<unlike-us> open call : AMBIENT REVOLTS

Krystian Woznicki kw at berlinergazette.de
Tue Apr 10 09:31:45 CEST 2018

Hi Unlike-Us folks,

What does it mean to act politically when, like in this very moment, we
are confronting the spread of right-wing populism as an ambient force
that polarizes all of us? What, in other words, does it mean to oppose
the imperceptible power of an atmosphere that outrules a collectivity
that is inclusive of all? What does it mean to counter the
quasi-environmentalization of proto-fascist tendencies that further
foster segregation?

Posing these questions in its 19th year, the Berliner Gazette continues
a long-term engagement with contemporary forms of political agency and
the common. In this open call for contributions, we wish to invite
activists, journalists, researchers, cultural workers, coders and
artists to join us looking for answers.

We want to invite you to participate! There are two different formats of
participation: conference workshops (deadline: May 20, 2018 ) and online
newspaper (deadline: June 20, 2018).  

The structure of this email is as follows:

1. Development, context, goal
2. Conference workshops | call for contributions
3. Online-newspaper | call for contributions

Links, that are implemented in the email text as footnotes, you will be
able to find at the very bottom.

1. Development, context, goal


The BG team [1] began developing the AMBIENT REVOLTS project in July
2017. We started right after the G20 summit in Hamburg where some of us
joined the alternative media center FCMC [2]  and witnessed with many
other journalists the most severe execution of preemptive state violence
in Germany’s recent history [3,4,5]. The ensuing recreation of the
political landscape echoed the authoritarian approach of the G20 police
force: a shift of politics to the right and even radical right, a
restriction of demonstration rights and of expressions of political
dissent, scaling and expanding security measures, etc. Against this
backdrop we developed the concept for AMBIENT REVOLTS, including the
general idea for our 2018 annual project consisting of a special section
in our online-newspaper and a series of events culminating with our
annual conference.
Shortly after the g20-summer the BG annual conference FRIENDLY FIRE [6]
took place and provided many fruitful possibilities to reflect the
politics of citizenship under current conditions. Then, in December
2017, the BG team contributed to the #LutherLenin festival at the Studio
Hrdinu in Prague [7]. Here we were able to test some of the ideas for
AMBIENT REVOLTS. Finally we launched the project with first
contributions to our online newspaper [8] and with a panel at the
transmediale festival [9] in February 2018. Documents of the launch
event are available in audio [10] and video [11,12].  

After that few members of the BG team went on a month-log tour, visiting
some of the nodes of the BG network in Europe, including cities such as
Genoa, Barcelona, Madrid, Lisbon, Porto, Paris and Brussels. We learned
a lot about how the people who contribute to our online-newspaper or to
our annual conferences live and work in their respective local contexts.
This helped substantially honing some of the key ideas of the AMBIENT
REVOLTS project.


When we returned to Berlin in the beginning of March 2018, the
atmosphere was literally spooky as the ghosts of the G20 summit came to
the fore again. Symptomatic of this was the career step of Olaf Scholz
[13]. Instead of paying for the consequences of his ‘bad management’ as
the mayor of Hamburg – we are, to reiterate, talking about the most
severe execution of state violence in Germany’s recent history –, Scholz
became finance minister and even vice chancellor in Angela Merkel’s
fourth cabinet. This disturbing move echoed the later day promotion of
many high ranking policemen and politicians who had been responsible for
the excesses of violence during the G8 in Genoa 2001 [14].

If such things can happen ‘in bright daylight’ and if they are taken to
be normal, rather than causing a public debate, then the public sphere
is in peril. After all, Scholz’s promotion was followed by a silence
that is telling inasmuch it expresses an implicit framework for
censorship. As such this silence is a constitutive condition for the
post-G20 public sphere: while (left-wing) criticism of the government
and its interpretation of democracy is quelled, right-wing populists are
elevated, e.g. when readily given stages, even by liberal media.

If, in other words, the broader spectrum of the Left is delegitimized
while the far Right is legitimized, then the public sphere is being
constricted through two simultaneous moves. Both moves, as different as
they are, have in common that they contribute to closing the public
discourse for opposition, for dissent and, above all, for the biggest
possible plurality of contributions – the latter would also include
marginalized, invisibilized and illegalized actors for whom discursive
openings generally tend to be highly precarious.

Needless to say, the aforementioned features have always been the vital
basics of any democracy, yet, remarkably, it is in this historic moment
– in Germany, Europe and beyond – that the greatest collective courage
needs to take hold to actually perform any of such basic democratic
engagement. As it is we are challenged to explore how this courage can
manifest itself in many different ways.


Against this backdrop the AMBIENT REVOLTS project takes an international
approach, foregrounding cross-border exchange and cooperation. More
specifically, the project aims at accompanying and advocating an
engagement with the public sphere at the molecular level. There are two
reasons for that.

Firstly, we wish to understand better how ambient forces operate today,
meaning: how they colonize the micro-textures of the everyday, how they
enable the contagion of bodies and the modulation affect, and, more
concretely, how they foster right-wing populism. Secondly, we wish to
explore possibilities for interventions upon the ambient forces at their
operational level. Hence the AMBIENT REVOLTS project focuses on
micro-politics in the expanded micro-worlds of the networked public
spheres: small acts and minor gestures in the everyday – be it when
engaging in the class room or chat room, on the street or online, with
friends or colleagues.

2. Conference workshops | call for contributions

Who: activists, journalists, researchers, cultural workers, coders and
What: responses, ideas, commentary, material, links
Deadline: May 20, 2018
Email: info(at)berlinergazette.de

The AMBIENT REVOLTS conference will take place November 8-10, 2018 at
the Center for Arts and Urbanistics (ZK/U) in Berlin []. There will be
five workshop tracks bringing together civil society actors from more
than 20 countries. We are now inviting activists, journalists,
researchers, cultural workers, coders and artists to submit ideas,
questions, material, links. All of this will contribute to the shaping
of the respective five workshop tracks. Please respond to the questions
below by May 20, 2018.

Workshop Track: Rebooting Populism?
Keywords: Populism, Authoritarianism, Social Media, Liquid Democracy
Questions: If right-wing populism (and populism in general) today hinges
upon social media, are then the top-down logics of demagogy reversed? Is
populism nowadays a bottom-up affair? If so, can this reversed logic be
deployed for emancipatory and, ultimately, democratic ends?
Workshop Track: Hacking the Urban Backend
Keywords: Smart City, Programmed Environments, Appropriation, Hacking
Questions: If in today’s smart city the urbanite is becoming one element
of the programmed environment, then how are the boundaries for political
action being redefined in the course of this? What happens to public
space as a realm in which political actors voice their concerns? Is the
arena of political intervention being relocated to the invisiblized
backend of the city?   

Workshop Track: Involuntary Community
Keywords: Interconnectedness, Disruption, Social Networks, Community
Questions: If under today’s conditions of all-encompassing
interconnectedness right-wing populist moods can spread in a viral,
quasi-contagious fashion, then what role do system errors, glitches and
other (planned or unplanned) disruptions play? Can the surprise element
of involuntary connectedness or disconnectedness gain a political
valence? What forms of community can emerge, when technologies such as
"Near Sensing" are deployed for unexpected social ends?

Workshop Track: Challenging the Capitalocene
Keywords: Capitalocene, Automation, Dehumanization, Racism
Questions: If capitalism in the current stage is a quasi-automated
matter, then what role can human actors play? If algorithms operate
according to racialized categories, then how does racism play out in
quasi-automated capitalism? What are possible strategies against

Workshop Track: Unlearning Learning
Keywords: Artificial Intelligence, Self-Learning, Politics of Learning
Questions: If self-learning systems define our age, if, at the same
time, AI-driven social media come to provide pseudo-classrooms while
traditional media lose their authority as ‘educational institutions’,
then what is the present and future of pedagogy? What kind of unlearning
needs to be done? What, if at all, do we need to learn from
self-learning systems? In what kind of networked public spheres (and
atmo-spheres) do we want to be learning tomorrow?  
3. Online-newspaper | call for contributions

Who: activists, journalists, researchers, cultural workers, coders and
What: essays, interviews and reports (9.500 chars)
Deadline: June 20, 2018
Email: info(at)berlinergazette.de

At the beginning of this year we have started publishing essays,
interviews and reports in a special section of the Berliner Gazette
dedicated to AMBIENT REVOLTS [16]. We are planning to publish
approximately 50 contributions by the end of the year. Assembling this
material we would like also to elaborate a concept for a book with a
selection of texts on our annual theme – expanding the BG series of by
now eight books (5 of them anthologies/readers).

If you have not heard about the BG annual projects before, please have a
look at our most recent projects UN|COMMONS [17], TACIT FUTURES [18] and

Please spread the word about this open call for contributions. And
please let us know if you have any questions regarding the call.

Stay tuned,

Krystian (for the BG team)


1. https://bit.ly/2GK2LQb
2. https://fcmc.tv/
3. https://bit.ly/2IEJH6i
4. http://berlinergazette.de/g-20-gewalt-aus-der-zukunft
5. https://g20-doku.org
6. https://berlinergazette.de/friendly-fire
7. https://studiohrdinu.cz/en/predstaveni/lutherlenin
8. https://bit.ly/2HiFdTu
9. https://bit.ly/2uZV6M8
10. https://voicerepublic.com/talks/ambient-revolts
11. https://vimeo.com/262355303
12. https://vimeo.com/262354951
13. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olaf_Scholz
14. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/27th_G8_summit
15. http://www.zku-berlin.org/
16. https://bit.ly/2HiFdTu
17. https://berlinergazette.de/uncommons
18. https://berlinergazette.de/tacit-futures
19. https://berlinergazette.de/friendly-fire


BG – Berliner Gazette | since 1999 | http://berlinergazette.de








FRIENDLY FIRE – BG Annual Conference 2017

SIGNALS – Exhibition of the Snowden Files  


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