[spectre] Paper Struggles & Public Library and the Property Form: Seminar and Exhibition

Gary Hall mail at garyhall.info
Mon Dec 9 11:30:01 CET 2019

Paper Struggles & Public Library and the Property Form

The exhibition and the seminar will take place at:
Raven Row, 56 Artillery Ln, London

Exhibition opening: Monday, December 9th, 18.30-21.00
Remains open: Tuesday and Wednesday, 11.00-21.00

Seminar: Tuesday, December 10th, 10.30-13.30, guest speakers: Balász 
Bodó & Nanna Bonde Thylstrup, seminar registration: 

Post Office Research Group, Centre for Postdigital Cultures
Coventry University

Exhibition “Paper Struggles”
The exhibition documents how the struggles over access to knowledge in 
the digital realm are reflected in the world of print and paper. The 
digital access has expanded the volume of available text by orders of 
magnitude compared to the days of print. Yet, paper remains the 
preferred format of reading for many students, scholars and researchers 
across the globe. Copying on paper is also often the most affordable way 
of obtaining texts. Struggles over access can thus be seen as struggles 
over (abundance of) paper. This status of paper in a digital age serves 
as a starting point for the exhibition, which tells the story of the 
uneven and messy world of knowledge today.

The exhibition includes five documentary and artistic works:

Rameshwari Photocopy Services legal case
Kenneth Goldsmith: “Printing out the Internet”
Monoskop: “Architecture” & “Anthropocene”
“Piracy Project”, a collaboration between Andrea Francke and Eva Weinmayr
"Memory of the World, Catalog by Slowrotation"
Conceived by Marcell Mars and Tomislav Medak, on the invitation of Kaja 

We wish to thank: Alex Sainsbury, the technical staff at Raven Row, 
Rosemary Grennan, MayDay Rooms, Lawrence Liang, Rabindra Patra, Shubigi 
Rao, Mohammad Salemy, Dušan Barok, Kenneth Goldsmith, Andrea Francke & 
Eva Weinmayr.

Seminar "Public Library and the Property Form"

The seminar will explore how intellectual property in the digital realm 
has impacted the institution of the public library and its mission to 
provide access to knowledge to all members of society. While the 
Internet has enabled a massive expansion of access to all kinds of 
publications, libraries were initially and remain severely limited in 
extending to digital “objects” the de-commodified access they provide in 
the world of print. One of the consequences is that the centrality of 
libraries in facilitating, organising and disseminating literature and 
science has faded. Thus, while a transition to digital has provided 
opportunities to reconsider how societies produce, sustain and make 
available literature and science, incumbent interests in combination 
with a property-form that treats intellectual creation as if it were a 
piece of land, have resisted the transformation of our systems of 
cultural production. Given this context, readers who have been denied 
access to information due to territorial, institutional and economic 
divides have created their own systems of access through the sharing of 
PDFs and shadow libraries, doing what public libraries are not allowed 
to do.

In this seminar we want to take stock of the present and future role of 
libraries in publishing texts, supporting universal access to 
information, and advocating the radical social and economic imaginaries 
needed to change the above-described status quo.


10:30 Marcell Mars & Tomislav Medak: "Public Library and the Property Form"
11:00 Balász Bodó: “Is the Open Knowledge Commons Idea a Curse in 
Disguise? Towards Sovereign Institutions of Knowledge.”, respondent: 
Janneke Adema
12:00 coffee break
12:15 Nanna Bonde Thylstrup: “Gleaning Knowledge: The Infrapolitics of 
Shadow Libraries”, respondent: Gary Hall
13:15 Discussion, introduction: Kaja Marczewska

The seminar is moderated by Valeria Graziano.


Balász Bodó is an Associate Professor at the University of Amsterdam, 
Institute of Information Law. He is interested in conflicts around 
freedom, which take place at the intersection of digital technologies 
and the law. He is currently leading an ERC project on the regulation of 
decentralised technologies.

Nanna Bonde Thylstrup is Associate Professor of Communication and 
Digital Media at Copenhagen Business School. She is interested in how 
media theory, cultural theory and critical theory can unpack and unfold 
issues related to datafication and digitisation. She is the author of 
The Politics of Mass Digitisation published by MIT Press (2019) and has 
co-edited Uncertain Archives (forthcoming).

Post Office Research Group (CPC at CU)

Paper Struggles and Public Library and the Property Form are organised 
by the Post Office Research Group, a research collective affiliated to 
the Centre for Postdigital Cultures at Coventry University. Post Office 
follows a methodology of affirmative critique. Our projects are both 
critical and performative: actively changing the situations in which 
they intervene while helping devise protagonist-centred approaches to 
organisation, methodology, and technology. It is involved in changing 
scholarly and creative writing, publishing, libraries, open access, 
universities, cultural production, the humanities, technologies, and 
labour relations, and wants to explore alternatives for a more just, 
diverse, and equitable future.

Gary Hall
Professor of Media
Director of the Centre for Postdigital Cultures, Faculty of Arts & Humanities, Coventry University:
Director of Open Humanities Press: http://www.openhumanitiespress.org
Website http://www.garyhall.info

'Class and Culture in Elitist Britain', Discover Society, December 4, 2019:

More information about the SPECTRE mailing list