Neoliberalism tends to produce an increasingly standardized subjectivity through various economic and political constraints, but also via accompanying narratives and images. The last ten years in particular have seen a proliferation and acceleration of these image-worlds in the explosion of digital media and the arrival of web 2.0. In such a ‘post-media’ context art’s ability to produce new narratives and images – its power of fictioning – takes on a political character. Indeed, in a time when resistant and alternative strategies for life are stymied, art and aesthetics can offer other resources – other models for an increasingly hemmed in subjectivity. This course intends to address this need for new images and, especially, new kinds of narratives – or simply, new myths – to reclaim the unconscious from a mediascape that masquerades as participatory.
Part 1, on ‘Control’ looks at various accounts of our current digitized society and culture with an eye to the fictions deployed against subjects, but also those developed by subjects. The readings start with short works by Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari before going on to consider more recent ‘speculative’ writings that are orientated towards a future beyond the impasses of the present. Each of these theoretical texts is read alongside a piece of fiction – most often an extract from a novel – and a contemporary art practice that is referenced by, or resonates with, the theory.