A festival goes into its second season and is accompanied by these reflections of an ex-extra, an essay about series, futures and The Future of Demonstration.
In the first season of The Future of Demonstration Vermögen I participated as an extra, hidden behind one of these keywords: automation, forensics, architectural evidence, fiction, island, artificial intelligence, blockchain, science fiction, state violence, biotechnology, political activism, cellular economy, taming, colonialism, posthumanism, trust, value, investigative aesthetics, space travel, care work, distributed cognition, interfaciality, xenophilia, perceptual systems, quasi-object, cosmic time, self-perception, artistic research, Euro(pa) burn, synthetics, cannibalism, future past, conceptual narration, horror, crypto-pop.
Today we shamelessly admit to subscribing to Netflix, Amazon Prime, HBO or any other streaming services. Yet there is a lingering feeling that the cascade of critically acclaimed series has by now driven itself into a wall made out of an endless scroll. Within the first season, characters and plot points are established, and the writers and producers are given leeway to grow into their own skin. By the second season though, the staff and tone of a show has already been digested, emerging as a fully formed world of which, we can only hope won’t be continuing beyond its natural lifespan.
While repetitive program cycles surround us, and the Golden Age of TV has exhausted itself, the art festival The Future of Demonstration appropriated the series format. Programmed as episodes in seasons, the festival is filmed in front of a live audience and streamed to viewers in front of their black mirrored devices. It hopes to be the most prestigious form of peak TV, the limited series, continuing into its second season so it can serve committed viewers aching for more. Series are articulating contemporary conditions, or fears of futures, packaging them in vernacular forms, attention spans and withdrawals. In their uniformity they seem to be telling us something about our individual selves, allowing us to bond over them to a degree where we might mistake our commitment for being a political act. Finite in nature, inconsistently broken by spin-offs and talk shows devoted not so much to criticism or analysis but group therapy sessions for the cult of viewers, who want to spend more time in the constructed worlds than there is the space for. Being consistent, each episode of The Future of Demonstration is followed by public discussions.
The Future of Demonstration is a clever name for a clever festival. With just a very small fee you can make the black box speak and are guaranteed to become a supra citizen. You get to buy futures, handpicked and conveniently delivered to you by experts.
The seasons’ leitmotivs Vermögen (2017) and Passion (2018) are broad. The organizers are trying to umbrella a spectrum of futures designed by artists, activists, architects, theorists, scientists, filmmakers and other experts, as they are promoted on their website. These experts for radical change, both promised and real, are staged to answer, appeal and repeal the apparently urgent question what will be and what can be done about it? and package their answer in the futures of your choosing. So, while we may ask ourselves if we are watching a reality TV series of people having an identity crisis whether they should be artists or day traders, we might as well ignore that the derivative instrument of futures produces new and uncontrolled risks, as they use a simplified idea of the future, failing to account for how the future reacts to attempts of controlling it. This October we once more get to enjoy the experts’ spectacle in our temporary community of viewers, and see if we can pull it into something that outlives the catchphrases: tick size, contract value, first notice day, commodities, fluctuation, fast-paced environment, circuit breaker, derivative, volatile periods, asset, basis, pit trading hours, marketplaces, limit move, underlying industry, credit risk, convergence, speculators’ behavior, margin, agents, physical commodity, quantity, liquidity, exchange clearinghouse.