Ǐ̩̯͉̮̮̪̐ͪ͐̌n̒̃ͪ̔t̤̉͛ͦe̫͍ͯ̎̅rͪ͒n̝͖͇̦͎͔̔́̿ͤ͛͊e͎̮t͔̬ͪ̂̅̈́ ̤͔̬̟̤͕̣ͭ̐̊ͧ̆R̠̦͓̞̓́͌ͬͨē͖̹̯̼͇͙̖s̾ͫ̐̽͗i͙͕̣s̜͖͙̥̤̒͗t̳̠̥̺̞͓̔ͤͦ̈́a̼ͪͥn̠̝̍͗ͭͪͫc̄̇ͧ̈́̍́e̦̱͂̈ͩ͑ͮͭ

Through booms and crashes, colonizations and disruptions, IPOs and LOLZ, Internet has been a spectacular laboratory of social conflict. But what can artists do on the net beside tweaking their pitiful portfolios and sinking into social media malaise?
Internet Resistance is both a schizo-seminar about critical issues in cyberculture and a trans-media studio course to develop terrible ideas for the networked society.

Dept: Carnegie Mellon University - School of Art
Term: Spring 2015
Course number: 60427
Classroom: CFA 307
Days / time: Tuesday + Thursday 06:30PM 09:20PM
Professor: Paolo Pedercini - paolop [at] andrew [dot] cmu [dot] edu
Office: School of art 419A - 4th Floor (the closet)
Office hours: By appointment

CourseWare: we will use a Facebook group, an anonymous imageboard, plus a tumblr collecting references to artworks and other case studies.


Intro: Deep Surfing

Plumb the depths of the World Wide Web, pick an obscure artifact of your interest and explain its significance to the class. It can be a sign of a sub-subculture, an overlooked piece of humor, a digital ready made, a signal of a possibly emerging trend.

Grading: automatic C- if somebody else in the class is aware of your thing.
Works: Internet Surfing Clubs, #readymade.
Reading: Commodify your consumption (excerpt) by Curt Cloninger

Digital Utopianism

Create an art made of communication. It can be a digital performance, a social network intervention, an absurd protocol, a relational work, a misuse of a communication platform, a social engineering stunt, etc.

Grading: D if it doesn’t include other humans, bonus if it’s non-digital or low-tech.
Works: mail art, #communicationart.
Reading: Taking the Whole Earth Digital - from Counterculture to Cyberculture by Fred Turner


Create an artifact designed to go viral. Every format is allowed.
First, research history and diffusion of one particular meme and present it to class.

Grading: A for 10K+ views. B for 1K+ views. C for <1K. D/E for viral catastrophe (outrageous attention whoring, illegal stuff like bomb threats etc)
Works: #memes, a brief history of Internet memes, features and strategies.
Readings: It’s Supposed to Look Like Shit - The Internet Ugly Aesthetic Nick Douglas.
Batman, Pandaman and the Blind Man - A Case Study in Social Change Memes and Internet Censorship in China by An Xiao Mina.


Rule 34

Create an artifact that defines a new porn/fetish genre. This assignment can be approached conceptually if it makes you too uncomfortable.
First, research an obscure genre that you didn’t know existed. Anonymously critiqued.

Grading: A if you can demonstrate it aroused some people, C if already exists.
Works: various SFW examples.
Readings: Netporn - the Work of Fantasy in the Information Society by Adam Arvidsson. Excerpt from Cory Doctorow’s Context.

Net.art != art on the net

Create a browser plugin that radically or subtly but meaningfully alters the user’s experience.

Grading: D if it doesn’t work, C if it’s just silly.
Works: #net.art, #plugin, #browser
Readings: Introduction to net.art (1994-1999) by Natalie Bookchin, Alexei Shulgin.
Utopian Promises / Net Realities by Critical Art Ensemble 1996
The Dads of Tech by Astra Taylor, Joanne McNeil

Counter Algorithms

Analyze an algorithm that deeply and problematically affects our lives and devise an antidote to it. Present it as a work of speculative design: a site about a possibly existing or near-future artifact, envisioning its effect on society. It can be utopian or dystopian, operate by exaggeration/parody or by prefiguration.

Grading: A if it fools people.
Works: #net.art 2.0
Readings: The Internet's Original Sin by Ethan Zuckerman, Israel, Gaza, War & Data – The Art of Personalizing Propaganda by Gilad Lotan, The Conservatism of Emoji by Luke Stark and Kate Crawford, How algorithms shape our world by Kevin Slavin, The Coming Civil War over General Purpose Computing by Cory Doctorow, Rich User Experience, UX and Desktopization of War by Olia Lialina.

Quantified Selfie

Process your data body into a Work of Art. It can be your Facebook history, your phone GPS tracking paths, or other digital traces.

Grading: A if you learned something you didn’t know from it.
Works: #surveillance, #privacy.
Screenings: Dark Mirror - Entire History of You
Reading: Deep Lab Lecture by Jen Lowe.

We are legion

Identity performance: complicate your digital identity or create a new one. Anonymously critiqued.

Grading: A if people believe it, C if the intervention goes unnoticed. Works: #identity
Readings: Excerpts from Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy: The Many Faces of Anonymous by Gabriella Coleman.
The Facebook Bully by Joanne McNeil.

Online hustling

1) Find a creative way to make money on the Internet.
2) Make money.

Grading: A $100+, B $100-$10, C $10 or less.
Works: #money
Reading: Excerpt from The People's Platform: Taking Back Power and Culture in the Digital Age by Astra Taylor

Networked Object

Create an experimental Internet of things artifact: a tangible object that “talks” to the network or that tangibly responds to data on the internet. It can include humans as well (performative).

Grading: A Good idea that works, B it just works, C it doesn’t work.
Works: #networkedobject
Reading: The epic struggle of the Internet of things by Bruce Sterling

Final project

Write a manifesto and conceive a project that can be developed as a series of artworks.

Readings: Futurist manifesto, Manifesto of Machinism by Bruno Munari, Cyberfeminist Manifesto for the 21st century by VNX Matrix, A hacker Manifesto by McKenzie Wark, Critical Engineering Manifesto by Julian Oliver, Gordan Savičić, Danja Vasiliev.

Long Screenings (scheduled flexibly throughout the semester)
Sleep Dealer
We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks
The Internet's Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz

Other activities
Tues. Jan 27 5pm Julian Oliver + Danja Vasiliev lecture
Sat. Jan 31 10am-5pm Julian Oliver + Danja Vasiliev workshop
Tues. Feb 10
5pm Oron Catts (SymbioticA) lecture
Sat. Feb 21
(all day-ish) Dynamic Web development workshop at the STUDIO
Wed, April 8
4:30pm-6:00pm Illah Nourbakhsh: Robotics and Ethics
Johannes Grenzfurthner (Monochrom) visit
TBD Nima Dehghani presentation / Internet & activism in Iran

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Upon completion of the course students will be able to:

💩 Create online artworks and interventions using tactically appropriate tools.

💩 Approach critical issues related to art and cultural production in the networked age.

💩 Discuss their works in the context of new media art and in relation with pop culture.

💩 Question authority (both political and algorithmic) and problematize narratives of technological progress.

👮 Attendance: three or more unexcused absences result in the drop of a letter grade.

👮 Absences: you are responsible for what happens in class whether you’re here or not. Organize with your classmates to get class information and material that you have missed.

👮 Participation: you are invited, encouraged, and expected to engage actively in discussion, reflection and activities.

👮 Net addiction: you can exist for few hours without twitting, facebooking, chatting, texting, sexting or emailing. Any device for mediated communication is banned during frontal talks, crits and discussions unless specified.

👮 Assignments: late assignments are only accepted with permission of instructor. You lose 10% of your points per day late up to a max of 7 days late.