Glitch, Bending, Obfuscation: A Detinerrant Tactic of the Left

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


In the 1950s the Situationist International called for action in the sphere of the social rejecting the idea that the increased income could outweigh the psychological impoverishment inflicted by capitalism. In the late 1990s, the Yes Men popularised (h)activism and culture jamming in response to the dictates of global neoliberalism. In the 2010s, artists and software developers such as Menkman, Szauder and Norby began reconfiguring cultural memes, memories, and rewriting communicational codes by producing glitch documentary footage, images, websites and embroiling the IOs maps. The obfuscation movement, with activists like Nissenbaum and Brunton, uses computing to disorder tracking and dataveillance through databending.

Acknowledging the erosion of the public sphere, the shift from exploitation to auto-exploitation (Han), and the resulting ineffectiveness of (direct) opposition, this paper makes two claims. The first is that cultures of the left have shifted to the realm of the digital. Mobilising, on the one hand, theories of ‘radical mediation’ from McLuhan to Grusin, and, on the other, the legacy indeterminacy, from Stengers and Prirogine to Barad, the second claim is that the digital tactics of re-articulation operate by way of derailment and dislodgement, but without direction. They do not produce a concerted strategy but rely on convolution and destinerrance (Derrida). Corroborated with insights from alternative pattern-recognition data analytics, I also suggest that there is potential for a different understanding and navigation of control and the human-machine future, one that acknowledges the power of algorithmic destruction (O’Neill) yet proposes an alternative view, based on an indeterminate reading of big data.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2019
EventCultures of the Left in the Age of Right-Wing Populism - University of Warwick, United Kingdom
Duration: 15 Apr 2019 → …


ConferenceCultures of the Left in the Age of Right-Wing Populism
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Period15/04/19 → …
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