Art and Politics in the Age of Cognitive Capitalism

In late May 2018 I will be attending the Saas-Fee Summer Institute of Art at Otis College of Art and Design, Los Angeles.

http://saasfeesummerinstituteofart.com

Saas-Fee Summer Institute of Art (SFSIA) is a nomadic, intensive summer academy with shifting programs in contemporary critical theory academy that originated in Saas Fee, Switzerland in 2015 and moved to Berlin in 2016. SFSIA stresses an interdisciplinary approach to understanding the relationship between art and politics. This year, in addition to the Berlin academy, we are hosted in Los Angeles by Otis College of Art and Design with participation of the MA Aesthetics and Politics in the School of Critical Studies at CalArts.

The academy was founded by fine artist and theorist Warren Neidich, is co-directed by art critic and poet Barry Schwabsky. Sarah Beadle is Director of Administration. It was conceived in 2014 as part of an ongoing effort to engage contemporary artists in political, socio-economic, philosophical and historical discourses concerning the power of art. Importantly it realizes that art plays both a generative and emancipatory role in producing theory while at the same time being aware of Neoliberal capitalism’s recuperative prowess.

The program runs two weeks and is structured with half-day seminars, deep readings, and workshops. In the evening SFSIA holds a lecture series, which is open to the public.

Faculty
Alva Noë, Andrew Culp, Arne De Boever, Barry Schwabsky, Candice Lin, Ed Finn, Eleanor Kaufman, Florencia Portocarrero, Graham Harman, Jason Smith, Jennifer Teets, Johanna Drucker, John C. Welchman, Juli Carson, Kenneth Reinhard, Mary Kelly, N. Katherine Hayles, Nima Bassiri, Renee Petropoulos, Reza Negarestani, Sanford Kwinter, Suparna Choudhury, Warren Neidich.

Dopamine and distraction

Geert Lovink of Amsterdam’s Institute of Network Cultures on the attention span economy, Facebook and the self-policing of social media exposure.

The elite is in two minds about the ‘distraction epidemic’, a confusion with profound implications for educational standards and pedagogic approaches. The rulers demand digital skills sets and deep reading abilities at the same time. It is not in their interest to bring the hollow user to life. We’re not just talking about doubts rationalized as ethical issues; the attention issue goes to the core of how the global economy is being shaped. On the one hand, research repeatedly makes the point that considerable productivity gains will be made once access to social media during work hours is prevented. On the other hand, a growing number of businesses benefit precisely from the blurring of boundaries between work and private life. Under employment conditions that make permanent access a prerequisite, going offline is a potentially dangerous affair. The app that hooks us, will also set us free.

https://www.eurozine.com/distraction-and-its-discontents/

Spookers: repression to expression

In Florian Habicht’s new documentary we are introduced to the cast of Spookers, a New Zealand live action thrill-experience set in a decommissioned psychiatric hospital in Auckland, New Zealand. The cast or ‘family’ address the camera and divulge their experiences of mental illness, religion, sexuality, social cohesion.

The building that once held and managed the psyche, often under duress and against the will of the patients, is now a site for the expression of psycho-sexual extremes under controlled conditions. The site operates as a space that connects both the unconscious drives of the players in the current day and the repression and enforced compliance that was common in Psychiatric hospitals until the opening of institutions following the social upheavals of the 1960’s.

Titicut Follies…

Limmy’s Homemade Show

Limmy is Glaswegian. He came from the web, born of early YouTube. Compressed domestic tales from the compressed cloud cover of a pishy wet city.

Between 2010-13 he produced Limmy’s Show, a BBC Scotland sketch show. Ecstasy jokes at funerals. Junkie internal monologues in airless living rooms. Anti-moral tales from the housing estate. A wet surrealism born from desperation, seratonin-depletion and workplace demoralisation.

Limmy faces the camera. He has his location. His battery is charged. He hits record.

He found a niche in Vine, the short-video sharing social network subsumed into Twitter in 2016. Working in such concision his gestures are witnessed in flashes; a gnarl of teeth, a glance, the snatch of a gesture that transmits directly to our reptilian stem. Before we can react we see, and what we see is Limmy’s primordial state. Often in bed, without clothing or the presence of others, Limmy gags for the camera. A slithering tongue followed by a kitchen knife followed by a loving stare to camera. These are the masks of persona trying itself on. A face cycling through numerous emotional states and energies. The additional impact from their cataloguing into 600 Vine Supercompilations on YouTube makes suffocation inevitable.

Limmy will now create his ‘Homemade show’ in 2017. Between cheap high-resolution video cameras and the infinite potential of his apartment. A new form born from hand-held video devices, social sharing and the home.

Hello World

I’m pleased to announce in February I will be embarking on PhD study at the Digital Ethnography Research Centre (DERC), Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Australia.

A 3.5 year practice-based research period to study lens-based performance on video sharing networks, gesture and interface online and the influence of algorithmic cultures on the social body.

DERC focuses on understanding a contemporary world where digital and mobile technologies are increasingly inextricable from the environments and relationships in which everyday life plays out.

DERC excels in both academic scholarship and in our applied work with external partners from industry and other sectors.

DERC approaches this world and how we experience it through innovative, reflexive and ethical ethnographic approaches, developed through anthropology, media and cultural studies, design, arts and documentary practice and games research.

Our research is incisive, interventional and internationally leading. Going beyond the call of pure academia we combine academic scholarship with applied practice to produce research, analysis and dissemination projects that are innovative and based on ethnographic insights.

DERC partners and collaborates with a range of institutions in Australia and globally, including other universities, companies and other organisations. This includes collaborative research projects, conferences, symposia and workshops, and international visits, fellowships and publications.

The Digital Ethnography Research Centre (DERC) was established in December 2012 by Larissa Hjorth and Heather Horst with the aim of consolidating and further developing RMIT’s strength in international digital innovation. The Centre is now Directed by Sarah Pink who will be taking it into its second stage of development from 2016.

DERC members are aligned into Labs to represent their research interests, DERC Labs include:

Data Ethnographies Lab
Design+Ethnography+Futures (D+E+F) Lab
Bio Inspired Digital Sensing-Lab (BIDS-Lab)
Digital Transformations Lab
Visual Impact
Migration and Digital Media Lab