Jude Kelly

Paranodality in Southend-on-Sea

This morning we found ourselves talking about activating peer groups and their different modes of organisation.  Simon brought in ideas from network theory and if I understand correctly the point – the strength of the weakest links in a network will correlate directly to the effectiveness of the network.  Caroline maintained throughout a skeptical viewpoint of the forces involved which act to instrumentalize the role of artists into a capitalist media machine.  Disparagingly she quoted Chris Morris’s satirical Shoreditch anti-hero Nathan Barley: “I am a self-facilitating media node.”


From my own perspective I agree that it is important to challenge and reflect upon existing models of collective energy, and work and how this activity becomes constituted, ritualised and institutionalised.  What limitations can we place, in the form of an “ethic” or “attitude”, which might prevent or subvert the emergence of patterns of behaviour which we do not want to perpetuate?


In conversation with Metal chair, Jude Kelly yesterday a very intriguing (and perhaps paradoxical) question was posed:

“How can intimacy be scaled?”


These fascinating discussions are, of course, from the privileged perspective of viewing and building a “model” and this activity and speculation must be distinguished and recognised as only one small part of building relationships within the “cultivation” of a peer-group.


An interesting email I read several years ago seemed to posit a counter-view to “network-logic” by thinking in terms of something called “para-nodal” space (the ‘space’ which is not represented on the network map of nodes and their connection).  I am going to copy and paste the email below (I’ll send a quick email to the author too – I’ve never followed this idea up really but I think it has had a profound effect on how I think about the relationship between “models” and “life”).


//Updated 12:45 – here is a link to a website for Ulises Mejias //


From: “Ulises A. Mejias” <EMAIL ADDRESS>
Date: 22 April 2008 01:57:01 BDT
To: empyre@lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
Subject: [-empyre-] unwired sustainability
Reply-To: soft_skinned_space <empyre@lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au>

My apologies for not having posted as actively to this list during my time as moderator this week (technology is partly to blame, but mostly it’s my fault). I want to end by providing my own take on wired sustainability.

I believe networked forms of production, collaboration, activism, and mobilization will be essential to figuring out how to engender more sustainable relationships with the world and with each other. However, in my own work I try to examine the very unsustainability of the network episteme, of this ‘wired’ logic.

Since the distance between two nodes within the same network is zero, and the distance between a node and something outside the network is practically infinite, it follows that a node can only see the world in terms of other nodes. Something that is not a node is, for all practical purposes, invisible. I call this tyranny of nodes “nodocentrism.” Nodocentrism is the assertion that only nodes need to be mapped, explained or accounted for. It is a reductionism that eliminates everything but the reality of the node. Nodocentrism informs a model of progress or development where things not on the network must and should be incorporated in order for them to exist (this is the ideology that informs the discourses of the digital divide, pervasive computing, etc.).

In opposition to nodocentrism I use the concept of paranodality. Contrary to what is represented in network diagrams, the space between nodes is not empty or dead, but very much alive. In fact, this space–the paranodal–acts as the only sustainable site from which we can articulate a subjectivity separate from the network, from which we can unthink the network episteme. The paranodal is, as Ranciere would
say, the part of those who have no part, the site where disagreement, not consensus, takes place (and hence, the locus of the political).

Of course, to unthink the logic of the network is not to pretend the network doesn’t exist, or to refuse to deal with it, but to re-imagine one’s relationship to it. The relationship of the paranode to the network is perhaps like the one of the parasite to the host (and here I’m borrowing from Serres): the parasite inserts itself into the
communication process, between the sender and the receiver, disrupting the communication by being ‘noise’, and forcing the system to adjust to its presence. In this context, the paranode can be described as a parasite of the network, an element that lodges itself between nodes, distorting or introducing noise into the information that passes between nodes, and forcing the network to adjust to its presence.

I guess what I am suggesting is that perhaps sustainability is not wired, but unwired. What is subversive and creative is not the network episteme (wired logic), but the parasitical disruption that can provide a way to think outside the logic of the network, to disidentify from it, and to resist its nodocentric view of the world.

empyre forum empyre@lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au http://www.subtle.net/empyre


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CCTV in Operation on these Premises

Yesterday evenings theft of jackets from the inside of the doorway* of Chalkwell Hall re-kindled interests I have in CCTV.  See below Chalkwell Hall’s sophisticated Media Management System:

The simplistic rhetoric surrounding widespread usage of CCTV in the UK (coming both from those who would advocate the use of CCTV and those who would oppose it) had already been on my mind, and I think this is because several of the technological presentations over the last few days have echoed dystopian visions of panopticon future:

- flowcharts, system and control diagrams for user (meaning person) management
- massive multimedia education/propaganda systems for the adjustment of attitudes
- indoor and outdoor locative systems for the tracking and monitoring of persons

The fact that this house is equipped with such a high-tech system of cameras and monitors and yet does not use any CCTV for the purpose of crime prevention struck me as particularly ironic following the thefts, so I decided I would have a go at using Chalkwell Hall’s much celebrated Media Management System to make a simple closed circuit television monitor system (like those used in pubs and clubs) which would be able to watch the front door:

There are several reasons why I wanted to do this but a simple motivation was to get a feel for how this media management system works (or doesn’t work) and to see exactly how accessible the system is “with the wires out”.

I decided to reposition one of the cameras and, whilst playing with it I found that it had a face recognition system onboard which was, in my experience, fairly sophisticated for an off-the-shelf domestic appliance.  The camera setup could be programmed to recognise individual faces by storing a photograph and then comparing biometric measurements in live footage.**

I tried out the face recognition with a few different people and it was successful at distinguishing and recognising their faces.  I would have liked to have programmed in all of the inhabitants of the house for the week and in this way built a system for distinguishing invited guests from intruders but the camera (Panasonic HDC-TM700) can only store reference images for 3 different faces.  I looked at hacking the camera and expanding for this capability (eg by adapting the firmware or using an API) but after a little research this seemed like a heavy approach to making this quite light sketch.

I decided instead to repurpose this unmodified consumer device for use as a kind of surveillance/screening system which would be able to search for and compare three pre-assigned faces.

The three people I chose to introduce to the system are facilitator Graham Harwood and our two esteemed guests due tomorrow – Jude Kelly and Lewis Biggs.  Portrait images of each of them have been taken from the internet and uploaded to the camera (without their consent) and now each time someone comes through the door their face is compared to a portrait of Graham*** Jude and Lewis.

(Below) Reference files stored in the camera on the three individuals:

Graham Harwood Image:

Jude Kelly Image:

Lewis Biggs Image:

* thankfully the jackets were recovered the following day

** I struggled to understand what practical purpose this face recognition system would have for the target demographic of the camera (families etc.) although, Caroline pointed out that the tagging of photos has become a commonplace procedure on Facebook and could be seen within a wider trend of adding different kinds of meta-data to images.

***Later this afternoon the system was unable to identify Graham using the photo held on file (perhaps because he sports glasses and a versatile beard). When Jude and Lewis arrive tomorrow I hope the system will recognise them!

Guidelines for CCTV: http://www.ico.gov.uk/upload/documents/cctv_code_of_practice_html/9_responsibilities.html

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