Neomaterialism is a blog run by Joshua Simon, curator and writer and a 2011-2013 Vera List Center Fellow at the New School, who is researching expanded notions of Thingness.

The aim of this blog is to examine the order of things today. How come symbols behave like materials (“fake” and “real” brands)? Why have commodities become the historical subject (do we furnish our world with IKEA or rather we dwell in its world)? Are humans reduced to simply absorbing surpluses (with baby diapers being a form of child labor)? How labor has shifted from production to consumption? Why is everything we do is work (even when we are not employed) and how can a generation overqualified for the labor market can change everything?

This blog hosts source materials and documents, together with commentary and analysis.

Re-introducing different notions of dialectical materialism into the already established conversation on the subjectivity of things, Neomaterialism challenges the investigation which the new-materialists have begun, relating it to labor, debt, credit, animisim and alienation, life-taxes and social organization.

With the book Neomaterialism (Sternberg Press, 2013), available in stores now the blog also operates as an ongoing archive for references, reviews and events.
Thursday 4/10/2014

(1 note)

nyc; labor;

(8 notes)

book; display; nyc;

What Money Wants: An Economy of Desire by Noam Yuran | Stanford University Press

Out Now!

cover for What Money Wants

Noam Yuran’s What Money Wants: An Economy of Desire (Stanford University Press): 

Noam Yuran’s brilliant book offers a new point of view about the relationship between money and the desire for it. Arguing that desire is built into the nature of money and is not an external attachment to it, Yuran opens up new readings of Marx, Veblen, and Weber, and also gives readers a new perspective on the ways in which money can inspire excess and destabilize economies. This book will be of great interest to economists, philosophers, and social theorists.”—Arjun Appadurai, New York University

One thing all mainstream economists agree upon is that money has nothing whatsoever to do with desire. This strange blindness of the profession to what is otherwise considered to be a basic feature of economic life serves as the starting point for this provocative new theory of money. Through the works of Karl Marx, Thorstein Veblen, and Max Weber, What Money Wantsargues that money is first and foremost an object of desire. In contrast to the common notion that money is but an ordinary object that people believe to be money, this book explores the theoretical consequences of the possibility that an ordinary object fulfills money’s function insofar as it is desired as money. Rather than conceiving of the desire for money as pathological, Noam Yuran shows how it permeates economic reality, from finance to its spectacular double in our consumer economy of addictive shopping. Rich in colorful and accessible examples, from the work of Charles Dickens to Reality TV and commercials, this book convinces us that we must return to Marx and Veblen if we are to understand how brand names, broadcast television, and celebrity culture work. Analyzing both classical and contemporary economic theory, it reveals the philosophical dimensions of the controversy between orthodox and heterodox economics.

2014, Available Now


Sunday 4/6/2014

(1 note)

money; book;


In the past few years we have witnessed protests unfolding into serious unrest across many parts of the world. After initial excitement at this new global wave of voicing political demands, seasons change, and what was a novelty becomes a norm that lures many of us into the trap of trying to determine and define this previously undetermined phenomenon. Such engagements with current political upheavals can be termed agitations, an old philosophical term which denotes the extreme tension of the brain in its attempt to determine something perceived as previously undetermined—such as a sublime experience of nature. These agitations usually recast the sense of the human self accompanying all thinking into a clearly distinguishable entity, treating it as if it were something we could claim to really understand.

Agitationism, on the one hand, is the condition of living under a constant flow of agitations, including the ones that you inevitably sometimes produce yourself. However, it is also the process of ‘working through’ them with the aim of seeking adaptation to a logic situated somewhere else beyond the entrapment between past, present, and future—three tenses that overlap in the contemporary moment, creating a kind of palimpsest of half undone histories, half imagined futures, and a present of phantasms as a consequence. 

EVA International 2014 AGITATIONISM simulates the sense of living under agitation while capturing how we are slowly adapting to a different perception of the world by working through our relationships with historical ideologies, post-colonial narratives, other beings (including animals), and speculations about the not-so-distant future.

April 12 - July 6, 2014

See more here

Tuesday 4/1/2014

display; ireland; animism; speculation;

IMRI KAHN: Pizza Carpet Diamond Transition Loop | TEMPO RUBATO


Pizza Carpet Diamond Transition Loop

In their book Remediation: Understanding New Media (2000), Jay David Bolter and Richard Grusin set out to describe what they see as “the double logic of remediation”. Remediation is described as the process of one media burrowing or re-purposing the “property” of another media (for instance - a book turned into a film). Remediation’s double movement can be summarized so: media asserts itself as a medium (hypermediacy - opaque) while at the same time erasing its own act of mediation (immediacy- transparent).

A simple example of this would be the TV movie. On the one hand, TV evacuates itself and becomes transparent, to let the older medium of cinema be experienced through it. Yet on the other hand, paradoxically, in the corner of the screen, the opaque icon of the TV channel appears, breaking the illusion of cinematic space, and calling attention to this being a flat television screen. In a TV movie, both TV and cinema appear as if superimposed one on top of the other. The movie renders the experience of TV recognizable, and the TV renders the experience of cinema unrecognizable, or - new.

Remediation is not a simple chronological process, the logic goes both ways, as old-media must remediate the new in order to assert itself further. Think of news-promos adopting internet aesthetics and imagery, or think of the “isms” of painting in the 19th and 20th century as constantly renewing the question: What can painting do that photography can’t? How can it generate greater immediacy by paradoxically calling more and more attention to its materiality as medium?  

Bolter and Grusin are elaborating on an idea popularized in the 1960s by Marshall McLuhan and his often quoted “the medium is the message”. For McLuhen the content of all media is always other media. But if the double logic of media is the message or the actual content of media, is what we traditionally think of as content an illusion? What is that which we experience as immediate through media? Is the history of painting one of decorating canvases or one of decorating walls? Is it possible to speak of decoration as the content of media, not cynically, but in order to affirm it as part of an old and complicated tradition, with its own particular entanglements, questions and history?

Cut with diamond transition to 1860, the British Library. Gottfried Semper, a successful and influential architect exiled from Germany, is writing his never completed magnum opus, Style in the technical and tectonic arts; or, practical aesthetics. Semper’s practical user’s guide is also a theory of architecture as originating from the act of clothing, and from cloth technically. He writes: “I think that the dressing and the mask are as old as human civilization… The destruction of reality, of the material, is necessary if form is to emerge as a meaningful symbol… in times of high artistic achievement these individuals (artists) masked the material of the mask.”

Semper’s book, obsessed as it is with origins, is also a theory of decoration, or ornament. In it, practical techniques, like hems, trims, strings and bands, lose their original connection to their function (in a weave, a pattern is identical with the material), becoming symbols, and evolving as ornaments superimposed on other material, say walls, or furniture, animating them. Without them, a temple “would have remained incomprehensible to the masses, or had a chilling affect”.

But something strange happens to the ornaments when they get divorced from their original function. In describing wall paintings in a temple, Semper writes “It was merely a matter of transforming the forms of the Asiatic construction that were based on mechanical necessity into dynamic, even organic forms, a matter of endowing them with a soul“. Divorced from its original use, from its body and original function, and used to animate and mask another body, ornament is granted a soul.

Cut with page peel transition, same time, British Library, same reading room, next desk. Karl Marx is writing Das Kapital. Marx is describing a complicated process wherein disembodied labor, superimposed on objects, comes to be embedded within them as their “fetish character” - animating them, turning them “mysterious” and “mystical”, both “sensory” and “extra sensory” objects. For Marx, commodity-fetishism reverses the history of fetishism, since what is fetishized in them is not their visual appearance but their exchange value, something invisible - dead labor, a ghost. But if we put the term “fetish” aside, we see that what animates commodities, decoration, and media is absent bodies animating present bodies into recognizable forms - an experience of material as immaterial or of material as being ghosted - of masks masking their own materiality.





Pizza Carpet Diamond Transition Loop

March 13 - April 26 2014  

Tempo Rubato, Tel Aviv-Jaffa

Wednesday 3/26/2014

(2 notes)

tel aviv; surplus; unreadymade;


Issue 93, March 2014: “Speculation”


Claire Fontaine, „Sell your debt“, 2012

Whether they occur in finance or in forming theories, speculative incursions into the realm of the potential do not take place in a vacuum. These incursions are facilitated by media and institutions, and have a real impact. The operation of today’s financial markets, for example, is inconceivable without digital technologies, and requires the framework of specific contractual forms. One repercussion of this intensified speculative opening toward the future – palpable in society, knowledge, lives, and labor – is an erosion of the present.

The scholar of culture, media, and literature, Joseph Vogl has extensively studied the consequences and premises of both economic and theoretical speculation. In the following conversation, he discusses the reorganization of the regimes of time that pervade our ways of life, aesthetics, and economic and political constitutions. He also addresses the more recent foundational ventures of Speculative Realism. Its efforts over ancestrality may bear the hallmarks of two familiar tendencies: Humanism and reification.

Philipp Ekardt: As an economic – and perhaps more general – operation with possibilities or futures, speculation is distinguished by a peculiar invisibility. Speculation is something we can’t see. But then speculative economic operations are inconceivable without media. That raises the question of the mediatization, and even representability, of speculation, which is something you’ve thought about a great deal. [1] Can speculation be recorded, and if so, how?

Joseph Vogl: Most immediately, speculation is a particular form of contract that refers to uncertain futures. The betting contract, which derives from Roman law, is arguably a case in point – a contractual obligation that refers to uncertain future events. In the financial markets, this form of contract has become the standard case; any transaction, any sale, or purchase of financial products refers to future price developments and effects the present payment of future prices. In the circumstances created by the most recent developments in media technologies, this means, first, an acceleration of operations (all the way to high-frequency trading), and second, the implementation of algorithms designed to make uncertain futures or market trends expectable or probable. It’s about the systematic transformation of uncertainties into expectabilities; about the taming of time.

Ekardt: So when we talk about speculation in the economic sense today, we have to discuss digital technology as well?

Vogl: Yes – digital technology is a media-a priori of today’s financial markets. Which is not to say that these things weren’t also going on in the past; only the technical as well as institutional conditions were different, as the history of the stock exchange as a scene of market activity illustrates.

Ekardt: Haven’t today’s stock exchanges lost this quality of being the concrete scene of the action?

Vogl: We can indeed observe several transformations with regard to localization and temporalization, as well as a change of institutional formats. As recently as the sixteenth century, speculative deals were struck at the so-called trade fairs, which were held four times a year, which is to say, in a spatially and temporally limited setting. The earliest stock exchanges turned this into a continuous business. Amsterdam’s was the first exchange where financial products like stocks as well as the corresponding futures contracts were traded, starting in the early seventeenth century. So that was a chronotopos of its own kind. The most recent development has been a deinstitutionalization of these speculative deals on several levels – for example, in what’s been called over-the-counter trading in the past few decades – which is to say, a disengagement from the fenced-in and rigorously controlled stock exchanges.

Ekardt: Writing about speculation via electronic digital media in your book “Das Gespenst des Kapitals,” you’ve succinctly described it as an “assault of the future on the rest of time.” [2] In the early 1980s, Alexander Kluge coined the phrase “assault of the present on the rest of time” to capture his reflections on electronic media. In the history of these media, has there been a gradual escalation of their grasp of time?

Vogl: The “assault of the present” can likewise be read with reference to media situations. For instance, to the history of television. Initially – at least until recording technologies, which is to say, video formats, were developed – television was nothing but an unceasing stream of momentary broadcast presence. Nowness without memory. The transience of the present becomes the drama of what is shown. The digital media nexus – which is to say, first, digital networks; second, certain methods of calculation; and third, the corresponding storage technologies – promises something else: That future events, or in other words, uncertain futures, can actually be transformed into defined probability horizons that can in turn be sold in the form of contracts and thus securitized or hedged against. The replication of past processes is supposed to make the future calculable. The “assault of the future on the rest of time” becomes manifest, and manifest as an assault, when this future – future profits – determines actions in the present and de-actualizes that present. This takes a dramatic turn in crises, which are simply seismic events along the faults between temporal horizons.

Ekardt: You’ve also coined the formula of the “specter of capital returning from the future” or “haunting us from the future”. Are these two figures interconnected: The bleeding of the present into the future and the growing obligations we incur toward the future, contractually, financially, but perhaps also in our biographies and ways of living?

Vogl: Yes, the economic system is the paradigm that lets us understand the powerful pull of time and of futuristic conditions. It becomes very visible, almost trivially so, at a specific point in the financial economy: When we are compelled to recognize that our social contracts have been tacitly rewritten. A social contract based on reciprocity, however fictional it may be, can still be the founding document of a republican society. That’s the legacy of political theories since the eighteenth century. Now there’s suddenly a social contract in its stead that’s defined by an economy of credit and finance in which the structural insolvency of the system is perpetually compensated for by an ongoing “futurization” of debt. Societies are held together by debts that no one can pay, by credits that can’t be redeemed. All that necessitates a systematic and future-fixated incessant operation of the whole economy.


Jeffrey C. Chandor, „Margin Call“, 2011, film still

Ekardt: Do you see parallels with other forms that commit the subjects to their individual futures, for example, in the project economy that’s become typical of the art system and the so-called culture industry and even the academic world? Here, too, people are supposed to realize anticipated outcomes, but the realization no longer stands in for the creation or stabilization of present structures. Instead, project-based work means leaving whatever has been accomplished behind at once in order to begin work on the next project, picking up the next work of realization. Correspondingly, individual biographies are increasingly screened – say, when it comes to hiring people for a job – with a view to the candidate’s “development potential”. The present-day “sum total” of a candidate’s achievements matters less and less.

Vogl: This project-based work is a subsidiary strand of the de-routinization of presents, which requires a certain artistry in dealing with short time limits. But I would also ask more generally: What are the places where something like an intuitive sense for the future comes in, which is to say, where a self-conception of contemporary society is engendered by the fact that everyone’s actions in the here and now are chosen solely with a view to what will be. Meteorology is our paradigmatic science; we look to trends and the forecasting business for orientation. The lifeworld is a system for the notation of market trend data. And fashion is not just about clothes and accessories. Instead, what it demands of us is that we behave today – out of conformism or extravagance – in accordance with tomorrow’s trends.

Ekardt: True – fashion actually works on consuming the present in a certain way. Walter Benjamin already suggested that the fashion collectives possess this sort of futuristic intuition, and Georg Simmel’s philosophy of fashion describes how it grows toward its own destruction. Fashions are phenomena that spread until a system is saturated with them, at which point they cease to exist as fashions. Then the next difference must be entered. The strong emphasis on the present, on the “now” of fashion, is an effect of the fact that countless distinctions are simultaneously drawn in the system that set the present off both from the past and from the future. So there’s no complete presence of fashion; it’s always already woven into a differential economy of time in which it is coming, is fading, is plunging into the future and consuming itself in this plunge.

Vogl: We’ve somehow stumbled into frenetic modes of existence and can’t find a way out.

Ekardt: Something else that we can describe as a characteristic feature of speculation is that it makes reference problematic, an observation that’s often discussed in connection with the abolition of the gold standard. Is that plausible?

Vogl: That’s a different issue. Speculative deals are forward transactions, an old business practice in which someone pays today for what he will receive tomorrow. It’s a way to hedge against expected price increases, for example. And such deals can go wrong; see the example of Thomas Buddenbrook, who made a grand gesture out of buying a future grain harvest that was then destroyed by a hailstorm.

Ekardt: So there’s an anticipation that the future referent will at some point be, let’s say, filled in for by a material substrate or an object that covers the value. In the Buddenbrooks’s case, this anticipation would have been mistaken.

Vogl: Exactly. And regarding the gold standard: It never existed in its pure form. All modern banking systems are fractional-reserve systems; with all modern currencies, there’s always been more “paper” in circulation than was directly backed by hard cash. The gold standard probably had two sides – a mythological one, where the notion of a gleaming treasure works like a confidence-building measure; and a technical one, as in the Bretton Woods Agreement, where the intention was to hedge the exchange rates between the currencies by guaranteeing the convertibility of dollars into gold. In the end, that didn’t work.

Ekardt: Is this related to the fact that, as you write, speculation is the basic form of all financial transactions?

Vogl: Yes. If capital, in a highly simplified definition, means that we’re looking at a sum of value that is available for exploitation, that promises potential future returns, then any investment is speculative on its face.

Ekardt: In other words, the current development is not a categorical transformation of what capitalism once was but simply the escalation of a trait that was inherent in the system from the outset?

Vogl: Yes. “Growth” is needed because the logic of capital dictates the present realization of tomorrow’s yields. So they have to be generated.

Ekardt: You open “Das Gespenst des Kapitals” with a reference to a novel, Don DeLillo’s “Cosmopolis”, whose protagonist, Eric Packer, is a currency speculator. If we didn’t have this information, we’d hardly recognize him as the classical speculator type. He has nothing in common with the figures we know from recent stock-market movies like “Wall Street” or from portraits in the realist mode like Zola’s novel “L’Argent”. Packer exists in the isolation of his limousine driving him through Manhattan, and information flows reach him only through selected channels and isolated interactions. The typical dramatic mass scenes set on the trading floor are completely absent.

Vogl: But he’s inherited all traits of the other, extravagant speculator figures since the nineteenth century: The wolfish features, the dandyism, the nervousness, the bachelordom, the insomnia. And a strange spiritualism that yearns for a kind of Eucharist, a transmutation of what is heavy and inert into the immaterial. What’s new is his office limousine, in which he swims through the Manhattan traffic like a latter-day Odysseus. Its screens illustrate the most recent shift of the standard behind currencies; the transformation of money into information. He knows that money today is bought with information.

Ekardt: There are several passages in the novel – DeLillo, it turns out, knows his way around art, too – where a very classical modernist aesthetic resurfaces. Eric Packer’s art dealer Didi Fancher advises him to buy a Rothko. His apartment is decorated with abstract paintings – monochrome empty canvases that, as DeLillo emphasizes, aren’t new. Then there’s this very funny passage about how Packer, when he feels slightly out of balance, takes the elevator at a quarter of the normal speed while Satie is playing. On the one hand, that’s a joke, because Satie is in fact regarded as the father of elevator music. On the other hand, Satie, like certain varieties of abstraction, is exemplary of aesthetic programs that, though they seem to bear an affinity to the speculative modes we’ve talked about, diverge from them in a significant way: They de-objectivate, eliminate referentiality, and let “color”, “painting”, or, if you want, “language as such” speak for themselves. In the current speculative constellation, this form of aesthetic appears as a mere stabilizer: Modernist strategies of emptying out and reduction now serve as the last aesthetic buffers, providing the speculator with a leveling affection.

Vogl: If an ontology of this type existed, it would be tied to the question of how a floating existence can be created. Accumulation of options, minimization of attachments; amassing futures, erasing pasts. That’s also where the aesthetic intervenes, creating a sort of biotope of possibility. Modern finance loves modern art: it lets you decorate your walls with options. This brings us to another, even more direct link between art and finance. The capital and art markets follow the same logic. Art dealers have the same nose that brokers have, the same intuitive sense for trends and opportunities. They don’t just know that Russian oligarchs have a penchant for large formats or that pictures from Picasso’s blue period sell at high prices, because they’re decorative. More importantly, they know deep down that nothing has a “real” price, that demand triggers demand, that high prices lead to higher prices, that taste is a competitive discipline. And that every financial crisis is heralded by a crisis in the art market.


David Cronenberg, „Cosmopolis“, 2012, film still

Ekardt: The same speculative tendency also affects the art system in various ways. For example, the nature of collecting has changed because buyers, down to those with very small collections, make their choices based on the assumption – which, by the way, is often enough wrong – that art is an investment, an asset that can potentially be sold at a profit.

Vogl: Yes, the concept of the collection has changed. It extricates itself from its archival setting, as it were, and becomes a bank.

Ekardt: Can one generalize this combination of art and speculation we encounter in the Packer character?

Vogl: I don’t know. On the one hand, the nexus between art and speculation reminds us that both are fields in which aspirations to autonomy condense. Autonomous art and capital, as wealth that has become autonomous by cutting all social ties, may sometimes feel something like an affinity or brotherly sympathy for each other. On the other hand, we mustn’t forget that most actors in the financial markets are at bottom pretty much squares.

Ekardt: I want to go back to the issue of temporality: It’s interesting to note that some Speculative Realists have recently conceived the relationship between time and speculation in terms that differ from the cases we’ve talked about. Quentin Meillassoux, in his essay on “Metaphysics, Speculation, Correlation”, [3] for example, speaks of the “antinomy of ancestrality”, meaning the scientific-empirical datability of processes, and hence of expanses of time, before the arrival of humankind. He asks how we can speculatively form an idea of this sort of temporality. The futurization of financial speculation effectively amounts to an attempt, to use your term, to tame time, resulting in an erosion of the present; Meillassoux’s project, however, would seem to have more to do with the attempt to drop an anchor.

Vogl: The question of the significance of the pre-human era for thinking is not new at all. In “The Order of Things”, Michel Foucault asked similar questions. When he speaks of the “empirical-transcendental doublet”, that’s exactly what he means: That man is tethered to something that consistently eludes him – language, life, work. He analyzed this as an epistemological intrigue of the human sciences, of anthropology. We could also recommend a novella by Max Frisch to Meillassoux, “Man in the Holocene,” in which a fading human existence confronts the massive geology of a mountain range. But it seems to me that Meillassoux has fewer questions than answers. That’s what gives rise to a new form of scholasticism or dogmatism. Or a philosophical absolutism in the literal sense, which objects to what Meillassoux calls “correlationism” by going back to the insistence on solid “facts” and “realities”, an unquestionable absolute. We might say that it’s an attempt, in the field of philosophy, to go back to something like an intellectual gold standard. With a bit of exaggeration, I would call these attempts alchemical experiments in the field of philosophy.

Ekardt: Do the technological and media instruments that are used to establish datability play a part in this connection?

Vogl: Meillassoux’s text shows little interest in how the data (such as the dating of the earth’s age) which he invokes are manufactured. He simply treats them as data, as givens. He doesn’t care about the technological procedures used to make the past produce signs, to send signals addressed to us – so there’s something flatly positivistic about it, to put it bluntly. That’s why at the end of the day, he stubbornly turns empirical conditions into transcendental ones, which is to say, he does metaphysics.

Ekardt: That would seem to go together with Meillassoux’s critique of correlationism, which is to say, his attempt not just to think the correlation between subject and object, or its conceivability, but also to venture beyond these firmly drawn boundaries, in ways both speculative and empirical. He is relatively open about his interest in the question of how to strike philosophical meaning out of this scientific datability, which also sets his project apart from others that have reflected on such datability in the past. If you look at Friedrich Kittler, he precisely drew a distinction between what’s datable and what’s meaningful. So is Speculative Realism the attempt to relate meaning back to what media theory had already described as that which differs from meaning? Is this ultimately a rollback?

Vogl: I’m not sure about that. It’s just my impression that this peculiar constellation is informed by a philosophical xenophobia: An empirical subject – one, it should be noted, that has a proper name, bowing its head over the desk and writing and perhaps also doing philosophy – expels definite aspects of otherness with which it is endowed, aspects that are, you might say, part of its anthropological endowment, into the realm of the strictly non-human and non-anthropomorphic. The empirical subject represents the species, the species-subject has been anthropologically expurgated, and so the whole operation is clean, as it were. There’s no disconcertment anymore, no embedded splinters of otherness, which, in a daring sleight of hand, have been antedated into the ancestral realm, that alien world beyond and before man. What is other is unceremoniously expatriated, or to use a more traditional term, “reified.”

Ekardt: So, an aggressive and expulsive humanism?

Vogl: Yes. There’s a philosophical humanism here that no longer has the nerve to engage with the impositions and aporetic questions of humanism. We mustn’t forget, by the way, that certain shock-like experiences of this otherness have of course been known since the late eighteenth century, if not even earlier – certainly from the moment on when people were compelled to acknowledge that the world is more than three or six thousand years old, older than any creation myth, and that it has a history that is vastly longer than the history of life, which is in turn vastly longer than the history of humankind. In light of this experience of otherness, these “ancestral” chasms, what ­Meillassoux brings up isn’t new at all. What’s new is the radical resolve not to conceive this profound disconcertment as a state of affairs to be recognized in the difficult process of understanding the self. And then it takes a very big pot indeed to hold all the different things and positions Meillassoux subsumes under the title “correlationism”; the flavors of ingredients as divergent as hermeneutics, discourse analysis, deconstruction, structuralism, et cetera become difficult to tell apart, and that’s the point: They’re meant to be thoroughly blended. We have never been modern. What obviously makes Meillassoux impatient is harboring the suspicion of complexity. Faced with so many complexities, with regard to various entanglements of world and subject, with regard to difficult geneses of the subject, with regard to the shifting fault line between external and internal histories of man, it seems, he lost control of his Occam’s razor.

Ekardt: One last question: Is there a complementarity between financial speculation and the current speculative thinking, in the sense that forms of virtually fundamentalizing speculation emerge at a moment when the other form of speculation flees into the future, potentializing the present by redefining it as a space of possibility? Or is that too symmetrical?

Vogl: Well, the most interesting comparisons happen to be the ones between apples and oranges. If “speculation” – from Latin speculari, to scout or spy – means “to look out for dangers”, and if the speculative proposition in philosophy performs a transgression of common sense, of community standards, and an obliteration of finite phenomena, then philosophical speculation and financial speculation can both be seen as techniques that operate not on the representation but on the risks of a de-presentation of the world. To put it in a nutshell: Whereas a “speculative realism” runs the risk of speculatively losing its existing realities, financial speculation can take pride in speculatively gaining realities that never existed.

(Translation: Gerrit Jackson)


[1]Joseph Vogl, “Taming Time. Media of Financialization” in: Grey Room, 46, 2012, pp. 72–83.
[2]Joseph Vogl, Das Gespenst des Kapitals, Berlin and Zurich 2010.
[3]Quentin Meillassoux, “Metaphysics, Speculation, Correlation”, in: Pli, 22, 2011, pp. 3–25.

Monday 3/24/2014

(3 notes)

speculative realism; debt; commodities;

Sculpture Center Conversations: Neomaterialism | Saturday, April 12 2pm

SculptureCenter Home
SC Conversations: Neomaterialism
Saturday, April 12, 2pm
Inline image 1
SculptureCenter is pleased to present the New York City book launch of Neomaterialism (Sternberg Press, 2013). Following the ideas presented in his new book, Joshua Simon’s talk will engage with notions of the commodity, the general intellect, debt, labor, subjectivity, thingness, the dialect of material and dialectical materialism.
Joshua Simon is director and chief curator at MoBY – Museums of Bat Yam. He is co-founding editor of Maayan Magazine for literature, poetry and ideas, Maarvon (Western) – New Film Magazine, and The New & Bad Art Magazine, all based in Tel Aviv-Jaffa. Simon is a 2011-2013 fellow at the Vera List Center for Art and Politics, The New School, New York, and a PhD candidate at the Curatorial/Knowledge program  at Goldsmiths College, University of London. He is the editor of Solution 196-213: United States of Palestine-Israel (Sternberg Press, 2011), and author ofNeomaterialism (Sternberg Press, 2013)
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About the book

Capital is dead labor, which, vampire-like, lives only by sucking living labor, and lives the more, the more labor it sucks.—Karl Marx, Capital, Vol. 1
TRACES (10:00AM – 11:45AM)
The Traces of Their Hands: Women’s Work at American Animation Studios, 1928-1961Hannah Frank (University of Chicago)“Do they hold as much mystery for you as they do for me?”: On Jean-Pierre Gorin’s My Crasy Life and Documentary ImprovisationsAnthony Yooshin Kim (University of California, San Diego)Frozen History: Sound, Ice, and Mexican MarxismsIván A. Ramos (University of California, Berkeley)▣世界から解放され▣ or, “To be freed from the world”: Vaporwave and the Sonic-Affective Glitching of Real SubsumptionNick Bazzano (New York University)
ANIMATE THINGS (10:00AM – 11:45AM)
Theater of Circulation: Marxist Fembots in Walt Disney’s Carousel of ProgressLi Cornfeld (McGill University)Replica Res Publica: A Theoretical Consideration of Japanese Replica FoodKsenia Sidorenko (Yale University)Neomaterialism: the dialect of matter and dialectical materialismJoshua Simon (MoBY-Museums of Bat Yam; Goldsmiths College)
For more on the schedule go here. 



Capital is dead labor, which, vampire-like, lives only by sucking living labor, and lives the more, the more labor it sucks.

—Karl Marx, Capital, Vol. 1


TRACES (10:00AM – 11:45AM)

The Traces of Their Hands: Women’s Work at American Animation Studios, 1928-1961
Hannah Frank (University of Chicago)

“Do they hold as much mystery for you as they do for me?”: On Jean-Pierre Gorin’s My Crasy Life and Documentary Improvisations
Anthony Yooshin Kim (University of California, San Diego)

Frozen History: Sound, Ice, and Mexican Marxisms
Iván A. Ramos (University of California, Berkeley)

▣世界から解放され▣ or, “To be freed from the world”: Vaporwave and the Sonic-Affective Glitching of Real Subsumption
Nick Bazzano (New York University)

ANIMATE THINGS (10:00AM – 11:45AM)

Theater of Circulation: Marxist Fembots in Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress
Li Cornfeld (McGill University)

Replica Res Publica: A Theoretical Consideration of Japanese Replica Food
Ksenia Sidorenko (Yale University)

Neomaterialism: the dialect of matter and dialectical materialism
Joshua Simon (MoBY-Museums of Bat Yam; Goldsmiths College)

For more on the schedule go here


Saturday 3/22/2014

(1 note)

magic; communism; display;

Ian Saville, "The Red Magician," presents: 

Magic for Socialism

TimeOut: "Ian Saville’s one-man show is a gloriously witty and consummately theatrical manifestation of what could become a whole new concept in political theatre. Launching himself with gay abandon from the basic situation provided by Brecht’s play ‘The Good Woman of Setzuan’, Saville provides a semi-autobiographical account of his own conversion from a mere purveyor of sleight-of-hand into a socialist magician…. Saville has taken the tired old tricks of the magic brigade and given them a whole new subversive meaning….An astoundingly funny display."

Thanks to Sharon Kivland

2640 S. La Cienega Blvd. 
Los Angeles, CA 90034 
Monday, April 7, 2014 at 7pm
Please RSVP for this free event at: