Declaration of Intentions

It might be a good idea to start this blog with a declaration of intentions, a version of a project proposal I’ve written to apply for an arts residency.
I have devoted the past year to the exploration of fiction as mode of deviation. Both my final project ‘Mini-troops of Unreality in the City of Fear’ and my dissertation ‘Fiction as a Mode of Deviation’ are attempts to tackle a set of questions that intrigue me. These two works were produced within the Goldsmiths MA Interactive Media led by Luciana Parisi and Graham Harwood.
I will now unfold the questions contained in the idea of fictional practice as I understand it and explain the project I worked on. Eventually I will give an insight on how could the project be developed further.

What I have done until now
The starting point is the exploration of contemporary societies as societies of control. Right from the start of the course last academic year I became very interested in tactics of resistance or deviation within societies of control in the field of media arts. I developed a certain attraction for tactical media, situationism, guerrilla interventions, and so on. It started to become apparent that my practice was always going to be based on a double exploration theoretical and practical. In my study of societies of control I started to focus on the production of fear as a mode of control.

Having come for the first time to London in 2007, the massive governmental campaign warning for the possibility of a terrorist attack called immediately my attention.  I started to focus on security systems, understanding them as control systems or systems for the production of fear. CCTV cameras were of course a first target; one that has been widely explored today in artistic practices. But I focused also on barbed wires, security announcements, prohibition signs, the paranoia of baggage unattended, and so on. My project became a collection of small tactics in which I was trying to establish an intimate conversation with those systems, and eventually, a conversation with authority. One of the tactics I developed was the launching of mini-troops, or what I called the practice of mini-rioting. A troop of 12 parachutists landed on specific targets in London, dead fishes appeared on barbed wires.

Another guerrilla tactic consisted on disempowering CCTV by means of fictional poisoning. I went of the streets and placed some fake vomit under several cameras and stuck a sign that read, “Cameras on this street have been poisoned and are out of order”. A big deal of the power a camera exerts on the population relies on its mere presence. The camera could be disconnected, or the tape broken and therefore not recording (as it often happens), but just because we don’t know that object is already influencing our movements. Vomiting CCTV was an attempt to tackle this question and was playing with the idea that the way to disempower cameras is making obvious they are not functioning.

I began to see CCTV systems as plagues the growth of which had escaped human will. Cameras are the cause of an infection responsible for the growth of this specie. Cameras suppurate threat into the atmosphere, this threat gets under the skin of passers-by promoting fear and therefore the proliferation of CCTV systems. The project went then a step further and I entered into the world of suppurating fiction. I thought the atmosphere of the city was getting more and more saturated with fear and threat. I thought this atmospheric fear had at some point to suffer a qualitative jump and become matter. I produced then 100 sores to place around the city and took pictures of all of them. The problem was, when it came to my own plagues and troops, they wouldn’t reproduce as control systems did. The project needed then another turn.

I realised I needed to bring together all my tactics and explorations and give them coherency through a fiction, the fiction of the City of Fear. For that reason I produced a short film, The City of Fear, and the Ungravitational Website. These two pieces were crucial to give body to what was a collection of mini-interventions. You can watch the short film in the same website, it will give you a very good idea of what I am explaining, http://www.ungravitational.net.

Having finished my project I wrote my dissertation on fiction as a mode of deviation. An excerpt was published in Nyx, A Nocturnal (see http://www.nyxnoctournal.com/issue/current/FictionAsAModeOfDeviation.htm) and I have also been selected to present the thesis at the International Symposium in Electronic Arts ISEA 2009.
The thesis starts exploring the climate of fear in societies of control. Understanding threat as a fiction opens up possibilities for resistance in the field of media arts. Threat is always a fiction in the sense that it has not been actualised yet. It is a future entity encountering an actual body and producing some effects, i.e. fear. In the thesis I explore the fiction of the threat of terrorism and its political potential as a tool for mass mood modulation. In the second part of the thesis I try to draw a map for what I call the fiction practitioner. This practice is a practice of deviation that aims to subvert the master narratives in societies of control. The fiction practitioner becomes a manufacturer of deviant fictions. As an example I explore the work of Ccru (Cybernetic Culture Research Unit).

The crucial point here is that fiction cannot be opposed to reality. Not even, as in postmodernist theories, be mixed up with it and mistaken for it. The idea is that fiction is an agent in the production of reality; it is a central part of it.

Last December I was commissioned a piece related to my project by Resonance FM. I took again the idea of the City of Fear and fiction as a mode of deviation and produced Virtual Fireflies. You can listen to it at Ungravitational.net. Virtual fireflies aim to be fictional entities penetrating the brains and bodies of the listeners via sonic infection. My words become poisonous substance travelling through audio waves and entering the bodies of the londoners to unleash desire. Unleashing desire is one of the main targets of my practice, geysers of intensity that take you out of the established course and force you to deviate, a practice of mini-rioting.


Where it could go from now

“Swarms of fireflies stalk the peripheries. Acentred peripheries, worlds in the surroundings of worlds, coexisting and making contact at some point. Making contact and igniting a hundred fireflies, peripheral bugs transmuting fear into a luminous caravan…”

Possibly I would like to take this concept of virtual fireflies further. See how they can be physically deployed on urban space, making use of as many media as we need. Work with the idea that these are bugs from peripheral worlds finding an entry point into this reality, encountering bodies and unleashing processes that are unstoppable. Luminous creatures, fictional yet real!

This is obviously just a starting point but I am positive it could be taken further into an interesting project. Working with bodies as hardware where fictions are being run, acknowledging the degree of resistance of the flesh to simply execute codes, paying attention to how a fiction is mutated when it makes contact with a body, exploring the richness of signals a body is constantly processing and how they affect it, experimenting on the manufacture of those signals, bypassing rationality.

This project will require further theoretical exploration as well as constant experimentation in the production of fictions and their deployment in urban spaces. The latter will demand for the use of different media and possibly the collaboration with other people.

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  • Contact Me

    olga [AT] ungravitational.net
  • Bio

    Olga carries practical and theoretical research in the field of media arts. She works as a co-editor with Furtherfield.org while she pursues a practice-based PhD at Goldsmiths. Her research project looks into assemblages of sunlight, human bodies and machines. She is particularly interested on subtle modes of communication across bodies of radically different nature. She looks at the ways in which electronic circuits, computational systems, endocrine processes and neurological happenings intermingle. The tools she develops are speculations about the undercurrents of body communication.
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