[NetBehaviour] Accelerationist aesthetics

Rob Myers rob at robmyers.org
Wed Apr 27 22:24:58 CEST 2016

On Sat, 23 Apr 2016, at 05:15 AM, ruth catlow wrote:
> So is this the accelerationist aesthetics question?
> Q. How can we as artists and people use the logics & tools of automation 
> and markets as part of making better art and better life for us all?

That's a biiiiiiiiig question about a biiiig question. :-)

* To answer the Q directly, the Plantoid DAO is a good example of doing
this. (For those unfamiliar with DAOs - they are "Distributed Autonomous
Organizations", code that runs on the Blockchain and controls resources
in accordance with its programming.) Plantoid's programming is intended
to try to ensure that art is made and exhibited and that artists are
paid for doing so. A charitable trust could do the same, but a DAO is
cheaper, easier to set up and run, and for those of us interested in
technologically inflected art it's easier to integrate directly with our
work (or vice versa).

I'm very suspicious of using the Blockchain to make digital art into
quasi-property forms (Monegraph etc), but this would be a way of making
new markets to pay artists for the currently un-monetizable.

And Azone's use of prediction markets (essentially betting on probable
outcomes of real world events as a way of getting people to commit their
best guesses about them) shows that the form of the market doesn't have
to be directly part of the global economy, or unironic, to possibly be

* To answer the question-question, certainly 1970s and 1990s
accelerationism was about abandoning oneself libidinally to the
deterritorialising processes of the market and its development of
technology. But Srnicek and Williams don't mention markets in the MAP,
and theirs is a surprisingly traditional Marxist project at heart with
post-capitalism as its goal.

Automation in the sense of AI-style software and 3D printing-style
manufacturing processes can give artists greater rational knowledge of
and productive power over their art (epistemic accelerationism).
Automation accompanied by UBI can free them from the busy-work that so
often has to support art-making, allowing those artists who really don't
want to manage AIs to work more on what they want to work on (left

But automation can also displace, rather than supplement, aesthetic and
critical work of many kinds. Certainly it can perform the production of
kitsch, and ultimately at least probably the production of
contemporary-art-style works. Deep Dream, Style Transfer and other
techniques (that I am arguing are technically competent, rather than
critically interesting as "art") already do the former, Jonas Lund's
"The Fear Of Missing Out" and my Curatorator are harbingers of the

* There's also "how can art help bring about a positive
post-work/post-capitalist future?" and "how can artists gain the
knowledge they need to exit the straitjacket of contemporary art?". They
share the second half of the question, and the spirit of the first half.

At base, the question these questions all branch off from *may be* "how
can artists selectively avail themselves of developments in technology
and thought that are not immediately opposed to capitalism as part of
making better art and better life for us all?". 

> Left Accelerationists are critiqued as these social-power-tools (of 
> automation and market-forces) are seen as inherently dehumanising and 
> destructive of solidarity and freedom?

As I say, Srnicek and Williams don't mention markets in the MAP, rather
they say:

"8. We believe that any post-capitalism will require post-capitalist

Hands up who *isn't* wary of planning? :-)

I'm torn between"

a) "Red Plenty"'s and 1970s NATO documentation (e.g "Soviet Planning
Today") of the failures of Soviet planning and the apparent
unavoidability of some form of prices and incentives in an economy.

b) the fact that Google appears to have solved the "pricing problem"
with its PageRank algorithm, and the assertion in the Heidenreich's
paper in the Money Lab Reader (
) that money can be replaced by a matching algorithm.

Any-way: yes neoliberal markets and "Risk Society" are corrosive to
solidarity and freedom. (And to norm propagation, which may be a problem
for Brandomian epistemic accelerationists.) The embracing of Universal
Basic Income in "Inventing The Future", the follow-up to the MAP, is
designed to address this. And it would materially support intersectional
and more radical social politics.

It is for the modesty of this objective compared to, say, welcoming
Skynet that the MAP has been criticized in this sense. :-)

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