Issue 6 – Autumn 2020
The last months we saw different shades of curfew being imposed throughout the world. Apparently in this highly developed society (in the sense of the multiplication of institutions and technologies that penetrate every aspect of life) a pandemic can only be dealt with through the most blunt weapon of repression. To come together, to see eye-to-eye, is branded irresponsible and forcibly disbanded, with a glaring exception for profit-making, exploitative relations. Physical intimacy and tenderness suddenly become something threatening with deadly consequences. Meetings and physical contact are declared to be something abnormal and forbidden. Don’t kiss, don’t hug, don’t touch. Yes but touch the screens. The physical is banned from our real world and replaced by the virtual. The situation serves as an ideal opportunity to push ahead the total digitalization of all aspects of life. This is the definition of this society of a human life; work and consume, preferably without leaving the confinements of the home and permanently accompanied by a fear of potential infection which puts one in a constant state of anxiety.
Levels of fear went through the roof not only because of the unknown risks of a potentially deadly virus, but also because of the violence unleashed against perceived potential transmitters. Everyone who doesn’t display the good behaviour of the responsible citizen, is deemed suspect. The understanding of solidarity and responsibility was deformed and equated with obedience and trust in the state. Though not everyone went along with this narrative, the streets and squares did empty. Interaction moved to the internet, a space inherently linked to surveillance (data gathering) and shaped by unknown or misunderstood parameters (algorithms). Some might accept this (self-)imposed separation and isolation, others are starting to doubt if they want to live a life devoid of encounters that are not ruled by capitalist logic. The flow of goods will continue, the economy will be kept alive, the transfer of all aspects of life to the digital will be guaranteed. Thus creating an unstable construct of infrastructure where mobile phone antennas, fibre optic cables and the supply by trucks, trains etc. are more and more important. Could this mean possibilities to sabotage their apparent security at their sensitive points? By experimenting with these possibilities, can we perhaps feel, sense and touch life a little more?