parrhesia. on demonstrations and other crowds

[…] parrhesia is a kind of verbal activity where the speaker has a specific relation to truth through frankness, a certain relationship to his own life through danger, a certain type of relation to himself or other people through criticism (self-criticism or criticism of other people), and a specific relation to moral law through freedom and duty. More precisely, parrhesia is a verbal activity in which a speaker expresses his personal relationship to truth, and risks his life because he recognizes truth-telling as a duty to improve or help other people (as well as himself). In parrhesia, the speaker uses his freedom and chooses frankness instead of persuasion, truth instead of falsehood or silence, the risk of death instead of life and security, criticism instead of flattery, and moral duty instead of self-interest and moral apathy.

(Michel Foucault , Fearless Speech, pp. 19–20)

The open archive of opinions is a system where voices and drawings reconstruct a story of the opinions around a topic, a concept, an idea in a specific moment: the present time.

THE POWER OF DOUBT, the power of conflict is an online audio archive of opinions of individuals on demonstration as a mass medium, as a tool of communication of a mass. This archive is based on the opinions of the year 2013.

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It’s well known that consensus is the basis of contemporary democracies—in the same way as the dissent that coexists and daily confronts with it.

On one hand, the demonstration is a fundamental medium for citizens. It allows them to be part of the collective and to reaffirm their role in the socio-political debate of their society any time, reaffirming in this way the necessary existence of a counterpart that questions the direction that a democratically elected minority takes.

On the other hand, nowadays in Italy the demonstration’s strong role in the social conflict of opinions has been somewhat lost, swallowed into a system of distracting dynamics that empty it of content yet maintaining its formal greatness. On the streets, the individual-collective finds itself to deal with practical dynamics—number of people, slogans, route, identity, non-party-ness, information, control, violence, legality, originality—rather than the real conflict of opinions. But still, individuals are critical, rational. They are, most of all, Doubters.
My research focuses on the individual’s perception of demonstrations and on the value of conflicts of opinions, both as a positive variety and as a necessary contrast in societies.

How to make the total of the doubts of the individuals of a crowd accessible to the total of the individuals of the crowd?

The power of doubt is an online audio archive of opinions of individuals on the concept of demonstration as a mass medium: a space where the individual opinion could be preserved, analyzed, compared and used in order to make clear what a demonstration is nowadays, in view of an evolution of this medium.
With no Devil’s advocates, no conflict of opinions and no real consensus, the crowd cannot express the conflict toward the outside at its best. Indeed, the difference in opinions on the configuration of the demonstration rises to the surface, becoming dangerous—see the close-up on violence, the diatribe on the number of participants or the attention on symbols and colors in the newspapers.

Health above all, my grandma used to say. Once healthy (or rather aware) everything turns out for the best.

Online archive

Paper archive (fragment)

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Video explanation

Research thesis

You can download my research thesis here: Parrhesia, on demonstrations and other crowds


I believe that if we could have an archive of opinions on demonstrations of 1968, or of 1977, today we would be much more aware of what this medium was, is and will be. And probably, it could be different.