SILENT WORKS Winter School 2020: The Hidden Labor in AI-Capitalism: Program now online

AI-capitalism denies the labor that sustains it – more aggressively and systematically, but also more desperately than previous iterations of capitalism have. And it does so not only where AI has set out on a path of success – be it in North America, Europe, and China, or, to some degree, globally – and where self-learning algorithms are being deployed to organize digitized systems as varied as social media and policing. AI-capitalism is also in the process of establishing its regime of hidden labor where AI is only projected to play an important role in the future. This happens when the mere appearance or fantasy of autonomous automation is successfully promoted, for instance, by naturalizing infrastructure: as long as its appeal of frictionless functioning can be upheld, infrastructure can remain practically invisible, while – in the course of this – the (waged and unwaged) labor that it requires becomes almost imperceptible.

SILENT WORKS unlocks and politicizes the hidden labor so essential to AI-capitalism – in video talks, artworks, projects, audio documents, dossiers, and more. The results of a year-long inquiry by researchers, artists, and activists from more than 25 countries are now available online at

The Winter School took place between November 7 – 28, 2020 at the Haus der Statistik in Berlin.

In cooperation with Harun Farocki Institut.

December 14th, 2020, Event / Projects

Sara Ahmed on the perfomativity of disgust (from The Cultural Politics of Emotion, 2004): “To name something as disgusting is to transfer the stickiness of the word ‘disgust’ to an object, which henceforth becomes generated as the very thing that is spoken. The relationship between the stickiness of the sign and the stickiness of the object is crucial to the performativity of disgust as well as the apparent resistance of disgust reactions to ‘newness’ in terms of the generation of different kinds of objects. The object that is generated as a disgusting (bad) object through the speech act comes to stick. It becomes sticky and acquires a fetish quality, which then engenders its own effects.”

November 7th, 2020, Tom

David Graeber (1961-2020) on What Would It Take (from his The Democracy Project. A History, a Crisis, a Movement, 2013, p. 193): “We have little idea what sort of organizations, or for that matter, technologies, would emerge if free people were unfettered to use their imagination to actually solve collective problems rather than to make them worse. But the primary question is: how do we even get there? What would it take to allow our political and economic systems to become a mode of collective problem solving rather than, as they are now, a mode of collective war?”

September 7th, 2020, Tom

T.J. Demos on why cultural practitioners should never surrender, via  “For artists, writers, and curators, as art historians and teachers, the meaning-production of an artwork is never finished, never fully appropriated and coopted, in my view, and we should never surrender it; the battle over significance is ongoing. We see that battle rise up in relation to racist and colonial monuments these days in the US, the UK, and South Africa. While the destruction of such monuments results from and is enabling of radical politics, it’s still not enough until the larger institutions that support and maintain their existence as well as the continuation of the politics they represent are also torn down. This is urgent as well in the cultural sphere, including the arts institutions, universities, art markets, discursive sphere of magazines and journals, all in thrall to neoliberalism, where we must recognize that it’s ultimately inadequate to simply inject critical or radical content into these frameworks, which we know excel at incorporating those anti-extractivist expressions into further forms of cultural capital and wealth accumulation. What’s required is more of the building of nonprofit and community-based institutions, organizing radical political horizons and solidarity between social formations.”

August 21st, 2020, Tom
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