“For Bassel”

OVER THE EDGE
“For Bassel” 
A tribute and memorial to Syrian-Palestianian open-source software engineer Bassel Khartabil
Broadcast August 25, 2017 (Recording here)
94.1 KPFA (Berkeley, California)
Niki Korth, Jon Leidecker

Bassel Khartabil was a Syrian-Palestinian open-source software engineer and dedicated Open Internet volunteer, who greatly increased access to knowledge and online tools in Syria and beyond. After being detained and imprisoned in 2012 by Syrian authorities, he and his case became focal points for global conversations regarding freedom of speech in an era when code is speech and individual voices can be amplified online in unprecedented ways. Following confirmation on August 1st 2017 that he had been secretly sentenced and executed in October 2015, we pay tribute with a mix of sounds and interviews from many sources, including the tributary himself, his writings from prison, conversations with friends and colleagues, and music inspired by his work.

This episode of Over the Edge is a tribute to Bassel and an homage to the complexities of freedom of expression, freedom of thought, freedom of culture, and the right to live peacefully, in dignity and without fear of retribution for one’s beliefs, or the tools one builds to allow others to discuss and discern them.

Listen to a recording of the broadcast here.

Includes sampled conversations with Oussama Al-Rifai, Habib Hadad, Ryan Merkley, Danny O’Brien, Jon Phillips, Jack Rabah, Tina Salameh, and Jimmy Wales; readings by SJ Klein, Niki Korth, and Sam Sartor of Bassel’s writings from prison; and special appearance from “Self-Defense in International Law and Policy” by Javad Zarif. The conversations/interviews included here were conducted/recorded by Niki Korth from 2013 – 2016 and in August 2017. Most conducted in August 2017 took place at Wikimania 2017 in Montréal.

Links to the original pieces composed for Bassel by the Disquiet Junto can be found here.

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Bassel, Saaremaa, Beads, N. Korth (2017 / CC BY 4.0)

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Bassel and Karrim, Bilal Randeree (2011 / CC BY 2.0)

BCC Channel

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The BCC Channel is an experimental online environment that cultivates meaningful encounters with moving-image works that transcend the screens through which they are viewed. Hosted by le149.net and produced by TBCS in special collaboration with programmer Alexander Rohbs, the BCC Channel is a platform that uses live Internet broadcasts of video works alongside real-time chat to explore new spaces for discourse, where cultural and civic engagement and debate can take place, and where contemporary history can be recorded (and challenged) using contemporary tools.

The BCC Channel aims to foster an environment that supports the creation and sharing of moving-image works that reflect on, critique, or play with contemporary cultural, political, or artistic themes and the history of media that we have inherited.

Learn more and watch the replays here, or click on the individual episodes below.  OR – find those videos created by TBCS for the broadcasts here, or just drift around this site and you are sure to run into them.


Episode 1: Love, Magic, and Misdirection
=> live broadcast on 5 November 2015

Here we explore the relationship between magicians, illusions, and inventors from the early days of cinema to the present. Through video art, film, interviews, and role playing games, we discuss collaboration, conflict, friendship, inspiration and isolation in creative practice and in daily life; the role of humor in breaking beyond our assumptions; Magic as a practice of disbelief and a development of the skeptical gaze; belief and Materialism in the visual, literary, and performing arts; and the role of bluffing, distraction, and experience in games of chance and skill. 


Episode 2: Secrets, Anonymity, and Transparency
=> live broadcast on 27 February 27 2016
How, why, and when do we decide to withhold knowledge, information, or feedback in our daily lives, both private and public, and what motivates us to share it? In Secrets, Anonymity, and Transparency we explore issues of privacy, security, and openness in an age of mass Internet surveillance. We examine the liberty to choose our own systems of governing, in states as much as museums and personal computers, and ask how citizens and governments choose to distinguish between investigative journalism, whistleblowing, and treason.


Episode 3: Dreams, Fantasies, and Desires
=>live broadcast date: 13 July 2016
Here we explore the relations between reality, perception, imagination, and wishes, pondering such questions as: what is reality, really? Are machines capable of desire? What functions do fantasy personas and alter egos serve for the players involved in contemporary society, and contemporary art? What is dream work, and how does it relate to the work of memory? In asking these questions, we will examine together the role of narratives in shaping our individual and collective ambitions, and explore the ambiguous nature of truth in shaping narratives themselves.


Episode 4: Power, Fear, and Information
=> live broadcast date: 13 January 2017
In Power, Fear, and Information, we take an orthogonal look at these concepts which evoke varied impassioned, and often defensive, reactions in the present moment, where we face political uncertainty and the rise of various forms of hypermediated nationalism in several western democracies. Arguably, we are in a moment that warrants reflection on the idea of the “tyranny of the majority,” and the influence of media on the thinking and actions of the populations that carry the potential to form majorities. It is time to unpack what power, fear, and information mean to us today, and how we might repurpose these concepts to grant us more agency as tools for us to use, rather than consent to their use on us. In particular we want to examine the coercive power practiced through educational, political, and economic institutions and the agency of human creativity and thought in society that resists this power; and the role of platforms, communities, and toolsets in fostering creative practices and maintaining safe spaces for experimentation, failure, and discussion.


Episode 5: Empathy, Knowledge and (Self) Government

=> live broadcast upcoming  : 7 November 2018 (FR) & 14 November 2018 (US)

In today’s often disembodied social space, where bonds in the private sphere face a perpetual desire for public recognition and publicity, reputation and « being seen, » the public discourse focuses on the fear of others, on new mythologies of invasion, presenting the quest for truth as a vain pursuit, and encouraging the impulse to protect oneself from a supposedly dangerous « outside » that could threaten one’s way of life. (…) In this context, we propose to explore how empathy and free knowledge could re:work institutions, ways of governing, capacities to organize, private spaces, public discourses, personal and professional relationships, and administrations, making the structural systems of self-censorship, limitation, compliance, and competition obsolete. We will look at how individual and group initiatives, authors, artists and researchers have been looking for new ways of being and working, living, loving, and being together in a complex and conflicted world.


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Journal Of Bureaucratic Stories, Indice 50

Journal of Bureaucratic Stories, Indice 50, Paris, 30 April – 15 June 2015

For this exhibition in the storefront artist’s space Indice 50 in Paris, Clémence de Montgolfier used the archive of JOBS that were collected by Niki Korth in the Office/Work show in San Francisco a fews day earlier. Reading the forms and notes in English of the Bureaucratic Stories that various visitors have donated, she then translated those narratives in French while rewriting them as “stories” again. The translation process included filling the gaps, missing information, and acknowledging misunderstandings with mind protocols of guessing, imagination, deduction, logic or invention.

The new stories where then made available to the French audience, while the original archive was available through a flash code online. The Bureaucratic Stories were available for reading by passersby on the street and people from the neighborhood for the duration of the show.

Before 2020, the complete set of documents, English and French, will be sent to the Los Angeles Contemporary Archive for further additions and for continued consultation.
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Office Work, StoreFrontLab

Office Work

Office Work was a social practice project by Carrie Sinclair Katz, Jon Gourley, and The Big Conversation Space (Niki Korth and Clemence de Montgolfier) that took place at StoreFront Lab, in San Francisco from April 4th – 25th, 2015. Visit the official Office Work website here.

Office Work recognized the so-called Kulturkampf ongoing in the San Francisco Bay Area and aimed to use the jargon of ‘work spaces’ to forge a common understanding, welcoming visitors through asking:

“Did we put an office in the gallery, or a gallery in the office? Come see for yourself. Through events, interactive departments, and participatory archives, we repurpose the vocabulary and technology of the office and contemporary art in order to facilitate encounters with the human side of work, the absurd side of labor, and the creative side of knowledge.”

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Events

April 5th – Wikipedia Edit-a-thon: Art + Bureaucracy

Participants learned about Wikipedia’s guidelines and how to edit Wikipedia to help improve articles about art, offices, art and labor organizations, bureaucracy, systems, public art, workplace behavior, and more.

April 17th – Meeting About Nothing

After Samuel Beckett wrote ‘Nothing is more real than nothing,’ (Malone Dies 1959), the (f)utility of modern office meetings has undergone a dramatic shift. Or has it? In efforts to analyze the current state of Nothing, an emergency meeting has been called, which includes presentations by local experts on Nothing: Daniel Yovino, Leora Lutz, Sesh Mudumbai, Jon Gourley, and Niki Korth.

April 22nd – Office Birthday Party

The offices of Gourley and Korth are both celebrating their birthdays, and everyone is invited to the party to enjoy sheet cake and mingling around the water cooler.

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For Office Work, TBCS commenced the Journal Of Bureaucratic Stories (JOBS), an ongoing narrative collection project. 

Concept

Every workplace has a legend, and no story is too mundane

JOBS is an interactive archive and production platform that is collecting narratives involving bureaucracy, offices, studios, libraries, and other places of work for archival purposes and eventual publication in the peer-reviewed Journal of Bureaucratic Stories.

JOBS aims to collect and grow narratives that are donated in the gallery space by willing participants. Narratives sought include stories, legends, tales, myths, or anecdotes that feature bureaucratic experiences or offices, archives, libraries, studios or other ¨places of work” (broadly defined) as element(s) of their subject matter.

How does it work, what will happen with the files?

Narratives are donated through a conversationally-based delivery system to a representative of JOBS who will transcribe them in annotated form in real time. The resulting document is then filed and made available to future participants who may help to grow them independently or through consultation with JOBS by posing new questions via written addenda.

Eventually, the collected stories will be rendered in prosaic form in the official, peer reviewed Journal of Bureaucratic Stories.

How exactly does the “donation of the narrative” work?

Someone comes in and shares a legend/story/tale with the JOBS representative. Notes are then diligently taken by the JOBS representative on the official JOBS intake form, which helps to break the story down into narrative elements for easy historical storage.

Following this is an optional “addendum stage” where viewers/readers of the archive are invited to read these notes and question “what is missing” (i.e., the protagonists age, what time of day the story happened, how big the room was, what year it was, how ripe the mango was, whatever comes to that person’s mind, etc.), and note these inquiries/comments as an addendum. These addenda will then be collected in the same file, available to be referenced by future participants, and the cycle will continue.

Here are some sample excerpts from the documents collected during Office Work:

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Installation and event views :


I Can Do Anything Badly 2

I Can Do Anything Badly 2: Learning by doing is a shared responsibility

An editorial project by Hoël Duret, with The Big Conversation Space and Frédéric Teschner.

Through conversations with artists, designers, publishers, lawyers, a sociologist, a programmer, and a filmmaker, this book aims to put in common the strategies, methodologies, motivations, and experiences of a wide range of young creators in order to document the spirit of DIY in the digital age.

In so doing, we aim also to put the conversations and methodologies of open source and free culture in dialogue with contemporary art and design practice.

Printed version released in June 2014 in Paris, and February 2015 in San Francisco. The San Francisco launch took place at the Creative Commons DIY Salon.

Printed in Montreuil, France on risograph: 200 copies. Available on request.

ICDAB II is also an online publication available HERE

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Robot Demos

Robot Demos

a collection of scenarios, ongoing

Robot Demos will be a series of mini videos, based on the eponymous play/scenario written by TBCS in 2011.

We are betrayed by technology. The media is trying to conceal our fundamental and structural inability to communicate. The story deals with a robot, a plot, a psychoanalyst, a scientist, a double-agent, philosophy, chess, an art manifesto, a young revolutionary, prophesized profits, real-dolls, a joke, and what robots might have to say about democracy.

Episode 1 :

with Daniel Yovino, and Alyn Divine as Filmmaker