The Cold World and the Collective Subject
In Cold War Cold World: Knowledge, Representation, and the Outside in Cold War Culture and Contemporary Art, eds. A. Beech, R. Mackay & J. Wiltgen (Falmouth: Urbanomic, 2017).
Our ‘Cold World’ of planetary-scaled complexity underwritten by logistics, computation, big-data and hyper capitalism signals not only the ‘apparent impossibility’ of grasping ‘what this world is’, it also ushers in an additional keyframe in the history of humanity’s Copernican humiliations. Although the Cold World is of (some) human making, the agglomerative results of this “accidental megastructure” we now find ourselves in and complicit with, forces us to contend with a mutated self-image, as decentered bit-users in and for its manifold operations – multiscalar operations that are both unfathomably large and infinitesimally small. The tendency to envision this ‘decentering’ as either debilitating (engendering states of resignation), or one that renders the question of human subjectivity irrelevant (as the blind celebration of machinic ‘efficiency’), offers us only reductive framings of this re-positioning. What this ‘humiliation’ demands, rather, is the re-plotting of our ex-centric non-radiance as a cartographic enterprise, forging a recalibration of our perspectives and therefore our capacities (what we can do), in substantively hypothetical ways…
Patricia Reed, "The Cold World and the Collective Subject", in Cold War Cold World: Knowledge, Representation, and the Outside in Cold War Culture and Contemporary Art, eds. Amanda Beech, Robin Mackay & James Wiltgen (Falmouth: Urbanomic, 2017).