From eco-psychedelia to Internet neoliberalism: The CONFERENCE will revolve around questions of the legacy of the California counterculture. How did some of its concepts become global principles of new capitalistic “frontiers”? Roundtable discussions will explore the historical sources of, and connections between, discursive and political issues such as the ecological movement, cybernetics, anti-conformist cultures, new artistic practices that dissolve boundaries, and the transformations in these areas right up to the globalist network capitalism of the 1990s. Thus, the conference investigates the background conditions of the discourses that today, in the framework of the Anthropocene, are being negotiated, updated, or – in some cases – forgotten.
Conference Day 1 | Conference Day 2
2 pm Cybernetics and Holism
With Avery F. Gordon (writer, sociologist), Lars Bang Larsen (art historian, curator), and Laurence A. Rickels (theorist, therapist)
The panel will open up different perspectives on two ideological reference points of the counterculture: on the one hand, cybernetics, which originated in military research, and on the other, visions of holism derived from natural philosophy, esotericism, and ecology. The discussion will revolve around various motifs of inclusion and totalization: what does it mean when a system’s “outside” disappears?
Avery F. Gordon is a Professor of Sociology at the University of California/Santa Barbara and Visiting Faculty Fellow at Centre for Research Architecture, Goldsmiths, University of London. Her work focuses on radical thought and practice. She writes about imprisonment, war, and dispossession.
Lars Bang Larsen is an art historian and curator, whose works consider aesthetic and theoretical questions related to counter cultures from the 1960s on. He recently completed his PhD thesis in art history, A History of Irritated Material. Psychedelic Concepts in Neo-Avant-Garde Art, at the University of Copenhagen.
Laurence A. Rickels is a professor of art and theory at the Karlsruhe Academy of Fine Arts and teaches media theory and philosophy at the European Graduate School. From 1981 to 2011 he taught German literature, comparative studies, art, and film at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
4 pm Structural Adjustments
With Mercedes Bunz (cultural scholar, reporter), Katja Diefenbach (theorist) and Tom Holert (historian, writer, artist).
The motifs and achievements of the counterculture have found especially fertile ground in the context of changing organizational forms in the economic, political, and educational-psychological spheres. A certain notion of empathy and spontaneity, the accompanying dissolution of the linear and hierarchical chains of decisions, and the values that emerged from the critique of a world dominated by corporations have become building blocks of a new training, management, and corporate culture.
Mercedes Bunz conducts research on digital media, society, and criticality. She heads a research team on digital publishing at the University of Lüneburg. Her most recent publication is Die Stille Revolution. Wie Algorithmen Wissen, Arbeit, Öffentlichkeit und Politik verändern, ohne dabei viel Lärm zu machen.
Katja Diefenbach is part of the Berlin publishers’ collective b_books, where she is responsible for the series Materialism and Politics. She teaches at the University of Fine Arts, Hamburg. She conducts research on French philosophy and epistemology of the present and has published works on transgression, subculture, and net criticism.
Tom Holert is an art historian, writer, and artist. The subject matter of his work ranges from contemporary and postmodern art to visual culture, politics, war, mobility, glamour, and the governmentality of the present.
6 pm End of Philosophy, Beginning of Cybernetics?
With Hans-Christian Dany (artist, author), Erich Hörl (media theorist, philosopher), and Eva Meyer (philosopher, author, filmmaker)
The ascent of cybernetics has frequently been linked with political and metaphysical problems of philosophy arising from the Second World War, the Holocaust, and the atomic bomb. Whether this crisis was to be diagnosed as historical or metaphysical, technological or cultural, played a surprisingly minor role. What kind of a rethinking is forced on philosophy by the rise of a digitally based global machine as envisioned by some neo-cyberneticists today?
Hans-Christan Dany lives and works as an artist and writer in Hamburg. Since 1989, he has published numerous pieces in books, catalogs and magazines, including Springerin, Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Texte zur Kunst, Die Beute. Following his book "Speed. Eine Gesellschaft auf Droge" (“Speed. A Society on Drugs”) his latest work is due to appear in August: "Morgen werde ich Idiot. Kybernetik und Kontrollgesellschaft" (“Tomorrow, I’ll Be an Idiot. Cybernetics and the Control Society”).
Erich Hörl is a professor of media technology and media philosophy at the Ruhr University Bochum and heads the Bochumer Kolloquium Medienwissenschaft (Bochum Colloquium on Media Studies). He is currently investigating the general ecology of the media and technologies and the history and perspectives of cybernetization.
Eva Meyer, philosopher, author, and filmmaker, currently teaches at the Zurich University of the Arts. Among her publications are Zählen und Erzählen. Für eine Semiotik des Weiblichen (1983) and Frei und indirekt (2010). She collaborates with Eran Schaerf on audio-drama and film projects.
Conference Day 1 | Conference Day 2