[-empyre-] empyre: Baudrillard on Viral Economy

Renate Ferro rtf9 at cornell.edu
Thu Nov 5 16:07:47 EST 2009

My apologies to all our guests this month and to our empyre subscribers
for being a little delayed in getting started this month. Yesterday I
spent a good bit of the day working on a local election that I'm happy to
report was won by our local Democratic incumbents though narrowly. Our
viral network of phone calls to get the vote out made for our success most

I mentioned yesterday in the introductory post that Tim and I were guests
of Daniel Lichtman and David Baumflek and their project at Exit Art in New
York City for the
The Institute for Aesthetic Research. In thinking about our presentation
we were inspired by what appears to be an explosion of subliminal tactics
by communications designers in using relational networks   for the
purposes of advertising their products and messages. Facebook, Twitter,
YOUTUBE. blogging among many others are used to get to potential customers
and their networks of friends.  To begin our discussion I enclose a quote
by Baudrillard” from a short article in the book The Conspiracy of Art
entitled "Viral Economy" that I found relevant to thinking about the
inter-relationship between viral networks within the context of
communication and commodity.

"It is not the least paradox either to see the triumphal return of the
economy at the agenda, especially in the media (we cannot forget that the
media universe is also a viral universe and that the circulation of images
and messages functions as a perpetual rumor). But can we in fact still
speak of economy? Or political economy (the logic of capital)? Certainly
not. At the very least, the dazzling immediacy of the economy no longer
has anything close to the same meaning as in Marxist or classical
analysis.  For its impetus is no longer the infrastructure of material
production at all, or the superstructure.  Its impetus is the
destructuration of value, the destabilization of markets and real
economies, the triumph of an economy cleared of ideology, social sciences,
and history. political economy and handed over to pure speculation, a
virtual economy cleared of real economies (not really, of course
virtually-- but precisely reality today does not hold power: virtuality
does) a viral economy that connects in this way to all other viral
processes. As the place of special effects, unforeseeable (almost
meteorological) events, as the destruction and exacerbation of its own
logic, it once again becomes an exemplary theater of current events."

I ask all of our subscribers to consider these general questions to begin
this month's discussion.
What avenues are open to the artist, theorist, and programmer in new media
in the age of economic decline?    Does design accelerate the decline
through marketing and consumerism or resist through artistic critique and
technical activism? What is the responsibility of the academy to students
in teaching contemporary design?

Whether you are a regular participant or a shy lurker I'm hoping you  will
join in and participate during this first week.  Tim and I will be
introducing a few guests next week so this week we are hoping that many of
you will post freely about what you may be thinking about all things


Renate Ferro
Visiting Assistant Professor
Department of Art
Cornell University, Tjaden Hall
Ithaca, NY  14853

Email:   <rtf9 at cornell.edu>
Website:  http://www.renateferro.net

Co-moderator of _empyre soft skinned space

Art Editor, diacritics

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