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Re: <nettime> Brands and Identity in the Age of Neuroscience
Kevin Hamilton on Tue, 10 Jan 2006 18:18:33 +0100 (CET)

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Re: <nettime> Brands and Identity in the Age of Neuroscience

Though this Clockwork Orange stuff is not too surprising, it's been 
stuck in my brain for the last couple of days.

I'm both encouraged and concerned about the article's implications. On 
the one hand, we might see here confirmation of some of the brightest 
hopes for art in the last century. The Soviet constructivists, for 
example, would have been all over this, honing in on the exact shapes 
and colors necessary for producing a better society - and without all 
the mystical mumbo-jumbo of the Theosophists.

But of course the findings of this article also show how art can achieve 
the greatest of lies - see the current brand identities of any number of 

Neither the pessimistic or optimistic implications of the article are 
that new - many of us, I'm sure, have been looking at the relationship 
of formal aesthetic decisions to the creation of subjecthood and society.

But perhaps the extension of our pursuits into organisms in just this 
way might shift our focus? When I look at agitprop, for example, I can 
see more and less-embodied approaches to stirring people to action.

In my experience, overt attempts to effect reception at the biological 
level have ended up essentialist, not contextualized enough. I'm 
reminded of how phenomenologically-inclined artists are often the ones 
least likely to attend to the specificities of subjecthood. (Is anyone 
in whiteness studies working on the art of Robert Irwin? Would be 

But perhaps there is ground to reclaim here - we get a lot of biological 
metaphors in net-art discourse, but not a lot of work that engages 
bodies. (I include myself in this implication - my work is as informed 
by structuralism and conceptualism as any.)

Without resorting to essentialist appeals to the "visceral," can we make 
work that connects to and effects at a deeper biological level? I'm 
skeptical, but wondering if that's what it takes to compete with the 
branding agencies.

I'd be curious to hear Paul's thoughts on posting the piece - did you 
post it as a caution or a hope?

Thanks either way,

Kevin Hamilton

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