“The Material Couplings of Immaterial Machines” by Kevin T. Day

  • ©2012, Kevin T. Day, The Material Couplings of Immaterial Machines
  • ©2012, Kevin T. Day, The Material Couplings of Immaterial Machines


    The Material Couplings of Immaterial Machines

Artist(s) and People Involved:



Creation Year:



    Single-channel video



Artist Statement:

    The video installation utilizes the iTunes visualizer to play and interact with a political science lecture from Yale University on Tocqueville’s notion of democracy as obtained freely from the open source of iTunes U. In the lecture, the cautionary tone with which Tocqueville approaches it are emphasized, touching on notions such as the tyranny of the majority and the danger of soft despotism. In relation to phenomenon such as open access, free culture, and MOOCs, Trebor Scholz talks extensively about the tyranny and aggression with which gift economies perpetuate the dominance of power structures.

    As he cogently argues, “openness functions as public relations.” The joint venture of iTunes and the top universities such as MIT and Yale might be veering on the side of despotism as the lecture forewarns. The bespectacled form that such as discourse is presented in is emblematic of the “leveling‟ of the present age (Kierkegaard), while each party reasserts their unrivaled leadership and monopoly in their respective industry: that of the techno-media entertainment and that of the prestigious discourse producers.