Secondly Postman argues print culture favors delayed gratification; reading favors logical sequence, reflection and contemplation (McLuhan calls it “detachment”). For example reading an expository text or a work of fiction entails a deep engagement with logical arguments or complex narratives that unfold in time; a reader learns through interaction with a slowed-down temporal and cognitive order that builds up over duration. Pleasure is constructed incrementally through delays and sublimation. It follows that solutions to problems or issues are not immediate but take time and effort.
Video Vortex Reader II is the Institute of Network Cultures’ second collection of texts that critically explore the rapidly changing landscape of online video and its use. With the success of YouTube (‘2 billion views per day’) and the rise of other online video sharing platforms, the moving image has become expansively more popular on the Web, significantly contributing to the culture and ecology of the internet and our everyday lives. In response, the Video Vortex project continues to examine critical issues that are emerging around the production and distribution of online video content.
Following the success of the mailing list, the website and first Video Vortex Reader in 2008, recent Video Vortex conferences in Ankara (October 2008), Split (May 2009) and Brussels (November 2009) have sparked a number of new insights, debates and conversations regarding the politics, aesthetics, and artistic possibilities of online video. Through contributions from scholars, artists, activists and many more, Video Vortex Reader II asks what is occurring within and beyond the bounds of Google’s YouTube? How are the possibilities of online video, from the accessibility of reusable content to the internet as a distribution channel, being distinctly shaped by the increasing diversity of users taking part in creating and sharing moving images over the web?
Is it possible, within capitalism, to have social sciences that are not at the same time social sciences of surveillance tied to strategies of control and desire? Is it possible to have forms of inquiry that recognize autonomous subjects of communication and not objects of manipulation? This attention to the minutia of everyday consumption objectifies individuals by transforming consumption into an act of stylized repetition. Consumption is no longer a concrete act performed by an individual outside of the boundaries of pure and total exchange; rather it is the highly routinized act of a subject who has been interpellated in the ideologies of mass and niche consumption. We have been objectified by the society of consumption’s edicts to consume on the system’s terms; it is the objectification of our desires within the strange process by which the desires we have are the desires discovered by market research to enable the system to create the desires it needs us to have. The mysterious conjuring by which the objects offered are at the same time the ones we want.
“Territoriality will be defined as the attempt by an individual or group to affect, influence, or control people, phenomena, and relationships, by delimiting and asserting control over a geographic area. This area will be called the territory.”— Robert David Sack - Human Territoriality
“Cinema is a deterritorialized factory that extends the working day in space and time while introjecting the system’s language of capital into the sensorium. “Cinema” means a fully mediated mise-en-scene that provides humans with the contexts and options for response that are productive for capital. Yet we must remember that it is humanity who made the cinema, despite the masters of global appearance’s claims to the contrary. The star is not out there, but s/he is of ourselves. Cinema is the secularization of a world-historical revolution in human interaction that contains in potentia the material realization of a universal disaffection with capitalist domination and oppression. As it stands, cinema is the leveraged management and expropriation of humanity’s “freedom reflex,” the de-sacralization of human communion.”—Jonathan Beller - The Cinematic Mode of Production: Attention Economy and the Society of the Spectacle
“radical in form, but liberal in content”: On the Non-Profit Industrial Complex (NPIC), Again
Nonprofits exist to maintain society as we know it. Nonprofits often provide vital social services in the spaces left by the state’s retreat from postwar welfare provisions, services which keep women, queers, and trans people, particularly those who are poor and of color, alive. Post-WWII welfare provisions themselves were provided primarily to white families – through redlining or the racially exclusive postwar GI Bill for example. Social justice nonprofits in particular exist to co-opt and quell anger, preempt racial conflict, and validate a racist, patriarchal state. These organizations are often funded by business monopolies which have profited from and campaigned for the privatization of public social services. This has been argued extensively by many who have experienced the limits of nonprofit work firsthand, most recently by INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence.
Indeed, the exponential growth of NGOs and nonprofits could be understood as the 21st century public face of counterinsurgency, except this time speaking the language of civil, women’s, and gay rights, charged with preempting political conflict, and spiritually committed to promoting one-sided “dialogue” with armed state bureaucracies. Over the last four decades, a massive nonprofit infrastructure has evolved in order to prevent, whether through force or persuasion, another outbreak of the urban riots and rebellions which spread through northern ghettos in the mid to late 1960s. Both liberal and conservative think tanks and service providers have arisen primarily in response to previous generations of radical Black, Native American, Asian American, and Chican@ Third World Liberation movements. In the 21st century, social justice activism has become a professional career path. Racial justice nonprofits, and an entire institutionally funded activist infrastructure, partner with the state to echo the rhetoric of past movements for liberation while implicitly or explicitly condemning their militant tactics.
The material infrastructure promoting these ideas is massive, enabling their extensive dissemination and adoption. Largely funded by philanthropic organizations like the Ford Foundation ($13.7 billion), Rockefeller Foundation ($3.1 billion), or the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation ($37.1 billion), the US nonprofit sector has grown exponentially, often through the direct privatization of the remnants of America’s New Deal-era social safety net. This funding structure ties liberal organizations charged with representing and serving communities of color to businesses interested primarily in tax exemptions and charity, and completely hostile to radical social transformation despite their rhetoric. In 2009 nonprofits accounted for 9% of all wages and salaries paid in the United States, generated $1.41 trillion in total revenues, and reported $2.56 trillion in total assets. One need only hear the names of these philanthropic organizations to realize that they are or were some of the largest business monopolies in the world, whose foundations are required to donate 5% of their endowment each year, while 95% of the remaining funds remain invested in financial markets. The public is asked to thank these organizations for their generosity for solving problems which they are literally invested in maintaining.
“With increasing frequency,” Filipino prison abolitionist and professor Dylan Rodriguez argues, “we are party (or participant) to a white liberal ‘multicultural’/‘people of color’ liberal imagination which venerates and even fetishizes the iconography and rhetoric of contemporary Black and Third World liberation movements, and then proceeds to incorporate these images and vernaculars into the public presentation of foundation-funded liberal or progressive organizations. …[T]hese organizations, in order to protect their nonprofit status and marketability to liberal foundations, actively self-police against members’ deviations from their essentially reformist agendas, while continuing to appropriate the language and imagery of historical revolutionaries. Having lived in the San Francisco Bay Area from 1995-2001, which is in many ways the national hub of the progressive ‘wing’ of the NPIC, I would name some of the organizations…here, but the list would be too long. Suffice it to say that the nonprofit groups often exhibit(ed) a political practice that is, to appropriate and corrupt a phrase from…Ruth Wilson Gilmore, radical in form, but liberal in content.”
If the current situation is allowed to continue on its present course, only the few will be able to enjoy life without the constant stress of economic worries. The rest of us will be so buried in work without end, anxious about procuring or simply sustaining our livelihoods, that even the freedom…
“It is precisely the obscurity of the box which motivates photographers to take photographs. They lose themselves, it is true, inside the camera in search of possibilities, but they can nevertheless control the box. For they know how to feed the camera (they know the input of the box), and likewise they know how to get it to spit out photographs (they know the output of the box). Therefore the camera does what the photographer wants it to do, even though the photographer does not know what is going on inside the camera. This is precisely what is characteristic of the functioning of apparatuses: The functionary controls the apparatus thanks to the control of its exterior (the input and output) and is controlled by it thanks to the impenetrability of its interior. To put it another way: Functionaries control a game over which they have no competence. The world of Kafka, in fact.”—
The Media Ecology (ME) perspective takes a historical view of media (and also technology) and asserts that it is impossible to understand a medium by looking only at the present; we need to look at the development and history of communication to see how it has changed over time. Furthermore ME believes that only in the comparison of one medium to another can the real nature of a medium be seen. Humans have been using media to communicate since the beginning of human history; e.g. speech is a medium, the alphabet is a medium and television is a medium. For ME there have been several communications revolutions involving the media of communication. ME sees four great eras/revolutions of communication. What is important here is that ME views cultures or historical periods as having one central means of communication; this means that even though a culture may have several media commingling, there is one medium that is primary or fundamental to that culture. For us it is electronic/digital media from TV and radio to computers and the internet.
The George Gerbner collection consists of personal correspondence, research and administrative materials, reports, publications, news clippings, photographs, and memorabilia related to George Gerbner (1916-2006) and his work as a world-renowned media scholar and dean of the Annenberg School for Communication (1964-1989). The collection is rich in material concerning the Cultural Indicators Project, Gerbner’s pioneering analysis of television violence and cultivation theory, and the Cultural Environment Movement, a media advocacy organization founded by Gerbner in 1991