Jason Farman

#OccupationUQAM

In "Crowd, Power and Post-Democracy in the 21st Century”, Zizek (2008) argues that when the normal run of things is traumatically interrupted, the field is open for a ‘discursive’ ideological competition. In other words, when there is a crisis.

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After our class yesterday there was a l’UQAM  occupation. It ended late into the night with an unnecessarily large police presence in riot gear, endless tear gas burning throats, and violent dispersion strategies. The night occupation was an immediate reaction to the events of earlier that day at UQAM.

Today, on the campus of the Université du Québec à Montréal, facing a court order demanding that classes be held and the threat of expulsion issued by their administration, hundreds of students turned up to disrupt classes and enforce their democratically voted strike mandate.

In response, the university administration called in the Montreal police, who arrived in full riot gear with pepper spray, tear gas, rubber bullets and batons at the ready. Paradoxically enough, their stated role there was to ensure that classes could occur as scheduled.

The students were shortly boxed in. The bulk of the reported 22 arrests happened as riot police swept onto campus. Students then set up barricades, and police formed a line and prepared to move in.

The occupation was also a response to the larger institutional issues of the different forms of violence against students (physical, economic, etc) and the austerity myth. The violence of those in power is much more insidious and invisible than the violence of destroying university property, which creates an unbalanced imaginary in this political struggle.

When we see images in the media and read the discourse of others which try to decontextualize a serious and complicated issue, and only focus on ‘violent protestors doing damage to property’ we must remember history, context, and the nuanced ways that bodies are excluded from spaces. What are the modes of recourse against the systemic and systematic violence we are faced with? Yes, all of us! Whether we recognize it or not. Although, some of us are affected by institutional violence more than others, which is where our friend intersectionality comes in. And even then, we must self-reflect what subject position we are coming from in the ways in which we orient towards events like the occupation last night. Why do we have x or y opinion on protests/protestors? What has shaped that perspective?

We must also remember the ways in which regulatory powers favor property over human bodies. When are riot gear, teargas and rubber bullets, etc. appropriate modes of policing bodies? (remember the Jason Farman example about increased security cameras pointing to computer labs and not for the safety of students on campus.)

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Photos courtesy of Caroline Ramirez.

Blog Post 3: Authenticity & Virtual vs. Physical Bodies and Spaces

Virtual spaces are created and re-created by physical bodies in virtual form, and virtual bodies are created through virtual space, which is socially produced. (Lefebvre) What is fascinating to me about virtual spaces is that the boundaries of communication in physical interactions do not exist: bodies often communicate what they think with less guard than in physical life. Of course the opposite can be argued that bodies create a specific tailored self-image online censoring the communication they share, and this is the case when it comes to self-branding as a micro-celebrity. However, in the physical world bodies rarely interact with other strange bodies, but online this social taboo is broken unlocking vast spaces of connection and “free” communication.

98f76919Virtual spaces serve as sanctuaries for like-minded bodies. They provide a connection to other similar bodies that would otherwise have no support through traditional physical space. I personally rely on a virtual community for support regarding my lifestyle choice, as there is no physical space in my geographic location that provides connection to other like-minded bodies and support in this realm. My embodiment of these virtual communities on YouTube and Instagram have become habitual routes of travel forming my unconscious perception through my perceived space. When I am in these virtual community spaces I feel connection, support, ease, happiness, and belonging, creating a sense of home that can be felt through my embodiment online and in the physical space I inhabit at the time: sensory inscribed body. (Farman) Whether the online bodies are authentic is subjective. Some online bodies are more authentic than their physical counter-parts. For example, many introverts become extroverts when expressing themselves and connecting with others in online space, whilst in the comfort of their own personal physical space in solitude. Western  culture is built on the belief that authenticity exists, and is of great importance. People are obsessed with knowing the real truth. There is a heightened fear of “fake” people, or becoming fake yourself that drives this obsession, feeding consumerism as a solution for authenticity. Authenticity of online and physical bodies is an erroneous myth. Other bodies cannot decide the authenticity of someone’s embodiment due to intersubjectivity. (Farman)

onlinepersonaThe downfall to this lack of a social border that the physical world is tainted with is that it opens the doors to shaming, hatred, prejudice and violence through surveillance and sousveillance. In this refuge, where spaces are co-created by like-minded bodies, there also exist bodies with opposing cultural beliefs and perceptions. Because of the encouragement for “freer” communication with other virtual bodies, opposing bodies often say more exaggerated claims than they would ever consider doing in the physical world.

The regulations to keep online communities in-check is as un-just as the laws to enforce “peace” in physical space. They are corrupted by double standards, bias, whiteness, sexism, and heterosexual normality.

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Virtual space has many of the same dimensions and characteristics of physical space and should be thought of with equal importance. Virtual bodies are authentic embodiments of physical bodies and online lives should not be dismissed as less important.

 

Questions:

Is it possible to construct a fair system of conduct online without taking away bodies’ right to express themselves, or any forms of oppression?

Why is it that bodies are so concerned with the authenticity of other bodies and representations of themselves? When online bodies are created through virtual embodiment, even if their online body is completely different from their physical counter-part, isn’t there still authenticity to the online embodiment if they are creating it with?

Sources:

Lefebrve, Henri. “The Production of Space.” In Gieseking, Jen J. And William Mangold, (Eds.), The People, Place, and Space Reader. (289-293). London: Routledge.

Farman, Jason. (2012). Mobile Interface Theory Ch. 1 “Embodiment and the Mobile Interface” (16-34) London: Routledge.

Greenwald, Richard. “Why Is ‘Authenticity’ So Central To Urban Culture?” City Lab. 31 Jan. 2013. Web. 29 March. 2015.

Read more about the obsession of authenticity.

 

Week 8 — Notes : Locative Arts and Mobile Media

Hello! Our two readings for this week deal with locative arts and mobile technologies and the ways in which we experience them with our sensory-inscribed bodies.

Jason Farman‘s chapter helps us frame our understanding of Hemment’s survey of locative arts projects, and this week and next week’s themes of digital/online space. It is a tough chapter, so below are some of guiding points to focus on. For continuity I have also included some guiding questions to Hemment’s piece. Of course you are also welcome to focus on other parts if they are suited towards your research goals. 🙂

If you have any questions/muddy points of the readings, post a comment!

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Week 4 — Notes

One of the ways to analyze the environment is with maps through mapping. This week we focused on mapping, environmental experience, and perception. We also had a riveting guest lecture, “Behind the Map Behind the Mapper” focused on Ottawa from geographer Caroline Ramirez from the University of Ottawa. Her presentation gave us a real-life contemporary example of how those behind maps make decisions for those who are mapped—decisions that are marked by classism and racism—while at the same time present their plans and maps as disembodied and the way things have to be.

We tied in perception and phenomenology to mapping and discussed cognitive mapping. We drew our own cognitive maps of the classroom with hopes of incorporating some of the dominant preferences in the future. We then had a brief history of maps. We discussed how important it is to note spaces as not natural or neutral – the map is one object that has been taken as such. One of the ways to recognize that maps are not natural/neutral is through the idea of ‘silences‘. Maps exert a social influence through their omissions as much as by the features they emphasise. It is the same with images, photos, and any other visual media that is representative. You might have learned that reading Stuart Hall’s encoding/decoding. The performance of objectivity is something that a map does quite well, even though maps are constructed simultaneously with our bodies, because where there is space, we make maps to define and navigate it.  We can see this in the ways the first maps of the world were produced —they were produced by European travellers for their imperialist routes. To showcase Western domination they drew their areas in the centre and depicted other areas as smaller. This includes the famous Mercator Projection from the 16th century that still dominates our perception of the world.

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