Kris Cohen – Never Alone, Except for Now: Art, Networks, Populations


Duke University Press, ISBN-13: 978-0822369400, English, 216 pages, 2017, USA

“Due to an intensification of electronic signals […] the perception of the other and its body is reshaped” affirms Italian philosopher Franco ‘Bifo’ Berardi, and the reshaping of this perception is probably one of the most important and underestimated changes, induced by our intense use of digital media. With this book Cohen enters the discourse around this change, addressing the paradox of taking active part in an overpopulated online environment and simultaneously feeling alone. He does it through a central definition of a “group form” used to explain the interrelation between populations and public dimension. To understand “networked life” and its implications he’s using a methodology called “ekphrasis”, which is generating a “vocabulary of experience”. He also uses a few case studies including novels (Gibson’s “Pattern Recognition”) artworks (Felix Gonzales-Torres’ candy works, Sharon Hayes’ “I March in the Parade of…” and Thomson & Craighead’s “Beacon”), in order to parallel them with specific cases of Internet sociality. In this respect, it succeeds in connecting the ‘public’ the artists are incorporating in their installations with the personal exposure that we’re allowing in the networks. He defines “mediated relationalities” and openly admits how commodification is what drives the conversation about the group form and aesthetics. This aesthetics is the specific ‘aesthetics of collectivity’, which Cohen affirms is the “key to understanding the logic of networked life”.