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Nervous Systems


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Quantified Life And The Social Question

What happens when our individual and collective actions are anticipated and monetized by algorithmic forecasts? What remains of the world when it is being interpreted for us by machines?

Beyond contemporary disclosures about mass surveillance by intelligence services, the promises inherent in “big data” determine discourses about future innovations and systems of classification in government and industry, which aim to increasingly transform political and systemic questions into those of technological management. The promises of participation and “digital democracy” stand in contrast to new forms of cybernetic control and modulation of social behavior on an unprecedented scale. The countless sensors of ubiquitous digital and technological infrastructures have united the state, industry, body and technology into ever more complex “nervous systems.” This nervousness is revealed in particular where relationships of power and participation come to the fore, namely in the “social question.”

These highly topical issues were pursued in the 2016 exhibition Nervous Systems at Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin, with artistic works and contextualizing materials which illustrate the entanglements of state, industry, body and technology. This publication, published in conjunction with the exhibition, assembles a combination of contemporary art complemented by contributions from experts, theorists and researchers, presenting contextualized historical documents, artifacts and further objects. The volume is edited by Anselm Franke together with Stephanie Hankey and Marek Tuszynski from the Tactical Technology Collective. 

With contributions from Grégoire Chamayou, Avery F. Gordon, Orit Halpern, Ben Hayes, Tung-Hui Hu, Lawrence Liang, Noortje Marres, Matteo Pasquinelli, Nishant Shah, Mushon Zer-Aviv a. o.

Designed by Joris + Terry Kritis

Published by Spector Books, 2016

Softcover, 288 pages, illustrated throughout, 4.25 × 7 inches

ISBN: 978-3-95905-093-7