February: New Fellows, Acc/strology salon, SWAN FAKE preview, Writers' Club, Happenings Elsewhere
by William Kherbek, Wassim Z. Alsindi, and 0x Salon
Sweeping Statements ::: Janitorial Revue
Dear fellow discourse lovers,
Greetings from icy Berlin, where the first signs of spring are coming through. We hope you are safe and well in your respective climes. Though the times are uncertain, the 0x Salon is continuing its tireless work to make sense of the socio-politico-techno sludge that makes up our culture, and it’s been a very, very busy month.
New 0x Salon Fellows: Claire S. Tolan & Anna-Luise Lorenz
First, the good news: In February the Salon welcomed two new fellows, Claire Tolan and Anna-Luise Lorenz. They will be contributing to the Salon’s ‘Art of Indifference’ STARTS Fellowship programme of activities. See our Team webpage for more details.
For a bit of background for those who are new to the work of these estimable new fellows, Claire Tolan is an artist, writer, performer, coder, and multifaceted thinker whose work is concerned with the phenomenology and poetics of whispered speech, with a particular focus on rumour, secrets, and thralldom. As part of the fellowship, Claire will be working on the storyline, scripting, presentation, and performance of a new satirical play ‘The Black Hole of Money’.
Anna-Luise Lorenz is a designer, artist, and researcher based in Berlin. Through a wide range of media such as installation, animation, and short stories her work engages with the warping forces of reality which find expression in the anomalies of empiricism and rationalism: the weird, the absurd, or the enigmatic processes that lie at the heart of technological systems. Anna is working on an interactive game project ‘The Immaculate Misconception’ as part of her fellowship.
Recent Salon ‘Acc/strology’ - co-hosted by Catherine Leigh Schmidt, report by William Kherbek
On February 28th, we held our second Salon of the new year. The event was entitled ‘Acc/strology’. It was one of our most wide-ranging salons to date. Spanning centuries and spiritual traditions, the Salon considered the ways in which occult thinking permeates various technological milieus, not least the blockchain space. Astrology was one part of the story, with considerations about the construction of the Zodiac across cultures, and the shifting astrological ages we are understood, by practitioners, to be exiting and entering. It is, we learned, the dawning of an aerial age and at the close of an Earth-based age, according to astrological research, a juncture at which all that was perceived to be solid may seem to suddenly melt upwards.
The dynamics of material vs. spiritual redemption was a major area of discussion, with the argument being forwarded that we may be substituting optimisation for transcendence. In the search for meaning and value in the rather parched spiritual landscape of crypto-capitalism, the works of Federico Campagna were discussed, as well as the stalwart of autonomist Marxism Franco ‘Bifo’ Berardi, whose The Soul at Work remains a classic exploration of the relationship between material and spiritual conditions. This prompted a valuable set of exchanges about what prophesy means. Is it seeing the future, or seeing the present clearly?
More explicitly religious traditions also were a major topic, including Gnostic Christianity, and Quakerism. The role of intermediaries and clergy interpreting scripture in these traditions (also a notable feature of Sunni Islam) inevitably led to the discussion of radical democracy and fascism in relation to spiritual or religious traditions. Are our crypto-prophets leading us to enlightenment, or just into a deeper, darker cloud of unknowing? As a prophet from Jamaica once sang, ‘time will tell…’
Our next Salon topic is ‘DAOcolonisation’, and we are collating research materials in our Arena Topic Archive. More information on that to follow. If you’re interested in the topic and would like to contribute to our research and discussions, let us know.
‘SWAN FAKE’ Radio Play Preview
On February 21st, the Salon team posted a preview of an improvised radio play entitled ‘SWAN FAKE’ (with predictive apologies to Tschaikovsky). The play follows the (mis)adventures of a cast of improbable characters including new-AIge grifter Deepfake Chopra, acc/strologist Nota Bene Gesserit, the mean and regressive standard deviant Marquis de Stats, angry tweeter Noisy T. Lib, and the perfect dancer The Swan herself. The play follows them as they navigate the treacherous and always uncertain Straits of Heisenberg towards the Improbable Island for an unforgettable climax at the fabled Algorithmic Theatre, where the audience endeavours to tell up from DAOn. You can give the preview a listen here.
If you like what you hear, we are considering proposals for broadcast and performance: the0xsalon [at] gmail [dot] com.
Salon Writers’ Club
Drama is definitely in the air at the Salon these days as our literary crew has begun working on a new, even more ambitious theatre piece than SWAN FAKE. This time, it’s a multi-act stage drama about the forked up future towards which Bitcoin is leading us all - The Black Hole of Money.
Will humanity find a way to live with our crypto-symbiont? Will we all surrender to the black hole sun of money? Or will we fight to establish our right to live as free, decentralised beings? Even our writers don’t know for sure, but rest assured, the group has been relentlessly hashing out ideas and sifting through the ether for digital gold. We’ll have more substantive news for you on our writings and upcoming performances very soon.
February has been a busy time for publications as well. Salon resident Catherine Leigh Schmidt’s piece on ’Distributed Autonomous Occultism’ appeared in Spike Magazine.
The new publication Right Click Save, which focusses on the strange ecologies thrown up by our new NFTimeline published a charming screed by Salon fellow Will Kherbek on the goings on in the metaverse. Because there is so much more to talk about on the subject, Will is currently expanding on these ideas for a manuscript under the working title Hyperenclosure. But more about that in the months to come.
Right Click Save was full of Salonniers this month as Wassim also published his piece, What are NFTs Anyway? on the site. No spoiler alerts for those who haven’t read the piece yet, but in addition to considering the shortcomings of the medium Wassim also highlights great works by Sarah Friend and other artists to keep hope alive.
In his second article of the month, Wassim published the article ‘Bitcointingency: an economics of indeterminacy’ at Weird Economies. The piece examines the lacunae built into Bitcoin and the uncertain situations licensed by the much fetishised proof-of-work system so beloved of the digital gold bugs.
That’s all for now, but hang on, March is sure to be a month of surprises, and we hope, sunnier days.
0x Salon is an ongoing, non-profit experiment in collective knowledge sharing and cultural production. Since 2020, we have been hosting salons - intimate and private discourse sessions - on a range of conversation topics. Stewarded by 0x Salon team members, our community researches topics, organises events, and produces scholarly and artistic outputs.
0x Salon’s event program brings together artists, researchers, theorists and other knowledge workers who engage with the chosen discussion topic. Past topics have included time, Bitcoin’s ecological impact, interdisciplinarity, memes, automation, abstraction, nonhuman life and collective behaviour.
More about the 0x Salon.