In discussion with the Post-Media Lab, art server group, Irational have developed a research project which will commence in April, opening with their participation in an event about Post-Media Archives held at Leuphana University and continuing until the end of 2013
Research Proposal: Archaeology and Futurology of the Irational Artserver: An exercise in translation and re-intepretation of a Commons.
One afternoon, in the palaeolithic period of net culture, (1995), Heath Bunting squatted a server by dot.com entrepreneur Ivan Pope and registered a misspelt domain name.
Since then irational.org has operated as a loose collective of like-minded individuals formed through certain shared artistic, political and personal affinities in response to a neoliberal, technologised environment. There was no overt manifesto or ideological proposal, just an invitation from Heath to join and make use of the server, maybe during a walk or a mutually appreciative encounter at a media art group show about networks. However, the term 'post-media', or 'post-digital', suggesting as it does the objects, events and actions that happen in negotiation with mediated terrains, is relevant to irationalists. The material factor in common, or commons, is the server itself, but each individual core member has their own body of work and has taken a distinct, personal route through an 18 year period of networked digital and art economies, which in different ways have influenced the material and psychological conditions of irational.org members, their relationships with each other and the world.
Recently, as the data burden has increased, irational.org dispensed with its old server and transferred all data to a new, bigger, faster machine. This left us with a copy, a dead disk, available for an archaeological survey of all the data artefacts that reside there, including emails, cgi and .pl scripts, documentation, projects (some broken), reviews, profiles etc. Offline, the disk itself becomes a corpse, a ruin, but nonetheless a record of irationalist desires, anxieties, preoccupations, struggles, in various conditions of precarity, reflecting a period of economic expansion and contraction, political resistance and capitulation, as well as a record of an attempt to establish a shared resource or commons.
Essentially an archival project the aim is to conduct an archaeological analysis of the disk, extrapolating stories about it, the associated (data and material) objects, the individuals who produced them, and the historical context in which they were produced.
We would invite 'expert' guests (curators, hackers, writers, actors, sociologists, anthropologists, futurologists, economists) to offer perspectives on different irational.org artefacts, the disk configuration, and the historical or contemporary context in which they emerge, potentially changing them and producing new forms.
It is a speculative activity employing fictional interpretative schemata, metaphoric strategies and metonymic tactics for working through both the anxieties and promises of technological change and the idea of a 'commons'. It would involve walks, discussions, workshops, and burial, with the Kunstraum and the Lüneburg Heide as the principle base for these activities.
Irational Member: Heath Bunting
The Treasurer /Head of Security
Control and management of funds and disk data.
Devise a procedure for requesting and accessing data on the irational disk, preserving any sensitive or controversial materials which may be subject to censorship or contraband status as defined by Head of Security and irational members.
Irational Member: Rachel Baker
Approach the irational.org disk, the dead twin of a living server, as a text, albeit an encoded, encrypted one, which can reveal itself, it's history, through a reciprocal and interpretative relationship with other texts. In this instance Arno Schmidt and his book, Zettels Traum, in which a family and a translator discuss the translation of Edgar Allen Poe’s writings whilst walking on the Lüneburg Heide. Referencing different objects related to irational.org similar walks will be undertaken on the the Lüneburg Heide with discussions about community, land appropriation, colonisation. This may result in either a cartoon series, or a radio play, populated with characters and avatars that take on the dramas of this struggle around appropriation of Commons – the Sysop, the Treasurer, the URL, the Hacker, the DataMiner, the Mailman, the Entrepreneur, the Bureaucrat, the Neo-Primitive, the Outcast, the Gardener, all battling for control of the narrative about community and commons.
Irational member: Kayle Brandon
Portrait of irational as a park. A post-excavation process of preservation and representation of the irational server by transforming the collective server works into another form relative to a biological, physical plane.
Irational works, their characteristics, politics, to be persevered in the form of a public park by matching and twinning the artefact's to things that best represent them; plants, pathways, amenities, trees, slides, toilets, ruins, fences etc. All the dynamics of a park would be considered; the maintenance, financing and politics of the park, aligned with the spatial and social relations of irational.
Plan drawings, models and maps would be made to visualise the work. Specialists to include expert gardeners, landscape analysts, botanists. The majority of the work would be carried out in the UK, but a workshop in Luneburg will be organised and work displayed.
Irational member: Kate Rich
Investigate the independent artserver as stone age utility, in its swan dive from cutting edge to virtual anachronism in less than 2 decades. This would probably be a piece of writing drawing on a long-running interest in the materiality of technology, plus conversations with other radical sysops &, perhaps, makers of the cloud.
To engage in mining the irational disk for illuminating sysop data past, & perhaps looking for useful parallels via land law.
Irational member: Vahida Ramujkic
Lead the process of book production, as the high density data object – (the disk) is examined, looking at repercussions in the material world while it was 'on line'. The editorial approach will employ the practice and logic of the fermentation process. As the disk became dysfunctional, we are examining the extent of the influence it made in the spacial and temporal realm while it was 'connected', to ascertain ways in which the berried data, protocols, and archives, instead of putrefying, could be 'recycled, or fermented, gaining new life, producing new values 'offline', and looking at different perspectives from where different narratives could be explained.