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Mattin: "Deciphering Social Dissonance: Ideology, Noise, and Subjectivity"

Updated: May 30, 2023

Deciphering Social Dissonance:

Ideology, Noise, and Subjectivity

Saturday May 27-- 10 am Pacific Time (Private Session)

Saturday June 3-- 10 am Pacific Time (Public Session)


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During this workshop, we will try to decipher social dissonance and why it happens.

For the philosopher and essayist Sylvia Wynter, deciphering is a practice that tries to answer these questions: What does aesthetics do? What is its function in human life? What, specifically, is its function in our present "form of life"? Deciphering It is not a process of demystification, instead, it tries to understand what mystification does, and how it is complicit in reproducing the privileges of certain subjects through a problematic understanding of autonomy.

Deciphering breaks with disciplinary divisions, and it engages with natural sciences as well as discursive production as a way to get the broadest perspective possible in regard to what we mean to be a human.

Social dissonance takes Leon’s Festigner idea of cognitive dissonance as a starting point. Cognitive describes the tension when somebody has two contradictory sets of cognitions, or when your actions don’t match your beliefs. Social dissonance is, then, a structural cognitive dissonance that emerges from the discrepancy between the values that are shared in liberal Western democracies--such as the belief in individual freedom, democracy, equality, and sustainability--and what we really do, which is to reproduce a system based on inequality, exploitation, unfreedom and the destruction of the planet through extraction. Festinger suggests that we constantly try to reduce the dissonant elements by making justifications and excuses.

What can be the justifications for social dissonance? My answer to this is twofold, one structural and one subjective. The first justification has to do with what Mark Fisher called capitalist realism: as there is no alternative to the capitalist mode of production, we cannot think of an alternative to Western democracy and the liberal idea of the individual. Since there does not seem to be a possibility of another form of life outside the capitalist mode of production, we accept the limited freedoms that are offered to us.

The second justification has to do with conflating the ideas of individuality and selfhood with subjectivity. We tend to think that what we understand by individual freedom is already subjective agency.

During this workshop, we will look at current research made in neuroscience such as predictive processing (PP) in relation to discussions around social synthesis, ideology, mental state of noise, and cultural hegemony. By doing this, we will attempt to decipher the function of social dissonance in the current form of life.



Sylvia Wynter

Rethinking "Aesthetics": notes towards a deciphering practice

Thomas Metzinger

The Problem of Mental Action Predictive Control without Sensory Sheets:


Social Dissonance

About the Author:

Mattin is an artist, musician, and theorist working conceptually with noise and improvisation. Through his practice and writing, he explores performative forms of estrangement as a way to deal with structural alienation. Mattin has exhibited and toured worldwide. He has performed in festivals such as Performa (NYC), No Fun (NYC), Club Transmediale (Berlin), Arika (Glasgow) and lectured and taught in institutions such as Dutch Art Institute, Cal Arts, Bard College, Paris VIII, Princeton University and Goldsmiths College. In 2017 he completed a PhD at the University of the Basque Country under the supervision of the philosopher Ray Brassier. Along with Anthony Iles, he edited the book Noise & Capitalism (Kritika/Arteleku 2009). In 2012 CAC Brétigny and Tuamaturgia published Unconsitituted Praxis, a book collecting his writing plus interviews and reviews from performances. Anthony Iles and Mattin are currently in the final stages of editing the volume Abolishing Capitalist Totality: What is To Be Done Under Real Subsumption? (Archive Books). Urbanomic published last year his book Social Dissonance. Mattin is part of the bands Billy Bao and Regler and has over 100 releases on different labels worldwide. He is currently co-hosting with Miguel Prado the podcast Social Discipline. Prado and Mattin are also part of Noise Research Union with Cecile Malaspine, Sonia de Jager, Martina Raponi, and Inigo Wilkins. Mattin took part in 2017 in documenta14 in Athens and Kassel.

Photo by: Edurne Errazti

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