Re: [-empyre-] what is to be done?
Just an aside here. The point of my first post was not to promote some type of
neo-conservative agenda where machines take over the human form or intend. The
point was not to suggest that machines should create Pollock-type artworks,
but rather to point out that what we think is specific to human beings, what
we thing belongs to the transcendental (art) is maybe just a very complex
algorithm. Art might be nothing else but a series of mathematical structures,
complex and rich ones, yes, but algorithmic ones nonetheless. I am not saying
this is so, only that it might be so. If this proves to be, even partly, true,
we then must address what it means to be human.
I am, myself, a poet. I, myself, truly believe in art, in education, even in
the idea of progress (as the lumières defined it). I am, thus, really troubled
by this algorithmic encoding of art. Does it mean we must disregard it? No.
Does it mean we, as artists, have to re-evaluate what we do? Yes.
But art is, by no means, the only thing questioned by this algorithmic
perception of the world. Please read Jonathan Rauch?s article on artificial
societies. You will see that even something as horrible, and specifically
human, as genocide, is maybe nothing else but an algorithm?
Quoting Christophe Bruno <firstname.lastname@example.org>:
> Obviously, each time that a field of human activity becomes more
> industrialized, the question of what is left for humans pops up again. But,
> linked to that, a new question also arises: are we reaching limitations of
> the world-system that are not only "external" (like ecological disasters)
> but also "internal"? This is actually the thin cut where I try to maintain
> my artistic activity...
> As far as I seem to understand the historical process of capitalism, it has
> evolved in different breakthroughs in the production and exchange modes that
> allowed scale savings (economies d'echelles in french) and displacements of
> the surplusvalue, among other things (if I trust the recent books I've read,
> these breakthroughs can be more or less localized in space and time
> according to the following "hubs": Bruges in 1200, Venice, Anvers, Genova,
> Amsterdam, London (industrial revolution), Boston (taylorism, fordism),
> New-York and L.A. (silicon) from 1980 to nowadays...). These breakthroughs
> depend on many factors but the relation with science and technology is
> crucial of course. From the beginning the fate of the production modes was
> mechanisation, getting rid of the workers by replacing them with technology
> and coping more or less with what was left to humans, ie non-mechanisable
> tasks in a very broad sense...
> The network is the last breakthrough that allowed to make new tasks
> profitables and industrializable: like finance, administration, marketing
> (Google), democracy and information (e-vote, pools, news circulation...)
> etc... tasks that were once made by humans only. As the world-system reaches
> its limitations (depletion of natural resources, expected end of low-cost
> labour, the end of the ideology of liberalism, etc.), capitalism uses the
> irony of history to try to relaunch its paradoxical machinery by pushing
> back its internal limits: freedom of speech promoted by Google et al. is
> revealed to be the prerequisite for the scientific colonization of intimacy;
> global terrorism and reality TV feed a spectacle regulated by the panoptical
> enslavement mechanism of the blogosphere and of the web 2.0. (Actually I
> do'nt know if the web 2.0 belongs to the L.A. phase, maybe the L.A. phase
> ends in 2001). Speech or democracy for instance are too expensive for a
> state at the age of hypercapitalism so we expect here big changes, more
> generally the very idea of state might become too expensive at some point...
> ... But surplusvalue is a concept for humans only, linked to the
> indestructibily of desire. How interesting and ironic! since the web 2.0 is
> an attempt of scientific monitoring of this very desire for maximizing the
> Maybe there are new territories to colonize : intimacy...
> Maybe there are new slaves : bloggers that extract freely their intimacy for
> the only profit of Google...
> Maybe there are new martyrs willing to sacrifice themselves for the beauty
> of the machinery : hackers...
> Maybe there are new proletarians : NGOs...
> Of course there are still proletarians of the former phase that make the
> whole thing work, in China etc... Quantitatively, the former phase is much
> more important and the suffering is much greater in the old phase that in
> the new one
> Artists do not escape this evolution.
> There is a schizophrenia among artists and inside artists which probably
> reflect somehow the old lutte des classes and the different pulsions at
> play, from pop art to hacktivists ....
> Art does not escape this evolution but at the same time, it has to escape it
> somehow, as we all have to. As an artist I don't consider myself as a hacker
> in the sense of McKenzie Wark manifesto for instance... Unfortunately I feel
> more delocalized as far as my desire is concerned. Delocalized between the
> "external" and the "internal" and between pop and hacktivism.
> Christophe Bruno
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Brian Holmes" <email@example.com>
> To: "soft_skinned_space" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> Sent: Saturday, January 06, 2007 5:05 PM
> Subject: Re: [-empyre-] what is to be done?
> > email@example.com wrote:
> > What is to be done with a process that helped create our
> >> perception of the metaphysical, but whose operations, whose forms and
> >> sometimes even content are now within the control of machines? When most
> >> of what art produces today ignores humanity?s need for the transcendent,
> >> when what most of what art produces today responds to machine?s
> >> perceptions of the world?
> > This is a great text, with interesting references and a clear relation to
> > present reality. But I think the onus is on you to give some initial ideas
> > of what is to be done. There is, effectively, nothing in the Western
> > philosophical tradition that will help respond.
> > I am currently reading a philosopher from that retrograde country, France,
> > one who writes in the minor imperial language most of them still use over
> > there, his name is Bernard Stiegler. He thinks that the entire European
> > production of technological writing machines in the enlarged sense - the
> > kind of machines with which we cultivate ourselves, along the lines
> > sketched out by Foucault in his text "writing of the self" - should be
> > reoriented so as to basically save the inhabitants of Europe and perhaps
> > elsewhere from a threatening reduction of human singularity, and with it,
> > of any possible ethics. He thinks that capitalism, in the advanced
> > economies, is now primarily cultural, focused around the different devices
> > whereby memory and creativity of all kinds is exteriorized into objects
> > and traces. He thinks such machines are essential, a basic part of the
> > human experience in time, but that care needs to be taken with their
> > production, so that persons can go on becoming individuals
> > ("individuating") in a relation of creative tension with societies which
> > are also constantly individuating. If this care for the social and psychic
> > self cannot be translated into a change in the kinds of machines which are
> > produced, he believes that a generalized disenchantment with democracy
> > will grow more widespread, leading to a collapse of desire into
> > gregarious, instinctual outbursts of destructive violence. His latest
> > book, Reenchanter le monde: La valeur esprit contre le populisme
> > industriel, begins precisely with a chapter entitled "What is to be done?"
> > However, if I have understood the post you sent, this whole approach and
> > anything like it is already obsolete. So I am quite curious what you think
> > is to be done.
> > all the best, Brian Holmes
> > _______________________________________________
> > empyre forum
> > firstname.lastname@example.org
> > http://www.subtle.net/empyre
> empyre forum
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