Category: Assemblage Brain
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.
I have an interview published in The Journal of Media Art Study and Theory (Volume 1, Issue 2, 2020 Media, Materiality, and Emergency).
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.
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…
Our Keynote and Special Guest: Dr Who and the Non-Entity
“Redefining the Immunity Problem in the Empire of Like”
In 20mins https://viralcontagion.blog/asm4-5/
And a video to go with the new book . Thanks to Mikey Vessel Georgeson for aesthetic diagrams and images of his Somnambulist performance at the Affect Summer School last summer. A really big thanks to John Leo Dutton who allowed the use of his music – which is incidentally part of a dystopian media project we have yet to finish called Fordlandia.
Although set for a July release in the UK, I’m told a print version is on its way to me this week! There’s also a link to the book on the Polity website. http://politybooks.com/bookdetail/?isbn=9781509537402
Buy it for no other reason than Mikey Georgeson’s marvellous illustrations
While we wait for Covid-19 to do its dreadful thing
Before we can meet safely at the University of East London for A&SM#5 (https://viralcontagion.blog/asm5-summer-2020/)
Affect & Social Media#4.5 and Sensorium Art Show present: Media Virality and the Lockdown Aesthetic
Call for papers, performances and artworks
DEADLINE EXTENDED TO June 12th 2020 250-word proposal emailed to email@example.com
A full programme of links to pre-recorded videos, short position papers, artworks, performances, presentations, book launches, and online discussion groups, and so on… will be released throughout a two-day period in mid-July (tbc).
Before Covid-19, the concept of universal virality cut a hitherto marginal figure in media theory. References to contagion, immunology, epidemiology and viral networks were of ancillary concern. After all, media and communication studies were supposed to be about establishing connection; not the opposite of it! Viral metaphors referred to trivial contagions of fads, crazes and marketing hype. Some media theorists optimistically translated these metaphors into the media viruses and spreadable media of participatory culture. However, now, all of a sudden, unpredictably, and rather shockingly, viral media stands at the centre of contemporary issues both materially, economically, and socially. In the wake of global uncertainty and anxiety caused by the uncontainable spread of Covid-19, there has been an abrupt move to the viral – from the margin to the middle.
Covid-19 draws urgent attention to the workings of a viral logics that criss-crosses from biological to cultural, technological and economic contexts. Virality is a techno-social condition of proximity and distance, accident and security, communication and communication breakdown. Indeed, it is in the current context that our understanding of the movement of people and messages is framed by the logics of quarantine and confinement, security and prevention.
Virality automates affective reactions and imitative behaviours that relate to different visceral registers of experience compared to those assumed to inform the logic of the market. Which is to say, the mainstream cognitive models that are supposed to support the failing economic model of rational choice (if indeed anyone really ever believed in Homo Economicus) are replaced by seemingly irrational and uncontrollable financial contagion.
Recent outbreaks of panic buying of toilet roll and paracetamol, some of which have been sparked by the global spread of Instagram images of empty supermarket shelves, are spreading alongside scenes of isolated Italians, impulsively bursting into songs of solidarity and support from their balconies. All of these are bizarre contagions because, it would seem, they are interwoven with contagions of psychological fear, anxiety, conspiracy and further financial turmoil; all triggered by the indeterminate spread of Covid-19. Virality is resolutely non-metaphorical.
To think these contagions through is, for a number of reasons, a difficult task. We are after all dealing with an ecology of technological, biological, and affective realities moving about in strange feedback loops. Future predictions are taking place against a backdrop of contested epidemiological models, reliant on, for example, the uncertain thresholds of herd immunity or total social lockdown. Certainly, following a sustained period of comparatively stable risk assessment, mostly based on known knowns and known unknowns, we have just entered a vital, possibly game changing phase in which unknown unknowns will prescribe the near future.
We welcome suggestions inspired by, but certainly not limited to this list of topics
- Media viruses
- Conspiracy contagions
- Revolutionary contagions
- Viral modelling
- Accidental contagion
- Panic buying
- Media health and media contagion
- Care contagions
- Spreadable media
- Social theory and contagion
- Financial contagion
- Ethics of virality
- Lockdown aesthetics
- Biopolitical containments
- Viral patterning of habit and behaviour
- Social distancing
- Herd immunity
- Contagion theory
- Viral flows/events
- Racist contagions –g. maskaphobia
- After lockdown
- Novel spatiotemporal viral realities, yet to come
- New political assemblages
Deadline for short (250 word) proposals June 12th
Emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org
Further information about A&SM#4.5 will appear here on the Virality Blog (https://viralcontagion.blog/asm4-5/).
Please note that this event is free for all. The organisers cannot pay for any content or content production.
The blurb for A&SM#4.5 is based on Les logiques nouvelles des médias viraux Par Tony D. Sampson et Jussi Parikka. Published in AOC Journal 09.04.20 https://aoc.media/analyse/2020/04/08/les-logiques-nouvelles-des-medias-viraux/
See also this video primer on Virality
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