The Hidden Life of an Amazon User reveals the hidden economic and environmental costs offloaded to, and unwittingly paid for, by the end-user. The Hidden Life of an Amazon User confronts us with the environmental footprint instigated by purchasing a book on Amazon.com: 87.33Mb of data is activated to navigate through 12 different interfaces—1307 different requests totaling 8724 pages of printed code—all used for continuously tracking customer behavior to amplify the monetization of the end-user and increase business revenues. To put it bluntly, the user is not just exploited by means of their free labor but is also forced to assume the energy costs of such exploitation.
The project includes three commissioned texts by Jussi Parikka, Jara Rocha and Christian Ulrik Andersen & Søren Bro Pold, available on the projects’ website.
Visit the project: https://www.janavirgin.com/AMZ/
This work was realized within the framework of the European Media Art Platforms EMARE program at IMPAKT with the support of the Creative Europe Culture Programme of the European Union.
Chroniques à la frontière (Chronicles at the border) is a 30 minutes solo performance, a theatrical and juggling ticket, a scenic blog. At the crossroads of juggling, clowning and political science, it questions the ways we think, decipher and represent the transformations of borders in the 21st century.
Conceived as a critical artistic apparatus (dispositif), the preparation of the piece opened a space and time for collaboration between an artist and an anthropologist to put to test modes of communication and ways of writing that are not recognized as legitimate in their respective fields. Hence, Chroniques à la frontière reflects on modes of transmission of knowledge. On stage, through a strange manipulation of objects and concepts, while relying on an autobiographical narrative, an offbeat character oscillates between the conference mode and the confidential mode. Vincent Berhault speaks and plays with objects, materials as varied as sheets of paper, jackets or plastic bags. Chroniques à la frontière questions the impact that scholarly concepts can have when carried by an artistic performance involving the body and dexterity of the gesture.
Stimulated by this first attempt, Vincent Berhault and Cédric Parizot intend to continue their collaboration. In 2016-2017, the artist invited the anthropologist to participate into the writing of a play at the cross road of circus and theatre, Entre. In 2018, they plan to continue this collaboration and create additionnal “small art-science objects”.
Point H^UT, lieu de création urbaine, Saint-Pierre-des-Corps, 11 of March 2016
Maison des jonglages, La Courneuve, 29 of April 2016
Festival Jours [et nuits], Centre international des arts du mouvement, Aix en Provence, 23 of Septembre 2017
University of Bern, Switzerland, 8 march 2018
Maison Méditerranéenne des sciences de l’Homme, Aix en Provence, 28 may 2018
Institut d’études avancées d’Aix Marseille université, Marseille, 5 june 2018 MUCEM, auditorium, 29 septembre 2018 Théâtre de l’Echangeur, 20 octobre 2018
Festival du jeu de l’oie, MUCEM, 21 june 2019
Centre International des Arts du Mouvement
Institut de recherche et d’études sur les mondes arabes et musulmans (UMR7310, Aix Marseille Université, CNRS)
Institut d’études avancées d’Aix Marseille Université
Entre is a project of artistic creation halfway between circus, theater and anthropology. It sets up an art-science apparatus whose purpose is to explore alternative forms of writing that can offer live performance and including circus to social science research.
Hence, Entre proposes another form of writing, at the crossroads of an artistic creation and research. Body and movement languages are associated with verbal communication, not to try to convey a message or analysis about border experience or control, but rather to get viewers to wonder about the very frames and images through which they envision and construct these phenomena.
The process consists of looking for resonance between the sources nourishing the writing and obvious images on the set. Without didacticism, this circus performance echoes an idea, a concept or a theory. The research work on the stage is thus stimulated and the circus dimension of the writing appears particularly in the testing of the bodies and objects (scenographic or accessories) as well as in the permanent questioning of the relation between actors, objects and spectators.
Through the diversion of objects the issue of the loopholes available to man against a large system of monitoring and control is also discussed. By reinventing the use of their surroundings, sometimes in an absurd way, the interpreters refer as much to the dysfunctions of the control systems as to the multiple ways in which they are reappropriated, instrumentalized and diverted by the formal and informal entrepreneurs who seize the opportunities. generated by border closures to human mobility.
The process consists of looking for resonance between the sources nourishing the writing and the images on the stage. Without didacticism, this circus performance echoes an idea, a concept or a theory. The research work on the stage is thus stimulated and the Circassian dimension of the writing appears particularly when bodies and objects (scenographic or accessories) are put to test, as well as through the permanent questioning of the relation between actors, objects and spectators.
The constant diversion of objects evokes the escapes and circumvention available to people submitted to such systems of monitoring and control. By reinventing the use of their surroundings, sometimes in an absurd way, the interpreters refer as much to the dysfunctions of the control systems as to the multiple ways in which they are reappropriated, instrumentalized and diverted by the formal and informal entrepreneurs who seize the opportunities generated by border closures.
From the staging of the border to the dehumanization of migrants
Entre is a moving, disturbing piece that questions our relationship with migrants and borders. At a time when our politicians are instrumentalizing, for electioneering purposes, the arrival of refugees fleeing misery and wars and calling for the tightening of border security, this piece is highly relevant.
It starts with a certain gravity, around a tragic story, that of a man, Merhan Karimi Nasseri, this Iranian who remained 16 years locked in the Terminal 1 of Roissy while waiting the settlement of his administrative situation. From the outset, the slowness of his movements and his rhythm of speech contrasts with the frantic pace with which some passengers in transit moves. This sense of dephasing continues to grow, as the piece overlaps and mixes, with the words of this man, locked in circulation, scenes that successively put into play the control of the flow of passengers, the staff in charge of cleaning, the training of future controllers, humanitarians interviewing migrants, a researcher in conference, etc. The multiplication of these fragments, the progressive acceleration of the rhythm of the game come to drown the story and the life of this man to give them an almost anecdotal character. And this is one of the strength of Entre, that of insisting on the fact that the dramaturgy and the security outbid around contemporary borders dehumanize migrants.
But the play goes much further. Oscillating between new circus and theater, alternating between tragic and burlesque, Entre mobilizes a writing and a staging that never leave the viewer time to settle comfortably in a register that he masters. Entre therefore questions doubly: first of all, the outlook and attitude we must adopt towards migrants and border control; and then, the legitimacy of the artistic and scientific forms through which we can evoke, think and approach the phenomena that affect our societies.
Théâtre d’Arles, scène conventionnée art et création – nouvelles écritures
Cie 36 du mois – Cirque 360
Pôle National des Arts du Cirque de la Verrerie, Alès
L’Espace Périphérique de la Villette, Paris
Research in residencies and labs:
L’échangeur à Bagnolet, 20-22 July 2015
2R2C Paris – research lab, 12-15 October 2015.
Centre des arts et du Mouvement (CIAM) Aix-en-Provence – research lab du 24-25 February 2016.
Le Point HauT, lieu du pOlau à St pierre des Corps – scientific and typographic research 4-11 March 2016.
Le vent se lève Pantin – research lab 7-8 May 2016.
Atelier du plateau Paris – research 30 May- 4 June 2016.
Académie Fratellini Saint-Denis – 27 June-2 July 2016.
l’Espace Périphérique de la Villette Paris – 20-24 February 2017.
Théâtre Sylvia Monfort Paris – 27 February 3 March 2017.
Cie 36 du mois – Cirque 360 – 10-21 April 2017.
PNAC de la Verrerie Alès – 22 May 2 June 2017.
Ville du Plessis-Paté – 15-22 Septembre 2017
Théâtre d’Arles – 23 Octobre 6 Novembre 2017.
Supports and Grants:
assistance to the dramatic production of the DRAC Ile-de-France
assistance to creation for circus art of the DGCA
support of the SACD / Processus Cirque
assistance to the project Région Ile-de-France
Institut de Recherche et d’Etude sur le Monde Arabe et Musulman (UMR7310, Aix Marseille Université, CNRS)
Institut d’Etudes Avancées (IMéRA) d’Aix Marseille Université
aides à la création de l’ADAMI et de la SPEDIDAM
Théâtre d’Arles, 7-8 Novembre 2017
La verrerie d’Alès, 10 Novembre 2017
Festival des illusions, Théâtre Le Monfort, Paris, March 15-18 2018
Ethnographic research, artistic creation and video-game technology
A Crossing Industry focuses on the operations of the Israeli separation regime in the West Bank during the three years following the second Intifada (2007-2010). Still in development, it is being produced by a transdisciplinary team composed of an anthropologist (Cédric Parizot), an artist (Douglas Edric Stanley), a philosopher (Jean Cristofol) and ten students at the École supérieure d’art d’Aix-en-Provence. In this contribution, we discuss how game video technology has allowed the team to use a documentary approach to model ethnographic analysis, using artistic conceptualization with its own aesthetic and poetic issues.
Our initial reflections on the content and the format for our game took place at the École d’Art d’Aix-en-Provence. We regularly met at Douglas’ Hypermedia Workshop (Atelier Hypermédia), where he and his students experiment with programming in their artistic practices.
In October 2013, the project finally adopted a graphic language which uses low-poly 3D objects, a single background with grey nuances (empty with no visible ground) and primary colours for representing different types of places (Israeli-controlled zones, Palestinian zones, etc.) and the specific status of individuals (Palestinians, Palestinians with Israeli citizenship, Israeli Jews, soldiers, border guards, etc.). By placing these objects on a map similar to the one I had drawn, we were able to develop the first layout for the navigational space.
This first draft made us realize that there were substantial gaps between Cedric’s scientific proposal and the artistic conceptualization developed by Douglas and the students. At this point, we realized that we had to rethink our respective positions. I could no longer remain in my role as transmitter of knowledge, while the artists needed to objectivize that knowledge through the coding of a visual language, text and rules of interaction. We had to give much greater thought to understanding how we could work through these difficulties.
A critical and artistic documentary
In September 2014, we explored new lines of articulation and a new scenario. Cedric Parizot attempted to appropriate the graphic language provided by Unity and the software for writing scenarios. The reflections generated by these attempts allowed him to make a critical appraisal of the hegemonic character that he had given to certain regimes of visibility, such as cartography. They also allowed him to understand the contingent and intersubjective nature involved in constructing an argument through a video game. Finally, they contributed to a rethinking of the various forms of intervention that A Crossing Industry could offer. This is in fact how the game was able to assume fully its role as critical documentary: not so much because it could document a situation in the field, but because it forced the team to reflect on their methods of accessing and constructing a reality.
In the second draft we aimed to put on stage the story of a young Palestinian man who returns to his home village just after the Second Intifada (2000-2004). After several years abroad, he discovers not only that his village is now blocked in by Israeli settlements and the Wall of Separation, but also that restrictions on movement around the village have been tightened. But the Israelis are not the only people to introduce regulations on the movement of people and merchandise. As he rediscovers his bearings, he learns about a informal economy that organizes the passage of Palestinians into Israel. It involves Palestinians, Israelis and sometimes people of other nationalities.
In 2016, given the persistent gaps between the graphics and the scenario and the difficulty of moving forward, we chose to restart from scratch. Cédric Parizot then changed medium to think the framework of the scenario. From text writing, he moved to the drawing a dozen scenes. On this basis, the story and the graphical interface have been completely redesigned. This new project now involves Cédric Parizot, Douglas Edric Stanley and Robin Moretti.
The new scenario revolves around a young French anthropologist who leaves an Israeli city in the Negev desert to cross to the other side of the wall and reach a Palestinian village. He is scheduled to meet with a final interlocutor to finalize his investigation of the smuggling networks that facilitate the passage of Palestinian workers to Israel. However, he never meet this person. In the absence of this meeting, he has to improvise and seek new contacts among his relatives and relations. In doing so, he realizes that Israelis and Palestinians are much more interconnected than the Israeli political project of separation suggests.
Based on this story, the goal is to produce a playful documentary based on an artistic and critical approach of the operation of the Israeli separation regime imposed on Palestinians in the Occupied Territories. The challenge is also to experiment and develop new writing practices that combine research, art and video-game technology in order to:
– build and shape a knowledge coming from an ethnographic research
– create training materials for young artists and
young researchers in human sciences
– develop new tools for writing and non-linear forms of narration for researchers and independent artists.
Douglas Edric Stanley
Institut de recheche et d’études sur le monde arabe et musulmans (UMR7310, Aix Marseille Université, CNRS)
Ecole supérieure d’art d’Aix en Provence
Institut d’études avancées d’Aix Marseille Unuversité (IMéRA)
French Ministry of Culture
Isabelle Arvers Heroic Makers vs Heroic Land
Vidéos Machinimas, 2016
These interviews are excerpted from a work-in-progress. It’s a machinima documentary that I’m making from a game engine, photos taken in the Calais jungle and interviews with the residents from February 6-20, 2016. Notwithstanding, France’s Pas-de-Calais prefecture issued an expulsion order regarding the jungle’s south section that expired on February 23. The entire camp has been nicknamed the “jungle”, as this land was originally a hunting field, and the lack of basic support from the local authorities has transformed people into animals…
The question I ask myself, what I want to understand, is how to live in the jungle, how to restore its humanity, how to create spaces for living and sharing together. How to do the work of a government that shuns it, that refuses to see the urgency of the situation, that focuses instead on “reducing” the number of immigrants in Calais—without ever taking into account the dignity of those in transit, who seek not asylum but to cross the Channel to the UK as soon as possible…
In a little less than a year together, and with the help of numerous French and especially British NGOs, the refugees of the jungle have built what has become a city-world, populated by places of worship, shops, services, restaurants, schools, galleries, cultural spaces…
These everyday heroes are not only able to meet most community needs, they introduce a fledgling political model, based on decisions made from the representative of each community present, which are heard by NGOs, with all due respect to the needs, expectations and voices of the residents.
The jungle’s biggest irony is the mayor of Calais’ “big project” to rebrand her city by creating a 275 million euro amusement park called Heroic Land—a theme park inspired by the world of video games, manga and heroic fantasy… with total contempt for the true heroes, those who find solutions to the oh-so-complex problems of migration and transit zones…
For this reason I chose the medium of video games to translate my interviews of these jungle residents and give them another dimension. The excerpts presented here refer to building the Chemin des Dunes school. Zimako Jones, the project’s instigator and an asylum seeker from Nigeria, was assisted by NGOs such as Solidarité Laïque, Ateliers Sans Frontières, volunteer groups and “brothers”, as he calls them. One of these brothers is Marko, a Kurdish man who has been in the jungle for more than 11 weeks (and prefers to remain anonymous). He is helping Zimako finalize the construction of what he calls a forum, a place for meeting, exchange and learning for children, as well as for adults.
They talk about building, following a vision, never giving up, staying on site, supporting families, children, mutual aid…
Isabelle Arvers est auteur, critique et commissaire d’exposition indépendante. Son champ d’investigation est l’immatériel, au travers de la relation entre l’Art, les Jeux Vidéo, Internet et les nouvelles formes d’images liées au réseau et à l’imagerie numérique.
Marko, from the Calais jungle to Isabelle Arvers’s machinima:
Marko, de la jungle de Calais au machinima d’Isabelle Arvers:
Travel is a two-screen ethnofictional installation presenting the life history of Joy, a Nigerian migrant woman selling sex in the Bois de Vincennes in Paris. Joy left Nigeria in order to help her family after the death of her father. She knew that she was going to sell sex before leaving, but was unaware of the hard working and life condition she would have had to face in France. After having endured several months of exploitation, Joy decides to reinterpret her story of migration as one of trafficking. With the help of an association she obtains humanitarian protection, but in order to keep helping her family and live her life she keeps selling sex at night.
Nicola Mai is an ethnographer and filmmaker working as Professor of Sociology Migration Studies at London Metropolitan University. His main research interest is the negotiation of gender, sexuality and subjectivity through the migration process, with particular reference to the globalised sex industry as a contested and ambivalent space of control and autonomy. In his academic work and films, Nick problematises prevailing understandings of the global sex trade as characterised by exploitation and victimisation, by showing the complexity of the subjective investments of the people involved. In his Sex Work Trilogy, he explores differents meeting experiences between migration and the sex industry.
The Virtual Watchers is an on-going research project at the intersection of art, research and technology that questions the dynamics of crowdsourcing at contemporary State borders. It focuses on the exchanges that occurred within a Facebook group that gathered American volunteers ready to monitor US-Mexico border through an online platform that displayed live screenings of CCTV cameras. The declared aim of this operation was to bring American citizens to participate in reducing border crime and block the entrance of illegal immigration to the US by means of crowdsourcing. This initiative, a public-private partnership, was originally launched in 2008 and consisted of an online platform called RedServants  and a network of 200 cameras and sensors located in strategic areas along the US Mexico border. Some of these cameras were also installed in the private properties of volunteering citizens. The online platform gave free access to the camera broadcasts 24/7 and allowed users to report anonymously if they noticed any suspicious activity on the border. RedServants had 203.633 volunteer users since 2008, and resulted in 5331 interdictions, which overall represents almost 1 million hours of free labour for the authorities. The program stopped in 2012 due to lack of financial support, as announced in its official Facebook page in May 13th 2012.
This project offers an interactive window that allows the public to access some of the original video feeds recorded by the RedServant’s surveillance cameras, and dive into the conversations, jokes, and questionings of the Facebook group that gathered some of the volunteering citizens that actively used the platform . By doing so, it highlights to what extent the emotional investment and exchanges of these people work as an essential mechanism in the construction and legitimization of a post-panoptic system.
1. The original name of the platform has been changed in order to protect the identity of its users.
2. All the profile pictures and real names of the Facebook group members have been faked in order to protect their identities.
Samira is a 25 minutes two-screen art-science installation presenting an ethnographic account of the life history of Karim, an Algerian migrant man selling sex as a travesti at night in Marseille. Karim left Algeria as a young man as his breasts started developing as a result of taking hormones. He was granted asylum in France as a transgender woman, Samira. Twenty years later, as his father is dying and he is about to become the head of the family Samira surgically removes her breasts and marries a woman in order to get a new passport allowing him to return to Algeria to assume his new role.
Samira is part of the Emborders art science project questioning questions the effectiveness and scope of humanitarian initiatives targeting migrant sex workers and sexual minority asylum seekers. In order to get their rights recognised and avoid deportation migrant women, men and transgender people reassemble their bodies and perform their subjectivities according to standardised victimhood, vulnerability and gender/sex scripts. In the process only a minority of migrants targeted by anti-trafficking interventions and applying for asylum obtain protection, refugee status and the associated rights. The vast majority are treated as collateral damage and become either irregularly resident in immigration countries or forcefully deported against their will and in often dangerous circumstances to their countries of origin. Between 2014 and 2015 the Emborders project will explore these dynamics through 3 more ethni-fictional installations, which will also be edited in the form of a one-screen movie, on the life and migration trajectories of sexual minority migrants, asylum seekers and refugees in Marseille, Paris and London.
Nicola Mai is an ethnographer and filmmaker working as Professor of Sociology Migration Studies at London Metropolitan University. His main research interest is the negotiation of gender, sexuality and subjectivity through the migration process, with particular reference to the globalised sex industry as a contested and ambivalent space of control and autonomy. In his academic work and films, Nick problematises prevailing understandings of the global sex trade as characterised by exploitation and victimisation, by showing the complexity of the subjective investments of the people involved.
This alternative mapping is at the intersection of humanities and art. It is the outcome of an experimental and participatory mapping workshop that involved travelers, artists and researchers. Mapping is treated as a creative technique to reveal experiences. The maps produced with travelers evoke memories of journeys and migratory adventure.
Started in 2013 in Grenoble France, it developed as a collaborative work by two researchers in geography, three artists, and twelve inhabitants of Grenoble (men and women) who are or have been asylum seekers. In a context where government agencies require ‘verifiable’ stories before deciding whether or not to grant asylum, our research/creation project Cartographies traverses/Crossing Maps did not focus on truth or referentiality.
Our objective was to challenge the notion of “truth”, as described above, by co-producing maps of migratory experiences: not as stories or testimonies that are true or false, nor as referential material but as referential and non-referential discourses. We invited asylum seekers to work with forms of expression that do not echo the interactions prevailing in governmental agencies. In our discussions, we did not ask questions. Rather than ask participants to “tell their story”, we invited them to draw freehand maps on paper or cloth, without references to maps (avoiding truth or untruth), and without judgment (“well done = badly done = not done”, Filliou, 1968). This work raised issues about how to develop a co-production with people having very different and unequal status (artist, researcher, asylum seeker): we were trying here to revisit these asymmetries and complementarities.
For more elements on this project, see the article of Sarah Mekdjian and Marie Moreau “Re-drawing the experience: Art, science and migratory conditions”, antiAtlas Journal, 01 | 2016, [Online]
An alternative mapping of Israeli-Palestinian spaces
At the end of 2012, in order to renew the processing of his field data, collected in the Israeli-Palestinian spaces between 2005 and 2010, Cédric Parizot (anthropologist) joined forces with a transdisciplinary team composed of a digital artist, specialized in data visualization, Wouter Van Den Broeck, and a network sociologist, Antoine Vion (LEST, Aix Marseille University / CNRS). The objective was to develop a first database to capture and visualize the interactions that the anthropologist had observed during his surveys of smuggling networks between the West Bank and Israel.
The first tests of this visualization system were presented at the first international conference of the antiAtlas of borders (October 2013) in Aix en Provence and in June 2014 at the World Congress of the Association for Borderlands Studies of Joensuu (Finland). The graphs made it possible to expose and analyze nearly 1000 observed interactions during two months of fieldwork in 2005. Moving from the fine and rich observation provided by ethnography to a graphic abstraction allowing to visualize simultaneously several hundred interactions, helped validating a number of research hypotheses as well as to visualize arrangements that the researcher could not represent only through the reading his notebooks.
From map to a customized visualization tool
Given the interest of these first results, we decided to continue the project between the spring of 2014 and 2015. We had three objectives: (1) to create a customized tool to renew the analysis of the data recorded in the anthropologist’s notebooks; (2) to produce an alternative mapping of Israeli-Palestinian spaces and their borders; and finally, (3) to make a software that could be used by other researchers in the human sciences in the processing of network data.
Since Wouter Van Den Broeck was unable to continue, the team was recomposed around Cédric Parizot, Antoine Vion, another digital artist and programmer, Guillaume Stagnaro (School of Art in Aix en Provence) and a geomatician, Mathieu Coulon (LAMES, CNRS / Aix Marseille University).
Entitled ISPABEMA (Israel Palestine below Maps), this project lead to the building of a first software prototype in November 2014. It was displayed at the Salon de la valorisation organized by carried by the LabexMed project in Marseille; then we made an invention deposit with SATT South-East and Aix Marseille University in January 2015. Finally in June 2015, we presented more advanced prototype at the Salon Innovative SHS held at La Villette in Paris. However, due to lack of funding, we were unable to complete the project.
Cédric Parizot, anthropologist ; Mathieu Coulon, geomatician ; Guillaume Stagnaro, digital artist and developer ; Wouter Van Den Broeck, digital artist; Antoine Vion, sociologist
Institut d’Etudes et de Recherche sur le Monde Arabe et Musulman
Laboratoire Méditerranéen de Sociologie
Laboratoire d’Economie et de Sociologie du Travail
Ecole supérieure d’Art d’Aix-en-Provence
Projet LabexMed (Fondation A*MIDEX)
Aix Marseille Université
Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique