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Talking about the Future – a multi-layered narration about the possibilities and impossibility of the Future

by Silvia Amancei & Bogdan Armanu

-conceptual framework-

Searching for answers and solutions for the reorganization of life and global social relations, critique and artistic intention remain captured within aesthetics and poetry. Finding oneself between the hammer and the anvil, the compromises and limits of art have to be renegotiated: How real is the potentiality of artistic criticality? How to speculate the future and social change without falling into the net of fetishization? How to capitalize on the imagination capacity of poetry in order to compose a future in common outside the logic of money? How to break the borders of the world, be it material or digital, and distribute knowledge and wealth across the world?

Chapter I

After the End

We are witnessing the last moments of a film. All the action is behind us and we know that there is nothing else to be revealed. Nonetheless, we remain seated, waiting for the departure or connection, for the truth that has been constructed during the minutes of the cinematic work. The end. The image is faded away, sinking into the dark material of nothingness. What happens after the end? We may be able to speculate a continuation of the action, that the characters would finally continue with their mundane activities, getting over the extraordinary moment that have uprooted the course of normality and the monotone routine of life. What happens after the spectacle? When no one is looking anymore, not even the camera. Is there a future after the end? When the exploitative mechanics of the eye, camera and storytelling move to another chapter of life, what happens with all the actors? Either dead or alive. How does the trauma of the event heal? Are there any glimpses of a future in the darkness of the end? How can someone invest her/his energy in constructing a mental landscape of a future when her/his existence is conditioned by economic subsistence, chained by debt, having her/his time, be it five, ten, thirty years or more, put in the hands of the creditors.

“The future is not an obvious concept, but a cultural construction and projection” (Franco Berardi, After the Future, Page -12, AK Press, 2011)

How to search, articulate and compose a platform for tomorrow’s worlds well being out of the continuous end that has become the present?

„The rise of the myth of the future is rooted in modern capitalism, in the experience of expansion of the economy and knowledge. The idea that the future will be better than the present is not a natural idea, but the imaginary effect of the peculiarity of the bourgeois production model. Since its beginning, since the discovery of the new continent, and the rewriting of the maps of the world, modernity is defined by an act of amplification of the very limits of the world, and the peculiarity of capitalist economy resides exactly in the accumulation of the surplus value that results in the constant enhancement of the sphere of material goods and knowledge.” Franco Berardi, After the Future, Page -12/13, AK Press, 2011)

Chapter II

Images of the Possible

Space, nature and leisure. Nothing can be seen above the trees crowns. There are no parks and everything is a forest. Human life blends within the landscape. Their buildings are simple, moderated in size and very practical. No material is wasted with the purpose of aestheticization, but nonetheless, beauty is everywhere. Everything looks so clean, carefully composed in order to offer a healthy environment where one can learn, experiment and enjoy life without the pressure of economic survival. Labour and production are still present within human activities.
How to dissolve the borders of these words and spill the utopia over the world that we know. Not even the ink believes the images that it tries to sketch. Hope has been erased and no future can be foreseen outside the logic and hierarchies of today. Not that life outside labour cannot be imagined, but labour has become life, labour time has become living time.

“It’s about putting life to work” (Maurizio Lazzarato, From Capital-Labour to Capital-Life, Page – 205, ephemera journal, vol. 4(3), 2004)

Break has become an empty word knowing that the reproduction of this configuration never stops. Revolutions and systemic changes are part of the realm of nostalgia. Nothing seems to escape the logic of monetary translation and profit. There is no hope for a better future, for social constructions that would heal the damages of the past, that would hopefully restore the equilibrium of biological life on Earth. Is this the end? How to put an end to the inequalities across the world? How to put an end to exploitation and start distributing knowledge and wealth throughout the communities of the world?

“As Badiou has forcefully insisted, an effective anticapitalism must be a rival to Capital, not a reaction to it; there can be no return to pre-capitalist territorialities. Anti-capitalism must oppose Capital’s globalism with its own, authentic, universality.” (Mark Fisher, Capitalist Realism – Is There No Alternative, Page – 83, Zero Books, 2009)

Where to find hope when even our utopian desires and criticality are captured and transformed into empty products, dried out of any hope of materialization of this possible future?

Chapter III

Politics of the Present

Two characters of a story. A young couple placed within a landscape that offers no specific landmarks, a place that could be here or there. It could be their familiar setting that they call home or it could be the other, the strange, the unknown. The action continues. It is at sunset and the weight of the end overwhelms the two. They seem exhausted, but not by the labour that have passed. History is not the one that has to be carried on their shoulders. Tomorrow is the great enemy. The idea of the future is the one that brings fear of the uncertain into the eyes of the couple. They are not overwhelmed by debt but by the idea of paying the debt, knowing that they are now obliged to work. What if they get ill? What if they get fired and lose their source of income? What it will happen with their lives?

There is no time to live the present when tomorrow brings nothing but uncertainty. There is no time to change the future because the time of tomorrow has been already sold.

There is no present. The action of the story was written years ago. Nonetheless we continue to live by its words. We trust its timeline and live together with the two characters and their drama of living into a complex multi-layered society. Although cruel, the bi-dimensional screen, the film, the story, offers comfort. Humans are organic machines and the complexity of life is impossible to grasp. At least not by their hands, eyes and minds. People are limited by their life experience and there is no time to experience the totality of life on Earth. Mortality is just one of the problems, but through administrative technics, one can facilitate the classification and translation of life.

“Ideological products produce new stratifications of reality; they are the intersection where human power, knowledge, and action meet. New modes of seeing and knowing demand new technologies, and new technologies demand new forms of seeing and knowing.” (Maurizio Lazzarato, Radical Thought in Italy: A Potential Politics, Page-144, University of Minnesota Press, 1996)

Politics has the capacity of organizing the unknowns of the future, but more than that, it has the capacity to build a present, to put things in order and prepare them for the future. Politics has the potentiality of composing a collective body in situations when the real connection of people is impossible. Politics is a tool of translation, classification and composition of the human will, knowledge and potentiality. Politics can be a prosthesis for the well-being of everyone and everything. Unfortunately, after years of failures in the face of private interests, politics has become just a mediator of the global exploitation of both humans and natural resources.

Chapter. IV

The End

There is no End. There is life after death but unfortunately that life is conditioned by the abusive consumption of global wealth of the past. The life that follows our existence is the one that will be marked by fragility, brutal competition and lack of empathy either for the other or for nature. There is an end to human life but no end can be foreseen for the present configuration of life. If there is no end to exploitation and poverty, to the precarious nature of living, why continue to invest our energy and time into a project of an impossible future. How can the mechanism of the free trade change towards bettering the life of the people? How can competitivity be the rule for social progress? How can someone own the land and natural resources of the planet that we all inhabit? How to change something that seems to be on the deathbed for ages but with every crack, with every crisis, finds the means to prove that economy is more than an instrument, and has become the measure of life?

„The economy, science, and technology are too fast to be well regulated politically and legally. This desynchronization frequently makes the political system adopt anachronistic decisions. That is why the leisurely speed of politics is sometimes corrected by adjudication, which tends to be able to resolve certain cases faster, although resorting to that resource erodes the space belonging to politics (Rosanvallon 2008). These desynchronizations are proof that progress is not achieved in a united front. In other words, progress in science and technology, for example, does not correspond to social progress.” (Daniel Innerarity, Chronopolitics. A Theory of Social Rhythm, Page -9/10, Stanford University Press, 2012)

Although we see with our eyes the cruelty of the world, the increasing gap between communities, cultures and lifestyles, we still find hope in our hearts. Although we feel every day the struggle for an income and a social status, hope for a better tomorrow is seeded in our souls. There is no hope for a future, but hope is the only thing that remained from the promises of the past. Hope is the fuel that can ignite the engine of change, but how to filter this potentiality by national, social and racial constructions that divide the people of the Earth?

„The common is not given as a fragile heritage to be protected against the ravages of new forms of primitive accumulation and enclosure. Rather, it is something that must be actively constructed, and this construction involves the creation of ‘subjects in transit’.” (Brett Neilson, Ned Rossiter, Precarity as a Political Concept – New Forms of Connection, Page – 7, Open! Platform for Art, Culture & the Public Domain, 2009)

In a scarce dying world, how to make the best out of our time and past technological conquests? How to put behind the virtuality and mirages of the accumulationist logic of the Empire and focus the worlds wealth and knowledge in building social/political prosthesis for the needy and technological prosthesis for the regeneration of Earth. Everything seems to be a mere socialist desire but hope dies last.

Talking about the Future / Chapter I : After the End (2017, Iasi, Romania)
Talking about the Future / Chapter II : Images of the Possible (2017, Iasi, Romania)
Talking about the Future / Chapter III : Politics of the Present (2017, Iasi, Romania)
Talking about the Future / Chapter IV : The End (2017, Iasi, Romania)

Silvia Amancei (b.1991) and Bogdan Armanu (b.1991) is an artist couple living and working in the city of Iasi, Romania. They graduated BA (2013) and MA (2015) studies at “George Enescu” University of Arts (Faculty of Visual Art and Design) in Iasi. Collaborating since 2012, their artistic practice could be positioned at the border of social studies and visual art, having as a main research interest the potentiality of art and artistic means to overexcite the ability to look beyond capitalism and create a (common) future.