Immense Gothic Value Model

Rumi Josephs


A current crisis in cultural production which could be described as ‘the decline of the ability for the new to emerge’ is forcing cultural insight and trend forecasting agencies to seek increasingly speculative models for creating value. Insight agencies trade on discovering areas of cultural experimentation where the new is emerging. Recognising the cultural significance behind what is being created in these ‘hot zones’ means that agencies are able to translate cultural production into cultural value. In other words, they complete a circuit between cultural production and the creation of new markets. Is it possible to use the swampscape — this immense gothic sink where nature haunts itself — to design a radical new strategy of value production?

“The present may be considered the age of the Dark Enlightenment: the rejection of modernity’s rationalistic Enlightenment by those who have been led to submit reason and life to the ferocity of financial mathematics.”
— Franco “Bifo” Berardi

In the Dark Enlightenment that Bifo describes, economics and death are deeply connected in the apocalyptic unconscious. The Enlightenment is rejected by those who are bound into an economic programme which has death as its ideal form. But rather than a return
to rationalism, Bifo calls for us to seek out places where “the silence of God resounds as chaos”. The profoundly felt silence of God in the gothic wetlands make it a place of mind and chaos. In the space left by the silence of the Christian, European God who thinks like an architect of the world, the subconscious of some other chaotic mind stirs into the murk. The swamp is a hypothesis for as yet unknown, unthought markets in the non-human unconscious.

The swamp is always in the process of losing its identity, running contrary to the modernist view of history where chaos resolves into order. Financial products in the 21st century
have become prone to fantasies of decentralisation, collapsing ownership formats and distributed modes of organisation, power and authority. Do the swamp’s diagrams of chaos offer an escape from Dark thanatropic desires? It is clear that the agency must become volatile, unstable and foster the conditions for its own mutation. Always partially formed, contingent, constituted from what is available. A temporary apparatus of nested logic haunted by its intellectual property.

Design studio, media outlet, cultural insight consultancy, artists residency, curatorial platform, research department, trend forecasting agency, dark kitchen of marketing and brand strategy, or scrambled fractional representations of corporate identity as a form of camouflage? All visual communication for the agency becomes camouflage of one form or another. Clients have their preconceptions satisfied while the agency gestates value models for which stability and control are utterly corrupted.


Rumi Josephs @body_drift