Libby Odai

Digital Projects

Tyranny of the Default

Description

At the dawn of mass media in the 20th century it was hoped that technology would create a utopian “global village”. The theory was that with greater ease of communication between different groups, closeness and interconnectedness would result. (1)

Instead, online communities can often entrench offline social stratification and marginalisation. On the Internet instead of connecting with those different to oneself, users segregate digitally along the same demographic lines drawn in their neighbourhoods and workplaces (2).

Additionally, with tech companies being predominantly male, white and middle class, experiences which don’t fit this rhetoric are ofter marginalised on the web. Sites that focus on minority experiences are “downlisted” by search engines, which assume the tech company makeup as default, which means they can rarely have parity with the dominant discourse. (3)

A physical analogy of this is rollerskating community. In the USA and elsewhere, rollerskating rinks have a long history of being racially segregated spaces. Stemming from Jim Crow era segregation laws, blacks and whites skated separately with roller skating rinks in America and elsewhere being divided by racial lines.

This is still the case todayand is reflected in different art forms within rollerskating. Styles such as jam skating are still predominantly black and others such as artistic being predominantly white. Like the marginalised sites on the web, minority rinks and nights are often under threat from the risk of excessive policing and gentrification. (4)

A physical analogy of this is rollerskating community. In the USA and elsewhere, rollerskating rinks have a long history of being racially segregated spaces. Stemming from Jim Crow era segregation laws, blacks and whites skated separately with roller skating rinks in America and elsewhere being divided by racial lines.

This is still the case todayand is reflected in different art forms within rollerskating. Styles such as jam skating are still predominantly black and others such as artistic being predominantly white. Like the marginalised sites on the web, minority rinks and nights are often under threat from the risk of excessive policing and gentrification. (4)

With this project, we aim to form our own “global village” by forming connections between different rollerskating groups through the medium of dance. We will invite participants to dance to a set pattern, whilst also adding their own flair. We aim to showcase this diversity in Rollerdance through the use of shared hashtags, bringing marginalised participants to the fore and breaking the hidden tyranny of the default.

1.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_village 2.www.theguardian.com/techn...ersity 3.www.theatlantic.com/techn...98608/ 4.i-d.vice.com/en_us...ribeca

The Artwork

The basis of the artwork is a simple sequence of rollerdance steps, with beats where the dancers are invited to freestyle.

Before the exhibition were call for submissions across the world on social media which were then be collated into a video shown during the exhibition. Similar to participants can then additionally invite others to join in, growing the community further.

Submissions were specifically requested from different communities and cultures within rollerskating, aiming to show both diversity and similarities.

We also aim to initiate further links by initiating online conversations between groups, with particular focus on highlighting works from marginalised participants.

We then brought this work to Easterhouse, inviting the audience (in shoes!) to try the steps themselves.