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‘You are Just in the Middle of the Beginning’ is a curatorial project exploring ideas of the temporalities of now, particularly attentive to the intersections of technology with politics and their entanglement in our comprehension of time. The project will unfold over a period – researching, developing and ultimately making public both artistic and theoretical articulations, to open fresh angles of vision to think critically about the present.

Focussing on the psychic and social affects and desires that are generated by the constant pressures to perform exerted upon us by an ‘always on’ culture, the project will explore what it means to live a life increasingly mediated through a relationship to the digital.

Globalisation in its development since 1989, through the now ubiquitous neoliberal governance of a victorious West and the development of the World Wide Web, bringing with it the increasing digitalisation of our interactions, has seen dramatic shifts in our understandings of geography. However what is becoming increasingly apparent today is that whilst this territorial shift was happening another potentially more radical shift was taking place in our understanding of time, whether it be the collapse of work and leisure time into playbouring on Facebook in bed or the endlessly fractalising time of the project. This collapse of time has lead to a new set of subjectivities and intimacies emerging. As we are overawed by the amount of information now available and the correlative diminution in the time available to synthesise this into applicable knowledge, we enter into a panicked state leading ultimately to exhaustion.

Technologies once venerated for their emancipatory potentials are now showing their dark side when appropriated into the flows of capitalist production. In the 60s a vision of the future existed in which we were released from the immiseration of work through the development of machines to replace the functions of manual labour. This in a sense has come to pass and the machine has largely replaced the human in production of material goods. However what wasn’t taken into account in those predictions was the wage-labour relation intrinsic to the capitalist mode of production. Now the subject of exploitation within labour has shifted from the worker’s body to the worker’s affect.

Additionally one thing that it is important to state is that this is not a call for a retreat to a romanticised supposedly pre-lapsarian time, but rather an attempt to lay some groundwork towards becoming conscious of the current conditions we find ourselves entangled within.

About the curator

Benjamin Fallon is an independent curator, writer and designer currently based in Stockholm where he is part of the CuratorLab programme at Konstfack. He served as co-director of Embassy Gallery between 2008 and 2010, was a member of Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop’s Artistic Programme Committee from 2006 to 2008, and ran his self-initiated project ONEZERO between 2005 and 2008. Ben is an occasional visiting lecturer at Edinburgh College of Art and Edinburgh College on the Contemporary art practice course.

http://www.theopenseas.org

Contact

i@m-o-t-b.net

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13.06.2013

She – A Factory

Auto Italia South East
The Bureau of Melodramatic Research
Torsten Lauschmann
John Russell
Marika Troili
Romanian Cultural Institute in Stockholm, Skeppsbron 20, Stockholm
17:00 - 21:00
The whole system of emotional exchange in private life has as its own ostensible purpose the welfare and pleasure of the people involved. When this emotional system is thrusted into a commercial setting, it is transmuted. A profit motive is slipped in under the acts of emotion management, under the rules that govern them, under the gift exchange. Who benefits now, and who pays?
The Managed Heart, Arlie Hochschild Russell

In the West as we have entered the post-industrial age we have seen fordist models of production either outsourced to the lowest bidder or replaced by machines. Processes of commodification and valorisation have mutated to account for this, with labour transformed from the material to the immaterial and the worker now primarily charged with the sale of their interiority. This shift is co-extensive and intimately related to the development of a number of technologies, most prominently the world wide web, which have embedded an idea of constant connectivity. With rapid spread these technologies have moved from the workplace, to the home, to the pocket and now into our field of vision.

As this has been taking place there has been a drive towards an internalisation of all doubts and worries as we are forced to project a mythical unified self, with any deficiency seen as the result of a personal flaw. This has been picked up on in the work of Mark Fisher, following the work of the psychologist David Smail, when he talks of the ‘privatisation of stress’ within neoliberalism whereby the perceived root cause of the problem of all issues is either an imbalance in brain chemistry or a traumatic experience, coupled with a disavowal of the social construction of distress. This has lead to a massive increase in the use of drugs to treat these supposed aberrances, with an increasing number of people being prescribed anti-depressants to flatten the edges of experience. Another shift in our chemical usage has mutated ideas of intoxication out of a counter culture, with its attempts at a psychedelic experience of the world in which there is a dilation or drift of time and an erasure of a self, to one in which a battery of new smart drugs (to match our smart phones) are used to increase our productive selves. Prime among these is the drug Modafinil. These drugs are known as ‘wakefulness promoting agents’ and are said to be able to keep people awake for up to 40 hours. Not only are you awake during this time but you do not feel tired and have an increased ability to focus, which has lead to an interest in them from those seeking a competitive edge in business. On the blog ‘Bold and Determined’ exists an account of a man who talks of an underground entrepreneur’s forum (who knew?) from which he found access to Modafinil. The story ends with this observation, ‘There is truly one nasty side effect of coming off of modafinil: You go back to normal. And normal is pretty shitty compared to mighty.’ The new hyper-productive self with no off-switch has left us in the perverse situation of the underground drug trade now servicing an elite in the quest for more productivity, an inversion of the previous idea of ‘turning on, tuning in and dropping out’.

This process has lead to a wave of exhaustion as the psychic limits of the human are stretched to breaking point, with the imposition to remain visible through the reputational economy of the ‘like’.