Archive

readings & excerpts

reposted from fibreculture journal

Ippolita
Italy

Geert Lovink
University of Amsterdam

Ned Rossiter
University of Nottingham, Ningbo

0.

The internet turns out to be neither the problem nor the solution for the global recession. As an indifferent bystander it doesn’t lend itself easily as a revolutionary tool. The virtual has become the everyday. The New Deal is presented as green, not digital. The digital is a given. This low-key position presents an opportunity to rethink the Web 2.0 hype. How might we understand our political, emotional and social involvement in internet culture over the next few years?

1.

News media is awash with ‘economic crisis’, indulging in its self-generated spectacle of financial meltdown. Experts are mobilised, but only to produce the drama of dissensus. Programmed disagreement is the consensus of daily news. Crisis, after all, is the condition of possibility for capitalism. Unlike the dotcom crash in 2000-2001, when the collapse of high-tech stocks fueled the global recession, the internet has so far managed to stay out of the blame game. Web 2.0 only suffers mild side effects from the odd collection of platforms and services, from Google to Wikipedia,PhotobucketCraigslistMySpaceFacebookTwitterHabbo and so-called regional players such as Baidu and51.com. Despite its benign existence, there still is hyper-growth wherever you look. Web 2.0 applications and platforms remain ‘new’ but show a tendency to get lost inside the boring, stressful and uncertain working life of the connected billions.

2.

Social networks are technologies of entertainment and diffusion. The social reality they create is real, but as a technology of immediacy you can’t get no satisfaction. We initially love them for their distraction from the torture of now-time. Networking sites are social drugs for those in need of the Human that is located elsewhere in time or space. It is the pseudo Other that we are connecting to. Not the radical Other or some real Other. We systematically explore weakness and vagueness and are pressed to further enhance the exhibition of the Self. ‘I might know you (but I don’t). Do you mind knowing me?’. The pleasure principle of entertainment thus diffuses social antagonisms—how does conflict manifest within the comfort zones of social networks and their tapestries of auto-customisation? The business-minded ‘trust doctrine’ has all but eliminated the open, dirty internet forums. Most Web 2.0 are echo chambers of the same old opinions and cultural patterns. As we can all witness, they are not exactly hotbeds of alternative sub-culture. What’s new are their ‘social’ qualities: the network is the message. What’s created here is a sense or approximation of the social. Social networks register a ‘refusal of work’. But our net-time, after all, is another kind of labour. Herein lies the perversity of social networks: however radical they may be, they will always be data-mined. They are designed to be exploited. Refusal of work becomes just another form of making a buck that you never see.

3.

Social networking sites are as much fashion victims as everything else. They come and go. Their migration across space signals the enculturisation of software. While Orkut disappeared in G8 countries, it is still Big in Brazil. Is anyone still seriously investing in real estate in Second Life? What the online world needs is sustainable social relations. The moving herds that go from one server to the next merely demonstrate an impulsive grazing mentality: once the latest widgets are installed, it is time to move on. Sustainability is connected to scaleability. Here, we see lessons from the major social movements over the last 50 years. The force of accumulated social-political desires manifest, eventually, in national and global forums that permeate back into policy discourse and social practice: think March on Washington, 1963 (Black Civil Rights), Rio, 1992 (Earth Summit), Porto Alegre, 2001 (World Social Forum), Geneva and Tunis, 2003-2005 (World Summit on the Info-Society). None of these examples are exempt from critique. We note them here to signal the relationship between sustainability and scalar transformation. We are familiar with formats such as barcamps, unconferencing and have participated in DIY techno-workshops at those seasonal media arts festivals. But these are hardly instances of sustainability. Their temporality of tinkering is governed by the duration of the event. True, there is occasionally resonance back in the local hack-lab, but such practices are exclusive to techno-secret societies, not the networked masses. Social networking sites are remarkable for their capacity to scale. Their weakness is their seeming incapacity to effect political change in any substantive way. The valorisation of citizen-journalism is not the same as radical intervention, and is better understood as symptomatic of the structural logic of outsourcing media production and election campaign management.

4.

From social to socialism is a small step for humankind ­ but a big step for the Western subject. What makes the social attractive, and socialism so old school and boring? What is the social anyway? We have to be aware that such postmodern academic language games do not deepen our understanding of the issues, nor widen our political fantasies. We need imagination, but only if it illuminates concepts that transform concrete conditions. The resurrection of the social after its disappearance is not an appealing slogan. Some ideas have an almost direct access to our body. Others remain dead. This in particular counts for insider jargon such as rent, multitude, common, commons and communism. There’s a compulsion to self-referentiality here that’s not so different from the narcissistic default of so many blogs. What, then, are the collective concepts of the social networked masses? For now, they are engineered from the top-down by the corporate programmers, or they are outsourced to the world of widgets. Tag, Connect, Friend, Link, Share, Tweet. These are not terms that signal any form of collective intelligence, creativity or networked socialism. They are directives from the Central Software Committee. «Participation» in «social networks» will no longer work, if it ever did, as the magic recipe to transform tired and boring individuals into cool members of the mythological Collective Intelligence. If you’re not an interesting individual, your participation is not really interesting. Data clouds, after all, are clouds: they fade away. Better social networks are organized networks involving better individuals—it’s your responsibility, it’s your time. What is needed is an invention of social network software where everybody is a concept designer. Let’s kill the click and unleash a thousand million tiny tinkerers!

5.

We are addicted to ghettoes, and in so doing refuse the antagonism of ‘the political’. Where is the enemy? Not onFacebook, where you can only have ‘friends’. What Web 2.0 lacks is the technique of antagonistic linkage. Instead, we are confronted with the Tyranny of Positive Energy. Life only consists of uplifting experiences. Depression is not a design principle. Wikipedia‘s reliance on ‘good faith’ and its policing of protocols quite frequently make for a depressing experience in the face of an absence of singular style. There ain’t no ‘neutral point of view’. This software design principle merely reproduces the One Belief System. Formats need to be transformed if they are going to accommodate the plurality of expression of networked life. Templates function as zones of exclusion. But strangely, they also exclude the conflict of the border. The virus is the closest thing to conflict online. But viruses work in invisible ways and function as a generator of service labour for the computer nerd who comes in and cleans your computer.

6.

The critique of simulation falls short here. There is nothing ‘false’ about the virtuality of social networking sites. They are about as real it gets these days. Stability accumulates for those hooked to networks. Things just keep expanding. More requests. More friends. More time for social-time. With the closure of factories comes the opening of data-mines. Privacy is so empty of curiosity that we are compelled to slap it on our Wall for all to see. If we are lucky, a Friend refurbishes it with a comment. And if you are feeling cheeky, then Throw A Sheep! You would be hard-pressed to notice any substantive change. But you will be required to do never-ending maintenance work to manage all your data feeds and updates. That’ll subtract a bit of time from your daily routine.

7.

The Network will not be Revolutionized. What does this mean for Indymedia 2.0? The question of why indymedia.orgfailed and did not further develop into an active and open social networking site or clearly take up a position in the Web 2.0 debate is something that needs to be addressed (see the nettime debate of May 2009). Have media activists already learnt enough of the Brechtian Indymedia Lehrstueck that started in the late nineties? Is global branding and branching, as in the case of Indymedia (one name, often similar design, sharing of servers, some syndication of content, etc.), still as important as it used to be? Indymedia met the challenge of scaleability in amazing ways only to discover its limits. Contamination seems key for transnational social-political networks. As do regular face-to-face meetings. Let your network connect with the concrete and adaptation and transformation will undoubtedly kick in. Then try reconnecting across networks (and other institutional and organizational forms) on the global scale. Conflict will already have multiplied and the primary condition of sustainability will be underway.

8.

Web 2.0 is not for free. ‘Free as in free beer’ is not like ‘free as in freedom’. Open does not equal free. These days ‘free’ is just another word for service economies. The linux fiefdom know that all too well. We need to question naïve campaigns that merely promote ‘free culture’ without questioning the underlying parasitic economy and the ‘deprofessionalization’ of cultural work. Pervasive profiling is the cost of this opening to ‘free market values’. As users and prosumers we are limited by our capacity as data producers. Our tastes and preferences, our opinions and movements are the market price to pay. At present, Facebook‘s voluntary and enthusiastic auto-filing system on a mass scale represents the high point of this strategy. But we cannot succumb to the control paranoia and to the logic of fear. Let’s inject more kaos in it! So what if you have your anti-whatever Facebook group? What does it change other than expanding your number of friends? Is deleting the radical gesture of 2009? Why not come up a more subversive and funny, anti-cyclical act? Are you also looking for rebel tactical tools?

9.

Soon the Web 2.0 business model will be obsolete. It is based on the endless growth principle, pushed by the endless growth of consumerism. The business model still echoes the silly 90s dotcom model: if growth stagnates, it means the venture has failed and needs to be closed down. Seamless growth of customised advertising is the fuel of this form of capitalism, decentralized by the user-prosumer. Mental environment pollution is parallel to natural environment pollution. But our world is finished (limited). We have to start elaborating appropriate technologies for a finite world. There is no exteriority, no other worlds (second, third, fourth worlds) where we can dump the collateral effects of insane development. We know that Progress is a bloodthirsty god that extracts a heavy human sacrifice. A good end cannot justify a bad means. On the contrary, technologies are means that have to justify the end of collective freedom. No sacrifice will be tolerated: martyrs are not welcome. Neither are heroes.

10.

‘Better a complex identity than an identity complex’. We need to promote peer-education that shifts the default culture of auto-formation to the nihilist pleasure of hacking the system. Personal exhibition on Web 2.0 social networks resembles the discovery of sexuality. Anxiety over masturbation meets digital narcissism (obsessive touching up of personal profiles) and digital voyeurism (compulsive viewing of other’s profiles, their list of friends, secrets, etc.). To avoid the double trap of blind technophilia and luddite technophobia, we have to develop complex digital identities. They have to answer to individual desires and satisfy multiple needs. Open-ID are a good starting point. ‘Steal my profile’. It’s time to remix identity. Anonymity is a good alternative to the pressures of the control society, but there must be alternatives on offer. One strategy could be to make the one (‘real’) identity more complex and, where possible, contradictory. But whatever your identify might be, it will always be harvested. If you must participate in the accumulation economy for those in control of the data mines, then the least you can do is Fake Your Persona.

Authors’ Biographies

Ippolita is an Italian Collective.

Geert Lovink is a Research Professor of Interactive Media at the Hogeschool van Amsterdam (HvA) and an Associate Professor of New Media at the University of Amsterdam (UvA). Lovink is the founding director of the Institute of Network Cultures, whose goals are to explore, document and feed the potential for socio-economical change of the new media field through events, publications and open dialogue. He is the author of many books, including Dark FiberUncanny NetworksMy First Recession and Zero Comments: Blogging and Critical Internet Studies.

Ned Rossiter is Associate Professor of Network Cultures, University of Nottingham, Ningbo, China and Adjunct Senior Research Fellow, Centre for Cultural Research, University of Western Sydney, Australia. He is author of Organized Networks: Media Theory, Creative Labour, New Institutions (2006) and co-editor of numerous volumes, including (with Geert Lovink) MyCreativity Reader: A Critique of Creative Industries (2007).

Shoreditch_Park_Dustin_O'Hara_001

Shoreditch Park Project, Dustin O’Hara.

re-posted from the Shoreditch Park Project Website.

Standing in Shoreditch Park, it’s hard to comprehend the scale of destruction that set things in motion. Like many parks in east London, it’s a former WWII bomb site. A neighborhood of Victorian era houses flattened by the Blitz. Now, some seventy years later, it’s a well used and well equipped neighborhood park. Bordered, almost exclusively, by council owned social housing estates, the area has an established working class history. As part of this history, for nearly thirty years prior to becoming a park, the site was home to a neighbourhood of prefabricated homes.

Organized and funded by the British central government, the Temporary Housing Act of 1944, provided hundreds-of-thousands of people with their own prefabricated home. For many residents, their ‘prefab’ gave them their first day-to-day experience of living with indoor plumbing, modern appliances, and what middle class sensibilities would consider sufficient living space.

The Shoreditch Park Project emerged out of the basic impulse to orient oneself, to understand the social and material landscape of the neighbourhood, and the stories of how it has changed. In its current form, the park, offered a prime case study for exploring how social memory and local mythologies are reflected in the landscape. As a point of research, the Shoreditch Park Project has been thematically focused on this neighbourhood of prefab homes.

As factory built homes – the postwar prefabs, can be understood as an architectural-industrial expression of hope. The prefab program was a critical nexus point, of social policy, industrial urbanism, and design thinking that reshaped the domestic reality and daily lives of countless people. At the same time, the prefab housing program was part of a much wider campaign to rebuild the nation. From the National Health Service, to Universal Child Benefit, to state funded education, numerous programs, that act as instruments for social justice, emerged in the postwar years.

dustinohara_ahoreditch_park_project_interview

Shoreditch Park Project, conducting an interview in the park. Listening to memories of living in the prefabricated homes in Shoreditch Park.

How does one situate this, established historic narrative of the Temporary Housing Act, in relation to the less fixed mythologies of life in this specific neighborhood? When interviewing people about how the neighborhood has changed, you quickly find contradictions and anecdotal details that reveal competing interests and embedded power relations that have historically shaped the neighborhood and continue to inform the stories we tell ourselves about the place. Often the voice itself, acts as powerful cultural register, determining our relational understanding of class, race, gender, and region. With regard to the prefabs, and housing in general, one will quickly comes to realize that housing is always an issue, and that the critical problems the prefab program addressed are still present, in one way or another.

Working with a group of youth researchers, we’ve held six months of weekly workshops, anchored in a curriculum that mixes new media literacy with heritage and social documentation research. We’ve reviewed the local council archives, hosted tea party gatherings, collected man-on-the-street style interviews, and gone on field trips to postwar prefabs that are still in use. In total we’ve conducted over 60 oral history interviews. The project has culminated in the production of an audio visual collection, website, park installation, and short sound piece. In this way, the project is a research/educationally driven interpretive project, that actively relocates the notion of cultural heritage from a noun to a verb, from a fixed object to an inherently collaborative and performative act.

– Dustin O’Hara, 20th June 2013

Visit the Shoreditch Park Project Website for more.

A new book: 10 PRINT CHR$(205.5+RND(1)); : GOTO 10

Software is deeply woven into contemporary life—economically, culturally,
creatively, politically—in manners both obvious and nearly invisible. Yet
while much is written about how software is used, and the activities that
it supports and shapes, thinking about software itself has remained largely
technical for much of its history. Increasingly, however, artists, scientists,
engineers, hackers, designers, and scholars in the humanities and social
sciences are finding that for the questions they face, and the things they
need to build, an expanded understanding of software is necessary. For
such understanding they can call upon a strand of texts in the history of
computing and new media, they can take part in the rich implicit culture of
software, and they can also take part in the development of an emerging,
fundamentally transdisciplinary, computational literacy. These provide the
foundation for software studies.

 

“In the 4th century BCE, Aristotle noted that “sunlight travelling through small openings between the leaves of a tree, the holes of a sieve, the openings wickerwork, and even interlaced fingers will create circular patches of light on the ground.” Euclid’s Optics (ca 300 BCE) presupposed the camera obscura as a demonstration that light travels in straight lines.[5] In the 4th century, Greek scholar Theon of Alexandria observed that “candlelight passing through a pinhole will create an illuminated spot on a screen that is directly in line with the aperture and the center of the candle.”
– Wikipedia camera obscura page 

camera obscura diagram

“The photons emitted by your screen strike the retina of your eyes, which transform them into electrochemical information; the optic nerves relay this information to the visual cortex at the back of the head, where a cascade-like network of nerve cells separates the input into categories (form, color, movement, depth, etc.).” – The Cosmic Serpent, by Jeremy Narby 

Trever Jones

Trever Jones, skype 2012

“A cyborg is a cybernetic organism, a hybrid of machine and organism, a creature of social relations, our most important political construction, a world-changing fiction.”

“…the boundary between science fiction and social reality is an optical illusion.”

ryan video chat

Ryan Glennan, gchat 2011

“…the relation between organism and machine has been a border war.”

The cyborg is our ontology; it gives us our politics. The cyborg is a condensed image of both imagination and material reality, the two joined centers structuring any possibility of historical transformation.

 – Cyborg Manifesto, by Donna Haraway.

Fiber Optic Cables

Advertisement for Leoni fiber optic cables

“The process of communicating using fiber-optics involves the following basic steps: Creating the optical signal involving the use of a transmitter, relaying the signal along the fiber, ensuring that the signal does not become too distorted or weak, receiving the optical signal, and converting it into an electrical signal.”  – Wikipedia fiber optic page 

“We chart our cities, so we chart ourselves. To chart the external world is to reveal ourselves – our priorities, our interests, our desires, our fears, our biases. We believe we’re mapping our knowledge, but in fact we’re mapping what we want – and what we want others – to believe. In this way, every map is a reflection of the individual or group that creates it.” – Pete Turchi, pg 146

I originally wrote this short text for meyouhoxtontoo.net

“The power of ordinary urban landscapes to nurture citizens’ public memory, to encompass shared time in the form of shared territory — remains untapped for most working people’s neighborhoods…  The sense of civic identity that shared history can convey is missing.”  -Dolores Hayden, The Power of Place  

Shortly after returning home from a trip to the London Zoo, a large box of perfume mistakenly arrived at our door. The perfume belonged to our neighbors living above us in flat number 37. After returning the box, I asked our neighbors if I could interview them about their lives. A few days later we sat in their living room drinking tea. Going through their shoe boxes of personal photos, Carol told me how she had moved into the flat some 45 years earlier, when she was ten years old. Before moving, into the then newly build flat, her and her family lived in a ‘prefab’ home across the street. The neighborhood of prefabricated homes were located in an area that is now a neighborhood park. As I left their flat, Carol gave me a bottle of pink perfume as a gift. This exchange marked the beginning of my year in Hoxton.

Carol holding a photo of her and her two sisters standing outside their “prefab” home located in the area that is now known as Shoreditch Park.

Coming from California, one of the things I really appreciate about East London is being able to walk and cycle most places. As you walk from ‘the city’ east to Hoxton the visible layers of history are striking, ancient ruins, victorian era housing, nineteen-fifties post-war redevelopment, and glass monoliths of contemporary finance. In the 1600s Hoxton was known for its flower gardens. It was a small country village just outside the city walls of London. As the urban landscape filled in, Hoxton Street became home to some of the largest lunatic asylums in Europe. During the air raids of world war two the East London area was heavily bombed. Many of the bomb sites were filled in with prefab homes as part of a larger post-war campaign to rebuild the nation, followed by more permanent social housing estates. Hoxton is internationally known for its story of gentrification, but since the financial crisis the process of gentrification has slowed down. Hoxton Square is monied and largely identified as Hoxton by outsiders, but just up the street you find a completely different Hoxton, a neighborhood of council owned social housing estates, small turkish veggie shops, cafes, and pubs.

I saw a note posted on the wall outside our flat, for a tenant management organization board meeting. I went to the meeting, and the members of the board were so shocked to see anyone there besides themselves that they quickly offered me a position on the board. Later in the week, I approached the director of the tenant management organization, about creating an online community archive and publication showcasing personal objects and the stories connected to them. It turned out they had recently hired a web developer to build an estate website, but he left on holiday to Brazil and never returned. So I was hired to develop a website for the estate, and as an extension develop an online community archive and potential publication. As an extension of this activity I decided to organize a series of media literacy workshops for residents of the estate. I contacted PEER, a nearby gallery, to see if they would be involved. PEER invited me over for tea, having looked at documentation of my previous work, they offered to commission a project as part of their participation program. Having been in the area since 2002 they were interested in rethinking their relationship to the neighborhood, and thought the way I was working fit well with that interest.

I began walking up and down Hoxton Street, back alleys and side streets. I climbed onto roof tops, and snuck into empty buildings. I read about the history, and stopped pensioners on the street to chat with them about their memories. In the evenings I drank beer with a theater group called Retz that had taken over a storefront on Hoxton Street. Around this time the Barrel Cafe opened. The cafe quickly became my afternoon office. As the owner of the cafe took notice, we became friends, and he started supplying me free coffee. One day at the cafe, Sonia an older woman sat at a table across from me talking with a friend about a florist named Mark, and how he provided their church with flowers. I asked the two woman if I could interview them about their memories of the neighborhood. They said yes and suggested I come to church to meet an older member of their congregation. I ended up going to church with Sonia on and off for the next couple months. Not being particularly religious I introduced myself as a neighbor interested in listening to their stories. And explained that I was developing a project that was for and about the neighborhood, and that the project was being commissioned by PEER – the gallery down the street, next to the post office. I conducted several interviews and learned a great deal about politics and post-war history of Hoxton.

Roughly every two or three weeks I visited PEER to discuss the project’s development. Gemma and Norma were very supportive, and Gemma always made a fine cup of tea. If art is tantamount to religion, then these meetings were a kind of confession.
“Forgive me father for I have sinned, I have been seduced by the everyday. The earlier discussed notion of the city as archive has led me to organize a series of walks with local residents, creating a photo and story series.”

During this period I befriended Sue, the neighborhood mortician. The funeral shop on Hoxton Street was known for it’s slightly eccentric window displays that changed with the seasons, and reflected holidays and notable current events. Sue works alone, she is quite welcoming and open to conversation. On the wall of her office is a framed photo of a motorcycle with a coffin sized sidecar, and on her desk is a catalog of novelty coffins, tie dye, nasa space photos, etc. She is full of funny stories of funerals gone wrong, and has clearly spent a lot of time thinking about her ideal funeral. I met Sue at the funeral shop at the end of her working day and walked with her to the bus stop she uses to get home. She told me about how much she loved her work, and soon her bus came and took her away. As I stood there watching the bus drive off, Sonia from St. Annes church came walking around the corner with her grandson Jesse. Sonia had taken a strong interest in the project, continually referred me to different people she thought I should meet. She also lived just one building down from me, so I joined Sonia for the rest of her walk home.

One day after walking with Sonia, I spotted a poster for a production called ‘Walk a Mile.’ The poster was outside Hoxton Hall, and sitting below the poster was an Irishman named Alric.  Alric was the music director of the production, and the show was put on by Access All Areas, a theater company that works with local residents with severe learning disabilities. Several days later I came back to Hoxton Hall to attend the show. It was about world war two, and the loss of loved ones. Since most of the performers can’t read, Access All Areas’ productions are largely developed through improvisation and physical theater. I was captivated from start to finish. I stayed around after the show to have drinks with the cast and crew. Someone thought I was a member of the cast and purchased me several drinks. As everyone was clearing out of the pub, I introduced myself to Ciara and Nick, the director and creative officer of Access All Areas, and asked to meet with them.

Some days later I met with Ciara over coffee. Ciara told me she was getting ready to start a new project. She knew she would be working with Access All Areas performers in a similar workshop methodology to their previous productions. She expressed an interest in the local stories and histories of Hoxton. It was clear we had a common affinity in researching and exploring the neighborhood. We agreed that we should work together in some neighborly way.

With little idea of what form our collaboration would take, I invited Ciara over to PEER. There was a sense of confusion, matched by a willingness to see where things would go. The Access All Areas workshop group began meeting shortly thereafter. Ciara and I agreed that walking around the neighborhood was a great way to encounter local knowledge. So to introduce the idea of walking to the workshop group I led the group on its first walk. After this first walk we organize for the workshop group to be led on walks by other local residents. With feedback from the workshop members, Ciara and I identified a loose set of ideas, moments, and stories from the walks, that I then wrote into a script for a guided performative walk. Ciara used her theater training to work with performers, and during a summer street festival I led a ‘rehearsal’ walk through the neighborhood. Throughout the walk we encountered performers. While the walks were happening a story booth on Hoxton Street was set up to collect and exchange stories.

After the festival, the performers continued to develop their characters, and the script was rewritten by Ciara to incorporate some of the stories collected at the booth. Nathan, a filmmaker, had been working with the workshop members to record the walks and their experience. We then organized an exhibition of video, photos, found objects with corresponding stories, and a wall drawing of a map of Hoxton. We opened the exhibition a month later to accompany the final public walking tours. The final walkings encountered both performers and local residents throughout the neighborhood. Much of the audience was comprised of local residents, neighbors, friends, and family.

One of my favorite encounters was with Mark the local florist, who Sonia was so eager to introduce me to. He told the audience a story from his childhood. Down the street, 40+ years ago, there was a horse stables. The horses were working horses and connected to the stables was a “free house” pub. With the flow and punctuation of a naturally gifted storyteller, Mark drew everyone in close as he described one of the workmen’s winter rituals.

“They would heat their iron poking rods in the fire. It had to be white hot!” Gesturing with his hands as if he was holding the rod himself.

“They would take the white tip of the rod and slowly dip it into the top of their beer.” The white hot iron would apparently flake off and mix in with their drink.

Me You Hoxton Too, Mark tells his audience a story

Mark comes from a long line of Hoxton based florists. He has an intimate if not granular knowledge of the area. When you walk around the neighborhood with Mark he frequently points out small details, triggering explanations that blur personal memories, second hand stories, and historical readings, into an elaborately crafted story that all connects back to this small detail he just pointed out. One such example are a set of grooves on the nearby canal. As you walk along the canal’s tow-path, one passes under a series of bridges. As the curve of the bridge pushes into the walking space of the tow-path, you’ll consistently find a couple small grooves at about chest height. The tow-path and canal were originally an industrial artery for transporting goods. According to Mark the tiny grooves in the bridges were made by the ropes connecting horses to their loads as they marched up and down the path. By the late 1970s the path was opened for pedestrian use. With industrial use long gone, the canal is now marked my cafes, pubs, and expensive new housing developments.

Me You Hoxton Too, exhibition
Me You Hoxton Too, exhibition

The disciplinary differences between theater and art rarely became an issue, process oriented notions connected to critical pedagogy were a common point of interest. But while PEER was putting together their ‘press release’ for the exhibition and guided walks, Ciara from Access All Areas referred to the document as a ‘program.’ This was followed some negation of formatting and editing of the document. It’s a rather trivial point, but the formal distinctions between a gallery’s press release and a theater company’s program reflect the wider conceptual and disciplinary distinctions in how we understand what it is we are doing and the stories we tell ourselves. While I’m not about to tease out all of the issues this presented, I will reflect on my own role in the project and story I tell myself. I would say my role in Me You Hoxton Too played out on a number of levels, and on a rather meta-level my gesture was to bring two neighboring institutions into collaboration with one another. The first being a gallery that works with objects, and the second a theater company that works with people and stories. I think this is reflected in the formal quality of the exhibition and walks, the found objects and their stories, and the performative situations and their inseparable relationship with the social and material landscape of the neighborhood. In an interview with Ciara and Nick, they refer to the Me You Hoxton Too project as a ‘departure’ from their normal way of working. Whether it was a departure or an arrival, either way it was a lot of fun and I’ll always remember it as an important part of the year I lived in Hoxton.