recent publications

Interpassive User: Complicity and the Returns of Cybernetics – Fibreculture Journal 25 (2015)

The essay explores the notions of “extension” and “prosthesis” as two different logics of being with technology. I trace the distinction between them to the work of McLuhan influenced by both Norbert Wiener and Buckminster Fuller. I argue that the logic of softwarization (Manovich, 2013) is similar to the logic of extension; while the logic of appification (IDC, 2010) is similar to that of prosthesis. The former is the logic of metonymy, while the latter is the logic of metaphor. I explain why such distinction is useful for reading mobile / social apps and the new practices they enable. I conclude by raising the questions about users’ enthusiasm and complicity within the bio-technological cybernetic assemblage.

On Governance, Blackboxing, Measure, Body, Affect and Apps. A conversation with Patricia Clough and Alexander R. Galloway – Fibreculture Journal 25 (2015)

The work of Patricia Ticineto Clough and Alexander Galloway is well known to anyone whose research concerns matters of affect and biopolitics, software, networks and gaming, interface culture and communication, political economy of media and information, the systems of measure and control addressed in the contexts of French theory, feminist and speculative thought, Marxism or psychoanalysis. We were lucky to have them among the keynotes for our Apps and Affect conference, where their talks sparked an interesting exchange that impacted a number of the conference conversations. Afterwards, I suggested to Patricia and Alex that they elaborate on aspects of their discussion, this invitation resulted in the following conversation, which took place via email between April and December 2014.

Cinema for A Missing People: Gilles Deleuze’s Crystal Image and Alexander Dovzhenko’s Zvenyhora – Harvard Ukrainian Studies 32-33, no. 1-4 (2015)

The essay discusses Dovzhenko’s 1928 film Zvenyhora, which Deleuze uses in a second book of Cinema to illustrate his notion of the crystal-image of time, the only film made before the WW2 among many examples of the time-image that Deleuze generously offers in this volume. I also read Zvenyhora as an instance of minor cinema, with all the potential of the minor attributed to it by Deleuze and Guattari in their work Kafka: Toward a Minor Literature and others text written separately and together.

Liquid Categories for Augmented Revolutions – The Exceptional & The Everyday (2015)

The essay looks at the project “The Exceptional & The Everyday: 144 Hours in Kyiv” (2014) created by Lev Manovich and Software Studies Initiative team who collected and analyzed the Instagram data (images, location, tags) shared during the outbreak of extreme violence in the midst of the protests in Kyiv, better known as “Maidan,” in the end of February 2014. As Lisa Gitelman reminds us, “raw data is an oxymoron,” at least because it has “to be imagined as data to exist and function as such, and the imagination of data entails an interpretive base.” The researchers produced a series of image clusters, graphs and diagrams that visualize the topological relation between visual and non-visual data of a dataset. This essay reviews the findings of the project team by reading them alongside the reports and testimonies of the participants of the protest since the events on the ground are never disconnected from the user-generated stream of data—for better or worse. Online activity left material traces, generated and transmitted affects, messages, and noise; it enabled continuity but also produced disruptions of the communication flow and exchanges between protesters. The intensive use of social networks for coordination and information exchange makes a case for calling the revolution in Ukraine augmented. As Nathan Jurgenson defines the notion, an “augmented revolution” is part of “a larger conceptual perspective that views our reality as the byproduct of the enmeshing of the on and offline.” My goal is not to test the accuracy of representation of events by a dataset (which would be a wrong approach!); but rather, to think of data as an acting entity that contributes to the complex composition of the protest.

Lost and Found: Craig Baldwin

Ten years ago, on one of my then often trips to San Fransisco, my friend Jorge Lorenzo Flores Garza and I decided to do a series of interviews with some great experimental filmmakers associated with American underground film. Most of them were teaching at San Francisco Art Institute, and Jorge was studying with them. These interviews were done for one good Ukrainian film magazine, Kino-Kolo, no longer published in print, for which I was still actively writing at that time.


Jorge did a great interview with Craig Baldwin, a fantastic experimental filmmaker, kind of a legend in San Fransisco’s experimental film scene. (Here is a good essay on him by Tim Maloney in Senses of Cinema that lists him in “Great Directors”). I translated the interview in Ukrainian and wrote an introduction to it, “The Territories of Free Access.” I thought it was lost. But Jorge found it! The interview is titled “Mona Lisa is everywhere!”



Among other things we did was an interview with George Kuchar, who passed away several years ago. I lost the hard copies of the magazine; and today, I only have an original text in electronic format (and it is in English!). Now that I am finally travelling to Ukraine soon — after almost 12 years, I hope to find a hard copy, which includes some rare photographs from George Kuchar’s personal archive, the scans of which neither Jorge nor I saved for some reason. I remember one of the images was a really funny photo with John Waters, another was a great portrait of Kuchar’s mother, who was Ukrainian. (She appears in the end of his 1966 film Hold Me While I am Naked).

PS I linked it above, but I just want to say that Jorge’s amazing film is worth checking out: On The Road by Jack Kerouac – he typed in the whole novel onto a strip of film. They say it’s “the most faithful adaptation of Kerouac to film,” and it’s probably true.

Minor cinema and war

I’ve finally received the proofs of my essay “Cinema for A Missing People: Gilles Deleuze’s Crystal-Image and Alexander Dovzhenko’s Zvenyhora” that will be published soon in Harvard Ukrainian Studies (32 no 1-4). First the essay was in works for a very long time, then the volume… Yet, this is, perhaps, a very rare case when such delay has made a text especially valuable (to me) in that it was written before the Maidan (I sent the final draft to the editors in summer 2013), and it has now become a record of a fantasy or hope articulated through the work of several favourite philosophers of cinema — theorists and makers. I am reading this text now as an emotional message (to myself) from the other side, wherever or whatever this other side might be… from before the crack in the geological time of my country… before thousands of deaths; before we knew that we would be able to count them only to one hundred; before we stopped being shocked, devastated, and sickened to the bone by every single one of them as we were in January 2014 (I still remember!); before all wounds and torture became what would stay with us (and I include them in “us” too) for the next several hundred years; and from the time before the bloody radioactive nuclear mess spread over the East of Ukraine. I am reading it and I feel so old. Old like ashes. Such is one of the effects of the crystal-image.


Even though the essay is, primarily, on Dovzhenko and Deleuze, there is something I unfairly omitted. I did not mention that the notion of minor, as minor cinema, is, in fact, Guattarian, although a ‘crowd’ of two philosophers carried it through a number of their collaborative texts. At the very least, his investment in this concept is rather significant. Several years ago, Deleuze Studies published Félix Guattari’s “Project for a Film by Kafka,” part of his work he did towards, indeed, producing a film based on Kafka’s oeuvre, with the introduction by Gary Genosko, who wrote about the concept of minor:

“…to become minor is not to be in a minority or the representative of a minority, or even to formally acquire the characteristics or status of a minority through some affiliation. It is not a question of mimesis or membership, but of how to produce becomings that might summon a people with whom cinema connects. The fundamental theoretical problem here lies at the heart of what it means to summon a new people without teleological or messianic politics.”

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Rafal Rohozinski: Big Data @ War

On January 29-30, 2015 we hosted Rafal Rohozinski from SecDev who gave a fascinating talk BIG DATA @ WAR: WHAT CYBERSPACE CAN TELL US ABOUT CONTEMPORARY CONFLICTS IN SYRIA AND POST-SOVIET STATES. The recording of the talk is available here:

About the speaker: Rafal Rohozinski is internationally recognized for his work in information and computer network operations, cybersecurity, and armed violence reduction. He is a senior fellow at the London-based International Institute of Strategic Studies; spent 17 years working in an operational capacity in the former Soviet Union, Asia, Middle East and Africa; and was the recipient of senior fellowships from the Ford foundation, IDRC, and Munk School. During his tenure as the director of the Advanced Network Research Group at the University of Cambridge, he co-founded and served as principal investigator for three projects focused on the nexus between security, stability, and cyberspace: the OpenNet Initiative, the Information Warfare Monitor and the Tele-geography of Conflict Project. Rohozinski was previously the Chair of the advisory boards of the Estonian E-Governance Academy and a participant in the Citizen Lab (Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto). He is the co-founder and principal of The SecDev Group and The SecDev Foundation, which works on issues of security and development. Continue reading

The Mysterious Wall

The Mysterious Wall is a Soviet science fiction film directed by Irina Povolotskaya (a student of Alexander Dovzhenko and Michael Chiaureli) and Mikhail Sadkovich in 1967. This film is absolutely unknown since it was shelved pretty much right after it was made. Although some censor might have seen the Wall as a metaphor of the Iron Curtain (and there are other moments in the film such as the connection of science with the military that could also provoke questions), the political commentary is pretty subtle and does not exceed what was ‘allowed’ in Soviet science fiction. So it’s rather strange that this film was shelved to be never rediscovered later. Meanwhile, it is an interesting work for a variety of reasons.

This film is about the Soviet physicists who investigate a mysterious object identified as the “Wall” that periodically re-appears on the same location and at the same time. The Wall looks like a thundercloud that surrounds a certain area and cannot be penetrated by radiowaves. It is exactly on that location behind the spheric Wall that the scientists organize a lab to study it. At the same time, no one is allowed to approach the Wall and if they do, a siren goes off. They are told (by the military) that the Wall poses a danger — but for whom, how, and why remains unclear. Continue reading

Killing Frequency: Maidan, February 20, 2014

As Українська Правда reported, a new video of the snipers & special force units shooting the protesters on the morning of February 20, 2014 was published on YouTube by Пошукова Група on December 5. Among many other documentations of these most violent hours of the events in Ukraine, this video stands out due to its length (55 min 23 sec) and the point of view – it was recorded from a top floor room and a balcony of the Hotel Ukraina that overlooks Instytutska Street leading towards the governmental quarters of Kyiv. That street was the location of the sniper massacre and from this spot, the area where the protesters were one by one targeted by the snipers was open for the view and documentation. Continue reading

Facebook Complicity & Its Rituals

Today King’s University College and Western’s CSTC along with the Department of Sociology hosted Franco Bifo Berardi who gave a lecture “Abstraction and Poetry in the Age of Financial Capitalism,” where he spoke about the process of abstraction-automation that has marked the 20th century. To sum it up, here’s a brief description that was provided, where he specified his notion of abstraction-automation: “In particular, economics has been structured by the process of abstraction, which culminates in the financialization of capitalism. This abstraction results in automation of decision and the submission of daily life and cognitive activity to the abstract dynamics of money.” He called for creation of spaces away from technology, but without becoming techno-phobiacs: “Art, and particularly poetry, can provide alternative spaces of experimentation, of emancipation of the sign from the referent. The social movements of the last few years, particularly media-activism and the international movement of Occupy, have attempted to open the way for a comeback of the body, poetry and art.”

Berardi concluded by saying that the problem of control and automation of cognitive work of the Internet (as “us,” users) by capitalist power poses totally new problems such as the ultimate enslavement of human activity (memory, language, etc.); and this is where, he said, the real fight of the next 50 years would be. He described the shift from “net” to “web” (or rather, web 2.0) as an “automation of passive connection.” Which I especially appreciated.  Continue reading

Hacking Feminism

A symposium hosted by The Center for Transformative Media to be held at Parsons: The New School for Design (New York) on Saturday May 9, 2015. Co-organized by Nandita Biswas Mellamphy, Patricia Clough, Svitlana Matviyenko, Dan Mellamphy.

To hack:

to cut with heavy blows in an irregular or random fashion;
to embarrass, annoy; to disconcert, confuse;
to cope with, manage, accomplish; to tolerate, accept; to comprehend;
to hesitate in speech; to stammer;
to break into a computer system by hacking;
to make a hack of, to put to indiscriminate or promiscuous use; to make common, vulgar, or stale, by such treatment;
to cut or chop up or into pieces, to chop off;
to make a clever, benign, and ethical prank or practical joke.

‘The body’ has been a central concept and site of power and subjectivity in the histories of feminism, and yet, in the age of ‘big data’ and ubiquitous computing, we are compelled to ask whether ‘corporeality’, ‘materiality’ and ‘embodiment’ have morphed into something beyond the conceptual boundaries of the ‘organic, fleshy, lived body’. Hacking Feminism seeks to gather together scholars and practitioners who are interested in exploring how the virtualization and informationalization of bodies have impacted —  even challenged — central feminist concepts and tropes such as embodiment, materiality, corporeality, affectivity, and experientiality.  How have widespread technical developments in Cybernetics and theoretical developments in Post-Humanism pushed feminist theorizations of the body away from the dialectics of individual phenomenological subjects and objects, towards multi-sensory design interfaces, trans-individual ecologies, and technically mediated embodiments? How is the rise of ambient and affective computing changing how bodies, especially ‘data bodies,’ are being measured?  Is there a ‘messiness’ that escapes the ‘measurability’ of bodies?  Or is this escapism itself a kind of romanticism? Can we still talk about a specifically feminist approach to theorizing both phenomenological (organic) and virtual (data) bodies?

Project on Information War and Ukraine

Last week at Western we hosted the second installment of the MEDIA AND CRISIS IN UKRAINE series. The series is focused on Ukraine’s ongoing events which present a striking case of a global phenomenon—the intersection of social movements, networked media and geopolitics. The demonstrators who gathered in Kyiv’s Independence Square to topple a regime not only occupied public space but also focused world-wide attention on their cause through social media. In doing so they also, however, sparked a networked conflict in which information, mis-information, dis-information, propaganda, censorship, digital coordination, viral messaging, diasporic mobilizations, on-line videography, surveillance, counter-surveillance, blackouts, hacking and outright cyber-war are all now crucial elements. These events are in many ways specific to Ukraine and its history—including the Orange Revolution, which in the 2000s provided an early example of the political uses of the Internet. But they also have telling similarities to the intersection of social movements, social media and international politics seen in the Arab Spring, Occupy and the “take the square “movements that exploded across the Eurozone in 2011. Ukraine now constitutes a living laboratory of the new forms of networked social struggle likely to redefine political life in the coming century. Continue reading

How they ‘live with that’…

Incredibly devastating events in Ukraine: every few days we hear about new tortures, deaths, arrested, wounded, abducted from the hospitals and missing people… I translated a very touching piece by a friend, Ukrainian poet and essayist, Andriy Bondar:


I constantly catch myself on thinking bad thoughts. Perhaps a threatened animal would have thoughts like these. If of course those are thoughts at all. I am not an animal, but I cautiously watch out for suspicious cars and read traces on the snow, and I change my email password several times per week. It makes me laugh. But I’ve known for a while, it’s not fear. Fear is when your heart starts racing, your hands tremble and your teeth chatter. It’s nothing like that. It’s something else. It’s a strange mix of human and animal sensation, something like a self-preservation instinct. It materializes as one single wish – to protect your territory, your close ones and your dogs. Continue reading