A la recherche de l'information perdue

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A la recherche de l'information perdue
Some technofeminist reflections on Wikileaks
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Performance lecture by Cornelia Sollfrank that makes a (techno-)feminist comment on the entanglements of gender, technology and information politics exemplified by the case of Julian Assange and Wikileaks. The artist takes us in her text assemblage on an adventurous trip into the realm of zeros and ones, of data and pure information, of ciphers, signifiers and figures. On the other side of reality we encounter suspected heroes, leaks and phreaks, engineers of escape who control our secret desires. Rape can be performed in many ways. In a state of total transparency: what shall we eat, when society feeds upon the repressed? Knowing yourself means knowing what to look for.
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[Music] our next speaker or better performer is Coco so Frank Coco is an artist
researcher and university lecturer from Berlin in her work in and about digital countries she combines artistic and activist strategies to explore for instance new forms of political self-organization authorship and intellectual property hacking and women hackers Coco is co-founder of several collectives such as women and technology or old boys network she currently is a research associate at the University of
Arts and Zurich her recent book the beautiful warriors techno feminist practice in the 21st century was published this year in August today Coco's here to present her theatre performance lecture a la rochelle la formaci??n kal do a techno firm inist comment on the case of Julian Assange and WikiLeaks let's give a warm round of applause to kuzava [Applause]
[Music] [Applause] okay we didn't everyone to the lecture performance as I wish youngster your
focus your privilege and before I start I would like to thank not only the people who helped organize this fantastic event but in particular also the curators of the art section who invited me to speak here tonight the nine chapters to follow will take you on an adventure strip into the rearmost eros and ones of data and pure information of ciphers signifiers and figures on the other side of reality we will encounter suspected heroes leagues and freaks engineers of escape who control our secret desire on the road to freedom one has to make sacrifices but what remains when the way gets swampy
and Forks into twisted effective structures rape can be performed in many ways and what is missing what are we actually looking for has it been lost at all maybe just multiplied and stayed as much as it has gone away who knows we all create reality collectively and long ago have become zombies of transparency
let us assume for a moment that it would be useful to understand what information is in general that might help to clarify what we are actually looking for the problem is that information means different things in different disciplines there is no unifying and generally accepted theory of information it can be mathematical philosophical or empirical in an attempt to discuss the most relevant aspects under which information can be considered one suggestion is to distinguish between the structure approach the knowledge approach the signal approach the message approach the meaning approach the effects approach and the process approach that is very promising because it opens up a whole universe of different overlapping or mutually exclusive meanings of the term information and it seems to be perfect for the intentional as well as unintentional production of misunderstandings [Music] let us have a look at an example in order to better understand the various approaches a simple sentence Julian Assange was accused of rape on the level of communications engineering the information is coded into natural language into words and letters it consists of six different words and the letter a occurs five times si you C and E twice and the letters JL and do F R P and W only occur once analyzing the code level becomes relevant particularly with
large amounts of information and can help to save transmission time on the syntactical level the structure of information is analyzed in order to measure the information content not in terms of meaning but in terms of purely structural aspects the focus here is not the single sign but on the order in which the signs are transmitted relevant is the discriminability and the amount of information the third level considers the semantic level in order for information to become utilizable the structural and syntactical information needs to be decoded and interpreted by the receiver this is where we shift from the structural level to the level of meaning with regards to our example the receiver needs to understand that Julian Assange is the name of a person a male who the person is what is representing
what the term rape means and what an accusation is of course it is not that simple the transformation of structural information into meaning happens in the number of complex steps for the time being it is sufficient to understand the relevance of this shift in process from structure to meaning eventually we arrive at the last level the pragmatic level of information the pragmatic value of information depends on the impact the information has on the receiver the more the information changes the receiving person or system the more value it has therefore information can only have a pragmatic value if it was not known by the receiver before and thus means again in knowledge as well as the reduction of uncertainty regarding our example the information that Julian Assange is accused of rape only has a brig Matic value for people who are interested in this person in the organization he's affiliated with and with that the values and ideals this organization supposedly represents the more unlikely it is that people in a political environment with respective moral claims are accused of rape the more valuable the Rimet the information becomes after all an important part of the information is the notion of accusation generally speaking information unfolds at greatest value not just through the interpretation of specific units and strains of information but rather through the integration of the decoded parts into larger contexts this happens on various levels partly consciously partly unconsciously by doing this we reduce large amounts of information by filtering them according to specific algorithms related to specific interests while also connecting the information with already existing knowledge this decoding activity is a subjective process which is why information can never be neutral or objective so this
was what the information scientists had to say let's keep this in mind for a moment while having a look at the organization that has already been mentioned in relation to the accused person the organization that claims to open government's worldwide the organization that publishes secret information news leaks and classified media from anonymous sources international nonprofit ongoing since 2006 a digital platform enabling whistleblowers to unleash material to exercise free speech online and even was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011 the organization that exposes
transgressions on the part of governments multinational corporations and individuals which has confronted some of the most powerful by unveiling their biggest secrets corruption in Kenya collateral murder in Iraq Afghan war diary Cablegate Guantanamo Bay human rights violations the secret Bibles of Scientology Icelandic financial crisis toxic toxic dumping laughter raid accident riot in Tunisia Syria fouls NSA spying on partners female voters in Turkey Hillary's dirty laundry and so on I quote from the website one of our most important activities is to publish original source material alongside our news stories the Cir readers and historians alike can see evidence of the truth evidence of the truth information is evidence is truth evidence is truth truth is truth a powerful imagery to uncover the truth shining the light of truths into dark places thanks so much for doing this for us liberating us by giving us the truth who else could be more right than the one who holds the truth in his very hands at his fingertips sunlight is the best disinfectant right
an organization invincible led by a captain fearless and well prepared an unsensible system for untraceable masks document leaking residing at undisclosed locations keeping no logs and using military-grade encryption to protect sources and other confidential information innovative secure and anonymous its technical infrastructure is hosted in a bomb-proof nuclear shelter protected by law and concrete insured by some extra secret files just in case a wiki suggesting caller repeated collaborative effort a panel of peers we are many why not legion Commons and edits are not welcome though it's because of the rapid growth you know who should deal with all that mess and what could that do to the internal structure the culture of communication maybe it's not just cash flows concealed all along away that's none of your business [Music] uncensor able from outside and who ensures the Sun will shine who is the master of disinfection who decides what the world needs to know what we need to know it is him Julien aim the very same the heart the soul the brain of this organization its founder philosopher engineer manager spokesperson promoter financier and all the rest he makes up the rules and makes them happen autocracy here I come the sole decision maker at the top and no instance to control him what information do you need to avoid self-deception your Restless mind will never find the peace of knowing unlike Donald Rumsfeld who famously said I quote there are known knowns there are things we know we know we also know there are known unknowns that is to say we know there are some things we do not know but there are also unknown unknowns there are things we do not know we don't know [Music] the organization that generates public feelings and powerfully so either you hate it or you love it either it is the source of hope for change or the source of lasting evil you fight it or supported flows of effects render him a hero or a villain and his organization a revolution in the media ecology or an anathema to global security a fair number of people who have spoken out publicly even want to see him dead how flattering right wingers for example who should know better wasn't he on their campaign against Hillary and all the many who do love him the information partisan do they know why journalists and media organizations politicians and academics intellectuals and artists celebrities and pop stars all want to be associated with him demonstrate their solidarity and admiration provide support moral and material social movements NGOs human rights protesters activist groups and file-sharing communities information age pioneers and ideologues why do they all express their particular feelings even though these are uniformly rooted in their own individual causes and systems of belief
a central figure of digital resistance one has to ask resistance against what what kind of resistance and not least of all were fighting what for what is the ideology behind the organization's operations what is the political motivation one would like politics to be more pure than oneself and feels vindicated when this wish cannot be fulfilled and here is somebody who sacrifices himself for the cause whatever that may be the allure of the betrayed and the traitor the liberator and the level never revolutionary with his baggage of effective flows supported by different forces that outpour their feelings on different facets of the story the digital rights freedom of expression internet censorship international legal issues national security civil rights whistle blowing against multinational corporations and governments privacy and the list is endless maybe the man and his organization are an empty signifier filled ideologically to reflect the discursive mood of anyone
but let's broaden the perspective a
little bit and have a look at the culture this organization is part of the
larger context it is embedded in it is India that gave us the ingenious method of expressing all numbers by means of ten symbols where each symbol has a value of position as well as an absolute value one two three four five six seven eight nine and serum this new arithmetic with its alien sanskrit figures was an infidel system which posed an
extraordinary threat to the Western world it was not until the 15th century that the requirements of merchants and trading forced the church to eventually give in the one of the new arithmetic was very different from the old straight line which had figured as both a number and the ninth letter of the Roman alphabet Western philosophy is supposed to be an elucidation and confirmation of the unity of one a number that had been held in great esteem for long before there was one male God so the ancient Greeks one who was everything and anything first and last best and good Universal and unified it was the symbol of existence identity and being strictly speaking there was nothing else to be
anything at all was to be one while the Sanskrit one functioned in relation to the other eight digits on an equal basis the Roman and the Krieg one was taken to symbolize any individuated and in divisive entities nevertheless the new one could easily be subsumed into the old paradigm the zero however posed a real threat when it first appeared in the new string of infidel figures the old church fathers did everything they could to keep it out while two three four five and so on could still be thought of as multiples of the one zero was unthinkable if it wasn't something it couldn't be allowed then again the church could hardly be seen to protest too much about something that as far as they could see wasn't really there at all if Sarah was nothing it should be as easy to absorb as the sons but one had been and sure enough zero was eventually appropriated as a sign of absence non-being and nothingness thus the ancient unity of something and nothing could be maintained [Music]
[Music] a binary cold always consists of two symbols that configure that code since light let's introduction of the binary system in the late 17th century logical operations have been conducted on the basis of an alternating status that is zero and one such binary codes can be technically reproduced by electronic or optical signals the information saved in this way can be processed with complex other algorithms an integrated circuit is used for example in computer processing units computer scientists usually assign the state of electrical potential to one and its leg to serum the status of on or off is the smallest
unit of information a bit one bit can be 0 or 1 complex information can be mapped biologically combining several of these simple figures so it takes two to make a binary but all these pairs are two of a kind and the kind is always a kind of 1 1 & 0 make another one male and female aid up two men there is no equivalent for females no universal woman at this sign the male is one that one is everything and a female has nothing you can see
woman functions as a hole a gap a space or nothing that is not the same identical identifiable a fault a flaw a lack an absence outside the system of representations and Auto representations lacasa lays down the law and leaves no doubt when he says there is woman only as excluded by the nature of things she is not all not whole not one and whatever she knows can only be described as non knowledge there is no such thing as the woman where the definite article stands for the universal she is no place like home nothing of her own other than the place of the other which writes local I designate with a capital o [Music] the nothing the cero is meaningless but it generates endless new meanings when combined with once in a binary system both figures are equally important one might think it was as early as the 19th century that a woman namely the mathematician and writer Ada Lovelace rebelled against the cero being nothing insisting that it must be something even if it was not a quantity and she was right in terms of the pragmatic roles they play the zeros and ones of machine code oof are more then hark back to the binaries their logical symbols represent if zero is supposed to signify a hole a space or a missing piece and one is the sign of positivity digital machines turn these binaries around zeros now have a place and they displace the phallic order of ones in both electronic systems and the punched cards of weaving machines a hole is one and the plank is serum in which case there are two missing elements if missing is where either can be said to go no longer a world of ones and not ones or something and nothing thing and gap but rather not hose and hose not nothing nothing not gap and gap Sarah was always something very different from the sign which has emerged from the West's inability to deal with anything like that like zero is neither something in particular nor nothing at all and it's certainly the case that with or without the signs that represent them as inert negativities holes themselves are never simply absences of positive things this is a purely psycho analytical myth
whether they are gathering information telecommunication running washing machines doing sums or editing videos all digital computers translate information into the zeros and ones of the machine code these binary digits are known as bits and strung together in bytes of eight the zeros and ones of machine code seemed to offer themselves as perfect symbols of the orders of western reality the ancient logical codes that make the difference between on and off right and left form and meta mind and body white and black good and evil right and wrong life and death something and nothing this and that here and there inside and out active and passive true
and false yes and no sanity and madness health and sickness up and down sense and nonsense west and east north and south
and they made a lovely couple when it came to sex man and woman male and female masculine and feminine one and Sarah looked just right made for each other one the definite upright line and Sarah the diagram or nothing at all penis and vagina thing and hole a perfect match I can see the difference the difference of what the difference between the zero and the one a difference is visible because the signs are not the same as always there must be two terms to represent or precisely to form a difference a difference can't exist on its own a difference has no self no identity when it came to sex the ciphers became connected to the male and the female identity a shift from pure difference to naturalize binary a difference like between two sexes I'm irritated what would that different signifiers have to do with sexual difference in a society which privileges the glance where the psychic structuring of the infant is triggered by the pictorial phenomena no equivalence can be found concerning gender as may be suggested by the picture of two ciphers as soon as a baby is born the first examining glance checks whether it is there or not the male organ yes or no related to a pictorial phenomenon now the only thing that counts is whether there is something to see and there seems to be something missing with the serum what
makes the woman in this respect it must be at the same time a visible and identifiable image of one sex as a visible absence in this image which sticks to her image as the invisible why not admit that we are blind for the invisible sexual difference as between a zero and the one because we always have to see pictures and that means something else
the only thing I can see is an image what seems to be invisible in the image is the representation of the so-called pure or shear different again the picture is neither a signifier nor the difference but instead consists of data and data consists of pure differences thinking of the picture of the female sex is not is its own turns out that we've left the sector of visibility and reached invisibility because what makes this picture so sexy I suggest it's invisible parts especially the absence of a penis we'll try to zoom in on this until we finally reach the zone of signifiers which seem to be able to produce an exciting variety of hallucinatory effects wanting to see the image of a difference itself would mean wanting to see the impossible image of perception and the unconscious itself [Music] now let's translate this very abstract considerations into a more specific context
and I start to read the cyber feminist manifesto for the 21st century we are the modern positive anti reason unbounded unleashed unforgiving we see art with our country make art with our we believe in choice ons madness holiness and poetry we are the virus of the New World Disorder rupturing the symbolic from within saboteurs of Big Daddy mainframe the clitoris is a direct line to the matrix vns matrix terminators of the moral codes mercenaries of slime go down on the altar of objection probing the visceral temple we speak in tongues
infiltrating disrupting disseminating corrupting the discourse we are the future [Music] the Australian artist group Vienna's matrix can claim to have been the first to add feminist fuel to the flaming embers of digital network technology with their cyber feminist manifesto for the 21st century published in 1991 they declared war on the patriarchal system governing the world governing through technology governing technology their battlefield was to be the imaginary space emerging from networked computers cyberspace the space where all identity
consists of nothing but zeros and ones the as yet unexplored possibilities of digital network technologies stretched imagination and language to the limit and they called it cyber feminism a catalytic moment a collective mimetic mind virus that mobilized geek rows everywhere and unleash the blasphemic techno porno code that made machines pleasurable and wet it was the desire of Rihanna's matrix to contaminate sterile technology with blood slime guns and madness and to repurpose technology for anarchic feminist aims they considered themselves machine lovers power hackers mercenaries of slime and called for resistance against the old dominant big daddy mainframe before most people even had seen a computer their weapon was poetry language crafted to create a science fiction scenario in which the future would be unmanned populated with countless and unnamed genders technology
as a way to dissolve sex and gender see I a the intelligence agency on a mission to emancipate zeros and ones from the clutches of info capitalist data miners unleashing a feminist toxoplasmosis of rage into the masculinists data space as they claim in retrospect with the manifesto began a high positional attack on the gendered regime of technological gatekeeping via ludic linguistic incursions into the new digital fortresses where machines were enslaved to the patriarchal overlords of Commerce science and educational institutions back then digital life was
not real life as it is now what once was the future is our present and obviously these techno utopian expectations haven't exactly become our reality we have made ourselves at home in the 21st century but 25 years after the cyber feminist manifesto was ejected into cyber universe and the mercenaries of slime started their high positional game it turns out that the phallic power of Big Daddy mainframe not only rules supreme it is ever-expanding into an all-embracing control society one has to ask what happened to cyber feminism as it failed what is between your legs now zeros and ones liberated data digital slime the war machine still awaits your intention but never forget the flesh walking backwards into the future we need to remember we need to understand what we are missing critical analysis can you feel it where does it reside in your body maybe it's time for something else something better something more hard-hitting a new future that is not content with us lying to ourselves come on it's not about them it's about us it's about you and me forget nostalgia forget the good old times [Music]
this is a story in which technology plays an essential role in most stories about technology male heroes are the agents speed in the role of hacker villains freedom fighters engineers genius inventors or entrepreneurs and frequently so in combination with non-human entities if women occur at all then they are found at best helping organizing managing and promoting managers and users if you will of what men have created in the world we live in we really have a chance to live outside technology simply returning back to nature what would that be but technology is a medium of power it is not neutral as some suggest just as information isn't as we have seen it is not about the good use and the abused of technology we rarely take the time to think about where it actually comes from and what values in here to it a technical system is never merely technical the way it functions in the real world is technical but also economic organizational political and cultural elements technology is part of culture gender roles and sexual divisions are innate to such a system
artifacts are designed in particular ways they embody power they are shaped by gender relations meanings and identities hierarchies of sexual difference profoundly affect the design development diffusion and use of technologies therefore technology always reflects gender divisions as well as other inequalities [Music] since the term technology took on its modern meaning its association with men has been taken for granted since then technology is a key source of man's power and the defining feature of masculinity the rise of Engineers as a white male middle class elite with exclusive rights to technical expertise and often ideal of manliness characterized by the cultivation of bodily prowess and individual achievement it has been sold to us as meritocracy meaning power has to reside in individuals purely on the basis of ability talent and achievement a philosophy like this takes pleasure in omitting that not everyone has an equal opportunity to take part in the competition in the first place at the same time femininity has deliberately been reinterpreted as incompatible with technological pursuits what did we hear earlier a new gendering of technology a decided shift and the woman machine relationship because of the shift in the nature of machines zero is now having a place displacing the phallic order of one's unfortunately this has turned out to be no more than abstract theory while technology is celebrated as out of control it is still controlled by men digital technology is not did not liberate women as cyber feminists have hoped big daddy mainframe rules supreme non-whites non males non heterosexuals are still largely excluded from the creation of the very technology that shapes us and our world
capitalist logic drives technology like never before and we find ourselves in the clutches of an all-embracing control society which is rooted in the greed for power and more profit pessimistic fatalism would be in order if we wanted to give in and let patriarchy just reproduce itself on all levels but we don't want to give in not yet now we have brand-new feminist principles of the internet a more sober attempt to consider technology as possibly helpful for empowering women and queer people to engage what was once not so long ago the space for techno feminist utopia has become an environment in which we need to establish codes of conduct and safe spaces in order to protect our privacy and security and to challenge once more cultures of sexism and discrimination understood as part of a continuum of resistance in other spaces public and private and in between that is where we start again or continue feminists showed how the public and the private are mutually formed and how gender is fundamental to all spec aspects of social life technology and society are bound together in extra coupling and Technology itself is malleable therefore we can conceive of a mutually shaping relationship between gender and technology in which technology is both a source and a consequence of gender relations without doubt technology could contribute to redesigning gender equality but for that it would have be it would have to be based on different set of values what is needed is a new imaginary different from the material reality of the existing technological order for the time being we have to deal with surveillance and exploitation and with men harassing women online trolling daxing spamming cyber stalking him again gamergate was not an exception but rather the tip of an iceberg the expression of a broad techno culture in which men including the younger generation think they are the norm and the rest is the rest and the other not worth caring about attacks threats intimidation and policing experienced by women and queers are real harmful and alarming and they are part of the broader issue of gender-based violence in grains fears of masculinity are still abilities within all Technol cultures no
wonder our new heroes turn a blind eye to the issue being deeply entangled themselves reproductive and genetic technology is still makeup the last frontier of man's domination that has to be overcome in the mean time female bodies are still desired by males to spread their genes what does your body know that you cannot find out there in the net
the following information has been taken from a police report that was produced in 2010 in Stockholm the condom ad / 7 5 - 5 - 1 0 / G 0 0 0 1 was continuously damaged at the front the edges of the damage have been examined using a microscope the examinations did not indicate that the damages were caused by any kind of tool however minor scratches were found in the area close to the damaged perpendicular to its longitudinal direction further laboratory tests have shown that damages were caused at the rear part of the condom by a knife and with scissors and part of it was ripped off the damage caused by ripping off a part of the condom bore the strongest resemblance to the surface of the actual damage while damage is caused by scissors and knife resulted in very minor scratches the appearance of the front damaged part of the condom is shown in image one hypothesis the damage of the front part
of the relevant conduct off apart tests and examinations have yielded a finding that this hypothesis is true by a decree of +2 the possibility of obtaining the same results in another hypothesis is true if another hypothesis is true is estimated as minor in other words the condom was damaged intentionally this police report was based on information and evidence which were provided by the injured person with the intention of having the responsible perpetrator held accountable for his deeds a search for justice and for truth when the condom broke or got ripped apart the information could escape leaks ensure that information is not contained or controlled not used for conspiracy but rather that it multiplies and thus survives just like the Shelf Selfish Gene it will find for itself a new survival machine a hosting body where it lives until it is passed on to the next thus information will live forever unlike any individual being when he is dead one day the information will still be alive if you strive for immortality let the information go and make sure the new hosts will perform offspring on all continents that is what the man is striving for the more there are the more vital the information will be the
stronger will win as he always did and anyone who wants to have sex with a hero better isn't squeamish on his mission to set information free he will show neither sympathy nor mercy
some things need to be brought into the light of day we want to know the truth we demand openness and transparency we want to experience things ourselves and other people as they really are there should be no suffering no resistance no other nurse nothing unfamiliar may the light of sameness shine on all of us creating trust through more transparency this is the slogan communicate share information so I can trust you but isn't it the opposite transparency instead of trust Trust means a lack of information it is a state of knowing and not knowing if I already know it all Trust is no longer necessary so who whom should we trust who is noble enough to deserve a secret politics so we are told relies on non transparent communication like any other strategic game such as commercial enterprise for that matter
are the only ones who are not required to be held accountable politicians and corporations that makes no sense the freedom of knowing is that of controlling not of trust everything needs to be brought into the light of day Publishing all information however is just one out of many ways to deal with it apart from the fact that it's not possible anyway the inconvenient question remains what information at which moment and from whom if it is not related to a political goal transparency becomes an end in itself an ideology and we it's zombies with transparency as the new imperative how do we distinguish between advantages and disadvantages between accountability surveillance and privacy invasion liberating public data and protecting private ones all data are made of a similar substance and follow the same logic who might be able to stop the flow once it is flowing who would want to interrupt the continuum to crack and leak and disrupt the flow of capital no way the tyranny of intimacy is taking over not even politicians can escape they are not evaluated on the basis of their deeds what is of greater interest is the person itself which forces them to pose and to pretend what used to be the public space now is filled with private matters disclosure of the person instead of public interest what once used to be a space of common action now is the space of exposure of course transparency does not uncover the true reality of things do you want to lift the mask and learn the secret most likely it's not part of the data set and I have to admit there is pleasure in exposing myself if I exhibit myself I do exist the more I show and share the more attention I will get yes everyone is his or her own advertisement so is it good or bad to share all information but do they get those who have all the information more complex and confusing worlds that's for sure stored data does not change unlike my untrustworthy memory and if we take the technologies of surveillance and transparency into our own hands no more asymmetrical relationship means no more power over others no more strategic games end no more lust we have to take the risk that beauty vanishes once unbilled naked information is
incapable of generating a myth I live of that which others do not know about me and will I ever know myself in contrast to calculating thinking is not self transparent there's nothing more in transparent than the subject to herself no matter how much data I have and share information is just information only once you know what you are looking for the search can begin thank you [Applause] [Music]
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