Current Events

I am not a Robot

16. September – 27. November 2022
Group Show, Ludwig Múzeum, Budapest

I am not a Robot. On the Borders of the Singularity.

As a harbinger of the (supposedly) imminent arrival of the Singularity, the exhibition explores the powerful impact of technological development on our daily lives.

One of the defining global phenomena of our time is digitalisation, which has transformed human life in an evolutionary leap over the past decades, rewriting centuries of fixed habits, forms and behavioural patterns. The digital turn is still ongoing, with our lives moving from offline to online, and the digital presence growing rapidly. Digital technology in its current state is a new normativity that is part of work and life: not an enemy, not a friend, but a natural part of life…

Playmode

20. July – 12. October 2022
Group Show, CCBB – Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil, Rio de Janeiro

Since very early on, artists have understood the power of transformation of play, integrating it into their works with distinct purposes -evasion of reality, social construction and transformation, subversion or criticism of the very mechanisms of play and games. The exhibition Playmode proposes a reflection on these aspects and on the period of ludification that contemporary societies are going through, bringing together the work of several artists who adopt the theme and explore new ways of seeing, participating in, and transforming the world, using play in a critical manner.

Curators: Filipe Pais and Patrícia Gouveia.

 

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

Ihr Paket ist ab sofort abholbereit!

8. July 2023 – 25. February 2024
Solo Show, Kunsthalle Osnabrück, Osnabrück

Enigma

19. November 2022 – 19. November 2023
Group Show, Museum of Communication, Kopenhagen

Communication pervades our lives more than ever before. With the digital channels, we are constantly accessible and can publish ourselves wherever and whenever we want. But despite the many great opportunities, the tide of information may often appear confusing, polarizing or hateful, and our public conversation is challenged.

On November 19, 2022, ENIGMA will open new exhibition areas and a large children’s area, in which we look forward to welcoming everyone.

Kunst gegen Rechts

4. November – 22. December 2022
Group Show, NGfZK - Neue Galerie für Zeitgenössische Kunst, Gera

Eingeladene Künstler:innen:
Ulf Arminde, Stefan Alber, Aram Bartholi, Fehmi Baumbach, Marc Bijl,  Jessica Buhlmann/Zao, Zuzanna Czebatul, Moritz Frei, Jana Gunstheimer, Christian Henkel, Verena Issel, Zoe C. Miller, Anne Mundo, Rainer Neumeier,  Angelika Nguyen, Thomas Prochnow, Regina Schmeken, Schroeter&Berger, Kristina Schuldt, Raul Walch, Christian Werner, Ina Wudtke

Die siebte Ausstellung der Reihe KUNST GEGEN RECHTS nimmt den 30. Jahrestag der Pogrome von Rostock-Lichtenhagen als Anlass, um kritisch auf aktuelle, gesellschaftliche Konflikte einzugehen.

Deutschland ist eine postmigrantische Gesellschaft der Vielen. Immer noch wird diese Tatsache viel zu wenig zur Kenntnis genommen. Der Wiedervereinigung am 3. Oktober 1990 folgten rassistische Ausschreitungen und Mordanschläge in Rostock, Mannheim, Hoyerswerda, Mölln und Solingen bis zur Terrorserie des NSU. Es folgten Anschläge auf jüdische Friedhöfe und emanzipatorische Projekte. Eine wiedererwachte deutsche Volksgemeinschaft kroch aus den Löchern hervor.

Der rechte Populismus, der die Kultureinrichtungen als Akteure einer gesellschaftlichen demokratischen Vision angreift, steht der Kunst der Vielen feindselig gegenüber. Die Neue Rechte hat die Kulturpolitik als Kampffeld entdeckt, um ihre völkischen Vorstellungen umzusetzen. Rechte Gruppierungen und Parteien stören Veranstaltungen, verhindern Ausstellungen, greifen in Theater-Spielpläne ein, polemisieren gegen die Freiheit der Kunst, gegen Dekoloniale Erinnerungsprojekte und arbeiten an einer Renationalisierung der Kultur. Es wird einFeldzug gegen zeitgenössische, „undeutsche“ Kunst geführt, die als „neumodische Extravaganzen“ und „exzentrische Randgruppenkunst“ bezeichnet wird, wie aktuell gegen den Kunstverein in Zwickau.

Seit dem Ausbruch der Pandemie, stehen viele Dinge auf dem Prüfstand. Es zeigte sich, wer ein solidarisches Miteinander praktiziert und wer als Pandemiegewinnler oder Coronaleugner die Krise für eigene Interessen nutzt. Bei den sogenannten Querdenken-Demonstrationen kommt es zu einer fatalen Zusammenarbeit verschiedener Akteure. Rechte Gruppierungen und Parteien gewinnen immer mehr an Einfluss. Antisemitismus ist in der neuen Bewegung stark vertreten, wie auch eine Verharmlosung der Shoa und der Gleichsetzung der NS-Zeit mit der aktuellen Situation.

Safe Mode: Amplified Realities

8. October – 5. November 2022
Group Show, TILT Platform, Athens

The current mutated “epidemiological” societies within which we exist reveal that any previous indication we had about the term “safety” is now in limbo. TILT Platform has started exploring and developing the concept “Safe Mode” likening it to the indication safe mode appearing on our computers and smart devices, when they stop functioning properly after a major technical crisis. The process of safe mode emerges as the only possible solution. Comparing this state of technological malfunction to the processes of contemporary life, psychology and human behaviour, the term safe mode acquires an anthropological character.

How Fish Learn About Water

1. – 30. October 2022
Group Show, T3 Photo Festival Tokyo, Tokio

ABOUT T3 PHOTO FESTIVAL TOKYO
T3 PHOTO FESTIVAL TOKYO is a photo festival that develops three pillars: (1) photo exhibitions, (2) talks and events, and (3) student projects, with the vision of becoming “an Asian hub for nurturing the next generation of photography culture.
After holding its predecessor “Tokyo International Photography Festival” in Jonanjima, Ota-ku, Tokyo in 2015, the first festival was held in Ueno Park in 2017 as Tokyo’s first outdoor international photography festival.
From 2020, the Tokyo International Photography Festival will be held as an urban outdoor photography festival using public open spaces in Tokyo Station and the east side area (Yaesu, Nihonbashi, Kyobashi).
The festival will take the margins of the city as a medium to challenge new interpretations of urban space and the possibilities of photography by exhibiting works by photographers and developing events that will generate new human interaction.

 

Recent Events

Kunst gegen Rechts

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

Eingeladene Künstler:innen:
Ulf Arminde, Stefan Alber, Aram Bartholi, Fehmi Baumbach, Marc Bijl,  Jessica Buhlmann/Zao, Zuzanna Czebatul, Moritz Frei, Jana Gunstheimer, Christian Henkel, Verena Issel, Zoe C. Miller, Anne Mundo, Rainer Neumeier,  Angelika Nguyen, Thomas Prochnow, Regina Schmeken, Schroeter&Berger, Kristina Schuldt, Raul Walch, Christian Werner, Ina Wudtke

Die siebte Ausstellung der Reihe KUNST GEGEN RECHTS nimmt den 30. Jahrestag der Pogrome von Rostock-Lichtenhagen als Anlass, um kritisch auf aktuelle, gesellschaftliche Konflikte einzugehen.

Deutschland ist eine postmigrantische Gesellschaft der Vielen. Immer noch wird diese Tatsache viel zu wenig zur Kenntnis genommen. Der Wiedervereinigung am 3. Oktober 1990 folgten rassistische Ausschreitungen und Mordanschläge in Rostock, Mannheim, Hoyerswerda, Mölln und Solingen bis zur Terrorserie des NSU. Es folgten Anschläge auf jüdische Friedhöfe und emanzipatorische Projekte. Eine wiedererwachte deutsche Volksgemeinschaft kroch aus den Löchern hervor.

Der rechte Populismus, der die Kultureinrichtungen als Akteure einer gesellschaftlichen demokratischen Vision angreift, steht der Kunst der Vielen feindselig gegenüber. Die Neue Rechte hat die Kulturpolitik als Kampffeld entdeckt, um ihre völkischen Vorstellungen umzusetzen. Rechte Gruppierungen und Parteien stören Veranstaltungen, verhindern Ausstellungen, greifen in Theater-Spielpläne ein, polemisieren gegen die Freiheit der Kunst, gegen Dekoloniale Erinnerungsprojekte und arbeiten an einer Renationalisierung der Kultur. Es wird einFeldzug gegen zeitgenössische, „undeutsche“ Kunst geführt, die als „neumodische Extravaganzen“ und „exzentrische Randgruppenkunst“ bezeichnet wird, wie aktuell gegen den Kunstverein in Zwickau.

Seit dem Ausbruch der Pandemie, stehen viele Dinge auf dem Prüfstand. Es zeigte sich, wer ein solidarisches Miteinander praktiziert und wer als Pandemiegewinnler oder Coronaleugner die Krise für eigene Interessen nutzt. Bei den sogenannten Querdenken-Demonstrationen kommt es zu einer fatalen Zusammenarbeit verschiedener Akteure. Rechte Gruppierungen und Parteien gewinnen immer mehr an Einfluss. Antisemitismus ist in der neuen Bewegung stark vertreten, wie auch eine Verharmlosung der Shoa und der Gleichsetzung der NS-Zeit mit der aktuellen Situation.

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.

With:
Stefan Alber , Aram Bartholl , Antje Blumenstein , Benedikt Braun , Lou Cantor , Peter Dobroschke , Maria Eichhorn , FORT , Heiner Franzen , Wolfgang Ganter , Asta Gröting , Christian Henkel , IOCOSE , Šejla Kamerić , Bianca Kennedy , Peter Klare , Werner Liebmann , Tommy Neuwirth , Manfred Peckl , Alona Rodeh , Hansjörg Schneider , Bettina Scholz , Ann Schomburg , Mark Wallinger , Klaus Weber , Nicole Wermers

Curated by  Sophia Gräfe und Arkadij Koscheew.

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

Bike In Head

24. July – 18. September 2022
Group Show, Städtische Galerie, Bremen

Beteiligte Künstler*innen:

Aram Bartholl, Rainer Ganahl, GRIT3000, Tobias Hübel / Anne Krönker, Stefan Jeep, Hannes Langeder, Kosuke Masuda, Kirsten Pieroth, Jens Weyers, Wolfgang Zach

in Kooperation mit Bike It!, Städtische Galerie Delmenhorst, Kunsthalle Wilhelmshaven

Die Ausstellung bike in head versammelt künstlerische Positionen, die das Fahrrad als Verkehrsmittel, als Status und Statussymbol und als beste menschliche Fortbewegungsart analysieren. Während Fahrräder in der Kunstgeschichte immer wieder als besondere Objekte zum Thema der Kunst geworden sind, zeigt bike in head, was das Fahrrad gesellschaftlich und lebensphilosophisch bedeuten kann. Der japanische Künstler Kosuke Masuda etwa nutzt traditionelle Tuschezeichnung, um in einem Atemzug je ein Bild zu entwerfen, das immer um das Radfahren kreist. Die Bewegung des Geistes, synchron mit dem Atem, wird zur Bewegung der zeichnenden Hand, die alles in die Darstellung einer selbstbezogenen, sich selbst reproduzierenden Fortbewegung überführt. Und diese bietet für die menschliche Wahrnehmung der Umgebung eine ideale Geschwindigkeit und einen perfekten Rhythmus. Über die Serie von über hundert solcher Zeichnungen vermittelt sich eine ganze rad-basierte Welterfahrung.

Wenn Jens Weyers Fahrräder, die seit Jahren eine besondere Verbindung zu ihren Besitzer*innen bezeugen, wie perfekt ausgeleuchtete Topmodels inszeniert und mittels dieser Oberflächenschönheit all die Gebrauchtspuren der Räder, die uns erst auf den zweiten Blick bewusst werden, als ihr Karma feiert, ist er mit einem formal anderen Ansatz auf einer ähnlichen Spur. Wie Fahrräder andererseits zu inszenierten Statussymbolen einer sich selbst optimierenden Freizeit- und Sportgesellschaft werden, komplett mit eigener Social Media-Ästhetik, greifen Tobias Hübel und Anne Krönker in teils großformatigen Fotos auf, die ebenso ironisch wie fasziniert auf eine Welt mit eigenen Grenzen blicken. Wo dies gelegentlich endet, zeigt Aram Bartholl, der sowohl hippe Gefährte wie E-Roller als auch alte Fahrräder als archäologische Relikte dieser Welt aus der Spree gezogen hat.

Das ambivalente, merkwürdige Verhältnis zum Gebrauchsgegenstand und Verkehrsmittel Fahrrad, das in all diesen Arbeiten ersichtlich wird, spielt für Menschen, die heute ihren Beruf schon auf dem Rad ausüben, eine ganz andere Rolle. Das Kollektiv fahrrad express reflektiert in seinem Zine Grit3000 mit Texten und Bildern über das Radkurierfahren, über die Zumutungen und Belastungen, die Faszination und nicht zuletzt die Genderfragen, die mit dem Fahrradfahren allgemein, mit diesem Beruf im Speziellen einhergehen. Dessen Bedeutung als Sisyphos-hafte Betätigung reflektiert auch Kirsten Pieroth in einem konzeptuellen Kunstwerk, welches das Fahrradfahren als Instrument des Kunstschaffens einsetzt und damit die Wertigkeit des Radkurier-Arbeitens als Wertigkeit eines Kunstobjekts umdeutet.

So kommt das Fahrrad in die Kunst zurück, ohne als skulpturales Objekt verwendet zu werden. Das allerdings macht der österreichische Künstler Hannes Langeder, der sein Fahrrad in der perfekten Nachahmung eines Ferrari-Wagens unterbringt. Dieses Fahrradi Farfalla führt alle Qualitäten des Luxusautos ad absurdum und macht im Kontext des Fahrrads als das zentrale Zukunftsverkehrsmittel auch noch einmal deutlich, dass Radverkehr vorerst nicht zu denken ist, ohne sich vom Auto abzugrenzen und unsere autofixierte Gesellschaft und Verkehrssysteme ganz neu zu denken.

Die Städtische Galerie Bremen liegt direkt am Weserradwanderweg und möchte die Sommermonate nutzen, die Fahrradausstellung direkt er-fahr-bar zu machen und sie mit dem eigenen Rad zu befahren und zu erleben. bike in head zeigt in diesem Kontext nicht ausschließlich künstlerische Positionen, sondern lädt zur Fahrradselbstreparatur ein, verweist auf aktuelles Fahrraddesign aus Bremen und zeigt eine Auswahl an Kurzfilmen zum Fahrrad. Diese wird von unserem Kooperationspartner „Bremen BIKE IT!“ kuratiert, der uns außerdem vor allem hinsichtlich aller Fragen von Bremen als Fahrradstadt unterstützt.

bike in head ist die dritte Etappe im Kooperationsprojekt zum umfassenden Thema des Fahrrads in der Kunst, das mit der Ausstellung Fahrradkörper vom 15. August bis 31. Oktober 2021 in der Städtischen Galerie Delmenhorst bereits Fahrt aufgenommen hat. Es wird mit der zweiten Etappe in der Ausstellung Cyclophilia vom 22. Juli bis 18. September in der Kunsthalle Wilhelmshaven mit einem Fokus auf dem Fahrrad als Performance- und Musikinstrument und mit bike in head in der Städtischen Galerie Bremen weitergeführt und ins Ziel gefahren.

Darüber hinaus will die Städtische Galerie Bremen neben der Ausstellung künstlerischer Positionen in Kombination mit soziologischen Fragestellungen und gestalterischen Konzepten vor allem durch ein umfassendes Veranstaltungsprogramm dem Fahrrad als zentrales Konzept einer sich verändernden Gesellschaft nachspüren und die damit verbundenen Fragen mit der Öffentlichkeit verhandeln. Neben Fahrradtouren inklusive einer Befahrung der Ausstellung sind Filmscreenings, Lesungen und Aktionen im öffentlichen Raum geplant. Dies soll um ein innovatives Vermittlungsprogramm ergänzt werden. In einer zweiteiligen Publikation wird die Ausstellung festgehalten. Der eigentliche Ausstellungskatalog erscheint als dreiteiliges Buchprojekt, das die Etappen der Kooperation zwischen den Kunsthäusern in Bremen, Delmenhorst und Wilhelmshaven dokumentiert. Der Bremer Katalog wird außerdem um eine umfangreichere Publikation ergänzt, in der Fragen des Radfahrens in Bremen in diversen gesellschaftlichen Feldern thematisiert werden.

DFG-Schwerpunktprogramms „Das digitale Bild”

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

At the fifth conference of the priority program “The Digital Image”, which will take place in Marburg and online from July 7 to 9, 2022, we would like to devote ourselves to this aspect in detail and map various positions, illuminate approaches, and address problems. What is the relationship between the two cultural variables of art and science in the digital? What role do visualizations of abstract program codes play and what do we learn from looking into the black box AI? What are the historical implications of the genesis of the digital in the mathematical sciences, starting with the founders of computer science Alan Turing and John von Neumann? How do artists use specific properties and attributes of the digital image and how do they expand the creative possibilities or even the concept of art?

Are algorithms to be considered only as a tool for art, or are new kinds of cultural aesthetics emerging? Does the digital image change creative production, or should it rather be seen as a communication tool for artists?

The conference will provide an opportunity to look at exemplary phenomena and to compile descriptions, analyses and theses. The aim is to identify intersections from different disciplines and at the same time to reflect current research discourses from a new point of view. Details on the transdisciplinary projects of the first funding period can be found on our homepage:

Participants:

Alexander Galloway
Rosa Monkman
Hell Gette
Aram Bartholl
Helena Nikonnle
Nathalie Bredella
Michae Rottmann
Bernhard Dotzler
Roland Mever
Christi Baur
Felicitv Tattersall
Pah Erdmann
Pamela Scorzin
T. L. Cowan
Tilman Baumgärtel
Andy Donaldson

Full conference program

Blog Archive for Tag: truedepth

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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True Depth

January 15, 2019

True Depth — Aram Bartholl
Solo show at SMAC Berlin

Opening event: 24.01.2019 | 19h
Duration: 25.01 – 10.03.2019
Opening Hours: Friday – Sunday, 13h – 19h

For his upcoming solo show True Depth at SMAC Aram Bartholl creates a new set of works discussing the changing circumstances of personal space in today’s screen based, app connected world. While the smartphone introduced new ways of very intimate communication, Internet advertising companies monetize in large scale on these interactions. Traveling alone in public space became the perfect situation for personal interaction on small screens. “Don’t sit next to me on the bus. I am watching gay porn.” (quote Twitter). While out with friends the restaurant bathroom turns into a place to check the phone instead of actually going there to relieve one self. Post social spaces.
The title True Depth refers to the latest iPhone camera 3D scanning technology to improve face recognition. Invisible infrared patterns questions the personal space between eyes and screen. “Where are you?”

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