Telepathy and New Labor

Verein zur Förderung von Kunst und Kultur am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz e.V.
Curated by Warren Neidich, Susanne Prinz, and Jacquelene Drinkall
July 24 – August 21, 2021

Participating artists include Kathryn Andrews, Simon Denny, Suzanne Dikker and Marina Abramović, David Horvitz, Agnieszka Kurant, Jonathan Monk, Gianni Motti, Lorenzo Sandoval, and Suzanne Treister.

“Galaxy Brain” by Erik Morse on ARTFORUM

Telepathy and New Labor is the final of three acts in an exhibition-play that unpacks and explores the potential of Activist Neuroaesthetics.

We are in the midst of a transition from an information and knowledge-based economy to one that can be described as neural or brain-based. Just as the burgeoning industrial economy subsumed craft and agricultural economies, and the information and knowledge economies of the late 20th and early 21st centuries subsumed the industrial economy, this imminent brain-based economy will subsume those that preceded it. The result will be that real subsumption in which life itself becomes work will be transformed into neural subsumption wherein our conscious and unconscious thoughts and impulses will become work.

Here, the brain not only refers to the intracranial brain that resides inside the bony skull, but also the situated body and the extracranial brain composed of the socio-cultural-technological milieu in constant evolution. Today these two systems are situated and intertwined with Big Data and what Shoshana Zuboff describes as the Big Other, “a ubiquitous networked institutional regime that records, modifies, and commodifies everyday experience from toasters to bodies, communication to thought, all with a view to establishing new pathways to monetization and profit.” This Big Other is found in what is referred to as Google Bubbles in which clicks of a mouse and online searches can directly affect our attitudes and political affiliations.

In this context, immanent telepathic neural technologies will advance telemetric technologies already in use to intercede between the intracranial brain and the extracranial brain. As Slavoj Žižek describes it in his book Hegel in a Wired Brain, the “‘Wired brain’ refers to a direct link between our mental processes and a digital machine, a link which, while it enables me to directly trigger events in reality with a mere thought…it also enables the digital machine to control my thoughts.” These technologies are appearing on the horizon in part due to advanced digital contingencies that require new speeds of mental laboring and levels of attention in order to produce increases in the surplus value of intellectual labor. As Elon Musk has said, “it’s mostly about the bandwidth, the speed of the connection between your brain and the digital version of yourself, particularly output,” in regards to this merger.

[PDF] Edited by Jacquelene Drinkall and Warren Neidich.

Telepathy and New Labor is an attempt to make known the implications of the wired brain and its relations to new forms of labor. We ask: What might the effect of online searches (like those that feed into the system of the Big Other) be as a result of conscious and unconscious choices mediated by wired brain apparatuses? Furthermore, what new capacities might future assemblages of this kind have to intervene in the brain’s neurophysiology by directing the shape and form of its neural architecture through directly pruning its neural plasticity? And, what role can artistic interventions play in both increasing awareness and creating dissensus against the immanence of neural subsumption?

This project is made possible with support from Hauptstadtkulturfonds, Verein zur Förderung von Kunst und Kultur am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz e.V., and private donors.