In contemporary capitalism, economic theory is applied to the management of information and human attention is treated as a scarce commodity. This attention economy is the dominant way of thinking about the way we use the internet, with companies and organisations measuring their success by how much attention we give their content. Some companies make huge amounts of money from quantifying and selling the attention of their users, but many of us have internalised the priorities of the attention economy when we present ourselves or our creative practices online.
In this final online seminar with artist and 2013-14 OSE alumnus Matthew de Kersaint Giraudeau we’ll spend time understanding and critiquing the underlying ideology of the attention economy. We’ll look at artists, activists and other practitioners who have interrupted the attention economy in different ways: diverting and disrupting attention in order to make political statements, offer critique, or create moments of aesthetic instability in the flows of attention we direct towards broadcast and networked media.
We’ll think about how we can operate within and without the attention economy, and how we might interrupt it, even for a moment, in our creative practice.
At the end of the session, we’ll look at the outcomes from the last seminar’s research task, and talk about any future ideas for self-directed research.
This seminar took place online via Zoom. If you missed this session you can watch a recording of the first part of the seminar below.
Suggested reading and resources
John Lanchester, ‘You Are the Product’, an essay from the London Review of Books (2017) (PDF)
Hamish McPherson, ‘On Dancing and Farting’, a recording of a lecture with GIFs to illustrate the talk, from a Bad Vibes Club event at Milton Keynes Gallery in 2016
About the artist
Matthew de Kersaint Giraudeau creates sculptures, drawings, performances and films. His work addresses ugliness and taste, negative affective states, and the ambiguities of language and objects. His current research interests include exploring the awkward aesthetic possibilities of medieval art through painting and digital animation, utilising culturally abject food and other materials to make sculpture, and understanding the formation of reactionary political sentiments through affect theory and performance. An Associate of Open School East, 2013-2014, he is currently resident artist at Kingsgate Workshops. This seminar is part of his Open School East artist commission.