Sophie Dyer is a designer, researcher and activist.

As a freelancer (medieval mercenary) she specialises in visual, open source and human rights-based investigations. She co-produces the experimental documentary unit, Concrete Flux.

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Teaching & Learning

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Projects

Violent Atmospheres

Podcast produced in collaboration with Sasha Engelmann for Radio Earth Hold.
(2020)
Radio Earth Hold
#radio

Podcast produced in collaboration with Sasha Engelmann for Radio Earth Hold

Concrete Flux 流泥: Issue 5 Aesthetic Journalism

Publication and experiment in aesthetic journalism as media activism.
(August 2019)
Unsolicited
London and Beijing
#archive #radio #remote-sensing

Since 2013, Concrete Flux 流泥 has been a platform for self-determined and unsolicited investigations into urban spaces across China. For Issue 5 we shift focus from the region to explore the possibilities of aesthetic journalism. The micro-issue inaugurates a new direction for the publishing project, towards a sustained investigation into experimental documentary practices that address new visualities and vocabularies.

Around this theme, we have gathered dissatisfied journalists, amateur filmmakers, former student leaders, poets and community activists. The resulting articles are experiments in aesthetic journalism as media activism – through a restructuring of the “sensuous parameters of reality itself”. (Bulter, 2010: xi)

Solidarity

Design for Solidarity, a documentary about the struggle for justice in the wake of public revelations about the secretive methods used by corporations and the police against UK activists and trade unionists.
(2019)
Lucy Parker and City Projects
London
#documentary

Design work for the film about a collective struggle for justice in the wake of public revelations about the clandestine methods used by corporations and police against trade unionists and activists in the UK.

In 2009, a database containing 3,213 files was seized by the authorities from the secretive anti-union group, The Consulting Association. The files were a blacklist, detailing the names and activities of thousands of construction workers identified as so-called “troublemakers”. The discovery vindicated the blacklisted workers and led to the formation of the Blacklist Support Group. Members of the group had endured years of unemployment and prior to the public revelations had concerns about a blacklist dismissed as paranoia. Links between workplace blacklisting and undercover policing have since emerged.

The film follows meetings between the construction workers, activists and law students, brought together for the film. Their meetings show the determination of a community to work together for justice.

A project by City Projects and Lucy Parker, who worked alongside members of the Blacklist Support Group for over four years.

Airwars and Amnesty: War in Raqqa, Rhetoric Versus Reality

Secondment to Amnesty on behalf of Airwars for the joint investigation into civilian death from US, UK and French air and artillery strikes during the battle of Raqqa.
(April 2019)
Airwars and Amnesty
#archive #documentary #remote-sensing

“I challenge anyone to find a more precise air campaign in the history of warfare […] The Coalition’s goal is always for zero human casualties.” Former Coalition commander Lt Gen Townsend (Sep. 2017) Airwars

“Every minute of every hour we were putting some kind of fire on ISIS in Raqqa, whether it was mortars, artillery, rockets, [High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems], Hellfires, armed drones, you name it.” Army Sergeant Major John Wayne Troxell (Nov. 2017) Marine Corps Times

The joint investigation by Amnesty and Airwars that found at minimum 1,600 civilians died as a direct result of thousands of US, UK and French airstrikes and tens of thousands of US artillery strikes during the Coalition’s assault on the Islamic State-held city between June to October 2017. The interactive report, which combined field research with open and crowd sourced data, is the most comprehensive civic inquiry into civilian deaths in modern warfare. At the timing of publishing the Coalition had conceded only 10% of civilian deaths documented.

Airwars: Digital Advocacy Tools

Digital tools, data analysis and visualisation e.g. maps and videos for social media, the 'victim in focus' feature on Airwars homepage and data modelling for in-depth reports.
(October 2017 – March 2019)
Airwars
#documentary #open-source

Artefact

Group exhibition curated by Migrant Journal. Installation produced in collaboration with Eline Benjaminsen, Sasha Engelmann and oneacre.online.
(February 2019)
Migrant Journal
STUK
Leuven
#documentary #remote-sensing

At 3 Hz to 3,000 GHz, radio blurs physis and techne, celestial and terrestrial, ancient and contemporary, human and nonhuman. It reverberates through different historic struggles. More than a medium, radio is an agitator.

The three-year research project takes the form of a series of collaborations, field trips, films and short stories of radio “as sensation, affect, as technological compulsion”. [1] The  installation for Artefact brings together the very beginning and very end of the research period.

We begin at 30 GHz, with a photograph of the landscape transversed by the radio relays that link Frankfurt and London’s financial centres and converge over the Calais refugee camps. During the research we were witnesses to “a strange sympathy between the atmospheric particles that float through the sky and the human beings who migrate across the ground and then across the sea. [2]

We end at 92 MHz, with a recording of the radio show, ‘Radio Techno Fossil’, broadcast on Den Haag FM, on 5 July 2018. The show is a conversation between artists and researchers on radio as a force that moves capital, bodies and time. It is also a radio fossil: the transmission itself will escape our Earth’s atmosphere and be preserved for perpetuity in the near vacuum of space.

[1] Irit Rogoff. A Short Tale of Infrastructure. Unpublished
[2] Adrian Lahoud. Climates: Architecture and the Planetary Imaginary, “Scale as Problem, Architecture as Trap”. Lars Müller: 2016
[3] Fredric Jameson. The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism. New York, Verso: 1991

Conflicting Truths

Time based installation drawing on Airwars' public archive of civilian casualty allegations against the US-led Coalition from war against the so-called Islamic State.
(April 2019)
Feedback #4: Marshall McLuhan and the Arts
College For Creative Studies
Detroit
#archive #open-source #remote-sensing

“What does it mean to defend the dead?” Christina Sharpe, 2016

Over the duration of the exhibition, the names and details of 11,431 civilians alleged to have been killed by US-led Coalition air and artillery strikes in Iraq and Syria are shown, alongside the hyperlocal and social media reports from which they are gathered. The names are grouped by assessments made by the non government organisation, Airwars, which has documented the conflict since it began in August 2014.

At the time of writing, the international Coalition had conceded just 1,190 civilian deaths over its four-year campaign against the so-called Islamic State. Conversely, by listening to social media, local news and speaking to monitors on the ground, Airwars had recorded over 28,000 alleged deaths.

In 2017, a New York Times article called the civilians killed by Coalition strikes, “the uncounted”. For the philosopher, Judith Butler, they are the “ungrievable” – those whose deaths exist outside the dominant frames of war.

A collaboration with Rectangle (Lizzie Malcolm and Dan Powers).

Airwars: Public Archive

Project lead on the redesign of Airwar's public archive of civilian casualty allegations and related military claims.
(January 2018 – December 2018)
Airwars
London
#archive #documentary #open-source

Project lead for the redesign of Airwars’ public archive of civilian casualty allegations and related military claims. The exercise ran over 12 months and involved the entire Airwars team as the organisation moved from unstructured research documents to a structured and searchable database. The new site put online hundreds of unpublished geolocations, images and videos from local sources. Additionally, it enabled live data visualisations, transforming not just how Airwars communicated its findings but how the organisation recognised patterns and anomalies in its own data.

In contrast to the highly structured backend of the database, the frontend focused on the qualitative narration of events, available imagery and the naming of victims. For the first time, local allegations of civilian harm were displayed alongside related belligerent strike and casualty reports. To ensure the archive worked with not against real-world “fuzzy data”, fields were built to handle multiple types of input and levels of ambiguity.

The work was realised through a close and sustained collaboration with Rectangle, an external design and web development studio.

Radio Techno Fossil

Live radio show, text and reading.
(July 2018)
oneacre.online
Schimmengebied on 92.0 Den Haag FM and Witte de With
Den Haag and Rotterdam
#archive #radio #remote-sensing

At 0.2 Hz, scientists in the Finnish arctic listen for Very Low Frequencies that index industrial, military and cosmic activity. At 3 – 30 GHz the radio relays of financial traders converge and compete for lines-of-sight at the French port of Calais. At 2.4 GHz an NGO prototypes Wi-Fi kits for use in European refugee camps and by sea rescue vessels. This is a politics of radio. A parallel wireless world, modulated by intergovernmental treaties, corporate monopolies, ionospheric conditions, and the radio-active cycles of our Sun.

What began as a photograph of the Earth’s techno-geographies, is now textured by the electromagnetic conditions of the planet. An image borne of radio waves. An anti-pattern, a fossil.

Radio Techno Fossil was first broadcast live on the show Het Schimmengebied on 92.0 Den Haag FM, 5 July 2018 at 23:00 CET. The accompanying text was published on oneacre.online, and performed at Witte de With in Rotterdam on 6 July 2018.

Other broadcasts:
Goldsmiths College for the Free Seminar, July 2018
Serpentine Gallery for Radio Earth Hold, 28 October 2018
Matters of Transmission on CoLaboRadio, 28 May 2019

View the original tracklist.

Format and content developed in collaboration with Eline Benjaminsen, Sasha Engelmann and oneacre.online (Victoria Douka-Doukopoulou, Titus Knegtel and Stef Kors). Work commissioned by oneacre.online

For the text component see: This is an image bourne on radio

Dedications

Group exhibition.
(February 2017)
Art Review Bar
London
#archive

Jangala

Graphic identity for Jangala, a Wi-Fi kit designed for use in camps and by at sea rescue vessels.
(December 2016)
Jangala
London
#open-source #radio

Graphic identity for the charity, Jangala.

In 2015 Jangala installed its first prototype Wi-Fi network in the informal camp near Calais, France. While active, the improvised network provided free Internet access to the camps’ estimated 7,000 residents, who otherwise had to rely on costly data-packages.

Since Calais, Jangala has evolved into a charity, developing low-cost Internet access systems for use in emergency situations around the world.

For further collaboration with Jangala, see Calais, Capital and an Electromagnetic Commons

Agency of Living Organisms

Virtual guide and exhibition design.
(October 2016)
Pauline Doutreluingne
Tabakalera
Donotstia
#archive

The virtual counterpart to the exhibition, Agency of Living Organisms, is a digital map and guide the dark ecologies that animate the Earth’s hydrosphere, atmosphere, lithosphere and biosphere.

Work commissioned by the curator, Pauline Doutreluingne. Website and exhibition design in collaboration with Solveig Suess and code by Internet Friends Forever.

The Miraculous

Text-and-architecture experiment with Maeve Redmond and the American writer and critic, Raphael Rubinstein.
(June 2016)
Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop
Edinburgh
#archive

In an text-and-architecture experiment Sophie Dyer and Maeve Redmond worked with the New York-based poet and critic Raphael Rubinstein to transpose short narratives from his book, The Miraculous, into an installation that permeates the spaces of Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop.

Episodes, both legendary and obscure, taken from the artistic avant-garde from the last five decades will reside along studio corridors, within communal spaces and on exterior walls, relocating a range of historic and contemporary artworks onsite via the imaginative space of writing.

Commission by Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop and curated by Peter Amoore on the occasion of Edinburgh Art Festival 2016.

A Public Hearing

Group residency facilitated by the Centre for Research Architecture.
(June 2016)
Arts Catalyst
London

The use of public hearings originates from the process of the enclosure of public lands in Britain in the 18th and 19th centuries. Public meetings were held in order to create a petition to parliament to enclose land, and later to hear objections to the act created by parliament. This use of commissions to hear public concerns over the enclosure of lands is one of the first examples of a public hearing, and today public hearings are still used when dealing with public lands as well as private properties.

Forensic Architecture: 15th Venice Architecture Biennale

Design for the Forensic Architecture in Italian Pavilion.
(May 2016)
Forensic Architecture
15th Venice Architecture Biennale
Venice
#archive #documentary

Design for the Forensic Architecture in Italian Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale, Reporting From The Front.

Other exhibitions worked on with Forensic Architecture include: Bi-City Biennale of Architecture in Shenzhen, China and Constellation.s in Bordeaux, France.

Work in collaboration with Solveig Suess.

Archives of Substance

Research and exhibition design for the curatorial collective, freethought, for Bergen Assembly.
(April 2016)
freethought
Bergen Assembly
Bergen
#archive #documentary

Research, film and exhibition design for the guest curators of Bergen Assembly 2016, Freethought. Design and research in collaboration with Solveig Suess, Robert Preusse and Laurie Robins.

In Archives of Substance, Irit Rogoff – in collaboration with the writer Vali Mahlouji and historian Mike Berlin, among others – assembles archives that make concrete moments which do not have a clear history, a stable form or identity.

These archives help us grasp how content, desire, aspiration and shared hopes can become a form of ‘substance infrastructure’. When a group of people share trajectories within particular historical moments, they may not build lasting structures but their joint hopes and beliefs do come together in dense atmospheres that are elusive but charged. The archives assembled here are testimony to such charged atmospheres, when aspirations predate any formalised organisation and result in mythic forms: a moment of political vision and solidarity at the Partisan Coffee House in London; a set of cultural imaginaries in Tehran at the Festival of Arts Shiraz-Persepolis; the reactions of viewers around the world to exhibitions they have seen and that have affected them; the efforts by a group of friends and colleagues in Europe to collectively establish a way of researching and thinking in public.


BELOW
Extracts from a text written by the Mike Berlin to accompany materials (photography, film and printed ephemera) from The Partisan Coffee House archive.

Coffee House Cultural Politics
The Partisan became a platform for the New Left’s critical engagement with 1950s popular culture. Through exhibitions, film screenings and in the pages in the New Left Review, it championed the art, film, music and photography of an emerging generation of political engaged cultural practitioners. Documentary photographer Roger Mayne, who captured the early opening of the Partisan in November 1958, as well as filmmakers associated with the Free Cinema documentary movement were closely linked to the Partisan milieu. The walls of the Partisan were covered by works by the post war neo-realist ‘Kitchen Sink’ school of painters.

The Partisan hosted meetings where the radical art critic John Berger spoke alongside the South African dissident communist novelist Dorris Lessing, theatre critic Kenneth Tynan, Welsh writer Raymond Williams, the French activist journalist and former resistance fighter Claude Bourdet. Open public meetings, poetry readings, chess and coffee opened up a new world of cultural and political heterodoxies which was to shape the identity of a generation of young people.

Legacy
The Partisan closed in 1962, the victim of its own success, as hundreds of coffee drinking leftist students used the building daily as a meeting place but didn’t spend enough money to make it a going concern. On a broader level its founders and frequenters went on to play a crucial part in the great social and politic movements of the 1960s. Raphael Samuel went on to found the influential History Workshop movement, which helped to revolutionise historical practice by the invention of non-hierarchical community based ‘history from below’. Stuart Hall joined the sociologist Richard Hoggart to create the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies at Birmingham, which became the birthplace for the scholarly examination of modern popular culture. The New Left Review became and remains the foremost left theoretical journal in the English speaking world.

Beyond this, the brief historical moment that the Partisan encompassed helped to inspire a generation of young people to believe that another world was possible. Amid the terrors and cynicism of the Cold War the Partisan represented and provided a sense of hope. Certainly the cultural turn of the 1960s, with its sense of playful experimentation, of improvisation voluntary activism, embodied in the happenings of the mid sixties, the anti Vietnam war movement and the women’s movement owe something to the early New Left’s vision of the interpenetration of politics and culture. The short life of the Partisan embodied a distinct moment of conjuncture, of coming together of disparate, contradictory influences in fertile interplay. Such moments are sometimes destined not to last, but they may be of immense importance in the future.

Concrete Flux 流泥: Issue IV Suzhi

Production of the bilingual Chinese and English magazine.
(September 2015)
Unsolicited
Berlin and Beijing
#documentary

“Suzhi” is a word so ubiquitous in China that no one can define it. We hear it from the mouths of our professors, cab drivers, political leaders, colleagues and we see traces of it in television ads, on patriotic banners, and school gates. Well-behaved children have suzhi. So do the principled soldiery, the traveled and moneyed, the socially circumspect. But what does suzhi actually mean? While at its most basic, suzhi signifies upstanding character and propriety; to say that someone lacks or has suzhi carries with it a whole host of connotations involving place, class, and culture. And, does it carry the same connotation to everyone?

With contributions from George Alabaster, Dorian Cavé 道旸, Patric Dreida, Susan Fang 方還如, Benjamin Haas, Cheryl Schmitz 潘美婷, Jeremy Tsang, QingQing Matt Turner, Sun Yanchu 孙彦初.

Design in collaboration with Solveig Suess.

Nothing For Sale

Public artwork produced in collaboration with poet, Luke Shaw, and designer, Maeve Redmond.
(July 2015)
Merchant City Festival
Glasgow

Public artwork produced in collaboration with the poet, Anthony Autumn (Luke Shaw), and designer, Maeve Redmond.

Inspired by the relative lack advertising on the tiled walls of Berlin’s U-Bahn stations, the series of nine posters and their montaged poems occupied commercial advertising spaces in Glasgow city centre during the 2015 Merchant City Festival.

The three triptychs were based on Wilmersdorfer Straße, Kurfürstendamm and Jungfernheide.

The Persistence of Type

Group exhibition with Maeve Redmond and Fiona Jardine.
(June 2015)
Panel
Tramway
Glasgow
#archive #documentary

Elida was created in the 1970s for women with the world before them.
Elida is type.
Elida speaks by re-mixing advertising copy from
old magazines, newspaper cuttings and post office directories.
Elida penetrates text with image as a means of disruption.
Elida likes erotic text and soft-focus imagery.

An exhibition, events programme, billboard and distributed newspaper, with newly commissioned work by artist Fiona Jardine and designers Sophie Dyer and Maeve Redmond. Curated by Panel and produced in partnership with the Tramway centre.

Moira Jeffry, The Scotsman (5 July 2015)
“The joy of the Persistence of Type, a new collaborative exhibition commissioned by curators Panel from artist Fiona Jardine and the excellent designers Maeve Redmond and Sophie Dyer, is that while the show harvests this rich social history through some key Scottish source material, it never succumbs to self-serving legend. Instead, it explores – through a clutch of screenprints, a digital film and an erudite printed essay by Jardine – the notion of type and types.

For these women were types, not individuals. Known by their first names only, they were blondes or brunettes. They were descended in a way from the modern stenographer with shingled hair of the 1920s, the office girls and saucy secretaries of the 1950s.”

The Guardian, Robert Clark (19 Jun 2015)
“There’s a distinctly retro look to The Persistence Of Type. It’s as if the 1968 Situationist International has transferred its graphic subversions to 21st-century Glasgow with a display of reworked posters at the Tramway. Artist Fiona Jardine has taken up with designers Sophie Dyer and Maeve Redmond to interrogate images of women in corporate advertising. They raid and recompose the commercial campaigns of two firms, British Caledonian Airways and Tennent’s Lager. The brewery’s “lager lovely” is recognised as playing a comparable stereotypical role to the airline stewardess: both come on with a girl-next-door familiarity, equal parts sexy playmate, wet nurse, waitress and mother. As with the enduringly influential Situationists, the revealing tactic here is cut-and-paste, close-up photo fragments overlaid with slogans such as “first-class” and “ideal” to deceptively cool-as-they-come effect.”

Tomorrow Is Always Too Long

Work for the visual artist, Phil Collins.
(December 2014)
The Common Guild
Queen's Park
Glasgow

Outdoor installation and screening of Tomorrow Is Always Too Long.

Design work for the visual artist, Phil Collins, and The Common Guild gallery. Project in collaboration with Maeve Redmond and Sebastian Gorton Kalvik.

Concrete Flux 流泥: Issue III Escapism

Production of the bilingual Chinese and English magazine.
(October 2014)
Unsolicited
Berlin and Beijing
#documentary

“After the dream they set out in search of that city; they never found it, but they found one another; they decided to build a city like the one in the dream.” Invisible Cities, Italo Calvino

The impetus for this issue was born out one of those conversations that take place in the city – during one of those moments where amidst the constant cacophony of the city, we find an other with whom we can share a moment of imagined quiet, and in the imagined quiet, allow errant thoughts to be formed into words and carelessly uttered.

With contributions from Ye Cheng (Jiang Bin) 江彬(野城), Liang Ban 梁半, Jacob Dreyer, Michael Eddy, Alessandro Rolandi, Josh Feola, Yuan Fuca 富源, Gao Ling 高灵, Simon Kentgens, MAP Office, Hu Moran 胡默然, Zhu Dianqiong 朱殿琼, Nadine Stijns, Mukta Das.

Design in collaboration with Solveig Suess.

Glasgow Women’s Library

Design work over a two years for Glasgow Women's Library.
(May 2012 – May 2014)
Glasgow Women's Library
Glasgow
#archive

Design work (pamphlets, posters, merchandise and building hoarding etc.) over a two year period for Glasgow Women’s Library.

Valise, The Glasgow Weekend

Group exhibition curated by Sarah Lowndes.
(September 2013)
Sarah Lowndes
Volksbühn
Berlin

Participation in the group show formed of transportable works by ten artists from Glasgow, which took its title from Marcel Duchamp’s portable miniature monograph Boîte-en-valise or box in a suitcase (1935–1940), presented in the glass pavilion of the Volksbühne.

Artwork from the bi-annual prose, poetry and art magazine, The Burning Sand was exhibited in the pavilion, and issues one and two were sold in the Volksbühne.

The magazine designs were produced in collaboration with Maeve Redmond. The Burning Sand was commissioned and edited by Sarah Lowndes. Exhibition and events programme curated by Sarah Lowndes.

Barrie Girls

Group exhibtion.
(July 2013)
Panel
Off Site
Glasgow
#archive

An exhibition of six poster works, archival materials and the text, C’est Ci N’est Pas Une Foto, created by graphic designers, Sophie Dyer and Maeve Redmond, in collaboration with artist, Fiona Jardine.

Part archival encounter, part set design, the installation recreated the work desk, drawings and persona of a fictional textile designer working in the 1950s Barrie Knitwear factory. Found photographs of ‘factory girls’ showing modelling a knitwear collection, historic records and a visit to the contemporary factory combined to trace the existence of the “effervescent” Barrie Girl.

Work commissioned by the design curators, Panel and developed response to the informal archives of Barrie Knitwear factory in Hawick, Scotland.

Extract from C’est Ci N’est Pas Une Foto by Fiona Jardine:

In the look-book archives, annotated with information concerning style, colour, shoulder shapes and yarn ply, the photographs hint at the provenance of place. Styles carry the names of solid, stone-built towns – Dunbar, Nairn, Brodick – and regional rivers – Ettrick, Esk, Slitrig. The colours are colloquial Ling and Whin. Wormholes open to the memory of unheated morning rooms, patrolled by grizzly terriers, stacked with copies of the Scots magazine. Those are your wormholes as much as they are mine.

There’s a lot channelling through names – tradition, ambition, instrumental association. Indeed, ‘Braemar’, the name of a long-established, weill-kent firm that laid daim to originating the term ‘knitwear’, is a name that properly belongs on Royal Deeside not in Teviotdale. Huddersfield Street and Wakefield Mill, (in Galashiels), carry names borrowed from the locale of trading partners in Yorkshire

A few years on, we might imagine the look-book annotations might refer to Cumbernauld, Livingstone, Glenrothes and East Kilbride; to Pastis, Cointreau and Grenadine. The collusion of spirit and place seems appropriate. Prestwick in Rinquinquin. Here, the Barrie Girl is effervescent, sportif, running through a barre of set pieces. She’s on location (Park Circus?) and on a photographer’s paper roll (it’s hardly Blow Up) fully-fashioned, perfectly coiffed in her neat ski polo. She’s next door. Pleated for play. Mothproofed.

We had names for her.
Lesley.
Joan.
Sandra.
Roseanne.

Teaching & Learning

Live Project 2019

Visiting lecturer for the five-week project working with Amnesty International and Airwars data. Focus on quantitative methods, ethics and secondary trauma in open source investigations.
(October 2019 – November 2019)
Centre for Research Architecture
Goldsmiths
London
#archive #documentary #open-source #remote-sensing

When Is Data Collection Activism?

Guest talk. The public and collective documentation of deaths that have been systematically denied, racialised, gendered, individualised or otherwise suppressed has long been a form of "non-violent protest". What does this kind of activism look like today? What are the questions it raises in our data-saturated world?.
(October 2019)
Non Linear Narrative
Royal Academy of Art
The Hague
#archive #documentary #open-source

Guest talk. The public and collective documentation of deaths that have been systematically denied, racialised, gendered, individualised or suppressed has long been a form of “non-violent protest”. What does this kind of activism look like today? What are the questions it raises in our data-saturated world?

Using the Missing Datasets project by the Nigerian-American artist, Mimi Onuoha and examples from contemporary civilian casualty recording, we will ask are the blank spot in our otherwise data-saturated world? Why do they exist?

Seeing Through the Rubble: Using Crowdsourced Data and Fieldwork to Investigate Civilian Deaths in Raqqa

Panel discussion hosted by Amnesty International.
(June 2019)
RightsCon
Tunis
#documentary #open-source #remote-sensing

The 6th June marks the two years anniversary since the beginning of the “war of annihilation”, a US-led Coalition military campaign to oust the armed group calling itself Islamic State from Raqqa, Syria. Four months of relentless bombardment killed and injured thousands of civilians and reduced homes, businesses and infrastructure to rubble.

Amnesty and Airwars have teamed up and conducted the most comprehensive investigation into civilian deaths in a modern conflict. The investigation, collating multiple data streams, gave a brutally vivid account of more than 1,600 civilian lives lost as a direct result of thousands of US, UK and French air strikes and tens of thousands of US artillery strikes.

This session will showcase how a team of investigators at Amnesty and Airwars supported by thousands of digital volunteers from around the world pieced together evidence such as field investigations, satellite images, thousands of user-generated videos and social media reports in one of the most comprehensive accounts of the Raqqa war. The panel will discuss challenges and opportunities for using multi-dimensional investigations for advocacy and change making, as well as the importance of preserving the ‘digital memory’ of modern conflicts that are increasingly monitored by civilians on the ground.

Airwars: Conflicting Accounts

Talk and panel discussion.
(March 2019)
Journal of Digital War
Glasgow University
Glasgow
#archive #open-source #remote-sensing

To date, the US-led Coalition has conceded 1,190 civilian deaths over its four-year campaign against the so-called Islamic State. Conversely, by listening to social media, local news and speaking to monitors on the ground, Airwars has recorded over 28,000 alleged deaths and after provisional assessment, places the minimum number of civilians likely killed by Coalition air and artillery strikes at between 7,400 to 11,800.

In an effort to reconcile its records with those of the Coalition, Airwars has maintained regular exchanges with the US-led alliance since its civilian harm cell was established in December 2016. Despite this, and recognition from military sources of the credible contributions made by NGOs to civilian harm monitoring, the transparency of Coalition civilian casualty and strike reports remains inadequate – and the official death toll, implausibly low.

In 2017, a New York Times article called civilians killed by Coalition strikes “the uncounted”. For the American philosopher, Judith Butler, they are the “ungrievable”. In other words, those whose deaths do not fit within the many – aesthetic, juridical and narrative – frames of war.

Taking as its focus two recent collaborations, the first with Amnesty’s Crisis Response Team and the second with Glasgow-based designers Rectangle, the talk will outline two experimental ways in which Airwars’ archive is being mobilised to reframe civilian deaths.

Airwars: Radical Listening

Day-long workshop on open source tools and techniques. Led with Hanna Rullman.
(May 2019)
Het Nieuwe Instituut
Rotterdam
#documentary #open-source #remote-sensing

A practical introduction to combining crowd and open source intelligence to report civilians deaths in war by working with open sources methods and materials. The focus will be the recent investigation by Airwars and Amnesty into civilian harm during the battle to retake Raqqa from the so-called Islamic State. We will look into social media as a source of reporting, try out geolocation and satellite image analysis all via public platforms. In the afternoon session we will experiment with the different ways (narrative, visual, spatial) open source research can be mobilised to tell new stories beyond war reporting.

Airwars: Counting the Uncounted

Lecture on the possibilities of combining open, crowd and field research to trace undocumented deaths.
(May 2019)
Het Nieuwe Instituut
Rotterdam
#archive #documentary #open-source

Lecture on the possibilities of combining open, crowd and field research to trace undocumented civilian deaths.

Our taxes fund opaque wars in the Middle East and Africa – the realities of which are documented by civilians in near real-time on social media platforms moderated by private tech companies. What does this mean for transparency, accountability and activism?

Taking as our focus Airwars’ recent collaboration with Amnesty International, we will discuss how open source intelligence in combination with crowd and field research, is has being used to track civilian deaths in Iraq and Syria.

Airwars: BBC NewsHack

Lightening talk with Hanna Rullman.
(May 2019)
BBC NewsHack
London
#documentary #open-source #remote-sensing

Airwars: Remotely Sensing Conflict

Talk for Research Architecture and Forensic Architecture MA studios.
(April 2019)
Centre for Research Architecture, Goldsmiths
London
#open-source #remote-sensing

DEFRAG: Open Source Intelligence

Panel on open source intelligence.
(April 2019)
Somerset House
London
#open-source #remote-sensing

The civilian dead from the US-led intervention in Iraq and Syria have been called the “uncounted”. What does it mean to count the uncounted – to defend the dead? Amnesty and Airwars have been working with the digital rubble of the war to assemble the untold story of massive civilian loss of life in the 2017 battle to retake Raqqa from the so-called Islamic State.

Feeling/Following Materials as Method

Talk on research methods for Research Architecture MA studio.
(March 2019)
Centre for Research Architecture, Goldsmiths
London
#documentary #radio #remote-sensing

Atmospheres: Sounding Radio

Teaching assistant, second year running for the BA Geography workshop on radio, taught by Sasha Engelmann.
(February 2019)
Geography Department
Royal Holloway, University of London
London

Radio Earth Hold

Talk as part of a day of conversation and collective listening around sonic solidarity with Ultra-red, Daisy Hildyard, Sulaïman Majali, Dhanveer Singh Brar and Louis Moreno.
(October 2018)
Radio Earth Hold
Serpentine Galleries
#radio #remote-sensing

Concrete Flux 流泥 × Belligerent Eyes

Participation in a three month-long, experimental film school.
(May 2016 – September 2016)
Fondazione Prada
Ca' Corner della Regina
Venice
#documentary

Radio Techno Fossil × Free Seminar

Radio workshop co-organised with Sasha Engelmann.
(July 2018)
Centre for Research Architecture, Goldsmiths
London
#radio #remote-sensing

Test Unit: Learning Platforms

Unit facilitator with Neil McGuire at the week long architecture summer school.
(June 2018)
Agile City
Civic House
Glasgow

Unit facilitator with Neil McGuire for the week-long architecture summer school. Download the group’s documentation, Meditations on a Circle, here.

Unit participants: Briana Pegado, Robert Mills, Charles Myatt, Rosalind Peebles, Miranda Stuart, Lauren La Rose, Gemma Crook, Maeve Dolan, Giovanni Sambo

Free Seminar

Co-founder and participant of the student-led seminar open to all, hosted by the Centre for Research Architecture. Free education in every sense: liberated, critical and decolonised.
(October 2015 – October 2017)
Unsolicited
Goldsmiths
London

Proxy Archives: Touching Without Touching

Guest lecturer for the Curating, Managing and Mediating Art masters programme.
(March 2017)
Aalto University
Helsinki
#archive #documentary #remote-sensing

Over the course of a series of chance commissions, Sophie Dyer and Solveig Suess developed set of strategies for the display and preservation of archives. For this lecture we discuss our design practice through the notion of the proxy archive. We draw on examples from recent work with the curatorial collective, freethought, for the Bergen Assembly.

A proxy is that which has authority to represent someone or something else – a placeholder that may or may not bear resemblance to the original. As designers tasked with presenting often inaccessible and incomplete archives, we ask: How to conjure the archive in its absence? How to touch without touching?

The Oracle and the Algorithm

Guest workshop for the Curating, Managing and Mediating Art masters programme.
(March 2017)
Aalto University
Pori
#archive #documentary #remote-sensing

“The archive is the ultimate rabbit hole” Kate Crawford

The Oracle is the medium, the soothsayer and the search engine. In the word’s original sense, meaning to speak, the oracle articulates the archive. Whether you believe her words or not, they are prophetic. Her utterances have futurity. “Worlds world worlds”, writes Donna Haraway. Mind, the Oracle’s existence is subject to rituals, rites and algorithms.

Guided by the figures of the Oracle and the Algorithm we navigate the collections of Pori Art Museum. 

Our workshop is an experiment the ways in which we can articulate the museum’s archive. Through the creation of image complexes we will engage in practices of (re)assembling, (re)animating and (re)composing. We will test the malleability of documents and explore methods of sampling.

The outcome is a series of so-called proxy archives. Our notion of a proxy archive draws on existing ideas of the “counter archive” (Abbas and Abou-Rahme), the “anarchive” (Zielinski and Weibel) and our own experiences of exhibiting. The anarchive “does not lay claim to leadership or truthfully know where things come from or where they may be headed to”. Rather, is an assembly of “poor images, mutated copies and re-inscriptions,” wrote Zielinski and Weibel.

A collaboration with Solveig Suess.

Shared readings: Abbas, Basel and Abou-Rahme, Ruanne (in conversation with Tom Holert). (2013) Journal of Visual Culture, (12)3. pp 345–363. The Archival Multitude. Crawford, Kate. (2016) ‘Astro Noise’, ed. Laura Poitras. Asking the Oracle pp 128–141

Think Twice Before You Think × Antiuniversity Now

Co-organiser of the discussion and prototyping workshop on the proposition of setting up a new design school.
(November 2015)
Antiuniversity Now
London

Discussion and prototyping workshop on the proposition of setting up a new design school. This school could take many forms, durations and/or iterations. We will outline a proposals via the construction of Baugespann, against which ideas, objections and declarations of intent can be voiced.

Baugespann is a Swiss German word for a temporary construction, usually made of wooden poles, erected during the planning process so the local community can envisage the form and scale of a proposed development.

Held on the occasion of the launch of the publication, Think Twice Before You Think.

Inside Out School

Co-organiser of a two day workshop on radical pedagogy in art and design: its histories, spatial strategies and the what it asks of us.
(December 2014)
A Feral Studio
Communication Design BA, The Glasgow School of Art
Glasgow

Inside Out assembled in the corridors of the newly built School of Design in December 2014. Working with final year design students, our aim was to explore the tensions present within institutional education, more precisely, the tensions which exist between inside and outside art school. The activities we planned were intended to create discussion by manifesting these tensions in a series of symbolic and functional acts. The most basic of these was the displacement of work from the classroom into the corridors of the school. Chairs, tables and other objects were then assembled, modified and combined to create temporary partitions, seating and general infrastructure for the afternoon’s working groups. The idea of conflict as a methodology, as discussed by Markus Miessen and Chantal Mouffe, was a key reference, as were past pedagogical projects such as The Antiuniversity and Hidden Curriculum by Annette Krauss, amongst others.

See the publication here.

Parallel School: Glasgow

Organiser of the free school on the occasion of the exhibition, It’s Not Very Nice That: Politics in Contemporary Graphic Design exhibition at The Lighthouse.
(April 2014)
Unsolicited
The Glasgow School of Art and The Lighthouse
Glasgow

Parallel School belongs to no one.
Parallel School has no location.
Parallel School is not teaching.
Parallel School is learning.

Workshop #0: Parallel Journeys
Document your means of travel and route to Glasgow. Collaborate, communicate, connect and arrive together. Stories will be shared and rewritten over drinks on Thursday evening.

In parallel to two host institutions (The Glasgow School of Art and The Lighthouse Gallery), a local politics (the raise of tuition fees in the UK and the implementation of The Bologna Accord in the EU) and each participant’s education or professional practice, the week-long free school assembled on the simple promise of: each one, teach one. Twenty five participants answered an open call disseminated through art schools in Europe, cultural newsletters and peer to peer networks. Those travelling from outside Glasgow were hosted by local participants, and a small amount funding from the Lighthouse Gallery was used to pay for lunch.

Co-organised with Neil McGuire (After the News) with guests workshops from Daniel van der Velden (Metahaven), Glasgow Open Dance School and Eric Schrijver (Open Source Publishing).

Incomplete list of participants: Ana Cecilia Schettino, Anna-Luise Lorenz, Antonia Brell, Callum Copley, Carolin Gießner, Chris Kohler, Duncan Tullis, Elise Migraine, Friederike Fankhänel, Jade Richardson, Jan Lütjohann, Joel Colover, Jordan Derrien, Malcolm Murdoch, Mary Knox, Penny Anderson, Robert Haselbacher, Robert Preusse, Channing Ritter, Stefanie Rau, Steven Swinney, Teresa Schönherr and Thom Swann

Parallel School: Berlin

Participant in the free school.
(September 2013)
Unsolicited
Universität der Künste
Berlin

No Translation Needed

Guest workshop and lecture for the Singapore Immersion Programme.
(May 2013)
The Glasgow School of Art
Glasgow

Texts

What Would a Feminist Open Source Investigation Look Like?

Article for the Journal of Digital War.
(April 2020)
Digital War
#archive #open-source

What would an explicity feminist Open Source Investigation look like? This is not a thought experiment, it is an action plan by a group of human rights and tech workers seeking to do open source investigations otherwise. Nor is it an excercise to identify what is feminist and what is not. Rather, the aim is to apply feminist thought and its well documented conceptual tool kit to open source investigations, so as to question and to reimagine what in last five years have become dominant and default ways of working.

Chapter for War Archives: Archival Imaginaries and Contemporary War

The international war against the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and Syria is one of the first in history to be extensively documented en masse by civilians, militants and state militaries alike, all uploading content to the Internet in near real time. The result is a "polyperspectival" and highly distributed, digital record of the conflict. Working with Airwars public archive, the text moves through reports of civilian harm to map their archival relations, which are also the relations between sensed and sensing bodies – from cold fleshy bodies, to “probable” pixelated bodies and “hot data subjects”.
(2020)
#archive #documentary #open-source #remote-sensing

The incidental archive: Civic sensing, spectrality and loss (working title)

“You cannot see through rubble,” said Greg Bagwell, an erstwhile Royal Air Force Commander, when asked if the British military was doing everything possible to detect civilian harm in Iraq and Syria. (Drone Wars UK 2018)

Responding to Bagwell, I question if the claim “you cannot see through rubble,” can be unsettled by local and situated knowledge. In other words, where are you? Who or what is under the rubble? And, ultimately, who or what are you ‘looking’ for? The last question hints that what is at stake is perhaps not ‘seeing’ but “mis/seeing”, that is to say, recognising. (Sharpe 2016)

The chapter is an inquiry into how the digital record of the war against the so-called Islamic State (IS) in the Middle East has been instrumentalised (cached, catalogued and annotated) by activists in Europe to counter official counts of no or low civilian harm. What possibilities might these emergent archi-activist practices offer?

My investigation focuses on the activities of the London-based, remote conflict monitor, Airwars, the near-real time casualty data of which, was referenced in news articles, parliamentary hearings and classified military studies during the American-led war against IS. Its scope is limited to the main territorial conflict that began in Northern Iraq, in August 2011 and ended with the siege of Baghouz Fawqani in Syria, in March 2018.

The text moves through Airwars’ public and private research documents to map their archival relations, that are also the relations between sensed and sensing bodies – from cold fleshy bodies, to “probable” pixelated bodies, to “hot data subjects”. (Schuppli 2017; CENTCOM 2015) I propose Derek McCormack’s modified definition of remote sensing as a set of “modest techniques” as opposed to technology, and Judith Butler’s call for a “radical equality of the grievable” as conceptual tools with which to unpack the labour, ethics and efficacy of ‘civic sensing’. (Butler 2018; McCormack 2010) By civic, I mean not military.

The international war against the IS in Iraq and Syria is one of the first in history to be extensively documented en masse by civilians, militants and state militaries alike, all uploading content to the Internet in near-real time. The result is a “polyperspectival” and highly distributed, digital record of the conflict. (Weizman 2019) Working with this record, Airwars estimates that between 8,000 to 12,000 civilians died as a result of US-led Coalition air and artillery fire. The small non-government organisation is the source for over two-thirds of all Coalition investigations into alleged civilian harm. At the time of writing, the Coalition had conceded the deaths of only 1,302 civilians.

Poles apart, the two accounts cast doubt on one another. At stake is an accurate, historical record of the Coalition’s air war over Iraq and Syria, and vitally, how it was experienced on the ground by the “innocent civilians” America purported “to stand with”. (Obama 2011; US Office of Legal Counsel 2014) To begin to understand whose deaths count, we must first understand how they are counted.

BIBLIOGRAPHY
Butler, Judith. 2018. ‘My Life, Your Life, Equality and the Philosophy of Non-Violence’. Gifford Lecture, Glasgow University, October 2.
United States Central Command. 2015. ‘Declassified Iraq/Syria CIVCAS Allegation Tracker’. Airwars.
Drone Wars UK. 2018. ‘Interview of Air Marshall Greg Bagwell by Chris Cole, Drone Wars UK’. Drone Wars UK. January 2018.
McCormack, Derek. 2010. ‘Remotely Sensing Affective Afterlives: The Spectral Geographies of Material Remains’. Annals of the Association of American Geographers 100 (03): 640–54.
Obama, Barak. 2011. ‘Remarks by President Obama in Address to the United Nations General Assembly’. presented at the Speech, United Nations, New York, September 21.
Schuppli, Susan. 2017. ‘The Subterfuge of Screens’. In Et Maintenant Regardez Cette Machine, 125–39. Montréal: Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal.
Sharpe, Christina. 2016. In the Wake: On Blackness And Being. Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press.
US Office of Legal Counsel. 2014. ‘Memorandum Opinion for the Counsel to the President: Authority to Order Targeted Airstrikes Against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’. US Department of Justice.
Weizman, Eyal. 2019. ‘Open Verification’. E-Flux. 18 June 2019.

Airwars: Lessons Learned From the International Fight Against the So-Called Islamic State

Report on the US-led Coalition's public reporting of civilian harm during the territorial war against the so-called Islamic State, in Iraq and Syria, co-written with Chris Woods.
(March 2019)
Airwars
London
#archive #open-source #remote-sensing

Civilian harm claims against the US-led Coalition averaged nearly 16 alleged deaths per day over the four and a half year war against the so-called Islamic State. Yet, it would be over two years before a standardised procedure for submission, assessment and publication emerged.

Co-authored with Airwars’ director, Chris Woods, the report is an initial evaluation of the US-led Coalition’s public reporting of civilian harm throughout the territorial war against the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Its 25 recommendations are drawn from Airwars work with Operation Inherent Resolve’s Civilian Harm Team since December 2016 and prior to that with CENTCOM. During the conflict, Airwars became the Civilian Harm Team’s primary external source, accounting for over two-thirds of allegations and one-fifth of “Credible” assessments.

Co-written with Airwars director, Chris Woods.

Read the full report.

Radio Techno Fossil: This is an Image Borne on Radio

Spoken text commissioned for the radio broadcast produced in collaboration with Eline Benjaminsen, Sasha Engelmann and oneacre.online.
(July 2018)
oneacre.online
Witte de With
Den Haag and Rotterdam
#archive #radio #remote-sensing

What began as a photograph of the Earth’s techno-geographies, is now textured by the electromagnetic conditions of the planet. An image borne of radio waves. An anti-pattern, a trace fossil.

At 0.2 Hz, scientists in the Finnish arctic listen for Very Low Frequencies that index industrial, military and cosmic activity. At 3 – 30 GHz the radio relays of financial traders converge and compete for lines-of-sight at the French port of Calais. At 2.4 GHz an NGO prototypes Wi-Fi kits for use in European refugee camps and by sea rescue vessels. This is a politics of radio. A parallel wireless world, modulated by intergovernmental treaties, corporate monopolies, ionospheric conditions, and the radio-active cycles of our Sun.

PDF

Concrete Flux 流泥 × Sonic Acts Reader

Translator's diary.
(February 2018)
Sonic Acts Academy
#archive #documentary #radio

Translator’s notes

29 February 2018, Unstable transmission
An unnamed server in 香港 (Hong Kong) hosts 流泥 (Concrete Flux) magazine, as it answers a request from a client in nearby 深圳 (Shenzhen) the pitch of the cooling system’s hum rises.

The page requested is a photostory shot in 大裕庙 (Dayu Monastery) of a group eating lunch. In staccato bursts, image files are served. The first image is 5.638 kilobytes and 250 pixels wide. Blurred. Low fidelity. The client’s computer confirms receipt. The server responds with a larger file, 21.145 kilobytes and 250 pixels wide. Dithered. Medium fidelity. The exchange continues until a rich, high resolution, high fidelity file is received. The machine to machine conversation is not idle chatter, rather it is a fail-safe system designed to negotiate the so-called ‘great firewall’. It is an aesthetic strategy.

18 October 2017, The aesthetic journalist
There is dust trapped in the lens of the camera from her previous shoot in the 塔克拉玛干沙漠 (Taklamakan Desert) West China. As she removes the lens cap, a small portion of the desert falls to the floor.

Her presence as an aesthetic journalist is unsolicited. Those around the table are pleased by her attention but the focus of her video camera is unclear. Are her wandering shots a stylistic decision or unschooled impulse? The camera has been recording continuously for three hours, and only thirty minutes of battery life remains. She moves with a compulsion to document the group’s discussions. Their warmth and connectivity resonate with her own hopes of “tracing the not-yet-material potential of our moment”. Our “negative moment”. Inchoate and turbid.

Written as Concrete Flux in collaboration with Solveig Suess and in response to the work of Rectangle (Lizzie Malcolm and Dan Powers).

Experimental Practices in Radio

Multi scalar stories from a material politics of radio in the Anthropocene.
(September 2017)
Centre for Research Architecture, Goldsmiths
London
#documentary #radio #remote-sensing

“Certain kinds of practices open worlds to us. Or open parts of worlds that are precluded by our normal habits of life. I think this applies to how you and I think about radio.” Sasha Engelmann, geographer and friend, in conversation at Goldsmiths College (2017)

In an early conference on the Anthropocene in Berlin, the American media theorist, Mark Hansen, proposed radio waves as a technological trigger for the new and still informal epoch.* As a geological model, project and instrument, the Anthropocene is rendered legible through “stratigraphic signals”** If so, how do radio waves – ethereal, diffuse and noisy phenomena – register? What are their material traces?

BELOW Multi scalar stories from a material politics of radio in the Anthropocene. (A section of the text was included in Radio Techno Fossil: This is an Image Borne on Radio.)

[extract]

Oaxaca, Mexico, 2011 at 850 MHz
In 2011 the Mexican village of Talea de Castro had no mobile network coverage. Calls could only be made via a costly landline whose wire traversed the Sierra Juárez mountain range. This was not abnormal for geographically “isolated” communities in the Oaxaca highlands, whose population is 65% indigenous and in the last census, accounted for over half Mexico’s total indigenous language speaking population. [43, 44, 45]

The village had its own ways of communicating at a distance. There was a community radio station, Didzah Kieru (Zapotec for, Our Voice) and important announcements could be made over a tannoy system. However, the tannoy could not reach the remote “crops fields” nor the village’s diaspora in North America. The community wanted a mobile phone network. [46]

In Talea de Castro, the local municipality had already approached one of Mexico’s largest telecommunications providers, Telcel, to ask that they connect villages in the region. Telcel responded with demands that the village could not meet. It required the community install an antenna at a high point, with an electricity supply and highway access. Moreover, that there be 10,000 potential clients in range of the new network. [52] Talea de Castro was the only community that would be in range and its population was around 3,000. A 2016 report published by the world’s largest mobile telecommunications trade body, the Groupe Speciale Mobile Association (GSMA), declared that, “in order to be viable a site needs around 3,000 active users on a daily basis.” [53] The message was clear, it is not in the interest of large telecommunications providers to offer coverage to rural, low density and low income areas.

[…]

On 18 June 2012, an alliance 25 indigenous communities in the Juarez Sierra, represented by the municipal authorities, sent a letter to the General Director of Telecommunications and Broadcasting Policy from the Communications and Transportation Ministry. It requested support for the operation of an experimental and community owned mobile telecommunications meshwork to cover municipalities and indigenous communities in the region. The letter was the outcome of a year of discussions between community representatives and a newly formed non-governmental organisation, Rhizomatica.

Critical to the project was recognition by the Mexican government regulator of shared ownership. There were two reasons for this demand: in the Sierra Juarez of Oaxaca private ownership of land and other resources is not customary. [63] Thus private ownership of a spectrum license would not be on the terms of the indigenous communities. Secondly, the project would be rendered unsustainable if each village wanting to set-up a network had to apply separately. A meshwork that used a single frequency band was the solution.

Centre for Research Architecture, 2017 at 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz
When the idea of an obtaining a spectrum license was mobilised in Taela de Castro, it became hybrid, material, technoscientific, legal, political and social cause.

In a roundtable discussion at the Centre for Research Architecture at Goldsmiths College in London, I asked the theorist of political aesthetics, Esther Leslie, to describe the proliferation of radio in the Anthropocene. Her response was simple: “It is an intense agitation all around us”. [64]

The condition has been conceptualised differently by various disciplines. In her stories on “spatial products” and politics, the architect, Keller Easterling refers our radio environment as “microwave urbanism” or “C-band urbanism”. [65] C-band refers the portion of the electromagnetic spectrum that was initially allocated to satellite communication and includes microwave frequencies used for contemporary telecommunications. Easterling’s move to account for radio in urbanism stresses its spatial dimension and prompts us to think of it as architectural material. It also echos Buckminster Fuller’s call, almost a century earlier, for an architecture tuned to what he understood as the becoming radio of the world. [67]

More recently, in The Shock of the Anthropocene the French historians, Christophe Bonneuil and Jean-Baptiste Fressoz, refer to the Earth’s radio skein as a “second atmosphere”. [68] Bonneuil and Fressoz’s description is spatial yet diffuse. Here atmosphere implies something to which we have a reflexive encounter with, through the vital and involuntary mechanism of breathing. Read together with news reports on the atmospheric changes affecting ozone levels and the Earth’s climate, such an understanding might conjure fears of environmental ensnarement. [69]

While I am stressing the absolute saturation of Anthropocene with electromagnetic radiation, the stories I am recounting document the force of radio in things that are not radio: corporate monopolies, national constitutions, federal laws, large-scale infrastructure, highways, mobile devices, code and social formations. For this reason, I choose Leslie’s turn of phrase, that is, “an agitation all around us”. The word agitation is able to move between technoscientific, legal, political and social registers. Put differently, it has a multiple belonging.

For example, the political and social definitions of “agitate” are similar. It means to arouse public interest in a concern, to trouble or be troubled. In technoscientific language its meaning is to stir-up, to unsettle or disturb. Agitation is also a reference to the wave-particle duality of radio photons, in other words, their protean essence. Unlike sound waves that are mechanical, electromagnetic radio waves do not displace material they excite it, that is to say, they agitate it.

I propose that a material politics of radio is occupied by how this agitation unfolds across different scales and registers as “cascades” or “dangerous ideas”. [70]

Oaxaca, Mexico, 1917 at 850 MHz
In the letter sent to the Mexican Communications and Transportation Ministry by the indigenous communities, as legal footing, the group’s lawyers drew on Articles 2 and 8 of the country’s 1917 constitution and article 50 of Federal Telecommunications Law. The most important reference was to Article 2, Section B VI: [71]

[end of extract]

Sections not included:
New Zealand, 1999 at 700 MHz
Oaxaca, Mexico, 2013 – 2016 at 850 MHz

For the sound component of the work see: Lore of The Radio Fossil

Footnotes
[*] Hansen, Mark. ‘Triggers: Introducing the Technosphere’. 100 Jahre Gegenwart. Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin. 2015.
[**] Hecht, Gabrielle. 2017. Interscalar Vehicles for the African Anthropocene: On Waste, Temporality, and Violence

[43] (“México en cifras: Oaxaca,” 2017)
[44] Throughout Mexico 50,000 communities do not have access to landline or cellular telephone services of any kind. (Claudia Magallanes-Blanco and Leandro Rodriguez-Medina, 2016)
[45] To provide some context, worldwide the number of people not connected is estimated at 4 billion, well over half the world’s population. (GSMA [Groupe Speciale Mobile Association], 2016)
[46] (Claudia Magallanes-Blanco and Leandro Rodriguez-Medina, 2016, pp. 334–341)
[52] (Claudia Magallanes-Blanco and Leandro Rodriguez-Medina, 2016)
[53] (GSMA [Groupe Speciale Mobile Association], 2016)
[63] “In the communities of the Sierra Juarez of Oaxaca, the private ownership of land is almost non-existent. Land is communal and decisions about its use are made by an assembly of community members (asamblea de comuneros), which is composed of family heads of the agrarian group.” Peter Bloom. Own translation. (Huerta, 2016, p. 6)
[64] (Esther, 2017)
[65] (Easterling, 2005)
[67] (Wigley, 2015, p. 29)
[68] (Fressoz and Bonneuil, 2017, p. 61)
[69] See Peter Sloterdijk’s texts on atmosphere, politics and war, namely the book ‘Terror from the air’ (2002) and short essay, ‘Atmospheric politics’ (2005)
[70] “cascades” (Thomson and Engelmann, 2017) (Barad, 2007) and “dangerous ideas” (Stengers and Prigogine, 1984, p. 190)
[71] (“Mexican Constitution of 1917 (with 2015 amendments),” 2017, p. 5)

Lore of the Radio Fossil

We follow a satellite image as it traverses the bounds of Earth’s surfaces, elements, atmospheres, and technogeographies.
(September 2017)
Centre for Research Architecture, Goldsmiths
London
#archive #radio #remote-sensing

We follow a satellite image as it traverses the bounds of Earth’s surfaces, elements, atmospheres, and technogeographies. The story itself is a technique for attuning to a parallel wireless world – with the aim of witnessing a radio-active Anthropocene.

The work was produced in collaboration with Sasha Engelman (M6IOR) and first exhibited at Goldsmiths. A version was broadcast live on Radio Tonka 92.0 Den Haag FM on 05 July 2018 at 23:00 CET.

Audio for the sound installation was designed by Daniele Guerrini and Matthias Girardi (Cage Suburbia), with field recordings compiled by Sophie Dyer and Sasha Engelmann. The ‘tuning forks’ made for the Temporary Art Review article, were produced by Sophie Dyer and Sasha Engelman.

Special thanks to following people who so generously answered our questions and sent field recordings: Bill Liles (NQ6Z), Thomas Ashcraft, Jyrki Manninen (Sodankyla Geophysical Observatory), Anatol Guglielmo and Oleg Dmitrievich Zotov (Borok Geophysical Observatory), Mélanie Legru (ESA), Laura Rocchio (NASA), James Thieman (Radio Jove/NASA), Larry Dodd (K4LED), Timo Sukuvaara and Timo Ryyppo (Finnish Meteorological Institute).

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Spectral Topographies

Lines of algorithmic capital and the mass migration of people flow together at Calais.
(May 2019)
Migrant Journal
Calais, France
#archive #radio #remote-sensing

In 2016, denied entrance to the UK, around 7,000 people took shelter in makeshift camps on the outskirts of the French port city of Calais. The camp formed in the “microwave shadow” of the high-frequency trading relays which connect London to financial exchanges in continental Europe. One relay, owned by the Dutch firm, Custom Connect, cut directly across the tarpaulin-covered tents.

Spectral Topographies is a collaborative investigation by the Norwegian photographer, Eline Benjaminsen, and began as an exercise in shifting focus from the familiar structures and bodies that populate space, to their electromagnetic radiation and its infrastructural traces. The work is driven by an urge to understand our increasingly “dense, politicised and codified” electromagnetic milieu.

Text and photo story first published in Migrant Journal in May 2017 and reprinted in February 2018.

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Calais, Capital and an Electromagnetic Commons

The electromagnetic spectrum is an example of a resource held in common that is governed in different ways, to very different effect. Calais' electromagnetic milieu tells of the extreme environments of financial capitalism and the logics, resources and infrastructures that weather them.
(September 2017)
Centre for Research Architecture, Goldsmiths
London
#documentary #radio

The electromagnetic spectrum is an example of a resource held in common that is governed in different ways, to very different effect. Calais’ electromagnetic milieu tells of the extreme environments of financial capitalism and the logics, resources and infrastructures that weather them.

Guide written in collaboration with Richard Thanki and Jangala.

See Spectral Topographies for the accompanying text.

Think Twice Before You Think

A publication and conversation between participants and co-organisers of Parallel School, Utopia School, Free Cooper Union and Relearn. Written, edited and designed with Toni Brell.
(November 2015)
A Feral Studio

Documentation of the Inside Out School workshop and the conversations which led to and succeeded it, including a discussion between the participants of Parallel School (Berlin), Utopia School (New York), Free Cooper Union (New York) and ReLearn (Brussels).

Written, edited and designed in close collaboration with Toni Brell.

The political theorist Chantal Mouffe claims institutional critique is best executed from within. Only by engaging with institutions is it possible to create dissent, and so bring to the fore alternatives to the current ­system. Based on her concept of conflict and ‘agonistic pluralism’, she promotes the idea of ‘agonistic spaces’. Conflict is not a problem to straighten out. It is the very basis for politics and decision­­­­-making. Real conflict leaves space for alternatives that acknowledge the other’s right to exist, and by that agree to disagree. True antagonism is the ability to make a choice between multiple, opposing factions, in a seemingly undecidable terrain. Therefore, conflict should not be seen as an obstacle. It should be seen as the common ground between two adversaries. This is what ultimately brings them together and makes the friend/foe relationship potentially interesting and desirable. So maybe it’s time to stop being efficient and cause some conflict.

Which brings us to Inside Out School. In our experience, public education usually comes with a lot of privileges, such as libraries, studio space, time to explore your artistic interests, critiques, free working material, access to workshops. Even though this framework can be very helpful in some respects, it should not be forgotten that it is equally restrictive. Art schools such as the GSA are highly regulated spaces. Not only in terms of their facilities, but also content. Students are usually directed towards a standardised agenda of what is relevant, a canon that they are supposed to follow. There is a consensus about how and what we learn. With our workshop at the Glasgow School of Art, we wanted to create an awareness of this situation, create a space to question what was there, and so disturb the accepted education paradigms and look for possible alternatives.

We created ‘agonistic spaces’: spaces that were inappropriate, even against the rules, and thus bound to cause conflict. We occupied the art school, building barricades, obstacles and temporary classrooms. We transformed the common and familiar into something odd, erratic and unknown in an effort make visible the mechanisms and hierarchies that the institution relies on, which we so often take for granted (such as security staff, emergency routes, house rules, etc.). By changing what we knew we hoped to set free a potential not only for conflict but more importantly for discussion, friction, and possible failure.

Biography

Sophie studied Visual Communication at The Glasgow School of Art, before completing an MA at the Centre for Research Architecture at Goldsmiths in 2017, where her work investigated a material politics of the radio spectrum (rights of access, experimental practices and remote sensing communities.)

Until April 2019, Sophie was a Senior Researcher at the civilian casualty monitor, Airwars. Her advocacy work focused on the reconciliation of local reports of civilian harm in Iraq and Syria with belligerent reporting, via open-source investigations, data modelling and liaison with the United States military. Sophie led the redesign of Airwars’ online archive and was seconded to Amnesty International’s Crisis Response Team for the report, War in Raqqa: Rhetoric versus Reality. Beyond Airwars, she has worked as a freelance researcher and designer with Forensic Architecture amongst others. She sits on the Journal of Digital War editorial board.

Sophie co-produces the experimental documentary unit, Concrete Flux, with the filmmaker, Solveig Suess.

Offline and over the airwaves she is M6NYX.

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Postscript. A rolling list of unrealised projects

Article: Facebook’s Oversight Board: Why the Move From a First Amendment to Human Rights-Based Approach is Not Enough. An Argument for an “Ethics of Care”

Project: An Incomplete Visual Index of Protest. An index of media (images and video frames extracted via a content compression algorithm) alongside source URLs, collated from social media via English language hashtags and from known video channels. The index of URLs would be routinely monitored for content takedowns.

Project: Transmission as Archive. A large format print of an ionogram showing how “percussive violence” in Syria (air raids and explosions), registered hundreds of miles away as changes the ionosphere.

Film: Pattern of Life/Making–Killable. A documentary short mapping the construction of U.S. military data centres in the Middle East used in remote sensing operations. “Alongside the ‘war machine’ there always existed an ocular (and later optical and electro-optical) ‘watching machine’ capable of providing soldiers, and particularly commanders, with the visual perspective on the military action underway.” (Virilio via Kaplan, 2018)

Project: Radio Mirrors. A photo series of bodies of water in the path of Earth Observation Satellite downlink transmissions, which due to their size (relative to the satellite wavelength) could act as “passive repeaters” – deflecting the transmissions back into space.

Organise: Feminist, Anti-Colonial Open Source Investigations Group (Coming soon!)