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Politics Under Fire

Posted by Jer / May 14, 2007

On the heels of last week's uber-interesting Logocities conference, we've got another mind-expanding experience for you to sink your nerdlinger teeth into. This Thursday, May 17, the [CTRL]: Technology-Art-Society symposium is a day long event packed with panel discussions and audio/video performances that interrogate the notion of "politics under fire". The occasion brings together artists working in new media and technology, scholars who research and critique the relationship between technology, society, the arts, and politics, and members of the broader community that have developed grassroots efforts geared towards making technology a social resource.

Following a 2pm panel on democracy, art and media, the keynote presentation (4-6pm, Adams Auditorium, 3450 University St.), features renowned writer and media sociologist McKenzie Wark (author of A Hacker Manifesto). Wark's talk, titled "Gamer Theory", looks at "the significance of games in the gap between the near-perfection of actual games and the highly imperfect gamespace of everyday life in the rat race of free-market society." A friend of mine called Wark an "academic freak", which I think meant Wark is freaky smart, so it should be exciting.

If that isn't enough, the panels and keynote will be followed by an evening cabaret featuring video art, experimental electronic music, and other dj-driven sounds at the Society for Arts and Technology (SAT, 1195 St. Laurent). Organized by McGill grad students Anna Feigenbaum, Horea Avram and tobias c. van Veen, a.k.a the [CTRL] collective, all events are free and open to the public. I spoke with organizer/local dj/philosophizer tobias c. van Veen about the symposium. Here's what he had to say:

Why should people go to this conference?

As a devoted interventionist I'm not here to tell anyone why they should be at [CTRL]. The event seduces its audience for reasons that none of us can dictate. We are bringing together artists, scholars, and members of the broader community. And we, the three members of the [CTRL]:TAS project, have designed this wild encounter for one, absolutely insane, completely, action-packed day and night. That, and it's fucking free.

What can we gain from thinking about the intersections between
technology, art, and society?

If thinking in-between art, technology and society appears like a waste, then so is this planet. The 21st century is marked by nothing short than this intersection of the machine and the living. How to create with our machines? How to live with technology? How to survive when society will be faced with the massive challenges of ecological collapse wrought by our industrial assemblages? What is the world becoming but something of a program, as McKenzie Wark says, a game? And it's not only thinking: this [CTRL] event is an act, it generates action, and it grants the space for those whose work moves in the field of pragmatics.

What/who is [CTRL]

Horea Avram is an internationally active media arts curator. Anna Feigenbaum is a prevalent education and feminist activist with McGill's GRADE and many other organisations. And I switch between handling the propaganda and organisation for [CTRL] as well as running the show behind UpgradeMTL as its local
director. [CTRL] is about staging timely interventions that aim to foster critical dialogue interrogating emergent modes and methods of control. Deprogramming for the dead-end world.


the [CTRL]: TAS Symposium takes place at various locations on the McGill Campus and at SAT. Check the schedule for exact details.



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