Urgent Publishing

New Strategies in Post-truth Times

May 15, 2019 19:00 – May 17, 2019 22:00ArtEZ University of the Arts, Arnhem

Institute of Network Cultures, ArtEZ University of the Arts and Willem de Kooning Academy are happy to invite you to Urgent Publishing, a conference with presentations and workshops about publishing strategies in post-truth times.

The 21st century has witnessed the liberation of publishing practices. Digital technologies have brought the printing press to the masses. Who gets to publish and when, the medium used and the channels through which information is consumed have all changed drastically. An ever accelerating development of emergent technologies has led to a wide array of emergent publishing practices, be it in the form of longreads, vlogs, zines, collaborative platforms or print-on-demand – all the while leaving the status of and love for paper books intact. A plethora of tools, applications, infrastructures, models, and hacks thus makes many futures of publishing possible. How to realize sustainable, high-quality alternatives within this domain of post-digital publishing?

Liberation comes with its downsides: while the availability of publishing technologies has helped bring different voices onto the stage, connect new communities and identify hegemonic intersections of power, they have also played a role in bringing about what is known as the ‘post-truth era’. Critical interventions have been somewhat self-referential and concentrated on the needs and demands of people and communities engaged in the history of art or avantgarde publishing. In the meantime, the scale and scope of once emergent publishing practices have exploded, leaving a disenchanted public to scavenge the rubble of breaking fake news stories, information pollution and broken links. Speed and availability of publications may have increased, but the quality of the information presented and of its containers lags […]

Take a Walk on the Wild Side

Fabulating Alternative Imaginaries in Art and Life

March 27, 2019 10:00 – March 30, 2019 17:00Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam

Four-days conference-festival organized by Studium Generale Rietveld Academie with guest curators Kunstverein / Maxine Kopsa, Hypatia Vourloumis, Daniela Rosner and Tavia Nyong’o, who each inaugurate a discursive and performative study day with practices of critical fabulation in art, design and theory. The conference-festival is an invitation to ‘take a walk on the wild side’, and to regard fabulation – in the sense of fabricating the real, world-making or speculative fiction – as an artistic, social and political capacity. By making use of the fictional, critical fabulation in art, literature or theory can produce or uncover visions, histories and stories that are radically discontinuous from official and dominant narratives about our lives and living together. By bringing the unthinkable and silenced into representation, fabulation can be a way or methodology to enter the wild side: a space for what lies beyond current systems and structures of rule.

Take this day as a remedy, a retreat, a parachute drop out of frippery and pseudo-fame trappings. Take this day as a day of experiences, involvements, encounters, occurrences, friendship, digital avoidances, first person accounts, parallel perceptions, alternative languages and song. In waves and ribbons, and transitions, accompanied by silences and lights. A stroll with Alice Chauchat and Raimundas Malašauskas. Listening to time travel with Rosalind Nashashibi. Encountering ‘a misdirected weeping angel within a close proximity communication method’ hosted by Austin Redman.Topped emotionally with a ballad song to you by Mark Buckeridge. Participants: Mark Buckeridge, Alice Chauchat, Isabel Lewis, Raimundas Malašauskas, Rosalind Nashashibi, Austin Redman.

The presentations and performances on this day of study will delve into the aesthetic practices and unruly visons of queer diaspora, sensual excess and brown jouissance, the poetics of emergent aberrations, the magic of science and the intertwining of neurodiverse sensory circuits, futurisms and distorted constellations, the love song, anticolonial time, and the dancing of things and nothingness. Participants: Nwando Ebizie, Gayatri Gopinath, Malak Helmy (with Janine Armin), Monsur Mansoor, Amber Jamilla Musser, Sandra Ruiz, Jackie […]

Culture of Control

False Positives

Esther Hovers, Sophie Wright

Artist contribution – March 8, 2019

Esther Hovers’ photographic project False Positives is about intelligent surveillance systems that are said to be able to detect deviant behaviour within public space. False Positives asks questions on how power, politics and control are exercised through urban planning and the use of public space. It is set around the question of normative public conduct and focuses on eight different ‘anomalies’ in body language and movement that could indicate criminal intent. Through these anomalies the algorithms are built and cameras are able to detect deviant habits. Current systems pay attention to the following behaviours: Standing Still; Fast Movements; Lonely Objects; Placement On A Corner; Clusters Breaking Apart; Synchronized Movements; Repeatedly Looking Back; and Deviant Directions.

Esther Hovers’ interest lies in the unwieldy relationship between individual rights and national security, and focuses on the use of intelligent surveillance technology in public space. Within our global political climate the need for heightened public protection is only increasing. In the past decade, surveillance technology has become woven into our public spaces, part and parcel of everyday life. While its emergence certainly sparked public debate, many of the discussions held around this issue have been characterized by a polarisation of privacy and security, reducing a complex and multilayered debate into a matter of ‘either / or’ in the name of public safety. In its most simple terms, privacy is defined as the right to do things without being observed. Yet in its full, embodied form, it is a social practice. A concept that spans the realms of ethics, psychology, philosophy and policy, bridging the personal and the political, in both the physical and the digital world – one that demands broader consideration and protection.

Opening a transparent dialogue about the development and implementation of surveillance technology has never been more urgent, particularly due to the speed at which it is evolving. As it hurtles forward with the development of sophisticated facial recognition software and video analytics […]


how the minor moves us: across thresholds, socialities, and techniques

a conversation with Erin Manning

Halbe Kuipers

Interview – February 20, 2019

Halbe Kuipers converses with Erin Manning, philosopher and director of the SenseLab, an international network based in Montreal, of artists and academics, writers and makers, working together at the crossroads of philosophy, art, and activism. From a thinking that is beyond the unique individual, the conversation focuses on the concept of minor sociality, the perspective of the treshold and techniques to challenge Whiteness.

Halbe Kuipers: Some time ago you gave a talk in Amsterdam during the Studium Generale Rietveld Academie 2018, after which we had a public conversation. That conversation seems to be one that in a way is always already underway for, as you said back then, this work is continuous – there is no end to it so the conversation keeps going. For me that immediately foregrounds the necessity of the work, the ethics, how what calls us tends to the minor – the minor gestures, to use your concept, that always elude us yet move us.1 The minor seems to move across, as your talk in Amsterdam did in moving with John Lee Clark’s work and deafblindness alongside autism and neurodiversity, on which you’ve written extensively. This moving across, the tending to the minor, could this be a start, the start of that conversation that keeps going?

Erin Manning: I like that you begin right in the middle, in a conversation that we had months ago. Working through the minor requires a sensitivity or attunement to what moves through thought. This is an ethos I try to bring to my writing. The piece I presented at the Rietveld is an example. When I began to write about John Lee Clark’s poems (in my piece […]


The Leather-Feather Whip

Acting Up for the Virus

Taka Taka

Essay – January 17, 2019

Welcome, my name is Tantra Kassandra, I am an ancient fortune teller and contemporary sexologist. 

Imagine a horse standing quietly with its head lowered, unresponsive to normal social and environmental stimuli, and moving away only at the release command or following the directive of the handler. 

To learn helplessness or the submissive posture is considered basic training in certain Western shows and working disciplines for horses. The horse as animal perfectly embodies the deserted reflection of human desire for submission. Many of the observers of horse behaviour use their knowledge and experience to compare horses in domestic and wild settings. The slippery departure point of this assumption is the observation of the horse that we know as submissive, and that the non-submissive is wild. Is it wild when we simply abandon domestication efforts? How do horses deal with resources in their original environment and not domesticated stables in which humans place them? 

For five years, Joel Berger observed wild horses of the Granite Range breed on ranches. The Spanish brought horses to the United States 400 years ago. It was exactly then that Granite Range horses became domesticated. This specific breed has been living and reproducing freely in the open ranches of the Hudson since then. Consequently, they managed to maintain their autonomy to a great extent. The breed is considered one of the clearest examples of wild horses that live communally outside a human […]

Commonist Aesthetics

Who Steals the Goose from off the Common?

An Interview with Peter Linebaugh

Louis Volont

Interview – December 22, 2018

To find out whether capital has nowadays discovered the commons, or if the commons can and must remain invisible in order to survive, Louis Volont speaks with historian Peter Linebaugh. Linebaugh is Professor of History at the University of Toledo and has written extensively on labor, history and the commons. His books include The Magna Carta Manifesto: Liberties and Commons for All (2008) and Stop, Thief! The Commons, Enclosures, and Resistance (2014).

In recent years, the vocabulary of the commons and its derivatives has taken centre stage in debates on political and economic crises. If we are to believe Charlotte Hess (2008), Ostrom’s lifelong commons companion, many ‘new commons’—that is: ‘new sources to share’—have seen the light of day: market commons may heal the wounds of austerity politics; the cultural commons may replace the archaic producer-consumer relationship in the arts; the knowledge commons may counter an increasingly closed circuit of scholarly insights; public space—Syntagma, Tahrir, Gezi—may lay the groundwork during struggles reclaiming public space for collective use. As the world observes with great interest how these alleged ‘new forms of governance’ reshape everyday life, the historical roots of the commons have too often been left untheorized. 

The value of historian Peter Linebaugh’s oeuvre is exactly to fill this gap. He teaches us rightfully that ‘scarcely a society has existed on the face of the earth which has not had at its heart the commons’ (Linebaugh 2014, p. 14). Linebaugh’s Magna Carta Manifesto (2008) shows how the age of the commons preceded the age of the commodity; how the age of reproduction preceded the age of production; how the conviviality of the kitchen preceded the alienation of the factory; and how the age of subsistence existed long before the vocabulary of the (neo)liberals would begin to deride the commons by the ideological use of the words […]

Open! Academy

Walking the Talk and Boating in Amsterdam

A Fabulous Meeting with Jack Halberstam

Charlotte Rooijackers

Interview – December 20, 2018

In advance of this year’s edition1 of Studium Generale Rietveld Academie, Open! reflects on the key positions taken at last year’s gathering, which focused on touch in artistic, philosophical and political terms. Jack Halberstam, Professor of Gender Studies and English at Columbia University, curated the final day of the programme’s conference-festival 2017–2018 under the title ‘Reach out and touch / Somebody’s hand / Make this world a better place / If you can’. Contributors included Karen Barad, boychild, Julia Bryon-Wilson, Mel Y. Chen, Paul B. Preciado and Jeanne Vaccaro. After the conference, Charlotte Rooijackers interviewed Halberstam.

While walking through Amsterdam’s Vondelpark and boating around the city’s canals, Jack Halberstam and I spoke about the artists he writes about, the works that inspire him and how generative that exchange is – not everyone appreciates the large-scale publicity he enjoys in his work in queer theory. In relation to his supportive ‘failure book’, The Queer Art of Failure (2011), I began by asking whether success is what one truly desires.

Jack Halberstam: Well, I mean that’s sort of the paradox. People have critiqued the model I offer for being secretly committed to another kind of success. So, on the one hand, I seem to be advocating for failure. On the other hand, there’s a triumphalism in the children’s films that I look at, or in some of the humour. I understand this paradox. But, in the end, it is not about success or failure – it’s about the logic of success and failure that rules us, disciplines us. Like the student who really wants to study art but feels they should study science or business because that’s more practical. That’s a rubric of success that makes art into a site of failure, in an almost predetermined way. It is also about recognizing that this logic captures you by speaking to orientations that are really embedded in you ideologically. You know, […]

Culture of Control

Challenging Logistical AI

The Politics of Artificial Artificial Intelligence

Krystian Woznicki

Essay – December 19, 2018

Critic and publicist Krystian Woznicki reviews Ambient Revolts, the eighteenth annual conference of the Berliner Gazette that took place in November in Berlin and questioned how to rethink political agency in an AI-driven world. Woznicki signals the emergence of what he calls Logistical AI and coins the term Artificial Artificial Intelligence (AAI) to start a discourse about this new field.

Politicizing the rise of Artificial Intelligence while autocrats are gaining momentum, the Ambient Revolts conference moved onto new ground: ‘Logistical AI’. It is new ground insofar as it has hardly been covered by academic or journalistic knowledge production. Of course, there is a lot about AI in general and there is also a lot about logistics in general, but there is hardly any literature about the intersection of these terms that I propose calling Logistical AI. So, out of urgent necessity, in my view there is a need to invent a critical discourse on Logistical AI. In order to do this I first sketch the emergence of Logistical AI as a field of politics, then introduce the seemingly unrelated work of Sandi Hilal and Evelina Gambino within this emerging field. Finally, I reflect on the struggle within and against Logistical AI as a politics of Artificial Artificial Intelligence (AAI), raising critical issues of agency and labour.   

Fault Lines

December 14, 2018; 10:00 – 20:00Royal Academy of Art, The Hague

Fault Lines is a one-day symposium that will explore the interstitial positioning and generative potential of design research as the borders of disciplines shift, while presenting an array of research projects that map and interpret the traces of design’s complicity in climate change.

How does contemporary design research inhabit the fissures between disciplinary realms and negotiate the discontinuities between them? Are there particular qualities and capacities of design-specific tools and methods and what do they allow for? And how can the insights that arise from experimental research inquiries make a significant contribution to design practice, to education, and to knowledge?

This one-day symposium aims to surface research activity by members of the teaching community at Royal Academy of Art (KABK) and Leiden University. It will feature some of the projects being developed through the current KABK research groups, alongside contributions from invited keynote speakers, with a particular emphasis on practice-led research that uses design either as its subject matter or means for investigation. The symposium seeks to identify approaches, methods and tools with broader application to the growing design research culture at KABK and beyond.

Featuring keynote lectures by Marjanne van Helvert (Dirty Design), Anab Jain (Superflux), Richard Rogers (Digital Methods Initiative, University of Amsterdam) and Susan Schuppli (Centre for Research Architecture, Goldsmiths). With presentations of research in progress by […]

Commonist Aesthetics

The Salt of the Earth

On Commonism: An Interview with Antonio Negri

Pascal Gielen, Sonja Lavaert

Interview – August 18, 2018

With Assembly (2017), Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri have continued their trilogy Empire (2000), Multitude (2004), and Commonwealth (2009) into the new decade, expanding it into a tetralogy. The fourth episode sees these advocates of commonism once again provide a critical analysis of the most topical developments in society. Their central issue this time concerns why the social movements that express the demands and wishes of so many and show that the common is a fact, have not succeeded in bringing about a new, truly democratic and just society. The line of questioning itself is already controversial, as are many of the propositions and concepts launched by the authors in Assembly. According to them we must confront the problem of leadership and institutions, dare to imagine the entrepreneurship of the multitude, appropriate old terms and, especially, reverse their meaning. We meet with Antonio Negri in his apartment in Paris, to try out this recipe for reversal and to discuss strategy and tactics, ideology and aesthetics, and art and language.

Pascal Gielen & Sonja Lavaert: Our book Commonism is about the triangle of ideology, aesthetics and the commons.1 Our tentative assumption is that commonism may be the next meta-ideology, after neoliberalism. We understand ideology not only negatively as a false awareness, but also positively as a logic of faith that connects fiction and reality and can make people long for and work towards a better form of living together. In Assembly you and Michael Hardt do something similar with notions such as ‘entrepreneurship’, ‘institution’, ‘leadership’. What does ‘ideology’ mean to you and do you think it may also figure in a positive narrative?

Antonio Negri: In my experience, ideology tends to have mostly negative connotations, or, rather, I have regarded ‘ideology’ mainly in negative terms. This means though that we are speaking of something that is real. Ideology is a real fact. In addition, it is something real that embodies, shapes and constitutes reality. What I see as positive in this embodiment of reality is critique – which can be critique of the ideology or of reality – and the dispositive, understood as the transition of the world of thinking to that of reality. In my view, ideologies make up reality, but I use the term preferably when discussing its negative aspect, whereas when I speak of its positive aspect, i.e., the critique or the dispositive, I prefer these latter […]


It’s So Nice That We Don’t Have to Talk about Politics Anymore

Saša Karalić

Artist contribution – August 7, 2018

The ongoing work It’s So Nice That We Don’t Have to Talk about Politics Anymore is, so far, staged in three different social contexts. It consists of a group of people performing a number of political slogans in public space. In each version of the work, the slogans are conceived, after extensive research, within the social context in which they are performed and based on the ‘general politics of truth’ of that context. The ‘general politics of truth’ is the foundation on which a society builds its self-perception and showcases its self-worth by often bypassing difficult questions and concerns. The work brings out these ‘truths’ and repeatedly performs them in public space.

The Dutch version of the work entitled Het is zo fijn dat wij hier niet meer over politiek hoeven te praten was performed in June 2013 at the Amstelhoven in Amsterdam and the video registration of it was shown at the Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam in 2015 as a part of the group exhibition Resolution 827. The slogans included in this version, among others, are: ‘We live in the human rights paradise’, ‘Finally, Indonesia is not a subject any more’ and ‘We did what we could in Srebrenica’.1

Open! Academy

Other Voices, Other Views

Lauren Alexander, Niels Schrader

Artist contribution – July 20, 2018

Other Voices, Other Views is an academic research project led by Lauren Alexander, Maarten Cornel and Niels Schrader and executed by third-year Graphic Design students from the Royal Academy of Art (KABK), with guest tutors Ramon Amaro, Femi Dawkins and Kelly Walters. The project invites students to closely examine their own racial, cultural and gender identities aiming to critically rethink how established norms have come into being. In the Netherlands, years of colonial rule have meant that race and economic exploitation have been central to society and we recognise that work needs to be done to undo damages of the past. Putting the decolonial writings of Gloria Wekker, James Baldwin and many more into practice, students were encouraged to identify and research racial bias vis-à-vis different sectors of Dutch society by means of an interview format.

Auke Lansink, Carolina Valente Pinto and Zuzanna Zgierska
in conversation with Ramon Amaro, Danae Io, Dr. M. Birna van Riemsdijk and Marc Schuilenburg
16:52 min

The video The Frayed Edges of Efficiency brings together the opinions of four specialists in algorithmic discrimination. During the interviews Ramon Amaro, Danae Io, Dr. M. Birna van Riemsdijk and Marc Schuilenburg explain the hidden biases in machine learning, and argue how software that is used for predictive policing, racial profiling and voice recognition is everything but neutral. The interviews conclude with the suggestion that the first step towards a solution to potential discrimination is ensuring that agency and accountability is inherent in the tools we have developed.


Parliaments of the European Union

Nico Bick, Ingrid Oosterheerd

Artist contribution – June 12, 2018

As a conceptual documentary photographer, Nico Bick’s photographic works, often produced as series, invite concentrated investigation. In this work, by focusing on the plenary chamber of parliaments in the European Union, he draws attention to parliamentary history of democracy and its functioning within the EU.

After the (banking) crisis in 2008, it became increasingly clear that unity within the European Union is fragile. As soon as the economy began to deteriorate, the EU and the fiercely fought-for European unity began to crack in many places and even national sentiment reappeared – one reason for Bick to deepen his understanding of one of the most important conditions for EU membership, democracy. His series of three or four photographs captures the plenary chamber of all parliaments in the EU – the twenty-eight member states and the European Parliament in Brussels and Strasbourg. The simplicity of this description stands in stark contrast to the great effort that went into making the series, which took Bick almost six years to complete. He photographed his first parliament in the summer of 2010 and his last parliament in fall 2015. Organizing access to parliaments and travel was a long and complicated process. For example, some parliaments were not easily persuaded to grant him access. In some cases, the access application took more than a year and a half to complete. The photography itself also required great effort, finding the right position for his analogue technical camera and to define the frameworks for his triptych and tetraptychs was meticulous and time-consuming […]

Topologies of Touch

COOP Summit 2018

June 01, 2018; 15:00 – 18:00 Circuits & Currents, Athens

For the public presentation of its 2018–2019 trajectory, Open! Coop Academy Topologies of Touch study group, part of DAI Roaming Academy, will be based in Athens. After a year of study and intensive gatherings in Arnhem, Cologne, Heemskerk, Oldebroek, Thessaloniki, Athens, Epen and Barcelona, we will share our inquiries with the public.

Open! Academy

Topologies of Touch


Open! COOP Academy 2017–2018

Artist contribution – May 30, 2018

This experimental lexicon is by the participants of Open! Coop Academy’s study group Topologies of Touch. The study group – part of DAI Roaming Academy 2017–2018 – focused on touch and feel, the tactile and haptic, from philosophical and political standpoints and within cultural, artistic and social practices. Here you find a video summary of the public presentations of the study group in Athens in June 2018.

Our exploration of the body and touch in relation to politics, saw us turn to Erin Manning’s Politics of Touch: Sense, Movement, Sovereignty (2006) provoking a series of questions: How can we trace the ways in which touch informs and reforms the body in concepts such as violence, gender, race, sexuality, democracy and identity? How do sensing bodies run up against existing political structures? Can we resist paralyzing body-politics and cultivate ‘gestures’ of resistance?

Another substantive point of focus was hapticality in terms of ‘the capacity to feel through others’, proposed by Stefano Harney and Fred Moten in The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning & Black Study (2013). As they write, it is ‘a way of feeling through others, a feel for feeling others feeling you. This is modernity’s insurgent feel, its inherited caress, its skin talk, tongue touch, breath speech, hand laugh. This is the feel that no individual can stand, and no state abide. This is the feel we might call hapticality’.1

The image-text lexicon ‘Topologies of Touch’ includes entries that arise from the participants’ divergent individual practices, experiences and engagements in relation to the study […]


Material Relations

Interview with Julia Bryan-Wilson

Steyn Bergs

Interview – May 29, 2018

Julia Bryan-Wilson, an art historian interested in issues of labour and work and feminist and queer theory, contributed to the fourth and final day of the Studium Generale Rietveld Academie conference-festival Hold Me Now: Touch and Feel in an Unreal World (21–24 March 2018). Responding to the call by Jack Halberstam, curator of the day’s programme, to become ‘philosophers of the feel’, Bryan-Wilson reflected on a work by artist Rebecca Belmore to examine what accountabilities materials demand or suggest, and to question if and how an artist’s engagement with these materials can create alternative histories. In this interview with Steyn Bergs, Bryan-Wilson explains and elaborates on some of the issues brought together in her talk, titled ‘Material Relations’.

Steyn Bergs: To contextualize your talk ‘Material Relations’, which centres on Rebecca Belmore’s work Biinjiya'iing Onji (From Inside) produced for documenta 14 last year, let’s consider your work as an art historian. Besides being profoundly affected by feminist and queer theory and politics, your research into art and labour is attentive to art as a kind of labour and relationship to other fields since the 1960s. Artistic labour figures as the ‘other’ with respect to productive labour under capitalism, a potential antidote to its deadening effects, a safe haven, a sort of refuge for authentic experience or prototype for non-alienated and non-alienating activity. Your first book Art Workers: Radical Practice in the Vietnam War Era (2009) explores this terrain through 1960s and 1970s figures such as Carl Andre, Lucy Lippard and Hans Haacke. You detail their push to debunk this perception as an ideology that (economically and otherwise) served the then elite of the art world. They did so through explicitly identifying themselves as productive labourers, and emphasizing how their work was subsumed by or imbricated in capitalist production.

Recently, however, your approach has shifted. […]

Commonist Aesthetics

The Blockchain: Free-Riding for the Commons

From Potential Tragedy to Real Comedy

Louis Volont, Walter van Andel

Essay – May 14, 2018

Is the blockchain an instance of commoning in cyberspace or is it enhancing capitalism to automate labour? Louis Volont and Walter van Andel argue that the blockchain is particularly well-suited to explore ideology and counter-ideology in the realm of the commons, for the blockchain constitutes a contested kind of commons: a market common, a monetary common, a kind of common that facilitates the accumulation of exchange value for, indeed, self-interested individuals. Could common ownership of that which is automated prevent the blockchain from a relapse into corporate tragedy?

Contemporary debates on anything that is supposedly ‘new’ tend to centre around ‘normality’. Take, for instance, debates on veganism, political preference or gay marriage. People who speculate on these issues often talk in terms of ‘the normal’ and ‘the exception’. Some say that humankind has always eaten meat, and that therefore we should continue to do so ‘because it has always been that way’. Gay marriage? ‘Wrong! Let’s keep our ancient traditions intact!’. In the same vein, some say that capitalism constitutes humankind’s default situation, while commoning constitutes the exception as a new, utopian, romantic discourse, deserving at best a heritage niche for those dreamers who still ‘believe’ in a world beyond market and state. In fact, discussions on the commons stem from parties who attempt to convince other parties about what is ‘normal and realistic’ and what is ‘exceptional and utopian’. Opponents try to convince advocates by referring to a kind of universal, albeit hidden truth: ‘we’ve always exchanged goods on markets’, ‘mankind consists of self-interested individuals’. Interlocutors attempt to claim monopolies on supposed truths. Discussions on the commons, hence, evolve out of a clash of ideology and […]

Care of the Brain

Up, Sammy, Look Up

Intergenerational Knowledge and its Distractions

Malcolm Kratz

Essay – April 12, 2018

How do we step away from a culture of docility, and move to a place of imperfect neuronal liberation, where amenity is no longer part of us? Malcolm Kratz argues that we should enrage ourselves against an economic, political and mediatic system that promotes flexibility and obedience, while accepting that our brain does not obey itself, that it overproduces and needs to get the pressure off. Kratz advocates education for a culture of neuroliberation. This essay is part of the DAI Open! Coop Academy research project (Against) Neuralgia: Care of the Brain in Times of Cognitive Capitalism.

Technology has enhanced our lives in countless ways. At the same time, it is the primary source of distraction that interferes with our pursuit of goals. Interference means hindering, obstructing or derailing other processes. The impacts of this can be found on many levels: thinking, perception, decision making, communication, emotional regulation and memory (in short executive functions) – our ability to learn and engage in social situations.1

But I’d like to say more about the process of interference before pointing all fingers at modern technology, or immersive media. Interference happens naturally: think of how the mind wanders, or surrounding sights, sounds and smells that distract you from focusing on the task at hand. These distractions are involuntary, but the interruptions are voluntary: for instance, thinking about a particular task or deliberately multitasking by working on another task or trying to focus on multiple sources of information (Facebooking during a lecture, listening to music while cleaning). The more complex a system gets, the more likely it falls prey to distraction – and the human mind is incredibly complex.

The dopaminergic system triggered by foraging for food is today triggered by foraging for information in a world of proliferating technologies and ways to access them amid ever-expanding information. Through this dopaminergic process, we give in only to short-term rewards, instead of potentially more rewarding long-term accomplishments. We are triggered by inner and outer interference, without the time to critically engage and contemplate in order to develop, what Bernard Stiegler, philosopher and head of the Institut de recherche et d'innovation, and N. Katherine Hayles, literary critic and previous director of the Electronic Literature Organisation, describe as (deep) attention. Continuous attention capture on the part of our digital devices leads us into a state of hyper attention, which excels in dealing with rapidly changing environments. When entered in its pure form, perception-action cycle (our animalistic action-reaction mechanism) overtakes cognitive control (our ability to pause and make conscious decisions). Yet hyper attention also makes it possible to switch between different input sources, making us alert to our environment and flexible within it, while vulnerable to outside and inside interruption as we skip over the reality principle: our executive functions. […]

Hold Me Now

Feel and Touch in Unreal World

March 21, 2018 10:30 – March 24, 2018 17:30Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam

Studium Generale Rietveld Academie presents a four-days conference-festival guest curated by Karen Archey, Mark Paterson, Rizvana Bradley and Jack Halberstam, who will each inaugurate a discursive and performative programme on how the haptic – relating to or based on touch – is thought and experienced artistically, philosophically, and politically in life, art and design, and theory. Simultaneously Rietveld Uncut presents projects by departments and individual students in relation to the theoretic framework of Studium Generale. Students from the DAI / Open! Coop Academy Topologies of Touch Group will publish comments and reviews on part of the conference at the Blog-section of Open!

How do we feel and more specifically touch in our technologically mediated dematerialized digital cultures? Do we solely stroke and swipe our screens? How are the body and its feel involved? Are we in fact cultivating different tactilities in relation to the world and others? Further, how can we trace the ways in which touch informs and reforms the body with respect to violence, gender, sexuality, democracy, and identity? If art and design have privileged sight and sound, should touch – and all the senses – be addressed and activated in order to help us stay ‘in touch’ with our bodies and the material world?

Karen Archey, Mirthe Berentsen, Jesse Darling, Joseph Grigely, Carolyn Lazard, Luke Willis Thompson, Mark Paterson, Kate Elswit, Anna Harris, Carey Jewitt, David Parisi, Stahl Stenslie, Rizvana Bradley, Hortense Spillers, Eyal Weizman, Aracelis Girmay, Erin Manning, Ligia Lewis, Wu Tsang, Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, Jack Halberstam, Karen Barad, boychild, Julia Bryan-Wilson, Mel Y. Chen, Paul B. Preciado, Jeanne Vaccaro.

Further information on the programme on the website: holdmenow.rietveldacademie.nl.

Entrance for students and staff from Gerrit Rietveld Academie and Sandberg Instituut is free. All students and staff are welcome. Interested people from outside the Rietveld are also […]


Terra – Terror – Territory

Re-Articulating the Territory by Putting Use Value above Exchange Value

Pascal Gielen

Essay – December 18, 2017

While Blue Marble showed us the finity of the earth, of Terra, the current culture of grabbing sees territory as private property and exchange value. This can only be adjusted if we intervene at the structural level, says Pascal Gielen. We have to re-evaluate and upgrade the use value, whether it concerns public or private territory. Artists and cultural organizations can play a crucial part in this. Not by proclaiming a political message but by acting politically or not with their work.