Kenneth Goldsmith: Duchamp Is My Lawyer: The Polemics, Pragmatics, and Poetics of UbuWeb (2020)

22 June 2020, dusan

“In 1996, during the relatively early days of the web, Kenneth Goldsmith created UbuWeb to post hard-to-find works of concrete poetry. What started out as a site to share works from a relatively obscure literary movement grew into an essential archive of twentieth- and twenty-first-century avant-garde and experimental literature, film, and music. Visitors around the world now have access to both obscure and canonical works, from artists such as Kara Walker, Yoko Ono, Pauline Oliveros, Samuel Beckett, Marcel Duchamp, Cecil Taylor, Glenn Ligon, William Burroughs, and Jean-Luc Godard.

In Duchamp Is My Lawyer, Goldsmith tells the history of UbuWeb, explaining the motivations behind its creation and how artistic works are archived, consumed, and distributed online. Based on his own experiences and interviews with a variety of experts, Goldsmith describes how the site navigates issues of copyright and the ways that UbuWeb challenges familiar configurations and histories of the avant-garde. The book also portrays the growth of other “shadow libraries” and includes a section on the artists whose works reflect the aims, aesthetics, and ethos of UbuWeb. Goldsmith concludes by contrasting UbuWeb’s commitment to the free-culture movement and giving access to a wide range of artistic works with today’s gatekeepers of algorithmic culture, such as Netflix, Amazon, and Spotify.”

Publisher Columbia University Press, New York, 2020
ISBN 9780231186940, 0231186940
x+318 pages

Reviews: Raphael Rubinstein (Art in America, 2020), Mark Athitakis (On the Seawall, 2020), Nick Soulsby (PopMatters, 2020), Tomáš Hudák (3/4, 2020, SK), Georg Fischer (iRights.info, 2020, DE).

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Nanna Bonde Thylstrup: The Politics of Mass Digitization (2018)

1 February 2019, dusan

“A new examination of mass digitization as an emerging sociopolitical and sociotechnical phenomenon that alters the politics of cultural memory.

Today, all of us with internet connections can access millions of digitized cultural artifacts from the comfort of our desks. Institutions and individuals add thousands of new cultural works to the digital sphere every day, creating new central nexuses of knowledge. How does this affect us politically and culturally? In this book, Nanna Bonde Thylstrup approaches mass digitization as an emerging sociopolitical and sociotechnical phenomenon, offering a new understanding of a defining concept of our time.

Arguing that digitization has become a global cultural political project, Thylstrup draws on case studies of different forms of mass digitization—including Google Books, Europeana, and the shadow libraries Monoskop, lib.ru, and Ubuweb—to suggest a different approach to the study of digital cultural memory archives. She constructs a new theoretical framework for understanding mass digitization that focuses on notions of assemblage, infrastructure, and infrapolitics. Mass digitization does not consist merely of neutral technical processes, Thylstrup argues, but of distinct subpolitical processes that give rise to new kinds of archives and new ways of interacting with the artifacts they contain. With this book, she offers important and timely guidance on how mass digitization alters the politics of cultural memory to impact our relationship with the past and with one another.”

Publisher MIT Press, 2018
ISBN 9780262039017, 026203901X
ix+200 pages

Reviews: Paul Conway (Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology, 2019), Logan Brown (New Media & Society, 2019), Marc Kosciejew (Information & Culture, 2019), Lizzie Martin (Convergence, 2019).
Commentary: Seb Chan (2019), Bill Caraher (2019).

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