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DECAL Decentralised Arts Lab

Furtherfield has worked with decentralised arts and technology practices since 1996 inspired by free and open source cultures, and before the great centralisation of the web.

Who cares about decentralisation?

10 years ago, blockchain technologies blew apart the idea of money and value as resources to be determined from the centre. This came with a promise, yet to be realised, to empower self-organised collectives of people through more distributed forms of governance and infrastructure. Now the distributed web movement is focusing on peer-to-peer connectivity and coordination with the aim of freeing us from the great commercial behemoths of the web.

What does decentralisation mean for the arts?

There is an awkward relationship between the felt value of the arts to the majority and the financial value of arts to a minority. The arts garner great wealth, while it is harder than ever to sustain arts practice in even the world’s richest cities.

In 2015 we launched the Art Data Money programme of labs, exhibitions and debates to explore how blockchain technologies and new uses of data might enable a new commons for the arts in the age of networks. This was followed by a range of critical art and blockchain research programming:

Building on this and our DAOWO lab series, we have developed DECAL – our Decentralised Arts Lab and research hub.

Working with leading visionary artists and thinkers, DECAL opens up new channels between artworld stakeholders, blockchain and web3.0 businesses. Through the lab we will mobilise research and development by leading artists, using blockchain and web 3.0 technologies to experiment in transnational cooperative infrastructures, decentralised artforms and practices, and improved systems literacy for arts and technology spaces. Our goal is to develop fairer, more dynamic and connected cultural ecologies and economies.

2019 DECAL projects:

For more see our Art and Blockchain resource page.

Platforming Finsbury Park

We are based in the heart of Finsbury Park, which is used by roughly 55,000 people weekly in a neighbourhood described as ‘superdiverse’ for the nearly 200 languages spoken locally. Working with park users and stakeholders, artists, techies, researchers, policy-makers, and other local arts organisations we have developed a new approach to cultural co-creation in this much loved shared public space: ‘Platforming Finsbury Park’.

Our aims are to:

An important part of this work is our 2019-21 programme, Citizen Sci-Fi, designed to engage our local community in creative imaginings of the future of Finsbury Park. We are producing a range of participatory networked art practices that respond to today’s important questions, in this unique urban park context, that empower local participants, and draw on international areas of practice.

By transforming Finsbury Park into a canvas for participatory digital arts we want to explore how insights drawn from the locality, and meaningful co-created cultural experiences can improve wellbeing for people, establishing new arts practices for Finsbury Park and other public spaces and localities.

Read more about this project in our Spring 2018 Editorial

Citizen Sci-Fi Programme 2019-2021

This 3-year programme combines citizen science and citizen journalism by crowdsourcing the imagination of local park users and community groups to create new visions and models of stewardship for public, urban green space. By connecting these with international communities of artists, techies and thinkers we are co-curating labs, workshops, exhibitions and Summer Fairs as a way to grow a new breed of shared culture.

#CitSciFi – crowdsourcing creative and technological visions of our communities and public spaces, together.

Citizen Sci-Fi: Time Portals 2019

The Time Portals exhibition, held at Furtherfield Gallery (and across our online spaces), celebrates the 150th anniversary of the creation of Finsbury Park. As one of London’s first ‘People’s Parks’, designed to give everyone and anyone a space for free movement and thought, we regard it as the perfect location from which to create a mass investigation of radical pasts and futures, circling back to the start as we move forwards.

Each artwork in the exhibition therefore invites audience participation – either in its creation or in the development of a parallel ‘people’s’ work – turning every idea into a portal to countless more imaginings of the past and future of urban green spaces and beyond.

Citizen Sci-Fi: Love Machines 2020

For this Olympic year we will consider the health and wellbeing of humans and machines.

Citizen Sci-Fi: Land Oracles 2021

For this year of predicted peak heat rises we will consider how machines can work with nature.

Mechanisms of Exclusion: “We Are All Faceless Mobs Now, Dawg.”

[Trigger warnings for just about everything goes here. Please Do Not Read the following if you’re sensitive, or concerned about trigger(ing)s.]

“An uproar of voices was coming from the farmhouse. They rushed back and looked through the window again. Yes, a violent quarrel was in progress. There were shoutings, bangings on the table, sharp suspicious glances, furious denials…Twelve voices were shouting in anger, and they were all alike. No question, now, what had happened to the faces of the pigs. The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.”

– George Orwell, Animal Farm.

OUR ANTAGONISTIC CESSPOOL

Today’s online spaces are communication minefields. When interacting in multiplayer games or social media niches, networks come drenched in reactivity bile. And although we might seem to bile-dilute, instead we intellectually saw at each other through a polite veneer. Here, civil discourse is label-trotted. Discourse bile may also erupt in balls-to-the-wall screaming matches. Such bouts involve trollbaiting, d0xxing, and Internet Rage Machine power-ups. Whatever the magnitude/form, online dialogues appear to be flooded with antagonistic commentary.

MUDITA VS SCHADENFREUDE

Truncated attention spans rage-burst. Such anger pockets are far from static: fuelled by such shameblood, the righteous degrade. We humiliate in order to inflate. We confront-tar and belittle-feather. The [s]urge for relevancy is sycophantically baked. We mobilize to unearth, to finger-point: we present affectivity as fact. Hate groups spread across factions, divide-blurring.

NUANCE REMOVAL + THE RUBRIC OF ABUSE

The search for sodalities is constant. Nuances are fudged. Contexts are ignored. Catharsis mutates through a checklist that reduces, confines, and truncates. We are force-fed trauma anecdotes as reality fulcrums. Baggage is exposed in painful lumps. We are not consideration-encouraged: we are expectation-drilled. We must agree. Must acquiesce. Must uncritically support. Anything else denunciation-equates.

“IN-AND-OUT”RAGE

Public shaming is the norm. We bully. We armchair-critique. Bipartisan voices lynchmob-morph, all-indignation-like. Roughshodders censor and context erase. Power drugs the inflamed and injects the underdog[s] with sudden shifting surges. Reference frames are smashed, then reiterated repeatedly till they become a thing of horror, of replication thrown from “side a” to hit “side b”. Such targets are then mirror-captured and magnified. Empathy is to be derided as weakness. Barbs are flung at all who seek to ponder “isms” or reclaim them. We must not listen in order to comprehend, to understand: we must shout.

[PIGEON]HOLE[D]-IN-ONE

We word weaponise [“…getting all soul-rapey on SJWs”/”…gut-cutting misogynistic neckbeards“/ “You are either with us or against us”]. Gator-screams and “die-cis-scum“-roars rule the day. We obliterate and issue-compress. We communication strangle. Equality is attainable through force. Aggression trumps assertion. Sarcasm blights compassion. Rudeness rewrites decency.

SUCH TERRIBLE WHITEWASHING SEALIONS

Image Credit: David Malki/Wondermark

Power-grabs blind the sensitive. To destroy/troll/shame/swamp/embarrass/belittle/d0xx is to “win”. Sense of perspectives lose while extremisms gain. Dialogue is gamed: the loudest voices squash and rip, tear and silence. Threats echo the noose. Implications drive output. The end-goal is attention, ratification, dis[e]ruption: a pendulum power swing designed to flatten and redress. We obscure and vilify. We replicate exclusion ethics. We buck-and-doe-pass.

THE VICTIM[IZED] TURN

Online purging results in strange social crevices. Encouraged to instantaneously blurb our stream-of-tweeted-consciousness, we are off the chain. We spontaneity-bark and bleat [at] everything and all. Cohesion shatters. We no longer rely on institutions to dictate, to guide, to sanction. Moral Absolutists war-trawl Moral Relativists. The Arab Spring has turned us inside out. Unsure, we turn on each other. We emoji expose and deride. We [slut]shame and attack: all within banners born from psychologies spouting the benchmark worth of individualisation. Selfies become our egocentric standard.

HOLIER-THAN-THOU + YOU + YOU

We once attempted to codify, to restrain. But now, all gloves are off. We scrabble and lunge. We showcase-badge based on our version of “the categorical truth”. We bang and bleed against these corners, these intersections of emotion and intellect. Of private and public. Of control and openness. There is no room for reflection, for consideration, for clarity.

RIGHTING OUR SELF-RIGHTEOUS WRONGS

We refuse anything that calms. Online spaces are for battling. Playfulness and cohesion are sacrificed. Righteous mobs insult fling: they ratify rather than reappropriate. Alternates gleefully spout these insults as proof, stamp-ammo-ing all the while. There are, however, those who stay and observe. We await the wind-down. We desire an eventual dissolve: a fundamental shift. They can’t last, these discourse patterns. We wait for rage to course-run, for rage-fatigue. We await the next mediation bump.

I Like Hatsune Miku And She (Can Be Programmed To Sing That She) Likes Me

In the 1990s the idea of the virtual idol singer escaped from Macross Plus’s Sharon Apple and William Gibson’s Rei Toei into the cultural imagination. Blank slates for market forces and projected desires, virtual idol singers differ from Brit School drones only in that there is no meat between the pixels and the data.

Hatsune Miku is a proprietary speech synthesis program with an accompanying character whose singing the software notionally renders. Miku the software is a “Vocaloid” synthesizer using technology developed by Yamaha and the sampled voice of voice actor Saki Fujita. Released in 2007, with additional Japanese voices in 2010 and an English version in 2013, the software topped the charts in Japan on release and has led to spin off games and 3D modelling software. It’s claimed the software has been used to produce over 100,000 songs.

Hatsune Miku the character is a cosplayer’s dream, a sixteen year old (with a birthday rather than a birthdate) Anime young-girl with impossibly long aqua hair (there are male Vocaloids as well). She’s had a chart-topping album, “Exit Tunes Presents Vocalogenesis feat. Hatsune Miku” (2010), and started performing “live” on stage in 2009 with Peppers Ghost-style technology. She’s available as (or represented as) figurines, plushes, keychains, t-shirts, and all the other promotional materials produced for successful Anime characters, pop stars, or both. Her likeness can be licensed automatically for non-commercial use. This makes her fan-friendly, although not Free Culture, and means that fan depictions and derivations of her are widespread. The majority of “her” songs are by fans rather than commercial producers.

She is now appearing in “The End” (2013), a posthuman Opera (with clothes by a designer from artist-suing fashion company Louis Vuitton) where she takes the stage as a projection among screen-based scenery without a live orchestra or vocalists. Which means that someone programmed the software to produce synthesized vocals and someone else negotiated the rights to use the likeness of the characted commercially dressed in a particular designer’s virtual clothing. “She is now appearing” is easier to say, but like Rei Toei this is an anthropomorphised representation of the underlying data.

It’s getting rave reviews, and the music is competent, enjoyable and affecting: strings, electronica and Supercollider-sounding glitches and line noise under breathily cute synthesized vocals. The visuals are CGI with liberally applied glitch aesthetics, mostly featuring Hatsune Miku and a cute chinchilla-ish animal sitting in or falling through space. The plot is a meditation on what mortality and therefore being human can possibly mean to a virtual character. To quote the soundtrack CD booklet notes:

Miku, who has had a presentiment of her fate, talks with animal characters and degraded copies of herself to ask the age-old questions ‘what are endings?’ and ‘what is death?’.

The phantom in this particular opera is composer Keiichiro Shibuya, who appears onstage largely hidden by two smaller projection screens. As the man behind the curtain it’s tempting to read him as the male agent responsible for the opera’s female subject’s troubles. His presence onstage also threatens to make him the human subject of what is intended to be a repudiation of opera’s European anthropocentrism. But without such an anchor the performance would seem less live and perhaps become cinema rather than opera. It seems that a posthuman opera needs a human to be post.

Music production is uniquely suited to the creation of virtual characters through tools, brands and fandoms. Hatsune Miku functions as a guest vocalist, a role combining artistic talent and social presence with a well understood standing in the economics of pop. In art, Harold Cohen‘s sophistiated art-generating program AARON was licensed as a screensaver anyone could run to create art on their Windows desktop computers, but despite its human name and human-like performance, AARON is never anthopomorphised or given an image or personality by Cohen. Could a virtual artist combining software and character similar to Hatsune Miku function in the artworld or in the folk and low art of the net and the street?

screenshot_from_2013-12-04_163723.png

The license for Hatsune Miku the character is frustratingly close to a Free Culture license. Could a free-as-in-freedom Hatsune Miku or similar character succeed? Fandom exists as an ironisation of commercial culture, appropriating mass culture in a bottom-up repurposing and personalisation of top-down forms. Without the mass culture presence of the original work, fandom has no object. Perhaps then without the alienation that fandom addresses, shared artistic forms would not resemble fandom per se.

There are precedents for this. Collaborative personalities abound in art, such as Luther or Karen Blisset. And in politics there is Anonymous. There are also existing Free Culture character like Jenny Everywhere, or even the more informally shared Jerry Cornelius. So it is possible to imagine a Free Software Hatsune Miku, but it’s less easy to imagine what need this would meet.

Unlike the idol signers of literature and television, there’s no pretence that Hatsune Miku is an artificial intelligence. But she is an artifical cultural presence, created by her audience’s use of her technical and aesthetic affordances. Like the robots in Charles Stross’s “Saturn’s Children” (2008), Miku’s notional personhood (such as it is) is defined legally. As a trademark and various rights in the software rather than as a corporation in Saturn’s Children, but legally nonetheless. Heath Bunting’s “Identity Bureau” shows how natural and legal personhood interact and can be manufactured. It’s tempting to try to apply Bunting’s techniques to software characters. If Hatsune Miku had legal personhood, would we still need a human composer onstage?

“The End” was written by that human composer, but software exists that can generate music and lyrics and to evaluate their chances of being a top 40 hit. Combining these systems with software made legal persons would close the loop and create a posthuman cultural ecosystem that would be statistically better than the human one, which I touched on here. It’s not just our jobs that the robots would have taken then. Given the place of music in the human experience they would have taken our souls.

Or the soullessness of Fordist (or Vectorialist) pop. Such a posthuman music system would exclude the human yearning and alienation that fan producer communities answer. It would be an answer without a question. Hatsune Miku is in the last analysis a totem, the products incorporating her are fetishes of the hopeful potential that pop sells back to us.

Despite “The End”, Hatsuke Miku has no expiry date and cannot jump a shuttle offworld. It’s not like she’s going to marry a fellow pop star or come tumbling out of networked 3D printers. But human beings are becoming less and less suitable subjects for the demands of cultural and economic life. In facing our mortality for us Hatsune Miku may have become more human than human.

The text of this review is licenced under the Creative Commons BY-SA 4.0 Licence.

The Body Politic of subRosa

“None but those who have experienced them can conceive of the enticements of science.” Mary Shelley, Frankenstein.

Rachel Falconer writes about the cyberfeminist art collective subRosa, a group using science, technology, and social activism to explore and critique the political traction of information and bio technologies on women’s bodies, lives and work.

Following a recent interview with the founding members of the collective, Hyla Willis and Faith Wilding, this article presents subRosa’s trans-disciplinary, performative practice and questions what it means to claim a feminist position in the mutating economies of biotechnology and techno-science.

Cyberfeminism Interrogates Biotechnology: subRosa's Participatory Information PeCyberfeminism Interrogates Biotechnology: subRosa’s Participatory Information Performances video.

The technological redesigning and reconfiguration of bodies and environments, enacted through the economies of the biotech industry, is an emerging feature of contemporary life. As these new ‘bits of life’ enter the biotech network, there is a slippage in our mental model of what constitutes the body, and more specifically, ‘life’ itself. As radically new biological entities are generated through the processes of molecular genetic engineering, stem cell cultivation, cloning, and transgenics, bio-artists and bio-hackers co-opt the laboratory as a site of critical cultural practice and knowledge exchange. Human embryos, trans-species and plants are constructed, commodified, and distributed across the biotech industry, forming the raw materials for bio-art, DIY biologists and open science culture.[1] These corporeal products and practices exist within new and alien categories, transgressing the physical and cognitive boundaries set by biopunk science fiction and edging towards the possibility of a destiny driven by genetics and life sciences. With the eternal rhetoric of a high-tech humanity, and the threat of Michel Foucault’s[2] biopolitics constantly on the horizon, today Harraway’s[3] myth of the cyborg exists in the form of corporeal commodities travelling through the global biotech industry. Scientific research centres stock, farm, and redistribute biological resources, (often harvested from the female scientists themselves). Cells, seeds, sperm, eggs, organs and tissues float on the biotech market like pork belly and gold. Seeds are patented, and other agro-industrial elements are remediated and distributed as bits of operational data across the biotech network. We/cyborgs[4], are manifested as a set of technologies and scientific protocols, and, as a result, the female body in particular, is reconfigured into a global mash-up of cultural, political and ethical codes.

The increasingly pragmatic realisation of the biotech revolution has provoked a ‘cultural turn’ in science and technology studies in general, and feminist science studies in particular. Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev’s dOCUMENTA (13) proposed an interdisciplinary approach to the role of science for ‘culture at large’. Certainly, by foregrounding the heavy hitters in the field such as Donna Haraway and Vandana Shiva, dOCUMENTA (13) laid claim to addressing the global conflicts of biotechnology. However, the feminist agenda was not specifically addressed, and the key issues of the impact of biotechnologies on feminist subjectivities were only paid minimal lip service. With the exception of Shiva[5], the tone of dOCUMENTA (13) hinted at a positivist, emancipatory take on biotechnology and technoscience without assuming a critical position. There was very little public debate or critical analysis engaging the philosophical, ethical, and political issues of feminism and female subjectivities within the realm of biotechnology.

Notably absent from last year’s dOCUMENTA (13), the activist feminist collective subRosa’s performative, interdisciplinary projects are channelled towards embodying feminist content, practices, and agency, and laying bare the impact of new technologies on women’s sexuality and subjectivities – with a particular emphasis on the conditions of production and reproduction. Through their research-led practice and pedagogical mission, the collective analyse the implications and conditions of the constantly surveyed female body, whilst mapping new possibilities for feminist praxis. subRosa interrogate the conditions of surveillance, private property rights, and other control mechanisms the female body is subjected to by ART(Assisted Reproductive Technologies). The collective’s hybrid, interdisciplinary practice navigates the multiple identities the female body has taken on through techno-scientific development, including: the distributed body, the socially networked body, the cyborg body, the medical body, the citizen body, the soldier body and the gestating body. In contrast to the overarching and pervasive illustration of the technoscientific cultural landscape painted by dOCUMENTA(13), the current members and founders of the collective, Hyla Willis and Faith Wilding, are very clear in their critical intent. The collective choreograph and place themselves within globalized bio-scenarios in order to question the potential for resistance and activism within these constructs.

Cell Track: Mapping the Appropriation of Life Materials, subRosa, Chicago 2004Cell Track: Mapping the Appropriation of Life Materials, subRosa, Chicago 2004.

subRosa’s overarching vision to create discursive frameworks where feminist interdisciplinary conversations and experiments can take place, is research-led and takes its cue from the canon of radical feminist art practices. Cell Track: Mapping the Appropriation of Life Materials has featured in a number of exhibitions, most recently in Soft Power. Art and Technologies in the Biopolitical Age, Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain. This project consists of an installation and website examining the privatization and patenting of human, animal and plant genomes in the context of the history of eugenics. Cell Track highlights the disparity between the bodies that produce stem cells and the corporations that control the products generated from them. Bringing together scientists, cultural practitioners and wider publics in the construct of the gallery space, subRosa generate discourse around the patenting and licensing of DNA sequences, engineered genes, stem cell lines and transgenic organisms. The project’s participatory aim is to set up an activist, feminist embryonic stem cell research lab in order to produce non-patented stem cell lines for distribution to citizen scientists, artists and independent biotechnologists. This environment of shared knowledge production and speculative, alternative, research activity is at the heart of subRosa’s social practice.

Smart Mom, website, subRosa, 2009 Smart Mom, website, subRosa, 2009

Due to the pedagogical nature of subRosa’s activities, the collective’s critical stance towards IVF and ART has proven to be particularly provocative, and their scepticism towards the emancipatory language of ‘choice’ co-opted by ART, has been met with some resistance by other feminist practitioners. However, it is in this very agonism[6] that subRosa wish to become more visible, and they welcome criticism and debate in the public discursive spaces that they create.  In a recent interview, Faith Wilding and Hyla Willis both expressed their desire to generate an expanded, and deeper discussion about the wider issues involved in ART in particular and biotechnology’s effect on female identity in general. subRosa’s potential to reach wider publics and audiences is partially determined by the socio-political context of the communities in which they operate. Perhaps in reaction to this, subRosa’s focus is now shifting towards embracing the aforementioned ‘cultural turn’ in science as they address the position of feminist scientists themselves.

The imperative to reclaim feminist discourses and narratives in science is of growing concern to subRosa, as they believe that feminist agency lies in the practice of science itself. By relocating lab-work from the dominant scientific institutions to the public environment of the gallery, subRosa provide the critical space in which new feminist scientific praxis can operate,[7] and new dialogues and discourses can be created. Their conviction that political and critical traction lies in practice as discourse, and the potential of face to face encounters, is demonstrated in their recent project for the Pittsburgh Bienal: Feminist Matter(s): Propositions and Undoings (2011). In this installation, SubRosa take Virginia Woolf’s[8] assertion that ‘tea-table thinking’ provides an effective antidote to the male-driven ‘war-mentality brewed in boardrooms and command centers’ as their main conceit.  Redeploying Woolf’s idea toward the rethinking of the traditionally male-dominated discipline of science, Wilding and Willis’ installation brings traces of the science laboratory to the intimacy and hospitality of the kitchen table, and in turn, also situates what is normally a private, feminized space in a more public domain.

Feminist Matter(s): Propositions and Undoings, opening reception, subRosa, 2011.
Feminist Matter(s): Propositions and Undoings, opening reception, subRosa, 2011. Photo: Tom Little, Miller Gallery.

These tables stage a dialogue between one or two visitors in response to the presentation of female figures in science, both the popularly acknowledged and the underexposed. subRosa foreground women scientists past and present and reimagine an alternative, feminized history of science and technology. The installation explores feminism and participatory practices as modes of scientific research, with the aim of generating dialogue and discourse around the questioning of the dominant historical narrative of science. Specially tailored installations reside on each table, evoking lab work while celebrating the history of the women protagonists they play host to – from anarchist painter Remedios Varo to geneticist Barbara McClintock.

Feminist Matter(s): Propositions and Undoings, opening reception, subRosa, 2011.
Feminist Matter(s): Propositions and Undoings, opening reception, subRosa, 2011. Photo: Tom Little, Miller Gallery.

subRosa’s pedagogical imperative is at once inclusive and provocative, and their role as facilitators of a discursive space outside the traditional institutions and control structures of science, is where their radical aspirations lie. Pedagogical art practices often teeter on the brink of propaganda, and subRosa are quite comfortable with the propagandistic label. Considering the economic and cultural climate in the USA with regard to the politics of reproduction, their work has been particularly well received in the context of European cultural institutions, whereas in the USA there is greater interest for the work in academic institutional settings. Perhaps this could be symptomatic of the general privileging of discourses around intersex, transgender and queer subjectivities. The dominant bias of the gatekeepers of the artworld to showcase queer practices is evident in the promotion of artists such as Ryan Trecartin and Carlos Motta on the international circuit. Curators have tended to position artists addressing the gendered ‘Other’ within a contemporary queer framework, whilst keeping feminist art practices on the peripheries of 1960s/1970s retrospective nostalgia. This tendency presents a muddying of the waters for contemporary feminist art practices such as subRosa.

This may also be part of a more general tendency to demonize and move away from feminist identities and discourses in wider society. The academic shape shifting from ‘women’s studies’ to ‘gender studies’ to ‘queer studies’ has diminished the feminist conversation and, therefore, the impact and receivership of feminist art practices. This has rendered the popular conception of  ‘Queer’ as acceptable and non-aggressive. Furthermore, the term ‘Queer’ and the subsequent morphing into the verb ‘queering’, has been co-opted by transdisciplinary academic discourse, and is now an expansive, all embracing cultural term – a phenomenon that has met with a certain amount of scepticism from the queer community.

This privileging of the expansive ‘othering’ of queer rhetoric has often resulted in feminism being rejected as a radical and out-dated political identity by art practitioners themselves. This ambivalent attitude is perhaps also indicative of the wider feminist debate, in which post-feminism has splintered into fragmented, diluted groups, each policing their own identity politics with little sense of a bigger struggle. However, the collaborative, interdisciplinary environments orchestrated by subRosa signal a return to the indisputably material actuality of the female body. Through their insistence on the possibilities of feminist bench-side practices, and the forensic unpicking of the power/control structures inherent in biotechnology, subRosa expands the feminist lexicon through the empirically re-appropriated organic materiality of the body.

References:

[1]Eduardo Kac’s fluorescent glow in the dark rabbit, Alba and Critcial Art Ensemble’s bio-art practices are popularly cited historical examples of the artworld’s forays into biotechnology and transgenics. C-Lab and Rüdiger Trojok recently showed at Art Laboratory Berlin, August 2013.

[2] In his theory, Michel Foucault describes the related term “Biopower” as the governance of population through the control of the body, the mind and every aspect of human life, particularly those directly related to subjectivity. Michel Foucault The History of Sexuality Vol 1 p.140 (1976)

[3]Haraway, Donna Jeanne ,”A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century”. Simians, Cyborgs and Women: The Reinvention of Nature. Routledge. (1991).

[4] Ibid.

[5]Shiva, Vandana The Corporate Control of Life in Documenta 13: The Book of Books (2011

[6] Relating to Chantal Mouffe’s conviction of the positive channelling of political conflict

[7]Other subRosa projects which have appropriated and staged the conventions of the science industry and pedagogical investigation include Expo EmmaGenetics (2001),a faux biotech trade show, Epidermic!DIY Cell Lab, (2005), an amateur science performance and experimental lab

[8] Woolf, Virginia, Thoughts of Death in an Air Raid, 1940,(Penguin), 2009

Lies, Lawlessness and Disbelief: An Attempt at Thinking Art and Capital

Lies, Lawlessness and Disbelief: An Attempt at Thinking Art and Capital is an essay by Canadian artist & critical thinker, Katie McCain. McCain discusses how capitalism has become on the one hand all-encompassing and on the other utterly unreal. Arguing that we need to focus on moments of paradox, illogic and the impossible in order to rethink capital, this essay explores and succumbs to the circuity of it’s own thinking. Drawing on a host of sources, it attempts to weave an account in which system failure is seen as a point of rupture, whether in legislation, bureaucracy or thought itself.

Moments of paradox are seen as a space in which to re-orient our capacity for thought, and in doing so find a place for art as a point of resistance. It promotes a negative approach to capital, a re-imagining of nihilism, and fosters a general penchant for the illegal and the illogical. Ultimately it seeks the expansive space contained within what is impossible or unknown, although this is known to be impossible.

Download PDF of Lies, Lawlessness and Disbelief: An Attempt at Thinking Art and Capital