Wait, what is publishing again? 🤔

Aymeric Mansoux

18 April 2023

Based on notes taken here.

Description: We are all familiar with this sentence: “XPUB focuses on the acts of making things public and creating publics in the age of post-digital networks.” But what does that really mean?

A two-hour lecture and in-between discussions around ‘publishing’ guided by Aymeric Mansoux. Join this cerebral journey of never-ending exploration of what publishing is. Collective lunch* at the XPUB studio will be followed afterwards.

When: 18th of April, 11:00-13:00 Where: XPUB studio

Collective Lunch: Open-Sauce-Open-Sandwich For lunch, pick and bring one element from your favorite sandwich! It could be your favourite surface(bread, rice cake), sauce(spreadable), crunch(veggies) or something else! Let’s swap and share these elements to build an open-sauce open sandwich! 🥪

Let’s unpack this sentence! “XPUB focuses on the acts of making things public and creating publics in the age of post-digital networks.”

Making things public

First pillar of XPUB…

creating a discourse…. sending out into the world?

Media/Medium –< (an arrow bifurcates from media to two points:)

An example from: Against Expression, An Anthology of Conceptual Writing, First My Motorola, by Alexandra Nemerov

See also other examples of Conceptual writing on Monoskop.

The work describes an entanglement of consumerism and identity (impossible to think of the latter without the first).

Making public is located somewhere between those two extremes, the medium as an artistic, and the media as an information tool (✨where the magic happens✨)

XPUB Special Issues are designed to open up methods to this end (opening up the two senses of making public)

Text as “poster child” of publishing.

Many theories of navigation between different discourses of publishing practices center around text

In particular:

Most of these terms were coined by Gerard Genette

XPUB: Beyond making artist books…

All of these ideas around textuality can be extended (beyond just text) to any kind of media > mediality

Sometimes referred to intermediality, hypermediality, paramediality… They are attempts to break through the narrowness of one particular media.

Another example: Lenka Clayton (audio file)

Edited (words sorted alphabetically) speech justifying the war in Iraq, good example for experimental publishing

The work shortcuts a very complex topic, by algorithmically sorting a text, deconstructing a specific moment in time. This work as an example of a work that does something much more effective then the current hype around algorithmic media.

Experimental publishing wants to detach itself from classic ways of making public (like print media), the word “publishing” is intentionally not included in the one-line description of the course as a means of inviting a deconstruction of the term.

Creating publics

Second pillar of XPUB…

Creating different contexts, written out to different contexts, maybe that are already there, group them together…. example of merging people in the humanities, people in technology…. making a bridge…

Thinking about the whom: who is the audience, this audience is created by the act of making it… the public is made by the process of publishing it… (which is really hard ;) because then you are not understanding well what you are making public … there is uncertainty …)

Creating Publics —< (another forked diagram)

In early conversations with Silvio Lorusso, early focus on making public, the post-digital…

Reminder to consider the making of a public…

The end receiver / the audience is often implied … (in speaking of publishing)

but this isn’t / shouldn’t be taken as a given…

Unclear, Can be wasteful / pointless / Unwanted stuff Production of stuff that no one asked for.

It’s a tricky question: this touches a nerve in art & design : the question of “usefulness” … and an ever present question as to the need (or not) of art & design to be functional / useful

Top branch of the forked diagram: Chat with Silvio :)

The examples before have an agenda, and through this it addresses a specific purpose. Intention/agenda/usefulness/purpose… leads to discussions about ideologies, politics. How do you situate the act of making public in contemporary practices? It’s exciting and complicated.

Bottom branch: Question of production

In the field of art and cultural production… Western Europe… An aesthetization of politics, more and more programs and courses encouraging engagement with societal issues; driven by the world we’re living in; creating a massive incentive to do something useful; and driven by European / national agendas, where the disappearnce of art (for arts sake) / without purpose is being removed (defunded)

We need to have artists “contributing to society” …. meaning not engaging to societal issues but making contributions to specific economics / the “creative industries” are born…

+/-7/14 years ago… “cultural entrepreneurship” –> means that art graudates will not rely on fundings but will actively become cultural enterpreneurs

All Funding from EU has the same criteria as any other industry.

(the arts as )“yet another industry” … use the same template

In this way problematizes a discorsee of “artistic practice that engaging in societal ways” … difficult to distinguish from a problematic program / agenda / politic

When engaging with society in a meaningful way via the arts you are engaging with a track that has already been set for you; you are delivering what is being asked from art and design field.

[engagical?] with political works do this as part of circuits that are not challenged at all; not challenging or aligned with the politics they claim to engage in.

joak: Aesthetization of politics, is that a lack of autonomy in artistic production, caused from reduction of funding… autonomy in the sense of creating without thinking… The court artist producing outside of a market…

AM: today if you want to get funding or engage with commercial approach to art production, there are so many parameters that cannot be changed, that the only parameter you can activate is the content itself

No matter where you are in the system, you can’t challenge the way things are being produced… You exist in a channel… Lots of points of intervention / activation, but many things are pre-decided, through habit, through lack of time, through vision and agenda to which you can’t intervene (at another level determined) You are given a small template — all is aweseome, but you can make a little proet / caca (French for fart + poo poo). :0 💩

Bombastic & Hyperbolic: Question of Autonomy comes with so many strings attached…

here comes the B word… Bourgeouis!

Tools that proclaim a radical discourse, but which are unable to have a radical impact.

(you can for instance) go Marxist: look at the tools of production!

… but an illusionary production of agency…
…. it’s about the way things are distributed…

atm it’s ok to be radical as long as you remain within the expected templates of your production. As soon as you want to do things differently it becomes difficult.


Example of a piece of music that might challenge in it’s means of production…

Q: To sum it up for xpub: the way something is produced? A shift from the “creating publics” towards more.

Consideration of collective action/collective practices talk about similar things but more generatively.

Danger of tactical media/ artivism with a focus on “target audience” making an intervention… Too simple / “dated”… Example of a particular Berlin conference, Yes men, Activist artist megacollectives like Forensic Architecture which are bombastic, (aiming to) solve all problem of the world.

(Speaking of FA) They half admitted that most of their work circulate in galleries, museums.

Exhibition form, museum / challenging the notion of the museum (addressing to you like you’re 5)…

No one outside of the museum world knows about it.

Ag: BUT…. production of evidence in Greece

AM: … how much of their practice is this? …. Way of working is a return to a Factory style — with interns, as famous, it can function this way) Eyal Weizman … negotiating a price for performance. …

“raising awareness” … needs to be questioned.

Creating Publics


Collective Practices

a means of

recreate playfulness in these practices; depart from transformation of media art and design. media art media design scene, need to be as bleak as possible… you need to be as bleak as possible to make a point. now it’s a formula. and it is a formula that is not competing with reality either

Everything that is considered critical media etc. will be outdated in a few months

(Q: how to stay motivated (para phrase))

Example of What Remains, circulated in many circles, outside of “white cube” / arts-specific …. touching game communities, raising questions of hegemony, discussions not seen … Example of a more porous boundaries in the invitations of the game. Example of remote meeting of reclaiming old machines… (a possible strategy)…

Challenge how / where your work will circulate. If your work demands a level of activation, consider how / where / what communities this can happen.

To avoid XPUB as genre rather than method.

Question of scale?

(again example of FA) … problem maybe related to the way FA originates as an academic project, its funding. Is it possible to decouple the project from the conditions of the work; no way to come back, they are stuck in this loop.

Q: In Greece, radical practices exist, but unpaid…. Anti-commercial, politically engaged for a specific public… So many masters with political texts; It’s a friction: where you are rooted / the production… radical because they are rooted there is a friction if you are rooted in a safe space or …

A: some of the urgency is also artificial

Need to take into consideration global south…

Post-digital networks

Third pillar of XPUB…

The process of digitalisation is over, there is no differentiation … there is no escape now… (how defined 7/8 years ago)

The idea that the future was digital, the means of production of the digital are just one way…

The aftermath…
The promise of digitilisation
The idea that the digital would overcome all media. Print was dead….
This period is over… digital co-exists…?

Negri, Manovich in the 90s….

A techno-determinist movement to support everything digital.
Discourse of: Newer is better /
Urgency for Cultural production to adapt

Digital Revolution Hangover… (mid/late 2000s?) understanding of tech pushing tech for questionable ends… / motivation

the paradigm shift never quite happened…

Revolution 4.0 – economic model linke to digital fabrication….

Old vs New ? increasingly irrelevant
Younger population interested in engagement with older media
Composite / bricolage works mixing old and new

Post-digital in the context of XPUB means: Pick whatever you want! You can choose old techniques, new ones, step out of the consumerist aspect of the latest is the greatest.

Revisiting these ideas now (Negri/Manovich) … do the ideas make sense?

Old vs. New: again like “creating publics” … If you acknowledge you are in a post-digital environment, this implies three things:

👢Bootstrapping: 👢

New techniques

The objective of Engelbart’s bootstrapping strategy is equipping those groups that can make a big difference in addressing important challenges with the most effective Collective IQ tools and practices available. These might include tools and/or practices for engaging around a shared mission, sensemaking and situational awareness, connecting the dots and insights, identifying possibilities and needs, advancing and capturing the knowledge, designing and deploying innovative solutions, incorporating lessons learned, … The strategy is about how you accelerate the continuous improvement and deployment of those tools and practices into those target end-user groups in the most streamlined, effective and enabling way.

Related to Latour’s notion of ◼️ blackboxing.◼️ Ability to zoom out / as a form of abstraction. To cite Bruno Latour, blackboxing is “the way scientific and technical work is made invisible by its own success. When a machine runs efficiently, when a matter of fact is settled, one need focus only on its inputs and outputs and not on its internal complexity. Thus, paradoxically, the more science and technology succeed, the more opaque and obscure they become.”

"The feeding back of positive research results to improve the means by which the work is produced to improve the research again?(? paraphrase…)?

illustration vs transformation accepting certain forms of paralysis increasing levels of complexity / intertwingleness (Nelson ;) Create a sense of never ending pursuit of a a solution just out of reach, coming in the next iteration, …

how can you de-bootstrap yourself when everything has being entagled within insanely complicated relations of dependency? Can see this in the field of permacomputing. All the people involved / adjacent are completely independent from the supply chains which they wish to critique. No one dares point to the Elephnt-in-the-room, the way technology … the privileged position from which the critique is made … and the “solution” that obfuscates the problem…

EG The “circular economy” argument…. with questionable / dark spots in the presented/imagined cycle…

Admission of / recognition of the entaglement / leads to a kind of paralysis / paradox

Technological determinism vs. Social construction of tech

Dichotomy / “you have to pick a camp” … binary debates (with endless critics / attacks based on these “party” lines)…

“dropping the bomb” of post-digital as a means to unpack / start a discussion / raise core questions of how… Can your work be anything else than just an illustration?

So… what is experimental publishing? …the answer we have all been waiting for.

Example: Hitchcock presents: The MacGuffin…

Plot device that acts as a catalyst … something which the characters in a film cares about, but in fact is ultimately irrelevant for an audience