automatic pilot

Our lives are literally, virtually, based on software. Financial markets are regulated by software. Government is run on software. The military is dependent on software. Financial indexing is dominated by four companies, and despite a bit of fudging, it is run entirely on software. When things taken for granted vanish, they give rise to anxiety, like stock market flash crashes, Blackberry blackouts, inert subway systems and so on. Its part George Orwell and part Kafka, as in “Before The Law” where the prison is virtual and the boundaries are imaginary, yet very real and surveillance is virtual and very intrusive, shadowing us, dogging us with entreaties to our wants. Marc Filterman in his “Armes de L’Ombre” depicted this technological potential of software controlled radio frequencies that transgress personal boundaries, are invasive to individual sovereignty and roam undetected beyond national borders, giving full context to the meaning of globalization.

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The real and the virtual spaces in which we move today become increasingly blurred in a Deleuzian world of, a shadow world of processes that shackle the individual and confine us to a limited dimensionality. Electronic shackles where an escape from forces of colonization, exploitation and ultimately disintegration places the individual between a past that is increasingly disrupted, cut off from history, the triumph of Duchamp and Dadaism, yet facing a vague future that looks increasingly kitschy, an anti-world that affirms basically mankind’s worst tendencies of hierarchy and invidious comparison. Structural considerations that give increasing rise to pathological behavior of those in power held in check, tenuously by the same software. Artistically, it means a point of inflection between technology and traditional visual art, the kind of sub-world that Jeremy Blake and Theresa Duncan were  discovering before  mysteriously dying. They were onto something. Something. A depicting of the invisible in which the virtual invisible could be made to disappear. …..

---Ploum:He states that we are living in a generalized crisis where spaces of enclosure mould people into data ‘dividuals’. “In the societies of control, on the other hand, what is important is no longer either a signature or a number, but a code: the code is a password, while on the other hand disciplinary societies are regulated by watchwords (as much as from the point of view of integration as from that of resistance). The numerical language of control is made of codes that mark access to information, or reject it. We no longer find ourselves dealing with the mass/individual pair. Individuals have become “dividuals,” and masses, samples, data, markets, or “banks.”--- Read More:

Arns:Disappearance in this context however does not only mean sudden breakdown, as in that which occurs when nothing functions anymore, rather refers to, paradoxically, exactly what happens when software-based systems function correctly. Simply put: The more things in daily life become regulated by software, the less sensually perceivable they are in everyday contact. That they disappear from direct view does not mean however that they are not there. Quite the opposite: immaterial structures that have been laid down in software are, and that is the paradox, at least as equally durable, if not even more effective than material structures and architecture. That the world around us is increasingly programmed, means that rules, conventions and relationships that are fundamentally changeable and negotiable become cast in software. Software thus proves itself a very hard material, immateriality as a quasi factual materiality – that however withdraws from our sensory perception. Disappearance means in this sense that through our increasingly software-based world, the world is covertly being made to disappear, and not by force as applies to the totalitarian regimes of the 20th century. Whether the world will be successfully made to disappear through this depends on us, her inhabitants, whether we covertly, silently and still allow it to happen. Read More:

---Rather, the immobilisations meant are those which are conditional to normal functioning: when the cash machine suddenly stops dispensing money, when an assembly ban is hung over virtual spaces (because the software does not permit the simultaneous presence of more than four people), when one cannot pass anymore through the security controls of one’s company with one’s chip card, or when upon returning to the states of the Schengen Agreement, one is detained for eighteen hours on the outer border of the EU, because the system identifies the number of the provisional passport as stolen and an international search warrant nearly ends in arrest---Read More: image:

…The uncanny disappearance of the world by means of software does not only have the deprivation of visibility and tangibility as a consequence but also a dematerialization of structures. Both effects are thereby reciprocally linked. “Immaterial” does not mean however that these structures are less effective than their material counterparts. To understand the term “immaterial” as opposed to “material” means to misunderstand it. In fact one has to learn to comprehend the immaterial as something that establishes connections between single materialities
and can thus due to exponentially rising computer abilities, in an extremely high speed manner calculate relationships between people and things, goods and individuals and subjects and objects. (i.e. create consumer profiles ). The covert disappearance of the world that expresses itself in a silent „standing-in relation-to-one-another“ will be ensured by software. Increasingly, in these performative programme codes, behavioural codes are laid down, as if anchoring them in the subconscious. Read More:

---Deleuze, however, draws from a completely different set of concepts to account for the different objectives for (and practices of) contemporary social control. Social control in modern societies, on his interpretation, is accomplished by a ‘surveillant assemblage,’ consisting of a multiplicity of loosely affiliated observers. By virtue of electronic communication, however, these ‘loosely affiliated’ observers are in fact more closely tied to each other than the institutions of disciplinary society. Where once institutions were insulated from each other to some extent by physical barriers, now the knowledge contained within formerly discrete institutions is digitized and interoperable. Even the term ‘institution’ itself becomes questionable, as surveillance increasingly becomes the province of small businesses and individuals. The shift from state-run to corporate-run surveillance is also indicative of a shift in the emphasis of surveillance itself. The Panopticon was designed to ensure compliance with certain specific disciplinary norms. Its intent was to ensure that the prisoner caused no disturbances to safety or to public morality; as long as these conditions were satisfied, the observer had no real cause to enquire as to how each prisoner’s time was occupied. The surveillant assemblage’s purpose is more or less the opposite. Being businesses, the vast majority of observers within the assemblage care little about one’s compliance with societal norms, except insofar as such compliance may affect profitability. The Nielsen rating system doesn’t prevent the viewer from watching shows it deems inappropriate, nor do the cameras in a shopping centre try to direct shoppers to specific stores. Indeed, except in cases of shoplifting and/or other egregious lawbreaking, the surveillant assemblage very rarely intervenes explicitly in the lives of those it surveills. Instead, surveillance data is compiled into an archive of one’s transactions for use in directed marketing and enhancements in productivity and profitability.--- Read More:

…Walter Benjamin defined the “optical unconscious” as an unconscious visual dimension of the material world that is normally filtered out of
human consciousness and thus remains invisible. “Evidently a different nature opens itself to the camera than opens to the naked eye – if only because an unconsciously penetrated space is substituted for a space consciously explored by man“. This unconsciously penetrated space can through the use of mechanical recording techniques (photography and film: slow motion, magnification) be made visible. In his conception of unconscious optics, Benjamin identifies the possibility of an impersonal, de-psychological unconscious. This approaches the vicinity of “postoptical unconscious“. Now, however with optical recording and playback technology it is not possible to see through this post-optical unconscious because it is no longer visually composed. Rather it distinguishes itself through transparency, that is, invisibility. How, in spaces becoming so intangible, can political or artistic action articulate itself? How and where can potential (new) spaces for the political develop
in the face of the software-supported disappearance of the world? Read More:

---Peljhan:One of the current projects I am doing for Documenta is called Makrolab. It is a project that will research isolation strategies: how to isolate oneself from society to reflect and see this society better. It is an opposite of the usual going into the society and trying to change or make things. My thesis is that a small amount of people in an isolated and insulated environment with completely open possibilities of communication and monitoring of social events, but physically isolated, can provide a much faster, further and more efficient 'call' (?) for social evolution. It is my thesis, not just an idea, and I am going to proof it. It is important at some point to isolate oneself from society. It is not a new concept. It is very old actually. The thinkers, hermits, in the past moved themselves away from society to think for society, however that society was structured. The result were some very interesting reflections upon the current time. JB: This isolation you are investigating now, how is that connected to the media overload that you have around you? Marko Peljhan: The idea was just to give oneself the possibility to really overload with all kinds of data, but completely to decide what the input is. You turn on the tv, you scan the spectrum, you move your satelite dish around to see what is on or you don't. You have all possibility not to communicate if you don't want to. Society, as it is structured

overloads you automatically. It is all autopilot. You go into the city and you are overloaded with information. It is inherent to the structure of urban space. If you go outside into nature the overload is much more subtle and metaphysical, maybe you are overloaded by the size of the sky. Read More:


Yet, when we consider further the object of the surveillant assemblage, the nature of the ‘control’ inherent to such a society becomes more evident. Under such a society, as Deleuze states, “the operation of markets is now the instrument of social control … control is short-term and of rapid rates of turnover, but also continuous and without limit” . Control in such a society is not accomplished by controlling the desire of the subject. Instead, it is effected by ensuring that a product is available to satisfy any desire the subject may have, and that desires which cannot be satisfied through consumption are commensurately devalorized. This form of control may lack the ‘long duration’ of disciplinary forms of control, but it is ‘without limit’ in the sense that it does not grant the observed any real sphere of self-determination. While the prisoner of the Panopticon was free to act however they chose in a disciplined manner, the observed subjects in contemporary society are administered and guided in every aspect of their conduct….

Ray Caesar. Read More:

…The weaknesses in Deleuze’s ‘postscript’ are those found in the majority of his work: he frequently puts more emphasis on rhetorical effect than basic logic, and in the process is often too ready to make sweeping generalizations based on limited evidence. His claim that, today, “the corporation has replaced the factory” , is one particularly notable instance. Corporations can in no sense ‘replace’ factories; in the history of institutions, corporations developed right alongside factories, and indeed, factories are an essential part of corporations and their activities. In a broader sense, as well, one might dispute the idea that ‘societies of control’ have wholly supplanted the disciplinary societies. Though society has indeed greatly changed since the development of the disciplinary society, the sheer prominence of the basic disciplinary institutions (the school, the church, the armed forces) in contemporary society should constitute evidence enough that Foucault’s model is not completely outdated. Read More:

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