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Collective | molecular becoming // christoph brunner

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Below the abstract for my mini-presentation at the 2011 Netaudio Festival and Conference:

How do collectives constitute and endure themselves beyond social or interpersonal strata? In a time of “social” media as potential motors of political change, the attention paid to what constitutes the “social” in social media is often considered as a mere connection between humans by means of technology. Marshall McLuhan’s statement “the medium is the message” aims at undermining the conception of media as bare means to human ends. The medium itself determines how a message is expressed and does not merely transmit its content. The medium becomes active and renders what is expressed. I assume that this assertion is difficult to sustain if one tries to consider the Internet as “a” medium. Instead of considering the Internet as medium I would like to address its technologies as enabling for practices of immediation. Immediation accounts for the embodied experience of any aesthetic expression and sensation and locates the event of immediated experience in everyday life. Through immediation the human and the nonhuman become part of a relational logic where the boundaries between subject and object blur and are negotiated to form transindividual collectives. These collectives are as much social as they are political or ethico-aesthetic.

In light of social media the medium is not the message. Rather processes of immediation entangle embodied experience with immediated collective forces. A collective is not the formation of a group composed of individuals, but an affective relational experience amongst different modes of existence: technologies as much as ideas, perceptions humans and other bodies.

One has to consider the constitution of a collective as the co-emergence of social formations with their environment. Collective means to become enmeshed in a relational logic where each situation is negotiated between its participants. To make these relational becomings palpable, I will use as an example the SenseLab’s (senselab.ca) last event “Society of Molecules” (see: inflexions.org, no. 3 –Tangents). By means of physical and (im)mediated exchange different local nodes (molecules) were able to stage a series of collective events across fifteen countries in 2009. The potential to physically experience local events and at the same time to participate in virtual relations between the different produces the constitution of transindividual collectivity.