creativity” and dig deep into the black box of network surplus value and the algorithms designed for the capture of the common.
—Matteo Pasquinelli, “Machinic Capitalism and Network Surplus Value: Toward a Political
Economy of the Turing Machine,” 2011
Nothing, having come to this point, dispenses with the need for courage. Fortify yourself, if you can, with the optimism of Lacan, when he writes: “Desire, what is called desire (Lacan is speaking here of the subjective not-known), suffices to prove that it would make no sense for life to create cowards.”
—Alain Badiou, Ethics, 2001
I based the third act of my first play on this. I must have watched it five hundred times. Coming to America to be spanked, not beaten, to be given a new heart, to jump rope for God in a music that sounds like aspic, aspic in which the true heart and mind are suspended. The up-down of the jump rope is 2 and the three brothers are 3. 3 against 2 is something I remember from piano music of the Romantic era; something in me wonders if that’s an early syncope of the imperial mind against the imperial heart. This video broke me. It is as though television and its pixels, or Texas and its Jesuses, have etherized these boys, and yet their hearts are real inside their bodies, bouncing up and down. There is a secrecy among them I feel suspends them somehow above the abyss of the rest of us, America and all that we are. The Chapman brothers have each other at the heart of the country that destroyed their country. What Empire has always wanted to give to its Orients is its own God and its patriarchs, and what Empire has always extorted from its subalterns and slaves is glory and grace. And yet they have each other. The triangles they make and remake are like a Masonic flare, a secret truth blaring in the obscenity of what the blond lady believes is the good she sees and does.
This is how one pictures the angel of history. His face is turned toward the past. Where we perceive a chain of events, he sees one single catastrophe which keeps piling wreckage upon wreckage and hurls it in front of his feet. The angel would like to stay, awaken the dead, and make whole what has been smashed. But a storm is blowing from Paradise; it has got caught in his wings with such violence that the angel can no longer close them. This storm him irresistibly propels him into the future to which his back is turned, while the pile of debris before him grows skyward. This storm is what we call progress.
—Walter Benjamin, “Theses on the
Philosophy of History,” 1940
Then, again, do not tell me, as a good man did to-day, of my obligation to put all poor men in good situations. Are they my poor? I tell thee, thou foolish philanthropist, that I grudge the dollar, the dime, the cent, I give to such men as do not belong to me and to whom I do not belong. There is a class of persons to whom by all spiritual affinity I am bought and sold; for them I will go to prison, if need be; but your miscellaneous popular charities; the education at college of fools; the building of meeting-houses to the vain end to which many now stand; alms to sots; and the thousandfold Relief Societies;—though I confess with shame I sometimes succumb and give the dollar, it is a wicked dollar which by and by I shall have the manhood to withhold.
—Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Self-Reliance,”
Essays, First Series, 1841
Readers routinely struggle over this moment of naked selfishness underpinning Emerson’s “self-reliance.” For me, however, the meaning of this passage lies not in a debate about philanthropy—not in talk about the welfare state—but in what Emerson calls “spiritual affinity”: a bond more mystical than class consciousness, less purposeful than “association,” and, it seems, wrought in iron chains. For “his” people, Emerson, incredibly, would be bought and sold. (I don’t know that I can say the same.) Questions of affinity—to whom do you belong, and how far can you extend that circle of belonging? What are your obligations to that circle? What would you not do for them, and what would they not do for you?—lie at the heart of political life. But “spiritual affinity” defines the political as a moment of individual judgment or preference or connection, and here we are in a time of masses, conglomerations, and “the 99%.” Inclusion implies exclusion; we all must decide, or recognize, to whom we do and do not belong, and name the grounds on which our affinity rests. “Are they my poor?” Emerson asks. Well: Whose are they?
It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets.
—Voltaire, A Philosophical Dictionary, 1764
In short, we’re not touting the TAZ as an exclusive end in itself, replacing all other forms of organization, tactics, and goals. We recommend it because it can provide the quality of enhancement associated with the uprising without necessarily leading to violence and martyrdom. The TAZ is like an uprising which does not engage directly with the State, a guerilla operation which liberates an area (of land, of time, of imagination) and then dissolves itself to re-form elsewhere/elsewhen, before the State can crush it. Because the State is concerned primarily with Simulation rather than substance, the TAZ can “occupy” these areas clandestinely and carry on its festal purposes for quite a while in relative peace. Perhaps certain small TAZs have lasted whole lifetimes because they went unnoticed, like hillbilly enclaves—because they never intersected with the Spectacle, never appeared outside that real life which is invisible to the agents of Simulation.
—Hakim Bey, Temporary Autonomous Zone, 1985
I guess the most important thing I’m thinking of when I think of OWS is Hakim Bey’s concept of the temporary autonomous zone, or TAZ. He proposed it in a book of the same name that he made free to anyone and that is now on the Nets. Bey believes that there are ways of engaging with the structures of culture that don’t replicate them in the traditional, modernist binary. I think OWS and the other Occupy movements have engaged in just these kinds of interventions. That’s one of the reasons the old left doesn’t know how to react to the movement. They’re still caught in modernism. They still believe in words. They still think like the Republicans. I’m just old enough to be scared of what a truly TAZ-centered politics might look like—it can explain the horrors of the Tea Party as easily as the OWS gang—but I’m willing to risk a new strategy to help move us beyond the mess we’re in now. It will come as little surprise, given my preferences, that you’ll see how much his thinking is in alignment with downtown New York artists. It’s a half-brilliant, half-insane rant.
On January 19, 1971, Jon Hendricks and Jean Toche of Guerrilla Art Action Group delivered a communiqué, “Esthetics and Revolution,” at the Art Students League of New York:
TO BE INVOLVED WITH USEFUL LABOR—AS A REVOLUTIONARY ARTIST—YOU MUST:
1) BE AVAILABLE WHEN NEEDED 2) FORGET ABOUT IMPRINTING YOUR OWN STYLISTIC ESTHETIC ONTO THE REALITY 3) DEAL WITH DAY-TO-DAY REALITIES, NOT FANTASIES 4) BE ABLE TO OVERCOME YOUR PERSONAL HANG-UPS 5) DEAL WITH ISSUES, NOT PERSONALITIES 6) BE ACTIVE, NOT REACTIVE 7) BE ABLE TO WORK ALONE OR WITH OTHERS 8) BE FLEXIBLE 9) BE ABLE TO TAKE INITIATIVE WHEN NEEDED 10) NOT BE AFRAID OF MAKING MISTAKES 11) NOT BE AFRAID OF BEING INCONSISTENT 12) BE VERSATILE 13) BE IMAGINATIVE 14) GET RID OF PRECONCEPTIONS 15) CONSTANTLY REDEFINE YOUR ROLE AS REALITY DICTATES
In 2009, we were asked to make a presentation about our work at the Creative Time Summit in New York alongside many inspiring fellow artists and organizers. We took the opportunity to reflect on our shared intentions in this work, and delivered this list:
We strive to build an art practice that:
/ PROTOCOLS FOR POEM OBJECTS / have been composed by Ultra-red for organizing chance listening to conversations in time and place. The protocols are variations on Salvadoran poet Roque Dalton’s (1935–1975) strategy for an underground sociological poetry found in the poem “Tavern.” Dalton composed the poem during his time in exile from El Salvador as he frequented the Prague café U Fleků, in the years leading up to the Prague Spring in 1968.
LET’S NOT TALK POLITICS ANYMORE.
Okay: beets rot in the fields for lack of farmhands.
Okay: let’s think of suicide with the brains of sexual organs.
Okay: spring watches us from the tip of the best tulip.
Okay: your ideal country would be a forest of yellow marble
Politics are taken up at the risk of life
or else you don’t talk about it. Of course
you can take them up without risking
but we figured that this was only in the enemy camp.
Or so it should be:
if I didn’t louse up when I bought the calendar
we’re now in 1966.
ATTENTION, EMPTY-HEADED CHORUS, LET MY LITTLE FINGER BE
YOUR STAR OF BETHLEHEM:
“CATALINA GAVE HER HEART TO A SOLDIER
WHO'S NOW FIGHTING ON THE BORDER …”
Irony about socialism seems to be
good for the digestion here,
but I swear that in my country
you have to get your supper first.
NO DOUBT ABOUT IT: HE’S A COWARD:
ONLY CYNICISM WILL MAKE US FREE, I REPEAT,
QUOTING IDEAS OF YOURS.
This conversation could fit into a poem.
1 Wait — In exile from the place where one locates one’s base-community, visit the same site on a daily basis for two years. Choose a site dense with conversation, ambient sound, daily ritual, and camaraderie.
2 Listen — Perform one’s attention to the scene like an undercover sociologist, comprehending by chance and will full attention the conversations in which you are engaged and those that surround you. Listen for the source of the sounds. Listen for the qualities of the sound. Hear your subjective associations.
3 “What did you hear?” — After listening to the scene for a period of time, ask, “What did you hear?” Record what is heard on paper.
4 Analyze — Examine the record for its most generative themes. The tendency in analysis can be to reduce the record to common or dominant topics. However, a theme can also bring attention to apparent contradictions, not in an attempt to offer solutions but as problems to be investigated and solved through political action.
5 Select — Cut passages from the record without regard for whether the words reflect one’s own opinions, appear truthful, or possess moral or political worth. Supplement with other passages that offer a sense of the ambience of the place and times.
6 Compose — Montage the selections into a poem-object in no particular order. Use punctuation marks, line and stanza breaks, and shifts in typography to score the performance for frequency, tone-color, duration, morphology, amplitude, and spatialization.
7 Organize — Share the poem-object with others. Invite others to construct and circulate poem-objects of their own. Consider together these poem-objects as you ask the question, “What did you hear?”
We demand payment for making the world
Recording of Irene Tsatsos reading Lee Lozano statement, part of the 1969 Art Workers’ Coalition Open Hearing. Tsatsos participated in a project by Kirsten Forkert entitled “A Revisitation of the Art Workers Coalition’ 1969 Open Hearing” as part of issue 5 of the Journal of Aesthetics and Protest:
As I have mentioned how the people were brought into a condition to despair of life and abandon themselves, so this very thing had a strange effect among us for three or four weeks; that is, it made them bold and venturous: they were no more shy of one another, or restrained within doors, but went anywhere and everywhere, and began to converse. One would say to another, “I do not ask you how you are, or say how I am; it is certain we shall all go; so ’tis no matter who is all sick or who is sound”; and so they ran desperately into any place or any company.
—Daniel Defoe, A Journal of the Plague Year, 1722
We cannot stay in a public place because to stay there is a deed without a name and there will be rats and we cannot have that. We cannot go into buildings where there are computers and money and bread because they do not belong to us and we do not therefore belong there. We cannot go into buildings where there is no one and no thing inside and a lock on the door to be broken because there is a deed somewhere with a name on it that is not ours. We cannot go into houses where there are beds and blankets and perhaps some rats and a lock on the door to be broken because there were once people there and they were forced to leave because they could not pay so we cannot be people there because we will not pay. We cannot stay in houses where there are beds and us because we cannot pay and therefore they must become houses without us, where there once were people.
We cannot therefore be restrained because there is no place whatsoever where we are allowed to restrain ourselves and so we abandon ourselves and so we run desperately into any place and any company, sick and sound as rats, and so it is and only so that we begin to converse.
[Diogenes’s] aim in life was to do as his father had done, to “deface the coinage,” but on a much larger scale. He would deface all the coinage current in the world. Every conventional stamp was false. The men stamped as generals and kings; the things stamped as honor and wisdom and happiness and riches; all were base metal lying superscription.
—Alfred W. Benn, quoted in Bertrand Russell,
A History of Western Philosophy, 1945
The root problem with conventional currency is all the trust that’s required to make it work. The central bank must be trusted not to debase the currency, but the history of fiat currencies is full of breaches of that trust. Banks must be trusted to hold our money and transfer it electronically, but they lend it out in waves of credit bubbles with barely a fraction in reserve.
—Satoshi Nakamoto, inventor of the Bitcoin, February 11, 2009
Preamble to Nuthood
You are in the middle of a village. The sun swells after rain over this high-pressure zone. The other weather: Life in the camps—blissfully ignorant of the rules of good taste—is climate-controlled by economies (relational, spatial, financial, personal) that improvise furtively. You sense that the limits of these economies will come soon. You walk in fugitive silence. Just then, you hear faint words holla back at ya: “I am NUT-THING and I should be everything.” Startled, you drop your fishery-doo sandwich. The vegetation releases oils that hang in the air like the first rain after a dry spell. They are absorbed by the surrounding façade of surfaces. You can smell them as they drift toward you. Your heart beats faster. A mirage ripples in your memory: the half-glimpsed halo of a bronzed girl, crouched on a beach,a conch shell to her ear. Her image, the shadow of an obscure longing, overlays with standing electrical fans, a pair of potted palms, a hammock grazed and tested and swishing nowhere, stacks of burlap sacks, elements of multi-planar life.… Is this a set? Is this art? Elements stir, subside, return, vanish. You hear music from a boom box that's sleazy and ragged and unspoiled by words. It looks like life, but is it art? You only have an ingrown feeling of what it is. Do not intercept, there is no proof of authenticity. The primacy of Nuthood cannot be englobed.
—Anicka Yi and Carissa Rodriguez,
from Pacemaker 5, 2004
Michael Andrews is a writer and editor living in Brooklyn. He has participated in Occupy Wall Street since last summer.
Matthew Connors is an artist based in Brooklyn. He has exhibited in New York, Los Angeles, Boston, Tokyo, Milan, Stockholm, and Madrid, and he is an associate professor in the Photography Department at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Boston.
Nancy Davenport is an artist living in New York. Her work has been shown at a number of galleries and museums including Nicole Klagsbrun Gallery, New York, the Liverpool Biennial, and the Bienal de São Paulo, and she recently opened a permanent installation at the Military History Museum in Dresden.
Edie Fake creates zines, prints, feminist ephemera, and barterable and buyable byproducts of love and fury. He is currently based in Chicago.
Rainer Ganahl is an artist based in New York.
Rico Gatson is an artist based in Brooklyn. Represented by Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, Gatson recently held a fifteen-year survey exhibition at Exit Art, New York.
Andrea Geyer is an artist living and working in New York.
Maryam Monalisa Gharavi has contributed poetry and critical writing to various publications, and her films have screened at Townhouse Gallery of Contemporary Art, Harvard Film Archive, and Pacific Film Archive, among others. She is a doctoral candidate in comparative literature and film and visual studies at Harvard University.
Adam Helms is a New York–based artist and a former Triple Canopy contributing editor. He is obsessive, a collector of ephemera, and a friend to all animals.
David Horvitz is an artist from Los Angeles who currently lives in Brooklyn.
Dan Hoy lives in Brooklyn and is the author of Glory Hole (2010, Mal-O-Mar Editions) and other collections. He contributes to the collective blog www.montevidayo.com, and his personal website is www.thepinupstakes.com.
Tim Kinsella plays music in the band Joan of Arc and is the author of the novel The Karaoke Singer’s Guide to Self-Defense.
Isla Leaver-Yap writes and organizes projects about contemporary art.
Zoe Leonard is a New York–based artist who works with photography, sculpture, and installation. She is cochair of the graduate program in photography at Bard College, and she has an upcoming solo show at the Camden Arts Centre, London.
China Miéville is a writer. He was born in 1972. He lives and works in London.
Eileen Myles is a poet and writer who lives in New York. She has a double volume of poems (a “dos a dos”), Snowflake/different streets, which will be out very soon.
Matteo Pasquinelli is a theorist and a member of the Uninomade collective. He is the author of Animal Spirits: A Bestiary of the Commons (2008).
Kristina Lee Podesva is an artist, writer, and editor at Fillip. She is currently visiting scholar in the Curatorial Practice, Master of Fine Arts, and Visual Studies programs at the California College of the Arts.
Ariana Reines is the author of The Cow, Coeur de Lion, Mercury, and the play Telephone, and the translator of books by TIQQUN, Jean-Luc Hennig, and Charles Baudelaire.
Gabriel Rockhill is a philosopher and cultural critic who teaches at Villanova University and the Collège International de Philosophie. He is the author most notably of Logique de l’histoire, and he is also one of the founding members of the Machete Group, a Philadelphia-based collective that combines aesthetic and theoretical interventions with political activism. Zach Rockhill was arrested in the CSX Buckeye railyards in Columbus, Ohio, in 1992 for criminal trespass.
Steve Roden is a visual and sound artist based in Pasadena, California. His work includes painting, drawing, sculpture, film, video, text, performance, and sound.
Christine Smallwood is a Triple Canopy contributing editor. She has written for the Nation, the London Review of Books, the Baffler, and Harper's Magazine. She lives in Brooklyn.
Ben Tausig is a PhD candidate in ethnomusicology at New York University, writing his dissertation on music, sound, and protest in Bangkok. He recently produced the six-part series “Bangkok Is Ringing” for Triple Canopy.
Marvin J. Taylor is director of the Fales Library and Special Collections at New York University where he began the Downtown New York Collection, which documents outsider art movements from 1974 to the present. He was editor of The Downtown Book: The New York Art Scene, 1974–1984 (Princeton University Press, 2006).
Temporary Services is Brett Bloom, Salem Collo-Julin, and Marc Fischer. Based in Chicago, Philadelphia, and Copenhagen, with several changes in membership and structure, since 1998, Temporary Services produces exhibitions, events, projects, and publications.
Ultra-red is a ten-member sound-art collective. This project was undertaken by members Robert Sember and Dont Rhin.
WAGE (Working Artists and the Greater Economy) is a New York–based activist, advocacy, and consciousness-raising group that advocates for fair payment practices at US art institutions and organizations.
Evan Calder Williams does a number of activities under the name Socialism and/or Barbarism. He is the author of Combined and Uneven Apocalypse and Roman Letters.
Erik Wysocan is an artist living in New York.
Anicka Yi is an artist based in New York whose work has been exhibited at 47 Canal, Ruediger Schoettle, White Columns, Gavin Brown’s Enterprise, Karma International, Bortalomi, Lynden Sculpture Garden, the Artist’s Institute, the Green Gallery, X-Initiative, and others.