The territory of occupation is not a single physical place, and is certainly not to be found within any existing occupied territory. It is a space of affect, materially supported by ripped reality. It  can actualize anywhere, at any time. It exists as a possible experience. It may consist of a composite and montaged sequence of movements through sampled checkpoints, airport security checks, cash tills, aerial viewpoints, body scanners, scattered labor, revolving glass doors, duty-free stores. How do I know? Remember the beginning of this text? I asked you to record a few seconds each day on your cellphone. Well, this is the sequence that accumulated in my phone; walking the territory of occupation, for months on end. Walking through cold winter sun and fading insurrections sustained and amplified by mobile phones. Sharing hope with crowds yearning for spring. A spring that feels necessary, vital, unavoidable. But spring didn’t come this year. It didn’t come in summer, nor in autumn. Winter came around again, yet spring wouldn’t draw any closer. Occupations came and froze, were trampled under, drowned in gas, shot at. In that year people courageously, desperately, passionately fought to achieve spring. But it remained elusive. And while spring was violently kept at bay, this sequence accumulated in my cellphone. A sequence powered by tear gas, heartbreak, and permanent transition. Recording the pursuit of spring.

Jump cut to Cobra helicopters hovering over mass graves, zebra wipe to shopping malls, mosaic to spam filters, SIM cards, nomad weavers; spiral effect to border detention, child care, and digital exhaustion. Gas clouds dissolving between highrise buildings. Exasperation. The territory of occupation is a place of enclosure, extraction, hedging, and constant harassment, of getting pushed, patronized, surveilled, deadlined, detained, delayed, hurried— it encourages a condition that is always too late, too early, arrested, overwhelmed, lost, falling.
Your phone is driving you through this journey, driving you mad, extracting value, whining like a baby, purring like a lover, bombarding you with deadening, maddening, embarrassing, outrageous claims for time, space, attention, credit card numbers. It copy-pastes your life to countless unintelligible pictures that have no meaning, no audience, no purpose, but do have impact, punch, and speed. It accumulates love letters, insults, invoices, drafts, endless communication. It is being tracked and scanned, turning you into transparent digits, into motion as a blur. A digital eye as your heart in hand. It is witness and informer. If it gives away your position, it means you’ll retroactively have had one. If you film the sniper that shoots at you, the phone will have faced his aim. He will have been framed and fixed, a faceless pixel composition. Your phone is your brain in corporate design, your heart as a product, the Apple of your eye. Your life condenses into an object in the palm of your hand, ready to be slammed into a wall and still grinning at you, shattered, dictating deadlines, recording, interrupting. The territory of occupation is a green-screened territory, madly assembled and conjectured by zapping, copy-paste operations, incongruously keyed in, ripped, ripping apart, breaking lives and heart. It is a space governed not only by 3-D sovereignty, but 4-D sovereignty because it occupies time, a 5-D sovereignty because it governs from the virtual, and an n-D sovereignty from above, beyond, across—in Dolby Surround.

Time asynchronously crashes into space; accumulating by spasms of capital, despair, and desire running wild. Here and elsewhere, now and then, delay and echo, past and future, day and night nest within each other like unrendered digital effects. Both temporal  and spatial occupation intersect to produce individualized timelines, intensified by fragmented circuits of production and augmented military realities. They can be recorded, objectified, and thus made tangible and real. A matter in motion, made of poor images, lending flow to material reality. It is important to emphasize that these are not just passive remnants of individual or subjective movements. Rather, they are sequences that create individuals by means of occupation. They also subject them to occupation. As material condensations of conflictive forces, they catalyze resistance, opportunism, resignation. They trigger full stops and passionate abandon. They steer, shock, and seduce.

I might have sent something to you from my phone. See it spreading. See it become invaded by other sequences, many sequences, see it being re-montaged, rearticulated, reedited. Let’s merge and rip apart our scenarios of occupation. Break continuity. Juxtapose. Edit in parallel. Jump the axe. Build suspense. Pause. Countershoot. Keep chasing spring. These are our territories of occupation, forcefully kept apart from each other, each in his and her own corporate enclosure. Let’s reedit them. Rebuild. Rearrange. Wreck. Articulate. Alienate. Unfreeze. Accelerate. Inhabit. Occupy.

Hito Steyerl
The Wretched of the Screen

 

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