Disrupt & Reflect
Webdesign: TeYosh (Sofija & Teodora)
Production by Saskia de Jong, Sabine Persijn and Manon Falces
“Dopamine is the metaphor of our age,” says Geert Lovink in ‘Sad by Design’ (2019). We seek instant gratification. Online shopping fulfills our wildest and most superficial desires in a few clicks. Not only by buying (useless) stuff, but also in finding attention, likes, and, when we are completely overstimulated, in finding peace with mindfulness, yoga, or completely ‘off the Wi-Fi grid’ in nature. Disrupt and Reflect examines the economies behind the internet where our short-term needs are constantly being triggered and our impulse control is constantly being tested. Attention is the answer to all things.
Disrupt and Reflect is a web project that is alternately extremely over-stimulating and sometimes very calming. It is a collection of creative and critical reflections in which, at different tempos, the viewer becomes part of the mechanisms of acceleration and stillness as they are currently occurring in our digital society. The online project consists of talks and artist presentations, accompanied by video interviews with the participants. Disrupt & Reflect is a collaborative project between curator Nadine Roestenburg, IMPAKT Centre for Media Culture in Utrecht and the research track Post-Digital Cultures at Fontys University of Applied Sciences.
We are always connected. In a time when disconnection and quietness have become a scarcity, ‘less is more’ (less distraction, less incentives) becomes a commodity – just another way to make money: technologies that regulate your internet use, Wi-Fi-free cafes, technology-free retreats and spas; the web is full of solutions for those suffering an information overload. The burnout industry is booming. Click – click – click – I just bought another self-help guide that promises a better, more efficient version of me. Digital detox has become a mainstream sales strategy where human contact is considered a luxury item. And due to COVID-19 we have all become screenagers, we have all experienced moments of digital fatigue, and a lack of real human touch and the dopamine release that comes with physical intimacy. Have a monetized hug by watching ‘~Cozy~ Hugs & Kisses ASMR ❤️’ (633.998 views) on YouTube. Are we all addicted to digital distractions?
For this project we commissioned artists and theorists to critically and creatively reflect on how these apparently opposite modes of ‘overdrive’ and ‘nothingness’ behind the internet and digital technologies work. Their contributions are accompanied with random roulette interviews in which participants respond to questions that are selected for them by chance through a lottery system. How can we create a more nuanced understanding of the overwhelming influence of digital technology and the human capacity to deal with it in a healthy way? How can we come up with smart solutions that do not continuously take our self-discipline to the test? How can we escape the attention economy?
Disrupt & Reflect is an IMPAKT web project, supported by the City of Utrecht, the Creative Industries Fund NL and the Democracy and Media Fund.