“If, right now, I’m doing this interview instead of playing with my kids, watching a movie or scrolling through Tik Tok, it’s not just because it helps me sell a book – it’s because it connects me to you, and potentially to other people; because it entertains me, it makes me feel accomplished and alive, an active member of a community; it makes me feel, with a little postmodern embarrassment, on a mission. If, after this work is over, we continue to “work”, it is because these ideals have survived.”
A nice review of the Automate All The Things! symposium in Ljubljana, written by writer and curator Aude Launay, is now available on the Frech free magazine 02, both in print (Spring 2020, pp. 88 – 89) and online. Held on January 14 and 15, 2020 at the The Academy of Fine Arts and Moderna galerija, Ljubljana, Automate All The Things! is part of Hyperemployment programme.
“At the end of 2006, when everyone was starting to benefit from their 15 minutes of pixelated celebrity with the advent of the social network that we know, another platform was making a place for itself on another market, not that of hyper-individualization but, on the contrary, of the invisibilization of individuals, turning them into a crowd of anonymous dogsbodies exploited at will: Amazon Mechanical Turk. This “global, on-demand, 24×7 workforce,” as the website of the giant of the neo-gig economy1proclaims, is conceived as an actualization of the deception that was already simulating artificial intelligence in 1770,the famous Mechanical Turk who amazed the European elite by surpassing them in chess. Two and a half centuries later, artificial intelligence is still artificial and humans are still in the machine.Total automation remains a trick, so what has changed?It is around this question of humans “as invisible slaves of the machines” that curators Domenico Quaranta and Janez Janša brought together a panel of artist-researchers for an exciting symposium in mid-January, as part of the the year-long Hyperemployment programme they are organising for Aksioma, the ultra-dynamic project space in Ljubljana.” Go on reading on 02 magazine’s website.
Soon available as part of the Macro Asilo Diario series, Between Hype Cycles and the Present Shock is an excerpt from a longer, unpublished essay born out of a conference I had in Rome in March 2019, wondering if, and how, art can exist in the present time. The longer version includes chapters about net.art’s futurism, post internet’s presentism, precorporation, media obsolescence, artificial intelligence and virtual reality. If you want to read the draft or suggest a publisher, please drop me a line. This shorter version suffers a bit in the last part, but it features one of my favorite chapters, about the end of the future. Hoping it could be a good companion in these days of anxiety and loneliness, I shared it on Academia. Enjoy!
“We know we are living an age that is profoundly different from that in which contemporary art was born: an age of acceleration, present shock, distracted gaze and end of the future. And yet, when it comes to art, we still confront it as if nothing had actually changed. Rather than providing answers, this essay raises questions such as: is it still possible to make art under these conditions, and to experience art as it should? What’s the price we have to pay for engaging today’s media and the crucial issues of our time, in terms of duration and long term appreciation?”
In the current phase of late capitalism, we are experiencing a crucial contradiction every day. On the one hand, the increasing automation of productive processes is apparently making John Maynard Keynes’s promise of a post-work society not only more real, but also closer; on the other hand, labour – far from disappearing – is colonising and altering any given moment and aspect of our existence. The rise of precarious labour has freed us from the alienation of a permanent job, but has also made our lives more unstable and anxious, and is producing new social diseases. The increasing automation has made us more unemployed – a condition we are frantically trying to escape with micro-labours, turning us into “entrepreneurs of the self”.
2019 is a documentary about 2019 made in 2019 by the students of the Master in Net Art and Digital Cultures, Accademia di Belle Arti di Carrara. The video is based on chapter “2019” from Ray Kurzweil’s book “The Age of Spiritual Machines” (1999), an attempt to predict the future in detail, decade after decade.
The eerie quality of this text depends upon the fact that it is, not differently from our current 2019, the output of the way the future (our present) was predicted and designed at the end of the last century; as such, it’s very similar, yet very different from our current 2019. It’s the output of imagination, without the recombinant effect of reality. It’s a prediction, but the use of the present form makes it sound like the description of an actual development, along a different time line.