NEW.WRITING: Regarding Globalization at Wigged.net

BY: Humberto Ramirez

POSTED: Sunday 9 May 2004

The choice of collectives and artists came from inviting people I knew were working in the field and a general call for submissions that went out from Wigged onto Rhizome and other venues. I wanted to assemble a small focused group that was representative of current concerns regarding Globalization and used the web as a vehicle. I was less interested in delivery techniques or the way the material originated than in the actual engagement that the work represented in relationship to online activism.

The topic of globalization has been of interest for me for a number of years and I was acutely aware that there were great divisions in regard to this topic--from the utopian vision of Nestor Garcia Canclini to the tactical emphasis on local resistance, as articulated by Leslie Sklair onto the inevitable global stage of contestation proposed by Hardt and Negri. There are few, however, that would argue that resistance is primarily contingent and tactical; there are no overarching paradigms that will apply in every occasion.

Generally, I am skeptical of unexamined forms of “humanism,” much in the way that Hardt and Negri are skeptical of any notion of the nation’s state as a valid form of political organization. However, it is very difficult to establish a general rule. In a certain way, all these producers signify exceptions. CAE(Critical Art Ensemble) is a collective with a substantial trajectory; their performances and books have had a great degree of influence over a wide range of topics, from a critique of electronic media to their present concerns with transgenics and the biotech horizon, in general. Similarly, SubRosa is also a collective working through performances and publications with global issues, but she particularizes them into specific domains such as the International Market of Flesh or the MatriXial Technologies project.

Both of these collectives identify a global situation and then enact appropriate local “theaters” where a tactical intervention can be deployed. Drastically different is the collective Over My Dead Body, since this group relies on an empathic mode that calls for resistant global solidarity through denunciation. Agricola de Cologne’s Violence Online Festival also operates within this mode of information dispersion through testimonials and representative fictions; a large number of contributors from all over the planet address different manifestations of violence through the tributaries of Violence Media Incorporated.

I invited David Crawford (Stop Motion Studies) because his portfolio of animated photographs was so immensely indicative of the non-places that capitalism creates globally; the images are mostly of alienation, separateness but not devoid of humor, and occasional moments of disruption. There are a lot of contradictions and generalizations in these projects, and they are more general in scope than the more specialized practices of CAE or SubRosa, but they represent easily accessible sensibilities that translate into fragile, momentary, effective forms of solidarity amongst extremely diverse groups.

Finally RTMark and denniscucumber represent two types of web specific projects. Denniscucumber uses complex juxtapositions of imagery that flow from the corners of the web in a bewildering cacophony of subjects and images. I was interested in this artist’s desire to force visual and textual language conventions into extremes, potentially disrupting the code with which globalization forces rule over desire. This is, of course, a tactic with deep roots in Dadaism, Surrealism, Fluxus, etc. but relatively fresh in the form of the web remix. RTMark is a very funny and effective collective site producing projects driven by satire and dedicated to media criticism and ideological sabotage. I was interested in RTMark’s commitment to the critique of the corporation as a devourer of human labor: difference and creativity.

In summary, the exhibit intended to present a diverse group of individuals and cultural collectives working toward a larger set of possibilities regarding our contemporary moment. The most terrifying aspect of Globalization is the fact that it is being deployed at such a vertiginous speed. Cultural producers interrogating the strategies and motivations of these forces need to be supported and encouraged to promote and disseminate their contestations, which signify the residues of autonomy left for us at this late stage of the game. The Globalization project is a modest effort toward this end.

Humberto Ramirez, Curator


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