Activist Neuroaesthetics in Cognitive Capitalism
SFSIA 2021 | online

in collaboration with artbrain.org
July 1 – 16

Faculty include: Elena Agudio, Ramon Amaro, Kathryn Andrews, Marie-Luise Angerer, Franco “Bifo” Berardi, Ina Blom, Yann Moulier Boutang, Juli Carson, Shu Lea Cheang, Yves Citton, Arne De Boever, Jacquelene Drinkall, Matthew Fuller, Katie Grinnan, Freddy Paul Grunert, Ed Keller, Agnieszka Kurant, Karen Lofgren, Cécile Malaspina, Anna Munster, Abdul-Karim Mustapha, Reza Negarestani, Warren Neidich, Florencia Portocarrero, Tony David Sampson, Lorenzo Sandoval, Tino Sehgal, Anuradha Vikram, and Charles T. Wolfe.


Activist Neuroaesthetics is more than simply an aesthetic response, it is a way of reengineering what aesthetics as a philosophical concept means. We are on the verge of a paradigm shift as we transition from a knowledge and information economy to a neural-based one. The advent of an immanent assortment of new neural technologies like brain-computer interfaces, neural and smart dust composites, cortical implants and attention enhancing drugs will join sophisticated forms of artificial intelligent agents and constitute what is already being referred to as neoliberal neural capitalism. Together they will give new meaning to forms of surveillance and digital governance already at play under the rubric of Big Data and the Big Other. Just as technologies like mobile phones and iPads created new circuits of subjective participation precipitating what has now become known as real subsumption, in which life itself is commoditized, so too will these new technologies generate a crisis of labor leading to neural subsumption. In the coming digital regimes of superintelligence and the singularity, all of our thoughts (conscious and unconscious) will be collected, collated and monetized. The close association of cognitive neuroscience, capitalism, and the military industrial complex should make us nervous. Activist Neuroaesthetics is a counter-insurgency which aims to produce a radicalized post-humanist subject; one which displaces the normalized unitary subject and replaces it with a complex global non-binary relational one. Activist Neuroaesthetics embraces the polyvocality of the body without organs (and its recent condition of the brain without organs), and activates transversal thinking and deterritorialized inspiration as emerging new apparatus in the ecosophical domain.

This year’s Saas-Fee Summer Institute of Art program will take place online in collaboration with ACTIVIST NEUROAESTHETICS, a celebration of the 25th anniversary of artbrain.org. ACTIVIST NEUROAESTHETICS is a year-long festival of events curated by Warren Neidich, Susanne Prinz and Sarrita Hunn including a three-part exhibition (Brain Without Organs, Sleep and Altered States of Consciousness, and Telepathy and New Labor), conference, screenings, lectures and publications, developed by lead institution Verein zur Förderung von Kunst und Kultur am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz e.V. with various local partners that will take place online and in Berlin over the course of 2021. In July, an ACTIVIST NEUROAESTHETICS Conference will be held in collaboration with Saas-Fee Summer Institute of Art.

This program has been made possible with support by Stiftung Kunstfonds.