Net-Capital /Post-Capital: The Istanbul Node

Postcapital Archive 1989–2001
Özgür Uçkan

1989, the fall of the Berlin Wall and 2001, September 11… These watershed Daniel G. Andújar chooses for his network-based archive-process installation signify a paradigm shift: the paradigm shift from scale economies to capacity economies, industrial production to flexible network production, physical power to knowledge power, the nation state to transnational Empire, a unipolar world to a multipolar one, de-centralized and distributed all-encompassing net-world: This is a paradigm coined by the most recent global crisis: Global Network Capitalism…

Andújar’s choice of dates also heralds what’s beyond this paradigm. The fall of both the Wall and the Twin Towers indicate there is an “after” to capitalism. This potential future ironically feeds off the “network” concept. Because at its core, the concept of “network capitalism” embodies an antagonistic dichotomy. The network topology undermines the foundations of capitalism. The process of capitalist accumulation and profit now depends upon co-operations established online, collaborative intangible labor, innovation networks, and the development of knowledge production, access, dissemination, that is to say the process of creating surplus value through open, continuous, horizontally coordinated networks. Network means co-operation and sharing, whereas capitalism is the product of an instrumental reason dominated by competition. Capitalism is founded upon the private ownership of the means of production, while the network undermines ownership by making the means of production accessible. In Christian Fuchs’s terms we are in an interzone in which competition and cooperation co-exist in antagonism. On the one hand, information monopolies (Microsoft, Google), the digital divide, precarious knowledge labor, information warfare, electronic surveillance, Internet censorship, accumulation of reputation online, cyber hate, commodified virtual communities, disinformation; and on the other digital gift economy, file sharing, free software, open content, Creative Commons, Wikipedia, cyber protests, e-participation, co-operative virtual communities, online citizen journalism… On one pole of this dichotomy is e-participation and participatory economy, on the other e-domination and economy of scarcity.  Dominated by competition logic, transnational information capitalism succeeds in colonizing the concept of collaboration for now, through for instance, “participatory” management, team work, strategic alliances, and corporate social responsibility. This is a transition stage from a disciplinary society to a society of (self-)control. A participatory and self regulated information society based upon collaboration is in Ernst Bloch’s words a “not-yet” for now. But it is evident that the day will come when capitalism will not be here.

The fact that the data bank of images Andújar’s “Postcapital Archive: 1989-2001” installation can be searched by the audience in a network topology, that is to say the open network format of the project points to a post-capitalism web of possibilities. The meaning of each image changes by triggering an endless series of possibilities in the context of other images we correlate it with. Because the net also means possibility: with our participation, an almost infinite number of combinations have the power to change the world.
As Iris Dressler notes, “post-capital” makes reference to both financial capital and to capital cities. Thus, it depicts the transformation of both capitalism and of urban centered powers. So, what potential narratives does the Post-Capital Archive nurture in the İstanbul node?
The images in the Post-Capital Archive are not foreign to us. There are no “foreigners” in global network capitalism. No place is “elsewhere”*. The net binds the entire space. But one of the characteristics of the network is how it strengthens the nodes. Cities, especially big, multi centered, distributed cities like İstanbul have privileged functions on the net. While one of these functions is to absorb global information and culture, that is to say diversity in the geography, the other is to add localities, local singularities to the global network’s universe of values. Therefore the image-bank where we form our own possible networks, also summons our own images to us. We have images that deserve to enter the Post-Capital Archive.
Through which images does the Net-Capital node foretell İstanbul’s post-capital future? I think of 1996, the Susurluk accident and 2007, the murder of Hrant Dink. Or 1999, the Marmara Earthquake and 2010, the protests of Tekel (Turkish Tobacco and Liquor Administration) workers. Or 1997, February 28, the post-modern coup-d’état and 2009, the arrest of retired army generals… We can interpret these dates and the images they evoke based upon an axis of cooperation dominated by the logic of collaboration and build from these instances a network expanding towards our potential future. We can thus realize our part in the large and complex node of the global network, and venture to a post capital future. Because network is memory.

As Andújar says, art has to be responsible. Aesthetics is not enough. Art has to be ethical. By playing with our common mind, Postcapital Archive provokes us to partake in the future. Network is possibility…




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