Friday, April 2, 2010

[Yasmin_discussions] Bang.Lab / EDT Update, Call For Accountability And The Criminalization Of Research

Hola all,

In the past few weeks, a number of developments have occurred in relation
to the art/research practices of bang lab and Electronic Disturbance
Theater (EDT), which we wish to share with the public in accordance with
our long history of radical transparency.

- Since November of 2009 the Transborder Immigrant Tool has become a media
event with many groups and individuals, such as Congressman Duncan Hunter
in his Op-ed in the San Diego Union Tribune, calling for the defunding of
the Transborder Immigrant Tool. The University of California system began
a financial audit of the project on January 11, 2010, in which they
requested that every member involved be interviewed by Audit & Management
Advisory Services (UCSD). The exact investigations (they claim that there
are multiple) under way have yet to be clarified by UCOP or other UC
entities, but in the interviews thus far, TBT members have been questioned
about the usage of the funds and the originality of the project. The
investigation has 'arrested' TBT's developmental process and core research

- To add injury to injury, due to widespread media coverage of the
Transborder Immigrant Tool, members of bang.lab and EDT also have been
receiving copious hateful email and paper letters, some including threats
of physical violence and murder. The racist, xenophobic, classist,
misogynist, homophobic and transphobic "excitable speech" of the threats
has been as clear as that of the correspondence received in recent weeks
by national representatives who voted for health care legislation. Hardly
a tea party!

- On March 2nd, publicly declared the resignation of UCOP
Mark Yudof in a gesture of minor simulation to encourage the imagining of
other possible futures. On March 21st, bang.lab received notice that a
faculty member at UC Riverside was being investigated in relation to this

- On March 4th, hosted a virtual sit-in against the UCOP
website, providing a space for many people concerned with public education
to embody their dissent online. As a result, UCSD IT Security shut down
our server's access to the Internet for eight days. Shortly thereafter, we
were informed that an investigation of Ricardo Dominguez by the Senior
Vice Chancellor (SVC) was initiated by the UCOP to determine if criminal
charges were in order for the virtual sit-in, despite the legal precedent
that a virtual sit-in is political speech, not a DDOS attack. This
investigation--itself in the service of a denial of distributed free
speech--has been framed by SVC as potential reason to end Professor
Dominguez's tenure.

These events are of a piece with a number of troubling trends in the
current transnational struggle for education (and more equal distribution
of resources, generally speaking):

- A disregard for the academic freedom of cultural producers engaging in
research trajectories of art, literature and technology (that, for
instance, the Visual Arts Department and CALIT2 considered valuable enough
to earn Professor Dominguez tenure)

-The use of bureaucracy as a weapon, to prevent the aforementioned
research from continuing by bogging down its practitioners in endless
meetings with accountants and investigations.

- The criminalization of dissent: across the UC system and the world on
March 4th people engaged in actions, including civil disobedience, to try
to restore public education, stop the budget cuts and work towards a
better future for education. We are among hundreds of people facing
charges for engaging in dissent from the very institutions that claim to
foster independent thinking (connect the dots--consider the group of
students recently threatened with 6 month suspensions).

While we believe that poetry, walking art and queer technology cannot be
"spread-sheet Excel-ed," we, in bang lab, harbor our own concerns for the
lack of accountability that enables the UC system to continue transforming
a public university for the state of California into a private
corporation, accessible to a select few. The selective *lack* of
accountability, that bedrocks that hubris, fails to count the number of
deaths tragically enabled by the continuous gerrymandering of
international borders for instance. To perform our own due diligence in
the spirit of accounting for the here and now, we seek to "queer the
census": if you feel that you are a part of the bang.lab or have
participated in any of our activities in mind, body, spirit (in real or
virtual timespace), get up, stand up!, sign your name and/or comment

Update 4/1/2010: Yesterday, March 31st, 2 UCPD detectives showed up at
Ricardo's office at Calit2 to question him, indicating that they were
investigating criminal charges at all levels, city, county, state,
federal. The harassment is increasing in severity.

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