Over the past three months, I have been working with the Transmediale curatorial team as a moderator of a ‘Study Circle’ on ‘Affective Infrastructures’, a term borrowed from the scholar, Lauren Berlant. The Study Circle is made up of seven other (fantastic) scholars, activists and artists: Femke Snelting (co-moderator), Marija Bozinovska Jones, Lou Cornum, Nadege, Fernanda Monteiro, Pedro Oliveira and Tung Hui-Hu.
This year’s festival does not have an overarching theme or focus but, rather, emphasises “how feelings are made into objects of technological design and asks what role emotions and empathy play within digital culture. One of the key questions of the upcoming festival is “What moves you?”, referring not only to an emotional response but also to the infrastructures and aesthetics that govern how affect becomes mobilized as a political force today.”
Our Study Circle met for a one day in-person meeting in Berlin (with three people beaming in remotely), and then continued to meet and write remotely over a few months to figure out what ‘affective infrastructures’ are and why we should think about them. Here is what we say:
“As machine reading systems increasingly capture emotions, classify behaviours, and influence collective feeling, the need for a different relation with both ‘infrastructure’ and ‘affect’ emerges. Over the past months, this Study Circle has explored and exemplified ‘affective infrastructures’ by building an inventory, or more appropriately, an ‘archipelago’ of items: Accent recognition systems, artificial companions, emojis, #metoo spreadsheets, language/s and code/s, keeping associations among them purposely loose and open. At this event, the Study Circle participants will introduce, perform, and discuss entries from the archipelago and explore how imaginative, living infrastructures can accommodate multiplicity and difference, mobilize bodies and build new worlds.”