Tag Archives: Byung-Chul Han

Fernand Léger, The Builders

We are living in an era of smoothness. Smooth movies, smooth design and smooth digital infrastructure form an unblemished carapace around our day-to-day experience and psyche. The spaces we move through are soundtracked by algorithmically-designed “mood” playlists, full of lo-fi-beats-to-chill-and-study-to and affect-less dance-pop. Work has been “streamlined” into  adjunct, gig and permalance jobs for maximum efficiency and maximum flexibility. Cosmetic surgery and nootropics offer the potential to smooth out the body and mind, leaving the individual with no excuse but to harmonize their entire being with the aesthetic regime of capital.

Since the neoliberal revolution in the late 1970s, the impetus to speed up information, communication and capital flows has become a prime concern of the political elite. That which stands in the way, be it labor law, technological obstacles, the welfare state, or the mental health of individual subjects, has been cast aside in favor of smoothing out the arteries of global capital. Manufacturing, public infrastructure and health and safety standards may be crumbling, but there is nothing stopping the infinite acceleration of information.

In March, the United Nations, with the help of Talent House – “the World’s leading creative collaboration platform for brands & agencies” – put out a call to “creatives” to “help stop the spread of Covid-19.” In the months since, the UN has amassed a library (Creative Content Hub, in their parlance) of artwork intended to push messages of personal hygiene, physical distancing and solidarity. Much of the work is insightful and shows a great deal of skill, yet it has been compensated in exposure (yes, they use the phrase) across UN social media channels.

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