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Generation, Movement, Epistemology: The Computational Condition of Anti-Aesthetics


Zoe Horn and Ned Rossiter


“Images exist insofar as their media-habitats, ecosystems, and social practices exist and function to provide the structure of cognitive patterns for them.”

Lydia H. Liu, The Freudian Robot: Digital Media and the Future of the Unconscious (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 2010), 219.

The public debut of ‘generative’ AI tools in late 2022 spawned a flurry of excitement and also consternation among exuberant tech-bros, emoting politicians, conflicted creatives and the curious at large. Widespread anxieties about the impacts of this new wave of automation across society and economy failed to restrain an almost feverish interest. Tinkering and ‘prompt-engineering’ swiftly inducted recombinations of text and images into computational training routines. We critically probe the nexus between generative technologies such as ChatGPT (text-to-text) and Midjourney (text-to-image) and an emergent episteme figured around the movement of data.


Logistical Media and Environmental Media: Energy, War and the Politics of Distribution


Ned Rossiter and Soenke Zehle


Media staple environment to logistics as technologies that mediate the dynamic between contingency and entropy. Contingency interrupts plans, entropy introduces disorder. Media organize disruption and disorder as constitutive elements in the production of value enabled by technologies of capture and control. The power of logistical media resides precisely in their capacity to organize. Environmental media describe the space of organization. Logistical media govern space with the calibration of time. This article explores these dynamics as they cut across energy infrastructures, technologies of war and the politics of distribution.

Published in Journal of Environmental Media 4.1 (2023): 77–89. PDF available here.

Dreamful Computing


Ned Rossiter and Geert Lovink, interview by Shintaro Miyazaki.

We start with the end, the final words Bernard Stiegler wrote in the last English translation before he died, The Age of Disruption (2019): “In order to do politics today, we must dream.” We cast techniques of dreaming in relation to the media question that underscores cultures of computational capitalism. Social media users, particularly the younger ones, increasingly struggle to dream. They actually do not dream or simply cannot remember. It is not relevant here whether brain scans scientifically prove that they actually do dream. The resting brain can no longer make sense of the overload of images, likes, and updates, numbing the early 20th century realm of repressed desires. If the dream was once characterized as a “rhapsody of life,” today’s ecstatic feelings are overruled and distracted by constant scrolling and swiping. The future of the next generations is shredded in a context of climate catastrophe, chronic social stagnation and precarious working conditions, viral contagion, mental crises, war, and stultifying extractivist platform conditions, literally suffered by billions. This is causing a “strike” in both individual and collective imagination.

Full text can be found at Counter-N, with pdf archived here.

Noise vs Control: A Parable against Modelling the Future


By Geert Lovink and Ned Rossiter

“People find themselves seemingly unable to create the conditions for a radical bifurcation—not the disruptive ‘radical innovation’ of the kind claimed by those startup entrepreneurs who present themsevles as ‘new barbarians‘, but, on the contrary, a bifurcation taking account of the radicality of this disruption from the perspective of a new public power, such that it could once again create an epoch.”

Bernard Stiegler

Over many years we’ve been looking at the emergence of “organized networks” as an alternative concept that could counter the social media platform a priori of gathering (and then exploiting “weak links.” Organized networks invent new institutional forms whose dynamics, properties, and practices are internal to the operational logic of communication media and digital technologies. Their emergence is prompted, in part, by a wider social fatigue with and increasing distrust of traditional and modern institutions such as the church, political party, firm, and labour union, which maintain hierarchical modes of organization. While not without hierarchical tendencies (founders, technical architectures, centralized infrastructures, personality cults), organized networks tend to gravitate more strongly toward horizontal modes of communication, practice, and planning. Organized networks emerge in the shadow of platform geopolitics at a time of intense crisis (social, economic, environmental), when dominant institutions fail in their core task: decision-making. As experiments in collective practice conjoined with digital communication technologies, organized networks are testbeds for networked forms of governance that strives to address a world rapidly spiralling into a planetary abyss.

In this essay we’ll first survey the state of the arts concerning network theory and then focus on one specific dominant category in cybernetic governance, namely models.

* Shorter German version published in Timo Daum (ed.), Die unsichtbare Hand des Plans, Berlin: Dietz, in press 2020. PDF here.

Logistical Media Theory, the Politics of Time, and the Geopolitics of Automation


Provincial Media Theory

Like all theory, media theory is troubled by its provincialism, even if it struggles to take note of this common condition. As many readers may recall, Heidegger famously refused a chair in Berlin, instead preferring to stay in the provinces. While the negative attributes of repressive culture, neurotic personas, and social intolerance are readily piled upon the experience of provincial life, there nonetheless remains something positive to be said about provincialism: it can provide conditions for the crafting of unique concepts that, when combined with deep historical knowledge, generate a legacy that spans generations. But what happens when ontological conditions change from the security of the earth to the technical contours of media systems? How might such a transition from governance of the self and community to technical architectures of biopolitical control also register an epochal shift of geopolitical proportions as automation increasingly takes command?

* Essay forthcoming in Matthew Hockenberry, Nicole Starosielski, and Susan Zieger (eds), Assembly Codes: The Logistics of Media (Durham: Duke University Press, in press 2021). PDF here.

Organization after Social Media


By Geert Lovink and Ned Rossiter

Organized networks are an alternative to the social media logic of weak links and their secretive economy of data mining. They put an end to freestyle friends, seeking forms of empowerment beyond the brief moment of joyful networking. This speculative manual calls for nothing less than social technologies based on enduring time. Analyzing contemporary practices of organization through networks as new institutional forms, organized networks provide an alternative to political parties, trade unions, NGOs, and traditional social movements. Dominant social media deliver remarkably little to advance decision-making within digital communication infrastructures. The world cries for action, not likes.

Organization after Social Media explores a range of social settings from arts and design, cultural politics, visual culture and creative industries, disorientated education and the crisis of pedagogy to media theory and activism. Lovink and Rossiter devise strategies of commitment to help claw ourselves out of the toxic morass of platform suffocation.

PDF available freely online:

Released by Minor Compositions, Colchester / Brooklyn / Port Watson
Minor Compositions is a series of interventions & provocations drawing from autonomous politics, avant-garde aesthetics, and the revolutions of everyday life.

Minor Compositions is an imprint of Autonomedia

Software, Infrastructure, Labor: A Media Theory of Logistical Nightmares


Book summary
Infrastructure makes worlds. Software coordinates labor. Logistics governs movement. These pillars of contemporary capitalism correspond with the materiality of digital communication systems on a planetary scale. Ned Rossiter theorizes the force of logistical media to discern how subjectivity and labor, economy and society are tied to the logistical imaginary of seamless interoperability. Contingency haunts logistical power. Technologies of capture are prone to infrastructural breakdown, sabotage, and failure. Strategies of evasion, anonymity, and disruption unsettle regimes of calculation and containment.

We live in a computational age where media, again, disappear into the background as infrastructure. Software, Infrastructure, Labor intercuts transdisciplinary theoretical reflection with empirical encounters ranging from the Cold War legacy of cybernetics, shipping ports in China and Greece, the territoriality of data centers, video game design, and scrap metal economies in the e-waste industry. Developing an expansive concept of the political from within the technical horizon of control, Rossiter argues that infrastructural ruins serve as resources for the collective design of blueprints and prototypes demanded of radical politics today.

Mediations of Labor: Algorithmic Architectures, Logistical Media, and the Rise of Black Box Politics


By Soenke Zehle and Ned Rossiter

Logistical Media and the Second Machine Age
In a recent panel on living and dead labor at a conference in New York City, respondent Doug Henwood delivered a series of salvos on why he finds cultural theorists so deficient in their comprehension of contemporary labor struggles.1 Declaring himself a “vulgar Marxist” interested in “the world that actually exists” as distinct from “people lost in the idea of artisanal labor and mental labor,” Henwood proceeded to invoke a barrage of statistics to assert the centrality of production and manual labor to the economy and political thought: “there are something like 10-12 million manufacturing workers still in the United States, manufacturing production is up something like 25% since the depths of the recession in this country. Things are still very, very important. There are more truck drivers in the United States than there are computer programmers, there are something like 2 million people working for Walmart doing very physical things. Their bodies are ruined by the job very often.” Drawing on the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, Henwood then went on to note that the top ten jobs in the US over the next decade are expected to be in the service industries (cashiers, food service workers, home health aids). “For the first time in history the majority of the population consists of wage earners. The world has become entirely proletarianized even if we think we are working for Google.” By Henwood’s reckoning, only two companies are making money off “post-material” activities—Google and Facebook. More…

  1. Panel with Richard Gilman-Opalsky, Todd Hoffman, Stevphen Shukaitis, McKenzie Wark and Doug Henwood, “Between Living and Dead Labor,” Living Labor: Ante-Conference Events, Department of Performance Studies, New York University, April 9-10, 2014,

Organized Networks: A Guide for the Distracted Multitudes


By Geert Lovink and Ned Rossiter

‘One day, in retrospect, the years of struggle will strike you as the most beautiful’. Sigmund Freud

These days, strategic considerations for political organization no longer bother with mediation, representation and identity politics. Instead, the key question revolves around the design of new (sustainable) organizational forms. What is the social today, if not social media? It is not enough to indulge in the aesthetics of revolt. Flaws in the 19th and 20th century models of the party, the union and the movement are easy to detect, but what will replace them? It is tempting to say that the network is the dominant form of the social: a programmed life under permanent surveillance? What can replace the corporate walled gardens such as Facebook and Twitter? Our answer: a federation of organized networks, based on secret societies. More…

Coded Vanilla: Logistical Media and the Determination of Action


Logistical media coordinate and control the movement of labor, people, and things situated along and within global supply chains. The combination of software and infrastructure holds a determining force in the production of subjectivity and the capacity for action. Algorithmic architectures of logistical media extract data and manage labor whose value is exploited as financial capital. Gamification techniques further extend the power of logistical media as technologies that govern knowledge production. Anonymity offers one possible strategy of withdrawal.

Ned Rossiter, ‘114.1 Rossiter Coded Vanilla‘, South Atlantic Quarterly 114.1 (2015): 135-152.

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Organized Networks by Ned Rossiter is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at The plaintxtBlog theme, © 2006–2008 Scott Allan Wallick, is licensed under the GNU General Public License.