Anti-Social Media and Socially Engaged E-Lit

Critical Writing
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Abstract (in English): 

In response to the theme of "peripheries," this paper will explore the question of social media, poetics and externalities. Within the expansive semiotic space of contemporary interactive audiovisual media and the esoteric processes of machine language, the question of how one might wield the tools of discourse in service of socially engaged art gain new urgency.

Many assumptions about digital discourse in the United States are framed by the pragmatics of pop forms, driving political, aesthetic, and, even, intellectual discourse ever closer to consumer norms, under the rhetoric of authenticity, relevance, and democracy. To contextualize my argument, I will discuss the evolution of the popular, from craft to the vernacular, from mass media through interactive design, tracing a general evolution of social realism vis-à-vis shifting conceptions of authenticity.

For Benjamin, prior to mechanical reproduction, the work of art’s value found residence in its aura as a singular object. Following mechanical reproduction, its potency derives from its ubiquity. In the post-digital, this aura is represented in liquidity, a phenomenon which has implications for politics and culture. Invoking Simondon, Stiegler explains, “Individuation is conceived as a process which is always both psychic and collective—where I and we are therefore two aspects of the same process.” Pierre Bourdieu’s revolutionary insight—that consumer culture had transformed aesthetics from an expression of capital into a form of capital—anticipates the development of internet culture itself as a site of power production. Viewed alongside Stiegler’s account of failed individuation and its consequences, we can ask ourselves: Where, then, do we find poetics? How do we imagine an outside to our moment, which ordinates singularities for strategic advantage? How does art challenge the organization of psychic and social currents? Tracing Stiegler’s account of mnemotechnics is the universalization of the individual against the collective as a universal principle, we see the exhaustion of the Modern project: Suddenly, the aesthetic triumph of the individual over the collective is effectively collectivized vis-à-vis consumption. This approach to social unity produces a failed individuation, as sociality is measured in the fluctuations of “trending” values and the leveraging of affect.

Rethinking Michel de Certeau's impact on contemporary cultural studies through Bernard Stiegler's discussion of individuation, I will explore the relationship between anti-social movements and the proletarianization of culture, and consider the restorative potential of the arts. Do the arts simply adopt these audiovisual effects by incorporating the same machine processes? Do the arts serve as a vector of aesthetic innovation in pop culture, as a highbrow form of industrial culture? Or do the arts become an opportunity to engage in processes of “individuation” at the psychic, collective, and technical level? To explore these questions, this presentation will analyze a number of participatory works from the field of Electronic Literature. Possible works discussed might include, ALIS's Typomatic, Meanwhile's Netprov performances, Taroko Gorge remixes, and UnderAcademy's collaborative seminars.

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Jorge Sáez Jimé...