eipcp Projects Creating Worlds

Creating Worlds

In the societies of control, the aim is no longer to appropriate as in societies
of sovereignty, nor to
combine and increase the power of the forces as in disciplinary societies,
but to
create worlds.
Maurizio Lazzarato

Creating Worlds is a multi-annual research project that investigates the relationship between art production and knowledge production in the context of the transformations and crises of contemporary capitalism. Creativity becomes an ambivalent term here, “creating worlds” meaning a modulating procedure in cognitive capitalism and societies of control, but also an emerging political dimension of creativity as political imagination and invention of new lines of flight, new struggles, new worlds.

Creating Worlds will be developed in the years 2009 to 2012, involve research, publication and artistic projects and is structured around three thematic plateaus:

1. A Critique of Cognitive Capitalism

Creativity, invention and knowledge are at the core of contemporary modes of production. A number of theory currents from the social sciences, philosophy and cultural studies describe the economic and political transformations of the last 40 years as being fundamentally knowledge-based. Central concepts of this transformation to the postfordist paradigm of cognitive capitalism are the terms immaterial labor, creative labor, cognitive labor, affective labor, knowledge economy and knowledge society. The role of invention and knowledge production as the “raw material” of a new economic order emerges against the background of the rapid development of new information and communication technologies, a re-ordering of intellectual property and the transformation of knowledge into a commodity.

Nevertheless this is not to be understood as a simple movement from “manual labor” to “mental labor”. In the cognitive paradigm we should instead speak of a parallel movement of the immaterialization, informatization and acceleration of communication in the capitalist centers and the simultaneous shift of traditional industrial and manual labor to the dependent peripheries of the “Second” and “Third World”.

Against this background, we want to look at the shifts and intersections of the immaterial and its materiality, the post-industrial generalization of innovation, invention and creativity, as well as the feminist and post-colonial critiques of the phenomena and the concept of cognitive capitalism. Critical art practice as knowledge production is not only part of these transformations or just a lens, through which they become articulated, but assumes the function of a question mark making visible and problematizing the rigid regimes of copyright economies and creative industries.

2. The Knowledge Factory and its Discontents

When knowledge production becomes the raw material of cognitive capitalism, one of the main questions is: What becomes of the old factory of knowledge? With the rising importance of knowledge, universities and art academies move to the eye of the storm, become objects of desire of neoliberal transformations, objects of competition between regions and continents, but also subjects of struggles against these transformations and competitions. Though the university as a privileged site of struggle has – except for a few moments in time – been only a myth, there seems to be a rising tide of conflicts around it. Within these conflicts we experience a growing demand for exodus, deserting from both authoritarian and neoliberal forms of knowledge factories, creating self-organized groups within and beyond universities and art academies.

At the same time, the factory of knowledge becomes diffuse, a “fabbrica diffusa” transgressing the fordist borders of space and time, of schools and universities as exclusive institutions of knowledge production. For some, this evokes images of a horrible and continuous prison of lifelong learning, for some it gives rise to new hopes for a future mass-intellectuality; for some it causes terrible new modes of subjectivation, for some it actualizes itself in micro-political processes of self-organized education and auto-formazione beyond universities. We want to take a closer look at these different scales of transformation and struggle in the knowledge factory and into the wide fields of self-organized and alternative knowledge production between new forms of free classes at universities and art academies, new generations of social centers and nomad universities.

3. The Overlaps of Art and Knowledge Production

Though concepts of artistic research and art as knowledge production are quite fashionable and have become constant components of curricula at art academies and policy papers of cultural advisors, research has not yet progressed very far on questions of the role of art production in cognitive capitalism, on the function of the art field, and especially on the relationship of art and theory production within these social transformations. Against this background, we want to investigate specifically the relationships, overlaps and neighboring zones between knowledge production and art production in a process of exchanging scholarly and artistic strategies of research and analysis.

Theoretically, these neighboring zones of art, science and philosophy were already conceptualized in the last jointly authored book by the French philosophers Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari. In What is Philosophy? Deleuze/Guattari write of the concepts, sensations, and functions becoming indistinguishable, “at the same time as philosophy, art, and science become indiscernible, as if they shared the same shadow that extends itself across their different nature and constantly accompanies them.” Our aim is to more precisely investigate this shared shadow, these overlaps, these neighboring zones.

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