San Francisco, California
London, United Kingdom
MANUAL OVERRIDE: THE SABOTAGE OF CAPITAL
4 Lectures by Evan Calder Williams
LECTURE 3: THE SABOTAGE OF SPACE
APRIL 28, the ‘GLASS CORNER’, room E206, 25 East 13th Street, 7.00 PM – 10PM
Free and open to the public. Seating is limited, please register on Eventbrite.
The qualities that made sabotage one of the twentieth century's bad words - its cunning, conspiracy with complex apparatuses, invisibility, and "time-release" effect – are not qualities it invented. Rather, they are found in the basic coordinates of that century's spatial system. If, as the previous talk explored, the history of sabotage is one of drift and diffusion, moving from a specific practice in wage-centered struggles through legal and military codification to a general concept of subterfuge and hostility, it is so only as an index of real changes happening to and through the material networks of capital. This talk considers those networks and changes through the lens of sabotage, focusing in particular on two histories: the Metropolis, both as the large city and as the process of expansion that dissolves the coherence of the city/country divide, and pollution, as an idea giving the West nightmares for a good two millennia and now showing itself inseparable from daily life. Topics include: Kiev's ice barricades; Doreen Massey's feminist geography; miasma, blocked signals, and the birds of Antigone; recent digital animation; Deepwater Horizon and the burning ocean; floods of work and water; Piranesi's serpents; Günther Anders and Massimo Cacciari; the earth's crust.
The talk will be followed by a response by, and conversation with, Sabu Kohso, a theorist and translator currently researching and writing on the aftermath of Fukushima.
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All the ‘Millecento’ cars were having problems… and when they went out on the test track, they were dancing all over and making infernal noises: inside the transmission and gearbox tunnel, [the workers] had welded Coca Cola bottles.
- Enrico Auteri, head of personnel for Fiat
In a demonstration of this security hole’s potential, Salvatore Stolfo, the head of research at Columbia University’s Computer Science Department, and researcher Ang Cui, showed how a hijacked computer could send instructions to a printer to continuously heat its fuser unit — the heated rollers that are used to bond toner particles to the paper — eventually leading to the paper turning brown and smoking. Fortunately, the printer used in the demo had a thermal switch that shut the system down before any damage was done, but researchers believe that cheaper offerings without this safety feature could be used to start fires in real life.
- from IT Pro Portal, November 2011
I have not given you a rigidly defined thesis on sabotage because sabotage is in the process
- Elizabeth Gurley-Flynn, Sabotage: the conscious withdrawal of the workers’ industrial efficiency
The history of sabotage is the history of its hypothetical non-existence, of recurrent attempts to deny that it does or should happen. Barring scattered supporters, using elements of a machine, system, organism, code, network, or city against its designed function has for centuries been as maligned as actually practiced. It is called “undisciplined,” “unmediated,” “individualist,” “pointless,” “invisible,” and “sneaky,” a diversion of the correct uses of discontent. It is neither “sustainable” nor up for vote. In other words, sabotage has been accused of being what it actually is: a form of social war opposed not just to a global order of reproduction, circulation, and management but also to the most basic structures of representational politics that order strongly encourages us to adopt.
These lectures sketch a new history and theory of sabotage, one attentive to just how alien the act of turning means against their ends is to inherited ideas of political engagement. Sabotage remains an unwelcome tool and an unknowable enemy, because it implies and extends a different and ultimately inhuman kind of familiarity. It is one that learns how to listen to cues given by the circuits, patterns, and mechanisms themselves, how to access the embedded knowledge and hostility of all those materials waiting to help ruin the brutal perpetuity of work, gender, empire, and time.
When & Where
The Center for Transformative Media
The Center for Tranformative Media [Parsons The New School for Design] is a transdisciplinary media research initiative bridging design and the social sciences, and dedicated to the exploration of the transformative potential of emerging technologies upon the foundational practices of everyday life across a range of settings.