Accelerated Living // Conference




In the context of the programme “Accelerated Living”, part of IMPAKT FESTIVAL 2009, 14-18 October 2009, Utrecht, NL. Preview here.

Thursday 15 October 2009 / Filmtheater ‘t Hoogt / 10:00 – 18:30.
Free entrance. Prior registration recommended via (please indicate your full name and contact details).

The Italian media philosopher Franco Berardi aka Bifo recently wrote in his ‘Post-Futurist Manifest’ (2009) that «the omnipresent and eternal speed is already behind us, in the Internet, so we can forget its syncopated rhymes and find our own singular rhythm». During the past decade the spread of neo liberal globalisation and the revolution of information and communication technologies have led to a new temporal dynamics, both in terms of our personal lives and for society as a whole. The rise of communication networks, stretched accross time and space, has brought us to realize that clock time – the long-time regulator of our social lives – is not an absolute backdrop against which to communicate and synchronize time, but a human construction which has little to do with our experience of and in time. Contemporary science and technology have made possible a temporality which though still based upon clock time, has exploded into countless different time fractions and speeds beyond human comprehension. Today we seem to live in several time zones at the same time, propelled by a variety of internal and external time mechanisms and innumerable rhythms which continuously vibrate, resonate, connect, oscillate and disconnect. How to grasp the temporal complexity that surrounds and occupies us? What sort of ecologies of time and speed have we developed under the influence of new technologies and what is their impact on our body and senses? This conference brings together a number of international thinkers who offer new perspectives on our contemporary experience of time and speed.

In collaboration with the MA New Media & Digital Culture, Department of Media and Culture Studies, Utrecht University. Introduction: Ann-Sophie Lehmann (Utrecht University). Moderation: Klaas Kuitenbrouwer (Virtueel Platform, Amsterdam) & Mirko Tobias Schaefer (Utrecht University).

Participants: Mike Crang, Dirk de Bruyn, Charlie Gere, Steve Goodman, Glenn Kaino, Sybille Lammes, Carmen Leccardi, Stamatia Portanova, Jon Thomson & Alison Craighead, John Tomlinson.

Introduction Ann-Sophie Lehmann

John Tomlinson (GB) is Professor of Cultural Sociology and Director of the Institute for Cultural Analysis, Nottingham (ICAn). He has published a number of books on the themes of globalisation, cosmopolitanism and cultural modernity, including Cultural Imperialism (1991) and Globalization and Culture (1999). His recent book The Culture of Speed: The Coming of Immediacy (2007) examines how speed emerged as a cultural issue during modernity. “The rise of capitalist society and the shift to urban settings was rapid and tumultuous and was defined by the belief in ‘progress’. The attempt to regulate the acceleration of life created a new set of problems, namely the way in which speed escapes regulation and rebels against controls. This pattern of acceleration and control subsequently defined debates about the cultural effects of acceleration. However, in the 21st century ‘immediacy’, the combination of fast capitalism and the saturation of the everyday by media technologies, has emerged as the core feature of control. This coming of immediacy will inexorably change how we think about and experience media culture, consumption practices, and the core of our cultural and moral values”.

Mike Crang
(GB) is Lecturer in cultural geography at Durham University. He has worked extensively on the relationship of social memory and identity. He is also interested in more abstract issues regarding time-space, action and temporality and co-edited the journal Time & Society from 1997 to 2006. The other strand to his work is the analysis of transformations of space and time through electronic technologies. In his paper ‘Acceleration, fragmentation and combination’, he looks at the way multiple scales of action and paces of life now intersect in our daily lives. “Burgeoning numbers of technologies enhance our spatial reach, and promise also to allow ever more to be packed into the same amount of time. Temporal intensification and spatial extension run hand in hand. And yet the pattern is not simply one of further and faster. These technologies take up and build upon the sedimented legacies of past forms of life – social and technological. The promised acceleration brings not only liberation but new constraints, as it depends upon new ways of organising time and space. The new technologies bring mutual interdependencies that produce rigidities, and new dependencies in turn as what at first brought freedom becomes necessity. Old spatial and temporal orders are sometimes disrupted but also sometimes reanimated. Meanwhile the acceleration of some can result in and even depend upon the fixity and sometimes slowing of others. The pattern is neither uniform nor unidirectional”.

Carmen Leccardi
(IT) is Professor of Cultural Sociology at the University of Milan-Bicocca. She has researched extensively in the fields of time, youth cultures and gender. She was a former co-editor (1999-2008) of the journal Time & Society. Recent publications include Sociologie del tempo. Soggetti e tempo nella ’società dell’accelerazione’ (Sociologies of Time. Subjects and time in the ‘acceleration society’) (2009). According to Leccardi, “there are good reasons to believe that social acceleration has now assumed such disrupting features as to have become an authentic mark of globalization. In this temporal scenario, the present becomes ‘all there is’, an ‘absolute present’ (Heller). It cedes the way to a simultaneous and, de facto, de-temporalized dimension. Thus, a loss of the present (not only of the future) as a space of choice and of reflexive action can occur. A possible area of resistance to these processes of dissolving temporality (and historicity) is the specific vision of time and space proposed by anti-globalization movements. Besides that, as recent research would indicate, a number of young people appear to be actively involved in the construction of form of mediation between the need for subjective control over time and the destructuration of the temporal experience linked to the expansion of speed”.


Steve Goodman
(GB) teaches music culture at the School of Humanities & Social Sciences, University of East London. He runs the master “Sonic Culture” and is now working on Sonic Warfare, a theoretical research on the intersection between war and sound culture. A member of Ccru (Cybernetic Culture Research Unit), under the name of Kode9 he is a main figure in contemporary breakbeat culture. In his essay ‘Speed Tribes: netwar, affective hacking and the audio-social’, Goodman formulates the unifying relay for music cultures through speed, perception and sensation. According to him “speed tribes” are micro-cultures attached to a specific sound and speed. The distinguishing instance that defines a speed tribe expresses itself through the motion and rest of bodies. A music culture develops as an assemblages of embodied perceptions which produce and re produce multiple singularities. In this continuous flux of movement bass nature forms itself not as closed entity but appears as a collective through ‘”rhythmic consistency and affective potential”.

Stamatia Portanova
(IT) received her PhD in Digital Cultures from the East London University, and is now a Honorary Fellow in English Language and Literature at the University of Naples “L’Orientale”. She is a member of The Sense Lab (Concordia University, Montreal) and of the editorial board of Inflexions, the online journal of the Sense Lab. She is working at the preparation of a monograph on the relationship between choreography, science and philosophy. In her talk, she will propose a redefinition of the digital age as a “neo-Baroque” age: digital technologies make us ‘almost’ aware of our infinite micro-perceptions, and are therefore paradoxically able to intensively influence our enjoyment, even of the most ‘static’ arts. “The critique to notions of rhythm and speed intended as ‘pure velocity’, and the political consideration of how our everyday lives are (not always positively) affected by technological fastness, constitute the main shift from a Futurist to what Franco Berardi (BIFO) has defined as a Post-Futurist era. My intervention would like to replace to this definition Gilles Deleuze’s own concept of the ‘Neo-Baroque’. How is ‘digital speed’ to be considered as ‘Baroque’? Digital technology is all about short temporalities and small scale entities (second, half-seconds, nanoseconds). Like a sort of ‘temporal microscope’, this invention shows an enormous capacity to affect perception and thought. An almost ‘hallucinatory’ time thus unfolds itself, constituting a visionary experiential field where art and philosophy share a particular ‘molecular’ taste (a ‘way of treating things’) with science. It does not really matter that the dissection (or digitalization) cannot go ad infinitum, insofar as it shows a way, or a tendency, towards the infinite. Gottfried Leibniz, a ‘Baroque philosopher’ and the inventor of differential calculus, is one of the precursors of this idea: for him, an infinity of ‘inconspicuous perceptions’ or microscopic folds of thought compose the consciousness of every single moment, but without individually standing out enough for us to be aware of them.“

Dirk de Bruyn
(NL/AU) Senior Lecturer in Animation and Digital Culture at Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia. The past decades he has produced a number of films, videos and performances, mainly dealing with the feeling of trauma and disorientation. His talk is titled ‘The After-Image as Traumatic Affect’. “The digital nEw has had its traumatic impact to become the digital nOw. (From E to O : E > O – i.e. Pinocchio’s donkey-scream)”, he writes. “And just as the speed of train travel imposed its compact sampled staccato reading of the panoramic landscape through its window-screen, nOw the sensory cluster-of-being in global technologised space has been morphed, skewered most emphatically into the visual to succumb to the omni-presence of the technical image. The ‘new’ critical looking that is now mandated for the body finds its traces in the 70s theoretical ruminations around Materialist film and the 20s cut-up avant-garde response to the shell-shock of WW1. Like the suicided Rock or Movie star, film itself flashes-back with a new aura after its own death to stand in that spot reserved for Banquo’s ghost; to gesticulate both wildly and quietly the ‘essential’ laws and limits that this new critical body-situated perception expects”.

Coffee break

Sybille Lammes
(NL) is Assistant Professor at the Department of Media and Culture Studies, Faculty of Humanities, Utrecht University. In recent years, her research has focused on the function of computer games as cultural spaces and the impact of digital maps on the meanings of media and cartography. In her talk, titled ‘“I’ll be there in a Stretch”: Digital Ludic Cartographies and the Location of Time’ she will address the curious treatment of time related to mapping practices in so-called historical strategy games. “What is striking about maps that figure in such games is that they are at the same time highly contemporary and highly historical. Their contemporary dimension lies in their transformative qualities that make them changeable and malleable at a speed that we haven’t known before. This is a feature they share with other recent digital cartographical practices such as navigation devices and Google Earth. Their historical dimension is actually also related to this transformability: players are not just reading maps, but constantly influence the shape and look of the map itself. This is reminiscent of maps and cartographers before the Renaissance when maps were used and made in much more personal, and probably slower, ways”.

Charlie Gere
(GB) teaches New Media Research at the Institute for Cultural Research, Lancaster University and is Chair of the group ‘Computers and the History of Art’ (CHArt). He’s interested in the cultural effects and meanings of technology and media, in relation to art and philosophy. His book Art, Time and Technology (2006) explores artistic responses to the increasing speed of technological development. In his talk he will look at some apocalyptic and messianic understandings of time, especially in relation to ecology. “I start with John Ruskin’s apocalyptic vision of the ‘stormcloud of the nineteenth century’ and show how it relates to the eschatological messianism of Walter Benjamin, Jacques Derrida and then, via Jacob Taubes, St Paul and Giorgio Agamben. I will discuss Agamben’s concept of ‘messianic time’ in relation to Benjamin’s concept of ‘dialectics at a standstill’. I attempt to think this in relation to our current ecological catastrophe. Finally I relate this to a work exhibited in the 2009 Venice Biennale, entitled ‘The Ethics of Dust’, by Jorge Otero-Pailos.”

Jon Thomson
and Alison Craighead (GB) have been working together since the beginning of the 1990s on an idiosyncratic oeuvre, situated in the twilight zone between visual art and online media. Based in London, they have exhibited widely both nationally and internationally, having earned an excellent reputation as leading UK practitioners in the field of artists using technology. Most of their work deals with the influence of new technologies on our experience of time and perception of the world around us. “As time has gone by it seems more and more like we are making artworks that look at whether live information (live data) can be considered to be a material at all in artistic terms, and whether it can be used to make artworks, much like charcoal or video might be. More recently, we’ve been exploring how globally networked communications systems interact with global time zones and the physical space of the world.” Thomson teaches at the Slade School of Fine Art in London, and Craighead lectures at the University of Westminster and Goldsmiths, University of London.

Glenn Kaino
(US) is not easy to pin down. A former creative director for Napster, mastermind of, co-founder of the Deep River Gallery in Los Angeles, visual artist… Much like Andy Warhol, he effortlessly crosses the borders between art and entertainment, using a variety of media and cultural references. His installation series ‘Time Machines’ is the result of a pronounced fascination with the complexity of time. “I’m trying to extend, or shorten perhaps, the life of my projects by adding temporal subjectivity, the idea that the factor of time is critical to the consumption of the work. In my work, time is a sculptural component with which I am trying to further existing explorations. It all started with my investigations into simultaneity, which were first exhibited publicly in ‘Time Machines #2”, an experiment in the use of sculptural installation to affect a temporary perceptual circumstance. On Kowara is a major influence on my thinking about this. His gesture is incredibly precise and clear while simultaneously abstract and poetic – to paint with time. The new work is an attempt to continue these investigations.”