MIT Press, 2021. Softcover, 264pp., 4.5 x 7 inches
Cybernetics of the Poor examines the relationship between art and cybernetics and their intersections in the past and present. From the late 1940s on, the term cybernetics began to be used to describe self-regulating systems that measure, anticipate, and react in order to intervene in changing conditions. Initially relevant mostly in the fields of administration, planning, criminology, and early ecology, under digital capitalism cybernetics has since become an economic factor (particularly in the realm of big data). In such a cybernetic totality, art must respond to a new situation: a cybernetics of the poor.
Cybernetics of the Poor presents work that uses the powerlessness of art—its poverty—vis-à-vis the cybernetic machine to propose countermodels: work that is both recent and historical by artists who believed in cybernetics as a participatory, playful practice or were pioneers in delineating a counter-cybernetics. How much of what Thomas Pynchon termed “counterforce” exists within art when it is conceived as a cybernetics of the poor?