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[- Digital Arts and Civil Rights

Author: Trebor Scholz


[ --------------------------------------------- ]

Join us for an evening with Tel Aviv media artist and peace activist
Horit Herman Peled and political scientist Yoav Peled discussing digital
cultural production and civil rights.

Wednesday, July 21, 7pm

601 West 26th Street
New York, New York 10001
Tel: 212-937 0443

(organized by Trebor Scholz in collaboration with The Thing)

Horit Herman Peled is a net artist and PhD student in media philosophy at
the European Graduate School. She teaches digital art and theory of digital
culture at the Art Institute at Oranim College in Israel. Her work deals
with Israeli colonialism and the ways in which it renders an artistic
terrain that makes it imperative for artists to choose to engage their work
as responsible citizens.

Yoav Peled is professor of political science at Tel Aviv University. His
work deals with issues of citizenship and identity, primarily in the
Israeli-Palestinian context. His book, co-authored with Gershon Shafir,
Being Israeli, received the Albert Hourani award of the Middle East Studies
Association in 2002.


Response/ Ability in the Age of Digital Terror
Horit Herman Peled

Advanced technological means of industrial production render a shift in the
traditional relationship between art/cultural producers and the social means
of production.  This paradigm shift endows cultural producers with a non-
alienated working perspective: creating within the means of production,
abolishing the artistic speculative exchange value and producing works with
a social use value tag.  Engaging in such an endeavor calls for a commitment
to human/political involvement, in contrast to the prevalent commercial
engagement in non-social or seemingly social digital works, whether
individual or collaborative.

Peled conceives of her work to be a cultural production in search of use
value folded in the social/political domain.  Her work can be viewed at:

Homo Sacer in Globalization

Chained displacements -- ground zero for terror

Gaza Checkpoint

Checkpoint Watch

Checkpoint Watch is her latest work, to be discussed at The Thing.

The land of the occupied West Bank is injured by hundreds of checkpoints.
The system of intervention in the Palestinian public space is all-pervasive.
It is designed to harass and humiliate the Palestinians in order to make
them relent on their struggle against the occupation. Rather than fighting
terror, this network of checkpoints actually encourages it, in that it turns
human beings into helpless objects of oppression and drives them to the
point of total despair. These military transit barriers are transparent,
non-existent, for Jewish Israeli settlers living in the same territories. 
The inhuman intervention in the daily, routine, life existence of the
Palestinians impelled the formation of a non-hierarchical collaborative
group of Israeli women from all walks of life and all ages.   While the
majority of Israeli citizens are complacent, the MachsomWatch (checkpoint
watch) group monitors and intervenes on behalf of the Palestinians at the
checkpoints, at regular time intervals.  Devoid of any specific political
association, the women write reports describing in detail their witnessing
accounts and post them on a collaborative online list, thus creating an
archive for the future.

What is the bodily, material witnessing function of this collaboration?

Each woman in the collaboration carries her own personal views and their
collaboration as a group is based on the principle of unanimous consent.
Therefore, the group is not committed to any specific political ideology. 
Thus, while clearly opposing the oppressive Israeli government with its
cruel treatment of the Palestinians, the group has not committed itself to
any political position with regard to Israel‚s occupation of the Palestinian
territories.  However, as events unfold, the women's intervention at the
checkpoints on behalf of the Palestinians intensify, in negotiations with
the Israeli soldiers. In numerous cases attempts are made at preventing live
bullets from shooting Palestinians kids who are throwing stones on Israeli
soldiers, at the Qalandia Checkpoint near Jerusalem, as an example. The
bodily risky and brave engagement at the checkpoints, and the active live
collaboration in the virtual, form a model that may proliferate to other
stressed public spaces as well.

What's Exceptional About the State of Exception?
Reflections on Citizenship Rights in the Post-Liberal Era
Yoav Peled

The post-war era was characterized, at least in the West, by profound
optimism regarding the trajectory of both economic prosperity and the
expansion of freedom. This optimism was captured in T.H. Marshall‚s famous
1949 essay on citizenship and social class. In that essay Marshall analyzed
the development of civil, political and social rights in the course of three
centuries, and confidently predicted that the antagonism of social relations
under capitalism would be transcended by the further expansion and
consolidation of these rights in social institutions. This optimism was
transformed into triumphalism after the fall of the Soviet Union and the end
of the Cold War, leading even to declarations of the end of history. Today,
fifteen years after the end of the Cold War, history, appearing as the
slaughterhouse of nations, seems to have made a grand comeback.

In this presentation Yoav Peled will argue that the fall of the Soviet
Union, far from signifying the triumph of liberal freedom, actually heralded
its demise. There are at least three main reasons for that:

-- Deadly violence has struck not only on the periphery of the Soviet
block ˆ Yugoslavia, Chechnya, Afghanistan ˆ but also at the very heart of
the liberal West ˆ New York City. This burst of violence was not only an
inevitable geo-political consequence of the collapse of a great power. It
also stemmed, in large measure, directly from the very efforts to undermine
the Soviet Union. This can be seen most vividly in the career of one person
ˆ Osama bin-Laden ˆ who transformed himself from a recruiter of Jihadi
warriors to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan to a dispatcher of suicide
bombers to the US. Reaction to this violence was swift and predictable, if
not always rational, and resulted in a permanent state of exception being
imposed, in different forms and to different degrees, in many parts of the

-- The opening up of the entire globe to capitalist exploitation has
made the movement of capital practically free, while the movement of labor
remains tightly controlled. The lack of an alternative economic model to
capitalism has eroded the welfare state and labor unions. All of this has
resulted in the diminution of social rights at the center of the world
system, and in greater misery in its periphery.

-- If the old dictum that all power corrupts, and absolute power
corrupts absolutely, is true within the confines of one society, it is all
the more true in the international system, where no enforceable norms for
regulating the use of power exist.

SPECTRE list for media culture in Deep Europe
Info, archive and help:

[ --------------------------------------------- ]

Submitted by TreborScholz
Posted on Sun Jul 18, 2004 at 1:12 AM EURODISCORDIA TIME

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