A machine is a process, it’s a relationship between human and object. To create a machine, there needs to be connection and exchange. A bike is just an object, or a tool, until it is paired with a human. Once connected, both the bike and the human are transformed. In “A Thousand Machines” Gerald Raunig explores the concept of a machine as a way to address the question of technology, machinery, and social relations. A machine presents a potential for appropriation. It is ambivalent, meaning it can be co-opted in different ways depending on who has the power. Objectification of collective human intellect, knowledge and labor–what Karl Marx calls the “General Intellect”– can produce a relationship of social subjection and machinic enslavement, out of which emerges the conditions for capitalism. At the same time, the “General Intellect” has the ability to be utilized in order to break free from the oppressive conditions of capitalism, creating new forms of social co-operation and communication. Raunig discusses this fluidity and ambivalence inherent in machinic assemblages by looking at the development of theater machines and war machines throughout history. In both, the relationship between intellect (inventiveness, cunningness) and materiality blur together to form a machine, possessing the potential to escape oppressive social conditions, or recreate them. (They can be de-coded and lead to revolution, or re-coded and resemble the state apparatus.) In modern times, we now also have a social media machine. In “The Work of Art in the Age of Digital Reproduction,” Adam Turl looks at social media, the digital image and the “collective neoliberal performance” that they are. The digital gesamtkunstwerk is a machine–one that takes personal worth and turns it into exchange value. It liberates the image but further imprisons the person, serving as a constant reminder of our status in society. Within the digital gesamtkunstwerk we perform democracy, curating our online selves, proving our uniqueness while at the same time stripping away our aura. Social media is expression without rights. “Democracy without free subjects.” No longer are the days of the true digital commons, when the internet was a war machine. The internet has now been enclosed by large tech corporations and platforms–appropriated by the state apparatus. As Adam Turl says, “Our digital selves are loosed from the socialization that can provide liberation as well as the authentic images and gestures that valorize our lives and stories. We could be anyone but we are no one.” 


Gerald Raunig, A Thousand Machines, pp. 7-74
Adam Turl, “The Work of Art in the Age of Digital Reproduction”