Mariana Silva - The Digital Condition and the Transvaluation of the Aesthetic

fall 2015

26-27-28 october 2015

3 ou 6 selon convention semestrielle
Universität / Haute École
Mariana Silva
Contact email
for student applications
Content description

Marianna Silva

Consider the point of view of the art object that looks back at its public but finds its contours are hard to fix: the social is blurring within the nature-culture divide that used to characterize modernity. While the public may continue to be compared with both the crowd and the multitude transporting the contradictions of both terms, the social is often compared with the distributed intelligence of animal swarms.  The previous characterization of the animal kingdom as devoid of culture is put into question and inanimate matter increasingly “thinks” or “computes.” Now consider, for example, that the onlooker to the art object may be a plant, or an algorithm, and that some propose we shouldn’t be fixated on their consciousness or intelligence, but rather on their bodies, or lack thereof. 

On the other hand, capitalism encroaches on theses grey areas of the social: the fear of contagion that limited early crowd theory is now capitalized on by social media; data mining and hoarding help us shape an immanentist views where the individual is not opposed to the social, but in a relation of magnitude of feedback loops. How does the digital reconfigure the social in these cases as well?

In this workshop, we will speculate—departing from a series of readings and case studies supported by artworks and other media—on the shifting background against which art objects are set, and who or what looks at them.  

Required reading—we will be discussing these texts throughout the workshop: 

Day 1 

William Mazzarella, The Myth of the Multitude, or, Who's Afraid of the Crowd?, Critical Inquiry, Vol. 36, No. 4 (Summer 2010) , 697-727.

File: mazzarella-myth_of_the_multitude.pdf

Day 2&3

Latour, B., Jensen, P., Venturini, T., Grauwin, S., and Boullier, D., "The Whole Is always Smaller than its Parts: A Digital Test of Gabriel Tardes’ Monads" British Journal of Sociology 63, 4 (Dec 2012), 590–615.

File: Latour et al_The whole is always smaller than its parts.pdf

Jussi Parikka, Insect Media: An Archaeology of Animals and Technology (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2010), 145-168. 

file: excerpt_Parikka, Jussi-Insect-Media-An-Archaeology-of-Animals-and-Technology_chapter 6.pdf

Phillipe Descola, Beyond Nature and Culture, translated by Janet Lloyd, foreword by Marshall Sahlins (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2013), 172-190.

file: excerpt_Descola-philippe-Beyond-Nature-and-Culture.pdf

Miguel Tamen, Friends of Interpretable Objects (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2001), 50-98.





Mariana Silva is an artist at and a runs with Pedro Neves Marques Selected exhibitions, solo and group shows, as well ass screenings include: EDP Art Prize, EDP Foundation Lisbon, Portugal (2015), Audience Response System, Parkour, Lisbon (solo show, 2014), Europe, Europe, Astrup Fearnley Museum, Oslo (2014); Environments, with Pedro Neves Marques, e-flux, New York, USA (solo show, 2013) Une Affaire de Creux et des Bosses, Whitechapel Gallery Auditorium, London, UK (screening, 2013), The Organization of Forms, Kunsthalle Lissabon, Lisbon, Portugal (solo show, 2011). Silva is the recipient of the EDP Art Prize 2015.


 The Digital Conditiom and the Transvaluation of the Aesthetic

How does the digital condition change and transform aesthetic concepts? Traditional markers of the art work and of aesthetic experience – originality, mimesis, aura, the ludic, and so on - are today saturated and informed by new technologies and media. According to Bruno Latour aesthetic concepts such as the aura ‘migrate’, as their significations are thus re-appropriated and their values displaced. 

At the same time, we can assume that the digital realm offers experiences, procedures, machines, perceptions, and temporalities that have been made available as a kind of raw material from which artists can create new aesthetic tropes relevant to contemporary life. This is obviously true for new strategies for image processing and digital animation, but also for the artistic use of the rhizomatic, for instance. 

The artists and lecturers invited in the POOL:CH (October 26-27-28) and in the Master.symposium (November 27) will in this way engage our digital condition as a historical and conceptual negotiation, a highly dynamic push and pull with the aesthetic concepts of yesterday and tomorrow.



pdf of the texts will be send to subscribers in order to prepare the workshop


meeting monday 11am , room 11b (first floor)



boulevard helvétique 9

1205 Genève