network culture chart

Fredric Jameson’s classic description of Postmodernism as the cultural logic of late capitalism is now well over twenty years old. Jameson’s analysis is crucial for understanding late twentieth century thinking, but in the intervening years, culture has changed radically. As part of my Networked Publics fellowship at the Annenberg Center for Communication, I am preparing a series of documents about the cultural dominant that succeeds postmodernism. This material was developed over the last four years with new media architecture collaborative AUDC. Instead of a theoretical piece, I’ll open this discussion with a table outlining some empirical observations about this new condition which we can term "Network Culture," or perhaps "Transcontemporaneity."

Fredric Jameson’s classic description of Postmodernism as the cultural logic of late capitalism is now well over twenty years old. Jameson’s analysis is crucial for understanding late twentieth century thinking, but in the intervening years, culture has changed radically. As part of my Networked Publics fellowship at the Annenberg Center for Communication, I am preparing a series of documents about the cultural dominant that succeeds postmodernism. This material was developed over the last four years with new media architecture collaborative AUDC. Instead of a theoretical piece, I’ll open this discussion with a table outlining some empirical observations about this new condition which we can term "Network Culture," or perhaps "Transcontemporaneity."

  Modernism Postmodernism Network Culture
Political Economy
economy production service debt
capital monopoly multinational transnational
regime of accumulation Fordism Post-Fordism Empire
forms of consumption scarcity affluence luxury and clustering
enemy revolutionary communism soviet communism islamic terrorism
Culture
settlement suburbia postsuburbia exurbia
space abstract hyperspace network space
subjectivity autonomous schizophrenic/fragemented subsumed into the object
media mass media niche long tail
dominant mode of art rupture critical appropriation smooth aggregates
authorship author discursive field network
narratives Hegelian narratives end of the grand narrative neo-Hegelianism
music records cassette tape, compact disc file sharing or itunes
portable music transistor radio cassette walkman ipod
sci-fi fantasy metropolis star wars the matrix
past reference antiquity 19th c.-1930s modernism 1960s contemporaneity
disease TB AIDS Ebola, Anthrax, Avian Flu
war World War I, II Vietnam 9/11
computing mainframe personal computer ubiquitous computing
screen-based media Television GUI Web 2.0
urban détournement the dérive skateboarding le parkour
Representative Figures
psychology Freud Lacan Zizek
philosophy Sartre/Heidegger/Wittgenstein Derrida Deleuze
architecture Le Corbusier/Mies Venturi/Eisenman Gehry/Koolhaas

5 thoughts on “network culture chart

  1. Gehry/Koolhaas
    Gehry -Koolhaas are part of the end of postmodern culture, never part of the new networked culture.

    Network culture are much more anout systems than not icon.
    Gehry is the president of “the international of the form” that is a more polite way to look at the posst-modernism.

  2. after network culture? abyss? jihad? the new ontology?
    Nice chart, but I share your inclination regarding the next book project that “networks and all that”
    may sound like last year’s drum machine by the time a book can get out. I share the same sitch.

    For you does Fall 2008 feel like one of those fade-out/fade-in moments? Not necessarily
    Neo-Hegelian, maybe more of a simple phase transition (or getting bumped to the next level in
    the billion-person shooter even though we didn’t manage to complete the last mission?)

    For me, yes and no.

    Have been reading Baudrillard again for the first time in years, though not sure if it is a sign of wisdom
    or melancholia.

    1. And now?

      After the econopocalypse, some of this seems very suddenly dated – especially the bits about debt and luxury. The retrenchment by Chris Anderson himself on the Long Tail theory adds to the sense of erosion, and in terms of references to the past, we seem to have taken a step back, where the 1930’s have become the dominant point of comparison – and source of fear (sorry jihadis). And don’t even get me started on Ghery and Koolhaas. If anything, they, like the other dated aspects, seem like the crest of the wave prior to the emergence of true network culture. For a better idea of who we should be looking at, we may want to consider Lebbeus Woods, who hasn’t invested himself in building at all. Instead, he’s made observations like this:

      I have argued that serious, creative, innovative architects have to take up the design of spatial fields, networks, addressing transitory conditions, and not concentrate so much on single, monumental buildings. But this is very different from what we have known as ‘collectivist’ projects a la Socialism and Communism, which have not worked well anywhere. We must develop entirely new ways of thinking about urban architecture ensembles and constructs, and therefore new approaches to design. The System Wien project of 2005 (see lebbeuswoods.net) is one example of such thinking and design approach. However, it is only the barest beginning.

      This from the comments to the post ‘Dumb Boxes’ in his excellent blog. Blogs, oddly enough, don’t show up anywhere in the Network Culture table.

      1. a belated reply to benjamin and a more timely one to alex

        Ben, I have been reading Baudrillard religiously for the last few years. He’s crucial to understanding the contemporary condition. I think that now is precisely the time to write a book about Network Culture. It’s more crucial than ever. Network culture didn’t end with the dot.com crash and Fordism didn’t come to an end with the Great Depression, it became much more thoroughly developed. This leads to the next point, Alex, you are absolutely correct about the chart being dated. It is now three years old and sorely needs to be revised. My more recent assessment is in the conclusion to the Networked Publics book. Also, I’d argue that the regimes of accumulation that Harvey identifies are not monolithic but rather go through distinct phases. So for example, modernism and fordism developed as follows:

        heroic modernism / early fordism

        Heroic modernism still believed in the avant-garde transformation of society through the architectural plan.

        Ford was not TRULY Fordist, in that he still held out his belief in the primacy of the individual leader and did not understand planned obsolescence or credit whereas Alfred Sloan did).

        high modernism / high fordism

        The corporation and the state work in concert, modern architecture and even art become enamoured of the corporation as a model.

        There are also moments of transition. For example, Warhol based the Factory on a Fordist model even as that model is coming undone, with Warhol himself as a significant cultural player in that model.

        Regarding Chris’s new position on the Long Tail, this was always my criticism and I made it to him in person and also in comments on the occasion of a lecture at the Networked Publics group.

        See http://networkedpublics.org/about_netpublics/chris_anderson_the_longer_tail#comment-14191

        I’m puzzling out the transitions happening in architecture and hope to make some sense of that soon. Blogs are a puzzle since they seem to have no historical precedent that I am aware of (zines?). Something to think about.

         

         

         

  3. “enemies”
    Didn’t revolutionary communism initially embrace modernism? Or are we only looking at this from inside capitalism (which I guess is fair enough)?