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2017, Sun, Nov 12

DIY or Die: Is Bartleby Dead in the Post-Digital Age?

Keynote by Adam Harper, panel with Adam Harper, Daniela Seitz, Lucia Udvardyová and Mat Dryhurst, moderation: Lisa Blanning

Bartleby “preferred not to” – and at the end of Herman Melville’s story starves to death. To what extent is his motto still an option today – in light of precarious living conditions on the one hand and the imperative of digital production, consumption, and marketing conditions on the other? Does the insistence on non-participation inevitably lead to non-existence? How have the preconditions for saying no changed? Has refusal as a pose become part of the cultural archive which one only refers to in the retro mode? Today’s strategies appear to be less resistance and protest than appropriation, self-assertion, communities and networking. How does the (post)digital underground address these issues, an underground that generates alternatives to the music industry’s mainstream on the one side, but who’s DIY structures are simultaneously dependent on the monopolist digital platforms on the other? How does negation function using digital means?