Skip to content

autonomy (im)possible in the shadow of radical-openness – emails

There was a bit of an email exchange sequence to do with the refusal by radical openness to support the shadow-spot idea.

Here’s the text: (minus some personal details..)

> Dear Aharon,

Dear Ushi,

Many thanks for your considered reply. Thoughtful and provoking! Cheers! 🙂

Apologies for late reply. Am currently in Palestine doing various
activities, some of which are documented in the links bellow.

Am a bit behind on the documentation uploads.. Skateboarding takes its own
time.. 😉

Hopefully I could clarify a few elements without shading others too much..

Did some elaboirate writing, however the just of it is in the
*** SUMMING UP *** section towards the end of this email..

> Thank you for your submission.
> We see your project as an interesting research into search algorithms.

Yes, there is a distinction here made between search and research that is
opening up.
(eg search tends to be from known to unknown, where as research seems to
be an activity of For, moving tpowards a predefined goal, for example.)

> Could we understand your project as well as a critic on existing search
engines where we believe in and trust those results?

Narcissus algorithm is taken by people in terms of contemporary context,
yes. And as such, some nick-name it “anti-google”.

However, the algorithm’s development context – ie shadow art search
competition – and the non-contextual way it operates, seems to make it a
contemporary critique, and an offer of a possible radical departure at the
same time.

The radical departure is in the sense that it imagines the function of
query in terms of searching rather than researching or indeed – finding.
Hence narcissus algorithm contemplates searching by providing results that
are both relevant and, at the same time, likely to be overlooked (ie dark
I think this element is part of what you pointed out – yes, people might
indeed question the process of searching while taking pictures, and
uploading to the server. eg – a person might ask whether or not a certain
spot Should be on the database – it is open to each participant’s

However, I think a crucial element, and a reason for using the narcissus
search algorithm in the context of questioning the possibility – or lack
of – autonomy, is that narcissus-algorithm keeps asking the question of
visibility and what happens with it. How by uncovering a truth, that very
act covers other truths… We get a truth that is the aesthetics of the
covering and uncovering, visible and invisible..

Therefore, if a certain Hidden urban spot becomes popular – ie
seen/visible – more than others, the algorithm will hide it from any
search results in ever increasing periods.

The more something has a history/past of visibility, the longer it will be

I hope the above is a slightly more communicative explanation of the
background and context for the workshop idea.

> If you would agree on this then it would be nice if you could
> mediate this a bit better?

The question seems to focus on the algorithm itself.. I thought it might
be fun and experiental for people to do the workshop. However, if you
rather a straight forward presentation of the narcissus search engine, and
contextualising it with the AMRO’S “Autonomy (im)possible?” event as the
question of how the (im)possibility of uncovering covers others when
becomes visible/uncovered – then will be very happy to demonstrate the
algorithm, and present it with the ideas around this….

> Or did we understand your project wrong?
> Workshop
> We are also not that convinced that feeding your search engine with
found information like hidden places in Linz makes sense.
> Because where else would this have an impact as on your own webside? And
why should we document hidden places in town which are maybe usefull as
unknown. Searching the Unkown/hidden ok but – who knows about your search
engine? Informations stays as hidden then fine… hm Of course you are
welcome @ AMRO but we are very limted with budget meanwhile.
> As you proposed to try to apply somewhere else this seems to be an other
open question to us.
> Do you have any 3rd party support meanwhile?

Interesting and thought provoking questions: (Cheers! 🙂 )

* Initially, the thinking that people/participants could take the data
with them as a micro site, and do with it as they please, because the
search engine is distributed..
However, if you are interested in terms of impact, perhaps this could open
an ongoing website, eg where people could upload such
images of hidden places continuously..

* As mentioned before, because the algorithm questions searching and how
visibility makes elements invisible by default – if there are any popular
images – they will be the least visible on the engine..

* The search algorithm, and the code are open.. We are slowly getting
others involved in the project. As the winner of the dark/hidden art
search algorithm, narcissus is known with people mainly involved with

*** SUMMING UP ***

* Am happy to present narcissus as a 40/45 mins presentation, if you guys
think its most appropriate. (ie, context of algorithm, the focus on
searching and dark information, and how it differs from search engines
like google that want to push popularity and entertainment. (ie pleasing
rather than questioning..) This

* Am also happy to do the workshop.. Hopefully the replies to the points
mentioned, provide a clearer idea..

(functional questions/notes)
* Will follow this email with a call/irc-ping.. Hope its OK..
(Since sometimes real time chat can help to make stuff clearer..)

* For travel funds/assistance, I will be asked for an official looking
invite letter from AMRO.

* Staying in Linz..
Would you happen to have some floorspace in the place?
Or perhaps links with local squat/s?

Cheers and all the very bests!


> Best Ushi

Be First to Comment

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.