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

A few months ago I applied to attend the radical-openess 2014 event.

The application was rejected and that gave rise to what seems like an interesting opportunity to Do the stuff suggested on the application in a different way – a manner which might be perceived as being in the shadow of the event taking place until 31/05/14..

A shorty of W+HTF?
The initial idea (see details far bellow) imagined doing a workshop-kind-of-thing where:
* people will spread/walk/etc around town.
* gather “shadow-spots”, ie some sort of data/recordings of stuff that is in shadows, un/less-seen/notice-able.
* upload & share the shadow-spots via the narcissus search engine. A search engine that is biased towards elements a community might place in its shadows..

Current idea:
Instead of having to Be in one single geo environment, perhaps people could do Shadow Spotting where they are at and when the inspiration comes?

Because I happened to fancy doing this activity + am heavily involved already with the Narcissus Search engine, am suggesting that if during the 30/31.05.14:
* people want to write, jot, draw, take pics, make code, record sounds, take times, links, plant, spit, yell, laugh, kiss, dress-up, de-code, spin-wheels, surf, etc. Etc. ETc ++ linking to shadow spots spotting. Elements you might notice that are in shadow of others, or that are just less notice-able, or perhaps just happened in the shadow of time, of movement, etc..
The “shadow” is a personal definition, and in itself, these definitions might become shadows of one another on the search engine..
(Shadow-Spotting can be done at any time of the day/night while going around doing whatever a person might do in town..)

* I’d be happy to chat about these activities via skype/phone/email and perhaps assist in uploading to the narcissus site, make your own narcissus search site, link-up stuff that searches from shadow spotting, etc..

Since am attempting to share rather than communicate – any clarification questions are Uber-Welcome..

Cheers and much pun-free fun!

btw: i asked if they are fine with me doing this in their shadow. was told its cool! 🙂

The idea as was shared with the radical-openness people:

description of your intention:
The 1st line of the 2014 call is, for me, very evocative:
“Uncovering new truths and making them public as a disruption and
criticism of the dominant system has consequences.”

Artistically, uncovering truths and new ways its possible to do
stuff, worked very well with the dominant artworld system. In a
sense, it can be argued that like urban gentrification, radical
art practices tend to offer new territories for the art market to
capitalise on.. To own.

Hence, the proposal is, in a sense, an attempt to question the
very process of Uncovering. How do we uncover hidden, less seen –
or un seen – missed and possibly unpopular stuff, yet retain the
radicality.. (or not selling out..)

Sometime ago, Phil Jones and I made a search engine that at its
core has an algorithm made specifically for uncovering
shadow/dark data. The algorithm goes
through a cycle of “popularity” or “being seen and used” for each
bit result, and hides popular result for increasingly longer
periods – hence bringing forward the data that Was in the shadow
of the more popular one.
However, and crucially, once the formerly shadow data becomes
used, seen, and by its nature gains some popularity, it too gets
hidden, and formerly popular stuff, and even less popular and
more shadowy information, gets the chance to be more visible..
Its an ongoing cycle.

For radical openness, I would like to present and make use of the
algorithm via a workshop process that explores the shadowy and
unseen in an urban environment. Therefore, workshop participants
will get involved in uncovering dark/unseen/shadowy urban
spots/places. Then sharing the uncovered places with workshop
participants, and via the narcissus algorithm, experience how the
dark urban places get to see various shades of
Hence exploring the process of uncovering as well as questioning
how its done and how it might operate.

To do the ideas above:
* I will introduce the narcissus algorithm, and the concept of
dark/shadowy/unseen elements/places/spots in urban environments.

(This will include examples as: homeless, bus stops, traffic
signs, spaces behind phone exchange boxes and walls, etc..)

* At the end of the introduction, we will all go out in search of
shadow spots.Each workshop member will find their own or, if they
fancied, people could also be grouped. These spots will be
recorded as participants might wish. (eg take a photo, write a
description, video clip, log the longitude/latitude location,
record sounds, etc.

* Following the gathering of data/information about shadowy dark
urban places, we will share the findings through feeding them to
the narcissus search engine. ie First we will put the data into
the narcissus database, and then people will present their
findings and talk about why the thought their findings were

* After the presentations, we will wrap things by looking at the
narcissus search results and how they affect visibility – or
otherwise – of the data people just put..

what participants should bring:
Participants will probably need some sort of data recording
tool.. This could be:
* a pen and paper. (which I will probably be able to provide..)
* a camera.
* a mobile device.
* a sound recorder.
* anything else that might be relevant..

An open mind and possibly an affinity or a desire to question the
subject of uncovering process..

Level of Workshop:
project websites:
where you can get the information about the search engine and
links to show how it operates.
Also: is an explanation of
an earlier iteration, the workshop for radical openness is based
Image ( Snapshot of the work), Files :
Software &/or Hardware: I will probably need a projector and an
internet connection.. (I will bring some usb sticks and a sizable
external hard drive for people to put the data, and from which to
upload into the narcissus search website.. Also, I can provide a
camera for people who might have decided to jot or draw something
on paper..)

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

imitating emergence via design for the spirit and forgetting skateboarding urban soul?

With spirit as a generalised term for aspiration drive, and soul as a general term for character – perhaps should use character..(??!!)
It seems interesting that a skateboarding space that emerged, a bit like other urban elements tend to emerge unintentionally from design, suddenly nedds to be moved. However, to justify the move, they want to retain
a skateboarding space
a space that retains the original’s “ideals” of being an emergent feature/element rather than designed.
And so, in the south bank, they want to make a skateboarding park that will look like wasn’t designed for skateboarding..
Perhaps they should simply allow skateboarding inside all galleries & museums? Or demand it..?

soylent, broccoli and me?

I have been recommending soylent, and considering it myself – for when I have time and money to organise – for some time now.

However, one of my constant grimes with soylent is the feeling it is a sort of conservative effort. Not simply because of its capitalistic outlook – getting funds to automate and make profits – but also because it assumes we know already.
One of the perks of eating various food sources is stumbling on – or risking – ideas regarding to feed. It might be that you eat stuff that isn’t actually very cool for you, eg, cows – or stuff that you had no idea was pretty cool for you, eg broccoli.

However, the way we eat nowadays is in itself too traditional and routed in lives based in times and environments that are foreign for our urban realities. Hence I am convinced we ought to change/evolve how we energise our bodies – am just questioning the soylent solution..
Perhaps I should also raise this question in one of the forums one day..

ghosts tourists?

Perhaps its a knee-jerk reaction to the life of ghost towns, but photography, somehow ironically, as a reflective media, seems to show that there is much more in there, much more to practice with deserted places worldwide.

In my mind there are un-utterable links between ghosted places. Probably mixed with the sense of organic movements in different space-time scales – the geographic, human historic, personal animalistic, the materials, economic, and the falseness of abandonment which brings the reality of Being as part of space-time to light..