Dread - Fear in the age of accelerated technologies 26/10/2013 a symposium for a current exhibition in Den Hallen, Haarlem ( http://www.dehallen.nl/en/exhibitions/ )
'If you build the ship, you build the shipwreck' Technology has ominous danger systematically built in e.g. electricity- electric shock.
Honar Harger invisibility in the post prism age artists today are the canaries down the mine - flagging danger and highlighting issues with the technological infrastructure that determines so much of our lives. The speed of technological development has left general users knowledge lacking and the invisibility of digital networks makes it part of the landscape and leaves us with no political agency. The seamless interfaces and immaterial services creates an invisibility that prevents artistic critique and intervention.
Mark Fisher Mark opened up with two quotes from Jean Baudrillard 'the ecstasy of communication' published in 1987 the extracts define a schizophrenic state of the subject who in the pornography of information networks is dizzy with the ecstasy of communication.
Dread of not being connected Fisher retells personal moments in his life when he has suffered anxiety from being disconnected, running out of battery and disappearing. He describes the external memory on your phone as an extension of the human , and once it runs out it is unyielding, your are lost and vulnerable. When you understand yourself in relation to your social network, when the network goes you too disappear.
I am connected, i am in a constant state of dread The state of dread is not limited to these 'first world problems' of your phone dying and loosing contact. The speed of communicating and the obligation to connect and contribute fuels a 'digital twitch'. The structure of twitter, buzzfeeds and rss creates an interface where the user is always late, in the real time realm you are always updating or refreshing to get something that just happened. This is the new now, the constant retrieval of information that as soon as it gets to you becomes archive. There is another aspect that relates to the neo-liberal subject who understands themselves as an economic unit that must use available technologies to self manage and maximise their efficiency and production.
What am i missing? the constant state of dread. This is about our focus and concentration, the constant humming in the mind while we try and write that tells us to open up another tab. What Mark describes as the digital twitch has also be coined 'multiple attention deficit disorder' and 'unifocus'. We now simultaneously divide our attention to multiple sources.
Another layer of Dread is the fear of loneliness that Sheryl Turkle talks about in 'Alone Together' If we are all constantly only paying half attention then we subconsciously become aware that are friends, family and networks are also only ever half listening. This can lead to insecurity in the web 2.0. performance.
How can we opt out of this techno social condition that isn't a withdrawal, regression method? Mark believes that technological acceleration has lead to cultural stagnation. Fisher believes we are living in a time of aesthetic poverty; there is a visual abidance in the multitude of images in the media , leaving contemporary visual art practices in crisis.
We know frame our experiences to fit the semiotic of communication technologies.
Gutarri talks about the communication network as command flow , communication is a command. Creativity does not follow a strict command and therefore cannot exist in the communication flow. This flow of commands can no govern without management. Each digital command has a sense of urgency.
METAHAVEN currently have an exhibition titled Black Transparency in Maastericht. (http://www.bureau-europa.nl/en/manifestations/black_transparency_the_right_to_know_in_the_age_of_mass_surveillance/)
Metahaven began their talk with images from the last scene of truman show, where truman stands at the end of his world facing a wall painted with cloud to give his world an infiniteness. He compares the compassion of the director (of the reality tv show within the film), who attempts to convince Truman not leave , as a similar paternal tone of the NSA chief Keith Alexander. The director tells truman that they are no boundaries in this world they have constructed for him, it is safe and they look after him. The notion of an invisible force taking care of you through surveillance and also the safety and security that these services provide present a narrative in the NSA scandal. The majority of people , whether concerned about their privacy or not, play in the wonderlands of the great digital giants who hand over your data to NSA to make sure no one is breaking the rules in the digital playground. When participating in the digital playground there are no rules as the infrastructure and command network can gently guide you to govern yourself.
They then moved into practical actions - they have been very interested in Iceland and the political geography of internet economics. In 2008 Iceland announced themselves as bankrupt and the population refused to pay for the bankers debt with their taxers, a government was built from the bottom up using democratic methods and digital technologies. He showed a video of Smari Mccarthy who believes that code is law and you can build a software of society, as each line of code is rule to follow that can govern. Metahaven present a list of 'failed states' as geographic territories where new societies can be built through programming of technologies. They present methods for activist networks that create new societies through their rejection of corporate infrastructures. A odel of an offshore sea cargo ship, with each shipping container holding various independent data servers, where a new network can be created free of state surveillance and corporate stronghold.