Interview – August 18, 2018
With Assembly (2017), Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri have continued their trilogy Empire (2000), Multitude (2004), and Commonwealth (2009) into the new decade, expanding it into a tetralogy. The fourth episode sees these advocates of commonism once again provide a critical analysis of the most topical developments in society. Their central issue this time concerns why the social movements that express the demands and wishes of so many and show that the common is a fact, have not succeeded in bringing about a new, truly democratic and just society. The line of questioning itself is already controversial, as are many of the propositions and concepts launched by the authors in Assembly. According to them we must confront the problem of leadership and institutions, dare to imagine the entrepreneurship of the multitude, appropriate old terms and, especially, reverse their meaning. We meet with Antonio Negri in his apartment in Paris, to try out this recipe for reversal and to discuss strategy and tactics, ideology and aesthetics, and art and language.
Pascal Gielen & Sonja Lavaert: Our book Commonism is about the triangle of ideology, aesthetics and the commons.1 Our tentative assumption is that commonism may be the next meta-ideology, after neoliberalism. We understand ideology not only negatively as a false awareness, but also positively as a logic of faith that connects fiction and reality and can make people long for and work towards a better form of living together. In Assembly you and Michael Hardt do something similar with notions such as ‘entrepreneurship’, ‘institution’, ‘leadership’. What does ‘ideology’ mean to you and do you think it may also figure in a positive narrative?
Antonio Negri: In my experience, ideology tends to have mostly negative connotations, or, rather, I have regarded ‘ideology’ mainly in negative terms. This means though that we are speaking of something that is real. Ideology is a real fact. In addition, it is something real that embodies, shapes and constitutes reality. What I see as positive in this embodiment of reality is critique – which can be critique of the ideology or of reality – and the dispositive, understood as the transition of the world of thinking to that of reality. In my view, ideologies make up reality, but I use the term preferably when discussing its negative aspect, whereas when I speak of its positive aspect, i.e., the critique or the dispositive, I prefer these latter […]
Artist contribution – August 7, 2018
The ongoing work It’s So Nice That We Don’t Have to Talk about Politics Anymore is, so far, staged in three different social contexts. It consists of a group of people performing a number of political slogans in public space. In each version of the work, the slogans are conceived, after extensive research, within the social context in which they are performed and based on the ‘general politics of truth’ of that context. The ‘general politics of truth’ is the foundation on which a society builds its self-perception and showcases its self-worth by often bypassing difficult questions and concerns. The work brings out these ‘truths’ and repeatedly performs them in public space.
The Dutch version of the work entitled Het is zo fijn dat wij hier niet meer over politiek hoeven te praten was performed in June 2013 at the Amstelhoven in Amsterdam and the video registration of it was shown at the Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam in 2015 as a part of the group exhibition Resolution 827. The slogans included in this version, among others, are: ‘We live in the human rights paradise’, ‘Finally, Indonesia is not a subject any more’ and ‘We did what we could in Srebrenica’.1
Artist contribution – July 20, 2018
Other Voices, Other Views is an academic research project led by Lauren Alexander, Maarten Cornel and Niels Schrader and executed by third-year Graphic Design students from the Royal Academy of Art (KABK), with guest tutors Ramon Amaro, Femi Dawkins and Kelly Walters. The project invites students to closely examine their own racial, cultural and gender identities aiming to critically rethink how established norms have come into being. In the Netherlands, years of colonial rule have meant that race and economic exploitation have been central to society and we recognise that work needs to be done to undo damages of the past. Putting the decolonial writings of Gloria Wekker, James Baldwin and many more into practice, students were encouraged to identify and research racial bias vis-à-vis different sectors of Dutch society by means of an interview format.
Auke Lansink, Carolina Valente Pinto and Zuzanna Zgierska
in conversation with Ramon Amaro, Danae Io, Dr. M. Birna van Riemsdijk and Marc Schuilenburg
The video The Frayed Edges of Efficiency brings together the opinions of four specialists in algorithmic discrimination. During the interviews Ramon Amaro, Danae Io, Dr. M. Birna van Riemsdijk and Marc Schuilenburg explain the hidden biases in machine learning, and argue how software that is used for predictive policing, racial profiling and voice recognition is everything but neutral. The interviews conclude with the suggestion that the first step towards a solution to potential discrimination is ensuring that agency and accountability is inherent in the tools we have developed.
Artist contribution – June 12, 2018
As a conceptual documentary photographer, Nico Bick’s photographic works, often produced as series, invite concentrated investigation. In this work, by focusing on the plenary chamber of parliaments in the European Union, he draws attention to parliamentary history of democracy and its functioning within the EU.
After the (banking) crisis in 2008, it became increasingly clear that unity within the European Union is fragile. As soon as the economy began to deteriorate, the EU and the fiercely fought-for European unity began to crack in many places and even national sentiment reappeared – one reason for Bick to deepen his understanding of one of the most important conditions for EU membership, democracy. His series of three or four photographs captures the plenary chamber of all parliaments in the EU – the twenty-eight member states and the European Parliament in Brussels and Strasbourg. The simplicity of this description stands in stark contrast to the great effort that went into making the series, which took Bick almost six years to complete. He photographed his first parliament in the summer of 2010 and his last parliament in fall 2015. Organizing access to parliaments and travel was a long and complicated process. For example, some parliaments were not easily persuaded to grant him access. In some cases, the access application took more than a year and a half to complete. The photography itself also required great effort, finding the right position for his analogue technical camera and to define the frameworks for his triptych and tetraptychs was meticulous and time-consuming […]
COOP Summit 2018
June 01, 2018; 15:00 – 18:00 Circuits & Currents, Athens
For the public presentation of its 2018–2019 trajectory, Open! Coop Academy Topologies of Touch study group, part of DAI Roaming Academy, will be based in Athens. After a year of study and intensive gatherings in Arnhem, Cologne, Heemskerk, Oldebroek, Thessaloniki, Athens, Epen and Barcelona, we will share our inquiries with the public.
Artist contribution – May 30, 2018
This experimental lexicon is by the participants of Open! Coop Academy’s study group Topologies of Touch. The study group – part of DAI Roaming Academy 2017–2018 – focused on touch and feel, the tactile and haptic, from philosophical and political standpoints and within cultural, artistic and social practices. Here you find a video summary of the public presentations of the study group in Athens in June 2018.
Our exploration of the body and touch in relation to politics, saw us turn to Erin Manning’s Politics of Touch: Sense, Movement, Sovereignty (2006) provoking a series of questions: How can we trace the ways in which touch informs and reforms the body in concepts such as violence, gender, race, sexuality, democracy and identity? How do sensing bodies run up against existing political structures? Can we resist paralyzing body-politics and cultivate ‘gestures’ of resistance?
Another substantive point of focus was hapticality in terms of ‘the capacity to feel through others’, proposed by Stefano Harney and Fred Moten in The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning & Black Study (2013). As they write, it is ‘a way of feeling through others, a feel for feeling others feeling you. This is modernity’s insurgent feel, its inherited caress, its skin talk, tongue touch, breath speech, hand laugh. This is the feel that no individual can stand, and no state abide. This is the feel we might call hapticality’.1
The image-text lexicon ‘Topologies of Touch’ includes entries that arise from the participants’ divergent individual practices, experiences and engagements in relation to the study […]
Interview – May 29, 2018
Julia Bryan-Wilson, an art historian interested in issues of labour and work and feminist and queer theory, contributed to the fourth and final day of the Studium Generale Rietveld Academie conference-festival Hold Me Now: Touch and Feel in an Unreal World (21–24 March 2018). Responding to the call by Jack Halberstam, curator of the day’s programme, to become ‘philosophers of the feel’, Bryan-Wilson reflected on a work by artist Rebecca Belmore to examine what accountabilities materials demand or suggest, and to question if and how an artist’s engagement with these materials can create alternative histories. In this interview with Steyn Bergs, Bryan-Wilson explains and elaborates on some of the issues brought together in her talk, titled ‘Material Relations’.
Steyn Bergs: To contextualize your talk ‘Material Relations’, which centres on Rebecca Belmore’s work Biinjiya'iing Onji (From Inside) produced for documenta 14 last year, let’s consider your work as an art historian. Besides being profoundly affected by feminist and queer theory and politics, your research into art and labour is attentive to art as a kind of labour and relationship to other fields since the 1960s. Artistic labour figures as the ‘other’ with respect to productive labour under capitalism, a potential antidote to its deadening effects, a safe haven, a sort of refuge for authentic experience or prototype for non-alienated and non-alienating activity. Your first book Art Workers: Radical Practice in the Vietnam War Era (2009) explores this terrain through 1960s and 1970s figures such as Carl Andre, Lucy Lippard and Hans Haacke. You detail their push to debunk this perception as an ideology that (economically and otherwise) served the then elite of the art world. They did so through explicitly identifying themselves as productive labourers, and emphasizing how their work was subsumed by or imbricated in capitalist production.
Recently, however, your approach has shifted. […]
Essay – May 14, 2018
Is the blockchain an instance of commoning in cyberspace or is it enhancing capitalism to automate labour? Louis Volont and Walter van Andel argue that the blockchain is particularly well-suited to explore ideology and counter-ideology in the realm of the commons, for the blockchain constitutes a contested kind of commons: a market common, a monetary common, a kind of common that facilitates the accumulation of exchange value for, indeed, self-interested individuals. Could common ownership of that which is automated prevent the blockchain from a relapse into corporate tragedy?
Contemporary debates on anything that is supposedly ‘new’ tend to centre around ‘normality’. Take, for instance, debates on veganism, political preference or gay marriage. People who speculate on these issues often talk in terms of ‘the normal’ and ‘the exception’. Some say that humankind has always eaten meat, and that therefore we should continue to do so ‘because it has always been that way’. Gay marriage? ‘Wrong! Let’s keep our ancient traditions intact!’. In the same vein, some say that capitalism constitutes humankind’s default situation, while commoning constitutes the exception as a new, utopian, romantic discourse, deserving at best a heritage niche for those dreamers who still ‘believe’ in a world beyond market and state. In fact, discussions on the commons stem from parties who attempt to convince other parties about what is ‘normal and realistic’ and what is ‘exceptional and utopian’. Opponents try to convince advocates by referring to a kind of universal, albeit hidden truth: ‘we’ve always exchanged goods on markets’, ‘mankind consists of self-interested individuals’. Interlocutors attempt to claim monopolies on supposed truths. Discussions on the commons, hence, evolve out of a clash of ideology and […]
Essay – April 12, 2018
How do we step away from a culture of docility, and move to a place of imperfect neuronal liberation, where amenity is no longer part of us? Malcolm Kratz argues that we should enrage ourselves against an economic, political and mediatic system that promotes flexibility and obedience, while accepting that our brain does not obey itself, that it overproduces and needs to get the pressure off. Kratz advocates education for a culture of neuroliberation. This essay is part of the DAI Open! Coop Academy research project (Against) Neuralgia: Care of the Brain in Times of Cognitive Capitalism.
Technology has enhanced our lives in countless ways. At the same time, it is the primary source of distraction that interferes with our pursuit of goals. Interference means hindering, obstructing or derailing other processes. The impacts of this can be found on many levels: thinking, perception, decision making, communication, emotional regulation and memory (in short executive functions) – our ability to learn and engage in social situations.1
But I’d like to say more about the process of interference before pointing all fingers at modern technology, or immersive media. Interference happens naturally: think of how the mind wanders, or surrounding sights, sounds and smells that distract you from focusing on the task at hand. These distractions are involuntary, but the interruptions are voluntary: for instance, thinking about a particular task or deliberately multitasking by working on another task or trying to focus on multiple sources of information (Facebooking during a lecture, listening to music while cleaning). The more complex a system gets, the more likely it falls prey to distraction – and the human mind is incredibly complex.
The dopaminergic system triggered by foraging for food is today triggered by foraging for information in a world of proliferating technologies and ways to access them amid ever-expanding information. Through this dopaminergic process, we give in only to short-term rewards, instead of potentially more rewarding long-term accomplishments. We are triggered by inner and outer interference, without the time to critically engage and contemplate in order to develop, what Bernard Stiegler, philosopher and head of the Institut de recherche et d'innovation, and N. Katherine Hayles, literary critic and previous director of the Electronic Literature Organisation, describe as (deep) attention. Continuous attention capture on the part of our digital devices leads us into a state of hyper attention, which excels in dealing with rapidly changing environments. When entered in its pure form, perception-action cycle (our animalistic action-reaction mechanism) overtakes cognitive control (our ability to pause and make conscious decisions). Yet hyper attention also makes it possible to switch between different input sources, making us alert to our environment and flexible within it, while vulnerable to outside and inside interruption as we skip over the reality principle: our executive functions. […]
Feel and Touch in Unreal World
March 21, 2018 10:30 – March 24, 2018 17:30Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam
Studium Generale Rietveld Academie presents a four-days conference-festival guest curated by Karen Archey, Mark Paterson, Rizvana Bradley and Jack Halberstam, who will each inaugurate a discursive and performative programme on how the haptic – relating to or based on touch – is thought and experienced artistically, philosophically, and politically in life, art and design, and theory. Simultaneously Rietveld Uncut presents projects by departments and individual students in relation to the theoretic framework of Studium Generale. Students from the DAI / Open! Coop Academy Topologies of Touch Group will publish comments and reviews on part of the conference at the Blog-section of Open!
How do we feel and more specifically touch in our technologically mediated dematerialized digital cultures? Do we solely stroke and swipe our screens? How are the body and its feel involved? Are we in fact cultivating different tactilities in relation to the world and others? Further, how can we trace the ways in which touch informs and reforms the body with respect to violence, gender, sexuality, democracy, and identity? If art and design have privileged sight and sound, should touch – and all the senses – be addressed and activated in order to help us stay ‘in touch’ with our bodies and the material world?
Karen Archey, Mirthe Berentsen, Jesse Darling, Joseph Grigely, Carolyn Lazard, Luke Willis Thompson, Mark Paterson, Kate Elswit, Anna Harris, Carey Jewitt, David Parisi, Stahl Stenslie, Rizvana Bradley, Hortense Spillers, Eyal Weizman, Aracelis Girmay, Erin Manning, Ligia Lewis, Wu Tsang, Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, Jack Halberstam, Karen Barad, boychild, Julia Bryan-Wilson, Mel Y. Chen, Paul B. Preciado, Jeanne Vaccaro.
Further information on the programme on the website: holdmenow.rietveldacademie.nl.
Entrance for students and staff from Gerrit Rietveld Academie and Sandberg Instituut is free. All students and staff are welcome. Interested people from outside the Rietveld are also […]
Essay – December 18, 2017
While Blue Marble showed us the finity of the earth, of Terra, the current culture of grabbing sees territory as private property and exchange value. This can only be adjusted if we intervene at the structural level, says Pascal Gielen. We have to re-evaluate and upgrade the use value, whether it concerns public or private territory. Artists and cultural organizations can play a crucial part in this. Not by proclaiming a political message but by acting politically or not with their work.
Artist contribution – November 2, 2017
‘The _____ Between Us Lines’ is an experimental text contribution by Wilfred Vlad Tomescu to the Open! COOP Academy research theme (Against) Neuralgia: Care of the Brain in Times of Cognitive Capitalism. The aesthetics of the text are meant to reminisce about dot matrix or thermal printing and to reference ticker tape, punch cards and the first human computers, such as Jean Bartik, a savant mathematician operating the ENIAC in 1946.
Artist contribution – October 27, 2017
In Mónica Lacerda’s contribution to the Open! COOP Academy research theme (Against) Neuralgia: Care of the Brain in Times of Cognitive Capitalism both language and writing float and drift, evoking a more spatial and sensory reading experience. With this the artist asks, can we play with words, letters, their sounds and images and disentangle ourselves from their prior meaning? Can we restructure our mind and thinking by postponing interpretation?
Download complete poem.
its existence is an uncertainty – it comes and goes and it mutates as it
m o v e s[…]
Essay – October 16, 2017
Our media-inscribed self-images direct not only the way in which we perceive ourselves, but on a cosmetic level, can normalize our attempts at differentiation. DAI participant Katja Dendulk unlocks this algorithmic process in her essay below as part of the Open! COOP Academy research theme (Against) Neuralgia: Care of the Brain in Times of Cognitive Capitalism. Does the scientifically proven phenomenon of our preference for novelty paradoxically swallow self-expression? How might our increasing awareness rejigger self-image under mass media?
In this article I do a relatively free speculative mapping of some components underlying cultural production today. The implementation of algorithms in cultural production has lead to an initial aesthetic funnelling of the produced works. I begin this line of inquiry by linking the peak shift phenomenon to our reception of aesthetic novelty and its implications in the cosmetic register, following the connection scientists have made between peak shift and our understanding of what is beautiful. In turn, this leads me to a few socio-economical implications regarding the construction of our social identities within our current political landscape and cognitive-cultural economy. I make a couple of assumptions in this text: first, that cosmetics is an intersubjective semiotic game and is inherently productive; second, that the concept of cosmetics and mass media are reciprocally tied to one another. I argue that this consequently forms an increasingly reiterative loop between cosmetics and mass media whose procedures and mechanisms are increasingly being remediated through the abstraction inherent to algorithmic procedure. As such this limits us to constructing our social identities necessary to navigate the life […]
Artist contribution – October 4, 2017
Pitchaya Ngamcharoen’s sound essay is part of the Open! COOP Academy research theme (Against) Neuralgia: Care of the Brain in Times of Cognitive Capitalism. Sound plays a crucial role in positioning oneself in the given surroundings. Memory is important in perceiving sound without knowing its source. ‘Peep Peeps = ⋆≋≬※⁑⊸’ offers a space for the reader to create, within her own imagination, using sounds – and at the same time, to question what is lost and gained in translation. Have you heard the sound of a rock singing? Or a conversation between fish and seaweed? Do you know what light and shadows sound like? Have you heard your own toe complain after a long day? How can we understand sounds whose sources are unknown, and reflect ourselves in these? What are we missing in what we see?
Imagine yourself floating on chronic ▤s∺✪n≣d waves, the soundscape of every subject surrounding you.
Essay – September 19, 2017
This text draws together a set of characteristics that can be used as building blocks for a conceptual model of Affect Space. I have previously described Affect Space as an emerging techno-sensuous spatial order. Here I build upon these earlier investigations and the outcomes of the Technology / Affect / Space (T / A / S) public research trajectory conducted in 2016, which included public seminars in Amsterdam, Cambridge, MA and Rotterdam. The investigations continue in a series of commissioned essays on Open!, of which this text is one. These essays can help to articulate new design strategies for this quickly evolving context, where the spatial design disciplines are curiously absent from the debate.
The so-called ‘movement(s) of the squares’1 did not precisely invent a new dynamic of mobilization of crowds and activation of public space – it rather revealed an emerging spatial order enabled by distributed electronic communication networks and the proliferation of wireless, mobile media inextremely ‘densified’ urban spaces. This emerging spatial order produced paradoxical spectacles that seemed at once strangely familiar and curiously novel, massive as well as evanescent.
Since 2011 we all (as a global predominantly online media audience) have witnessed recurrent spectacles of massive dissenting gatherings in public space. They originate in networked exchanges, then spill over into the streets and squares, effortlessly switching between geographic, cultural and sociopolitical contexts. We witnessed the action not via mainstream mass-media channels, but almost in real-time, live-streamed on social media feeds, blogs and activist sites, to our buzzing smartphones.
While revolving around a variety of heterogeneous issues / things, these gatherings remained remarkably constant in their patterns of mobilization / activation: in addition to online mobilization being followed by embodied gatherings in public space, the spaces became connective platforms in which to create synchronous and asynchronous feedback with electronic networks. This action in physical space drew even more subjects into an […]
Editorial – September 14, 2017
The brain is a work, and we do not know it. We are its subjects, authors and producers at once – and we do not know it.
(Against) Neuralgia: Care of the Brain in Times of Cognitive Capitalism is a new series of artists’ publications resulting from the 2016–2017 Open! COOP Academy Publishing Class at the Dutch Art Institute (DAI). DAI is an internationally orientated MA Art Praxis focusing on art, but explicitly granting attention to the crossings and interactions with other domains, disciplines and knowledges. As a partner of DAI, Open! conducts thematical research and publishes projects with a group of MA students using the Open! platform as the overarching discursive framework and site for experimentation and presentation. You can find links to the results of the previous year below.
This year our study group questioned the state of the mind and brain under conditions of cognitive capitalism. Mainly from the perspective of the humanities and political aesthetics, we focused on current notions of the brain in our global capitalist societies. We asked after how far the brain can be ideologically infiltrated or resist that infiltration. From the assumption that culture and brain form complex systems of influence, control and resistance, and that language, memory and imagination are more and more performed by machines and automated algorithmic procedures, we looked at some of the implications of […]
Artist contribution – September 8, 2017
Mr. Gu just started to work as an intern after graduating from university. He commutes to work every morning from Sindorim station to Seolleung station on Seoul Subway line 2. He departs from home, waits for the train on the platform and thinks about the life of a hellish city in a subway filled with people. Then he faces the full-blown capitalism of the train, the obsession with false beauty, advertisements for violent game, and the physical pressure… Is it possible for Mr. Gu to go to work safely this morning? After this perilous journey to work, will he survive his day as a precarious worker safely as well?
Essay – September 8, 2017
In this contribution to the 2016–2017 session of Open! COOP Academy, Maya Watanabe looks at the devices on which fictional spaces depend: from architecture in theatre to the frame in film to the omnidirectional camera in virtual reality. In tracing this trajectory back to Alain Resnais’ 1961 film Last Year at Marienbad, Watanabe exposes the progressive dissolution of separation between body, location and language. She thereby shows how make-believe space is made believable, and perhaps, how it is becoming more real.
Alain Resnais released L’Année dernière à Marienbad (Last Year at Marienbad) in 1961. In the film, a man meets a woman during a social gathering at a mansion. Shot in three different palaces as if they were one place, the characters walk through the corridors in a labyrinthine remembrance of a previous encounter. It’s unclear if they actually met before or if it’s an oneiric recount of a false memory. Dialogues are repeated in different rooms, and the fragmented narrative seems to belong to a frozen time without a possible way out.
A and X – the names of the female and male protagonists – don’t have fixed identities. They have different skins and it’s difficult to determine if they are themselves, or if they have shifted to become other people.
An atmosphere of disorientation impregnates the movie. Last Year at Marienbad, with its altered spatial references and ambiguous characters, reshapes the visual and conceptual definition of place, space, language and subjectivity.
Essay – September 8, 2017
Agata Cieślak questions the position of the artist in an academic regime that has perhaps become more dependent on discourse than material reality. To do so she explores three narrative threads in the below text for Open! COOP Academy (2016–2017). With the piece adopting its title from Bas Jan Ader's famed last work, and her research into a Polish ship held hostage somewhere in Europe, Cieślak begins to grasp the difficulty of being an artist at sea facing both is potential for freedom and imprisonment.1
Imagine a young artist enrolled in a postgraduate Fine Art course. Everything discussed during class creates an atmosphere that seems hypothetical. It feels, to all intents and purposes, like a philosophy course. It is not that he is not requested to make anything exactly. He and his classmates work with theory, text, but also some materials. These things are combined as works. These works are discussed strictly in terms of the possibility of constructing meaning and shaping thought.
For him this feels like an intellectual way of making art. Sometimes, he thinks there is something missing from the process. The extreme priority given to verifying assumptions through research seems to be a way to make sure assumptions are never verified. Ideas are provided only as potential meaning. A lot is thought, but very little is thought through.
There are no artists in his family, but his parents are taking care of his art education. He went to many art galleries as a child and later as a teenager trying to imagine how fun life as an artist could be. He wondered at once how difficult his life would be and how free and fulfilling.
With time, he started to realize it’s not such an easy question. He should ask himself about the meaning of art. He should find his position with respect to the […]