2021 - 2023
Félix Luque, Vincent Evrard & Damien Gernay
Automation technologies replace us as masters of repetition, collaborative work, data and calculation. But they also replace Sisyphus, condemned like him to repeat and undo a task in perpetuity.
la société automatique
Automation, the act of automating, of making tasks or sequences of operations automatic, has been at the root of all industrial revolutions since the end of the 18th century. Wrapped up always as a tool of progress to free man from the penury of repetitive work, it is a fact that not only have human tasks not disappeared in the face of mechanisation and robotisation but that on the contrary, they are constantly mutating towards equally alienating working conditions.
In 2014, in a conference entitled "la société automatique", the philosopher Bernard Stiegler noted the entry into the era of the automatic society, which he defined as the society constituted in the era of full and widespread automation.
The first sector of life to be affected by this progressive automation of society is obviously the labour sector, where industrial automation based on robotisation and industrial mechatronics has progressively taken a predominant place in factories to become the dominant model.
To this must be added more recent automation technologies that monitor the human activity of employees in real time. What is defined as a robotic aid, or "Cobot" for workers, is often in fact a control device, analysing and administering the worker's every action with the sole aim of increasing productivity.
In private life, the "silicolonisation" of the world "intends to redefine our lives for private purposes, while claiming to be working for the good of humanity".
In this context, AIs are, for us, only a new step in this progressive automation of our lives. They are not autonomous intelligence, but computer algorithms capable of automating a maximum of our behaviour and desires in our interaction with the world.
Due to the fragmentation of work and labour, these algorithms must be massively and constantly fed by an extremely weakened labour force or "digital labour". The new "platform capitalism", GAFAM, thus continues to feed this utopian horizon of robotics and artificial intelligence. It is the phantasm of complete automation, developed since Taylorism and which has continued to reassert the threat of the replacement of man by machine.
This establishment of digital technology in all aspects of our lives thus appears to be a deliberate strategy by digital corporations, but also actively supported by governments and public funding to consolidate a techno-liberal ideology of progress.
Our next exhibition project reflects on the development of automation techniques, as a discourse that has existed since mechanisation, and which has only fed into our social, political, economic, but also cultural and aesthetic imaginations.
The singular history that we are going to materialise in the exhibition space, considers the mechanisms of alienation, but also those of resistance and cultural and artistic production that result in our relationship to automation.
In our next solo show, untitled "la société automatique", we want to create an imaginary that mixes robots, AI algorithms, legal and illegal drugs, techno and automated industrial environments. The aim is to produce, once again, a fragmented and singular narrative of the ambiguous relationship that humans have with technology, this time through the prism of automation.
Perpétuité by Felix Luque, Damien Gernay & Vincent Evrard
Perpétuité I is a coproduction of “secteur arts numériques, Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles” and "Chroniques 2020 (Biennal of Digital Imagination)”.
Perpétuité II is a coproduction of “secteur arts numériques, Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles”, "Chroniques 2022 (Biennal of Digital Imagination)” and iMAL.