The A Moeda coin explores the narrative possibilities emerging out of the networked internet-of-things stratosphere where data, objects, people and the infrastructure, all contribute. Thus making an expanding space for storytelling that ranges from the wired darkness of circuits to the pulsating heart of a city. However, unlike traditional exercises in narrative-making this one is not driven towards a purpose of any sort. It would be wrong to term it altruistic infact the indifference towards purpose emanates from the shift in agency in this networked environment.
In the Spinozian notion of the “conatus,” things are thought to be equipped with an agency of their own. A vitalist drive reigns over the material world. “One moral of the story is that we are also nonhuman and that things, too, are vital players in the world.” If material carries its own energy, there is less need for a discursive layer of communication. This approach has major consequences for art production since materiality can speak for itself.
“This position sharply contrasts with the philosophical and cultural view dominant over the last half century, a view that affirms the indispensability of interpretation, discourse, textuality, signification, ideology, and power.” Once the layer of communication is thrown overboard, we are left with merely material things, and we have to assume that they can stand for themselves, regardless of what happens to them.
In this sense the A Moeda project reflects equally on a new socioeconomic order outside the subject/object bias and explores how this affects the economies of culture and politics. It is perhaps pertinent to understand the A Moeda inside Latour’s sci-tech Actor-Network Theory (ANT) that focuses and analyzes connections made and remade between human and non-human entities. The resulting new connections are autonomous and do not necessarily correspond as the sum of constituent entities. This is of particular importance to the end of storytelling. In ANT, there is no possibility for ‘transformation without deformation’ so to say since each correspondence adds to the vast array of translation across the network. This is not far from how object-oriented philosophers define object: as a constant slippage from itself and emerging with a difference instantaneously.
Unders Latour’s object-oriented ontology, the A Moeda coin, will be defined as an object or actant by its engagement with the network. Latour explores three senses of ‘reality’ for an actant. The first two being the degree of resistance to other actants and endurance in time and space. Finally, and as is evident from his fourth ontological principle;
The reality of an actant is a function of the magnitude and extensiveness of the effects it has on other actants.
In this sense, the reality of A Moeda is not its appearance on the IoT circuit but its alliances as an actant . Its reality is more than a binary and can be measured in its degree of effectivity. Here, effectivity, is not to be mistaken with a carefully programmed software running towards some end task. It is easy to make such pitfalls when speaking about things, in general, since they are usually task or performance oriented.
Similarly, with A Moeda, are we then looking at an instrumental value that is geared towards the promotion of some end? Or on the contrary, is it sufficient for this digital coin to have intrinsic value regardless of any use or some end goal? Its Portuguese name, A Moeda, literally translates into, ‘coin’. Coins (money) we know has instrumental value and so does the intent, it seems, in using it as a coded narrative-mapping (making?) instrument/program. An evident self-contradiction then if we were to perceive it as an object in the internet-of-things as well.
The counter argument being that the coin has intrinsic value determined by its inherent agency on whether or not it determines to be useful or goal-defined. Value then is to be understood relatively in a heterogeneous network where it is both instrumental and intrinsic at the same time or perhaps neither. Actants can remain passive and yet still be effective. Such a layer of complexity expands the concept of A Moeda outside the confines of its software and hardware to the wetware of the user as well.
The event is free and everyone is welcome, so make sure you find out how to get involved here.