Andrew Culp

Andrew Culp
Media Theorist
In Aesthetics and Politics
Teaching at CalArts

Research

My work bridges network pessimism, radical theory, and political thought. I theorize the ambivalent effects of network culture from the anti-globalization movement of movements to the monetization of social relations of the Web 2.0 sharing economy.

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Teaching

I work with programmers, theorists, and practitioners to deploy media tactically rather than using the classroom to hold a referendum on technology writ large. Our immediate inspiration are the 1990's movements of net.art, hacktivism, open source, culture jamming, and indymedia.

Anti-Politics

Having come of age during the anti-globalization movement, I have been involved in numerous collectives committed to abolishing the state, capital, and all other forms of oppression. Together, we refer to this approach as "anti-politics."

I approach media through radical transformation, namely: how emerging technologies constitute new forms of domination. 

Books

Dark Deleuze (University of Minnesota Press, 2016). Also available in Spanish, Japanese, and German.

Against the prevailing interpretation of Deleuze, I argue that Google’s connectivity thesis typifies a popular network culture that contributes to a culture of compulsory happiness, decentralized control, and overexposure. In contrast, I propose an underground network of references to conspiracy, cruelty, the terror of the outside, and the shame of being human. 

 

Persona Obscura (University of Minnesota Press, Under Contract).

Examining the politics of refusal that has come to define our age. I focus on figures of fugitivity, opacity, and anonymity to demonstrate the power of invisibility.


Other Writing

2017, "HKRB Interviews: Andrew Culp" (Interview by Alfie Brown), Hong Kong Review of Books, February 6, 2017.

2016, "Ending the World as We Know It: An Interview with Andrew Culp" (Interview by Alexander R. Galloway), boundary 2, June 2016.

2016, "Aliens, Monsters, and Revolution in the Dark Deleuze," Essay about Dark Deleuze for University of Minnesota Press Blog.

2016, "Signs of Protest Rhetoric: From Logos to Logistics in Luther's Ninety-Five Theses," with Kevin Kuswa. Quarterly Journal of Speech, 102(2), 2016.

2015, "Confronting Connectivity: Feminist Challenges to the Metropolis." Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies, November 2015, 1-18.

2015, "The State, Concept not Object: Abstraction, Cinema, Empire." parallax, 21(4), 2015, 429-447.

2015, "Philosophy, Science, and Virtual Communism." Angelaki: Journal of the Theoretical Humanities, 20(1), 2015, 91-106.

2013, "Dispute or Disrupt? Desire and Violence in Protests Against the Iraq War." Affinities: A Journal of Radical Theory, Culture, and Action, 6(1), Winter 2013, 16-47.

2012, "Giving Shape to Painful Things: An Interview with Claire Fontaine," with Ricky Crano. Radical Philosophy, 175, September/October 2012, 43-52.

2012, "Ghost Stories and Nightmares." Three Word Chant, 1, Summer 2012, 8-15.

2010, "Insurrectionary Foucault: Tiqqun, The Coming Insurrection, and Beyond." 'zine, extensively circulated/republished.


Talks

"The Politics of Cruelty" Seattle Anarchist Bookfair 2015
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I teach theories of subverting power and the practices of tactical media. Below are some representative courses from CalArts.

"Evil Media"

Media is not neutral. Behind the technical development of media lies the desire to influence and control, and more often then not, hidden practices of trickery, deception, and manipulation. These techniques have grown ubiquitous in less-obvious places, such as corporate and administrative gray media, online spam, productivity apps, guides and manuals, hostile architecture, deceptive design, biomedical standards, and infrastructure.

This class asks students to reconsider Google's motto "Don't Be Evil" in an age of ubiquitous computing and digital design. We look past widely discredited cases (propaganda, brainwashing, mind control) to consider more timely example of evil media. As the class considers media at the union of technical systems and social forces, we will simultaneously explore the concept of evil in the extramoral sense. Students will curate and write their own catalogue for a speculative show on "evil media."


"No Future: Optimism and Pessimism in Theory"

"The revolution was molecular," says Tiqqun, "but so was the counter-revolution." For some, like Foucault, this is a cause for celebration as resistance is meant to be productive. While for others, it only spells complicity, cooptation, assimilation, or death. This course stages the recent optimism-pessimism debate across a variety of fields, such as media studies, science and technology studies, queer studies, black studies, disability studies, and Marxism. Examples include network pessimism against accelerationism, the queer anti-social thesis against queer utopian worldbuilding, and afro-pessimism against black fugitivity.

Students will chart the optimist's concepts of utopia, futurity, life, capacity, and humanity across the course readings as well as their pessimistic rejoinders. The activity is part of our ongoing inquiry into the rapport between the two terms. What are the conceptual limitations and the political dangers of each? Why are they not compatible? How should the conflict between optimism and pessimism be resolved?


"Another End of the World is Possible"

"Another world is possible!" was the rallying cry of the anti-globalization era. The slogan served as an answer to the deafening silence following the fall of the Berlin Wall, the liberal post-politics of the Washington Consensus, and biopolitical wars for peace. Efforts to realize the phrase included attempts to establish deep democratic procedures from the local to the global level. Yet in the time since, we have gone through multiple cycles of struggle, and none have come close to realizing the global transformation we hoped would be around the corner.

Recently, the slogan "another end of the world is possible!" has appeared in graffiti. The return of the slogan in its negated form gives voice to a new reality: times have changed. Instead of alternatives, contemporary art, popular culture, fiction, and other media is awash in apocalypse. This class is a study of the now-popular tropes of abolition, destruction, extinction, and ruination as they intersect with media theories of time, the subject, and politics "at the end of the world."

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