Conference

Curated by Daphne Dragona and Kristoffer Gansing

What does the ‘capture all’ logic entail and what does it mean to live in an algorithmic world? How does the desired ‘full take’ shape not just the contemporary lived environment but our very being, working and acting within it? The idea behind a 'capture all' society is not one based on a totalitarian model; it rather reflects a new system of organisation which, based on the datafication, quantification and correlation of everything, can be predictive and to some extent preemptive, allowing new modes of regulation and control. Playful, competitive and productive as a 'capture all' society claims to be, it constantly aims for an accelerated optimisation surpassing any limitations between life and work. Its rankings and ratings, mappings and visualisations depict a gamifying condition where individuals never rest but are continuously connected and active, allowing behavioural patterns to become detectable and recognisable. But are we then faced with a new type of governmentality towards a calculative life? And how do we respond to it? Which discourses are still needed and which counter-practices can be employed to provoke change in a datafying world?

The conference programme of transmediale 2015 addresses the above issues by attempting to map today’s complex algorithmic world, discussing the processes, the phenomena, the technologies and infrastructures involved. Developed around three main streams of CAPTURE ALL, Life, Play and Work, the conference looks into how each of those particular areas are being transformed, and how they all constitute inseparable components of an accelerated capitalism. What does our willing participation in self-optimisation and self-commodification mean? What role do the playful technologies and game mechanics take today? How can we regain our right to non-work time? How can we withdraw from the constant availability enabled by new systems of logistics and new algorithms of control? The speakers of this year’s conference are invited to shed light on the implications of the ‘capture all’ logic and to discuss how new forms of living and being may still be possible. Keynotes, thematic panels, and specialised discussions will take place throughout the festival inviting the audience to follow the discourse and actively take part in it.

Work

Is “Do good, have fun and make money” the dictum of work under digital capitalism? Work in the digital age has previously been analysed under labels such as immaterial, precarious and free labour. Today, the mode of organising labour through outsourcing seems to have reached a new stage in which work itself is being outsourced to domains not traditionally associated with work. This not only concerns then the new automation of work and the idea of an always on-demand and highly flexible “Industry 4.0” but also a new kind of “smart” worker always expected to be optimising time and resources. Being a worker today means being “employed” in very different settings: from the infamous rigidness of the iphone technology plant or the “human bots” of the Amazon warehouse to the start-up co-working space with its complementary coffee, an algorithmic logic and constant monitoring is now part of every working environment.The Capture All_Work stream will look at how this situation is reflected in artistic practice as well as to possibilities of again organising work and non-work through the gaps and excess spaces of a society where everything and nothing is becoming work.

 

Life

Are we now living in the “Century of the Selfie”? With the integration of processes of technological and economic capture into all spheres of life, our sense of individuality and personal development is increasingly dependent on external mediation, evaluation and prediction. Generations of kids growing up in post-industrial societies were once told to realize and be “yourself” but as individual fulfillment is now treated as a given, the stakes have turned higher and simply being yourself is not sufficient anymore: you have to constantly improve, to be better at being yourself. If being “self-made” is a long standing capitalist role model, today the personal accumulation of power and capital has to be complemented by processes of self-optimisation including the commodification of personal identity and the measuring of bodily activities from nutrition levels to sleep patterns. What are the mechanisms behind our “willing” participation in self-optimisation and the commodification of knowledge? Is there still a possibility of something existing in excess or of approaches and practices that helps us to steer this relentless capture into new more intimate and sustainable life-worlds?

Play

Look around you! The world is supposed to be full of play. From urban interactions to work tasks and from educational activities to sports, all aspects of everyday life now formulate a gamespace where one can play, compete and continuously aim to get better. This extensive embrace of play - or to be more precise of games - promises to make everything more meaningful and enjoyable. But our so called ‘ludic century’, came at a price; ludic might also mean productive, functional and accelerated; it might imply unaware labour and subtle surveillance. Playful technologies and participatory structures seem to have succeeded in rendering personal information traceable, social relationships exploitable and behavioral patterns recognizable. Could it be that play’s new role is to capture, commodify and predict users everyday life? The Play stream will aim to focus not only on the current ambiguities and misconceptions but also on the emergence of new forms of tactical ‘dataplay’, and of reclaiming play as a commons.

 

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