Speak Memory Symposium 18 - PAD.MA Namita A. Malhotra, Ashok Sukumaran, Sebastian W. Lütgert, Sanjay Bhangar
Duration: 01:17:08; Aspect Ratio: 1.333:1; Hue: 21.351; Saturation: 0.047; Lightness: 0.149; Volume: 0.183; Cuts per Minute: 0.493; Words per Minute: 17.061
Zinnia Ambapardiwala is a physics graduate, trichologist, hairdresser, and system administrator. She is currently the technical coordinator of Pad.ma.
Sanjay Bhangar is a writer and software developer who lives in Mumbai. He is a founder of CAMP (http://camputer.org
), and has been involved with the pad.ma project since its inception. He is a big believer in the open-source software development model. He is currently working on a few web-based projects including a web-to-print publishing platform, a resource site for theatre in India, and online mapping and indexing tools.
Jan Gerber is an artist, filmmaker and software developer from Berlin. He develops platforms for the production and distribution of video material (v2v.cc, 0xdb.org
, pad.ma, dictionaryofwar.org
) and runs informal cinemas and publicly funded events on questions of intellectual property and piracy (piratecinema.org
). As a co-founder of 0x2620.org
, he is currently working on Pan.do/ra, the next version of Pad.ma and 0xdb.org
Sebastian W. Lütgert is an artist, programmer and writer. He lives and works in Berlin. He has co-founded a self-organized institution for artistic research in media technology (http://bootlab.org
), a cinema for movies downloaded from the internet (http://piratecinema.org
) and a non-profit organization for open-source software development (http://0x2620.org
). He has initiated various projects dealing with copyright and cinema, and is currently working on a film on capitalism, set in Dubai.
Namita A. Malhotra is a writer, researcher and filmmaker with the Alternative Law Forum (http://www.altlawforum.org
). She lives and works in a not-big-city, Bangalore. She works on technology, legality and power and is soon (hopefully) finishing a film on video pornography and a monograph on law, affect and image.
Ashok Sukumaran is an artist whose interests are in archaeologies of media, and in what haunts or underlies network forms and material distributions. Recent subjects in his work include electricity, cycle rickshaws, sea trade, and "the neighbour". His work takes the form of public projects, exhibitions, films, lectures, and long-term collaborations via CAMP (http://camputer.org
), which he co-founded in 2007.
PAD.MA - short for Public Access Digital Media Archive - is an online archive of densely text-annotated video material, primarily footage and not finished films. The entire collection is searchable and viewable online, and is free to download for non-commercial use. The initiators of PAD.MA conceptualized this archive as a way of opening up a set of images, intentions and effects present in video footage, resources that conventions of video-making, editing and spectatorship have tended to suppress, or leave behind. This expanded treatment then points to other, political potentials for such material, and leads into lesser-known territory for video itself... beyond the finite documentary film or the online video clip. The design of the archive makes possible various types of "viewing", and contextualization: from an overview of themes and timelines to much closer readings of transcribed dialogue and geographical locations, to layers of "writing" on top of the image material. Descriptions, keywords and other annotations have been placed on timelines by both archive contributors and users. The PAD.MA project is initiated by a group consisting of oil21.org
from Berlin, the Alternative Law Forum from Bangalore, and three organisations from Mumbai: Majlis, Point of View and Chitrakarkhana/CAMP.
One thing that Pad.ma is really good at is being long. Everyone here who has been in Beirut in April knows what I'm talking about. For how much longer is this session supposed to go on, before we can have a discussion?
Transcript based on: Notes on Collaboration
The tagline for this last day of the symposium is "Towards a collaborative model of knowledge production?", and I would like to take a brief look at what this "collaborative model" could be.
I do have the impression we might have to disassemble the concept of "knowledge production" too, but maybe we can still do that later.
My one-line abstract would be that collaboration can be quite a mess, and that we should refuse the temptation to steer the discussion we are having today towards just a happy collaborative ending.
None of these ideas are particularly new or specifically mine, I can point you towards a few theorists of collaboration, and a few texts they have written, but what I wanted to bring to this table is not actually based on readings, but more on observations.
First of all, I would have to make a terminological distinction, between collaboration and cooperation. Collaboration and cooperation do not form a simple opposition, but lets for one moment assume that they did.
It is a distinction that is not so much rooted in the etymology of these two terms, but rather in their historical use. Since if we want to go towards collaboration, we have to talk about the collaborator, about the figure of the traitor, the one who works with the enemy.
Because that is what we do. We are not entirely contained within the generosity of our groups, within respect and solidarity. Working together may happen in a surprisingly brusque and not at all generous mode, where the collaborators follow, above all, their own interests and agendas.
And on the other side, you have cooperation, which is what usually takes place in larger organizations, and often goes by the name of team work: the tightly choreographed and synchronized interaction between specialized units, task forces that, maybe more than anything other, communicate effectively. Plus a variety of procedures and protocols that have been established, like self-monitoring, self-evaluation, etc, in case something should go wrong.
If you want a simple dichotomy, you have networked collectives on the one side, and "the institution" on the other side. But I do not think this black-and-white opposition will take us very far. To talk about collaboration would be to look at a dark and muddy shade of grey, which I think is much more interesting.
Collaboration would mean to abandon two ideologies at the same time: both the romantic notion of fair exchanges between equal partners, but also the puritan ethics of abstinence, of keeping your hands clean, and avoiding any contact with your enemies.
And this is why I would propose, as the "model of collaboration", the model of the parasite. The organism that drops onto, and lives inside, another organism. To quote from Michel Serres: "The parasite invents something new. He obtains energy and pays for it in information. He obtains the roast and pays for it with stories... He establishes an unjust pact."
Between the parasite and the host, you will find an almost entirely abusive constellation. The parasites just sucks. Parasitical collaboration does not look for use value, it looks for abuse-value. But it is precisely this type of abuse that will make the host move, and absorb something new.
And again, lets not draw a too simplistic pretty picture of a world that has hosts on one end, and parasites on the other. The parasite is not binary. As Michel Serres says: "The parasite parasites the parasites." Within collaboration, you are never just the host, and never just parasitical. And this can be quite a mess.
Especially since collaboration itself never appears in pure form. Abusive collaboration, and more bureaucratic cooperation, are not a clear-cut opposition, and there is no dialectics in which they would give way to a third, higher form of working together. Each of these modes requires the other, for its own ends.
Without a minimum of cooperation, collaboration would rapidly disintegrate. And without a bit of collaboration, cooperative environments would come to a standstill. But the advantage of collaboration is that it can form a parasitical relation to managerial or bureaucratic cooperation. Whereas cooperation usually fails to manage, or integrate, or otherwise neutralize the collaborator.
Collaboration is sometimes confused with, but distinctively different from, the currently dominant ideology of self-regulating markets. This idea of purely egoistic participants in exchanges, where by the magic of the market, the fittest will survive. Collaboration is not an economy of accumulation, it is not a trade. It is an economy of expenditure.
The need to collaborate arises from specific situations. Sometimes you just cannot be performant, and effective. Not because it is boring. Which it may be. But because you simply cannot do it. There are situations in which you have to form somewhat excessive and unfair collaborations, because their intensity is what makes production possible. And the art is then to find a type of meta-stability that makes them sustainable.
Collaboration does not shield itself from the affective energy that flows through working together. It taps into destructive energy, in order to produce. The first parasite may steal your ideas, the next one may steal your best friend. None of them will do your bookkeeping, or even the dishes
. And at some point, these will have to be done. But at the same time, you may be able live at someone else's expense, to draw resources from other networks or organizations who are willing to open themselves up, even if only temporarily, to this economy of collaboration.
In the context of Pad.ma, none of these considerations are theoretical. They are all entirely practical. You can easily see this by the composition of its producers, a group of groups. We first of all have to collaborate amongst ourselves.
alternative law forum
point of view
With Camp you have an artist collective that has its background in filmmaking, architecture, and software development. To bring these fields together is not trivial. You also have Camp, the space, that draws much of its productivity from the fact that it allows itself to be multi-dysfunctional. Or the Alternative Law Forum in Bangalore, a lawyer's collective that started as a reading group, but could also, easily, perform the function of a critical film studies department. And I leave it to someone else to describe the various double agendas of 2620, which is Pad.ma's Berlin component. (And then Pad.ma has been founded in collaboration with two more classically cooperative NGOs in Bombay.)
I would not go so far to call Pad.ma a productive misunderstanding, but it is definitely a spiraling movement around the blind spot that may be its actual core: the individual extraction of surplus from a variety of shared resources, and shared concerns.
Also see Down and Out in All the Wrong Places (Berlin 2010) - III. Mauerstraße
How do you avoid that everyone falls back into their respective "fields", the artists make art, the software developers develop software, the bookkeepers keep the books, and the frequent flyers travel? What coalitions can you form to prevent these forms of specialization?
And I guess it is the same when we are talking about collaborations among archiving initiatives. With Pad.ma, we are looking for both: hosts, and parasites. You have to talk to Google, to filmmakers, to social activists... at the same time. They are not not going get the same story. You have to push things in directions that can be conflicting, just to get some room to move. It is good to operate within your competence, and with responsibility, but sometimes, you also have to play.
And maybe Pad.ma is not even the best example for a collaborative approach. There will be the session with aaaarg, later today, and maybe there is some resonance. Also, yesterday, there was a bit of desire to talk about Wikileaks. And in case we do, I guess we will meet the parasite, and the collaborator, again.
where i live, the archive is pirate
where he lives, there is a blind spot