e-flux journal issue 75

with Donna Haraway, Matteo Pasquinelli, Antonia Majaca, Mari Bastashevski, Ahmet Öğüt, Ariel Goldberg, Geert Lovink, and James T. Hong

e-flux journal issue 75

with Donna Haraway, Matteo Pasquinelli, Antonia Majaca, Mari Bastashevski, Ahmet Öğüt, Ariel Goldberg, Geert Lovink, and James T. Hong

e-flux journal

September 8, 2016
e-flux journal issue 75

with Donna Haraway, Matteo Pasquinelli, Antonia Majaca, Mari Bastashevski, Ahmet Öğüt, Ariel Goldberg, Geert Lovink, and James T. Hong
Get issue 75 for iPad

Businesspeople talk about art like artists talk about money: gratuitously, without compensation. Hired to talk about money, an entrepreneur will speak in terms of art. Put an artist on a panel and you will often get disquisitions on exchange, capital, and commerce. Both constituencies are compelled by what lies outside their professional responsibility, and the response to this compulsion vibrates between veneration and contempt. For every Übermensch crypto-expressionist billionaire patron, there is one who sneers at the foolish valuelessness of art history and its scribes. For every dedicated anticapitalist artist, there is one who happily understands themselves to be making money. This tension is inherent in professional life, which promises to transform our spontaneous, effortless attractions into a pleasant but endless labor of necessity. For the money-professional, art presents like money does for the art-professional: an opportunity to misrecognize diligence as transcendence. In “The Perfect Con,” Mari Bastashevski encounters the limits of this mutual misrecogntion during a residency on a container ship. What is the fate of (the critique of) institutional critique in the age of the containerization of art? What still holds water?

In a similar key but an opposite location, Ahmet Öğüt, in “Obscure Sorrows: Thoughts around the 9th Berlin Biennale,” writes about the danger of utilizing sarcasm as a tool for institutionalization. This is not because it escapes the desire for transcendence, but, on the contrary, because it keeps it alive as a perpetual source of what Öğüt calls “anticipointment.” Nihilism remains religious by sustaining the idea of something like God in order to perpetually rediscover its deficiencies. Those who fancy themselves escaping the indignities of belief by taking refuge in cynicism are the most mistaken. It is because the Big One does not exist that the cynic must constantly reinvent Him to give their position legibility and significance. The question of what is true and what isn’t, separate from what others may believe about old ideas, lies beyond the capacity of nihilism to ask in a meaningful way. 

There is a similar incapacity at work in the rapidly blossoming religion of machines. One can’t walk down the street these days without bumping into someone’s fantasy of artificial intelligence. And some of these are really scary! It’s important to notice what is being wished away or covered over in these metacognitive larks. In “Abnormal Encephalization in the Age of Machine Learning,” Matteo Pasquinelli offers an intellectual anthropology of computational animism, linking the current crop of mind-theories to their metaphysical lineages and the long-standing desire to naturalize capital. Antonia Majaca, in “Little Daniel Before the Law: Algorithmic Extimacy and the Rise of the Paranoid Apparatus,” traces this reduction of the real to the rational by examining one very famous episode of psychosis and the psychiatry that would master and explain it. Meanwhile, the incomparable Donna Haraway proposes deposing the anthropos from the center of our cosmos no because the Anthropocene isn morally wrong, but because it is inaccurate, especially when compared to her concept of the Chthulucene. 

There has been a shift in the status of critique from an ethical or a teleological enterprise to a means of error-checking and machine optimization. And this at the expense of articulating any concrete political project that would move the machine in any particular direction. It is like having somebody constantly take the bicycle apart, when what you need is to get going. The danger lies in either bemoaning this as a fall from grace or simply celebrating its apparent failure in a practice of subversive affirmation. Geert Lovink and James T. Hong both show how the traditions of ideology critique and hermeneutics can help unlock the contemporary problems posed by the internet. Ariel Goldberg, in “Simplicity Craving,” refuses to rest content with the received understanding of queerness in poetry.  Critical approaches in art run out of steam when they turn into tropes which lack propositions. How do you voice something when the words you were taught have lost their meaning? 



In this issue: 

Donna Haraway—Tentacular Thinking: Anthropocene, Capitalocene, Chthulucene
What happens when human exceptionalism and bounded individualism, those old saws of Western philosophy and political economics, become unthinkable in the best sciences, whether natural or social? Seriously unthinkable: not available to think with. Biological sciences have been especially potent in fermenting notions about all the mortal inhabitants of the Earth since the imperializing eighteenth century. Homo sapiens — the Human as species, the Anthropos as the human species, Modern Man — was a chief product of these knowledge practices. What happens when the best biologies of the twenty-first century cannot do their job with bounded individuals plus contexts, when organisms plus environments, or genes plus whatever they need, no longer sustain the overflowing richness of biological knowledges, if they ever did? What happens when organisms plus environments can hardly be remembered for the same reasons that even Western-indebted people can no longer figure themselves as individuals and societies of individuals in human-only histories? Surely such a transformative time on Earth must not be named the Anthropocene!

Matteo Pasquinelli—Abnormal Encephalization in the Age of Machine Learning
Computation could have had a different destiny, but it quickly slipped under the dominion of capital, reinforcing a new stage of power. Computation secularized the human mind, only to industrialize and venerate, immediately afterward, the automation of mental labor as artificial intelligence (according to the classic oscillation of desubjectification and resubjectifation). Supercomputation displaced the subject of Western humanism even further from the center of thought, but only so that capital might think in its place. As the root of the word suggests (“caput” in Latin means “head”), capital is a vast process of encephalization: it continuously returns to destroy and reconstruct again its own head.

Antonia Majaca—Little Daniel Before the Law: Algorithmic Extimacy and the Rise of the Paranoid Apparatus
Subjectivity bound to the white-male myth of humanism has always been a violent, impossible totalization. Embracing instead the flawed, unfinished incompleteness of the soul as the bearer of inhuman potential, as humanness unbound, is to enter the realm of the possible against the probable, a way of denying complete absolution to the data sovereign and its nerves of capture. It also means finally ceasing to be the creature that stands obediently and eternally in front of the gates of the Law, like Kafka’s pathetic man from the country, who dies waiting. The ontological heterogenesis once invoked by Deleuze means here not only alienating the naturalness of the human but also creating machines capable of constructing pathways for politicizing the collapse of the boundary between the world of matter and the hermeneutical world of the social Subject from a non-paranoid perspective.

Mari Bastashevski—The Perfect Con
A month later, during a burst of sea-legs melancholy, I wrote to the bird catcher, who has become a friend, to inquire about the legacy of my residency. “You know, I’m a bit disappointed, I was expecting scrutiny and rumors, but no one said a thing. It back to usual boredom here and everyone moved on. It is as if you were never here.” He sent this response from a satellite e-mail service, economizing on adjectives and punctuation to save precious e-mail coins. The presence of artists on container ships, at first bedazzling, has become the new norm within the logistical routine of global commerce, of which the container ship itself is a living exhibit. Having been on a circular route for ten years, the cargo ship I sailed on, and any other ship like it, has surely amassed a vast permanent collection on the subject. This collection could constitute a floating museum, or rather an extraterritorial floating museum complex.

Ahmet Öğüt—Obscure Sorrows: Thoughts around the 9th Berlin Biennale
A few weeks after the Berlin Biennale opened in June, I went to see the exhibition “Human Factor – Endless Prototyping,” organized by Ars Electronica and held at the Volkswagen Group Forum in Berlin. It featured artworks dealing with the challenges of the “digital revolution,” and focused on the human element in an engineered environment. There were projects about bricks made of sand hardened with the help of bacteria, and a prospective future scenario that envisioned a supermarket in which customers could pay only with their personal Facebook data. Innovative projects merging art and science were spread around the venue alongside Lamborghinis and other shining cars—here the distinction between art and commerce was nonexistent.

Ariel Goldberg—Simplicity Craving
“Hide/Seek” could afford to produce a perfect-bound catalogue that, in its girth, resembles the level in Super Mario Brothers when everything is enlarged. Long after the guards gently reminded me the National Portrait Gallery was closing, I studied the show’s every decision about how to present information. I was torn between learning new things and feeling frustrated by the curators’ blind spots. The wall text, reproduced to face all the plates in the “Hide/Seek” catalogue, is concerned with decoding the “desire” embedded in the portraits by pointing out either that the artist was known to be gay/queer or the subject was gay/queer. Katz and Ward’s quantification was that simple, which I find devastating. Berenice Abbott, whose portrait of Janet Flanner adorns the “Hide/Seek” catalogue cover, once responded to questions about her homosexuality with the statement: “I am a photographer, not a lesbian.”

Geert Lovink—On the Social Media Ideology
Social networking is much more than just a dominant discourse. We need to go beyond text and images and include its software, interfaces, and networks that depend on a technical infrastructure consisting of offices and their consultants and cleaners, cables and data centers, working in close concert with the movements and habits of the connected billions. Academic internet studies circles have shifted their attention from utopian promises, impulses, and critiques to “mapping” the network’s impact. From digital humanities to data science we see a shift in network-oriented inquiry from Whether and Why, What and Who, to (merely) How. From a sociality of causes to a sociality of net effects. A new generation of humanistic researchers is lured into the “big data” trap, and kept busy capturing user behavior whilst producing seductive eye candy for an image-hungry audience (and vice versa).

James T. Hong—The Suspicious Archive: A Prejudiced Interpretation of the Interpretation of Archives, Part I
An archive is a non-random collection of things, or the place where such a collection resides. The concept of non-randomness or purposiveness implies that archivists have a reason for archiving—that an archive is a meaningful project with a set of goals. It is possible to generate an archive by accident, so long as some party in the future can attribute meaning to this accidental collection of things. An accumulation of dangerous nuclear waste is not normally considered an archive, but the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico fits my definition of a “non-random collection of things.” Just as a collection of ruins functions as an archive for archeologists and other scientists, in the far future the vast collection of nuclear waste in the New Mexico desert should provide abundant clues to the civilization that produced it.


The print edition of e-flux journal can be found at: 
Amsterdam: De Appel arts centre / Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten Andratx: CCA Andratx Antwerp: M HKA Museum van Hedendaagse Kunst Århus: Kunsthal Aarhus Athens: OMMU Auckland: split/fountain Austin: Arthouse at the Jones Center Baden-Baden: Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden Banff: Walter Phillips Gallery, The Banff Centre Barcelona: Arts Santa Mònica / MACBA Basel: Kunsthalle Basel / Museum für Gegenwartskunst Basel Beijing and Guangzhou: Vitamin Creative Space Beirut: 98weeks Belgrade: Cultural Center of Belgrade Bergen: Bergen Kunsthall / Rakett Berlin: b_books / Berliner Künstlerprogramm – DAAD / Bücherbogen am Savignyplatz GmbH / Books People Places / do you read me? / Haus der Kulturen der Welt / Motto / Neuer Berliner Kunstverein (n.b.k.) / Pro qm Belfast: Platform Arts Bern: Kunsthalle Bern / Lehrerzimmer Bialystok: Arsenal Gallery Bielefeld: Bielefelder Kunstverein Biella: UNIDEE - University of Ideas, Cittadellarte - Fondazione Pistoletto Onlus Birmingham: Eastside Projects / Ikon GalleryBologna: MAMbo – Museo d’Arte Moderna di Bologna Bregenz: Kunsthaus Bregenz Bristol: Arnolfini Brussels: WIELS Contemporary Art Centre Bucharest: National Museum of Contemporary Art Bucharest (MNAC) / Pavilion Unicredit Cairo: Beirut / Contemporary Image Collective (CIC) / Townhouse Gallery Calgary: The New Gallery Cambridge: Wysing Arts Center Castello: Espai d´art contemporani de Castelló (EACC) Chicago: Graham Foundation / Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts / The Renaissance Society at The University of Chicago Cologne: Kölnischer Kunstverein Copenhagen: Overgaden Derry: CCA Derry~Londonderry Dijon: Les Ateliers Vortex Dublin: Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane / Project Arts Centre Dusseldorf: Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen Eindhoven: Van Abbemuseum Frankfurt: Städelschule / Portikus Gdansk: Łaźnia Centre For Contemporary Art Geneva: Centre de la photographie Ghent: S.M.A.K. Glasgow: CCA Centre for Contemporary Arts / Glasgow Sculpture Studios Graz: Grazer Kunstverein / Kunsthaus Graz / Künstlerhaus KM– / para_SITE Gallery Grijon: LABoral Centre for Art and Creative Industries Groningen: University of Groningen Hamburg: Kunstverein in Hamburg Helsinki: Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma Hobart: CAST Gallery / INFLIGHT Hong Kong: Asia Art Archive Iași: theartstudent at the University of Fine Arts, Iași Innsbruck: Galerie im Taxispalais Istanbul: BAS / DEPO / Galeri Zilberman / SALT Johannesburg: Center for Historical Reenactments Kansas City: La Cucaracha Press Klagenfurt: Kunstraum Lakeside Kristiansand: SKMU Sørlandets Kunstmuseum Kyiv:  Visual Culture Research Center Leeds: Pavilion Lisbon: Maumaus, Escola de Artes Visuais / Oporto / Kunsthalle Lissabon Ljubljana: Moderna galerija Llandudno: MOSTYN London: Architectural Association—Bedford Press / Calvert 22 / Chisenhale Gallery / Gasworks / ICA / Serpentine Gallery / The Showroom / Visiting Arts Los Angeles: REDCAT Loughborough: Radar, Loughborough University Luxembourg: Casino Luxembourg Madrid: Brumaria / CA2M / PENSART Maastricht: Jan van Eyck Academie Marfa: Ballroom Marfa Melbourne: Monash University Museum of Art (MUMA) / World Food Books Merrylands: Cerdon College Mexico City: Librería Casa Bosques / Proyectos Monclova Milan: Fondazione Nicola Trussardi / HangarBicocca Milton Keynes: MK Gallery Minneapolis: Walker Art Center Monaco: Nouveau Musée National de Monaco Moncton: Fixed Cog Hero (a bicycle courier company) Montreal: Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA) Moscow: Garage Center for Contemporary Culture Munich: Haus der Kunst / Museum Villa Stuck / Walther Koenig Bookshop New Delhi: Sarai CSDS New York: e-flux / Independent Curators International (ICI) / Printed Matter, Inc / McNally Jackson Nottingham: Nottingham Contemporary North Little Rock: Good Weather Gallery Omaha: Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts Oslo: Kunstnernes hus Oxford: Modern Art Oxford Padona: Fondazione March Per L’Arte Contemporanea Paris: castillo/corrales – Section 7 Books / Centre Pompidou / Les Laboratoires d’Aubervilliers Philadelphia: Bodega Pori: Pori Art Museum Portland: Portland Institute for Contemporary Art (PICA) / Publication Studio Porto: Museu de Arte Contemporânea de Serralves Prague: DOX Centre for Contemporary Art Prishtina: Stacion – Center for Contemporary Art Prishtina Providence: AS220 Reykjavik: Reykjavik Art Museum Riga: kim? Rio de Janeiro: Capacete / A Gentil Carioca Rome: MACRO Museo d’Arte Contemporanea Roma / Opera Rebis Rotterdam: Piet Zwart Institute / Witte de With | Center for Contemporary Art Saint-Nazaire: Le Grand Cafe, centre d’art contemporain Salzburg: Salzburger Kunstverein San Antonio: Artpace San Sebastián: Centro Internacional Cultura Contemporanea São Paulo: KUNSTHALLE São Paulo / Master in Visual Arts, Faculdade Santa Marcelina Sarajevo: Sarajevo Center for Contemporary Art (SCCA) Seoul: The Books / The Book Society Sherbrooke: Foreman Art Gallery of Bishop’s University Singapore: The Ngee Ann Kongsi Library Skopje: Press to Exit Project Space Sofia: ICA-Sofia / Sofia Art Gallery / SWIMMING POOL St Erme Outre et Ramecourt: Performing Arts Forum St Louis: White Flag Projects Stockholm: Bonniers Konsthall / Iaspis / Index - The Swedish Contemporary Art Foundation / Konstfack, University College of Art, Craft and Design / Konsthall C / Tensta konsthall Stuttgart: Württembergischer Kunstverein Stuttgart Tallinn: Kumu Art Museum of Estonia The Hague: Stroom Den Haag Toronto: Art Metropole / Mercer Union / The Power PlantTorun: Centre of Contemporary Art Znaki Czasu in Torun (CoCA) Toowoomba: Raygun Contemporary Art Projects Trieste: Trieste Contemporanea Trondheim: NTNU University Library Umeå: Bildmuseet, Umeå University Utrecht: BAK, basis voor actuele kunst / Casco – Office for Art, Design and Theory Vaduz: Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein Valencia: IVAM–Biblioteca Valletta: Malta Contemporary Art Foundation Vancouver: Artspeak / Fillip—Motto / Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery, University of British Columbia / READ Books, Charles H. Scott Gallery, Emily Carr University of Art and Design Venice: The Biennale Library-ASAC Vienna: Kunsthalle Wien / Salon für Kunstbuch—21er Haus Vigo: MARCO, Museo de Arte Contemporanea de Vigo Vilnius: Contemporary Art Centre (CAC) Vitoria-Gasteiz: Centro Cultural Montehermoso Kulturunea Visby: BAC – Baltic Art Center Warsaw: Zachęta National Gallery of Art Wiesbaden: Nassauischer Kunstverein (NKV) Yerevan: Armenian Center For Contemporary Experimental Art (NPAK) Zagreb: Galerija Miroslav Kraljevic / Gallery Nova / DeLVe | Institute for Duration, Location and Variables Zurich: Postgraduate Program in Curating, Zürich University of the Arts / Shedhalle / White Space

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