"If art is going to insert itself directly within these structures of communicative capitalism, then it needs to make explicitly clear its relationship to this capitalism. Social networking tools, and indeed the wider technologies of web 2.0, are sold to us within a narrative of emancipation; they are the promise of instant feedback, the ability to keep the world updated as to ‘what’s happening’, in real time. They are the harbingers of horizontal democracy. Jodi Dean operates a salient critique of this fantasy, however, emphasizing the extent to which communication today functions as a primarily economic form, and as such an all-consuming ideology: “Capitalism is our fixed reality”. This is the entire melancholy of Twitter, as one social media example among many: it becomes not what we say that’s important, but that we keep saying it. It’s like the feeding of the 5000, with one piece of bread passed between everyone as no one dares ingest it, all then stopping at the 1st century Palestinian version of Taco Bell on the way home. The result is infinite exchangeability, zero engagement, in which “communicative exchanges, rather than being fundamental to democratic politics, are the basic elements of capitalist production.
To replicate these models in our art is to perpetuate the capitalism that is resulting in systematic social divides on both local and global scales that have abstracted our social relations for the gross profit of an arbitrary few. Claire Bishop argues for the criticality of her delegated performances as one of sadist transgression, in which the perversity embodied by institutions and presented as a norm is revealed through a parallel perversity, which by contrast is parsed as an anomaly. Certainly we can say this about Santiago Sierra; arguably it is true of much of [Hans] Haacke’s work, too. Yet when the economic reality is becoming progressively more perverse, this becomes a terrible one-upmanship. We need an art that does more than make visible the already evident.
Art needs to see itself as not just reflective of everyday reality, but recognize that it is everyday reality; that the systems of labor it perpetuates are the systems of labor of lived society. Transgression isn’t working; and surely we reach a point where we realize it’s no longer a sadist perversity that’s of historical urgency right now, but the production and reproduction of a better reality across all forms of life."
-- Harry Burke, 'Parapolitics', Rhizome.org, 28 February 2013