Hackerspace for Myth Making: The Manual is for artists, architects, urban designers, and storytellers. It’s for anybody else skittish about a descent into flat. The Manual maps projects and hacks. The projects link streetscapes and data-landscapes. The hacks go after what’s in the way. Endgame is an urban design protocol. Hackerspace for Myth Making lays out a line of case studies. The case studies are protocol r + d. They include a nightclub, media labs, theatrical plays, gallery shows, documentary films, street projections, and a line of public installations.
They were up-running as private-public culture made the switch over to full-body digital apparel. Remix binds all the projects. The projects pushed remix artists into the street. Shoved them out to map a 2-byte maelstrom. But the Manual is more than a remix handbook or an art scene audit. It’s also a dispatch, a dispatch from a front. The front was St. Louis, Missouri. The St. Louis Street was project workshop, scaffold, and catwalk. The projects were arks. They were gear to navigate patterns, kit to weave a course. But there were problems in assembling transit tools. If you want early radar systems on the street, you better be ready to go after the bad code. The Manual chronicles a messy cognitive arms race. It traces resistance to the street as a waystation to peer and charts a clamp-down on a radar street.
Hackerspace is a strategy, a faceoff with retrograde politics of information and zombie infrastructure. Hackerspace is part of a tradition that is traced to commedia dell’arte, and even further back to the Greek agora. And like both, it grabs on to myth, satire, and impish storytellers.
While Marshall McLuhan anticipated his successors would be artists, his student Father Walter Ong wasn’t so sure. The Jesuit lived long enough to see outside that window. Ong was not sanguine that we could rely on the arts to lead the way. This from his 1966 essay “Evolution, Myth and the Poetic Vision” lays out his unease.
And yet, surveying the work of the creative human imagination today, one is struck by the slightness of creative drive connected with an awareness of evolution, cosmic or organic. It is not that the poets refuse to accept evolution. They render lip service to it. But it does not haunt their poetic imaginations. One feels that, in the last analysis, the poet and artist are not very much at home in an evolutionary cosmos. The poet has always been ill at ease, to some degree, in the world of actuality.
Walter Ong, Evolution, Myth and Poetic Vision
And from Patrick Geddes’ successor, his prentice-disciple, a more optimistic note.
On the terms imposed by technocratic society, there is no hope for mankind except by ‘going with’ its plans for accelerated technological progress, even though man’s vital organs will all be cannibalized in order to prolong the mega-machine’s meaningless existence. But for those of us who have thrown off the myth of the machine, the next move is ours: for the gates of the technocratic prison will open automatically, despite their rusty ancient hinges as soon as we choose to walk out.
Lewis Mumford, The Myth of the Machine
In That Empire