Dashboarding the crisis

As the Coronavirus crisis evolves, it becomes harder to tell what kind of image the most publicised image of/on the crisis is exactly: Courtesy of the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University (JHU), this info-assemblage of charts, curves, numbers, names, map has to be considered as contemporary’s control (or rather: panic) panel par excellence, the iconic polydiagram of the moment. There are other Corona dashboards available (to be used with great care as many have proved to be carriers of malware), but this one (perhaps alongside the sites of the New York Times, the WHO etc.) singlehandedly became the key reference site in the decision-making processes of governments, health administrations, executive boards, stock exchanges and newsrooms worldwide. On the – to date – “virus-free,” website updates on the global spreading of COVID-19 are being merged into a (interactive, zoom-able) sombre black map with feverishly alerting red dots, whose sizes correspond to the numbers of COVID-19 related infections and deaths in the depicted countries and regions (charted on the left and the right side of the central map). For weeks without end routinely opening this site on one’s personal browser faces one with the image that probably features most pertinently in the war rooms of the world. Observing the data at the quarantine called home (in durational performances of anxiety and dread), a prognostic habit is likely to settle as the default mode of perception. At the same time, however, Johns Hopkins’ COVID-19 dashboard is also eerily comforting. For, at least, the numbers seem to be properly quarantined and contained. Imaging the paradox of the control of the disaster, the corona dashboard has done a pretty effective job so far, eliciting alternative kinds of infographic creation, such as the one on the Information is Beautiful site.  TH

March 15th, 2020, 02 / Rosa Mercedes
Interface

Avery F. Gordon, in an interview conducted by Katherine Hite and Daniela Jara in Memory Studies:  “Non-participation is one modality of what I call being in-difference. Being in-difference is a political consciousness and a sensuous knowledge, a standpoint and a mindset for living on better terms than we’re offered, for living as if you had the necessity and the freedom to do so, for living in the acknowledgement that, despite the overwhelming power of all the systems of domination which are trying to kill us, they never quite become us. They are, as Cedric J Robinson used to say, only one condition of our existence or being. Running away, living apart, squatting, communing, feral trading, bartering, self-managed currencies, human, debt, labour, knowledge strikes, boycott, divestment, non-policing, throwing your shoe at an occupying president: the ways of non-participation in the given order of things are many, varied and hard to summarize. And they are taken up for a variety of reasons, including the failure or irrelevance of states and the US–European post–World War II social movement model.”

July 7th, 2020, Tom

Denise Ferreira da Silva via Canadian Art: “Visuality or rather visualizability—being available via social media and accessible through electronic gadgets—seems to have become the main (if not the sole) criterion for reality, which becomes crucial for the ethical-political demands for the protection of black lives, for state accountability and for justice. If that is so, the only way is through these conditions of representation. I mean, the creative move first takes the visualizable as it is, that is, as a twice removed re/composition (at the same time a live streaming, news reporting and documenting) of the scene of violence which only tells us that it happens. It exposes the excess that is the state’s use of total violence, of law enforcement as technique of racial subjugation, while simultaneously removing the black person (the father, the sister, the friend) out of the scene of violence and its visualization. It does so by restoring the dimensions of their existence that the camera cannot capture. That is, the creative move must protect (as an ethical gesture) the black person (keeping her obscurity) in the excess that is the very visualization of the scene of total violence.”

June 28th, 2020, Tom

Ajay Singh Chaudhary on the politics of climate change, via The Baffler: “One of the most common misconceptions concerning climate change is that it produces, or even requires, a united humanity. In that tale, the crisis in the abstract is a ‘common enemy,’ and a perfectly universal subject is finally possible in coming to ‘experience’ ourselves ‘as a geological agent,’ through which a universal ‘we’ is constituted in a ‘shared sense of catastrophe.’ The story I am telling you is different. In this story, there is no universal ‘we.’ Climate change is not the apocalypse, and it does not fall on all equally, or even, in at least a few senses, on everyone at all.”

June 23rd, 2020, Tom
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