Licence: CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 (Creative Commons, Attribution - NonCommercial - ShareAlike, version 4.0)

Sleight Mirror Party - networked performance installation and workshop.

photo of sister0 relecting on these things

Presented by the Genderchangers & Systerserver admins - [iteration and variation of the "Mirror Party", first presented at STWST48 Mirror Party - sister0 and sisters play.]

Mirror Mirror on the wall why do you reflect only the prettiest of them all? As we all know those who rely heavily on attention, the most persistant data gets remembered in history. Who will crash the mirror mirror on the wall?

"Sleight Mirror Party" reflects upon the culture of surveillance, privileging hyper awareness (anxiety) of running code over a confining totalitarian identity. These mirrors will also be contemplated further in relation to a workshop in that could be seen also as a social sculpture as such this technology but also reveals the power of subjective approaches. Everything in and of the Internet is a stimulus package for the endlessly derivative, in the same way that a mirror image is a by-product of an original (not a copy).

The term mirror has been misconstrued in recent years. It's used in the sense of copy and replica, re download mirror or mirrored website. The original meaning of the word is to wonder at. The unsaid essence however of the reflection is not so much that it is accurate but that it is an inverted, a negative image.

Internet users look anxiously into the void-like screen of a networked self. Is this compulsive need for productivity keeping us from falling off a psychic ledge or is it simply the way to (financial) future existence? Almost as if it were a mirror to reassure ourselves that we exist, as if any database was a representation of the world. The mirror has been an essential tool in the technology of self-portraiture since the Renaissance. We have been anxiously ‘vanity surfing’ for at least a decade.

Before the current wave of international surveillance scandals, contemporary electronic movements (Anonymous, darknets and cypherpunk communities) and related computer sub-cultures had been obscure in popular culture. Aside from the popularisation of the Internet itself since the nineties accomplished hackers had many personal reasons for the need for anonymity and in general avoided celebrity. We see, in the mainstream media, magazines like RollingStone feature articles on hackers as if they are the new genre of rockstar. For instance, WikiLeaks’, main representative Julian Assange, is now a common household name even though the site itself runs on the anonymising Tor network, constructed interchange of forked sites and server mirrors - with no one centralized location that it operates through.

Now even feminist hackers are all the rage even VICE magazine have articles about ‘all women hacker collectives making art about the post Snowdenage’ (Jan 2015). Beyonce has blasted it on the back drop of her show, Karl Largerfield has staged a protest in Paris – Feminism is the new vogue and so is Hacking - But it seems that while his new generation of cyberfeminists traverse though rooms contained with servers and touch them many of these collectives seem do nothing more than use social media platforms as consumers, while apparently these new ‘female hackers’ know nothing about the fundamentals of computer programming that inform digital media.

Within the feminist technological field there are factions driven by the ongoing friction behind the scenes, which is not necessarily talking about ‘feminism’ or women in technology per se, or even women's (generally marginalising) experience in software and hardware skillshare and development, but rather, instead of culture, status anxiety comes to the fore. Particular female led projects have to initially work on making visible networks of female centered technologists and how agency is taking place in other ways, and how modding tools can arouse social reflection and alternate participation when it is in practiced and performed on the ground, through the generations. What anxiety surfaces when you take part and have influenced this fourth wave of feminism, but people do not see it, because it’s not new, innovative, commercial, western, aesthetic, large, or marketable. Notwithstanding the polemics of the past decades concerning the so called, tyranny of the ‘women only’ tech event, the fact remains that most technology is a oligarchical dominated medium, that gives a very special place to such expedient behavior. While we feel data erasure would solve a lot of anxiety, that very same erasing of genealogies that happens outside of the colonial and colonizing imaginary of (sub)culture. The Genderchangers Academy (GCA) develops artistic strategies that examine the implications of the materiality of networks, exploring how social memory is related to hardware networked data archiving. GCA conceptualises data that could be understood within an ecosystem of human and non-human agents; as having a 'life cycle'. GCAs practice focuses on the erasure of data as a performative strategy that emphasises how sociopolitical issues are intertwined with network materiality. The approach is ethnographical and rooted in software studies informed by the cultural context of technology. Practice, theory, and knowledge sharing form a reciprocal relationship within the GCA methodology that focuses on making invisible structures/systems tangible. This begs the question: how and what are less cursory modes of communication within this prescribed regulated realm? And why are feminist voices within this technological realm constantly regulated to a standard (oligarch) behavioural paradigm? What happens if these entire systems continue to process even though basic human understanding has broken down? Because life is not about algorithms, it is ephemeral and shape shifting; being there, doing it is the greatest proof. Therefore, the Sleight Mirror Party foregrounds the ephemeral conditions of a system and our embodied position within a network of anxiety.

WHY Sleight Mirror Party WORKSHOP?

The workshop format introduces the practice of Sleight of Hand Mirroring, the art of ephemeral access through propagation and erasure. Hands on methods and techniques.

A mirror is a Web site or set of files on a computer server that has been copied to another computer server so that the site or files are available from more than one place. Mirrors are often used to circulate proscribed data, to ensure its continued availability through non centralised distribution. By the same token, data redundancy is a source of anxiety; the persistent undead media creates haunting zombies. How could we imagine the subterfuge practice of data circulation outside the zombified model of social networking sites?

Holding up the idea of the mirror, attempting to use it as a cypher or a key to pick the lock to a backdoor or smash the mirror. The workshop replicates mirror parties and mirroring with methods of 'computing without computers'. Scripts and content is co-created by participants to integrate to a network of systerServers and web hosts (URLs) that are used to create a networked performance hosted on a URL.

What would you like to share and hide? Who will crash the mirror?


It seems safe to say that significant discovery, really creative thinking, does not occur with regard to problems about which the thinker is lukewarm. (Mary Henle)