Edited by Anselm Franke, Stephanie Hankey, Marek Tuszynski – Nervous Systems


Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin / Spector Books, ISBN: 978-3959050937, English, 388 pages, 2016, Germany

Co-curators Stephanie Hankey, Marek Tuszynski and Anselm Franke investigate and oppose the accumulation of data in this catalogue of the exhibition “Nervous Systems” at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin. The “countless sensors” we increasingly have around us have inspired the title of the publication (because they form a primary nervous system) and also inform the exhibition subtitle: “quantified life and the social question”. They introduce the main concept: the constant tracking we, as citizens, are under is leading to new forms of measurement and prediction, with, as the curator states, the consequence that the need “to anticipate and pre-empt becomes the guiding cultural logic”. Being in the middle of this abusive power and social logic can be conflictive, drawing on strategies that involve both the very private and the very public spheres simultaneously. If “subjectivity itself occurs in a data-processing environment” then the call for “nervousness”, as a proactive resistance to quantifications and elaborations of the self, can be an effective and socially relevant way of contrasting the propaganda of a sanitised digitally induced “smart” dimension. Finally, the selected texts are clearly reinforcing both the exhibition concept and this analysis, but in a way that is influential rather than merely supportive. They offer further deconstructions of statistical worship, in favour of a more structured and dynamic resistance.


Nervous Systems Interviews: Marek Tuszynski and Stephanie Hankey on The White Room