Ice Curtain: The End of Victory
A Proposal for a Monument to Cold War Victory by DM³, 2012-2014.
The Cold War’s victory lies in its ghostly perpetuity throughout society. Its revanchism emerges in paranoid bodies, furtive double takes on crevasses of public space, and fears of fallout burning one’s insides. Augmenting these feelings of uncertainty, a clandestine monument to Cold War victory sprouts from the north pole ice sheet as if seeded by atomic dust blowing in an Arctic wind—a new border wall that divides safety and danger, known and unknown.
Ice Curtain is a terrestrial telescope through which to peer at the many faces of the prohibited. Rare visitors who actually find this monument stare through the thin veils of dry ice, deep past the murky sheets of the Cold War’s walls, to look upon a terrain of classified intelligence. Beyond these numb distortions what one might get is a fleeting breath of a secret history. Ice Curtain is a meditative encounter with the truths and non-truths buried in the Cold War’s marbled obscurity. This icebound barricade is a symbolic looking glass into the refractory clandestine afar—meant to ponder the spatial opacity of the Cold War’s political wake, still unfurling its infrastructure of smoke and mirrors today, still haunting from its historic precipice.
Somewhere on a tenuously-determined continental edge, quietly in danger from the legacies of global climate change, cast in the sights of private satellites monitoring ongoing border conflicts where the Cold War, in fact, is still fought, a longitudinal sinew unravels as a walkable panoramic looking glass to gaze at the Cold War’s persistent black-sited history, framed in the architecture of a classic separation barrier. Upon this surface, solid yet unstable—obstinate but in constant motion—pale imaginaries of these secret histories are conjured in a new scopic regime forged within this glass wall’s frozen gaze. The monument acts as both mirror and archive where all covertness of the Cold War will be melted down into a single pool of memory, once climate change and geopolitical conflict drags the Ice Curtain down.
Water and ice here symbolize the veils of secrecy and the liquidity of truth that we must wade through to find clarity in this spectral past, to capture traces of the unseen as they can be reduced to a new surface, and brought to light over the glacial purity of the whitest landscape. Ice Curtain glimpses and traces the government’s shadowy covert landscape frozen in time, where the Cold War’s victory remains lodged as a neverending wager over a black and white world.
The melting of the wall dissolves the nature of this secrecy, unmoors its trapped truths, and returns the border to lucid amorphousness. Somewhere squirming towards a level surface, sonic ice worms of the clandestine’s echo resound in a warning siren played from an apex where no one can hear, until all is made water again.
download, share or remix: https://archive.org/details/ICEWALLARCHIVE
Military Abstractions: The Hidden Architecture of State Secrecy
Geographer and urban theorist Javier Arbona will give a public talk entitled “Military Abstractions: The Hidden Architecture of State Secrecy” at 6:30 pm on Tuesday, March 25, in room 101 of the Reynolds School of Journalism, University of Nevada, Reno. This event is sponsored by the Gender, Race, and Identity Program and the Departments of English, Geography, and History.
Arbona’s talk will address the visual appearance of the state in everyday life, focusing on the visual signatures of state secrecy. The architecture of state secrecy, he argues, often hides in plain sight. He will discuss techniques for capturing the movement of the state in a historical moment marked both by the ubiquity of imaging technologies and increasing disquiet and skepticism about their reach. [read more]
Date: Tuesday, March 25
Location: Reynolds School of Journalism, room 101,
University of Nevada, Reno
[Google calendar link]
**Thanks to the sponsorship from the Gender, Race, and Identity Program and the Departments of English, Geography, and History. Special thanks to Gautam Premnath for the invitation and opportunity to discuss ideas in his seminar.
…presenting at Timing is Everything, University Art Gallery, UCSD, 2014. Photo by John Hanacek.
(Ex-?) Pentagon DARPA in-house hacker Mudge paraphernalia.
Round Two for DARPAHigh?
DARPA is back with part two of MENTOR, the program that brings makerspaces —and the Pentagon— into high schools. In their own words:
"DARPA’s Manufacturing Experimentation and Outreach Two (MENTOR2) program aims to improve defense readiness by improving the secondary school and post-secondary school education of those who will be called on to utilize, maintain, and adapt high technology systems in low technology environments. MENTOR2 will achieve this goal by developing and demonstrating new teaching tools and materials in the fields of electromechanical design and manufacturing. It is envisioned that project based curricula employing MENTOR2 design and prototyping tools can teach a deeper understanding of high technology systems, and better enable future competence in the maintenance and adaptation of such systems through the manufacture of as-designed components or the design and manufacture of new components."
No word yet on how the first round of MENTOR went. The past iteration of “DARPA High” created waves in the hacker world, perhaps most famously with Mitch Altman’s vocal opposition to military funding for hackers. At the time, Tim O’Reilly (whose organization Make Magazine and Makerfaire received funding) wrote that
No word at all about the children’s personal records that the Pentagon would presumably be able to scope. No clue if any of the students did ask questions about the funding or what the military does. One to keep a close eye on…
At one point in time, the duplicitous conglomerate of multinational powers that we will refer to hereafter as ‘emperor’ was satisfied to know that the subject of how people interacted with cities could be sufficiently covered by the simple term urbanism. It always validated the fact that ‘his’ territories could be seen all at once in context, by virtue of one definition, reflecting in a single gaze the totalizing image of limitless sovereignty, as if his entire empire was minted on a rare coin; urbanism as a technology of jurisdiction made royal crest.
— [IN]VISIBLE SITES | This text was commissioned by Joseph Redwood-Martinez for The Exhibition of a Necessary Incompleteness, a part of Timing is Everything (October 3 to December 6, 2013) at the University Art Gallery, University of California, San Diego. Timing is Everything was curated by Michelle Hyun. The fiction was presented as a chapbook freely distributed throughout the duration of the exhibition.
demilit’s sound array aka sonodeck.
Yet just as every wall casts a shadow, so too does each inspire its own mechanism of subversion. Each wall invariably serves as the instrument of its own undoing, its own intrinsic failure. Migrants, refugees, smugglers, coyotes, cartels, militants, militaries themselves, and various ‘others’ set in to motion have never failed to devise ingenious ways to pass unseen. The wall is an object that inadvertently designs its own negation in this way. It is a surface ultimately defined by the pressures exerted upon it, destined not to stand as a monument to efficacy but to its own delusional failure.
➜ An Unsolicited charter for the Very Large Organization
A guest post by Javier Arbona, written to accompany the opening of Very Large Organizations, an exhibition by Jordan Geiger, at Studio-X NYC.
Outside of the purity of cultural scripts that we might regard to be politically authentic are rapidly mutating political scripts that may be the…
Timing is Everything | The Visual Arts Department at UC San Diego:
October 3 - December 6, 2013
We’re pleased to premiere a new fiction called (In)Visible Sites as part of Timing is Everything at the University Art Gallery, UC San Diego. Timing is Everything ”explores the ways that built space situates us in time”. In this exhibition, Joseph Redwood-Martinez’s investigations into the mixed temporalities of the built environment (in text, video, and photo formats) will “house” a rotating series of films from several artists [Charles G. Miller (Oct. 3-17), Hong-An Truong & Dwayne Dixon (Oct. 18-31), Cauleen Smith (Nov. 1-14), and Uriel Orlow (Nov. 15 - Dec. 6)]. These film works offer “epistemological tools with which to examine other instances of architecture and corresponding notions of time, memory, and history”.
Paired with the showing of Chuck Miller’s Hidden in Plain Sight: La Jolla/UTC Annex, An-Edge City (2013), our text will be available in the gallery. Nick and Javier will participate in a couple of public events. Here’s the schedule for those appearances:
Thursday, October 3, 5:30 - 8:30pm
October 3 - 17
Charles G. Miller
Hidden in Plain Sight: La Jolla/UTC Annex, An-Edge City, 2013
Single-channel HD video, 55 min.
Friday, October 4, 10:30am
Breakfast reception and premiere of Hidden in Plain Sight: La Jolla/UTC Annex, An-Edge City
Followed by a conversation with Joseph Redwood-Martinez, Charles G. Miller, & DEMILIT (Javier Arbona & Nick Sowers).
A conversation around urban rumors and anthropology/archaeology of the built environment. Whether “decoding,” “defamiliarizing,” or “giving attention to the overlooked,” their spatial practices converge at the messy locus of ethics in making visible what is not permitted. Whether in San Diego-Tijuana, Petra, Phoenix, Istanbul, Oakland or Quito, how are these questions of visibility navigated in different contexts? How might these obscured forms of the built environment be represented?
Saturday, October 5, 1 - 4:00pm
Detour: La Jolla / UTC, walking with DEMILIT & Charles G. Miller
A collective ambulatory exploration of the political and psychological geography of La Jolla/UTC. The walk attempts to endure and read a landscape that is pedestrian-hostile and sometimes inscrutable. How to navigate and document a corporate landscape? Can misrepresentation and abstraction thereof enable otherwise precluded critical positions? For whom, and how might they be exercised? Participants are welcome to come with audio/visual recording devices to gather and share their findings. This is not a guided tour.
For more info on Timing is Everything and a complete calendar of events, go to:
Infrastructural Tourism: and then what?
Shannon Mattern published an essay in Places on the ontology of “infrastructural tourism.” It’s an essay on the notion that the infrastructures of the globalized, militarized, digitized (&tc…) planet are not really “things.” Instead, they are vast non-things—complicated systems that are neither easily perceivable nor mapped. Infrastructures of myriad types are political circuits and they are lived in plural ways. They grow, change, break, disappear into the earth, come back out of the ground, appear on our phones, consume energy, produce new natures… In short, our lives do not exactly depend on them, as we often like to believe, but rather our lives are shaped in cacophonous ways. We also adapt to the forms of society that relate to these; they affect the experience of time itself, for instance.
And a number of artists are working in ways that deal with these infrastructures, devising new forms of getting to know or sense these. But then what? Shannon’s essay pushes us to think more about intervention, action, participation; in brief terms, who is infrastructure for; who does it affect? Once you begin pulling out that yarn, where does it lead? What affinities begin to form and what actions are taken? We’re thrilled to be in great company with those discussed in this essay—Smudge, Amy Balkin, the LA Urban Rangers, and many more. From our repertoire, Shannon dives into #terraincognita. We’re further prodded here to question methods, participation, and action. It’s a great jumping off point.
TerraIncognita, from the New City Reader: Puzzles, 2012