Video: Bahar Noorizadeh
Music: Mhamad Safa, Frank Bretschneider
Research & Director Assistant: Sergey Gindilis
Voice over: Sasha Alekseeva
Munari font: Pedro Moraes
Translation: Sergey Babkin
Lidar capture: KMC, Kiev
A production of the Centre d’Art Contemporain Genève for the Biennale de l’Image en Mouvement 2018, with the support of the Fonds d’Art Contemporain de la Ville (FMAC) and the Fonds d’Art Contemporain du Canton de Genève (FCAC) and In Between Art Film.
For many of us, computer technology seems almost inseparable from the corporate hypercapitalism of Silicon Valley or from the Department of Defense funding that spurred so much high-tech development, not least of all the forerunners of the internet. But in the Soviet Union of the 1960s, some technologists saw computers as machines of communism, and saw cybernetics as an answer to the difficulties and bureaucratic woes of a waning centrally planned economy.
In After Scarcity, Bahar Noorizadeh explores the historical past in search of our possible future. How might we use computation to get us out of our current state of digital feudalism and towards new possible utopias? After all, what would Vladimir “socialism is electricity plus statistic” Lenin have to say about blockchain? While the Stalinists opposed cybernetics, thinking it bourgeois pseudoscience, cyberneticists like Victor Glushkov rose to prominence in the 1960s as increasing bureaucratic demands of the centrally planned economy threatened to turn the Union into an absurdist administrative state. Networked computation held the promise of a supra-infrastructural, automated national economy that would liberate the people from mountains of red tape, decentralizing central planning. If only things—and people—were ever that simple.
Flying through swarms of floating dots outlining monasteries and city streets, After Scarcity flashes through decades of history to propose the ways contingent pasts can make fictive futures realer, showing us that digital socialism was inbred into the communist revolution and that computation doesn’t mean we’re condemned to today’s tyranny of total financialization.
Bahar Noorizadeh is an artist, writer and filmmaker based in London. Her research examines the historical advance of speculative activity and its derivative politics in art, urban life, and finance and economics. Noorizadeh is the founder of Weird Economies, an online art platform that traces economic imaginaries extraordinary to financial arrangements of our time. Her work has appeared at the German Pavilion, Venice Architecture Biennial 2021, Tate Modern Artists’ Cinema Program, Transmediale Festival, DIS Art platform, Berlinale Forum Expanded, and Geneva Biennale of Moving Images among others. Noorizadeh has contributed essays to e-flux Architecture, Journal of Visual Culture, and forthcoming anthologies from Duke University Press and Sternberg Press. She is pursuing her work as a PhD candidate in Art at Goldsmiths, University of London where she holds a SSHRC Doctoral Fellowship.