Seminar 60 // 1, 2, 3 Dec 2016 // London


Curatorial/Knowledge Seminar, 1–3 December 2016


Thursday, 1 December 2016, 11am–4.45pm

Location: Richard Hoggart Building, Room 304a

Infrastructure – Irit Rogoff

We have now programmed the seminar visits from members of freethought throughout the coming year. Over this period we will have visits and project presentations from everyone involved in the Infrastructure project – which is now set to continue for the next 4 years as part of BAK’s (basis voor actuele kunst) new global fellowships program.

I want to use three texts to contextualise the discussion: Soenke Zehle & Ned Rossiter’s ‘Mediations of Labor’, Michel Foucault’s ‘What is Critique?’, and selections from K. Easterling’s book Extrastatecraft on the International Organization of Standardization (ISO). These texts are there to inform our discussion of the transition in governance from value-driven to infrastructure-driven. We will start with Foucault and the question of how agency can be articulated and then look at Easterling and at Zehle & Rossiter to see what has been set up as structural modes of governance. Towards the end of the seminar we will entertain the question of how these shifts have effected contemporary cultural organisation.

– Michel Foucault, ‘What Is Critique?’
– Keller Easterling, Extrastatecraft (selection)
– Soenke Zehle & Ned Rossiter, ‘Mediations of Labor’

1.30–2.30pm: Lunch Break

Thursday, 1 December 2016, 5–7pm

Location: Richard Hoggart Building, Room 342

Labyrinth – Beth Steel

Beth Steel's play Labyrinth is ostensibly about the Latin American debt crisis of 1982, when the banking system was brought to the brink of collapse. But it was written with a view to reflecting on the financial crisis of 2007-8. This talk outlines the events that precipitated that crisis, and discusses some of the choices that went into bringing it to life on a stage. In particular, it will look at the use of the mythical metaphor of the labyrinth and the movement from reality to fantasy during the course of the play to show that there is a specific light that can be shone on ‘vast abstractions like the world economy’ through art and theatre.

Chair: Tom Trevatt

Part of Culture & Finance Capital – Visual Cultures Public Programme Autumn 2016; organised by Louis Moreno & Tom Trevatt

Friday, 2 December 2016, 11am–5pm

Location: Richard Hoggart Building, Room 304a

Infra-Individuality and Attention – Stefan Nowotny

Attention has today become a major battleground of economies, politics, and lives struggling with themselves and the conditions they inhabit. To understand this battleground, we can no longer conceive of attention as a conscious and deliberate act of individuals. Rather, attention has become a complex node of power relations, a site of tacit transactions between agency and passivity, and an important currency of today’s debt economies: regardless of our capacity for attention, or our decisions to direct this capacity according to our desires and interests, we are always already indebted to ‘pay’ attention in exposure to unbounded labour regimes, marketing industries, social media, manipulative political campaigning, etc.

I will develop this problematic through a variety of references ranging from 17th century philosophy to contemporary ‘cash apps’. For the purpose of this session, I would like to frame it through the concepts of ‘infra-individuality’ (B. Massumi) and ‘disposition’ (K. Easterling). If ‘infrastructure is now the overt point of contact and access between us all’, as Easterling writes, then subjective and social capacities may have to be considered as being part of it. They become infrastructure themselves, at an infra-individual level.

– Brian Massumi, ‘The Inmost End’ (from: The Power at the End of the Economy, 2015)
– Keller Easterling, Intro to chapter on ‘Disposition’ (from: Extrastatecraft: The Power of Infrastructure Space, 2014)

1.30–2.30pm: Lunch Break

7.30pm: Dinner together

Saturday, 3 December 2016, 12–4pm

Location: Raven Row (56 Artillery Lane, London E1 7LS; closest tube: Liverpool Street Station)

Reading Group – chaired by Mahan Moalemi (MRes C/K) and Elisa Rusca (PhD C/K)

How can we inhabit impersonal moments through a post-technological planetary orientation? How to bear (with) a hyper-networked world without getting trapped in a bubble of individualism?

An increasingly unthinkable world coincides with the cyber-utopian myth of a bodiless infosphere (Berardi). Moving beyond the conjunctive World, which is ‘for-us’ (Thacker), and receding behind the connective Earth, which is in-itself, we look into that which persists in the gradients, shades and shadows of the former and the latter: Trying to possess the earth by living from the powers of cosmos, that dark intelligible abyss, we attempt to gain a certain knowledge of what is nearest to us and what is remotest from us, and never of one without the other. Such a cosmological contact can be made only communally (Benjamin); the Planet can thus be described as impersonal and anonymous. Is that to design a critique of the infospheric semiocapitalism by giving a body to the general intellect, a body which is a cloud, an ever-variable vibration of emotions, expectations and fears, desire and exhaustion? How can the concept of the Planet, the world-without-us, help with the convalescence of the ecstatic trance of an intercourse with the cosmos and open up a way into the ordering of the relation between nature and humans? What is the role of a technological Physis in formulating a notion of historicity and human relationship to time in the modern era? What would be an update on this formulation given the psychochemical economy of the contemporary infosphere? What would a grim turn to popular culture, be it toward a Lunarpark, pulp horror or pop pessimism, possibly have to do with the frenzy of destruction or the ecstasy of procreation?

– Walter Benjamin, ‘To the Planetarium’ (from: One-Way Street, 1928)
– Franco Bifo Berardi, ‘Avatars of the General Intellect’ (from: And. Phenomenology of the End, 2014)

– Eugene Thacker, ‘Clouds of Unknowing’ (preface from: In the Dust of this Planet. Horror of Philosophy, Vol.1, 2011)


Seminar Dates: 
Thu, 01/12/2016 - 11:00 - Sat, 03/12/2016 - 16:00