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.