ABSTRACT

Ubiquitous communication technologies provide the operational structure for the transition from a disciplinary society (Foucault 1977) to a society of control (Deleuze 1992). The dispositifs of power, once incarcerating the body in institutional structures of societies of sovereignty, are now directed at psychic processes and the mind as Gilles Deleuze argues in view of new forms of deterritorialization and unlimited affiliations across the globe. Furthermore, the production of products and property-characteristic of nineteenth-century capitalism-is no longer the target of contemporary work or corresponds to the target course of delimited work constellations. “The operation of markets is now the instrument of social control,” writes Deleuze. In fact, marketing, mediated and enriched by the imperatives of economic conditions, assesses, appropriates, and modulates contemporary cultural formations. It is a central determinant of a pervasive marketing logic to capture, hold and direct attention in a networked society that is connected to an overwhelming flow of information and interactive possibilities. Within the “capitalism of higherorder production” (Deleuze 1992: 5), marketing priorities are not only relevant as business operations, but also implicate processes of subjectivization and social anatomies. Societies of control promote dynamic subjects that inhabit linked environments allowing for synchronous communication and pluripotent “complex

digital relations in collapsed spaces … and multiplicitous time” (Neidich 2010: 544). Diverse operations performed with smart technologies-cell phones, Internet and social media-converge in a network of machinic intelligence and modify the visual, acoustic and also haptic world of contemporary subjects. Technocultural subjectivities appear in a state of permanent stand-by-attention while minimal operations or digital transactions are registered and analyzed primarily for performance valuation or marketing interests. Although there is an awareness that each online contact generates a myriad of sub-data that are hierarchically organized and concatenate available references of previous web-manœuvres, the fact that these data are re-directed to the users to influence their future decisions and actions is seen as a mere side-effect of the fast and convenient communication system. The scouting out of collective or personal user-tendencies clandestinely complements the actual digital operations below the visible online-surface without revealing that user-preferences inscribe indelible traces in virtual memory. Adapting Maurizio Lazzarato’s term “noo-politics”3 (Lazzarato 2006), Warren Neidich describes transformations of the sensory field and the cultural habitus as trajectories into the neurobiological structure that modify intellectual dispositions and reconfigure human consciousness, shaping subjective memory. Inasmuch as hyper-communication and the momentum of social media have accelerated the imperatives of connectivity, work-life-constellations oscillate through technologically mediated “action at a distance of one mind on another, through the brain’s power to affect and become affected,” as Maurizio Lazzarato argues in his continuation of Deleuze’s thoughts on societies of control (Lazzarato 2006: 180). In this line of argument recent philosophical concepts and cultural theorists focus on the link between neoliberal global capitalism and the “conditions of cognition in all its variety” (Neidich 2010: 542). With the philosopher Byung-Chul Han, who regards the state of hyper-attention demanded by the conditions of cognitive capitalism not only as cultural achievement but in a dialectical sense also as a regressive mode reduced to mere reaction, I want to expand the field of inquiry by elucidating the impact of omnipresent latent observational dispositifs to counterbalance with a growing desire of self-display stimulated by the dynamics of linked environments and networked systems. Along with this embedding in informational assemblages, we see an intense and involving entanglement of power, control and utilization, which socially deconstructs the spheres of anonymity and devalues the times and spaces of invisibility (Han 2010: 24ff.).