The Shock of the Anthropocene: The Earth, History and Us, by historians Christophe Bonneuil and Jean-Baptiste Fressoz.


Pre-order on amazon USAand UK

Publisher Verso writes: Scientists tell us that the Earth has entered a new epoch: the Anthropocene. We are not facing simply an environmental crisis, but a geological revolution of human origin. In two centuries, our planet has tipped into a state unknown for millions of years. How did we get to this point?

Refuting the convenient view of a "human species" that upset the Earth system unaware of what it was doing, this book proposes a new account of modernity that shakes up many accepted ideas: on the supposedly recent date of "environmental awareness," on previous challenges to industrialism, on the manufacture of consumerism and the energy "transition," as well as on the role of the military in environmental destruction.

Through a dialogue between science and history, the authors draw an ecological balance sheet of a developmental model that has become unsustainable, and explore paths for living and acting politically in the Anthropocene.

Photo by Aaron Vincent Elkaim, via Vantage

The Anthropocene is a proposed new geological epoch that recognizes that humanity's imprint on global environment rivals some of the greatest forces of nature. The authors suggest that the Anthropocene started with James Watt's improved steam engine designs in the late 18th century which kicked off the industrial revolution and thus the 'carbonification' of our atmosphere. From that time on, human activities started to have a significantly damaging impact on the Earth's ecosystems: high levels of air pollution, ocean acidification, out of control climate, mass extinctions of plant and animal species, modification of continental water cycle, etc. As the authors note, the Anthropocene is a sign of both our power and our impotence.

The book attempts to comprehend this new epoch but also to dispel a few misconceptions. I found particularly interesting the one about the sudden 'awakening' to our responsibility in climate change and the one that claims that only scientists possess the knowledge and wisdom necessary to save the planet.

The Anthropocene is often presented as an 'awakening' as if we were the first generations that realized the damage that burning fossil fuels, overfishing and other human activities have done to the earth atmosphere. But as the authors easily demonstrate, men knew what they were doing 200 years ago and environmentally damaging actions regularly met with criticism, challenge and struggle right from the beginning of the Anthropocene.

The book also states that today's scientific knowledge is put on a pedestal. On the one side is a small elite of scientists who appear as the spokespeople for the Earth. On the other is the uninformed mass of the world population awaiting to be saved or at least shepherded in the right direction. If we believe the experts, serious solutions can only emerge from further innovations in the labs, rather than from alternative political experiments in society as a whole. Besides, as the authors write, to position humanity (or just its elite) as a pilot means that the earth is little more than a cybernetic machine that can be dominated from the outside. They conclude that what we need right now is not a rescue plan made of geo-engineering prowess but more narratives, types of knowledge, a variety of civic initiatives and popular alternatives which explores the outlines of living better with less.

Chemical and biological warfare trials during Cold War in 1956. The masks had to be worn to allow the collection of proxy warfare substances that had been sprayed from aircraft (image via The Independent)

A visualization of satellites and other debris in orbit around Earth on Stuff in Space (image via Hyperallergic)

The book also demonstrate convincingly that the responsibility for the Anthropocene doesn't rest on the shoulders of every single human beings. Fressoz and Bonneuil explain at length the role that the military, capitalism and two hegemonic powers (Great Britain in the 19th century and the U.S. in the 20th Century) play in the Anthropocene. Some thinkers even used the word 'Oliganthropocene' to define a geological epoch caused by a small fraction of humanity.

The Shock of the Anthropocene: The Earth, History and Us is well written, impeccably researched (the authors quote all the relevant thinkers you might imagine from Marx to Piketty, from Gandhi to Hannah Arendt) and its discourse brings the Anthropocene into a wide historical and societal context. But above all, it is a book that shows that in the time of the Anthropocene, the entire functioning of the Earth becomes a matter of past, present and coming political choices. Even though people running the political sphere seem to royally ignore that fact. I've always found it a bit strange to see how low ecological concerns and promises figured in electoral campaigns.

One of the most important lessons the book has to offer is that we should probably all stop talking about an ecological 'crisis'. It's too late for that. A crisis can be overcome, the anthropocene can't. We've reached a point of no return.

Photo on the home page by Marco Gualazzini, Coltan mining from R.D. Congo- The War of Minerals.

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A few days ago, i was on video skype for an interview with Tatiana Bazzichelli and her irresistible Italian accent.

I had long wanted to sit down properly and have a chat with Tatiana. The reasons for that are many. First of all, Tatiana is one of the few people who knows the world of art but also the hacking community from the inside. Besides, she has a strong academic and curatorial background.

Tatiana Bazzichelli at the seminar Networked Disruption, Kino Šiška, Ljubljana, March 11, 2015. Photo: Miha Fras

Bazzichelli is a curator and researcher, author of the books Networked Disruption. Rethinking Oppositions in Art, Hacktivism and the Business of Social Networking (2013), Networking. The Net as Artwork (2008), and co-editor of the book Disrupting Business. Art & Activism in Times of Financial Crisis (highly recommended, like all her book this one is available as paperback but also as a free download). She is director of the Disruption Network Lab, an experimental curatorial project on art, hacktivism, and disruption, based in Berlin. We'll talk during the interview about the upcoming activities of the lab but do not miss its opening event this month, it's called Drones and it examines drone warfare through the perspectives of a former U.S. drone operator, an artist, a criminal law researcher, investigative journalists, activists, filmmakers and a series of international experts.

Previous to that, Tatiana was programme curator at the transmediale festival, initiating the year-round reSource transmedial culture project, and was a Post-Doctoral researcher at the Centre for Digital Cultures, Leuphana University of Lüneburg.

The second reason why i wanted to steal a moment from Tatiana Bazzichelli's life is Networked Disruption, an exhibition and a series of events she has curated. If you're in Ljubljana (lucky you!) you have until Friday to check out the show at the Škuc Gallery. Right after that, the exhibition will move to the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Rijeka. Future events in other European cities are on the agenda.

Centered on the concept of "Networked Disruption" (a concept which is analyzed in depth in her book of the same name), the exhibition highlights the mutual interferences between business, art and disruption. Because it brings together the heterogeneous practices of hackers, artists, networkers, whistleblowers, activists and entrepreneurs, the show is dense in reflections, provocations and references to contemporary society.

The increasing commercialisation of sharing and networking contexts since the middle of 2000s is transforming the meaning of art and that of business. What were once marginal practices of networking in underground hacker and artistic contexts have in recent years become a core business for many information technology companies and social media enterprises. In Bazzichelli's analysis, art intertwines with disruption beyond dialectical oppositions, leading to a discovery of subliminal and distributed strategies, which emerge from within the capitalistic systems, or act within it.

Here is the transcript of the interview:

Hi Tatiana! What was the catalyst of your research into the ways artists and hackers can disrupt the system from within? How and why did it start?

In 2008, I moved to Denmark to do a PhD. The research came from very personal reflections. When you and i first met a few years ago, i was interested in questions of sexuality and practices of queer culture. At the same time, i was also speaking about practices of hacking as a form of openness and DIY in connection with political activity.

However, around 2004-2005, I think that there was a moment of change because we started to get into a more mainstream social media framework. This for me modified the perspective because i think many people, who were part of our underground political culture, started to use tools that were becoming common at the time. I noticed that many people -and that includes the net art culture- started to be on Facebook and many of the conversations were happening there. It was a real surprise for me. I could not understand how it was possible that people like us, who used to be really critical, started to shift the field of conversation and action to Facebook.

For example, before Facebook, many people were using MySpace and here in Berlin it was the platform that was popular among the club scene. From MySpace people later migrated to Facebook. Many of these people came from the queer culture and were always speaking of the pleasure as coming from your own understanding of the body but also as a political mean. But when you are just clicking "Like" all the time on Facebook, you transfer your pleasure into a commodified value. "Like" means 'it gives me pleasure' but it also translates into a way for corporations to make money through advertisement. So i was at the time a bit upset.

Then in 2004 i went to this conference in Berlin. It was organized by Tim O'Reilly. It was the time when they were really launching this concept of Web 2. 0, both as a theme and as a business model.

What surprised me at the conference is that they were using the idea of hacking, DIY and many characteristics of the hacker culture to present their products. And i remember Tim O'Reilley at that conference saying that data is the next 'Intel Inside'. I found it a bit strange that the ideas of DIY, openness, sharing, participation were becoming a business model. Even if we always say that business and art are totally intertwined, i was surprised to hear that this could also apply to hacker culture because i was coming from a more politically-oriented hacking.

When i started my PhD in 2008, i wanted to investigate this process: how hacking, business and art started to be so intertwined and what were the consequences for our community of net artists, hackers and so on. As we know that Web 2.0 started as a concept in the Silicon Valley, i travelled to San Francisco and California during my PhD and i started to interview a lot of people. I summarized these experiences in the book.

The book Networked Disruption Rethinking Oppositions in Art, Hacktivism and the Business of Social Networking

In the book i started talking about the idea of disruption. That was in 2008 when not many people were using the concept of disruption. Now it is a total buzz word in many contexts, including political, artistic or hacker practices. Disruption is a term coming from business. If we want to define the term disruption, it means to introduce a product, a technology or an innovation that the market doesn't expect. This is usually a definition used by many start-ups to define the way they create disruptive innovation. The idea is that you introduce into the market an innovation that is often cheaper than the other products already available and in this way you create a disruption because you shift the public and the consumers into using the new product. This component of being unexpected is important. But what is equally important is that the discourse of disruption comes from inside this system.

In my previous experiences, i used to think that sometimes it was good to create opposition in order to trigger a change. It was the time right after the anti globalization movement, when we had to reflect on tactics that were often characterized by a component of opposition. Many people started to think that we needed to invent new forms of criticism. And that's why i was so interested in the queer community because they were usually adopting tactics that were playful and not merely oppositional of the system as many people were doing for example during the G8 manifestations when disobedience was applying a very frontal opposition. After the massacre of the 2001 G8 Summit in Genoa, we could see that the movement had to rethink its strategies. So i started to investigate different forms of practices that were working from within or adopting viral and playful strategies. Initially, I looked into queer culture but then after web 2.0, i moved into business because i could see that it was a second step that needed to be analyzed.

After the PhD, i i started to write about disruption and i saw that it could be applied to the art field. Just like the business is speaking about disruptive innovation, i thought maybe we should apply this concept to the art field and start to imagine practices that are actually coming from within the system and are also using this unpredictability as a form of tactical strategy, just like businesses do.

Of course it's not something new. The avant-garde for example created an artistic shock and used the idea of the unpredictability of practices. Following these lines and somehow transforming it into the present condition of net culture, i thought disruption could then be applied as an artistic practice and also analyze its loop.

In my book, this loop brings together art, business and disruption.

Tatiana Bazzichelli, Disruptive Loop Diagram, 2011

If you understand how i conceptualize this model, then you can see how artists, activists, hackers, entrepreneurs, networkers are all inside this loop because they act from within the system. The mutual interferences and the mutual feedback loop happen between business, art and disruption. In my model, art is disrupting business by creating interferences, perturbations and virality inside the business field. I use the word business because it's a word that artists and activists despise. Business is directly connected to managerial thinking, to company rhetoric, etc. If you read artistic texts, you will find that they talk about market, not business. And that's why i decided to use the word. I think we have to start appropriating an imaginary and words that have never been parts of certain fields, like art and hacking. Or that used to be if we go back in time. The critical fields of artists and hackers however hate that word. So i thought we should start to appropriate the word business, just like the word hacking has been appropriated by web 2.0.

You curated an exhibition that is currently on view at the Škuc gallery in Ljubljana. Could you take us through some of the works you are showing there and tell us how they fit into the "disruptive feedback loop", how they embody this idea of networked disruption?

The idea for this exhibition was to refer to the book because the people who are part of the exhibition are also featured in the book but i also wanted to bring it to the present. That was a bit complicated because when you write a Phd you don't necessarily start to think about how to translate it into an exhibition.

Networked Disruption. Exhibition view at Škuc Gallery. Photo: Miha Fras

I also wanted to try and reflect on the modality of curating, of presenting networks of networks that are all dealing with disruption and at the same time i wanted to have the opportunity to reflect on what disruption means as a strategy that is interfering with from within the systems. At that point i'm going to mention another reflection i made in the book about whistleblowing. Whistleblowers are people who are not only acting inside the system (they work for corporations, secret services, governmental agencies, etc.) but to me, they are also creating détournements of perspective because they facilitate an important moment of change. And there is also this idea of unpredictability. A person who was regularly working for a corporation or an agency is suddenly turning out to be somebody who's revealing the misconducts of the corporation or entity they work for.

I think that whistleblowers are actually artists because if we think about the history of art, going back to the Avant-garde and reflecting on this moment of détournement, shock, change and unpredictability, then it is exactly what whistleblowers are doing. They create shock and change And it's interesting because this applies also outside the metaphysical aspects of art. I mean it's not just civil disobedience, it's something that is having consequences on their daily life. There is no way back for them.

In that sense, it is also a very important act. Everyone could be a whistleblower. Every person who works into this closed system could wake up and say "I don't want to do this anymore" and they could start revealing secrets. It's also really interesting for me because it happens in the context of everyday life. We could say that the avant-garde was still really working into the art field. The idea was to bring life in to art... You know the usual sentence! But the perspective changed after the end of the seventies, even with punk culture or the idea of hacker cultures and many of the practices exhibited in the show, such as Luther Blissett and Neoism. These people had the idea of bringing art into life. It's thus something different. And that's what i'm interested in. I'm interested in the moments when art goes out of the usual structures and constraints and becomes something that everybody could apply into their own life. From this point of view, a whistleblower is an artist because he or she totally follows a perspective in which you create détournement of a point of view. That's the reason why i included some whistleblower projects and some practices connected to whistleblowing in the exhibition.

Networked Disruption. Exhibition view at Škuc Gallery. Photo: Miha Fras

Networked Disruption. Exhibition view at Škuc Gallery. Photo: Miha Fras

In the first room of the show, you can see the work of Julian Oliver, Laura Poitras, Trevor Paglen. Then we look at the roots of practices that come from subcultural groups that were active in the 80s and 90s (Luther Blisset, the Neoism movement, The Cacophony Society, the Billboard Liberation Front, etc.

Networked Disruption. Exhibition view at Škuc Gallery. Photo: Miha Fras

Networked Disruption. Exhibition view at Škuc Gallery. Photo: Miha Fras

Networked Disruption. Exhibition view at Škuc Gallery. Photo: Miha Fras

And of course mail art because mail art has a connection with art, and also because mail artists spoke about how art does not necessarily have to be connected with the gallery system. Everybody can be an artist, everybody can do mail art. Besides, in some situations, people used mail art to circumvent surveillance. In the DDR for example.

Together with VIttore Baroni we created a create a timeline of mail art in relation to disruption but we also asked people to send works of disruption to the Škuc gallery.

These lines of inquiry reach the discourse of Anonymous, a practice that is totally in line with the discourse of anonymity and also with the disruption of identity and the discourse of dismantling a single truth. These aspects were already important in Luther Blissett and Neoism, they were playing with the idea of the truth of the media, of the identity, of the art field and they even played with their own practices. Many Neoists were indeed claiming they were not Neoists or they were coming up with different definitions of Neoism. I think that Anonymous is directly connected to that. Not only because the group is made of people whose identity you don't know but also because they are bringing together this aspect of political engagement but without the political mandate and they are having fun in the process, 'doing things for the Lulz' as they say.

Nowadays the moment of criticism is changing, especially for the hacker culture. Today if you want to look for enemies, these enemies are so powerful that you know you will never win the battle. This is the era of Big Data so tell me "Who is the enemy?" Since Snowden, we know about surveillance, we know that the enemy is totally pervasive. So if you want to be critical, then your strategy, your practice also need to be pervasive. I think that this is exactly what Anonymous is doing. Even if their operations identify the so-called 'enemy', they are so distributed that you know there is not one single mission. There is a plural aspect of dealing with anonymity. So i found it to be a very important strategy and one directly connected with whistleblowing because we know that one of the last operations was involving AntiSec and Jeremy Hammond. He leaked to wikileaks private data and sensitive information from the Stratfor corporation. That was an act of whistleblowing. And indeed Hammond got 10 years in jail for it.

Connected to that there is also the discourse of Barrett Brown. So you see that everything is connected.

What i'm trying to do in this exhibition is to draw these connections but at the same time i didn't want to be just the curator in a hierarchical way. I decided that i wouldn't be the only person taking the decisions. I worked with an internal individual from each group. We decided together to exhibit certain aspects of the entity or group and we were totally conscious that we were not doing a historical exhibition because that would have been impossible. Instead, the show analyzes some specific aspects of each group that we think are important in relation to disruption and then the show connects these aspects together. The idea was then to create a network of networks in relation to networked disruption. The title is thus networkED disruption as in "disruption among networks" and also inside of them. It is also connected to the idea of the disruptive loop because the loop is creating a network for disruption in which different agents participate to a feedback loop.

I was watching the video of the talk you gave at re:public last year. At some point, you were explaining that hacking cannot be disconnected from business in the U.S. You gave Burning Man as an example. Could you expand on this connection?

When i was at Stanford during a visiting scholarship during the PhD research, i met Fred Turner and we had interesting conversations. He wrote this book From Counterculture to Cyberculture. He was claiming that, at least in California, the development of hacker culture was always intertwined with business. He doesn't like to speak about co-optation but about layering, with things that don't just co-exist but are intertwined. i was inspired by this idea of layering and i tried to recreate it by analyzing artistic practices. In layering, there is a coexistence of opposition. And they are not oppositions from the outside, the oppositions are all living inside this loop. In my first scenario, i analyzed this practices by referring to Walter Benjamin, especially the idea of dialectical image that is the moment in which oppositions coexist. Business, disruption, art and hacking all together at the same time create something which in Germany they call Denkbilder ('thinking image'.)

Going back to the exhibition, you could say that it is the coexistence of oppositions because these groups were active at the same time but were never necessarily in contact.

Networked Disruption. Exhibition view at Škuc Gallery. Photo: Miha Fras

Networked Disruption. Exhibition view at Škuc Gallery. Photo: Miha Fras

Networked Disruption. Exhibition view at Škuc Gallery. Photo: Miha Fras

The show also looks into the idea of business disruption with projects that are directly related to web 2.0 and social media. They are the most recent one such as Anna Adamolo and the collective Les Liens Invisbles. They are analyzing the Facebook system and other social media and creating disruption from within it by really understanding how the system of virality works.

After long discussions with Janez (Janez being one of the producers of the show), we also decided to have a Janez Janša work. We are showing the letter in which the three artists communicate to the Prime Minister Janez Janša that they are becoming Janez Janša. Again, this was a moment of change that interfered with their private life (just like what happened with the whistleblowers). it is also a strong act of creating an unpredictable change in their life and also as artists.

Are you planning to show Networked Disruption anywhere else?

Yes, we are about to move the exhibition to Croatia. The opening is on the 23rd of April and the show will be up until the 14th of May. It's at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Rijeka. The idea is then to move it to move it to the UK in 2016 as part of the AND Festival. I'm also trying to bring it back to Berlin. So it's going to be a traveling show.

How did the public react to the show? Did it echo with their own life?

The feedback we got in Slovenia is very positive, including among young people. I don't want to sound like a grumpy old lady but it is sometimes difficult these days to make young people understand that social networking is a practice that has a history, that Facebook hasn't invented everything from scratch. The show wants to highlight that social practices can be imagined in a different way, that if you understand a system, you can play with it. And play from the inside.

Trailer of the documentary DRONE directed by Tonje Hessen Schei

You are the director of the Disruption Network Lab in Berlin. I noticed the very promising title of an upcoming event on the homepage. It's called Launch Event: Drones. What have you programmed for the event?

Last year, i applied to the Hauptstadtkulturfonds, the culture fund of Berlin and i got a grant to develop a one year program (hopefully we will manage to go beyond one year.) My idea was to build upon the PhD research and the practice-based experience i had with Transmediale with the reSource program. So i decided to develop a platform of events and research that will take place at the Kunstquartier Bethanien in Berlin.

There will be 6 main events. One every 6 weeks. They are scheduled in April, May, August, September, October and December. Each event focuses on a different topic but all are aligned with the discourse of disruption as a concept which means 'to interfere with the system from within.'

Each specific thematic will be analyzed from different points of view. They will also together people who approach the subject from different perspectives. Hackers, artists, whistleblowers, activists, investigative journalists, researchers, critical thinkers, etc.

The first event is called Drones. Eyes from a Distance and we'll be analyzing the politics and strategies within and behind the drone usage. Somehow, drones are these invisible weapons that you know are used during conflict. They also have some kind of mystical aura. Mystical and horrifying. You know drones can kill people and they do it in a massive way. They are operated at a distance so they are part of the discourse of deterritorialization of conflict. At the same time, drones are becoming widespread in society. Amazon is using them to deliver parcels. Journalists are using them for filming from above. Makers and hackers are using them in their DIY experiments.

So this topic obviously opens up a lot of discussions.

This event will last 2 days. The model of the Disruption Network Lab events is a series of panels, discussions, keynotes and workshops sometimes. We also try to connect with other spaces in Berlin.

For the launch event, we will have a drone operator coming from the US. He used to work in the army there until he decided to become a whistleblower by discussing in public what it means to be a drone operator and how the work interfered with everyday life. There will be a panel with an investigative journalist, a criminal lawyer working specifically on Palestine questions, and activists from Gaza (if we manage to get them here as it's tricky to get all the permissions).

The following day, we have a second panel with another investigative journalist, an artist working on the mapping of strikes, and then a Norwegian film maker. His film, DRONE, will also be screened at the event.

We will also document the event and upload all the videos online.

Thanks Tatiana!

Networked Disruption. Exhibition view at Škuc Gallery. Photo: Miha Fras

Networked Disruption, an exhibition and a series of events produced by Aksioma and Drugo more in collaboration with several partners. The show is up until April 3 at Škuc Gallery, in Ljubljana, Slovenia.
More photos of the exhibition. and of its opening.

Do check also the PDF guide of the show.

The 3D Additivist Manifesto

A few days ago, i was at Parsons Paris for reFrag: glitch, a series of workshops, talks and performances that address the multifold ways in which glitches manifest and/or are mobilized artistically in our lives. Participants talked about flash crashes in the financial market (more about that one soon), wacky operating system from the early nineties, Spinoza glitches, archaeology of bugs, etc. It was good, brain-stimulating and intense. We even watched the documentary of a fist fucking performance. Here's the project page if you're into that kind of entertainment.

Rourke presenting at reFrag: glitch.Photo by Benjamin Gaulon

Audience at reFrag: glitch.Photo by Benjamin Gaulon

I'll probably write an incomplete but enthusiastic post about the event in the coming days but for now, i'm going to kick out the reports with Morehshin Allahyari and Daniel Rourke's presentation of the 3D Additivist Manifesto + Cookbook. Rourke was in Paris. Allahyari spoke to us via skype.


Morehshin Allahyari, Dark Matter

Allahyari and Rourke's 3D Additivist Manifesto is an invitation to artists, researchers, activists and critical engineers to submit ideas, thoughts, and designs for the future of 3D printing. The submissions should reflect on the current state of additive manufacturing, identify the potential encoded into the most challenging 3D printed objects and push the technology to its most speculative, revolutionary and radical limits. Once collected, these submissions will form The 3D Additivist Cokbook.

Morehshin Allahyari, Daniel Rourke, The 3D Additivist Manifesto. Sound design by Andrea Young

The project started germinating in the artists' minds when Rourke interviewed Allahyari for her project Dark Matter, a series of 3D printed sculptures that combined objects, beings and concepts forbidden by the Iranian government. Most of these objects look pretty harmless to us. However, in her native country, a dildo, a dog, a satellite dish, a Barbie, or a neck tie (??) are frown-upon and in some case strictly forbidden. The work is both an archive of vetoed objects and an encouragement to those who live under oppressions and dictatorship to use the printer as a tool for resistance.

Allahyari and Rourke have recently teamed up for the 3D Additivist Manifesto + Cookbook, a works that brings together art, engineering, scifi and digital aesthetics under a mind-blowing and slightly weird umbrella.

Photo: Adrian Gaut for Wired

Julien Maire, Man at Work, 2014

The cookbook is inspired by William Powell's Anarchist Cookbook. Written in 1971, the manual brought together various readily available sources of knowledge and offered instructions on how to build bombs, make drugs, hack arcade machines, etc.

Other sources of inspiration for the 3D Additivist Manifesto include recent 3D printing projects such as the 3D printed gun, Julien Maire's (amazing) 3D animation that uses 3D printed objects instead of film and F.A.T.'s Free Universal Construction Kit.

One last major source of inspiration is Donna Haraway. Because the scholar is the author of the Cyborg Manifesto of course. But also because she believes that the Anthropocene is not a radical enough way to describe our era. Human beings are putting themselves in a situation similar to the one that the cyanobacteria experienced at the beginning the Earth history. They made life breathable for other other organisms by converting CO2 into oxygen, and they almost killed themselves in the process. Haraway suggests that we call our era the Cthulhucene.

reFrag:glitch, a collaboration between Parsons Paris and The School of the Art Institute of Chicago's Film, Video, New Media & Animation Department, is an international Glitch Art event that ran from the 19th to the 23rd of March 2015.

During the last edition of the GAMERZ festival, i discovered the existence of the Copie Copains Club (Copy Companion Club), a community of artists who copy each other. To become a member of the club, you either copy a fellow artist or you are copied by them. It's that easy!

Copie Copains Club aims to highlight the art of copying in the Post-Internet era. Today, the works and their representations circulating on the web become themselves available materials, ready to be replayed by other artists. At a time when production companies and governments toil to outlaw copying, CCC aims to be a space where everyone can freely enjoy the copying: a playground where contemporary artists or geeks designers of all generations and all countries can question their relation to intellectual property and their own creation.

Copie Copains Club is a cheerful, provocative project. More importantly, it offers the art community an informal space to discuss copyright, creativity, plagiarism, fair use of existing images and other issues that the art world has long been debating over but that internet culture has reinvigorated.

It is also interesting to note that the initiative comes from France, a country where copyright infringement laws are particularly stringent.

Photo Luce Moreau for GAMERZ

Joëlle Bitton, Weather Desktop Project. Photo Luce Moreau for GAMERZ

.... inspired by Olafur Eliasson's The Weather Project

Copie Copains Club started as a platform and a licence but the experiment was given the opportunity to take on a physical presence when GAMERZ invited the artists behind CCC to curate an exhibition based on the works that follow the CCC rules. Some of the 'copies' merely put an humorous spin on the original, others added depth and an extra layer of reflection.

I talked to artists/curators Emilie Brout, Caroline Delieutraz & Maxime Marion about the CCC experience:

(The artists answered me in french. Just scroll down to read the original text.)

Hi, Caroline, Emilie and Maxime! I like the name Copie Copains Club. It's cheerful and melodic. Why did you chose this name? What did you want to convey with it?

We wanted a meaningful, funny and that sounded good. The CCC is a club of friends who copy each other. Like the project, it is "cute" but also a bit provocative, in particular because it includes the term copy, even if we're actually talking more about détournements, remixes and tributes. The acronym "CCC" is rich in references, and "CCC license" is a direct spin on the Creative Commons license.

Why did you start this project? I remember Maxime telling me in Aix-en-Provence about the situation of p2p exchange in France. So is there a political motivation behind the CCC?

There is of course a political motivation, especially in a country like France where the right to intellectual property is particularly strict. Add to that laws such as HADOPI and a long tradition in which the artist is both protected but also hindered in its practice. The artist is not necessarily a victim of the copy, it feeds on it. The CCC is intended to dramatize a little bit this issue, attacking the copyright idea collectively with a smile and some nice nuances. But we also wanted to create a playground, a space for exchange and dialogue that uses artworks as a go-between.

Djeff, Super Google Clouds. Photo Luce Moreau for GAMERZ

Djeff, Super Google Clouds. Photo Luce Moreau for GAMERZ

... inspired by Cory Arcangel's Super Mario Clouds

Many people like to repeat Picasso's quote "Good artists copy, great artists steal." Nonetheless, copying still has a bad rep' in society of course but also in the art world. Why do you think there is still a lot of stigma in art against copying?

Copying in creation is a very old question, and it is surprising to see that it is still raised in a society where ownership and piracy are completely mainstream (who has never used one of the first images popping up on a Google search without even wondering where it came from?) What remains sensitive, is the personal relationship that each artist has with their creation, their own "originality". Many artists are still afraid of being dispossessed, yet each work, inspired or not by another one, matters for the personality that the artist will inject into it. The CCC is also a place where you can show without any embarrassment works that look a bit too much like other works (whether they were produced before or after), a place where everyone and no one can be called a copycat.

S. Aubry & S. Bourg, One shot date painting. Photo Luce Moreau for GAMERZ

Arnaud Cohen, More Human Than Human. Photo Luce Moreau for GAMERZ

How was CCC received by artists whose work had been copied? Did they all feel flattered or did the copies create discontent? Did you find for example that artists who are used to working in tech/digital/new media contexts react differently from artists who are working with more 'traditional' media and ideas?

For an active member of the CCC, being copied is a great honor, it means that someone took the time to reflect on, study, question your work ... The 4th rule of CCC requires you to notify the original author of the fact that they have been copied with a message like this: "Hello, you have been copied with such project, unless you specify otherwise you are now a member of the club and are now free to copy whoever you want". This friendly approach may explain why there has ultimately never been any problem nor removal request. Regardless of age or discipline, the project was generally well received, even by the most recognized artists. And if there is no reaction, we assume that "Silence is consent." This is what the club advocates: we first copy, then we inform, which is subtly different from the standard practice.

How is the CCC database growing? Do you get regular submissions?

Everyone is free to participate and join the club as long as they follow the rules of the manifesto. Such as copying only living artists (Rule 2), or to copy a "buddy" if this is a first copy (Rule 1). The buddy list (nearly a hundred to date) continues to grow steadily. The more the merrier :)

Grégoire Lauvin, Brrrr! Photo Luce Moreau for GAMERZ

Grégoire Lauvin, Brrrr! Photo Luce Moreau for GAMERZ

Grégoire Lauvin, Brrrr! Photo Luce Moreau for GAMERZ

CCC 'got physical' for the last edition of the GAMERZ festival in Aix-en-Provence. How did you select the artists who were exhibited? Did you commission some works or did you only chose from the works already available on the CCC database?

Artists and projects were selected directly from the website, but some were still at the idea stage. For example, Brrrr! by Gregory Lauvin existed only in the form of sketches, and the Gamerz exhibited made it possible to produce it. As this was the first physical CCC exhibition, we selected pieces which references were easily recognizable, this facilitated the reading of the overall project.

However, each of these copies had their own relationship to the original work, have very different approaches: distant reference, resonance between personal experience and the one of the referent artist, purely formal détournement, criticism, etc. We were also pleased with the way the works became autonomous, conversed with each other and raised new issues, such as the relationship between "real" and "virtual", transhumanism ...

And do you otherwise work with the notion of copy culture in your own practice?

The concept of appropriation is fully integrated within our respective practices, so that this is not even a claim or a militant act as was the case for artists of previous generations (Sherry Levine, Christian Marclay, etc.) This is a medium like any other, and it happens to be ours. So we very often use the media produced by other people, we focus on their history, on the why and how they were produced, the people they were intended to reach, the paths they traveled and the way to reassemble them in order to produce new forms. This has naturally led us to reflect on issues related to intellectual property.

Thanks Caroline, Emilie and Maxime!

Photo Luce Moreau for GAMERZ

Annabelle Ameline, Où est Raymond? Photo Luce Moreau for GAMERZ

Emmanuel Laflamme, Survival of the Fittest. Photo Luce Moreau for GAMERZ

Réponses en français:

I like the name Copie Copains Club. It's cheerful and melodic. Why did you chose this name? What did you want to convey with it?

Nous voulions un nom explicite, drôle et qui sonnait bien. Le CCC est un club de copains qui se copient. A l'image du projet, il est "mignon" mais un brin provocateur notamment par l'utilisation du terme copie, même s'il s'agit en réalité plus de détournements, de remixes ou d'hommages. L'acronyme "CCC" est riche en références, et la "licence CCC" est une variation directe de la licence Creative Commons.

Why did you start this project? I remember Maxime telling me in Aix-en-Provence about the situation of p2p exchange in France. So is there a political motivation behind the CCC?

Il y a bien sûr une motivation politique, notamment en France où le droit à la propriété intellectuelle est particulièrement lourd, en plus de lois telles que Hadopi et d'une longue tradition où l'artiste est à la fois protégé mais aussi entravé dans sa pratique. L'artiste n'est pas forcément une victime de la copie, il s'en nourrit, le CCC a pour but de dédramatiser un peu cette question, en attaquant l'idée de copyright collectivement, avec le sourire et de jolis dégradés. Mais nous avions aussi envie de créer un terrain de jeu, un espace d'échange et de dialogue par oeuvres interposées.

Many people like to repeat Picasso's quote "Good artists copy, great artists steal. " Nonetheless, copying still has a bad rep' in society of course but also in the art world. Why do you think there is still a lot of stigma in art against copying?

La copie dans la création est une question très ancienne, et il est étonnant de voir qu'elle est encore sensible dans une société où l'appropriation et le piratage sont complètement banalisés (qui n'a pas déjà utilisé l'une des premières images renvoyées par Google sans se demander d'où elle provenait ?). Ce qui reste sensible, c'est le rapport personnel que chaque artiste entretient avec sa création, sa propre "originalité". De nombreux artistes craignent ainsi encore de se faire déposséder, or chaque oeuvre, inspirée ou non d'une autre, compte surtout pour la personnalité que l'artiste va y injecter. Le CCC est donc aussi un lieu où l'on peut montrer sans gêne des oeuvres qui ressemblent un peu trop à d'autres (qu'elles aient été produites avant ou après), un lieu où tout le monde et personne ne peut être traité de copieur.

How was CCC received by artists whose work had been copied? Did they all feel flattered or did the copies create discontent? Did you find for example that artists who are used to working in tech/digital/new media contexts react differently from artists who are working with more 'traditional' media and ideas?

Pour un membre actif du CCC, être copié est un grand honneur, cela signifie que quelqu'un a pris du temps pour se pencher sur son travail, l'étudier, le questionner... La règle 4 du CCC impose de notifier l'auteur original du fait qu'il ait été copié, avec un message du type : "Bonjour, vous avez été copié avec tel projet, et sauf mention contraire de votre part vous êtes à présent membre du club et êtes libre de copier qui vous souhaitez à votre tour". Cette approche sympathique explique peut-être qu'il n'y ait finalement jamais eu le moindre problème ni aucune demande de retrait. Indifféremment de l'âge ou de la discipline, le projet est généralement bien reçu, même par les artistes les plus reconnus. Et s'il n'y aucune réaction, nous partons du principe que "qui ne dit mot consent". C'est ce que revendique le Club : on copie d'abord, on informe ensuite, ce qui est subtilement différent de la pratique courante.

How is the CCC database growing? Do you get regular submissions?

Chacun est libre de participer et de devenir membre du club tant qu'il respecte les règles du manifeste, comme le fait de ne copier que des artistes vivants (règle 2), ou de copier forcément un "copain" s'il s'agit d'une première copie (règle 1). La liste de copains (près d'une centaine à ce jour) continue de s'allonger régulièrement. Plus on est de fous plus on rit :)

CCC 'got physical' for the last edition of the GAMERZ festival in Aix-en-Provence. How did you select the artists who were exhibited? Did you commission some works or did you only chose from the works already available on the CCC database?

Les artistes et projets ont été directement sélectionnés sur le site, mais certains n'étaient alors qu'à l'état d'idée. Brrrr! de Grégoire Lauvin par exemple existait uniquement sous forme de croquis, et l'exposition soutenue par le festival Gamerz a permis de la produire. Comme il s'agissait de la première exposition physique du CCC, nous avons choisi des pièces dont la référence était assez reconnaissable, pour faciliter la lecture du projet global. Mais ces copies, ayant toutes un rapport différent à leur original, présentent des approches très variées : référence lointaine, résonance entre son expérience personnelle et celle de l'artiste référent, détournement purement formel, critique, etc. Nous avons également été ravis de la manière dont les oeuvres, alors devenues autonomes, dialoguaient entre elles et soulevaient de nouvelles problématiques, telles que le rapport entre "réel" et "virtuel", le transhumanisme...

And do you otherwise work with the notion of copy culture in your own practice?

L'appropriation est une notion complètement intégrée dans nos pratiques respectives, si bien qu'il ne s'agit même plus d'un acte revendiqué ou militant comme cela pouvait l'être pour des artistes des générations précédentes (Sherry Levine, Christian Marclay...) : c'est un médium comme un autre, simplement c'est le nôtre. Nous avons donc recours extrêmement souvent à l'emploi de médias produits par d'autres personnes, en nous intéressant à leur histoire, pourquoi et comment ils ont été produits, à qui ils sont destinés, quels chemins ils parcourent et comment les réassembler pour produire de nouvelles formes. Nous avons donc été naturellement amenés à réfléchir aux questions liées à la propriété intellectuelle.

Merci Caroline, Emilie et Maxime!

Previously: The 10th edition of GAMERZ. From dancing trash bag to dichotomic perception + Hold On, when a joystick manipulates Hollywood.

The so-called Centennial Light has been burning for 113 years. It graces the ceiling of the Livermore-Pleasanton Fire station (in California), has its own live cam and is often cited as evidence for the existence of planned obsolescence in later-produced light bulbs. It also provides me with a fairly simple way to ease into the concept of 'disnovation'...

The Livermore Centennial Light Bulb, at Disnovation Exhibition @ accès)s( Festival & Bel Ordinaire, 2014. Photo by Nicolas Maigret.

A few months ago, the festival accès)s( in Pau (France) invited the audience to take a critical look at the idea of a techno-driven progress, at a propaganda machine that promise that new 'advances' in information and communication technologies will solve our problems and fulfill the dreams we don't even know we had. All we need to do is update, upgrade and replace our devices.

The problem is that this quest for the new, this confusion between 'innovation' and 'progress', has been seeping into other areas of the public sphere: politics, economy, eduction and art. This global phenomenon has contributed to institute techno-sciences as the core of modern dogma and the consommation / innovation pair as the driving force for the economics.

This 'Disnovation' (a term coined by Gregory Chatonsky), this techno-capitalist innovation that feeds on our fear of obsolescence raises a series of questions:

Are the continuous flight towards novelty and the negation of preceding values a human obligation, an intuitive tendency, an end in itself, a salutary value? Is innovation the expression of an ideal whose purposes are dictated by mere economic and industrial choices? How can artists become tacit actors for the spreading and popularization of innovations? How does this context result as counter-relief in hijacked, critical, poetic, alternative practices?

Nicolas Floc'h, Grand Troc Chili, 2008

A performance by Yann Leguay at Disnovation Exhibition @ accès)s( Festival & Bel Ordinaire, 2014. Photo by Nicolas Maigret

Julian Oliver, The Transparency Grenade at Disnovation Exhibition @ accès)s( Festival & Bel Ordinaire, 2014. Photo by Nicolas Maigret

The curators of accès)s(, artists Nicolas Maigret and Bertrand Grimault, invited artists and thinkers who question, comment on, fight or reveal this culture of disnovation. The festival was a breath of fresh air in my peregrination of media art events which often seem to celebrate far more than they challenge technology. The programme of exhibition, talks and performances Grimault and Maigret devised was by far one of the most exciting moments of the year 2015 for me. Sorry, i meant 2014. I am, as often, a bit behind schedule with my reviews.

I did blog about some of the works on show a few months ago but allow me to add a couple more key pieces in the exhibition:


RYBN, The Algorithmic Trading Freak Show, 2014 at Disnovation Exhibition @ accès)s( Festival & Bel Ordinaire, 2014. Photo by Nicolas Maigret

RYBN.ORG has spent the past few years studying obsolete trading algorithms. These automated traders execute pre-programmed instructions based on forecasts that become obsolete as soon as conditions change (in times of crisis, for example.) Some traders actually believe they might have as much chance of getting it right if they based their operations on blindfolded monkeys playing darts.

RYBN.ORG dissected and analysed the mechanics of these algorithms. Then, they selected the wackiest and ogranised them into a kind of cabinet of curiosities.


Nicolas Floc'h, Grand Troc Chili, 2008. View at Disnovation Exhibition @ accès)s( Festival & Bel Ordinaire, 2014. Photos by Nicolas Maigret

Nicolas Floc'h was showing a brilliant project called Grand Troc Chili. He invited people living in an underprivileged community in Chile to a 'workshop of desires' and asked them to use discarded material and craft the objects they most needed but couldn't afford to buy. The pieces were then exhibited the objects made and even offered for barter: anyone interested in buying the sculpture made during the workshop could trade it for the actual object, which was then given to its author.

Disnovation Exhibition @ accès)s( Festival & Bel Ordinaire, 2014. Photo by Nicolas Maigret

Clémence de la Tour du Pin, Computer store original, 2013 (Production accès)s( @ IFF inc). Photo by Nicolas Maigret

Clémence de la Tour du Pin worked with professional perfumers to capture the smell of «the brand new». Visitors of the show could take away a little sample of liquid that has the typical smell you detect as you enter a computer store.

General view of the Disnovation exhibition. Photo by Nicolas Maigret

Sloan Leblanc, Hoover contre Kaisui, 1997 at Disnovation Exhibition @ accès)s( Festival & Bel Ordinaire, 2014. Photo by Nicolas Maigret

Hoover contre Kaisui are two vacuum cleaners, one from a U.S. brand, the other French. They intermittently powered up and fought each other above the head of the visitors.

Julien Prévieux, Anomalies construites (extrait)

In his video Anomalies construites, Julien Prévieux highlights the tension hidden within Google Sketchup. The 3D modeling computer program allows users to create 3D buildings inside Google Earth. The software is free. Is building architectural or civil engineering structures a form of creative leisure? Or is it a camouflaged (albeit entertaining) way to work unpaid for the corporation?

Melle Smets and researcher Joost van Onna in collaboration with the community of Suame Magazine, Set Up Shop, Turtle 1, 2013 at Disnovation Exhibition @ accès)s( Festival & Bel Ordinaire 2014. Photo by Nicolas Maigret

Performance by Jon Satrom at Disnovation Exhibition @ accès)s( Festival & Bel Ordinaire, 2014. Photo by Nicolas Maigret

James Bridle, DIY Drone Shadows

The 14th edition of the festival closed on November 16th, 2014. If you've missed it, you can still follow the research on the Disnovation tumblr.

Programme curated by Nicolas Maigret and Bertrand Grimault.

Previously: How to build an African concept car in 12 weeks, The Terminator Studies and Retail poisoning, a disruption of consumerism.
accès)s('s photos of the exhibition and of the talks and performances. My photos.

Printing Things. Visions and Essentials for 3D Printing, edited by Dries Verbruggen and Claire Warnier.

Available on amazon USA and UK.


Publisher Gestalten writes: 3D printers will soon be found in more and more workshops, offices, and homes. With them, we will be able to print out small pieces of furniture, prototypes, replacement parts, and even a new toothbrush on-site at any time. Consequently, new production methods and business models are developing--along with a new visual language of multidimensional formal explorations. Today, 3D objects and complex forms can already be printed out that were previously impossible to achieve with traditional methods.

Printing Things is an inspirational and understandable exploration of the creative potential of 3D printing. The book not only introduces outstanding projects, key experts, and the newest technologies, but it also delves into the complex topics that these paradigm-shifting technologies bring up, such as how to handle copyrights and seamless manufacturing.

Dave Hakkens, Precious Plastic

Unfold, KIOSK

I've no idea why i waited so long to get my hands on Printing Things. Visions and Essentials for 3D Printing but i've just finished reading it and it is brilliant. Which shouldn't surprise anyone who knows the work of the authors of the book. Dries Verbruggen and Claire Warnier are Unfold, a duo of designers who have worked, experimented and provoked debates with their 3D printing experiments.

In 2011 already, the duo walked around the Salone del Mobile in Milan with their mobile Kiosk, making 3D scans of the new objects presented at the fair. They then started to appropriate, sample, remix, improve, up/downscale or copy new objects 3d-printed on the spot.

And because the members of Unfold believe that 'there can be no revolution without disruption', i'd say that it was a brilliant idea to let them edit a book that sums up and illustrates the opportunities and challenges offered by 3D technology.

Printing Things starts with a few pages that explain very clearly and briefly what 3D printing is and how it works. Then come a series of essays that explore issues such as the empowerment that the technology gives to people and the responsibility that comes with it, the right to copy and create derivative content, the way 3D printing affects the figure and role of the designer, the decentralization of production, the peculiar aesthetic characteristics of the technology, the compatibility with craftsmanship, etc.

After these first 50 pages of reflections and ideas, you get almost 200 pages of pure Gestalten paper entertainment: photos and short texts that highlight the best of what artists, designers, architects, and even experts in prosthetics are 3D creating today.

The boyfriend has been a 3D printing maniac for a couple of year. My involvement with the technology is much more distant but we both really enjoyed reading this book. I particularly appreciated the way the 'case studies' and the introductory texts cleverly balance the down to earth practicalities of 3D printing and the near future scenarios the technology might give rise to.

I'm going to leave you with some of the projects i've (re)discovered in the book:

Axel Brechensbauer, Peace Drone

Axel Brechensbauer 3Dprinted a cheerful-looking UAV that would playing loud 'clown music' and spray 'terrorists' with a cloud of Oxycontin, a pain-relief drug that also induces feelings of euphoria, relaxation and reduced anxiety. I used to think that a weapon could never be more devious than a predator drone....

Léo Marius, Open Reflex

The OpenReflex is the first open source 3D printed analog camera with a mirror Viewfinder and a finger activated mechanic shutter. All the pieces can be printed and assembled at home using a RepRap-like ABS 3D-printer.

The DIY instructions are up on Instructables.

Jesse Howard, Transparent Tools (Improvised Vacuum)

Jesse Howard designed household appliances for a not so distant future that will see people being increasingly involved in making, repairing, and customizing their own products. Each appliance is constructed from 3D-printed and CNC manufactured components based on OpenStructures, standard components, and parts salvaged from discarded appliances.

Amanda Ghassaei, 3D-Printed Record, 2012

Amanda Ghassaei, 3D-Printed Record, 2012

Amanda Ghassaei created a technique for converting digital audio files into 3D-printable, 33rpm records that play on ordinary turntables. Though the audio quality is low, the audio output is still easily recognizable.

David Bowen, Growth Modeling Device

David Bowen, Growth Modeling Device (photo)

This Growth Modeling Device scans an onion plant, 3D prints a plastic model of it and then displays it on conveyor belt. The process is repeated every twenty-four hours. The result charts the growth of the plant in little plastic models.

Dries & Verstappen, Solid Spaces (Bergkerk), 2013

Dries & Verstappen scanned the interior of buildings with their own developed hardware. The resulting 3-D sculptures are materialized with a 3-D Print.

Foster + Partners, Habitable Lunar Settlement

Foster + Partners looks at how 3D printing might be used to construct lunar habitations, using raw lunar soil as building matter.

Matthew Plummer-Fernandez, sekuMoi Mecy

Stilnest, The Cuckoo Project

Views inside the book:














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