Media and Participation. Between demand and entitlement, TP 5: Participatory Critique as Transforming and Transversal "With"

Project: Research

Project participants

  • University of Konstanz
Our theory of‘media participation is based on a processual mediality, which en- or disables the relational assemblages and heterogeneous configurations of participation. Participation can thus be described through processes of mediatisation and their co-constitutive relations. In the proceeding phase we will accentuate the historical and political dimensions in the context of negotiating possible alternatives within modernity. This not only allows for a critical observation of ‚relationality‘ in the field of relational anthropology, but also for a specific kind of theorisation, by which precarious subjects and their sociocultural, political and economic enivronmentalities are thought as co-constitutive. Based on the research of the first phase we identified theoretical problems that will now be addressed both in case studies and in theory. With regard to the research conducted in the sub-projects, we will further develop Nancy’s radical ontological concept of ‘community’ in socio-political, techno-ecological and economic discourses of ‘the common’. In doing so, we will strengthen the aspect of practices and especially that of processual constitution. Also, we will address current discourses on the interconnection between capitalist economy and ecology that has become more and more significant in discussions about communities and collectives. Against the background of the first phase, we specify a media theroy of processes of participation following three modalities: interconnecting (TP, 1, 2, 3), temporalising (TP 3,4) and criticising (TP 1,5). These modalities can be understood as systematic extensions to the modalities that guided the first phase (co-existence – ‘Mitsprechen’, promises – ‘Versprechen’ and dissent – ‘Widersprechen’). Based on these central modalities, we will broaden our perspective to include non-verbal operations, such as sensory-affective interconnections. Furthermore, we will not address the modality of promise as a utopian vision, but instead analyse the immanent temporalisation of participation processes. The modality of dissent will be conceptualized as a means of analysing specific forms of a participatory criticism taking into account the relationality of power relations that come into being in the course of such processes. The description and analysis of different media assemblages in the sub-projects will provide fundamental insights into the socio-technical interconnections and the specific temporalities that generate new forms of participatory criticism and can therefore serve as the basis for a theory of media participation. All sub-projects’ research is founded in the concept of processual mediality and a methodological approach combining both discourse history and discourse analysis with praxeological methods. The sub-projects will use texts, pictures, interviews and data as objects to their extended discourse analysis (TP 1, 2, 5) as well as studies of practices visualised by digital processes (TP 3, 4).

TP 5: Participatory Critique as Transforming and Transversal "With"

The art-theoretical and media-philosophical project centers the concept of participatory critique and investigates it along its sensuous, technological, and political conditions with the aim of rendering the modes of expression of such critique describable. The project’s focus resides equally in the material, relational, and constituent aspects of such critique. Practices of participatory critique will be examined as constituent conditions, priming, differentiating, and challenging the segmentations, boundaries and framings of systems – such as art, socioculture, or politics.Relaying the praxeological research on media participation in artistic and activist micro practices of the first funding period, this second phase shifts its until then anthropologically oriented perspective towards more-than-human modes of existence. The new research trajectory emphasizes the qualities and potentials of critique as participatory from the vantage point of a posthuman conception of artistic and activist practices of resistance in media environments. From a theoretical point of view Judith Butler’s notion of performativity defines a decisive instance. Butler deconstructs the “voluntaristic subject of humanism” and inquires about the posthuman. In such a posthuman condition, the power to act resides not in the sovereign subject but rather conceives of vulnerability as the ground for emergent ways of subjectivation with and through material, mental and media ecologies. The project conducts research on different dimensions of participatory critique in artistic knowledge practices as well as militant research (AB 2), on the Spanish municipalist movement and its technopolitics as well as the media studies genealogy of techno-collectives (AB 3). The aim is to weave ethico-aestehtic and aesthetico-political micro practices in art and activism into each other. Accordingly, participatory critique reveals its (non-)linguistic and more-than-human material and media forms of critique – putting them to the test – without reproducing acclaimed categories such as art vs. activism (AB 1). TP 5 focuses on the relationality of aesthetic-sensuous practices, affective dimensions, and material and infrastructural aspects of participatory critique through the analysis of case studies and its conceptual developments. Consequently, a theoretical re-positioning of the relation between art and activism and a differentiated analysis of techno-ecologically refined micro-practices and their modes of collectivity provide key elements of the project’s contributions to an overall theory of media participation.