Mark Fisher - Cybertime Crisis
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Mark Fisher - Cybertime Crisis

by gregmarkman on 27 May 2021 for Rookie Awards 2021

The audio for this kinetic type project is taken from a speech given by the late Mark Fisher, a British cultural critic and critical theorist. He is best known for his 2009 book "Capitalist Realism".

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Mark Fisher was a British cultural critic and critical theorist and is probably best known for popularizing the term “Capitalist Realism” and his 2009 book Capitalist Realism: Is There No Alternative? (A play on Margaret Thatcher’s slogan “There is No Alternative.”)

Capitalist realism describes a state of the world beginning in the 1980s with the rise of market capitalism dogmatists such as Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, who dismantled labor movements in their countries, and the fall of the Soviet Union. In this new world, not only did it become impossible to imagine any alternative to capitalism, but to imagine any other way to organize our political, economic, cultural, and social structures. If you’ve ever heard that the government or healthcare should be “run like a business,” or that public transport or other public goods should be privatized this is an explicit example of capitalist realism.

Mark Fisher identified three examples where Capitalist Realism fails us. The environment, bureaucracy, and mental health. Relevant to the quote from Mark Fisher I used for this project is the idea from “Capitalist Realism” that viewing mental health issues as a problem that can be solved through purely pharmaceutical means ignores the alienation and stresses of life that affect mental health under this organization of society and the economy.

 In Capitalist Realism Fisher writes, “Capitalist realism insists on treating mental health as if it were a natural fact, like weather...if it is true, for instance, that depression is constituted by low serotonin levels, what still needs to be explained is why particular individuals have low levels of serotonin. This requires a social and political explanation.” Fisher Doesn’t mean that people aren’t predisposed to mental illness by genetics and “natural” factors, but that in the capitalist realism mode we treat mental illness as purely due to chemical imbalances, writing off the external factors of social and economic life.

That we view an individual’s mental health as a purely pharmaceutical problem and not linked at all to the stresses of life and the atomization of social and cultural life under capitalism, is not adequate to explain extreme rises in rates of depression and other mental health issues. What was important to me in designing this project was to create several complex and scaling grids to reflect how people's material conditions and lives are reduced in economic models in this way. To reflect this, the grids act on the type, scaling and obscuring it.

Mark Fisher himself struggled with depression most of his life and tragically took his own life in 2017. 

Relevant to the quote from Mark Fisher I used for this is the idea from “Capitalist Realism” that viewing mental health issues as a problem that can be solved through purely pharmaceutical means ignores the alienation and stresses of life that affect mental health under this organization of society and the economy. What was important to me was to create several complex and scaling grids to reflect how people are reduced in economic models in this way. The grids act on the type, scaling and obscuring it.


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