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'The Inhumanist Manifesto', Media Theory, Vol. 1, No.1, 2017.

The Uberfication of the University (Open access Forerunners series version available here; as of April 4 2017 an interactive Manifold series version is available here.)

Públicos Fantasma - La Naturaleza Política Del Libro - La Red (Mexico: Taller de Ediciones Económicas, 2016) - new book, co-authored with Andrew Murphie, Janneke Adema and Alessandro Ludovico. 

'Posthumanities: The Dark Side of "The Dark Side of the Digital"' (with Janneke Adema), in Janneke Adema and Gary Hall, eds, Disrupting the Humanities: Towards Posthumanities, Journal of Electronic PublishingVol. 9, No.2, Winter, 2016.

Open Access

Most of Gary's work is freely available to read and download either here in Media Gifts or in Coventry University's online repository CURVE here 

performative project Janneke Adema has put together, based on our ‘The Political Nature of the Book: On Artists’ Books and Radical Open Access’ article for New Formations, Number 78, Summer, 2013. 

'What Does Academia.edu's Success Mean for Open Access: The Data-Driven World of Search Engines and Social Networking', Ctrl-Z: New Media Philosophy, no.5, 2015.

Radical Open Access network

Norimichi Hirakawa, The Irreversible [4-Dimensional Version] 2016

Biography

Gary Hall is a media theorist working in the areas of art, politics and technology. He is Professor of Media and Performing Arts in the Faculty of Arts & Humanities at Coventry University, UK, where he is director of the postdigital arts and humanities research centre/studio, The Post Office (a disruptive iteration of the Centre for Disruptive Media). He is author of Pirate Philosophy (MIT Press, 2016), The Uberfication of the University (Minnesota UP, 2016), Digitize This Book! (Minnesota UP, 2008), and Culture in Bits (Continuum, 2002). He is also co-author of Públicos Fantasma - La Naturaleza Política Del Libro - La Red (Taller de Ediciones Económicas, 2016) and Open Education (Rowman and Littlefield International, 2014), and co-editor of Experimenting (Fordham UP, 2007) and New Cultural Studies: Adventures in Theory (Edinburgh UP, 2006). 

In 1999 he co-founded the critical theory journal Culture Machine. In 2006 he co-founded Open Humanities Press (OHP). He also co-edits OHP's Liquid Books series and the Jisc-funded Living Books About Life series.

He has given lectures and seminars at institutions around the world including the Australian National University, Columbia University, European University Institute, University of Heidelberg, University of Calfornia, Irvine, K.U. Leuven, Lund University, Monash University, New York University, University of Southern California, the Onassis Cultural Centre in Athens, the Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid and the Wellcome Collection in London.  With over thirty peer-reviewed publications in edited books and academic journals including American LiteratureAngelakiCultural StudiesJournal of Visual CultureNew FormationsThe Oxford Literary Review and Radical Philosophy, his work has been translated into Chinese, French, Japanese, Turkish, Russian, Spanish and Slovenian. He is currently developing a series of politico-institutional interventions that draw on digital media to actualise, or creatively perform, critical theory; and completing a new monograph, Data Commonism vs ÜberCapitalism.

Hall has written on the commons, copyright, cultural analytics, data, metadata, digital capitalism, digital humanities, the history and future of the book, media archaeology, new materialism, open access, open education, piracy, the posthuman, posthumanities, Marxism, post-Marxism, psychoanalysis, the quantified self, the sharing economy, secrecy, the idea of the university, and on the philosophy of Foucault, Deleuze, Derrida, Lyotard, Hardt and Negri, Mouffe, Stiegler and Braidotti.
 

He is associated with the development of a number of concepts and critical practices, including open medialiquid theoryliving booksradical open accessthe microentrepreneur of the selfaffirmative disruptiondisruptive humanitiesmasked mediaübercapitalism, and pirate philosophy

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Philosophy

My research is characterised by its experimentation with:

  • Operating according to on a nonprofit philosophy. For example, Open Humanities Press is a Community Interest Company whose books and journals are available open access on a free (gratis) basis, and many of them on a reuse (libre) basis too.
  • Acting in a non-rivalrous, non-competitive fashion to explore new models for the economy, for property and for ownership (see OHP’s sharing of its expertise and publications with other open access publishers). These new models include the collective use of knowledge and materials associated with online file sharing networks, shadow libraries, and so-called internet piracy.
  • Generating projects that are concerned, not only with representing or critiquing the world, but also with intra-acting with the world in order to make (other) things happen. 
One of the terms I've used to characterize these performative projects is  'media gifts'. Along with the already mentioned Culture Machine, Open Humanities Press,  and Radical Open Access Collective, they include 
Liquid BooksLiving Books About Life, Liquid Theory TV, the Radical Open Access Collective, Photomediations: An Open Book, and after.video. Together, these media gifts form a network of books, journals, videos, presses, websites, communities and collectives that are engaged in organising and shaping theory and criticism. 
 

The projects with which myself and my collaborators are involved are not confined to the world of critical theory, though. One way of thinking about them is as a plurality of forms of intervention that respond to specific issues across a number of different sites: art, activism, education, business, culture, politics, technology and the media. Their shared aim is to disarticulate the existing playing field and foster instead a variety of antagonistic spaces that contribute to the development of counter-institutions and counter-environments. It's important to produce a range of different interventions because the 'counter-hegemonic struggle is a process involving a multiplicity of ruptures', as Chantal Mouffe puts it. What these different performative media projects have in common is they are all characterised by a willingness to open up an unconditional space for thinking about politics and the political beyond the ways in which they have conventionally been conceived. This is what I mean by the hyper-political.

The political here is not merely about the kind of intended consequences and effects that can be articulated in advance. The political is also something that has to be invented and created in relation to specific practices, in particular contingent situations and contexts, by performing the associated decisions, and otherwise doing things that may be unanticipated and unpredictable--and which are thus beyond analysis. There is something artistic and poetic about this invention: it's not just theoretical or philosophical. Hence my interest in poeticity and singularity. And certainly, for me, critical artists and artistic practices have an important role to play in society through the opening up spaces where it’s possible to subvert existing configurations of power, and elaborate alternatives through the construction of new practices and new subjectivities, thus making new social relations possible. At the same time my conviction is that the reinvention of human subjectivity should not be restricted to artistic practices. It’s important we reinvent subjectivity in other ways and in other places too: with forms of practice that are associated more with science, business, politics, the economy and the media. Not forgetting ‘theory’, of course. Theory can’t be just about critical analysis. As authors and theorists we have the responsibility to construct new practices and new subjectivities too. This is why I often describe these media gifts projects as operating at the intersections of art, theory, politics and media.

Data Commonism vs ÜberCapitalism, my current work-in-progress, can be understood in these terms. It's designed not merely to offer a critique of the for-profit sharing and gig economy businesses of platform capitalism. Data Commonism vs ÜberCapitalism is also intended to form part of an expanded, interrupted, iterative text involved in generating a performative media project that intra-acts with the world in order to invent a different, more caring future: for the sharing and gig economies; for our towns and cities; but also for post-industrial, post-capitalist society. The aim of this project is to make a counter-hegemonic intervention by re-articulating the situation in a new configuration, thus affirmatively disrupting digital capitalism so we might begin to replace Uber, Airbnb, Deliveroo et al with a multi-polar consortium of counter-information and data platforms. Among other things, Data Commonism vs ÜberCapitalism asks: how can we work collaboratively to invent new ways of organising platforms, institutions, and communities that don’t just repeat the anti-political reductionism, and individualistic, liberal democratic humanism that is a feature of other accounts of community and the Commons? (And I include in this those associated with platform cooperativism.) What if we were to devise our own collaborative community or data Commons as a way of creating an actual, affective point of potentiality and transformation--not least in order to counter übercapitalism and its for-profit sharing and gig economies?  

  • Interrogating those fundamental propositions that are taken for granted by theories of data, the digital and the Commons.

The word 'data' has its English origins in the mid-17th century as the plural of the Latin word 'datum'. The latter means a proposition that is assumed, given, or taken for granted, upon which a theoretical framework can be constructed or a conclusion drawn as a result of reasoning or calculation. 

It is those propositions that our culture assumes as a given in order to construct theories and draw conclusions about data, software and algorithms that I am committed to investigating. They include the 'digital', in many ways now an irrelevant attribute given nearly all media involve 'becoming with' digital information processing--as indeed do things as diverse as our entertainment, transport, air traffic control, banking, fuel, food, and fresh water-supply systems. Other datum points are the human, technology, the printed text, the network, copyright and IP. For example, who does the measuring when it comes to data and who it is this measuring for? Conventionally, it is the human subject. (It is people who are the presumed viewers of data visualizations, for instance. So these visualizations contain an implicit humanism.) With what? With technology and tools seen as separate from the human (which is the case even if the data is machine read). How are the measurements – the data – recorded, published and disseminated? Print texts and computerized information networks. How is this circulation controlled? Through copyright.

The etymology of the word data thus raises an important issue for the idea of a data Commons. Datum points that are at risk of being taken for granted in the construction of such a theoretical framework and that I analyze in my work include capitalism, liberalism, humanism, freedom, democracy, community, communism, and even the Commons itself. 

  • Engaging with the existing institutions (e.g. the law, politics, the press) so as to transform them.

Since they are the institutions to which theorists are most closely tied, my partners and I focus in particular on the university, the library, and the scholarly publishing industry, together with their associated liberal humanist values, protocols and practices, based as they are on ideas of the individual proprietorial author, authenticity, the codex print book, and the finished (and finishable) static object. The idea is to interrogate and transform what it means to create, publish, and disseminate knowledge and research. Some of the projects with which I'm engaged thus concentrate on the book, fixity, and copyright; others focus on educationteaching, the archive, and academic social networks.  

My 2016 book Pirate Philosophy, for example, draws attention to the material factors of intellectual labour. In marked contrast to the 'zombie' discourses of much 'new materialism', the latter includes, for me, the work of 'publishers, editors, peer-reviewers, designers, copy-editors, proof readers, printers, publicists, marketers, distributors, retailers' (as well as that of the 'agency workers, packers, and so-called "ambassadors" in Amazon’s “fulfillment centers”)'. It also takes in 'the financial investments made' when producing, publishing and distributing scholarship and research, 'the energy and resources used, the plants, minerals, dyes, oils, petroleum distillates, salts, compounds and pigments, the transport, shipping and container costs, the environmental impact, and so forth'. Meanwhile Disrupting the Humanities: Towards Posthumanities, a special video issue of the Journal of Electronic Publishing I edited with Janneke Adema, addresses the seminar and seminar series, the talk, 'paper', or presentation, and the journal issue, as well as the individualistic nature of most humanities (and posthumanities) research

It is important to actively engage with institutions. Simply abandoning or rejecting them in favour of establishing places outside where 'the common' can be achieved risks our work being co-opted by these institutions all the more. Consider the way the Autonomist Marxist theorists Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri support the aggressive, profit-maximizing capitalist publishing companies Amazon and Penguin Random House. There is little sense of these post-operaist thinkers transforming the accepted common sense rules of the game regarding how theory and criticism is produced, published, and circulated (i.e., as original, rational, linearly written and organised, copyrighted books), so that a new politics of publishing can be articulated based on communism or the Commons.

From this point of view, and as as Pauline van Mourik Broekman, Ted Byfield, Shaun Hides, Simon Worthington and myself show in Open Education:  

  1. there is no outside to the university in any simple sense, this idea of an outside being itself a university (that is, a philosophical) idea, even if it is one that has not always been theorized particularly rigorously.
  2. efforts to occupy a place or space that is autonomous from the traditional university (whether they are physically located outside the institution or not) too often end up unwittingly trapped inside it, in that theyf unconsciously repeating many of its structures and problems. In particular, such efforts tend to take insufficient account of the way many of those involved in establishing such supposedly autonomous institutions are themselves the products of the traditional university, and maintain a relationship with it. 
  3. attacking the ‘public’ university poses a danger of lending force to neoliberalism’s practice of bolstering global corporate institutions while simultaneously undermining nearly all others.
  4. there is a case to be made for supporting and defending the university as one of the few remaining public spaces where difficult, challenging and avowedly non-commercial ideas can still be developed, explored and disseminated. As the recent student protests attests, the university is also one of the places where the imposition of neoliberalism and its emphasis on production, privatisation and the interests of the market is being struggled over and even actively resisted.
  5. creating autonomous spaces ‘outside’ of the established institutions risks leaving the traditional university - and the scholarly publishing industry - in place and unquestioned.   

 

  • Using numerous and at times conflicting figures, voices, registers, and semiotic functions - multiple differential authorial 'I's, as it were - in order to transform my own work processes and produce something different: not only from the microentrepreneur of the self übercapitalism is making us become; but also from the liberal humanist subjectivity that is the default alternative adopted by even the most supposedly radical of theorists. 

In Pirate Philosophy I adopt the persona or mask of the pirate, someone who for the ancient Greeks and Romans does not belong to a ‘community tied… to a clearly delimited territory’, but rather lives a more fluid life, and who tries, tests, teases and troubles as well as attacks. (Why attack? Didier Eribon perhaps articulates it best when, praising Jean-Paul Sartre for having insulted Raymond Aron, he stresses the importance of ‘daring to break with the conventions of polite academic “discussion”—which always works in favour of “orthodoxy”, and its reliance on “common sense” and what seems “self-evident” in its opposition to heterodoxy and critical thought.’)

In The Uberfication of the University--which is where I develop the concept of the microentrepreneur of the self--I articulate my subjectivity more in terms of the experimenterAs Jean-François Lyotard makes clear, the latter differs from the intellectual in that they are not endeavoring to speak for a universal subject, be it 'man, humanity, the nation, the people, the proletariat'. In fact, an experimenter does not have a pre-given addressee, whether this be known as a public, political party, readership, audience, or market, that they are trying to communicate with, win over, and seduce. Rather, the experimenter for Lyotard is by definition involved in questioning the limits of pre-constituted fields to ask, what is art, writing, thought--or, in my case, what is theory, and what is it to be a critical theorist?  

So I'm not trying to come up with a big, new, masculine philosophical system or ontology of my own; something to rival those of speculative realism, media archaeology or 'the stack', say--which of course is what theorists and philosophers traditionally do. (Object-oriented philosophy, new materialism, accelerationism, et al are deeply conservative philosophies in this respect.) I am more interested in exploring multiple different ways of being, different ways of doing things as a theorist, different ways for theorists to organise themselves and their subjectivities. This is why, when it comes to articulating his philosophy, I move between a range of concepts and philosophies: new cultural studies, open media, hyperpolitics, disruptive humanities, posthumanities, pirate philosophy, masked media and so on. Ideas and passages are also repeated across my work to explicitly promote hetergenous, non-linear forms of engaging with it.

Yet for all my emphasis on performativity and on hyperpolitics, it is important for me that we do not give up on critique. Rather than taking critique as yet another datum point, we need ask, along with Michel Foucault and Judith Butler, ‘What Is Critique?’. For both Foucault and Butler critique is an art, a practice, a doing, that entails ‘self-transformation’. To engage in critique is thus to do something different to what is usually attributed to it: the making of opposing, corrective arguments. To engage in critique is ‘to risk one’s very own formation as a subject’. To put it another way, 'if we lack the courage to practice the art of critique'--if we neurotically abandon, or enthusiastically advocate, the tradition of critique to which Kant and Adorno are seen as belonging because we associate it merely with identifying contradictions and arriving at judgements by uncovering the stupidity or ideological biases of others--'there is a danger of restricting ourselves primarily to the replication of what we already know and are and do'. The importance Foucault and Butler attach to critique as an art thus brings us back to one of the main datum points in theory and criticism: human subjectivity. 

I emphasize the significance of collaboration--rather than the cooperation of the platform cooperativism movement--for similar reasons. Strictly speaking, there is a crucial difference between cooperation and collaboration. In cooperation the project is something you help someone with: something they are working on, but which they are ultimately responsible for and that they own and can sell individually. In collaboration, meanwhile, a collective owns the project jointly. Even more than that, collaboration disrupts the idea of the single, individual, unified author. As Florian Schneider articulates it: ‘While cooperation happens between identifiable individuals within and between organizations, collaboration expresses a differential relationship that is composed by heterogeneous parts which are defined as singularities: out of the ordinary, in a way that produces a kind of discontinuity and marks a point of unpredictability.’

Rather than simply positioning my philosophy in a relation of contrast and opposition to that of competing thinkers, I also frequently enact it by collaborating critically and creatively with the work of other contemporary political theorists: e.g, Raymond Williams, Richard Hoggart and Stuart Hall in Culture In Bits; Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri in New Cultural Studies; Samuel Weber in Experimenting; Jodi Dean in Digitize This Book!; Bernard Stiegler and Rosi Braidotti in Pirate Philosophy; Chantal Mouffe in Data Commonism vs ÜberCapitalism. It is a manner of doing things that ensures my theory is not always the same in every situation and circumstance. Instead it responds in singular ways to specific thinkers and specific issues across a number of different sites

Similarly, when I write ‘I’ here, I am not referring to myself in a naive sense, as if I am still operating according to a model of the sovereign, unified human author as individual creative genius. The projects I characterise as media gifts emerge out of my processual intra-active relations with a multitude of different actors, institutions and communities. To build on the work of Mark Amerika and Alfred North Whitehead, they can best be thought of as stimulating the development of a novel togetherness that comprises neither singularities, nor pluralities, nor collectivities. 

To decenter the human according to an understanding of subjectivity that percieves the latter as produced by complex meshworks of other humans, nonhumans, non-objects and non-anthropomorphic elements and energies (some of which may be beyond our knowledge), requires us to act differently as theorists from the way in which the majority of those associated with the posthuman, the nonhuman and the crisis of life itself expressed by the concept of the Anthropocene, act. We need to displace the humanist concepts that underpin our ideas of the author, the book, and copyright, together with their accompanying practices of reading, writing, analysis, and critique. And we need to do so by performing these concepts and practices differently in the ways in which we live, work and think as theorists. Otherwise we risk the human subject retaining a priviledged place at the very heart of our theory, along with an implicit and unexamined humanism. 

Approaches to the ‘posthumanities’ have been dominated by the posthuman Humanities of Rosi Braidotti, Donna Haraway and Cary Wolfe. (A piratical engagement with the humanism of this version of critical posthuman theory can be found in Pirate Philosophy.) So I propose that the above transformative conception of subjectivity may be more productively articulated in terms of the inhuman and the inhumanities. My reasoning is that such a rhetorical and conceptual shift might enable us to better challenge the sovereign, unified, liberal humanist subject that serves as a datum point to so many theories, not just of the humanities, but of the posthuman and posthumanities, too. 

My use of the term 'inhuman’ thus relates to way the human can't simply be opposed to the nonhuman. Put far too quickly and crudely, there is no such thing as the nonhuman. Or the human for that matter. Each is born out of its relation to the other. In this sense, the ‘nonhuman’ is already in (the) human. 

If the inhuman equals the human intertwined with the nonhuman (be it technologies, animals, insects, plant life, fungi, compost, the environment or the cosmos), then the inhumanities are the humanities--only with this intra-active inhuman figure at their heart. In other words, the inhumanities are a way of acting, thinking, and working that--rather than trying to ignore or otherwise deny it--actually takes account of and assumes an intra-active relation with the nonhuman.