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"The Internet Does Not Exist" book launch recap

The internet does not exist!

This Tuesday, e-flux journal launched their reader “The Internet Does Not Exist,” with presentations by Zach Blas, Alexander Galloway and Karen Archey. The title “The Interenet Does Not Exist” is a jocular title that speaks to the simultaneous omnipresence and intangibility of the internet. From the event page:

The internet does not exist. Maybe it did exist only a short time ago, but now it only remains as a blur, a cloud, a friend, a deadline, a redirect, or a 404. If it ever existed, we couldn’t see it. Because it has no shape. It has no face, just this name that describes everything and nothing at the same time. Yet we are still trying to climb onboard, to get inside, to be part of the network, to get in on the language game, to show up on searches, to appear to exist. But we will never get inside of something that isn’t there.

“The Internet Does Not Exist” book cover

Alexander Galloway spoke about the need to re-examine how we quantify time and cultural movements, saying that despite the existence of Web 1.0 and 2.0 that there will never be Web 3.0 as these movements happen in twos, or as an impetus and then a reaction. He also spoke about our need to detach ourselves from Deleuze. Karen Archey spoke about how sexuality has changed with the advent of the Web, and how this is evidenced by hook up culture: we no longer only find partners in geographic zones such as bars or cruising zones, but largely find love online. She also spoke about artists such as Bunny Rogers, Angela Washko, Ann Hirsch, Laurie Simmons, Charlotte Prodger, and Hito Steyerl.

Zach Blas gave a presentation on Contra-Sexuality and utopian plagiarism. Here is a video he screened during the talk, titled “Contra-Internet Inversion Practice #1: Constituting an Outside (Utopian Plagiarism)”:

He writes:

Contra-Internet is a project that engages the emerging militancies and subversions of “the Internet,” such as the global proliferation of autonomous mesh networks, encryption tactics, and darknets.

Comprised of multiple series, Contra-Internet 1) critiques the Internet as both a hegemonic descriptor for digital networking and premier arena of political control, and 2) documents and speculates upon network alternatives that social movements and activists are developing globally.
Inspired by queer/feminist/transgender theorist Beatriz Preciado’s Manifesto contrasexual, Contra-Internet is oriented from a feminist and queer perspective, in an effort to unite such political positions with a hacker ethos. Thus, Contra-Internet aims to function as an expansive conceptual, practical, and experimental framework for refusing the neoliberal logic of “the Internet” while building alternatives to its infrastructure.

The “Inversion Practices” series is comprised of short, performative videos that utilize various conceptual-technical tactics to abandon and subvert the Internet.

Did you go to the book launch? What are your thoughts?

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