Acid Architecture: Trans Thinking in the Age of Cognitive Capitalism

Acid Architecture: Trans-Thinking in the Age of Cognitive Capitalism

Organized by Warren Neidich and the Office of Aesthetic Occupation in collaboration with CTM / Ed Keller.

March 6 2017
4.30 PM – 8.30 PM
Kellen Auditorium, The New School
Center for Transformative Media
66 Fifth Avenue, Lobby level

Ed Keller
Nora Khan
Sanford Kwinter
Warren Neidich
Ken Wark

4.30 PM: Welcoming remarks: Neidich, Keller

5 PM: Warren Neidich
5.30 PM: Nora Khan
6 PM: Sanford Kwinter
6.30 PM: Ken Wark
7 PM: Ed Keller

Round table:
7.30 PM – 8.15 PM


“These are the oldest memories on Earth, the time-codes carried in every chromosome and gene. Every step we’ve taken in our evolution is a milestone inscribed with organic memories- from the enzymes controlling the carbon dioxide cycle to the organization of the brachial plexus and the nerve pathways of the Pyramid cells in the mid-brain, each is a record of a thousand decisions taken in the face of a sudden physico-chemical crisis. Just as psychoanalysis reconstructs the original traumatic situation in order to release the repressed material, so we are now being plunged back into the archaeopsychic past, uncovering the ancient taboos and drives that have been dormant for epochs. The brief span of an individual life is misleading. Each one of us is as old as the entire biological kingdom, and our bloodstreams are tributaries of the great sea of its total memory. The uterine odyssey of the growing foetus recapitulates the entire evolutionary past, and its central nervous system is a coded time scale, each nexus of neurons and each spinal level marking a symbolic station, a unit of neuronic time.”
Ballard, The Drowned World

In cognitive capitalism the mind and brain are the new factories of the 21st century. We are the cognitariat, mental laborers: our daily searches, likes and dislikes creating the lifeblood of vectorialist platforms. Originally denoting shifting relations of labor characterized by performativity, virtuosity and immateriality, cognitive capital’s current material mutations, especially those occurring in uncounted populations of neural synapses, now embody and extend networked cultural relations across our habitus.

This conference begins with these provocations and explores the ‘architectural’ implications of such changes. We introduce the notion of Acid Architecture as a term that, on the one hand, delineates a state of psychedelically induced mind warping resulting from excitation of alternative serotonergic active sites and, on the other, the resulting wall paintings, hive minds, design initiatives and architectures that emerge from the fanciful imaginings of this alternative state of consciousness. Acid Architecture can be hypothesized to function at all physical and temporal scales as a means of escape from the processes of normalization and governmentalization at hand in neurocapitalism’s contemporary forms of subjectivization.

The brain’s neural plasticity is sculpted by these relations and, as a result, how we perceive, conceptualize and imagine is profoundly altered. As we have recently witnessed in the election of Donald Trump and the Brexit phenomena these rapid techno-socio-cultural transformations can be at times excessive to the point of being unassimilable. In a generational schisis, the limit of cultural plasticity is met at the limit of the brain’s neural plasticity and vice versa, inducing, at its extreme, a systemic spasm upon the social organism and its eco-morphologic dimension.

Hosted by CTM/The Center for Transformative Media