[NetBehaviour] How is everyone?

Max Herman maxnmherman at hotmail.com
Wed Apr 15 17:52:55 CEST 2020

Hi all,

I'm reminded of a quote by Paul Tillich, who once said this about religion but it could equally apply to technology: "[It] forgets that its own existence is a result of [the hu]man's tragic estrangement from [our] true being; it forgets its own emergency character."  There is probably error in this view as well as wisdom, but it does bring forth the key and perhaps ultimately unanswerable but ever-new question of balance.

Here in the midwestern US we are still able to go outside, to parks, and to the countryside, but I have not been doing it nearly as much as I should.  Making a personal pledge here to correct that this week.  (I've found that personal pledges shared with others -- to do a drawing, to jog, not to eat potato chips -- are fun and helpful under stay-at-home orders).

One major impact emotionally and psychologically has been not being able to hug family members, share meals, play cards, etc., i.e., the bodily separation.  Most recreational and cultural activities have been canceled, and may remain so for much of the year, but relatively "distanced" ones are allowed such as tennis, golf, and fishing.  For those of us in middle age this is not so onerous, but I do miss my favorite museum tremendously and pledge to visit it online this week.  Will we all be wearing masks when the theaters and concert halls reopen?  Will we sit in every third seat?  Who knows.

I was encouraged to see the article in Foreign Affairs yesterday about a major Green Infrastructure program to help the global economy emerge from the pandemic recession.  This kind of approach is long overdue and seems to have a degree of traction with potentially bipartisan centrists.  There are no guarantees but optimism is sometimes a virtue if it aids resilience and persistence.

For art and writing, the loss of so many other activities has provided a boost in available time.  It's also interesting and encouraging to see the many positive ways in which people are responding to the crisis.  Perhaps necessity is reminding us of some capabilities which had drifted into a bit of a slumber?

At the same time I do agree that social connection via screen can be energy-draining, and Annie's idea that we lose energy in searching/scouring for details makes abundant sense to me.  (Distant Feelings was such a great expression of how to let go of this fruitless seeking for cues and data, and I've rarely felt more connected over the internet.)  In many cases I have found that a sound-only phone call is easier and works just as well as the video-call format.  I also think Cassie's idea that video-calling is a strange kind of multiple portraiture within an equally strange layer of networked IT fabric is both extremely to the point and eminently scalable, so to speak, on numerous levels, perhaps by way of what Leonardo called "comparazione," or the more rhetorically formal "comperatione."

In other words, hoping for the best and preparing for setbacks!  🙂

Very best wishes to all,


From: NetBehaviour <netbehaviour-bounces at lists.netbehaviour.org> on behalf of Annie Abrahams via NetBehaviour <netbehaviour at lists.netbehaviour.org>
Sent: Wednesday, April 15, 2020 5:10 AM
To: NetBehaviour for networked distributed creativity <netbehaviour at lists.netbehaviour.org>
Cc: Annie Abrahams <bram.org at gmail.com>
Subject: Re: [NetBehaviour] How is everyone?

Dear Daniel and netbehaviorists

Thanks for writing bout pro and cons, more thoughts on this situation where we, in a certain way, are networked by the situation.
(Johannes most people are no so lucky as to be able to go somewhere in the country side)
For five weeks now I live in my house and garden (so I am relatively lucky), haven't talked to anyone but my husband for "real" and didn't even go shopping my own food.
I depend on online communication. As you all know this is something I am used to and try to research already for years, but never have I seen so clearly that it can be exhausting.
In my case I kind of know how to use it in a nice /relaxing/socialising way, but when now, I also use these tools with people who have never thought about it, nor think about it now and just treat it as something that needs to replace what they usually live, then it becomes yes, exhausting, it eats my energy.
Why is it so energyvore? (energy intensive) besides the fact that there are no details visible, so you have to imagine more and select what is valuable in this imagination, - you have to continuously scan the screen with your eyes, - you have to dissect the monosound source for difference that gives you a clue about who is making what noise ...
What is there more that makes it so energyvore?
As Daniel points out : "we must aim for humanness within and beyond the emotional devices which are now, nevertheless, granting us a sense of togetherness." and "we have to reflect on how much the digital impact has over our lives and analyze how much of it was already happening, exactly the same way."
Any ideas?

Take care, stay safe

On Tue, Apr 14, 2020 at 6:02 PM Daniel Pinheiro via NetBehaviour <netbehaviour at lists.netbehaviour.org<mailto:netbehaviour at lists.netbehaviour.org>> wrote:
  Dear all,

I hope this email finds you all well and it's nice to read how this situation is taking shape in different parts of the world through all the different experiences, practices and individual affections.
I'm very fond of this mailing list as there are always many interesting resources, activities, events, writings which are food for thought for my own practice. Even if mostly silent in the threads of emails they do add up a lot in content and expand my own context. And in these uncertain times we're going through it is specially good to have access to all sorts of explorations and expressions which are happening in parallel to the evolution of this global circumstance.

So in this sense I would like to share in this thread a writing on and about the times we're living as a means of self expression of "how am I" right now, in Porto, Portugal where things are, fortunately, happening in a smooth way but from here it's always important to try and look out to the rest of the world.

I'll copy the text below which is also to be found here<https://daniel-pinheiro.tumblr.com/onlinegoesviral>.

Best wishes to all! :)


When Online Goes Viral.

The possibility offered by the Internet from very early on finds its purpose while amid a global pandemic. It took a virus to trigger the shift, to activate the transposition from IRL to the digital sphere as if we were not already inhabiting it before. The extension of our lives became life itself, replicating into an infinity of livestreams, online view rooms, remote learning and all sorts of video conferencing sessions in an attempt that life doesn’t stop its rapid and overwhelming velocity printed increasingly over the past few decades. It is important to notice that it all happens amid the global pandemic caused by COVID-19 in the first part of the year 2020. Social distancing opened a hole-in-space1 in and from every corner of the planet to the other. We’re probably still in the beginning of the dilated process of dealing with the cause that imposed this new paradigm, and in this beginning it all still seems very possible. The same way we all were having trouble coping with the fast pace of life itself, constantly switching between online and offline now the time has come where we are faced to cope with just being online, where everything happens online, where everything is elevated to the digital, raising questions of access and privilege. Digitization is not, as we testify in the present moment, an equalizer of opportunities until access is a common and social utility.2

This invisible threat abruptly invaded our ways of living and forced every stream of real life to be interrupted almost everyone was left where they were; even the ones whose lives had to continue so that some order was present within the chaos were asked to pause their own lives and live one that was in favor of all those isolated and the infected. It is in this new reality, uncertain in duration, that we continue to wake up to a world where distance and time are measurable again. Measures that we’re still questioning and trying arduously to dismiss and pretend as if they are not real by insisting on a productivity paradigm overruling the human practice of actually being together and functioning as an organic system which is made of every human involved in it.

For many years already into sedentarism, we were living (also for many years) through and with the digital with the sense of having achieved a nomadic lifestyle where despite of our physical location(s) we could seamlessly coexist in multiple and ubiquitous versions of ourselves being the only species able to do so. Feeding and fighting on gentrification, western society was the epitome of how much we had accomplished the transformational wish of social change afforded by technology2 thus placing the generations living twenty years into the new millennium within the ultimate representation of success in terms of evolution. “The Next Pandemic” (2019)3 portrays exactly what we are going through precisely by the reasons of our success being the cause of a great failure of the system as it was. And yet we continue to demand high end and fast adaptation to something that we expect to be over soon so that we can go back to some sort of ‘normality’. Technology was already and it is now the medium through which we can address the crisis4 we are going through, and it shouldn’t become a transposition of what we were already going through.

As webcams sell out5 and the urge to be present online as a means not to be forgotten, the lifestream as it happens now in complete digital form leads us into a disembodied interaction and highlights the networks we belong to. Now more than ever we might be left alone with the ones who share the same tastes, thoughts and provocations. We’re all sitting in a room which is different from everyone else’s room and what we might be left to hear will be a smoothed version of our own speeches.6 Our vulnerability will grow evident, our need for affection will grow thicker, our sense of existence will, most probably, come down to be defined by interdependence. What good is to connect if there’s nothing to connect on the other side?

This is probably the first pandemic to be expanded in a world wide scale to the digital and it will be part of everyone’s history. The year that a global pandemic took place and the proof of that will be the large amounts of digital content created through the most varied platforms. An expanded, distributed, impossible to gather, depiction in various formats of a moment in time where virtually almost everyone who’s privileged enough to live in condition to do so, contributes to the technosphere7. The networked society8 is being enacted as we live its dominion and as many times before technology did, if we live “here” long enough, we might forget how to find the exit… or will we become conscious? Hoping that we can get back into our bodies again we have to reflect on how much the digital impact has over our lives and analyze how much of it was already happening, exactly the same way. Social media surveillance has been present in our daily lives for a while now and it is now, more than ever, the ‘solution’ to monitor our behaviors and to be enforcedly implemented to control and normalize them. It is up to us, as always, to be aware and work from within, mindfully questioning the tools that are given to us.

Thinking ahead, in a few weeks, months, we’ll become exhausted. Digital fatigue will soon take over our bodies (if it hasn’t already) and although the Internet and immediate communications seem as the salvation for a period of confinement, we must address the weariness which we will be subject to. So far electricity hasn’t stopped and thus its vertiginous velocity continues to be printed in the lives of all. Online has gone viral in the sense that in order to cope and simulate normality even if working towards new configurations of living and coping, the takeover had already happened. The infrastructure was already activated but, fortunately, we were allowed to choose. Jobless or not, the anxiety increases, the repetitiveness will repeat over and over and despite the digital excess we must aim for humanness within and beyond the emotional devices which are now, nevertheless, granting us a sense of togetherness.

Daniel Pinheiro. April 13th 2020


1 Hole in Space: Public Communication Sculpture<http://www.medienkunstnetz.de/works/hole-in-space/> (1980, Public Communication Sculpture by Kit Galloway and Sherrie Rabinowitz);

2 DEMOCRATIZING TOUCH Xenakis’s UPIC, Disability, and Avant-gardism<https://amodern.net/article/democratizing-touch/> (2020, article by Victoria Simon for AModern);

3 Explained – The Next Pandemic (2019, Netflix Docuseries) - related<https://www.ccn.com/bill-gates-predicted-coronavirus-like-outbreak-in-2019-netflix-documentary/>;

4 “…The notion that the Internet and computers and the world wide web somehow combine into a new medium through which we can address this crisis of democracy is the biggest drama of all time. The question is “Who is making the decisions?”, according to what values serving what ends? Maybe we don’t even know what we want, maybe we need the chance to converse with each other to find out what it is we want because this all new technology is in fact new to us. And it takes a long time to imagine how it could serve your life… Your life, Your desires, Your needs…” – Gene Youngblood interview 1996 KNME-TV- Albuquerque, New Mexico

Transcript from the footage of Gene Youngblood’s interview included in New Museum’s livestream of Expanded Cinema Fiftieth-Anniversary Edition Book Launch<https://livestream.com/newmuseum/expandedcinema?fbclid=IwAR2kan49X1J7sITcjiLPtbtE18sCVZy5bvtw_arAUcq1949Gw21vyS79NIA>, aired March 19th 2020 (min 38’);

5 Webcams have become impossible to find, and prices are skyrocketing<https://www.theverge.com/2020/4/9/21199521/webcam-shortage-price-raise-logitech-razer-amazon-best-buy-ebay> (2020, article by Chris Welch for The Verge);

6 I Am Sitting In A Room<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Am_Sitting_in_a_Room> (1969, Sound Art Piece by Alvin Lucier);

7 Expanded Cinema<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Expanded_Cinema> (1970, book by Gene Youngblood)

8 Networked Society<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Networked_Society>

Other sources and references:

Soiveillance: Self-Consciousness and the Social Network in Hideaki Anno’s Love & Pop<https://ojs.library.queensu.ca/index.php/surveillance-and-society/article/view/6434> (2018, article by Jeeshan Gazi);

NO FUN<https://www.artforum.com/slant/tina-rivers-ryan-on-learning-from-net-art-in-the-age-of-covid-19-82622> (2020, article by Tina Rivers Ryan for Artforum);

'Beginning of a new era': how culture went virtual in the face of crisis<https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2020/apr/08/art-virtual-reality-coronavirus-vr> (2020, article by Laura Feinstein for The Guardian);

“Beyond the Breakdown: Three Meditations on a Possible Aftermath”<https://conversations.e-flux.com/t/beyond-the-breakdown-three-meditations-on-a-possible-aftermath-by-franco-bifo-berardi/9727> (2020, Franco “Bifo” Berardi for e-flux);

I Am Sitting In A Zoom<https://timshaw.bandcamp.com/album/i-am-sitting-in-a-zoom> (2020, Sound Art Piece by Tim Shaw and John Bowers, adapting Alvin Lucier);

All sources were last accessed online on April 13th 2020.

#networkedsociety, #covid19, #socialdistancing, #digitalsedentarism, #digitalnomads, #meditationsonapossibleaftermath, #francobifoberardi, #geneyoungblood, #holeinspace, #expandedcinema, #democratizingtouch, #technology, #alvinlucier, #pandemic, #lifestream, #technosphere, #socialnetworks, #soiveillance, #surveillance

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