AUDIENCE versus SHARING
"Everywhere our industrial societies are obsessed with prestige (...)" Jean Baudrillard
"You don’t negotiate with the Mafia.” P.L. Vigna, Head of the AntiMafia Commission
From biennale.py to AntiMafia
In his ”Critique Of The Political Economy Of The Sign” (Paris 1972) J.Baudrillard stated, ”(...) objects are acting a role in a never-ending play: functional objects pretend to be decorative and disguise themselves as useless or fashionable; futile and useless objects disguise themselves with practicality.” In a world of this sort, the source code as object stands out from other objects by virtue of its principle of truth. It is what it is. It does not pretend to be anything other than what it is. And insofar as it does this, it is making a political statement. Form and function coincide and reach the heights of poetry itself, in the case of viruses, with all the foundational potential of a language which was born for the net and developed on it.
From the [epidemiC] standpoint, the value of an object does not mean what it is worth in a monetary exchange, where money sets the laws, (as do market and audience). The value of an object is the principle of exchange itself, meaning File Sharing. Peer to Peer is a value in itself and so constitutes what an object is worth. This leads to how we went straight from writing biennale.py to designing AntiMafia software. This is a truly strategic means for information on and the propagation of Peer to Peer practice.
Pre-internet media built their power on manipulation – and the latter built its own power on reversibility (audience). Given the intentionally false nature of such supposed two-way processes as readers’ letters, viewers’ phone calls, call centres and so on, this actually prevented any form of sharing. There was thus no chance of a real duopoly because the only thing which existed was the exclusive monopoly of the broadcaster, based on the principle of non-sharing. Essentially, the notion of audience makes people subjects, whereas the notion of sharing makes them citizens.
Today, a huge number of individuals producing through their own thought processes can control the entire production process and, for the first time in human history, be connected 24 hours a day in real time. Any spinoff cannot but influence the potential form of democratic life today and this possibility is bound to affect what these huge numbers of people do and where they do it. Peer to Peer means ”I want it, I’ll have it”/”do you want it? Have it” and is thus a relationship which is at once always and exclusively one of equals.
The strategy of biennale.py was to get into the chain of signs in the dominant model of an Audience, exploiting it in all its potential and making it flare up off line. AntiMafia has chosen the opposite route, being both reflection and action on horizontal and antagonistic sign production by interpreting and using the sharing model innovatively.
With the Gnutella protocol, AntiMafia enables any net surfer to use their computer to demonstrate their disagreement with anyone doing anything in any way which they find ethically and politically unacceptable, such as companies, multinationals, political institutions or government departments, by taking or supporting protest action on the net (Peer to Peer). This makes it the first mass public service devoted to minorities of any nature who intend to state their dissent through disturbance by instigating or supporting ongoing online campaigns. This is the main point about AntiMafia software, since the value of the programme is its absolute parity: it has nothing at all in common with the old Leninist notion of an avantgarde group equipped with superior means, (technological expertise in this case), acting and inciting others to act in a chain of hierarchical command. Hitherto, all net protests have always been of this sort, maintaining the digital divide within the confines set by the computer-literate/equipped western world. Another thing such protests did until now was to reduce the participation of any individual who was not highly computer-literate/equipped, i.e. the majority of participants. This made any protest merely symbolic and subordinate to this elite, and made the protest itself all the less effective.
“It goes without saying that the politically correct is not our cup of tea. AntiMafia is a vehicle for the virus of solidarity. Where injustice finds no obstacle before it, AntiMafia becomes an intuitive, effective means of dissent for use on the internet”.
If anyone was wondering whether there was anything like a seismograph, an instrument for measuring protest on the net which would also enable them to take part and exchange with others in on-line communities, then wonder no more: that’s AntiMafia.
If anyone else was seeking a top-quality demonstration that the internet today is a perfect model of democracy, then they won’t be disappointed: because that’s AntiMafia too, the means that’s guaranteed to get bureaucracy and the state out of their lives like nothing else can.
And if anyone else was demanding the necessary means to fight back against the semiocapitalism and neo-market forces running everything everywhere, then step right up: here’s AntiMafia.
AntiMafia is no more a definite colour than the new global movement and, indeed, is driven by the same intensity of protest and necessity of action. The new law which AntiMafia sets on the net is that regimes, (political, economic or social), are to be controlled from the bottom up.
Is AntiMafia a work of art?
What money buys in a work of art is that which in fact is taken away from the general community so that it circulates as an object/property within a restricted community, élite or aristocracy whose potlach, intended to make the price of the work go up, is actually just another way for the caste to define itself and has nothing to do with the exchange formally between equals characteristic of normal market competition. Once again, J. Baudrillard’s remarks are pertinent:
“In fact, what is called the psychology of the art lover is also completely part of the system of exchange. (...) The psychological relationship between individual and object is thus not the point where fetishism starts and which supports the principle of exchange. It is never ‘the fetishism of the object’ which supports the principle of exchange, ‘but the social principle of exchange which supports the fetishized value of the object’.” (J. Baudrillard, ibid).
So pay us when you like.