e-flux journal issue 69

e-flux journal

January 7, 2016

e-flux journal issue 69

with Franco “Bifo” Berardi, Jodi DeanAlan Gilbert, Benjamin H. BrattonReza NegarestaniSven Lütticken, Irmgard Emmelhainz, and Jonas Staal

www.e-flux.com/issues/69-january-2016/

e-flux journal iPad edition is now available.
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The choice of cover image for this issue of e-flux journal came down to two photos: a decrepit military airplane lingering in a remote gray field, evoking long forgotten battles of a distant war; and a picture of a DIY christmas tree, cheerfully constructed from a stack of worn car tires and painted lime green. The airplane was the more haunting of the two images, yet with all that is happening around us, we wanted to resist the sublime spectacle of decimation and consider some modest proposals about how affect, art, humor, and practical resourcefulness can provide solutions to apparently unsolvable problems and non-problems.

Needless to say: the problems are scary. From violence and seemingly constant massacres to the re-establishment of borders and controls of all kinds; from censorship, racist and nationalist rhetoric, to creeping militarization and the mobilization of hundreds of thousands of refugees—all of this is starting to resemble the conditions that preceded the last world war. In the face of all this, how do we go about thinking of a way out?

So what we share with you is this tire tree above, as well as eight new essays by Reza Negarestani, Irmgard Emmelhainz, Jodi Dean, Franco “Bifo” Berardi, Benjamin H. Bratton, Alan Gilbert, Jonas Staal, and Sven Lütticken.

Happy New Year!

—Editors

In this issue:

Franco “Bifo” Berardi—The Coming Global Civil War: Is There Any Way Out?
Globalization has brought about the obliteration of modern universalism: capital flows freely everywhere and the labor market is globally unified, but this has not led to the free circulation of women and men, nor to the affirmation of universal reason in the world. Rather, the opposite is happening: as the intellectual energies of society are captured by the network of financial abstraction, as cognitive labor is subjugated to the abstract law of valorization, and as human communication is transformed into abstract interaction among disembodied digital agents, the social body is detached from the general intellect.

Jodi Dean—The Anamorphic Politics of Climate Change
Getting to name our new era, marking our impact as the “Anthropocene,” provides a compensatory charge—hey, we changed the world after all. Even better than coming up with a name for our era is the jouissance that comes from getting to judge everyone else for their self-absorbed consumerist pleasures—why didn’t you change when you should have? Anticipatory Cassandras, we watch from within our melancholic “pre-loss,” to use Naomi Klein’s term, comforted by the fantasy of our future capacity to say we knew it all along. We told you so. Your capitalism, instrumental reason, or Cartesian dualism killed us all. Or so we fantasize, screening out the unequal distribution of the effects of warming—Russia doesn’t worry about it as much as, say, Bangladesh.

Alan Gilbert—Walid Raad’s Spectral Archive, Part One: Historiography as a Process
For Raad, history can never be captured at the moment it occurs—or after. The historians themselves can only estimate the discrepancy between the event and its documentation. Yet their conjecture only compounds the disparity between history and its recording, as no historian manages to guess exactly the distance between horse and finish line; rather, the winner of the bet is the one who comes closest. In other words, Notebook Volume 72: Missing Lebanese Wars deals with how history is written as opposed to actual historical events. Rather than writing an unwritten history, Raad’s art aims to write the writing of history.

Benjamin H. Bratton—El Proceso
This is only one of many passages from his diaries in which Johnson refers to himself as a vampire. In others, even more explicit, he cites a “furtive volition of the vampire ethos” in the careers of several historical figures, from Piranesi to Henry Ford. “The power of the machine,” he writes, “is its seduction, and the power of its seduction is in its secrecy, which is to say in its natural affinity to the necessary opacity of our positions. Vampires formulate order but do so by hiding in the open, like our work.”

Reza Negarestani—What Is Philosophy? Part Two: Programs and Realizabilities
It is necessary to grasp the concept of artificial general intelligence not merely as a technoscientific idea, but more fundamentally as a concept belonging to a thought that is able to recognize and treat its possibility as a raw material in the crafting of itself. Independent of its actual realization, the very idea of artificial general intelligence—giving rise to something that is at the least endowed with all the cherished abilities of the cognitive-practical subject—is the product of a thought that strives to articulate, maintain, and develop the intelligibility of the sources and consequences of its possibility. In essence, this striving is a recipe or a program for autonomy.

Sven Lütticken—Neither Autocracy nor Automatism: Notes on Autonomy and the Aesthetic
In fact, today autonomy seems to be located anywhere except but on the part of human agency, having become post-human—this is autonomy as automatism, usually presented to the populace as an objective Sachzwang, usually in the form of “saving the economy” or “saving the banks” or “saving the Euro” because “there are no alternatives.” As a particular type of asset, art is part and parcel of autonomist techno-finance. What value do the old plots of the aesthetic have for theory and practice under these circumstances?

Irmgard Emmelhainz—Geopolitics and Contemporary Art, Part One: From Representation’s Ruin to Salvaging the Real
If traditional forms of power were representative and lodged in institutions and persons, power is now hidden in infrastructure (a highway, a supermarket, software, fiber optics, a data center, corporate providers of energy and water) and materialized as spatial arrangements. Post-representative forms of power manifest themselves as the organization, design, and configuration of the world; these forms of power are architectural and impersonal, as opposed to representative and personal. Moreover, politics is also post-ideological, which means that critical disposition, symbolic gesture, political position, and everyday life are completely dissociated.

Jonas Staal—Ideology = Form
Non-state entities that change mentality move beyond the usual script imposed upon them through the form of the nation-state. Consequently, they live a dual form of terror: the terror of liberation, and the state-terror that is employed to punish those that engage in this process. For regimes such as Erdoğan’s in Turkey, the true terrorists are those that Hesso describes: the humans and cats that decide to go off-stage—or better, off-state—altogether. The fourth wall of the geopolitical theater that the Kurds are dismantling consists of performing the fact that life beyond the state is possible, even though no one yet knows exactly which form this life will take.

The print edition of e-flux journal can now be found at:
Amsterdam: De Appel arts centre / Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten Andratx: CCA Andratx Antwerp: M HKA Museum van Hedendaagse Kunst Århus: Kunsthal Aarhus Athens: OMMU Auckland: split/fountain Austin: Arthouse at the Jones Center Baden-Baden: Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden Banff: Walter Phillips Gallery, The Banff Centre Barcelona: Arts Santa Mònica / MACBA Basel: Kunsthalle Basel / Museum für Gegenwartskunst Basel Beijing and Guangzhou: Vitamin Creative Space Beirut: 98weeks Belgrade: Cultural Center of Belgrade Bergen: Bergen Kunsthall / Rakett Berlin: b_books / Berliner Künstlerprogramm – DAAD / Bücherbogen am Savignyplatz GmbH / do you read me? / Haus der Kulturen der Welt / Motto / Neuer Berliner Kunstverein (n.b.k.) / Pro qm Bern: Kunsthalle Bern / Lehrerzimmer Bialystok: Arsenal Gallery Bielefeld: Bielefelder Kunstverein Biella: UNIDEE – University of Ideas, Cittadellarte – Fondazione Pistoletto Onlus Birmingham: Eastside Projects / Ikon Gallery Bologna: MAMbo – Museo 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