Throughout seven podcast episodes, Carolin Melia Brendel, Rebecca Fuxen and Martin Rovan, Tizia Grether, Simon Nagy, Kervin Saint-Pere, Lia Sudermann, and Andrea Zabric expand the artistic and discursive fields of the exhibition Cybernetics of the Poor.
Cybersounds unfolds paradigmatic moments of cybernetic thinking throughout history, politics, financial models, and cultural phenomena. From the Bolshevik proto-cybernetic in pre-revolutionary Russia through the post-cybernetic hippie movement to digital capitalism: this podcast series thematizes the emergence of meta-sciences, the appropriation of feedback systems, and the creation of models for the anticipation of systemic risk. From the Russian avant-garde and the Vienna Circle through cybernetic tunes in pop music to Glitch Feminism: Cybersounds mirrors the universalist agenda of cybernetics as well as the pervasiveness of its transdisciplinary promise.
Cybersounds is a cooperation between Kunsthalle Wien and students of the Master in Critical Studies at the Academy of Fine Arts of Vienna. One of the episodes will be published later.
Lia Sudermann: Cybernetics and Hippies
“TheraPsy is a special software for psychotherapy—Thera with Th like therapy, not like Terra: Earth, even if TerraPsy were a much better fit, since the Earth, i.e., Gaia, or, better, THE BLUE PLANET and the SELF, which is worked on in therapy, came into being at the same time after all.”
Lia Sudermann’s podcast is about feedback as a group dynamic therapy method, about self-responsibility and guilt, about the power of now, and about what the conquest of the self has to do with the conquest of outer space.
“Become your avatar. Be the glitch.”
In her Glitch Feminism Manifesto, artist and theorist Legacy Russell examines strategies of avatar creation for their emancipatory content. For her, glitch not only means “to slip” or “to slide” but also refers to a feedback loop process between the real and the virtual. Tizia Grether’s podcast links Russell’s theses with Adrian Piper’s iconic alter ego Mythic Being whose interpretation as an avatar puts categories of class, race, gender, and sexuality up for discussion. This raises the question to what degree this artistic practice can represent a resistant cybernetics of the poor.
Simon Nagy and Axel Stockburger: Red Cybernetics
Alexander Bogdanov designed a Bolshevik proto-cybernetics in the run-up to the October Revolution of 1917. This proto-cybernetics found its expression in experiments with reciprocal blood transfusion, cybercommunist science fiction novels, the Proletcult movement, and a metascience called tectology. Axel Stockburger and Simon Nagy talk about the relationship of Bogdanov’s theory to later cybernetics and about the political insights that may be gained above all from their differences.
Carolin Melia Brendel: Cybernetics of the Rich
Michael Simku and Carolin Melia Brendel discuss the ambivalent relationship between cybernetics and digital capitalism. They talk about Carolin Melia Brendel‘s research in finance sociology on the conjuncture of cybernetic risk models in so-called times of crisis as well as her artistic research practice and her latest video work the gaze and the machine (2020).
Rebecca Fuxen & Martin Rovan
Cold Crystal Timbres, Mixtape
Cold Crystal Timbres recalls the immediate past. Hight-tech emotions and synthetic unnaturalness: When sonic hybridities were echoing early 2000s pop.
Once a haven for nerds and enthusiasts, the internet became accessible to many in the early 2010s. Utopias linked to the early internet, such as that of an anonymous and democratic cyberspace, are finally being displaced by a neoliberal Silicon Valley ideology that manifests itself in platforms like Facebook and Amazon.
Rebecca Fuxen and Martin Rovan’s mixtape Cold Crystal Timbres pays tribute to the music that emerged from this structural change and aesthetically relates to it. This hybrid music genre, which developed between 2010 and 2015, is characterized by both cold digital sounds and nostalgic pop references. It is embedded in collectives, loose associations, labels, events, or curatorial projects that network primarily through platforms such as SoundCloud and Myspace. Although this music takes place mostly in traditional club settings, it is transnational, digital networking practices that create political activism and solidarity: many collectives establish platforms for DJs, producers, and activists. They reclaim the white- and male-dominated club scene and emphasize the queer context of its genesis and the central role of BPoC within club music.
Listening to the digital, high-resolution sounds of the time one comes to grasp the intersections of digital everyday culture and music as well as the influence that technological developments have on the realities of the artists’ lives.
Kervin Saint-Pere: From the Index Card Box into Cyberspace
From the Index Card Box into Cyberspace is an examination of post-decolonial perspectives from South America with the classification forms of the ancient social sciences folklore studies and ethnology, which acted as precursors of ethnology and the basis of normativity constructions.
I consider the first systematic ethnological classifications in relation to the relationship of an intellectual “coloniality of power”. The separation between Europeans and non-Europeans and the homogenization of populations (the very same non-Europeans) served as part of the elaboration of a new social classification. It is historical power relations and colonial structures that that are still visible in colonial thought patterns.
After visiting the image archive of the Austrian National Library in Vienna and analyzing the information structures that were originally collected and classified in index cards and archive cards and still show as visible colonial traces, it becomes clear that these structures are also reflected in “cyberspace”, which functions as a space for social interaction and order.
In conversation with art historian Daniela Stöppel about protocybernetics in the works of scientist Otto Neurath and artist El Lissitzky
Daniela Stöppel’s doctoral thesis from 2008, Visuelle Zeichensysteme der Avantgarden 1910 bis 1950 – Verkehrszeichen, Farbleitsysteme, Piktogramme [Visual Sign Systems of the Avant-Garde 1910 to 1950: Traffic Signs, Color-Guided Systems, Pictograms], explores the affiliations between pictorial sign systems of the first half of the twentieth century. Her publication in the form of a red book was the starting point for an examination of the utopian-ideological dialogue between two (left-wing) actors: El Lissitzky, a chameleon-like figure of the international avant-garde, and Otto Neurath, an encyclopedist on a passionate mission of enlightenment, who share a holistic way of thinking.