Next Five Minutes - Last 10 Restrictions

[Next Five Minutes - Last 10 Restrictions]

Amsterdam, Netherlands- Next Five Minutes has finally swung into some kind of drunk and/or coffee-driven action, after a rough and unimpressive start & and after two days orienting myself to Amsterdam & my German weed-tourist laden hostel. The latter aside, Next 5 began with a whimper. Technical difficulties marred every single video presented on the opening night, and the direction and coherency of the speakers called for some question (remember, this is an entire room full of media types). While a few were excellent, namely the speaker talking on Palestine and Jacquie Soohen on the Fourth World War project from Big Noise Films, some hung from ambiguously apolitical artiste tags (like the ambient documentor, Paul Chan, from Voice In the Wilderness, a group which is surprisingly radically Catholic), or, like the Director of de Balie, let loose such memorable comments as: "When I cannot explain something to my child, I send her to bed" (paraphrased, but close enough). In fact let's dwell here for a second: the Director was good-naturedly speaking of witnessing the unfolding, televised events of 9-11 with his 14 year-old daughter at his home in India. When people started jumping out of the windows of the burning towers, he sent her to bed, as he couldn't verbalise nor perhaps normalise the situation.

The same thinking has already permeated odd aspects of this primarily activist gathering. The only question asked during the opener was to the representative of RAWA (Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan), and it was one of the stupidest and most uninformed--not to mention blunt--questions that could have been asked. "What you said was correct," said the flashy, female interlocutor, after the RAWA representative clearly outlined RAWA's position on the actions of the US in Central Asia, "but what do you DO?"

It's the sort of question that the most obvious journalist would ask to allow for a response explaining RAWA's actions. But here we are, a room full of tactical media activists, with a representative from an organisation that has had its members murdered and carried out the most difficult of tasks--documentation of war-crimes, organisation of supplies, support and resistance against fundamentalist, armed and governing theocratic patriarchies, communication of its presence with the external world and international media--and someone is asking, somewhat with an air of, if I can voice it, blind ignorance and not resourceful curiousity, of what RAWA does?

Hopefully this audience member is not an echo of the bell curve of the primarily Euro-attendee's knowledge of such groups. And certainly, it seems, the infamous Euro rudeness has not dissipated since my last visit. True, the Dutch are polite--but, as the Mr. Tuters reminded me, the thing you hear the most in Holland is: "I'm sorry, that is impossible." Chairs are linked together in de Balie.. that's a good metaphor for the weird way paying attendees were kept out of the opening presentations last night as they didn't want to risk "the fire" by having people sitting in the aisles or on the spacious open floor.. instead they keep everyone rammed in the Lobby, which is apparently OK, but if you wait in the hallway--the open, spacious hallway--you risk "the fire." Likewise, it is difficult to go in and out of talks, or to enter early while the presenters are setting up, so as to meet them, as you risk "the fire." It all makes sense now: as Mr. Holzer told me, the Dutch aren't radical; in fact they are quite conservative. It's just that they see a problem as something that can be regulated, taxed, and brought under control by a massive set of regulations and rules, a systematic that often is attempting to create solutions yet producing a result which is predominantly a sense of stupor or stultification .. a kind of massive stone on the entire spontaneous energy of life .. & I can make this critique: I'm half Dutch, & we're a fucking stubborn people.

More soon but check this radical, virtual cartography: I'm blogging this from a session on info-space and info-war virtual cartography presented by Brian Holmes, Homnisphˆ®res, the Universitˆ© Tangente and the Bureau d'ˆâtudes. Maps and texts can be found at Universitˆ© Tangente. The presentation is fascinating and the best thing so far--and it's taking place in the TAZ Salon, one of the independent presentations & not one of the pre-planned. The presentation is of a project that, somewhat like They Rule (but working on a more precise and sociological level as well as decidingly anti-capitalist), is trying to quantify and map, in a searchable and usable database, the relations of business and capital via financial flows, association, degree and essentially power connections between corporate governance worldwide (transnational linkages, relations of security, military, religion, secret societies, civil and secret regulatory bodies, investment--going way & far beyond simply linking the Board of Directors and their overlaps via familial trees & horizontal networks).

The purpose is to make a usable, functional database that the anti-capitalist movement can use to solidly uncover relations of power in a concrete fashion, down to marking the very houses of the power elite to understanding the horizontal and decentralised nature of interrelative power. And also to make it visual: to allow three-dimensional representations and geo-maps, both mapped to the physical Earth and mapped abstractly in various relations... There was some critique of the project, although to even have this database in existence would be a significant step in being able to use a kind of anti-capitalist Google to pinpoint the exact information needed for articles, research, publicization, and action. The critique, however, focused making sure such a mapped database is able to portray and develop and map in realtime the ways in which networks change over time (although this seemed to be accounted before by allowing for a wiki-enabled, continually updatable and modular database where search and themeatic terms can be shifted and changed and added to), as well as enabling the map database to recognise or somehow take into account or display the qualitative or emotional conflicts between the humans at the various nodal points (the Chair of XYZ hates the Military Analyst on his Board, etc, so relations aren't as simple & clear-cut as it appears when one draws the lines between things). Degrees of separation were also mentioned.. and a few other projects, including the Open Government Information Awareness project out of MIT. So: exciting stuff.. and I am taking a break before the next session, which is a warez-exchange for collaborative mappers and psychogeographers. Wilfried from is in the house, so this should be a shy step of situational tactics and a rapid exchange of lightning presentations from various geo-mappers, GPS bloggers and the like.

posted. Fri - September 12, 2003 @ 02:50 PM           |