“All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace” at Palais de Tokyo, Paris
Conceived according to a pathway made up of different ‘affective zones’, “All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace” brings together several artists who examine the impact of the market economy and new technologies on the production of our emotions and their representations.
In 1967, the American writer Richard Brautigan handed out copies of a short poem entitled “All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace” in the streets of San Francisco. It describes a “mutually programming harmony” between machines, animals and human beings. But this utopia is doomed to fail because it is “watched over by machines of loving grace”. Fifty years later, while machines
are everywhere, they have paradoxically faded away, being integrated into all the aspects of our working environments and living spaces.
In the era of the Internet of Things, the digital economy and the marketing of affects, the artworks, some of which are new, that are being presented in this exhibition re ect the in uence of monetary exchanges, digital data feeds, and the movements of goods on the production of our emotions, as well as their values and depictions.
The sociologist Eva Illouz uses the expression “emotional capitalism” to describe “a culture in which emotional and economic discourses and practices shape each other, thus producing a broad, sweeping movement in which affect is made an essential part of economic behaviour, and in which emotional life (…) follows the logic of economic relations and exchange.”1
While the pieces in this show are based on abstract structures or materialise invisible economic processes, they are nonetheless run through with empathy and subjectivity. Apparently possessing psychological attributes, they re ect the modelling of our imaginaries and the transformation of our affects into logos, products or sales pitches, thus bearing witness to a kind of rei cation of our emotions and social relationships.
“Throughout the development of our global economic system, our behaviours, our social relationships, and
our emotional experiences have constantly — and increasingly — been conditioned by objects, architectures, and more recently information technologies and data feeds. Having now spread into the slightest aspects of our lives, the generalised market economy and the digital economy have generated new forms of sociability and work organisation, tying together consumption and production, work and leisure, bodies and machines, the public and private spheres, objects and subjects, merchandise and emotions…
And yet, while the most basic, shared feelings have been rei ed and exploited so as to produce goods, transforming everyday experiences into exercises of commercial mediation, feeling happy or angry, sad or alone, could remain the lowest common denominator of a humanity ‘all watched over by machines of loving grace’”.
 Eva Illouz, Cold Intimacies: The Making of Emotional Capitalism, Polity Press, 2007
Curator: Yoann Gourmel
Participating artists: Pedro Barateiro, Richard Brautigan, Isabelle Cornaro, Marjorie Keller, Lee Kit, Marie Lund, Michael E. Smith, Mika Tajima, Marie Mathématique (Jacques Ansan, Jean-Claude Forest, Serge Gainsbourg, André Ruellan)
at Palais de Tokyo, Paris
until 8 May 2017