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Welcome to the Post Office

Post Office is an exercise in imagining counter-institutions in response to the crisis of those very institutions. It's an endeavour in devising practices that collectively re-configure the public infrastructures against the onslaught of managerial neoliberalism and technological acceleration. As a research collective (connected to the Centre for Postdigital Cultures at Coventry University), it is a horizontal experiment in knowledge production and action situated between theory and technology, politics and poetics, the inside and the outside of the university.

Here you can find out about us, our conceptual framework, commitments, events and news, projects, technosocial workflows we develop and our Post Office Press.

Delivered the Same Day: The Post Office and Amazon.com

Seminar Series: Work, Property, Metrics

Venue: Coventry University, Lanchester Library, Teaching Room, 3rd floor
Time: June 3rd, 2019, 11:00-17:00

Guest Speakers: !Mediengruppe Bitnik, Jamie Woodcock
CPC researchers: Janneke Adema, Peter Conlin, Valeria Graziano, Gary Hall, Kaja Marczewska, Marcell Mars, Tomislav Medak

Delivered the Same Day: The Post Office and Amazon.com

Historically the postal service has solidified as a national and transnational infrastructure owned by the public, for the benefit of the public. It has played a central role in organising long-distance communication - mail, telegraph, telephony - facilitating, amongst other things, the regular delivery of written correspondence, the dissemination of printed matter, the expansion of the public sphere, but also the surveillance of communication and the coordination of war.

Alongside being political, the postal service was also an intensely technological institution. It has laid down the postal paths, network topologies, and routing protocols for later communications networks to follow. In fact, in the UK, the Post Office has had its own Research Station since 1909, helping develop the first transatlantic radiotelephone service and the world's first programmable electronic digital computer – Colossus.

No less important is the fact that the postal service also created a material distribution system. In the very period when the communicational infrastructures became deregulated, privatised and disinvested, on the back of these services and their delivery networks arose the digital platforms - most prominently the informational-distributive Behemoth that is the Amazon.com.

This event will explore the contrast between the transformative role the postal service as a public institution has had - and continues to have in spite of its creeping privatisation and erosion - and the disruptive role Amazon.com is now playing by offering cloud computing infrastructure, furthering platformisation, automating digital network services, and casualising the labour inside and outside of of its own operations.

Work, property, metrics is a series of seminars, workshops, and talks investigating the transformations of work, property relations, and mechanisms of social control resulting from the processes of digitisation, computerisation, and automation. These transformations are reflected in a crisis of institutions responsible for the universal access to social goods and services: employment, care, education, housing etc. With our research activities we want to investigate, support, and develop practices emerging in response to this crisis - ranging from alternative organisational models, collective forms of work, all the way to refusal. In its first round of events, this series is focusing on the institutions responsible for the provision of communication, information, and education - the postal service, the library, and the university.

Program

................. I. Post Post Office: the Afterlives of Postal Networks
11:00-11:15 Gary Hall: introducing the Post Office
11:15-12:00 !Mediengruppe Bitnik: Postal Machine Decision (artist talk)
12:00-12:45 Kaja Marczewska: Postal Reforms and the Crisis of Grassroots Publishing
Janneke Adema & Kaja Marczewska: Post-it. Academic Post Cards
................. II. Amazon.com: work, property and metrics in the logistical circuit
13:30-13:45 Valeria Graziano: Introduction to work, property, metrics
13:45-14:15 Marcell Mars & Tomislav Medak: The Anatomy of Amazon.com
14:15-14:45 Jamie Woodcock: Amazon.com, Twitch.tv, and Videogames
14:45-15:15 Peter Conlin: Incontrovertible Landscapes and Vanishing Points: Logistic Spaces, Opacity and Obscurity
15:30-16:30 Discussion

Speakers

Janneke Adema is a research fellow at the Centre for Postdigital Cultures, Coventry University. In her research, she explores the future of scholarly communications and experimental forms of knowledge production, where her work incorporates processual and performative publishing, radical open access, scholarly poethics, media studies, book history, cultural studies, and critical theory. She explores these issues in depth in her various publications, but also by supporting a variety of scholar-led, not-for-profit publishing projects, including the Radical Open Access Collective, Open Humanities Press, and Post Office Press (POP). You can follow her research, as it develops, on openreflections.wordpress.com.

!Mediengruppe Bitnik are the artists Carmen Weisskopf and Domagoj Smoljo. They are contemporary artists working on and with the Internet. Their practice expands from the digital to affect physical spaces, often intentionally applying loss of control to challenge established structures and mechanisms. In early 2013 !Mediengruppe Bitnik sent a parcel to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy. The parcel contained a camera which broadcast its journey through the postal system live on the internet. They describe «Delivery for Mr. Assange» as a SYSTEM_TEST and a Live Mail Art Piece. They have also been known for sending a bot called «Random Darknet Shopper» on a three-month shopping spree in the Darknets where it randomly bought objects like Ecstasy and had them sent directly to the gallery space.

Peter Conlin is a media lecturer and research associate at the Centre for Postdigital Cultures, Coventry University. He is currently developing a book project entitled Evitable: The De-obsolescent Future of Media and Urban Space (Routledge Press).

Valeria Graziano is a research associate at the Centre for Postdigital Cultures, Coventry University. My research looks at the organization of cultural practices that foster the refusal to work and the possibility of political pleasure. She is co-editor with Kim Trogal of ‘Repair Matters’, a special issue of ephemera: Theory & Politics in Organisation (2019) and convenor of the international project Pirate Care.

Gary Hall is a writer, philosopher and cultural theorist working (and making) in the areas of digital media, politics and technology. He is Professor of Media in the Faculty of Arts & Humanities at Coventry University, UK, where he co-directs the Centre for Postdigital Cultures. He is the author of a number of books, including The Inhumanist Manifesto (Techne Lab, 2017), Pirate Philosophy (MIT Press, 2016), The Uberfication of the University (Minnesota UP, 2016), Digitize This Book! (Minnesota UP, 2008), and Culture in Bits (Continuum, 2002).

Marcell Mars is a research associate at the Centre for Postdigital Cultures, Coventry University. Mars is one of the founders of Multimedia Institute/MAMA in Zagreb. His research “Ruling Class Studies”, started at the Jan van Eyck Academy (2011), examines state-of-the-art digital innovation, adaptation, and intelligence created by corporations such as Google, Amazon, Facebook, and eBay. He is a doctoral student at Digital Cultures Research Lab at Leuphana University, writing a thesis on “Foreshadowed Libraries”. Together with Tomislav Medak he founded Memory of the World/Public Library, for which he develops and maintains software infrastructure.

Tomislav Medak is a doctoral student at the Centre for Postdigital Cultures, Coventry University. Medak is a member of the theory and publishing team of the Multimedia Institute/MAMA in Zagreb, as well as an amateur librarian for the Memory of the World/Public Library project. His research focuses on technologies, capitalist development, and postcapitalist transition, particularly on economies of intellectual property and unevenness of technoscience. Together with Marcell Mars he coedited Public Library and Guerrilla Open Access.

Jamie Woodcock is a researcher at the Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford. He is the author of Marx at the Arcade (2019, Haymarket) about videogames, and Working The Phones (2017, Pluto), a study of a call centre in the UK - both inspired by the workers' inquiry. His research focuses on labour, work, the gig economy, platforms, resistance, organising, and videogames. He is on the editorial board of Notes from Below and Historical Materialism.

Experimental Publishing II - Critique, Intervention, And Speculation

Experimental Publishing II – Critique, Intervention, And Speculation

A half-day symposium with talks by Mark Amerika (UC Boulder) and Nick Thurston (University of Leeds)

2:15-5:30pm May 28
Centre for Postdigital Cultures
Teaching Room
3rd Floor Lanchester Library
Coventry University
Registration (free): https://www.coventry.ac.uk/research/about-us/research-events/2019/experimental-publishing-ii2/

In 2019 and 2020, the Centre for Postdigital Cultures (CPC) will be hosting a series of symposia exploring contemporary approaches to experimental publishing. Over the course of the series, we will ask questions about the role and nature of experimentation in publishing, about ways in which experimental publishing has been formulated and performed in the past, and ways in which it shapes our publishing imaginaries at present. This series aims to conceptualise and map what experimental publishing is or can be and to explore what lies behind our aims and motivations to experiment through publishing. As such, it forms the first activity within the CPC’s new Post-Publishing programme, an initiative committed to exploring iterative and processual forms of publishing and their role in reconceptualising publishing as an integral part of the research and writing process, i.e. as that which inherently shapes it.

Speakers

Mark Amerika, a Professor of Distinction at the University of Colorado, has exhibited his artwork internationally at venues such as the Whitney Biennial of American Art, the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London, and The ZKM | Center for Art and Media in Karlsruhe, Germany. He is the author of many books including The Kafka Chronicles (FC2), Sexual Blood (FC2), remixthebook (University of Minnesota Press—remixthebook.com), META/DATA: A Digital Poetics (The MIT Press), remixthecontext (Routledge), and Locus Solus (An Inappropriate Translation Composed in a 21st Century Manner) (Counterpath Press).

Nick Thurston is a writer and editor who makes artworks. His most recent books include the co-edited collection, Post-Digital Cultures of the Far Right (Bielefeld: Transcript, 2018), and an experimental Spanish-language translation of his last poetic book by NO_LIBROS (Barcelona, 2019). Recent and current exhibitions include shows at Transmediale (Berlin, 2018), Q21 (Vienna, 2018), MuHKA (Antwerp, 2018) and HMKV (Dortmund, 2019).

Concept

Experimental publishing can be positioned as an intervention, a mode of critique, and a tool of speculation. It is a way of thinking about writing and publishing today that has at its centre a commitment to questioning and breaking down distinctions between practice and theory, criticality and creativity, and between the scholarly and the artistic.

In this series of events we propose to explore contemporary approaches to experimental publishing as:

  • an ongoing critique of our current publishing systems and practices, deconstructing existing hegemonies and questioning the fixtures in publishing to which we have grown accustomed—from the book as a stable object to single authorship and copyright.
  • an affirmative practice which offers means to re-perform our existing writerly, research, and publishing institutions and practices through publishing experiments.
  • a speculative practice that makes possible an exploration of different futures for writing and research, and the emergence of new, potentially more inclusive forms, genres, and spaces of publishing, open to ambivalence and failure.

This take on experimentation can be understood as a heterogeneous, unpredictable, and uncontained process, one that leaves the critical potentiality of the book as a medium open to new intellectual, political, and economic contingencies.

Experimental Publishing I – Critique, Intervention, And Speculation

A half-day symposium with talks by Rebekka Kiesewetter and Eva Weinmayr (AND Publishing/Valand Academy)

1-5pm April 11
Centre for Postdigital Cultures
Teaching Room
3rd Floor Lanchester Library
Coventry University
Registration (free): https://experimentalpublishing.eventbrite.co.uk

This is the first in a series of symposia hosted by the Centre for Postdigital Cultures (CPC) exploring contemporary approaches to experimental publishing. Over the course of the series, we will ask questions about the role and nature of experimentation in publishing, about ways in which experimental publishing has been formulated and performed in the past, and ways in which it shapes our publishing imaginaries at present. This series aims to conceptualise and map what experimental publishing is or can be and to explore what lies behind our aims and motivations to experiment through publishing. As such, it forms the first activity within the CPC’s new Post-Publishing programme, an initiative committed to exploring iterative and processual forms of publishing and their role in reconceptualising publishing as an integral part of the research and writing process, i.e. as that which inherently shapes it.

Speakers

Rebekka Kiesewetter holds a Lic. phil. I (MA) in art history, economics and modern history from the University of Zurich. Her works in critical theory, practice and making as critique focus on the intersections of experimental publishing, architecture, arts, artistic research, and the humanities.

Eva Weinmayr is an artist, educator, researcher and writer based in London and Gothenburg investigating the border crossings between contemporary art, radical education, and institutional analysis by experimenting with modes of intersectional feminist knowledge practices. She currently conducts a PhD on micro-politics of publishing at Valand Academy, University of Gothenburg and runs together with artist Rosalie Schweiker AND Publishing, a feminist publishing practice based in London.

AND Publishing, The Piracy Reader, 2014

Concept

Experimental publishing can be positioned as an intervention, a mode of critique, and a tool of speculation. It is a way of thinking about writing and publishing today that has at its centre a commitment to questioning and breaking down distinctions between practice and theory, criticality and creativity, and between the scholarly and the artistic.

In this series of events we propose to explore contemporary approaches to experimental publishing as:

  • an ongoing critique of our current publishing systems and practices, deconstructing existing hegemonies and questioning the fixtures in publishing to which we have grown accustomed—from the book as a stable object to single authorship and copyright.
  • an affirmative practice which offers means to re-perform our existing writerly, research, and publishing institutions and practices through publishing experiments.
  • a speculative practice that makes possible an exploration of different futures for writing and research, and the emergence of new, potentially more inclusive forms, genres, and spaces of publishing, open to ambivalence and failure.

This take on experimentation can be understood as a heterogeneous, unpredictable, and uncontained process, one that leaves the critical potentiality of the book as a medium open to new intellectual, political, and economic contingencies.