Anonymous September 29, 2011 at 2:53 pm

at the heart of many of these articles–of which a new one appears almost every day–is a tiresome ageism: we, with only our tv and big-button vcr, were smarter and more thoughtful than these damn kids. to which i agree with your point–there is a conservation of intelligence and creativity in us dumb humans, as witnessed through art etc.

Leckey September 29, 2011 at 12:42 pm

Good stuff

Joshua Johnson September 29, 2011 at 8:41 pm

I find Berardi’s diagnosis of the contemporary condition to be somewhat useful, though I disagree with his return to humanist solutions. I don’t think that you are really that far from where Berardi finally winds up when he advocates for a slower appreciation of life through art [http://vimeo.com/25367464 – this video is kind of hilarious btw, he’s a real character]. Also, I don’t think the major point of the article was to critique art, but rather an ever-accelerating capitalism. The art of someone like Trecartin could be recognized as a kind representation of the schizoaffective condition of late capital. 

In response to your use of Bourriaud to critique Berardi’s sense of abstract time, though, it is precisely Berardi’s point that labor time is no longer a useful measure of the type of work that happens today. Cognitive labor is not measurable by the actual time put into it, but the objectively unmeasurable value (as in your Whistler example) of the specialized knowledge of the producer. The dissonance of contemporary capitalism lies in that it still wants to assert abstract labor time as a measure of value, while labor is further and further abstracted from production. He argues, that previously, the promise of an industrialized automated society was that there was a freedom from labor. Once physical labor was removed from the hands of the workers, we would have the freedom to create arts that were not tied to the capitalist value machine. Instead, capitalism subsumed meaning production and transposed its labor-time-value system over it. Bourriaud’s idealistic micro-utopian ideas suppose that simply by operating within the field of art-production (the autonomy argument) that it is possible to create an alternative marginal space in which the capitalist value system holds no sway. The tragedy of Bourriaud’s theory is that it leads directly into the further subsumption of inter-subjective experience (the service economy) into the matrix of capitalism production, where experience itself is the product, and the ideological demand is, as Zizek is fond of saying, “to enjoy”.


Joshua Johnson September 29, 2011 at 9:18 pm

Also — I don’t think the critique is directed against technological production per se, but the idea that information production is outstripping the the time that people have to consume it and thereby derive meaning from it. There is an evolutionary/biological speed limit to how much we can absorb from the world around us. Your idea: that we then just selectively consume, is great, except it is subject to the meta problem of how do we select what to select – or if we are following someone who claims to be an expert (since we don’t have the time to become experts in all the various fields of knowledge), how do we know that they are an expert? For instance, consider the large number of anti-vaccine Autism conspiracy people that have gathered around a small number of “experts”. As information expands and specializes, it becomes much more difficult to connect it into a cohesive world view that represents the world as it actually is. Capitalism further compounds this by producing massive feedback loops in which decisions are made about the investment of resources based upon more and more complex information models that may or may not be understood by a few specialized individuals.

Anonymous September 30, 2011 at 2:02 pm

Hi, Joshua- I completely agree.  I’ll get back to this soon.

markcreegan September 30, 2011 at 3:24 pm

If one could assign a generational contrast when it comes to information, interaction with content and expressing that content creatively, perhaps its a matter of distillation vs all-out gumbo. Trecartin (esp his latest video that Paddy reviewed exemplifies the later, Marklay’s Clock piece the former) I can see both processes having value although I am personally more inclined to seek out or facilitate the distilled varieties. But both involve something being lost and something being gained. And depending on the context, one approach may me more appropriate than the other.

Danny Olda October 3, 2011 at 6:30 pm

Talking about the loss of the body in communication reminds me of this study I heard about why people get so upset when they’re cut off in a car, but they immediately apologize when someone nearly walks into them on the sidewalk.  Apparently on the sidewalk after nearly running into someone we generally shoot an “I’m sorry” glance to the other person and everything’s good.  In the car, though, we usually can’t see the other person’s face, so we generally get crazy angry and pull the gun from the glove compartment.

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