urban research art, technology and urban life

Occu-bot

Occu-bot and Management-bot Taeyoon Choi 12/25/2011

Occu-bot is a D.I.Y robot for occupation and picket holding. Management-bot (also known as the Financier) is a walking bot that accompanies the Occubot. Barking-bot is a megaphone-dog that confronts the Occubot and protects the Management-bot.

A note from 9/27/2011

Yesterday I went down to the Wall street occupation in Liberty Park near the World Trade Center. There were few hundred of protesters, squatters and tourists and at least a hundred police and a couple dozen media person. It was a bit chaotic mix of exuberant energy and confusing signs and voices. The mood was festive and everyone was easily accessible for conversations. There were lots of interesting looking people, very fashionable anarchists, hipster activists and fashionistas (love their side brows shaved). They made a monument from cardboard pickets on the ground, which had simple messages and sometimes long statements or manifestos.

The festivity reached a climax when Michael Moore came to speak, I stumbled upon being fairly close to him and heard his speech. I too wish this is like the Arab spring or beginning of Anti-Capitalist resistance, an occupation as a form of peaceful direct action. However, there were much debates and questions about what the action is directly for. If an action has multiple voices, what are the underlying agenda that govern their non-governance? Multitude is a term that can be applied with ease, but difficult to be applied in real life politics. That was the problem that the media was having with this specific incident, because they could not paraphrase the event into a single sentence. To them, the event seemed to be an undirected angst and expression of frustration by unemployed and overeducated young Americans. To the people who were participating in it, and especially for the ones who were devoted in any of the working groups, this was an experiment in new kind of democracy. The developed series of hand signals, rules, and codes that apply within their community and especially during ‘General Assembly’ where everyone is supposed to have a voice. I sat into their facilitator training and general assembly to learn how they proceed with this seemingly impossible task of creating a structure for conversation and discussion. It was sophisticated and well intended however had clear limits due to the shifting population of the squatters and minor opinions that had to be ruled out by numbers. Some of my friends who work near the Liberty Park came to visit and their critique was that this people are not actually starting a dialogue, that they were yelled at for being white collar worker, that this collective is yelling out abstract demands without specific agenda, and that their demands are idealistic and not realistic. I am still processing all the ideas and opinions that I heard last night. I loved the energy that the group had and a sporadic conversations that were generated by the bodies being together. At the least, this can be a learning experience for the participants, a shared asset which they can take to organize something in near future at places not only in NYC but every Wall street in the US and abroad. At the best, this can lead to a production of culture that will inspire others and younger generation, hopefully a beautiful movie, poetry, visual art etc. If I too take on a very optimistic point of view, this event can lead to change in policy and public awareness about the issues they are fighting against. But, if they ask again, what are the issues? there are too many, and they are all too important issues. I think one of the thing they can definitely get out of an event like this is finding new friends to work with. Even if the occupation does not lead to direct change or challenge to Capitalism, if the participants can meet new friends to continue working with, I think it’s a great benefits.

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