For those of you who don’t know about the project, They roam darkly amidst the shadows is a curatorial research which aims to align and bring together artists-researchers, writers, philosophers and other agents of the cultural context to investigate practices and methodological processes that update the bases of Gothic Materialism. They roam darkly amidst the shadows is also a nocturnal research, a twilight or a guerrilla of insurrection. A series of days of conviviality with lunar knowledge, which is opposed to daytime and rational knowledge -in the same sense that the Gothic tradition is a response to the desire for an encyclopedic understanding of the world that characterized the Enlightenment-. One of the goals of this proposal was to experiment with the Wiki as a curatorial tool from a perspective close to theory-fiction. But although the Wiki is a format not very far from the above-mentioned encyclopedic understanding of the world, here we propose to queerize its structures and content, to estrange them, and to play with its hyperlink logics. The project wants to pervert its system of organization of knowledge, as well as the way the information is narrated. It is also an invitation to ask ourselves why hyperlinks are always rooted in the word, and never in the spaces between words or even in their shadows…
In the previous entry of this blog, we briefly shared some of the insights from the coexistence nights of the curatorial research device They roam darkly amidst the shadows. In the described events, the summoned artists shared their previous works and the lines of exploration that they wanted to develop for the creation of the open source Wiki associated with the project. In this new entry, we are going to explain some of the steps taken towards the generation of this online resource. This Wiki is first and foremost a digital curatorial platform developed as a temporarily autonomous community dedicated to speculative writing and the perversion of the logic of the hyperlink. The resulting platform has been collaboratively created by the artists Ángela Millano y Blanca G. Terán (aka dj_Sônia), Andrea González, Elif Özbay, Colectivo Juan de Madre, Raquel G. Ibáñez, Raisa Maudit, Marian Garrido, Paco Chanivet and Ana Llurba.
Before presenting some examples, let’s look at a couple of technical notes to help us contextualize:
A wiki is a type of website whose content can be edited from a web browser, and which maintains a version history for each editable page. Wikimedia is the name of a collective of multiple interrelated projects, including Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Wikisource, Wikibooks, among others, whose purpose is to take advantage of the collaborative nature of the Internet, in addition to the wiki concept, to create and share knowledge of all types. Wikipedia is a Wikimedia project that is a free, multilingual, global internet encyclopedia. MediaWiki is a dedicated wikis engine, developed for Wikipedia and the other Wikimedia projects.
We decided to develop the platform using the MediaWiki engine to see to what extent we could pervert its logic by programming with html and php.
1. THE OUROBOROS HIPERLINK STRUCTURE
Blood lines and Time Circles: temptations for a Vampire Radio soap opera by Andrea González & Elif Özbay
Andrea and Elif focus their research on the multiple layers of the vampire’s universe and its relationships with time. As a starting point, they visit the symbolism of blood and its ties: how is the vampiric a territory of biopolitical negotiation in which the normative relations of blood are distorted? Is the vampire a figure that allows us to go beyond the borders of otherness, dilutes the biological family and propose other types of filial relations, even liquid ones? What are the physical properties of vampires as a mutation, as a contaminated substance, as a curse, as a magical fluid? What is their relationship to circular time taken their mortal-immortal characterization and the references to mythology through visualizations such as the ouroboros?
Based on these questions, and as a second iteration of their collaboration, Andrea and Elif have used the Wiki to create a speculative methodology based on the idea of circular time. Their starting point was to build a structure that would serve as a basis for creating the first notes for a possible vampire soap opera. But how have they done it?
First, the artists created their own archive from a wide variety of materials. This archive groups together their experiential anecdotes throughout the days they were in Barcelona, visual and iconographic notes, and lyrical and conceptual associations. Afterwards, the artists programmed a circular narrative structure (a hypertext) in which the user-readr of the Wiki travels through the hyperlink. This narrative structure works like an oroborus. The oroborus is a symbol that is represented in the shape of a snake-like animal that eats its own tail and forms a circle with its body. The oroborus symbolizes the eternal cycle of things, the eternal struggle or the useless effort, since the cycle begins again despite the actions to prevent it.
2.THE CABALISTIC HIPERLINK STRUCTURE
La heptasección del Gólem XXI (Algritmorio) by Colectivo Juan de Madre (CJM)
In 1823, the textile worker Lazare Lanain published his only work entitled La Science kabbalistique. The manual consists of a classification of the seventy-two angels who rule the earth, with an indication of their respective attributions and how to invoke them. Emulating the structure of that nineteenth-century grimoire, Colectivo Juan de Madre intends to update its objectives, classifying the seventy-two main algorithms that govern our digital chores. To do so, they used the conceptual framework proposed by Alejandra López, Toni Navarro and Mario Santamaría in their study on the rights of digital bodies, paying attention to the materiality of the Net, and understanding it as a gourmet extension of our own organism. As an ultimate goal, Colectivo Juan de Madre proposes to build the foundations of a new cabalistic materialism, with a socialist spirit, that will serve as a literacy tool for us; an amorphous mass of wordless subalterns, users and web at the same time.
In this case, the work carried out by Colectivo Juan de Madre has consisted on a perversion of the generative logic of the hyperlink. Normally hyperlinks refer to the past; they are the gateway to previously shared information on the network. Through the hyperlink we visit something that already exists. But Colectivo Juan de Madre has worked with the hypothesis of whether hyperlinks can generate new content (make the future). In other words, if the combination of text capable of generating life was hidden in The Calaba (as the myth of the Golem tells us), the work carried out by Colectivo Juan de Madre on the project’s Wiki has consisted of finding a way (the code) capable of generating – autonomously – a new literary being. But is this possible in a predefined environment such as the Wiki?
At this point, we encountered a paradox: Wikis are environments that provide open source tools for their creation, but precisely for this reason it is very difficult to hack their structures. Taking this into account, CJM developed an extension to implement a randomness component in the content preview. In the end, their intervention consists of the creation of 7 text fragments (7 pages) that the user-reader randomly previews when they access their portal. The sum of these 7 texts make up the philosophical essay entitled La heptasección del Gólem XXI. But there is something else. Within these 7 texts (7 magical creatures) there lays the secret key to access Golem XXII: a hidden page that contains the literary manifesto of their proposal for the future
3. WHERE ARE WE NOW?
Throughout the collective research process I was haunted by the question of what to do with the platform once the research residency was over. This doubt was based on a problem: all the interventions had been carried out in the context of Encura V and have been rewarded with fees. In other words, if I wanted to be consistent with the project, I had to look for resources to continue expanding its contents under the same conditions. But, honestly, this could be a work without end … Then, and how could it be otherwise, we found the way out of the problem and the perfect ending for our beloved Wiki-speculation. ‘What if we kill her?’ Marian Garrido told me. Marian has been working with «datamoshing» processes applied to video creation for years. Datamoshing consists of the programming of a kind of “digital fungi” that work in a similar way to a virus but that are programmed to generate the decomposition of digital information. ‘What if we turn the Wiki into an undead?’ The Undead Wikipedia… Yes, this seemed like the definitive action, the perfect ending to our collective adventure. We then began to work, with the technical support of Hangar’s web programmers, in the creation of a datamoshing code to implement in the Wiki. We still do not know if this will be possible or not. But, in any case, this will be our last action: accept the death of our creature and give way to its material decomposition.
*You can check the Wiki here:
* This text has as its starting point the experiences shared with the artists Andrea González, Elif Özbay, Raisa Maudit, Colectivo Juan de Madre, Ángela Millano & Blanca G. Terán (aka dj_Sônia), Raquel G. Ibáñez, Marian Garrido, Ana Llurba and Paco Chanivet