Author: Virality

The Manifesto of Activist Neuroaesthetics: Warren Neidich

Aiming to get to Berlin this summer to do some lectures on neurocultures, experience capitalism and aesthetics for Warren. In the meantime, here’s his manifesto… an ongoing project that resonates well with discussion in my books The Assemblage Brain and A Sleepwalker’s Guide to Social Media.

Here’s an extract:

1. Every person on planet Earth has the right to fully develop their neural plastic potential. This Manifesto of Activist Neuroaesthetics is a call to arms against engineered neural optimization. Activist Neuroaesthetics seeks to produce fully developed singular entities constituting a multiplicity whose differences in neural architectures (their neural diversity) are embraced and promoted as forms of collective autonomous power. Activist Neuroaesthetics promotes the idea that artists and art professionals play a key role in making this happen.

2. Neural plasticity is a human trait that knows no boundaries.Neural plasticity refers to the ways and means that the brains’ structure and function is modified by experience throughout life, although more so in youth. The brain’s materiality, both its grey matter consisting of cells called neurons especially its dendrites and synapses, as well as its white matter composed of myelenated axons called tracts are modified in this process.   In addition to normal training and experience recent evidence has drawn attention to injury induced functional and structural plasticity as well as plasticity involved in learning new skills. Activist Neuroaesthetics embraces neural plasticity as a political tool and means for change, resistance, and emancipation against the powers of neural capitalism which aims to normalize plasticity by sculpting its potential into something supple and easily controlled. As Catherine Malabou states: “Flexibility is plasticity without its genius.” While flexibility encourages supplication to power by unquestionably taking on its form, plasticity counters its power by inventing and creating its own forms beyond sovereignties normalizing apparatuses and dispositifs.

Read more here:

Nipples, memes, and algorithmic failure: NSFW critique of Tumblr censorship

Elena Pilipets, Susanna Paasonen First Published December 15, 2020 Research Article

During a week when the UK Online Harms bill starts to see the light of day, here’s a welcome critique of social media censorship by Pilipets and Paasonen.


In November 2018, after being suspended from Apple’s App Store for hosting child pornography, Tumblr announced its decision to ban all NSFW (not safe/suitable for work) content with the aid of machine-learning classification. The decision to opt for strict terms of use governing nudity and sexual depiction was as fast as it was drastic, leading to the quick erasure of subcultural networks developed over a decade. This article maps out platform critiques of and on Tumblr through a combination of visual and digital methods. By analyzing 7306 posts made between November 2018 (when Tumblr announced its new content policy) and August 2019 (when Verizon sold Tumblr to Automattic), we explore the key stakes and forms of user resistance to Tumblr “porn ban” and the affective capacities of user-generated content to mobilize engagement.

Read on…

Experiential Capitalism

In A Sleepwalker’s Guide to Social Media I write more generally about the onset of experience capitalism. Here’s a link to a short piece by Cynthia B. Meyers (published by open access journal Flow) based on a visit to The World of Coca-Cola. It provides some useful insights into a significant component part of experiential capitalism.

Audience members at the World of Coca-Cola wear 3-D glasses while watching a video.

Experiential Advertising:
Cynthia B. Meyers / College of Mount Saint Vincent

The World of Coca-Cola, located in Atlanta, Georgia, is a museum/indoor theme park that includes a gift shop and a tasting room, and is a prime example of effective experiential advertising. In exchange for their ticket purchase and their attention, visitors are educated in all things Coca-Cola: its history, icons, philosophy, and products. In March 2016, I joined other visitors, paying $16 for the privilege of standing in a series of lines: first to watch an introductory film showing happy people of all kinds consuming Coke everywhere; then to have a photo taken with an actor costumed as the advertising icon polar bear; then to enter “The Vault,” where the secret formula is supposed to be safely stored, away from competitors; and finally to taste Coca-Cola products from all over the world. Following the paths and the lines, visitors are ultimately funneled through a store where they can buy more Coca-Cola advertising to take home with them: toys, games, clothing, dishes, and mementoes.

“Advertising” usually differs from “content” in that content is what the audience wants to see, while advertising is what the advertiser wants the audience to see, so much so that advertisers pay media companies to expose audiences to it. Magazine ads appear next to magazine articles, television commercials interrupt narrative programs, and it is easy to tell which is content and which advertising. The media companies finance and create the content to attract audience segments advertisers target; the advertisers (“brands”) and their agencies create the interstitial advertising and pay for its placement. This distinction between is harder to parse in the World of Coca-Cola. Most people claim they strive to avoid advertising, but visitors to the World of Coca-Cola pay money for it. Perhaps not many brands can get away with this. In light of the decline of linear television, however, which developed as the single most powerful brand-image building medium ever by forcibly exposing mass audiences to interstitial commercials, such experiential advertising strategies may be a sign of things to come.

Experiential Advertising:
Cynthia B. Meyers / College of Mount Saint Vincent


Published by Athenea Digital 20(2) Summer 2020


Al igual que muchas disciplinas académicas en el siglo XXI, las humanidades sehan visto profundamente afectadas por los avances en las ciencias del cerebro.Conceptualmente esto ha significado que algunas de las principales inquietudesdel pasado siglo, como las que se adhieren a una división cartesiana entre mente ycuerpo, o la dualidad psicoanalítica del consciente/inconsciente, han sido suplan-tadas por un nuevo tipo de relación neurológica; esto es, la relación establecidaentre una facultad mental disminuida y el imperceptible poder gobernante de lono-consciente. Lo que se presenta aquí se centra en una noción teóricamente im-pugnada del no-consciente neurológico que ha producido dos posicionamientosorientados de manera diferente en las posthumanidades. La discusión se centra enlos intentos de asimilar una comprensión impugnada del no-consciente en unmarco teórico cognitivo remodelado, por un lado, y una nueva interpretación ma-terialista de la teoría del afecto, por el otro.

Full article here

Contagions, Sleepwalkers, and the Nonconscious of Social Media: An Interview with Tony D. Sampson

I have an interview published in The Journal of Media Art Study and Theory (Volume 1, Issue 2, 2020 Media, Materiality, and Emergency).

Contagions, Sleepwalkers, and the Nonconscious of Social Media: An Interview with Tony D. Sampson

It’s an interview with the very talented Jernej Markelj based at Cardiff University. Our discussion addresses viruses and modes of contagion but also the ‘dark refrain’ of far-right populism and social media. Much more than the current state of emergency due to COVID-19, the conversation addresses the political and relational conditions of contagion in general.

Parallax: Networked Liminality

A new special issue of Parallax is out. It includes a piece I wrote following a guest talk at the Winchester School of Art on The Assemblage Brain and preparing material for A Sleepwalker’s Guide to Social Media. It’s called “A sleepwalker’s guide to the collective nonconscious.” The issue is edited by Yigit Soncul and Grant Bollmer and promises to be very special indeed. There are articles by Sean Cubitt, Ingrid Hoelzl, Tero Karppi, James J. Hodge, Katherine Guinness and more…

Volume 26, 2020 – Issue 1: Networked Liminality, Guest Edited by Yigit Soncul and Grant Bollmer