Opening: The Curse of Smooth Operations
With Todd McGowan, Pär Thörn and Rosa Menkman
Location: Het Huis Main Stage
The Curse of Smooth Operations opens with three individual responses to the question that lies at the core of the festival: ‘What if the most dissatisfying technology of all is the one that works?’
In his short lecture titled Useless Capitalism, Todd McGowan focuses our attention on how the endless production that underlies capitalism is ultimately geared towards something non-productive. Only through the production and consumption of a useless excess – an excess that goes beyond what either society or individuals might productively use – can capitalist society sustain itself.
Pär Thörn presents a performative reading of his poem We’re like in a boat with water up to the gunwales and there are waves breaking over the sides the whole time. The poem is stitched together from comments found at ledarna.se, a web forum used by Swedish CEOs to discuss the task of being a leader. In Thörn’s animated reading of these text fragments, what comes increasingly to the fore is the paranoia and outright fear that executives feel about their employees.
Rosa Menkman‘s performative lecture The Shredded Hologram Rose (or how broken media can resolve new insights) peeks into a shredded hologram to seek out information about its origin, structure and metadata – information that the unscathed hologram would never disclose. Menkman tears into a future made up of holograms, machine learning images and super resolutions to reveal what they continue to obscure.
After these responses, as part of the opening programme we will screen Real Performance, by Grace Phillips & Laurie Robins
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Todd McGowan― Artist
Todd McGowan (United States) teaches theory and film at the University of Vermont. He is the author of Enjoyment Right and Left, The Racist Fantasy, Emancipation after Hegel, Capitalism and Desire, Only a Joke Can Save Us, and other works. He is the editor of the Film Theory in Practice series at Bloomsbury and the co-editor (with Slavoj Žižek and Adrian Johnston) of the Diaeresis series at Northwestern University Press. McGowan is the co-host of the Why Theory podcast with Ryan Engley.
Rosa Menkman― Speaker
Rosa Menkman (the Netherlands) is a Dutch artist and researcher. Her work focuses on noise artifacts that result from accidents in both analogue and digital media. These artifacts can offer precious insights into the otherwise obscure alchemy of standardisation and resolution setting. As a compendium to this research, she published the Glitch Moment/um (inc, 2011), a little book on the exploitation and popularization of glitch artifacts.
Menkman developed and highlighted the politics of resolution setting further in a second book titled Beyond Resolution (i.R.D., 2020). In this book, she describes how the standardization of resolutions is a process that generally promotes efficiency, order and functionality in our technologies. But how as a side effect, the setting of resolutions also compromises and obfuscates alternative possibilities. In 2019 Menkman won the Collide, Arts at CERN Barcelona award, which inspired her recent research into im/possible images. In this new research she aims to find new ways to understand, use and perceive through and with our technologies. Since the summer of 2022, Menkman is a professional cyclops hunter.
Pär Thörn― Speaker
Pär Thörn is a Swedish writer and sound artist based in Göteborg, Sweden. He has published around 20 works after his debut in 2002 and has been translated into French, Danish and English. Thörn has performed extensively all over Europe and in Mexiko and Vietnam.