[NetBehaviour] Accelerationist aesthetics

Rob Myers rob at robmyers.org
Sat Apr 23 03:49:50 CEST 2016

On 22/04/16 03:27 AM, ruth catlow wrote:
> 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 think this (and Simon & Pall's conversation) raises two important
points about "Accelerationism".

The first is that contemporary society appears to have speeded up
anyway. We can debate whether progress or the economy has stalled, but
our experience of life seems to involve the compression of time by
technology and by socioeconomic demands.

The obvious critic of this kind of speed and acceleration, as Paul
mentioned, is Virilio. Who I think relates speed to power in a way that
makes sense of our experience of it as disenfranchising.

Wanting to slow down from *this* kind of acceleration isn't a bad thing
and is in fact the end point of MAP/Fixing The Future -style
Accelerationism: let's get the machines to do the busy-work so we can do
something actually useful with our time instead.

The second is that Accelerationism isn't a historical epoch like
postmodernism or globalisation. It's a *strategy*.

If I was trolling I'd argue that if you're on the left you're either a
conscious or an unconscious accelerationist. But it's possible to do
things in an un-Accelerationist way - it's not an inescapable or
inevitable cultural condition.

What I think is worth reflecting on (even if only idly) in this
discussion is whether there is anything in one's own life or work that
this strategy would be productive for. What could each of us better
understand and reason about (in some sense) so as to be able to better
change it?

Both these points indicate something that Left Accelerationism has been
criticised for from various angles - it is a *selective* acceleration.

> 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.

It's increasing our ability to perceive and reason about our situation,
so quite possibly.

> 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.

Bladerunner's lived-in street-culture future is paradigmatically cyber,
but I do know what you mean. The work is qualitative (or has a strong
qualitative element), and this is in contrast to the strong quantitative
bias of shiny information graphics and *some* proposals for
Accelerationist aesthetics.

- Rob.

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