"Words don't have brands on them the way cattle do," said Burroughs as he sipped his Martini. Beckett scoffed as Burroughs went on, "Shakespeare, Rimbaud, newspapers, magazines, conversations, letters..." He rambled on in his slow drawn out way: "I've used them all."
Art is for the potential of temporary autonomous zones
ManifestOpen is a theoretical hack and a poetic meditation on what being open/openness may mean in the contemporary open source culture.
What we hacked is a manifesto: Hakim Bey's "The Temporary Autonomous Zone", written in the spirit of open source culture:
Anti-copyright, 1985, 1991. May be freely pirated & quoted-- the author & publisher however, would like to be informed at:
P. O. Box 568
Brooklyn, NY 11211-0568
Book design & typesetting: Dave Mandl
HTML version: Mike Morrison
Printed in the United States of America
Though seemingly outdated today, the manifesto seemed to be the most appropriate form for our intended project. Characterized by a "desire for openness and manifestation" (Puchner, 2), for expressing the possibility of new worlds (which is also what essentially defines the hack, according to McKenzie Wark; 3), the manifesto form aided us in "hacking the new out of the old". We appropriated it.
For Marx, the manifesto was to become the "poetry" of the revolution (Puchner, 222). As Martin Puchner requires, we recognized the poetry of the revolution as a poetry of repetition (Puchner, 260), so we not only appropriated the manifesto in its poetic form, but we also repeated Bey's call for insurgency (rather than revolution) born out of desire and spontaneity. In our repetition, insurgency springs into being at the intersection between art and life, at the point at which spectacle comes undone.
We also recognized the culture of the manifesto that sprang into being around the beginning of the last century, taking the form of an open international "network of travelling journals and writers" (Puchner, 188). Without looking back at it with nostalgia, we celebrated the possibility of the re-emergence of such a network in today's open source culture.
To create this theoretical hack, we let ourselves be inspired by McKenzie Wark's hack of Marx's Communist Manifesto. The guiding definition of the hack for our ManifestOpen has been (appropriated from Wark):
Whatever code we hack, be it programming language, poetic language, math or music, curves or colourings, we create the possibility of new things entering the world.
Not always great things, or even good things, but new things. In art, in science, in philosophy and culture, in any production of knowledge where data can be gathered,
where information can be extracted from it, and where in that information new possibilities for the world are produced, there are hackers hacking the new out of the old.
1) We chose the material to be hacked that was most appropriate for our intended project (thanks to Monica Garcia for the text)
2) Research and discussion about the best way to use the appropriated material. Inspired by Bey's mentioning of William Burroughs in his "T.A.Z", we decided to use cut-up techniques to produce our manifesto. Developed by Brion Gysin and William Burroughs (both of whom were inspired by the Dadaist Tristan Tzara http://www.ralphmag.org/AR/dada.html), cut-up techniques can be applied to different media in order to "decode" a "material's implicit content" and to "discover the true meaning of a given text" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cut-up_technique). "Burroughs called the word a virus, something which infects us and duplicates itself. Certain words have strong effects on us. These are either seen as holy or obscene. Other words can change our consciousness like a chant or song. By cutting these words up Burroughs believed that he could become free from their effects" (http://www.23degrees.net/cutup/).
We discovered the non-linear adding machine, which we decided to use in order to cut-up Bey's text: http://www.23degrees.net/cutup/.
3) Each of us carefully read and re-read Bey's "T.A.Z" and made a selection of relevant passages to be run through the non-linear adding machine. We pulled the text that furthered, resonated with, or was in some way connected to the tenets of open source culture (or our tenets for a desired open source culture) and organized it according to the following categories:
- defining art-making/TAZ/liberation/surplus spaces
- hacking as: a happening, motivated by desire
- closing/opening of the map
- method of self-erasure/ outside of spectacle/negative gesture
- the spectacle
- role of the manifesto as aesthetic shock
4) We printed both sets of selections, cut them up, and arranged them in the form of a manifesto (inspired from Tristan Tzara's DADA Manifesto). The arrangement was not arbitrary: we sought to put forward a message (Keep open!)
5) We printed out on translucent adhesive paper the product obtained through the techniques described at 4. The product was applied to a canvas on top of a paper fabric using the appropriated form of Tristan Tzara's DADA Manifesto (http://www.ralphmag.org/AR/dada.html). The ManifestOpen was produced.
We mailed a printed version of the ManifestOpen to Hakim Bey at Autonomedia (see address above).
6) We both recorded the ManifestOpen using Audacity.
7) Final presentation: we put ManifestOpen under the spotlight in MCM Production 1, while playing the recorded poetic text of our theoretical hack.
Bey, Hakim. "The Temporary Autonomous Zone." Autonomedia.1985, 1991. http://hermetic.com/bey/taz_cont.html.
Non-linear adding machine. http://www.23degrees.net/cutup/.
Puchner, Martin. Poetry of the Revolution: Marx, Manifestos, and the Avant-Gardes. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2006.
Wark, McKenzie. "A Hacker Manifesto." 2004. http://kebabaquarium.com/filez/WarkHackerManifesto5.1.pdf.