Katriona Beales

Are we all addicts now? 

May and June 2016

How are our brains are adapting to digital tools and interfaces?

How are human ways of being are changing in response to online environments?

What does this means for art, culture and society?

‘Are we all addicts now?’ is an artist-led enquiry into how the conditions of the digital are not just shaped by us but also shaping us. McLuhan’s maxim is that every new technology creates a new human environment. Emergent pathologies such as internet addiction and digital dementia are symptomatic of this new human environment. ‘Are we all addicts now?’ is led by artist Katriona Beales, in partnership with curator Fiona MacDonald, and in collaboration with Dr Henrietta Bowden-Jones, Vanessa Bartlett and Dr Mark Wright. The project builds on Katriona Beales’ video installation, ‘White Matter’ (2015), which responded to internet addiction, and was commissioned by FACT (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology).

‘Are we all addicts now?’ is intended as a provocation, seeking to initiate interdisciplinary conversations about the cultural and biomedical implications of our digital environments. During the research and development phase a series of workshops hosted by PEER gathered artists, biomedical scientists, academics, tech entrepreneurs and interested members of the public. These workshops acted as a testing site for the interrogation of the relationships humans have with conditions of the digital, and the cultural and biomedical implications. The workshops provided a discursive context for the production of new work by Katriona Beales, which will be exhibited Sept-Nov 2017 and accompanied by a publication and symposium.

PEER hosted three workshops in May and June 2016, exploring different aspects of internet addiction from a range of perspectives.

May 23rd 2016 – WE MAKE TOOLS AND TOOLS MAKE US  Neuroplasticity and brain chemistry , dopamine and addiction, problematic feedback loops and can addiction be generative?

June 6th 2016 – TOUCH ME Digital Materiality, physical-virtual touch, seductive sites and objects of desire,  haptic technology and new interfaces

June 20th 2016 – PORTALS & ESCAPISM Psychological drivers behind addiction, dissociative states and the sublime, the experience of time and addiction as the logic of capital

Each workshop featured two guest speakers, and included time for group discussion and an interactive or game element. Contributing speakers included: