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September 2020

Warren Neidich: Telepathic Exaptation in Late Cognitive Capitalism (An Activist Neuroaesthetics Approach)

Care, Caring, and Repair in Cognitive Capitalism

Using a multidisciplinary speculative approach that includes neuroscience, aesthetics, philosophy of mind, anthropology, critical studies, science, and technology studies, this lecture maps out a possible trajectory for the development of a dedicated module for telepathy upon those neural circuits already in play. Using Darwinian, Baldwinian, and Lamarckian evolutionary arguments linked to epigenetics and neuroplasticity, Neidich wagers that similar strategies in the production of dedicated neural modules for reading and writing (commencing five thousand years ago) will again be relied upon to produce our new mental capacities. This ability illustrates a window of opportunity for generational difference and will delineate a strategy of resistance to the impending totalitarian propensity of the forthcoming neural economy of neural capitalism in the age of the singularity.

Having studied photography, neuroscience, medicine, and architecture, Warren Neidich brings to any discussion platform a unique interdisciplinary position that he calls “trans-thinking.” He currently uses video and neon to create cross-pollinating conceptual text-based works that reflect upon situations at the border zone of art, science, and social justice. His performative and sculptural work Pizzagate Neon (2018), recently on display at the 58th Venice Biennial, analyzed through a large hanging neon sculpture the relations of fake news, the networked attention economy, the evolving techno-cultural habitus, and the co-evolving architecture of the brain. His recent conceptual project Drive-By-Art (Public Sculpture in This Moment of Social Distancing) just opened on the South Fork of Long Island and Los Angeles to some acclaim, including reviews in the New York Times, Hyperallergic, The Art Newspaper, Time Out, and the Los Angeles Magazine.

He is founder and director of the Saas-Fee Summer Institute of Art. Additionally, he was a tutor in the departments of visual art, computer science, and cultural studies at Goldsmiths, University of London, as well as recently serving as Professor of Art at the Weißensee Academy of Art Berlin. He has been a visiting lecturer at the departments of art at Brown University, Harvard University Graduate School of Design, Columbia University, Princeton University, Southern California Institute of Architecture, University of California, Los Angeles, La Sorbonne Paris, University of Oxford, and Cambridge University. He is American editor of Archive Books and author of over twenty books, most recently The Glossary of Cognitive Activism (Archive Books, Berlin), and, in German, Neuromacht (Merve, Leipzig).

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