Due to its open temporal structure, modernity is often described as an age of acceleration. As early as 1825, technological development and social change were considered ‘velociferian’ (Goethe). Such diagnoses are still popular today, be it in Paul Virilio’s ‘dromology’, Hartmut Rosa’s ‘social acceleration’, or the philosophical programmes of ‘accelerationism’.

Under the condition of multiple ‘crises’, the diagnosis of acceleration is transformed into a politically sensitive and ideologically embattled demand. Terms such as ‘disruption’, ‘radical change’, or ‘tipping point’ are used to address urgency, demand effectivity, and suggest immediacy.

The discussion seeks to approach the topic from its opposite. Before classical mechanics combined rest and motion under a single principle, inertia (derived from idleness and laziness) was regarded not only as resistance to movement, but also as a natural state that required no further explanation. In this sense, inertia opens up a heterogeneous and contradictory field of research that encompasses related concepts such as acedia, tedium, or latency.

Resistance to acceleration ranges from a booming disconnectivity industry to reactionary criticism of modernity, from the inertia of institutions to the persistence of habitus, emotions, mentalities, and values, from temporalities of waiting and hesitation, nostalgia and remembrance to the relationship between ‘life time and world time’ (Blumenberg). Can art serve as an aesthetic and epistemological field of experimentation in which the paradoxes of forced acceleration and inertia are explored?

Omer Fast is a video artist based in Berlin. He holds an MFA from Hunter College, City University of New York. Much of his work delves into the psychology of contemporary trauma, often relying on the blurring of memory and retelling actual events deploying cinematic conventions. His works have been shown at numerous institutions such as the Pinakothek der Moderne, Guangdong Times Art Museum, Gropius Bau, Jeu de Paume, Wexner Center for the Arts, Whitney Museum of American Art, Museum of Modern Art, Carnegie Museum, and the Frankfurter Kunstverein, to name only a few.

Ute Holl is professor of Media Studies at Basel University, where she works on the epistemology of technical media, on anthropological and experimental cinema, and on a media history of acoustics. She is the author of The Moses Complex: Freud, Schoenberg, Straub/Huillet (2016), Cinema, Trance, and Cybernetics (2017), and Gespenster des Wissens (with Claus Pias, 2017). Her latest film is called Die Amitié (with Peter Ott, 2023).

Fred Turner is professor of Communication at Stanford University, where he studies the impact of new media technologies on American culture since World War II. He is the author of From Counterculture to Cyberculture, The Democratic Surround, and Seeing Silicon Valley (with Mary Beth Meehan, 2023), among other books. Before becoming a professor, he worked as a journalist for ten years and he continues to write regularly for newspapers and magazines in the United States and Europe.

In English
With

Omer Fast
Ute Holl

Moderated by Fred Turner

Organized by

Organized by the Centre for Digital Cultures of Leuphana University Lüneburg in cooperation with the ICI Berlin, in conjunction with the Stanford-Leuphana Summer Academy 2024

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Image Credit © Claudia Peppel