Artist: Marshall McLuhan
Album: The Medium is the Massage
1.) Side One — 0:00-19:21
2.) Side Two — 19:22-42:30
OURS is the first age in which many thousands of the best-trained individual minds have made it a full-time business to get inside the collective public mind. To get inside in order to manipulate, exploit, control is the object now. And to generate heat not light is the intention. To keep everybody in the helpless state engendered by prolonged mental rutting is the effect of many ads and much entertainment alike.
Since so many minds are engaged in bringing about this condition of public helplessness, and since these programs of commercial education are so much more expensive and influential than the relatively puny offerings sponsored by schools and colleges, it seemed fitting to devise a method for reversing the process. Why not use the new commercial education as a means to enlightening its intended prey? Why not assist the public to observe consciously the drama which is intended to operate upon it unconsciously?
Marshall McLuhan - The Mechanical Bride: Folklore of Industrial Man
For more than a decade, I have argued that the historical moment has arrived that allows us to grasp that looking is posited by capital as labor. If, in the early 1990s, the idea was difficult for academics to fathom, corporations have been faster on the uptake. What I will call “the attention theory of value” finds in the notion of “labor,” elaborated in Marx’s labor theory of value, the prototype of the newest source of value production under capitalism today: value-producing human attention. The cinematic organization of attention yields a situation in which attention, in all forms imaginable and yet to be imagined (from assembly-line work to spectatorship to internet-working and beyond), is that necessary cybernetic relation to the socius—the totality of the social—for the production of value for late capital. At once the means and archetype for the transfer of attentional biopower (its conversion into value and surplus value) to capital, what is meant today by “the image” is a cryptic synonym for these relations of production. The history of the cinema, its development from an industrial to an electronic form, is the open book in which may be read the history of the image as the emergent technology for the leveraged interface of biopower and the social mechanism.
The world-historical restructuring of the image as the paradigmatic social relation currently is being acted upon in practice by large corporations. In the epilogue to this volume, I discuss the latest business plans for what is quickly becoming known as “the attention economy.” However seductive the appearance and however devastating the consequences of the capitalization and expropriation of the image relation (of the imaginary) may be for the vast majority of people on the planet, this exploitation is in keeping with the developmental logic of capital and therefore must be understood as the development of business as usual. For the new thing that is “the image” and its attendant attentional productivity sustains the perpetuation of extant gendered, nationalized, waged, and enslaved labor. That fact that extraordinary innovation goes hand in glove (or better, tongue in cheek), with the intensification of world oppression may be understood conveniently in Guiseppe Lampedusa’s assessment of the dialectics of domination: “Things must change in order to stay the same.” The image structures the visible and the invisible, absorbs freeing power, and sucks up solidarity time. The mode of domination shifts in order to maintain hierarchical society. As spectators begin to value their attention, corporations struggle to get more of what they previously got for nothing. In 1999, for example, Mypoints.com advertised in the San Jose Mercury News with the copy, “We’ll pay you to read this ad.” At the same moment, another website banner displayed disembodied roving eyes with the caption, “We’ll pay you for your attention.
Nowadays, as it enlists viewers to build the pathways for its infrastructure, both as fixed capital and in themselves, Corporate America consciously recognizes that ramifying the sensual pathways to the body can produce value, even if the mechanisms of value production have not been theorized fully. Sensuo-perceptual contact between body and social mechanism, what Sean Cubitt refers to as “cybertime,” provides opportunities for value extraction for capital. That gap between the actually existing practice of stealing human attention and a radical theory of this practice exists in part because until very recently there has been no money in theorizing the mechanisms of value production as a dialectical relation, just as for Marx there was money neither in the labor theory of value nor in Marxism. Put another way, the generalized blindness with respect to the economicization of the senses is a constitutive element of hegemony. This leveraged theft of sensual labor is the postmodern version of capital’s dirty secret; the spectator is the Lukacsian subject-object of history. What might be the consequences of reconceptualizing “passive” spectatorship as active production, production currently inextricable from imperialism and militarization?
Jonathan Beller - Cinematic Mode of Production: Attention Economy and the Society of the Spectacle
HAPPY LABOR DAY!!!
Here are four features of perception to consider:
1. Perception is transactional: perceptions can only be studied in terms of the transactions in which they can be observed. There is no separate, divisible event of perception; the act of perception occurs within transactions between humans and humans, humans and objects and objects and humans. Context is everything.
2. Perception is rooted in a personal behavioral center: perceiving is always done by a particular person from her own unique position in space and time and with her own combination of experiences, needs and set of transactions. For example what does the perceiver want or need from the perceived event? Perception is rooted in desire.
3. Perception is an externalization: each of us, through perceiving, creates a psychological environment which we believe exists independent of the experience.
4. Perception is more about controlling the environment than taking in sense stimuli. Perception is most important as a means of predicting the probabilities within our environment. Perception is prediction.
now that these stupid fucking gifs are all over tumblr, let’s remember manfredo tafuri’s little ditty; “all formal innovation in the arts is destined to become advertising.”
Aldo Rossi - The Architecture of the City