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Participation as a technique of power

Geoff Cox
Aarhus University, Denmark


Geoff Cox is currently a Researcher in Digital Aesthetics at Aarhus University (DK). He is also an occasional artist, writer, and Associate Curator of Online Projects, Arnolfini, Bristol (UK), Adjunct faculty Transart Institute (DE/US), and Associate Professor/Reader in Art and Technology, University of Plymouth (UK). The talk aims to provide a contribution to ongoing and contested definitions of 'participation' in the PD community by introducing some ideas from contemporary art, critical design, and political theory. It proceeds from the assumption that participation exhibits a power relation, that produces users both in terms of labour relations but additionally as subjects of the neoliberal marketplace. In this sense, it is understood as a technique of power albeit in restructured form, and one that is reinforced by the dominant socio-technical paradigm of server-client architectures. This aspect will be explored by making reference to a recent software project called 'unCloud'.