Letter from the Editor

November

By Naomi Riddle

29 November, 2019

‘Data is the new big ‘cheap thing’—the new commodity class that is emerging to reshape the world and provide a new arena for accumulation and enclosure.’
Kelly Pendergrast, ‘The Next Big Cheap’, Real Life (2019)

‘We were lost in a language of images.
It was growing difficult to speak. Yet talk
Was everywhere.’
Ariana Reines, A Partial History (2019)  

 

For all that it purports to champion engagement and connectivity, the online space does the opposite. We now know the extent to which the Internet is less a Utopic space for sharing knowledge, and more the weapon of choice for surveillance capitalism. We now know Mark Zuckerberg (and Sheryl Sandberg) do not believe Facebook should be responsible for the false political ads spreading on its platform. Having said that, Running Dog has a presence on social media because evacuating this space seems wilful and escapist. (It is worthwhile attending to the fact that all writerly endeavours must submit to this monopoly just to survive). 

‘We’ve gotten into the habit of not experiencing the private, risky act of reading so much as performing our response to what we read,’ writes Zadie Smith, ‘which is then translated into data points…By now, the idea of depriving this digital maw of its daily diet of ‘you’ has become inconceivable.’

As Smith suggests, thinking about strategies for how to occupy space offline is a radical act. By gathering in a space outside the algorithm we deny this ‘digital maw’ its data and, in turn, deny monetisation and surveillance. Thinking in this way also means we align ourselves with a long history of collectives who felt a desire to exist counter to the dominant mode.

As a direct response to these ideas, I’m thrilled to announce Running Dog will continue our partnership with Verge Gallery in 2020, producing four events over the course of the year. ‘Automate Me’, ‘Talk about the weather’, ‘Be Like Water’ and ‘Live/Stream/Now’ will tackle four disruptive features of our present moment: automation, ecological collapse, political unrest, and mediated fake news. The backdrop to these events will be the 2020 US election, the climate emergency, cyber-espionage, cows using VR, tear gas and mass mobilisation, the limits of political art, Antifa, and Facebook Live.

A key component of this public program will be to bring together a disparate group of thinkers, writers, activists, artists, scientists and academics. We wish to breach the boundaries of what is termed ‘contemporary art’ because RD’s position has always been that art does not exist outside of the world—it is answerable to the context of its time.  

In tandem with these events, we will also publish four mini-issues on our main site in 2020—a feature series consisting of four pieces for each theme. We will conduct an open call for two pieces, while another two will be commissioned. In the spirit of RD, the format of these features may range from essays to video-poems, and our callouts will be open to both national and international writers.

As much as Running Dog’s focus remains on the local, we wish to respond to a time of global crisis. In this way, Running Dog x Verge 2020 allows us to not only engage with our readers, but also to converse with like-minded communities overseas. It offers an opportunity for connectivity outside of, and against, the online monopoly.  

             

Postscript:
disintegration of the critic 

there are many other things/ I could write you/

I could write you about/ a wheat field or/ when Aruna D’Souza said true freedom is the ability to lie or/ I could write you/ about Hans Haacke/ or how the joy/ and future-promise/ of the last twelve weeks/ was felt in conversation around/ art rather than art itself/ or I could try again to write you/ what I mean about art and politics/ or politics and art/ or I could write/ you about when B said/ this is the question that is impossible to answer/ or when T asked me/ what’s your prediction/ for the future of the world?/

but I feel I’ve said all these thoughts/ in some way/ before, or/ when I try to articulate them/ to anybody else they take/ the form of what they already believe/ we must disburden ourselves/ of the illusion truth will be enough/ and I know/ as much as anyone else/ the meaning (& affect) of language/ can’t be owned/ but mostly I think I am not ready/ yet, to say it fully or in the way/ I mean it to be said/

where is it the work is/ or where is it the work goes?/ it is in relation/ no matter/ what its subject matter/ and I would like the voice of the—why?—to cease/ this toddler who wants to push it further/ but/ in doing so/ accidentally exposes asking the—why?—/ leads to an answer/ (no longer satisfying)/ I would like this voice/ to cease its work/ 

but I am always asking/ the wrong question/ because I want to ask:/ what is it/ we are looking at/ or I want to ask:/ what does it mean/ to us/ and what is it/ we want/ from this thing/ we insist is an “art world”/ or an “arts ecology”/ or “the arts”/ I want to ask: what is it for?/ I want to ask: to what end/
what is it/ we are demanding/ or recuperating/ or restoring/ and could we not be demanding more?/

I have written all of this before/

words are a shovel/and these words are too leaden/ these words refuse/ to acquiesce to what I wish/

I will tell you all of this later/ 

 

*Note: this postscript makes direct or indirect reference to the writing of Anne Boyer, Ben Davis, Aruna D’Souza, Jill Johnston, Lotte L.S, David Rattray & Ariana Reines.