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.


Micro Review: Blockchain Chicken Farm

Read the full thread here.

Micro Review: Machtmaschinen

Den ganzen Twitter Thread kann man hier lesen.

16.-17.10 Momentum Kongress

Momentum Kongress 2020: Republik, 16 & 17.10. (online)

Track #8: Öffentliche Güter und Räume jenseits von Staat und Markt

Trackmoderation: Felix Stalder

  • In welchen Lebensbereichen sollen Gemeingüter neu geschaffen und gestärkt werden?
  • Wie können digitale Infrastrukturen für gemeinschaftliche Projekte genutzt werden?
  • Was macht bzw. machen inklusive Kunstprojekte im öffentlichen Raum möglich?

    Teilnehmer:innen und Ablaufplan, Track 8

  • The Pandemic as Smart City Laboratory

    I really think anyone who makes predictions now is a fool.
    It's a little bit like trying to predict the future of foreign policy in October 2001.
    Evgeny Morozov, interviewed by Holly Herndon & Matt Dryhurst, May 11, 2020.

    The Covid-19 pandemic is both an urban and technological phenomenon. 95% of all diseases have so far been registered in cities. From the starting point in Wuhan, via the metropolitan region of Lombardy, Paris, Madrid, New York, Rio de Janeiro to Moscow, the virus spreads mainly within large cities. This is hardly surprising, since not only does the higher density favor the local spread of the virus from person to person, but the virus also arrives first in the large cities. They are the central nodes of the hypermobility of people and goods that characterizes the neoliberal phase of globalization. From this perspective, tourist hotspots like Ischgl are temporary cities in the mountains. Whether the hypermobility, which has been largely brought to a standstill at the moment, will be fully revived is not yet clear. That the global trend towards urbanization will be broken is very unlikely. So much can be confidently predicted.

    Map of all the 5384 people whose Covid-19 infection could be traced back to the ski resort of Ischgl, Austria. (Source)

    17.06. Digitalität Post-Covid (emc Wien) (online)

    Gastvortrag und Diskussion. ecm - educating/curating/managing. Masterlehrgang für Ausstellungstheorie & -praxis

    18.00–19.30 Digitalität Post-Covid

    Aufbauend auf dem Text "Erfassen und Modellieren. Covid-19 und die Politik von «Big Data»" und dem Projekt "Sleep Battle" (Stadtwertkstatt Linz, 2018) diskutieren wir, wie der Digitalisierungschub durch Covid-19 unsere Wahrnehmung verändert, die Potentiale für offnen Umgang mit big data und die Rolle von Museen und anderen "memory institutions".

    16.06. Ringvorlesung: Art and Digital Culture (AdBK, Nürnberg) (online)

    Prof. Dr. Felix Stalder: Zur Kultur der Digitalität



    10. Juni 2020, 18 Uhr

    In der Ringvorlesung werden verschiedene Implikationen von Digitalität in Alltagskulturen wie auch in der zeitgenössischen Kunst thematisiert und ihre kulturgeschichtlichen, gesellschaftlichen und ökonomischen Auswirkungen diskutiert. Die immer weiter zunehmende Bedeutung digitaler Technologien für die zeitgenössische Kunst wird von Künstler*innen, Kultur- und Medienwissenschaftler*innen, Designer*innen und Kurator*innen im Hinblick auf aktuelle Entwicklungen zur Sprache gebracht.

    Felix Stalder ist Professor für Digitale Kultur und Theorien der Vernetzung an der Zürcher Hochschule der Künste und freier Autor in Wien. Er beschäftigt sich mit dem Wechselverhältnis von Gesellschaft, Kultur und Technologien und forscht u.a. zu Netzkultur, Urheberrecht, Commons, Privatsphäre, Kontrollgesellschaft und Subjektivität. Stalder ist zudem Vorstandsmitglied des World Information Institute in Wien, Mitglied des freien Forschungsprojekts "Technopolitics" und langjähriger Moderator der internationalen Mailingliste .

    Ausgehend von seiner gleichnamigen Publikation wird Felix Stalder die zentralen Aspekte seines Verständnisses der "Kultur der Digitalität" (erschienen 2016 im Suhrkamp Verlag) vorstellen.

    Tracking People and Modelling Society. COVID-19 and the politics of big data

    At the moment, many people are sensing how the tectonic plates under their feet are moving. It is hard to get one’s bearing on such shifting grounds. Beginning with the virus itself, which is assumed to have jumped from animals to humans (“zoonotic spillover”) sometime last fall, there are simply too many actors in the complex dynamic system of a planetary civilization whose paths have been altered in hard-to-understand ways. This makes it impossible to plot the cumulative effects of their interaction.

    While a lot of things are fairly chaotic and improvised reactions to fast-changing events, there is a certain structure to it, simply because people and institutions draw on that material, political and cultural resources which they have available. But which resources to draw on, how to mobilize them, and how to create new ones in the process is the key question. While there is path-dependency and continuity, even in the way actors can change paths, there is also a moment of extraordinary openness. It is therefore important not only to be vigilant against the authoritarian forces that are exploiting this crisis, i.e. to defend democracy as it exists, but also to think about ways of strengthening and expanding it right now.

    Überwachen und Anstecken (LMD)

    Die Welt verändert sich vor unseren Augen in rasendem Tempo. Keine drei Monate nachdem die Behörden von Wuhan erstmals die Weltgesundheitsorganisation (WHO) über ein neuartiges Coronavirus informiert haben, sind mehr als 3 Milliarden Menschen mit schweren Einschränkungen ihrer Bewegungsfreiheit konfrontiert, die mindestens mehrere Wochen dauern sollen.Dieses Regime der erzwungenen Immobilität ist nur der sichtbarste Teil einer tektonischen Verschiebung der politischen Landschaft, in der Maßnahmen durchgesetzt werden, die bis vor Kurzem noch undenkbar waren. Gleichzeitig radikalisieren sich bestehende Entwicklungen.

    Bei der Nutzung digitaler Daten im Kampf gegen die Ausbreitung des Virus kommt beides in problematischer Weise zusammen. Es ist naheliegend, auf „die Daten“ der großen Firmen der Mobilfunk- und Social-Media-Branche zurückzugreifen, um die Ausbreitung des Virus zu bekämpfen. Seit Jahren betonen diese Firmen gern, wie genau sie uns kennen, wie detailliert sie über unsere Handlungen, Sorgen und Wünsche Bescheid wüssten und dass sie unser künftiges Verhalten aus unserem bisherigen ableiten könnten.Mehr noch, die digitale Netzwerktheorie, etwa Facebooks „social graph“, der die Beziehungen zwischen allen Nutzern der Plattform darstellt, und die Netzwerktheorie der Epidemiologie sind in ihren Grundlagen sehr ähnlich.

    21.04. Crises, Cracks and Openings. Technopolitics of COVID-19 (online)

    Tuesday, April 21. 20:00

    (CEST, Central European Summer Time), Via ZOOM

    Join Zoom Meeting: https://zoom.us/j/94058587129
    Meeting ID: 940 5858 7129

    Crises, Cracks and Openings. Technopolitics of COVID-19

    The virus, officially named SARS-CoV-2, is often portrayed as something coming from the outside, be it nature or a foreign country. However, its spread is neither a natural disaster nor a strategic ploy, but a deeply techno-political event. As the disease turns into a pandemic it reveals many of the hidden structures and contradictions of the highly integrated, yet locally differentiated contemporary word.

    The societal reactions to the spread and the measures which are currently put into place are transformative and might turn revolutionary.

    To address an event as distributed and complex as COVID-19, no single point-of-view can suffice. Thus, we have invited artists and theoreticians from four places – Sao Paulo, Chicago, Tel Aviv, and Vienna – to speak about their particular experiences, the techno-political dynamics created by the virus, agency for cultural producers and speculate about what will remain.

    David Sperling Architect, Institute of Architecture and Urbanism (IAU), University of São Paulo
    Lucas Bambozzi Artist, Filmmaker and Activist, São Paulo
    Brian Holmes Researcher, Writer, Activist, Chicago
    Udi Edelman Isreal Digital Art Center, Tel Aviv
    Tsilla Hassine Artist and Art-up Founder, Tel Aviv
    Technopolitics Working Group Vienna

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