MARCH is pleased to announce our first long term inquiry, Publishing As Protocol, which aims to explore the relationship between self-organizational models and technological sovereignty. Starting with our first essay, “Trust Exercise,” on Stine Marie Jacobsen’s project Group-Think by Jenny Wu, and unfolding through June 2022, this framework will gather together existing and speculative examples from both institutional (cultural) and technological (hacktivist) practices to reflect on how we publish, gather and organize under (and around) platform capitalism.
If, as Yuval Noah Harari has argued in his book Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, the unique trait that homo sapiens gained in the cognitive revolution is the development of an intersubjective reality that allowed us to share abstract myths, then this “ability to create an imagined reality out of words,” not only “enabled large numbers of strangers to cooperate effectively,” but also led the way to be able to alter the way people cooperate by telling different stories.1 Over millennia, myth-making grew into more complex protocols to form economics, politics and religion, but we can still consider the intersubjective reality of myth-making as the fundamental terms under which we humans organize ourselves on a mass scale.
So, who decides the myths? No matter if they are economic, political, or moral protocols, those who command the structure within which people act will control their actions. At the center of this discussion is the importance of sovereignty, especially politically and technologically. As Margarita Padilla wrote succinctly in Technological Sovereignty Vol. 2 (Calafou):
Wikipedia says that “sovereignty” is the supreme political power, to be sovereign is to have decision-making power, the power to make law without receiving it from another. It also says that it is impossible to understand this concept without taking into account struggles for power…Transferring the question of sovereignty to technologies, the question we wish to discuss becomes, who has the power to make decisions about them? About their development, about their use, about access and about distribution, about supply and consumption.2
With this understanding, Publishing As Protocol complicates the dual implications of the word ‘protocol’ by purposefully conflating its meanings 1) as the accepted or established code of procedure or behaviour in any group, organization, or situation, and 2) as a set of rules governing the exchange or transmission of data between computing devices; in order to consider both definitions equally as protocol that can be not only read and activated, but also written and rewritten.
Publishing As Protocol is organized by MARCH: a journal of art & strategy in partnership with Constant, a non-profit, artist-run organisation based in Brussels since 1997 and active in the fields of art, media and technology; and Vessel, a nomadic curatorial organisation and agency invested in supporting artistic and curatorial practices that are situated, responsive and research-led. Specifically, Constant and Vessel will publish a series of articles in Spring 2022 reflecting on their own organizational histories which exemplify the potential of collective digital artistic practices and socially-engaged institutions.
We additionally invite proposals for new or unpublished essays of approximately 2,500 words to be considered for Publishing As Protocol. You are welcome to send us pitches and/or drafts (including experimental writing and adaptive new forms) and writing inquiries (please include two writing/work samples) to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please see “Ready to Commit: Episode 1” by Peter Hermans3 for Terms and Conditions: