Lars Bang Larsen, Acid Aesthetics
ART & LIFE IN TIMES OF COGNITIVE AUTOMATION Was a conference-festival organized by the Gerrit Rietveld Academie that took place on March 22, 23, and 24, 2016 at Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. Studium Generale Rietveld Academie invited André Lepecki, Melanie Bühler, and Warren Neidich to each inaugurate a discursive and performative program of one day. March 23 The Brain Without Organs: Psychedelic Drugs and Emancipation curated by Warren Neidich: In the past few years, the artistic community has begun to understand the importance of having a say in what we should do with our brain as the noted philosopher Catherine Malabou has suggested. We no longer want a flexible brain imposed from without, sculpted by neoliberalism to do its bidding, but rather a proactive brain, which constructs a world according to an alternative logic, rendering, instead, a poetic and emancipated brain. The artistic community has been resistant to incorporating the knowledge of neuroscience into its repertoire of artistic and creative apparatuses and devices, fearing its message might seem reductive and deterministic. But recently an acceleration in the technologies interfacing with the brain, such as brain-computer interfaces, neural dust, cortical implants and optokinetics, as well as the burgeoning fields of consumer neuroscience, institutional neurolinguistic programming and neuroeconomics have created an emergency, necessitating a post-humanistic response. We want a material brain that is noisy, empathic and open. Not an optimized one that can work longer hours in front of computer screen more efficiently! This is the point from which The Brain Without Organs: Art, Psychedelic Drugs and Emancipation takes off. Artists and poets have long understood the importance of mind expansion as a space of inspiration. Many a wordsmith has scribbled down a line or two while inebriated. Since 1960 psychedelic drugs have guided them on journeys to formerly inaccessible areas of consciousness, all in the spirit of finding expressions in sublime syllabic and imagistic concatenations. Recently there has been a resurgence of interest in psychedelics, especially, Ayahuasca. Its role as a serotonergic analogue with tremendous healing powers has led to its recent popularity. Noteworthy is its neuro-trophic potential, increasing neuroplasticity, especially, in the treatment of depression and drug addiction. However its role in eliciting mystic journeys is by far the most important factor in its rise in popularity, spurring an entire tourist industry around its use. Experts in the field of art history, shamanistic practices, curating, psychoanalysis and neuroscience have been assembled here to address the role of these drugs in their designated fields of interest. Keeping in mind the recuperative powers of capitalism we want to consider whether art and drugs might provide a way out of the conundrum, just on the horizon, of neuro-totalitarianism.