[NetBehaviour] Accelerationist aesthetics

ruth catlow ruth.catlow at furtherfield.org
Fri Apr 22 12:27:01 CEST 2016

Hi Tom,

  I like where you take this question of accelerationist aesthetics.
 >So the question that accelerationism poses might be something like: 
what sort of coordination can/should exist between a post-capitalist 
political program and art?

I think/hope that there are a number of people preparing to join this 
bit of this discussion soon.

For me, in politics as in art, a successful encounter is one that moves 
diverse people to seek agency (on their own terms) within contemporary 
culture; and that acts as a spur for joyful, mutualist acts.

Not that we all need to be in an unending frenzy of communication and 
exchange. More that we have ever-more nuanced ways to sense the 
significance of different kinds of participation: in a loop of unwitting 
participation and active collaboration and organisation.

I am currently showing a live networked video piece, I created with 
Gareth Foote, called /Time is Speeding Up/ at 20-21 Visual Arts Centre 
up in Scunthorpe as part of the show We Are Not Alone. I have no idea 
whether this is an Accelerationist artwork.

The image capture software is designed to reproduce the sensation that 
we have of how time speeds up as we get older. A webcam takes a new 
image every 3 or 4 minutes and adds it to a 3 minute looping video. The 
video is becoming more dense over time- and so the images of individual 
gallery visitors are gradually being crushed out of memory, like dead 
leaves into oil.

See it live here ( we are now on day 44 approx 17fps) 
And after 8 days (at 3fps) 

I agonized about the aesthetics of the work- at first- so un-"cool", so 
un-cyber - because the humans are so alive AND they make the work.
But now I'm really happy with it and would like to assert a place for 
this almost folksy aesthetic (rather than a rush to slick, black 
fluidity) in post-capitalist art.


On 21/04/16 23:09, Tom Kohut wrote:
> Regarding what an accelerationist aesthetics might resemble (or the 
> set of things which m ight be grouped via family resemblance as an 
> "accelerationist aesthetics"), there's the June 2013 /EFlux/ which was 
> devoted to exactly this question. In it, Patricia MacCormack (In 
> "Cosmogenic Acceleration: Futurity and Ethics") asks:
> "[…] what is the qualitative difference between a nihilistic reading 
> of acceleration as saturation without refined intensity [as in its 
> 90s, Nick Land versions], and an accelerationist aesthetic that does 
> not equate speed with the too-fast replacements of capitalism, instead 
> seeking intensity in all movement, and thus all movement as 
> acceleration (even multidirectional)?"
> I think this last point is particularly interesting insofar as it 
> insists, as I think Rob Myers pointed out vis-à-vis Futurism, that 
> speed is not an absolute quality, but is a relational concept. In this 
> sense, no continents without islands.
> I also wonder about how accelerationism's aesthetics relates to the 
> larger question of political aesthetics. What I mean by this is: 
> accelerationism, in its latest version, started off primarily as a way 
> of naming a political tendency: how to best bring about a 
> post-capitalist global situation using the tools which are available. 
> Thus, not exactly an oppositional stance – we must smash capitalism – 
> but rather a repurposing/hacking of the platforms that capitalist 
> interests have made available and using them as weapons against that 
> which impedes a transition to post-capitalism. Is aesthetics one such 
> tool? I might point out that the 90s cyber version of accelerationism 
> certainly had aesthetic investments (/Neuromancer/, /Blade Runner/, 
> /Terminator/, etc.). So the question that accelerationism poses might 
> be something like: what sort of coordination can/should exist between 
> a post-capitalist political program and art?
> Sent from my iPad
> On Apr 21, 2016, at 3:11 PM, Rob Myers <rob at robmyers.org 
> <mailto:rob at robmyers.org>> wrote:
>> I think Haraway is a good historical example. Their Cyborg Manifesto 
>> was written against sclerotic essentialist-/eco- feminism and amidst 
>> the decline of left politics in the US during the Reagan era. They 
>> take the Cold War figure of the cyborg and re-purpose it to critique 
>> all of this. There are strong parallels to Srnicek & Williams' 
>> current argument that "folk politics" is insufficient to bring about 
>> political change.
>> I don't think that Accelerationist aesthetics are even slightly 
>> resolved yet, and that's a good thing. In "Accelerationist Art" I 
>> mention some examples and possibilities, particularly art that tries 
>> to exit the confines of Contemporary Art's simulacrum of freedom. 
>> Maybe we can come up with something here. :-) In general, 
>> Accelerationist aesthetics would presumably be about increasing the 
>> capabilities of our reason in/via art, which I think would require 
>> increasing the capabilities of our perception. One view of this would 
>> be something like Cultural Analytics, the ability to deal in millions 
>> of images or other cultural/perceptible phenomena at a time. But then 
>> there's the singular power of myth and icons/iconography to guide and 
>> organise our thought and perception. Which brings us back to the 
>> quarantine zone in which we can look at Hyperstition...
>> I think that a) and c) are good positions to combine. If they lead to 
>> b), that's great. If not, hopefully understanding why not will lead 
>> to positive action in other ways.
>> On Thu, 21 Apr 2016, at 06:25 AM, dave miller wrote:
>>> I don't understand what accelerationism is yet, as I need to read a 
>>> lot more - and a few times - and let it sink in. I find it hard to 
>>> understand, to be honest.
>>> I'm interested though in the connection with Donna Haraway's Cyborg 
>>> Manifesto
>>> And I'd like to know more about the accelerationist aesthetic, what 
>>> it is, and why.
>>> I'd like to know the general view from people on this list - as we 
>>> are all new media/ net art/ media techy types , who have been 
>>> experimenting with art, networked technology and politics for ages, 
>>> is this something we should
>>> a) take very seriously
>>> b) embrace
>>> c) be sceptical of?
>>> d) be scared of?
>>> e) wish that we'd thought of
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