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In the fourth essay of this reader, Boris Groys explains that the goal of technology, according to Heidegger, is to “immunize man against change, to libertate man from his dependency on physis, on fate, on accident.” Undeniably, coping with quarantine in the digital era has its advantages. Technology enables us to remain socially connected through our internet persona, as well as to continue to fulfill from home many of the daily tasks that have been affected since the Covid-19 outbreak, such as working and learning.

Is internet our vital lifeline during this confinement period? Clearly, that seems to be the case of those practicing isolation within the comfortable bubble of privilege, wherein smart devices have become the easiest way to fight boredom, fear, loneliness, and anxiety. Screens are the window into another space which hosts a broad spectrum of activities and content, designed to keep our minds and bodies entertained and occupied in the midst of the current crisis.

Looking ahead, it seems pertinent to ask ourselves whether we will give ourselves the well-deserved #DigitalDetox when life goes back to normal, or will we prefer to remain absorbed in our phones?

The following essays might aid in reconsidering the impact of technologies on our bodies and daily life, on the reconfiguration of the domestic sphere, but also on the field of contemporary art and its institutions.

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Compiled by Fernanda Cubas Pinella
9 Essays

Affects, contemplations, stimulations, and struggles happen in and through the lap, this site that accumulates the contexts of motherhood (associated with the womb and with the bodily grammar of caring), sexual entertainment (the lap as a space where two bodies come closer through a clientele dynamic), and domesticity (the pet dog as an extension of the family sphere, a receiver of libidinal transferences, and as sublimator of privately occurring sexual drives). The lap constitutes a space at once para-sexualized—where the relation between the mother and the child, the caretaker and the cared for, takes place—and a space at the core of the unfolding of a relation of intimacy, as the lap opens itself to both male and female sexual organs, with potential physical consequences for its beholders. The significance and potential of this accumulation of functions in this space that is at once intimate and public opens itself, when the laptop arrives, to a new configuration.

Scraping the Social : “We are unknown to ourselves—and with good reason.” Friedrich Nietzsche—“Even the retards are starting to figure it out.” (comment)—“In data we trust.” Priceonomics—“The Internet fails to scale gracefully.” Chris Ellis—“I want to be surprised by my own bot”—“There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” Leo­­nard Cohen—“Just did my sheepish biannual LinkedIn visit, which felt too much like my sheepish biannual sweeping of dry cleaner hangers into the...
In 1972, as part of MoMA’s exhibition “Italy: The New Domestic Landscape,” the Radical Design group Superstudio installed a small cubic room with mirrored walls that appeared to replicate itself into infinity. The group’s proposal, submitted to the curator Emilio Ambasz, had taken the form of a one-page statement describing exactly how this “microenvironment” should be installed, followed by a further nine typed pages of theoretical exposition by Superstudio’s cofounder Adolfo Natalini. In...

This status of the artwork as an object of contemplation is actually relatively new. The classical contemplative attitude was directed towards immortal, eternal objects like the laws of logic (Plato, Aristotle) or God (medieval theology). The changing material world in which everything is temporary, finite, and mortal was understood not as a place of vita contemplativa but of vita activa. Accordingly, the contemplation of artworks is not ontologically legitimized in the same way that the contemplation of the truths of reason and of God are. Rather, this contemplation is made possible by the technology of storage and preservation. In this sense the art museum is just another instance of technology that, according to Heidegger, endangers man by turning him into an object.

Why Do We Look for Data in the Museum? In Art Project 2023 , João Enxuto and Erica Love imagine the future of the Google Art Project, the search giant’s effort to reproduce images from the world’s top museums as it develops over the next decade. The multimedia performance documents the slow erosion of the museum under the logic of corporate interests and the breathless adoption of digital innovation by none other than Google, whose stated goal is to “organize the world’s information...
Works in Wooden Boxes The Geneva Freeport can hold up to one million artworks. Recently its facilities had to be expanded due to increasing demand. The artworks end up in wooden transport boxes, stacked in rows on shelves in huge halls, where they sit and wait for their price to rise or fall, or to be shipped to an auction or to another freeport. The air temperature measures 21 degree Celsius, with exactly 55 percent humidity. 1 These are considered ideal conditions for the survival...
When telegraph lines were first installed in the US and Europe in the mid-1800s, people complained of sightings of ghosts traveling along the wires. In 1848, two sisters in a village near Rochester, New York claimed that rapping coming from the floorboards of their bedroom were Morse-code messages from the dead. Telephones and electric machines were viewed with suspicion, and theater performances often portrayed them as vessels of magical powers. Such supernatural interpretations of emerging...
One hears time and again that contemporary art is elitist because it is selective, and that it should be democratized. Indeed, there is a gap between exhibition practice and the tastes and expectations of the audience. The reason is simple: the audiences of contemporary art exhibitions are often local, while the exhibited art is often international. This means that contemporary art does not have a narrow, elitist view, but, on the contrary, a broader, universalist perspective that can...
1. Killing the Internet On January 28, 2011, only a few days after protests had broken out in Egypt demanding the overthrow of then president Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian government terminated national access to the internet. This state-sponsored shutdown became known as flipping the internet’s “kill switch.” The intention behind killing the internet in Egypt was to block protestors from coordinating with one another, and prevent the dissemination of any media about the uprising,...
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