Current Events

The Glass Room

18. January – 26. November 2022
Group Show, MOD, Adelaide

The Glass Room MOD
The Glass Room is a public intervention that aims to educate about technology. With a sleek tech shop vibe, visitors can freely and critically discuss their relationships with data privacy.

Having toured Europe and the US, it will be visiting Australia for the first time in 2022.

From the tech boom to tech backlash, our understanding of the digital has become both deeply personal and deeply political. Our desire for convenience has given way to questions about the trade-offs for how much we can control our data and our understanding about how it is used.

The Glass Room is a place to explore these ideas. The objects here bring to life the hidden aspects of everyday technologies and examine how they are changing the way we live. The objects in The Glass Room provide unconventional and unexpected ways of seeing your relationship with your data.

As technology becomes embedded in every part of our lives, The Glass Room helps you look deeper into the digital: Does your personal data say everything about you, or is it an imperfect portrait? Do more tools, apps, and information make us better and more efficient, or are we giving away more than we want in return? What goes on behind the screens and inside the black boxes of the devices we interact with everyday? If we knew, would we still sign in or click ‘I agree’? How much trust do users invest in big tech companies, and what can be done if that trust is broken? If you want to learn more, you can visit our Data Detox Bar to pick up our Data Detox Kit, which offers you simple tips to enhance your digital privacy, security, and wellbeing.

Featured Artists:

Dries Depoorter, Aram Bartholl, Kiki Mager, Bengt Sjölén, Danja Vasiliev, Sebastian Schmieg, !Mediengruppe Bitnik, Tega Brain / Sam Lavigne, Kyriaki Goni, La Loma, and Tactical Tech

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Upcoming Events

On Equal Terms

15. – 25. September 2022
Group Show, Uferhallen, Berlin

From September 15 to 25, the Uferhallen will present the group exhibition On Equal Terms.

A large majority of Berlin-based artists are trying to resist the eco‐ nomic displacement of spaces for artistic experimentation. However, their language is sometimes forced to conform to a similar logic, as workplaces and artistic networks are labelled as “creative hubs” and “cultural capital.” In the struggle against the gentrification of spaces for living and working, these same spaces necessarily become subject to the cultural economy’s valorization process. What is the price to pay for entering the political bidding war for space? What is the relationship between cultural and monetary capital? Are both sides of the conversation on equal terms?

The group show examines, among other things, how art deals with mechanisms of the partly voluntary, partly forced commodification of cultural and artistic values. The exhibition will showcase works by approximately 25 artists from Uferhallen

Recent Events

DFG-Schwerpunktprogramms „Das digitale Bild”

7. – 9. July 2022
Talk, Online, Munich, Marburg

Metapolitisches Hüpfen

10. June 2022
Performance, Grosse Bergstrasse / Goetheplatz, Hamburg

Symposium und antifaschistische Hüpfburg
Große Bergstraße/ Goetheplatz, Hamburg
13:00-19:00 Uhr

Mohamed Amjahid (Vortrag & Diskussion)
Wie aus der Parallelgesellschaft herausspringen?
Über homogen weisse Räume in der Stadt

Aram Bartholl (Performance & Gespräch)
Greetings from Hamburg!
Wie umgehen mit geschichtsrevisionistischer Architektur?

Eduard Freudmann (Vortrag)
Kontextualisierung, Umgestaltung, Weggestaltung
Künstlerische und aktivistische Auseinandersetzungen mit geschichtspolitischen Manifestationen im öffentlichen Raum

Cornelia Siebeck (Thesen & gemeinsames Nachdenken)
Was wir „vergessen“ haben, oder:
Für eine Erinnerungsarbeit ohne Selbstvergewisserung

Nora Sternfeld (Vortrag)
Errungene Erinnerungen
Kontaktzonen umkämpfter und geteilter Geschichte

Gegenwärtig sind wir mit einer rechten Metapolitik konfrontiert, die mit kulturellen Setzungen versucht zivilgesellschaftliche Überzeugungen und kulturelle Diskurse jenseits von Parlamenten nach eigenen Vorstellungen zu verändern. Während das Konzept der Metapolitik eigentlich für den Aufbau einer demokratischen Zivilgesellschaft gedacht war, zielt die Neue Rechte darauf ab, gesellschaftliche Komplexität auf essentialistische Vorstellungen von Kultur, Nation und Volk zu reduzieren. Mit Rekonstruktionen historischer Architektur, ideologischer Inanspruchnahme von Orten, aber auch Angriffen auf Parlamente versucht sie abgeschlossene Identitäten zu konstruieren. Im Ringen um die kulturelle Hegemonie entwendet die Neue Rechte auch den Künsten ihre Strategien, mit denen zuvor noch für eine offene und vielfältige Gesellschaft eingetreten wurde. Sie richtet die performativen Methoden nun gegen die vielfältige Kultur selbst. Dafür dreht sie das kritische Potential der Künste in eine affirmative Symbolhaftigkeit um und verwendet das progressive Moment der Künste für ihre regressiven Ideen.

Obwohl die permanente Gefahr besteht, die entwickelten künstlerischen Praxen in den Händen von Personen mit autoritären und völkischen Vorstellungen wiederzufinden, besteht nach wie vor die Notwendigkeit mit Kunst Ideen davon zu entwickeln, wie wir als Gesellschaft gerne zusammenleben wollen. Metapolitisches Hüpfen bietet den Anlass, rechte Metapolitik zu diskutieren und schafft zugleich den Raum, um Gegenstrategien zu entwickeln. Um die Frage nach dem Umgang mit symbolischen Räumen so zuzuspitzen, dass sie sichtbar und diskutierbar wird, wird das Hambacher Schloss als Symbol für Demokratie aber auch nationalistische Vereinnahmung in eine antifaschistische Hüpfburg transformiert. Die Architektur wird zur Infrastruktur für ein eintägiges Symposium im öffentlichen Raum, das Widersprüchlichkeit zulässt und auf dem nicht nur theoretisch, sondern auch praktisch und performativ Strategien gegen rechte Metapolitik entwickelt, erprobt und debattiert werden.

Mit: Mohamed Amjahid, Aram Bartholl, Eduard Freudmann, Cornelia Siebeck und Nora Sternfeld
Konzeption: Frieder Bohaumilitzky
Grafikdesign Flyer & Plakat: Torben Körschkes

www.metapolitisches-huepfen.de

DeadDrops in H4v4n4

23. – 31. May 2022
Group Show, El Paquete Semanal, Havana

DeadDrops in H4v4n4 and !!!Sección ARTE [No. 37], Paquete Semanal, collaboration with Nestor Siré [May, 2022] Cuba.

Video des Monats

1. – 31. May 2022
Solo Show, HMKV, Dortmund

In the series HMKV Video of the Month, HMKV presents in monthly rotation current video works by international artists – selected by Inke Arns”

“TOP25”, 2018, video, 5:44 min

TOP25 is a series of short 3D animation sequences featuring the 25 most used passwords in the world. Standard, easy-to-guess passwords like ‘123456’ or ‘admin’—frequently the default preset passwords for routers and other devices in the past—still pose a significant security threat to computer systems in general. This collection of well-known passwords is presented in a style of 3D animation often used for YouTube intros. It is very common practice among YouTubers to use short and very to-the-point 3D animations of their logo and name to introduce their channels, and a whole scene of young YouTubers exchange and share the 3D source files (Blender 3D) online to help new channel producers generate their own intros. Though the animations are remixed and altered, the general aesthetics follow a very clear visual concept. All sequences in this video are original designs and arrangements by different creators; the text has been altered to match the top 25 passwords.

 

Blog Archive for Month: February 2019

Let´s talk about 01 // Aram Bartholl

February 21, 2019

InterMedia an der FH Vorarlberg, Published on Jan 7, 2019

“Wir durften mit dem Medienkünstler Aram Bartholl nach seinem open idea Vortrag an der FH Vorarlberg im Oktober 2017 ein hochinteressantes Interview über seine Arbeiten und seine Sicht der Dinge auf unsere Kommunikationswelt führen.”

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NOVO 53

February 15, 2019

Interview by Emma Cozzani
NOVO 53
Published on Feb 8, 2019
53ème numéro de NOVO, le magazine qui se prend pour une revue.
Photo: Henri Vogt

issuu.com/media.pop/docs/novo_53

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Interview – SMAC

February 4, 2019

Interview with Aram Bartholl

With a wry sense of humour and a lightness of touch, German artist Aram Bartholl subverts the symbols and functions of the internet to draw our attention to its darker side. Through his prolific output of installations and performances around the world – from the beaches of Thailand to the Strasbourg Biennale – Bartholl dissects the back end of new media, shedding light on the capitalist imperatives that have come to dominate and track our every click and tap. How can we navigate the current – and future – digital landscape without lapsing into disillusionment, or relinquishing our agency as internet users? Ahead of his upcoming show at SMAC in Berlin, where he lives and works, Bartholl shares his take on surveillance capitalism, selfie culture, and what to expect at his new exhibition [hint: there’s a disco ball.]

Interview: Anna Dorothea Ker

SMAC: Your work acknowledges the vast possibilities presented by the internet while altering us to the pitfalls of its ever more commercialised reality. What should we be most concerned about?
Aram: I would point to questions of privacy or personal data, as well as how platforms work. We need to acknowledge that Google and Facebook are purely advertising companies. There are a lot of concerns. One thing I’m thinking a lot about is how we can escape the current monopolisation of the internet. The web of the ‘90s was very vibrant and diverse. It started as a user-driven, non-commercial space. Over time, many companies and start-ups employed it to achieve their commercial goals, and today we have five or six huge companies, with whom no-one can compete. They probably need to be broken up at some point – this is likely to come from the US.

“We need to acknowledge that Google and Facebook are purely advertising companies

How would you characterise your own internet use?
Aram: I try to avoid the big players by using an Android phone without Google on it, for example, having my own NextCloud servers at home, by avoiding Dropbox, and not ordering on Amazon any more. I try to be conscious of where I leave my data. At the same time, I use Twitter and Instagram. Most of my online input comes via Twitter. I depend on it, though it frustrates me. There’s a recipe for each – on Twitter you have to be negative to attract attention, and on Instagram you have to be positive, and post beautiful pictures. It’s very convenient to use all these platforms, but to be conscious about things is more complicated. I feel as though there’s a certain sense of fatigue with social media at the moment. Many people I know feel caught in between – it’s hard to leave these platforms, but people don’t want to be on them any more.

“ I feel as though there’s a certain sense of fatigue with social media at the moment. Many people I know feel caught in between – it’s hard to leave these platforms, but people don’t want to be on them any more.

Your work often employs tools of surveillance, such as surveillance cameras, in subversion of their purpose. Can the master’s tools dismantle the master’s house in this regard?
Aram: A surveillance camera is a valuable symbol because it’s a tool everyone understands. It’s an eye, it takes a pictures, it sends that picture somewhere else. Today it’s usually algorithms that scan them to look for, say, unusual movements. But then there’s what happens in your browser – tracking with cookies, for example, which no-one really understands.

Most people have a sense of what’s going on, but don’t feel like they can do anything about it. So I like to take these tools and use them in other ways – to have people re-think, question them. In my installation [“Pan, Tilt and Zoom”] last year [2018] I placed the cameras on the floor of the gallery. They were motorised, equipped with a tracking system they roll over the floor and seem helpless. People had other kinds of interactions with them, and hopefully questioned their purpose.

Does the right to privacy exist anymore? Have we eroded it through our collective obsession with self-surveillance – take selfie culture, and oversharing on social media?
Aram: There are two things at play here. Yes, a lot of people willingly share information on where they are and what they’re doing, but at the same time there’s this mass-scale surveillance – not in terms of the kind of government surveillance that [Edward] Snowden revealed, but rather commercial surveillance. When you walk around with your phone with the wifi on, it projects all the wifi connections to wherever you’re going. Even supermarkets have wifi tracking systems to see how you pass through the market or and when you return. We are already aware of this on a certain level – for example, when you go into a mattress store and get served advertising from them the next day. But it’s very hard to understand how this works. That happens on a very technical level, which seems very abstract to us. This is something we should be concerned about, as it’s a wild west out there right now. Companies can basically do whatever they want. Of course, since May [2018] there’s the [European Union] General Data Protection Regulation which is a first step towards regulation, but much more regulation still needs to occur.

“… it’s a wild west out there right now. Companies can basically do whatever they want. Of course, since May [2018] there’s the [European Union] General Data Protection Regulation which is a first step towards regulation, but much more regulation still needs to occur.

What can visitors to SMAC expect to encounter your upcoming exhibition?
Aram: “True Depth” refers to Apple’s technology for the iPhone X, which has infrared cameras implemented within the front camera. Whenever you look at the phone, there’s a infrared light dot pattern projected onto your face. Through measuring the distribution of these dots on your face, the software can build an actual 3D model of it. This is how facial recognition works. It’s convenient – you can unlock your phone just by looking at it – but its inner workings are invisible. For the show I have this disco ball, which represents disco – this fun, pop-culture, “let’s party” attitude, freedom. Then I have these two cameras. One projects infrared light onto the disco ball in a typical way, so dots of light are dispersed over the room, but the viewer can’t see them. The disco’s happening, but we can’t take part. The work is related to this phone technology, but it also relates to the commercial party that’s going on around us, tracking us, extracting information. All without any of it being visible to our eyes. Elsewhere in the gallery there will be the infrared view of the CCTV camera being streamed on a screen, so you can see the dot patter and get the view from the other side.

Then we have the webcam privacy screen. I saw it online and liked it very much as a sculpture – this round screen which attaches to the back of a chair. These screens are made for being on a webcam in front of a neutral background. They’re advertised as being good for business, with a blue or green background allowing you to look more professional – and you can also key out the colour and replace it. I’m interested in the simultaneous acts of looking at a screen and filming yourself while hiding what’s behind you. The process is similar when it comes to selfie culture. You see this often in the street – young kids taking ten or twenty just to get the right one. It’s very deliberate. It all ties in to the presentation of the self in a digital space, and how we cut out the noise and the background of our lives in the way we film ourselves.

This theme was explored in your recent work for the 2018 Thai Biennale, “Perfect Beach”. What sparked the idea for this work?
Aram: People fly to Thailand to find the perfect tropical beach, ones which are advertised all around us but also embody our collective idea of paradise. The empty beach has always been a symbol for freedom. The performance at the Biennale involved two performers carrying a big screen featuring an image of an idyllic beach across an already perfect beach. I was interested in confronting tourists with the question of why they went there. Because, of course, it’s never empty when you get there. Many people wanted to stand in front of the beach screen and take a picture – we’re so programmed to do that. I was hoping that would happen, but was amazed by how well it worked. But of course there were also people who were annoyed by it [laughs].

“I’m interested in the simultaneous acts of looking at a screen and filming yourself while hiding what’s behind you. The process is similar when it comes to selfie culture.

You’re currently presenting three works at the first Strasbourg Biennale, the theme of which is “being a citizen in the digital age”. What can visitors expect to experience when viewing your art there?
Aram: One work is part of the series “Are You Human?”, which is all about captcha codes. These used to be a string of characters we had to type in to prove that we’re human, but today all this has been replaced by the Google reCAPTCHA test. It has the same function, but we have to select these images, like ‘select all the cars’ you can see in the picture. On one hand, the purpose of this is to train Google’s self-driving cars, and on the other, to prove we’re human. The installation consists of this big code on the floor with twisted characters made from steel, and the reCAPTCHA prints on the wall. I’ve swapped in pictures of European borders and spam advertising text to remix this whole idea of reCAPTCHA, while drawing attention to the issue of borders, access to space and digital services.

2018 saw a slow – and far overdue – global public awakening to the risks and dangers of social media, largely due to a series of hacks and privacy scandals. What will this lead to in 2019?
Aram: Next step would be to get out of our current situation of a monopolised internet, and to take back control over our own lives. To decide what we want to do with our data. On one hand, there are policy questions, then there’s public awareness, but there’s a lot more that needs to happen on that front. The recent [January 2019] data leak that affected German politicians and celebrities invoked a paranoid press reaction. Which is perhaps good – for people to realise that we’re vulnerable. Once your information is out there, you can’t get it back. What we’re seeing now, with the links between populism and social media, makes it very easy to feel dystopian about these questions. But let’s try and stay positive. We need smart people to sit down and craft new plans that will allow us to use technology in ways that will help us, not just make a lot of money for a few.

“What we’re seeing now, with the links between populism and social media, makes it very easy to feel dystopian about these questions. But let’s try and stay positive.

Interview: Anna Dorothea Ker
Photos: Pamina Aichhorn

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