felix's blog

Book Out: Digital Condition (Polity Press)

I'm very happy my new book (a translation of Kultur der Digitalität) has just been published by Polity Press.

In the book I argue that referentiality, communality, and algorithmicity have become the characteristic cultural forms of the digital condition because more and more people – in more and more segments of life and by means of increasingly complex technologies – are actively (voluntarily and/or compulsorily) participating in the negotiation of social meaning. They are thus reacting to the demands of a chaotic, overwhelming sphere of information and thereby contributing to its greater expansion. It is the ubiquity of these cultural forms that makes it possible to speak of the digital condition in the singular.

The goals pursued in these cultural forms, however, are as diverse, contradictory, and conflicted as society itself. It would therefore be equally false to assume uniformity or an absence of alternatives in the unfolding of social and political developments. On the contrary, the idea of a lack of alternatives is an ideological assertion that is itself part of a specific political agenda. Indeed, advanced democracies are faced with a profound choice, to continue their long slide towards post-democratic authoritarianism or reinvent democracy for the digital condition.

You can get it from the publisher (UK, US), from Amazon (UK, US), or you local bookseller (UK, US).

The great cover image is by the Dutch artist Bernaut Smilde, from the series Nimbus, Probe #6, 2010.

Updates

01.02. Creating Commons: Affects, Collectives, Aesthetics (Transmediale, Berlin)

#13 Creating Commons: Affects, Collectives, Aesthetics

Panel discussion with,
Jeremy Gilbert
Gary Hall
Laurence Rassel

Moderated by Cornelia Sollfrank, Felix Stalder
Fri, 01.02.2019
13:00 to 14:30
Auditorium, HKW

https://2019.transmediale.de/content/creating-commons-affects-collective...

The commons have become a powerful vehicle for conceptualizing and experimenting with ways of being, becoming, and working together, within and across conflicting settings. As they are based on a careful handling of resources, they are mostly discussed within the framework of alternative economies, leaving aside the affective drive that shapes their multiple forms. Focusing on concrete practices, this panel brings together concepts of affect with structural definitions of the (digital) commons and addresses a number of questions: What kind of aesthetic can contribute to a practice of commoning? How to create conditions for the production of free resources? What can the focus on affect add to the fostering of the commons?

This panel discussion is hosted by Cornelia Sollfrank and Felix Stalder on behalf of the research project Creating Commons at the Zurich University of the Arts.

Knowledge, Confusion, and Manipulation (Talk, HKW, Berlin)

In this talk, I try to make sense of our current techno-cultural moment in which reality is disappearing and reappearing in confusing ways. I point out two major developments relevant here. First, as capitalism expanded, it has created a system of communication that cannot, and does not want to, deal with meaning. And, second, as the complexity of the socio-techno-biological connections of society increases, the old ways of organizing knowledge have become increasingly unable to provide an accurate understanding of the world we are living in. In their place, a new type of knowledge regime is emerging that produces its own form of meaninglessness.

I use the analysis of the crisis of meaning as a starting point to also think about some of the "counter-measures" that might be appropriate to overcome this crisis.

Anyway, here's the talk which I gave as part of the "New Alphabet: Opening Days" event (10-13.01, 2019) at HKW in Berlin.

Following this was a great presentation by Kate Crawford and Trevor Paglen on how machines are trained to "see" and how this creates what they call "predator vision". You can see their talk (starting at 00:33:00) and the discussion (starting at 01:05:00) on HKW's Facebook page.

12.01. If everything is true. Knowledge and Manipulation (HKW, Berlin)

Curated by Bernd Scherer and Olga von Schubert

From the linguistic development of so-called Artificial Intelligence to the decentralized structure of the blockchain, new technologies operate on the basis of training sets, into which are inscribed prejudices, world views, material infrastructures, and ownership logic. To what extent do the metaphors of intelligence and learning apply to the new technologies?

Who writes the protocols of algorithmic infrastructures and on the basis of which semiotic and semantic processes do they operate? Where do the opportunities for emancipation, self-determination, diversity, and decentralization lie within the realm of technological development? To what extent does it make sense to renounce the quest for meaning in the technological development of language, and what kind of algorithmic poetry does this engender? Taking as reference the work of Luc Steels, one of the world’s leading AI developers, artistic and activist positions are deployed to explore the development of technological language.

Giulia Bruno, Kate Crawford, Simon Denny, Armin Linke, Trevor Paglen, Felix Stalder, Luc Steels, Hito Steyerl, moderated by Bernd Scherer

Timetable of the event (PDF)

Detailed program infomation and essays (PDF)

my contribution:

HKW, AUDITORIUM 5:30 P.M. – 6:00 P.M.

IF EVERYTHING IS TRUE—KNOWLEDGE AND MANIPULATION

Rethinking the Public Sphere under the Digital Condition

This text was written as a contribution to the workshop Public in the Making, 18-20 October 2018 İstanbul, part of the project Trans making: art, culture and economy to democratize society. A well layouted PDF is also available. Thanks to Fatih Aydogdu for the invitation.

atxt_header

Democracy, even in its most rudimentary definition, contains two elements.1 The first is that of public deliberation and contestation of the issues affecting the “demos” (the people) as a collectivity. The precondition here is the availability of an easily accessible, shared space in which different opinions and attitudes can be expressed, compared and peacefully fought over, as a way for the members of the collectivity (the “citizens”) to form their opinions and plot out diverging futures. The second element allows to express those opinions and interests in a way that leads to a decision regarding the future that is binding for, and accepted by, all. Usually, this is done by voting either “yes” or “no” to a specified proposal for action, or by selecting representatives from a group of pre-selected candidates, often, but not necessarily, organized as political parties that stand for competing visions of the future. If the first element is weakened, voting is transformed to a ritual of submission and propaganda in the machinery of dictatorship, if the latter is reduced, democracy turns into post-democracy where issues are debated but decision making is outsourced to “experts” or “the market” (Crouch 2004).

28.11. Pre_invent. Vortrag und Diskussion (Düsseldorf)

Conference

Wir laden Sie herzlich zum Vortrag von Prof. Dr. Felix Stalder und einem gemeinsamen Diskurs über die »Kultur der Digitalität« im Rahmen der Konferenzreihe Pre_Invent ein. Die Veranstaltung findet am 28.11.2018 um 18:30 im Photostudio Raum 6.E.019 in der Hochschule Düsseldorf statt. Der Eintritt ist frei und es ist keine Anmeldung erforderlich.
Pre_Invent ist eine Konferenzreihe der Hochschule Düsseldorf. Das Ziel der Reihe ist es historische und bestehende Konzepte des Digitalen und Politischen sowie verschiedener Gestaltungsmethoden zu analysieren. Auf dieser Basis werden neue Gestaltungsansätze entwickelt, die das Digitale als Intervention und Austragungsort für politisches Handeln reformulieren.

Mittwoch, 28. November 2018
3rd Chapter:
Cultures of the Digital

weitere Information unter www.facebook.com/preinvent

Veranstaltungsort

Hochschule Düsseldorf
Peter Behrens School of Arts
Campus Derendorf
Gebäude 6, Photostudio, 6.E.019
Münsterstraße 156
40476 Düsseldorf

Programm

18:30 Uhr: Begrüßung und Einführung
Prof. Mareike Foecking

19:00 Uhr: Kultur der Digitalität
Prof. Dr. Felix Stalder, ZHdK Zürich

20:00: Q&A Diskussion

Datensouveränität - jenseits des Datenschutzes

Radio Organge: Sendung vom 29.10.2018:

Katja Mayer und Felix Stalder auf der PrivacyWeek #3

Datensouveränität wird oftmals mit Datenschutz gleichgesetzt, dabei öffnet der Begriff vielfältige Möglichkeiten den Umgang mit Daten neu zu gestalten. Besonders interessant sind Ansätze die neue Institutionen hervorbringen um kollektiv Daten zu nutzen und so eine gemeinschaftliche Form von Souveränität zu stärken. Die Soziologin Katja Mayer und der Kultur- und Medienwissenschaftler Felix Stalder erörtern die Thematik anhand von Beispielen aus den Bereichen Open Science und Gesundheit sowie städtischen Technologieprojekten.

Im Website-Player abspielen (pop-up)
Archivierte Sendung im cultural broadcasting archive

8.11. Technopolitics and ecology (keynote, Sigradi, Sao Carlos, Brazil)

Abstract for the keynote lecture: Technopolitics and ecology

Throughout its history, Western capitalism has renewed itself through continuous crises that drove technological innovation and political change. The crisis turned structural when the two transformations conflicted with, rather than complemented, each other. Capitalism has been able to overcome this type of crisis by developing a new techno-economic paradigm. In this light, the moment we are witnessing today is the crisis of neo-liberal informationalism that centers around computer technologies and deregulated global financial markets. This paradigm began to emerge in the 1970s as a response to the crisis of Keynesian industrialism, which itself was a response to the crises of laissez-faire capitalism that followed the crash of 1929.

But this is not all. On a deeper level, materialism and consumerism as a social promise and model for economic growth is reaching hard limits today, generating a planetary ecological emergency. In other words, the current crisis is both one within capitalism, heralding yet another structural transformation, and one of capitalism. The latter because it is no longer possible to treat natural resources as externalities not the be counted (as raw material waiting to be commodified at the beginning of the capitalist process or as waste-ground to dispose of unwanted materials at the end of the process).

05/06.11 Writing the history of the present. Technopolitics Worksop (Sao Carlos, Brasil)

writing the history of the present. collaborative editing of the technopolitics timeline

Technopolitics Working Group

What are the relationships between artistic/intellectual practices and large-scale historical processes? How did the two evolve in the Information Society? Does the contemporary period represent a continuation of this evolution or does it constitute a transformative crisis leading to a new paradigm? These are some of the core questions that Technopolitics as an ongoing, international artistic research project is interested in.
The most prominent visual aspect of the project is the TECHNOPOLITICS TIMELINE. The timeline, as a print-out measuring 20 x 1.5 meters, traces the Information Society from the year 1900 to today and contains about 500 entries of events that have contributed to the emergence and transformation of our era. These entries are organized in six horizontal categories and 12 vertical tags.

The timeline will be accompanied by audio-visual and printed material that contextualizes the entries. An additional contextual layer is provided by three hyperlink network visualizations of the Timeline entries identified in multilingual Wikipedia that yield a crowd-sourced view on their semantic relationships.

27.10. Datensouveränität - jenseits des Datenschutzes (Wien)

2018-10-27, 12:45–13:30, Saal 2
Speaker: Katja Mayer und Felix Stalder

Datensouveränität wird oftmals mit Datenschutz gleichgesetzt, dabei öffnet der Begriff vielfältige Möglichkeiten den Umgang mit Daten neu zu gestalten. Besonders interessant sind Ansätze die neue Institutionen hervorbringen um kollektiv Daten zu nutzen und so eine gemeinschaftliche Form von Souveränität zu stärken. Anhand von Beispielen aus den Bereichen Open Science, Gesundheit und städtischen Technologieprojekten werden wir deren Potentiale erörtern und gemeinsam mit dem Publikum diskutieren.

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