“As things become more complex they become more female, but patriarchy prolongs the ice age of mankind” Sadie Plant GLOBAL INFORMATION REVOLUTION (GIR) In my opinion the GIR contributed to the raising of political consciousness in everyday people. Essentially people attempted to regain control by reasserting democratic solidarity. The development of artificial intelligence since the 1940s, natural language processing; its scientific links between cultural practice and probabilistic cognition as well as the foundation of information theoryand computational linguistics has rapidly changed the world. Cybernetics, which was derived from information theory, assured efficiency, which was designed to prevent human errors, increase life expectancy, minimize environmental catastrophes and prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases by living in cyberspace, . Whereas in the nineties we could follow technological progress, recent developments seem invisible. This anonymous technological world progressed in the nineties through newly designed requirements for workers who were employed in subservient manual labour roles and proved to be efficient in routine tasks, but showed a lack of engagement in innovation. The generation of new knowledge (in GIR) demanded collaborations and participation on all levels, engaging all people as individuals in productive work contributing knowledge to society”. Large corporations downsized, refocused and restructured activities into independent commercial entities, with collaborations as informal-organisation (without the structures of hierarchy) and representing its employees as a community. Management theorist Paul Adler demonstrates how business strategies were explained in social contexts such us Trust becoming a central coordinating-mechanism”. Due to the complexity of collaboration, cooperation, and collective decision making, the world seems to have become less transparent; conventional democratic values have blurred. The “sharing economy” is, according to Paul Mason, another definition for exploitation. Marx´ visions about the power of knowledge as a tool for taking control over machines that was seen as a social force to which everyone is connected, made labourers conscious of their real conditions of life, which had the potential to blow up capitalism and accelerate a social revolution. Mason follows this opinion presuming: “the rise of collaborative production eventually helps capitalism to kill itself”; now the Network takes up that role. Likewise Mason, Steven Shaviro terms neoliberal materialisation to extract surplus value “real subsumption”: “We have moved from a situation of extrinsic exploitation, in which capital subordinated labor and subjectivity to its purposes, to a situation of intrinsic exploitation, in which capital directly incorporates labor and subjectivity within its own processes”.
ACCELERATIONISM Sadie Plant explains: Catastrophe is the past coming apart. Anastrophe is the future coming together. Seen from within history, divergence is reaching critical proportions. Political, cultural and economic theories derive from dystopian fiction discussing the speed of modern uncontrollable life and the power of capitalism. Accelerationism is a thought that shows this route towards the end of humans, the speed in which they evolve and about how this could be dealt with. Nick Land´s right-accelerationist nihilist philosophy advocates popular far-right pseudoscientific ideas such as; “capitalistic humans”, the natural process of different races ”faring differently” in the modern world, and artificial intelligence “disintegrating the human species”. He imagines the process of Alienation, also called Dark Enlightenment; an apocalyptic future of Dystopian Societies; a self-destructive explosion caused through indefinite intensification of capitalism itself, possibly in order to bring about a technological singularity: “Whatever is left behind becomes a weapon in your enemy’s hand. Best, then, to destroy what cannot be stolen”. A more positive end is sought with #Accelerate Manifesto by Nick Srnicek and Alex Williams proposing a Left-Accelerationism to solve “ever-accelerating catastrophes”. They hold Neoliberalismresponsible for reactionary changes in the relationship between state and society since the 1980s and which since 2008 is seen to “encourage new and aggressive incursions by the private sector into what remains of social democratic institutions and services”. Srnicek and Williams note in their definition of folk politics, that in spite of desires for a better world, the effects of these movements prove to be minimal. The strategies of leftist movements are now seen by the likes of Srnicek and Williams as incapable of transforming society, due to the lack of a wider political direction, focus on localism, and inability to embrace new technology. Additionally, the economic gain increased from attaching human emotion to mechanic applications, through business strategies as well as through social media, initiates new strategies to attain social-political change. Jodie Dean remarks this as in politics being reduced to issues of consumer choice which disables the presentation of a coherent opposition, democracy becomes a fantasy”. Right and Left agree on democracy and use a democratic rhetoric to justify their positions; for the left to be successful, we have to communicate in a language that differs from the one we are currently using. NEW APPROACH The focus on local politics is criticised by global theorist Sebastian Conrad anticipating that the context of multiple manifestations of economic and cultural globalisation should be investigated. Global history is a response to social challenges and the demand of immigrant societies for a more inclusive, less narrowly national perspective on the past.. This akin to Marxist theorist Antonio Gramsci’s viewpoint expanded by Srnicek and Williams’ manifesto; accelerating the technological advances of capitalist automation is seen as developing new opportunities for the future, for which they envision a homogenized equalitarian future without work. Would their proposed system of unconditional Universal Basic Income (UBI), which they believe will be an inevitable result of accelerating technology, liberate humanity from work, reduce poverty, expand freedom, and trigger growth by people investing in their selves? Several theorists claim that UBI would eliminate extreme poverty, create a classless society, and would require raising taxes at the higher ends of the wealth spectrum – the 1%. No one would be forced into work, relationships will be radically transformed. A basic income would provide income to all persons regardless their market value.
A Critique of an egalitarian society is expressed by Harry G. Frankfurt who supports the principle that everyone should have enough, which is the level of individual contentment. Contentment is measured by the interest in actively obtaining more. That others would have secured more than others would not be of importance since everyone had secured enough. But, since 2008 people are progressively unable to secure enough. Ken Loach’s film ‘I, Daniel Blake’ (fig.3) is an example of people in need of support provoking their “exclusion of benefits to which they were entitled and illustrates the abuses that the control system can produce”. According to a Feminist perspective: “advocates of the UBI could reinforce their strong arguments based on social justice if they argued systematically from a more gender equality perspective” by linking human rights including gender and equality to provide dignity for everyone.
FEMINIST VISIONS OF A TECHNOCRATIC WORLD In a collection of essaysfrom the nineties Feminist thoughts critique theories, that dismiss cultural and historical links and theoretical lack of interest in gender. “Without an analysis of transnational scattered hegemonies that reveal themselves in gender relations, feminist movements remain isolated and prone to reproducing the universalising gestures of dominant western cultures” More recent feminist critique is directed at a male-centric objectification associated with theories about Accelerationism: “The author wishes to personally insult anyone attracted by accelerationism by calling it a bout of dead white Ferrari envy, dripping from head to toe with stale testosterone.” Hito Steyerl This note was written as a commentary on the discussion about Object-Oriented Ontology (OOO) in contemporary art theory and practice”; a symposium on tendencies in capitalism as a critique on the “hyper-masculine-language” used by curator Armen Avanessian: “It’s time to embrace objectification and cold materiality, and to accelerate the “energetic viscera” of capitalism to its finality rather than choose the path of withdrawal. “No time this time for catastrophism, the speculative is instead the time of anastrophism” on the concept that “the past is unforeseeable and the future is now”. The artwork that Hito Steyerl initially submitted to the accelerationism exhibition will be discussed later in this essay. First I would like to investigate feminist thoughts on OOO which was defined as: “‘objects’ in a wide sense, including human beings as well as anything that cannot be fully reduced either downward to its components (‘undermining’) or upward to its effects (‘overmining’) counts as an object, whether it be human, immaterial, durable or fleeting.” OOO is discussed as the correlation between reality and the theorisation of objects which was further developed in the idea that objects obtain their own lives outside of human perceptions. Feminists critique OOO as a superficial androcentrictheory of timeless cold materiality. This critique contrasts with the ideas of “cyborg politics” of the nineties which hoped to eliminate the central dogma of phallogocentrism” in which: “The microelectronics and the political invisibility of cyborgs that confused the lines of physicality” embraced the materialization of bodies: Donna Haraway was one of the first authors using the cyborg for feminist analysis and aims, and calls with A Cyborg Manifesto for alteration of the concept of gender, for a world without gender, and for a reconstruction of identity, wherein individuals can construct their own groups by choice. DIVERGENCE IN GENDER IDENTIFICATION: CONNECTION TO HISTORY To understand divergence between OOO-and-Cyborg-feminist perceptions, traditional feminist perceptions need to be investigated that focus on re-theorization and the acknowledgement of women deprived of human rights, which cannot be dissociated from its historical context. The objectification of women and the mechanization of humans is a fact that has been extensively explored in art; initially dominated by male erotic fantasies coloured by Freud’s psychoanalyses from the 1890s. Surrealist works express the repressed Libido and Thanatos as unexposed desires that were thought to lead to destruction. The writings of De Sade pictured human bodies as sexual devices and the use of machines to arouse and torment people, inspiring surrealist artists to possess female life-size dolls: a fascination for the corruption and destruction of innocence. In (Pop-)art reflecting on mass-media, mass‑production and emotional detachment; women are pictured as lust objects; pin‑up dolls, car-parts, pinball machines and as part of furniture designs.
By feminist standards, objectification of women in history is linked to contemporary issues and campaigns. For example the Guerrilla Girls, who stay anonymous for gender independence, point out that galleries in the past showed only 10% women artists and now show up to 20%, and protest about the fact that while 5% of the artists (in 1989) shown in museums were women, 85% of the nudes were (banner: “Do women have to be naked to get into the Met Museum?)” (Fig.5) MATERIALIZATION OF BODIES IN A HOMOGENIZED WORLD Historically, androgyny in artworks, reflect on the desire for a homogeneous mechanical world, in which the sexual union would resolve the polarities between men and women into a creative whole. This becomes an important concept in feminist theories within a technocratic world. An early representation of this is given by Marcel Duchamp’s´The Bride Stripped Bare by her Bachelors, Even (The Large Glass 1915-1923) (Fig.6) although there is no doubt about the objectification of women in his work. This is a direct mechanization of human beings, interpreted by theorists as an example of a mechanical expression of sexual desire. The headless body (of the Bride in esoteric and alchemical tradition) is interpreted as symbol of castration and links to Duchamp’s interests in the androgyne, the faceless hanged man female, and is seen as indication that he was preoccupied with the theme of transvestism. Whereas feminists critique objectification, both Duchamp and Cyborg share interest in the materialization of bodies.
PROMISE OF CYBORG The development of Cyborgs will explain why some feminist are interested in homogenisation. Computer games have changed the perception of science fiction, which was still predominantly male orientated in the eighties, became a reality to which a few women could progressively relate a decade later. A Robot of steel like Robocop developed into a creator with the ability to metamorphose such as in Terminator. Whereas Robots were completely mechanical, androids in the eighties looked gradually more human and advanced into the computer animated cyborg. The development of the cyborgs´ transformability into any shape and intelligence changed the world for both sexes. In Cyberspace sex is seen as the border between humans and technology in which the loss of identity is compared with Eros and Thanatos. The new reality in cyberspace is a homogeneous world without sexes. Cyberpunk magazine reflects on this virtual reality: its main character Topo leaves his mead and spends time in the playing field with Neon Rose (her appearance is a Rose) and explains that living in pure consciousness is the most beautiful part of human existence: a space without limits or time, whilst in this space, it does not matter what or who you are. Although the virtual reality from the nineties needed female perceptions it provided hope for the elimination of sexism. The speed and ability of science fiction ideas as realistic tools for social political change, is a contemporary issue. Technology is a political power that humans have become dependent on. It is a new variation of Michel Foucault’s Panoptic Power in that Anonymous Power is practised as a universal tool by all. This position evolved from Marx´ view of how a working class consciousness is formed by the human body as machine into the pure consciousness of virtual reality-cyborg, and developed in trendy automatons of “real subsumption”.Now that desire is a piece of hard disc that can be ripped out and reprogrammed at any time in order to produce capitalism: is there a way back to libidinal authorship?
PRODUCTIVE DESIRE Deleuze and Guattari illustratedesire as a real productive force. They argue that Freud’s psychoanalytical theory; Sublimation is the process of transforming libido into “socially useful” achievements, including artistic, cultural and intellectual pursuits, in the assumption that sexuality is everywhere; desire is part of the economic, infrastructural “base” of society (classical Marxism). In Anti Oedipus Deleuze and Guattari describe desire as “desiring-machine” that functions through connections with various other machines and which in the process produces its own flow of desire, imagined as a universe of connected machines creating multi-functionality. François Lyotard calls this process dematerialization: material in serialism is not valuable in itself, but in the relationship of one term to the next. The fragmentation and abstraction of signs, in which recurrence and repetition; offer the libido new occasion for intensifications. The desire that Deleuze and Guattari see as flow is a process which is a constant becoming and an opening to infinite possibilities. This process approaches the desire that Nick Land describes as Libidinal materialism which: “Resists a relation of reciprocal transcendence against time, and departs from the rigorous passivity of physical substance without recourse to dualistic, idealistic, or theistic conceptuality. It implies a process of mutation which is simultaneously devoid of agency and irreducible to the causal chain”. This flow could be experienced as a blocked Chi that persistently finds other exits. Events increasingly just happen and seem more out of control. For artists this might be a good state to be in. The flow of desire that Deleuze speaks of could be interpreted as the material that offers itself to artists; which opens freedom and triggers new creativity and productivity. Acceleration serves as a conscious meditative state in an idealist world, which takes up any colour or shape, where social media serve as transmitters of social worlds without prejudice or responsibilities. ACCELERATIONISM IN CONTEMPORARY ART Acceleration has been characterised as reason and remedy for the challenges of the financial crises, ecological collapse, oppression and the mass‑media’s desire for immediate novelty. Artists respond to this by combining theoretical writings, cultural figures and processed sounds. Artificial and glamorous ideals of Network Culture and digital technologies are explored in an over-load of images and artificial anonymous forces shape our world in a cyberpunk-derived dystopian alienated world in which boundaries between nature, society, geology and architecture question what is natural, artificial and which time is reality. In these projects, the viewer is challenged to link all information; a complex world which purposely gives a confusing sense of time. Since the nineties we experience time as: ‘The feeling of being in the midst of an ever-present flow of information and activity, of never quite having enough time’. Several exhibitions have drawn attention to this, such as “Speed” 1989 studying the authenticity of pictures, places, moments and every-day routines. Several artists investigated how much time we actually spend with producing an image or looking at an art work and the influence of production and consumption of images in our digitally networked world. The exhibition ‘After Image’ 2017 shows this as an art-installation assembled from the works of several artists which directly shows the effect of artistic production. Another exhibition investigates slowness: in ‘From Slow to Stop’ 2016 artists research temporality in which history is linked to the future and vice versa; reflecting on decay, and the disorientation of time.
AHMET ÖĞÜT: INFORMATION POWER TO THE PEOPLE A related view of the entrapment by time is shown in a recent exhibition in Rotterdam showing works of Ahmet Öğüt: Information Power to the People, in a conversation with Goshka Macuga, both examining each other’s practices in “the representation of critical thinkers in the global imaginary” Entering the exhibition a shelf with a piece of rainbow cake (Fig.8) on a plate turns out to be the reason for a series of decisions that have affected their lives; there was no money left to buy a collectors-picture on a flea market. Macuga and Öğüt’s story of their experience of that same day turn out to be completely different. The concept of this exhibition developed through conversations and linking all works together as a whole dealing with time and affect. Anime figures explain how they died and about the destruction of exploding gas canisters. One side of the room shows Öğüts´ banner: “If you´d like to see this flag in colours, burn it”, followed by Goshkas´ burned copies of Guernica in the opposite corner of the room. (Fig.10) With Macuga´s porcelain vase of Marx is a new “life” created from history, whereas Öğüts sculpture: Where is Marx?, positioned on a trolley to be transported, waits for the creation of a new direction. (Fig.9)
Öğüt´s work reflects on the hundreds of unidentified artefacts being stored in rooms beneath museums: “in the near future there will be too many artworks, “creating a kind of ecological crisis of overpopulation”. He has written an online proposal for a new type of museum that rethinks the collection not only as model of display, but as a constant series of non-permanent-interventions, using the already existing art in a museum “as a tool that could create new readings, understandings, misunderstandings, and new life for the collection”. Art needs to “reconnect with today’s public” and be more active about temporary changes. “It’s time for the institutions to get more creative”. In the second part of the exhibition The Show is Over, (starting 8th sept.2017): Macuga questions how destruction can challenge and change the recent political landscape. A previous work of Macuga using an android is a pre-investigation to this.
GOSHKA MACUGA: TO THE SON OF MAN WHO ATE THE SCROLL This work presents a post-human future of a male android that holds a monologue of constructed speeches from thinkers throughout history. The android was created by Macuga and produced by A Lab in Japan. (Fig.11) The historical texts and speeches are an archive of human kind, which gives it familiarity with Öğüt´s sculptures waiting to be stored for further use. The android passes on historical information to a destination past our time, so it is unknown for who it is kept for. For this work she initially created a costume from the burned Guernica-painting, referring to destruction. (Fig.10) The detail of Macuga’s android possessing male features needs further investigation. In the interpretation that the title refers to Jesus digesting old laws and created new; we may forgive that Android is a man. The assumption that knowledge is transferred via men or that the work is revenge to objectification of women in history would be less satisfactory. The fact that this Android seems to get confused and regularly speaks nonsense alters initial opinions. Assuming that this later opinion is correct this work could be seen as analyses on the phallogocentric language that is used, which connects Macuga´s work to a critique on accelerationism addressed by Hito Steyerl.
HITO STEYERL: FACTORY OF THE SUN Steyerls´ actual work submitted to the accelerationism-exhibition is a video installation: Factory of the Sun (Fig.12) which is experienced from a deckchair in a black box surrounded by a luminous “matrix”. We are led through digital streams of information, economic, social and cultural distortions. The lines between game and reality are blurred; Germany now is a bank and protesters are regularly killed. Oppression by state-surveillance is characterized by Yulia, the programmer of the game, who forces slave labourers to create light impulses; (sunlight) by moving in a motion-caption studio. To fight against those in powers, the laborers in the game who are supposed to take orders and perform physical movements, do something else instead: they dance. These dances also define the speed of the changing images. Steyerl shows that exploitation has become part of the system in which even natural phenomena are artificially recreated. Trendy refurbishments cover up catastrophes, which will lead to explosions. The Sun is probably not chosen coincidentally; being the largest and strongest power of the solar system believed to stop fusing hydrogen into helium and burn the Earth (in 5.4 Billion years). If we accelerate this process the end will be reached much sooner. From a feminist point of view, Steyerls´ work opposes the nihilist-accelerationist view of Land and Avanessian in their male-centred conception of objectification. This becomes clear in her offering a Marxist-left-accellerationst solution: the dancers divert from what they are told; but revolt with individuality and creativity releasing them from the capitalist system. Guschka Macuga and Hito Steyerl both integrated a world that connects via information examined for its accuracy and reliability, as well as that it inherits the feminist critiques of the nineties about the dismissal of cultural and historical links. Where Cyborg in Cyberfeminism looks for new ways to use technology as an instrument and medium for the termination of sex and gender, the contemporary Cyborg can be a transmitter of any information as well as recent Cyberfeminists seek for an explosion of multiple-gender-types. A CALL FOR MORE ALIENATION: XF The Laboria Cuboniks collective authored a Manifesto called Xenofeminism (XF) in which they call for more Alienation. They propose to eliminate discrimination by disconnecting everything from being permanent or fixed, so that gender cannot be identified as a biological restriction. To some extent these ideas agree with cyborgs´ political materialisation of bodies, but they oppose ideas about homogenisation and elimination of gender. According to XF cyborg-politics informed about gender-related issues, but failed in finding actual political change. As “gender-abolitionists” XF seek to use existing technologies to re-engineer the world and hope to accelerate gender multiplication; an explosion of gender types in which its variety is so large that it becomes impossible to exclude anyone. They attempt to create this through “gender hacking“: an open source platform for DIY hormone treatment. XF acknowledge the inherent risks and tries to reduce them by connecting techno-political interfaces, enabling functioning through the strength of communities and acting directly on immediate issues. Additionally they debate with other accelerationists for a technocratic world with more gender-inclusion and hope to reach universal accessibility to technology. Although gender hacking could be experienced as a dangerous experiment; similar to other Accelerationist-Science Fictional proposals, their manifesto offers a different way of thinking and from its initial creation of a utopian world has the potential to become reality in the future. CONCLUSION: CYBER ACTION FIGURE All Accelerationists share a view that the route out of capitalism must be through it, through its end; some believe this will be achieved by radically destroying the world, others by following Marxist-socialist aspirations. How fast can core issues be linked, learned from, discussed, deleted and creatively exchanged when they prove unnecessary? In my opinion we need to invest in a constructive and rapid creation of creativity through solidarity. Solidarity has been defined by David Featherstone as the main factor for political change it needs to generate similarities for mutual commitment beyond class, nationality, and ethnicity. Recent feminist theories prefer alienation, either in the materialisation of bodies or as an explosion of gender-multiplication and which needs to be redefined by connecting techno-political interfaces . The economy is to be seen as an experience of multiple manifestations; it is a combination of cultural globalization, individual philosophies, scientific opinions, religion and most of all common sense. Conventional democratic values are blurred by the incapacity of leaders to focus on this whole. Human emotion is attached to mechanistic applications and in this process the lines between Right and Left have faded as well as creativity diluted through real-creative-subsumption. New strategies and a new language are required to achieve social-political change. During the elections of 2017 Jeremy Corbyn seemed to have grasped a combination of Solidarity in the guise of a new language reaching out to large networks beyond the criticised localism (of folkpolitics). But is this new strategy that opens social and technological horizons, enough to stop poverty and exploitation? Theorists believe that anonymous networks will rise and that accelerating and repurposing technology will contribute to capitalism’s suicide. This is linked to desire which is seen as a useful social and political force. In this essay desire has been described as a mechanism that is a force, which structures the economy as an instrument, as well as a force driving people to revolt. I would like to investigate how desire can determine creativity. My suggestion is to connect the new language that is needed for social-political change to a Cyborg Action Figure and have fun playing with it. This figure connected to the Solidarity Cyborg Network for Social Change could be transformed to any desirable individual, but is linked to all other cyborgs in the community, which come into action for social-political gain. The difference from existing networks such as “Anonymous” is that the Cyborg Action Figure has a face, as well as being morphable for immediate change. Humans seem to believe that the space-less, timeless, anonymous cyber-space-earth is incapable of showing a face. But if we want to change the world; normalisation requires creative switching into several realities, rapidly checking the offer, swiftly changing one’s mind and immediately ridding oneself of ballast. If we were to live in a computer game, we would have to conquer the enemy. We need strategies on all levels, remembering which steps brought us into the next level and watching our backs to not trip on the way. Most of all we have a mission. Whatever it is, it promises happiness. The Enjoyment of playing with Cyborg Action Figure will teach us how to come into action by the reflections on our own play. We like to escape into a world that differs from everyday routines; therefore we should embrace time-travel. Although games in dystopian worlds impregnate fear of undesirable societies, humans have the ability to learn from this and return to reality. The choice is what matters. We don´t have to feed the tumorous cells that Nick Land is growing. If we do so it is a choice. Accelerationists avoid articulating meaning. Its mystery is ambiguous and leads to Science Fiction. Several theorists believe that the future relies on pre-existing categories and definitions, and in linking communities. But most (male-) theorists’ neglect the levels that have been previously played that initially brought them to the next new level. If they want acceleration to conquer capitalist exploitation, they have to be creative; more creative than their enemies. Several artists have expressed the speed and time we live in by mapping, collecting and by linking all sorts of material and information. I believe that this process is induced by an initial desire to escape either in or out of imagination of the worlds that they reflect on. This desire has a negative connotation because it is linked to the idea of avoiding responsibility. The desire to escape should be designated a new language reflecting on the power of creation that can conquer capitalist exploitation through ideas as well as “It’s time for institutions to get more creative”. The face that I allocate to issues is only another identification of the links in the flow of desires that other theorists expressed. Identity is what makes Cyborg Action Figure unique. For me, a homogeneous world is the world without faces; a castrated hanged-man-female. We could not grasp the whole of the world with localism, but we can by speeding into all levels of this world by identifying them. This needs a structured system with temporary faces to localize and label, whilst not wasting time on permanent categorisation and values. Phallogocentricm is as outdated and uncreative as being anonymous. If we want to change the world we need to be active and creative, and accept escape as productive desire for creativity in which there is space to slow down and reflect. 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