The University of California Institute for Research in the Arts supports embedded arts research through critical exchange

And how are we feeling today? Opening Thurs, Jan 9. at UC San Diego

…And how are we feeling today? asks a doctor of a patient upon entering the room. While lying supine on an exam table (or perhaps a shrink’s couch?), the patient is compelled to vulnerable disclosure. Though somewhat patronizing, the address in first person plural nevertheless implies their collective stake and correlated emergence, as caretaker and cared for, in the labor of well-being. This question, situated in a scenario of psycho-physiological maintenance and exchange, acts as a prompt for this exhibition – an inquiry into economies of affect, structures of feeling, and emotions as commodities in contemporary life.

What symptoms exactly are we trying to diagnose? These “feelings” are not only bodily sensations, but also psychological and social phenomena. They arise from affective transmissions that influence our capacities to act and to be acted upon. Affect, which precedes and underlies feeling or emotion, is the potential or power to act. Today, it is where value is sought as mode of production. This is most evident in the affective labor and immaterial economies of care, service, knowledge, and culture, whereby we produce affects and reproduce subjectivities, sociality, and society itself. These domains of social reproduction (our social “welfare” and “security”), once a public responsibility and a collective labor of well-being, have been privatized. The (social) body of late capitalism now cares for itself.

With all aspects of life subsumed under capital, our traumas are manifested at all levels of being and all scales of matter. Cynical aphorisms like “there is no such thing as society” and “there is no alternative” have lost their historical referent to the onset of neoliberalism. They now circulate as expressions of an affective ambience of resignation and despair. These attitudes, in addition to a proliferation of affective disorders, exist as sensible dispositions lived in response to our capitalist reality. The question of “feeling” therefore insists upon a politics that must operate on the register of affect.

The contributors of this exhibition variously consider our current structure of feeling through experiments with relationality. Empathic relations expand to electromagnetic waves of radio frequency and other imperceptible scales of matter. Demonstrations of other sensory modes, such as the aural and haptic, induce empathy through operations of resonance, absorption, and support. Simulated spaces of affective exchange introduce rupture into capitalism’s psychic and biopolitical dimensions. Proposals for action address certain forms of affect production, in which carework are both paternalistic and feminist political formulations, and social media is self-service as well as unwaged labor.

With these considerations, we are asked to think from the perspective of “feeling” and about what political potential may lie in affects, feelings, and emotions. How are we feeling today? The question is simple enough. It is the first of attempts to describe, measure and diagnose a set of symptoms that indicate something might be wrong, that something needs to remedy, or at least ameliorate, these symptoms… and if this persists as a chronic malady, then something must change.


Exhibition Opening: Thursday, January 9, 5:30 – 8:30pm
Opening reception with the artist Fedora Archive

Tuesday, February 11, 5:30 – 7:30pm
Wages for Facebook west coast campaign launch & discussion-based workshop

Location: University Art Gallery, UC San Diego

Wages For Facebook engages a public to think critically about the enormous amount of digital labor that has become a routine part of our existence online. The project takes inspiration from a 1970s feminist campaign, Wages For Housework, as means to think through relationships of capitalism, class and affective labor at stake within social media today.

Curated by Michelle Y. Hyun, UAG Curatorial Fellow 2012-14

Design by Stephen Serrato

Special Thanks & Acknowledgement:
Merete Kjaer, Jordan Crandall, Rafal Kopacz, Brent Langieri, Nathan Azhderian, Jill Dawsey, Lara Gold, Eric Nylund, Anna Sagström, Eric Sick, Bryan Tjomslands and Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego.

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