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Group show: Smart New World (over)

5 April 2014 until 10 August 2014
  Smart New World
  Kunsthalle Düsseldorf

Kunsthalle Düsseldorf
Grabbeplatz 4
40213 Dusseldorf
Germany (city map)

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tel +49 (0)211 - 899 62 43

The truth is: Industrial capitalism is transforming itself into digital capitalism. That changes things.[1] The world is ruled by the binary code. The upheaval in the fields of
in­for­ma­ti­on and com­mu­ni­ca­ti­ons tech­no­lo­gy re­vo­lu­tio­nis­ed the busi­ness world and so­cie­ty.[2] What does it me­an to be an in­di­vi­du­al in the in­for­ma­ti­on so­cie­ty? An in­for­ma­ti­on so­cie­ty is al­ways al­so a sur­veil­lan­ce so­cie­ty. It is not the in­for­ma­ti­on that yields the sur­veil­lan­ce, the sur­veil­lan­ce yields the in­for­ma­ti­on: As so­on as hu­man ut­ter­an­ces and emo­ti­ons be­co­me quan­ti­fia­ble, they are re­cor­ded in or­der to op­ti­mi­se so­mew­he­re so­me­thing eco­no­mic, bu­reaucra­tic or ideo­lo­gi­cal.[3] Sin­ce Ed­ward Snow­den un­co­ver­ed the wi­de-spread sur­veil­lan­ce car­ried out the Ame­ri­can Na­tio­nal Se­cu­ri­ty Agen­cy at the la­test, the post-pri­va­cy thin­ker is cer­tain of one thing: The pri­va­te sphe­re is dead, the NSA so­le­ly ma­de it of­fi­ci­al.[4] Power­ful com­pu­ters so­me­ti­mes know mo­re about us than we do. The sto­r­a­ge ca­pa­bi­li­ty of the­se sys­tems in­crea­ses every ye­ar, con­sis­tent­ly, by or­ders of ma­gni­tu­de. It's get­ting to the point whe­re you don't ha­ve to ha­ve do­ne any­thing wrong, you just even­tual­ly ha­ve to fall un­der sus­pi­ci­on from some­bo­dy, even if it's by a wrong call, and then they can use the sys­tem to go back in ti­me and sc­ru­ti­ni­ze every de­ci­si­on you've ever ma­de, every fri­end you've ever di­s­cus­sed so­me­thing wi­th, and at­tack you on that ba­sis to sort of de­ri­ve sus­pi­ci­on from an in­no­cent li­fe and paint an­yo­ne in the con­text of a wrong-do­er.[5] Three let­ters, most ex­perts are agreed, will play a de­cisi­ve ro­le in the fu­ture of mo­dern war­fa­re: NCW for Net­work Cen­tric War­fa­re. Be­hind this de­si­gna­ti­on
lie net­works that link mi­li­ta­ry units to each other and to their com­man­ders—thus of­fe­ring them the pos­si­bi­li­ty of ra­pid, fle­xi­ble and asym­me­tri­cal war­fa­re. The goal has be­en un­am­bi­guous­ly for­mu­la­ted: the at­tain­ment of in­for­ma­ti­on su­pe­rio­ri­ty over the en­e­my.[6] As a pie­ce of busi­ness jar­gon, and even mo­re so as an in­vo­ca­ti­on of co­ming dis­rup­ti­on, the term Big Da­ta has
quick­ly grown ti­re­so­me. But the­re is no de­ny­ing the vast in­crea­se in the ran­ge and depth of in­for­ma­ti­on that’s rou­ti­nely cap­tu­red about how we be­ha­ve, and the new kinds of ana­ly­sis that this enables. By one esti­ma­te, mo­re than 98 per­cent of the world’s in­for­ma­ti­on is now stored di­gi­tal­ly, and the vo­lu­me of that da­ta has qua­dru­p­led sin­ce 2007. Or­di­na­ry peop­le at work and
at ho­me ge­ne­ra­te much of this da­ta, by sen­ding e-mails, brow­sing the In­ter­net, using so­ci­al me­dia, wor­king on crowd-sour­ced pro­jects, and mo­re—and in do­ing so they ha­ve un­wit­tingly hel­ped launch a grand new so­cie­tal pro­ject. We are in the midst of a gre­at in­fra­struc­tu­re pro­ject that in so­me ways ri­vals tho­se of the past, from Ro­man aque­ducts to the En­ligh­ten­ment’s En­cy­clopédie.[7] The di­gi­tal re­flec­tion of to­day’s per­son is frag­men­ted in­to hund­reds of in­di­vi­du­al parts.[8] Know­ledge on the In­ter­net is dy­na­mic. It is flee­ting. It is vo­la­ti­le. It chan­ges its shape every day. We know litt­le about its sour­ces, the in­te­rests stan­ding be­hind it and its re­lia­bi­li­ty.[9] The re­sult is the grow­th of a cut, co­py and pas­te-cul­tu­re wi­thout true ap­pro­pria­ti­on of the con­tents.[10] In­for­ma­ti­on wants to be free. In­for­ma­ti­on al­so wants to be ex­pen­si­ve. In­for­ma­ti­on wants to be free be­cau­se it has be­co­me so cheap to di­stri­bu­te, co­py, and re­com­bi­ne – too cheap to me­ter. It wants to be ex­pen­si­ve be­cau­se it can be im­me­a­sur­a­b­ly va­luable to the re­ci­pi­ent. That ten­si­on will not go away.[11]

The Smart New World ex­hi­bi­ti­on fo­cu­ses on di­gi­ta­liza­t­i­on – the dis­so­lu­ti­on and trans­for­ma­ti­on of ana­lo­gue in­for­ma­ti­on in­to di­gi­tal codes for the pur­po­se of sto­ring and pro­ces­sing them – and the ra­di­cal­ly fun­da­men­tal chan­ges it has brought about on so­cie­ty. The in­vi­ted ar­tists not on­ly find in­spi­ra­ti­on for their pic­to­ri­al worlds in the ra­pid de­ve­lop­ments ta­king place
in the field of di­gi­tal tech­no­lo­gy, but they above all al­so re­flect upon their cul­tu­ral, so­ci­al, and po­li­ti­cal di­men­si­ons.

Their di­ver­se pie­ces li­ke­wi­se deal per­cep­tive­ly, cri­ti­cal­ly, and hu­mo­rous­ly wi­th the pos­si­bi­li­ties, vi­si­ons and al­so dan­gers of di­gi­ta­liza­t­i­on. In the pro­cess, they ex­ami­ne the ef­fects of eco­no­mic and sta­te cen­sorship, which con­sti­tu­te
an at­tack on de­mocra­tic know­ledge pro­duc­tion and the pri­va­te sphe­re of each and every

in­di­vi­du­al, as well as the im­pact of the In­ter­net on our struc­tu­res of thin­king and knowing. All of the works in the ex­hi­bi­ti­on ha­ve an in­ves­ti­ga­ti­ve po­ten­ti­al in com­mon.

The In­ter­na­tio­nal Necro­nau­ti­cal So­cie­ty (INS), a neo-avant-gar­de,
strin­gent­ly hier­archi­cal­ly or­ga­ni­zed net­work of ar­tists, wri­ters and phi­lo­soph­ers, has de­ve­lo­ped a com­plex ad­mis­si­on pro­ce­du­re for the ex­hi­bi­ti­on. Every vi­si­tor must sign a con­su­mer contract on the ba­sis of the INS’s phi­lo­so­phi­cal doc­tri­ne. Si­gning this de­cla­ra­ti­on, which is ba­sed on the con­di­ti­ons of pre­sent-day di­gi­tal-ca­pi­ta­lism, is ab­so­lu­te­ly re­qui­red in or­der to vi­sit the ex­hi­bi­ti­on.

Chris­toph Faul­ha­ber’s fil­mic ar­tist bio­gra­phy tells among other things about his un­com­for­ta­ble and pro­vo­ca­ti­ve per­for­man­ces wi­th which he de­mons­tra­tes the me­cha­nics of sta­te-run sur­veil­lan­ce ap­pa­ra­tu­ses whi­le it was the ar­tist duo Kor­pys/Löff­ler them­sel­ves, who em­ploy­ed in­tel­li­gence-gat­he­ring me­thods in con­junc­tion wi­th their ob­ser­va­ti­on and do­cu­men­ta­ti­on of the Ger­man In­tel­li­gence Ser­vice’s new Ber­lin head­quar­ters. The films of Omer Fast and San­tia­go Si­er­ra ta­ke very dif­fe­rent but equal­ly ef­fec­tive ap­proa­ches in ex­ami­ning the di­gi­tal­ly-con­trol­led dro­ne mis­si­ons that ha­ve co­me to play a de­fi­ning ro­le in mo­dern war­fa­re. The lar­ge­ly un­known and in­vi­si­ble and yet hu­ge and phy­si­cal­ly tan­gi­b­le com­po­n­ents of the Ame­ri­can mi­li­ta­ry and in­tel­li­gence ser­vices such as buil­dings and sa­tel­li­tes are at the heart of Tre­vor Paglen’s com­pre­hen­si­ve­ly re­se­ar­ched works. Lau­ra Poi­t­ras, who along wi­th Glenn Green­wald was the first per­son to ha­ve had ac­cess to the glo­bal sur­veil­lan­ce and es­pio­na­ge do­cu­ments ma­de avail­able by Ed­ward Snow­den, com­bi­nes film ma­te­ri­al do­cu­men­ting the con­struc­tion
of the NSA sur­veil­lan­ce ware­hou­se in Bluff­da­le, Utah over the cour­se of se­ver­al ye­ars. For his part, the wri­ter Ken­neth Golds­mith ta­kes the uto­pi­an po­ten­ti­al of the In­ter­net se­rious­ly and is ac­tive on be­half of free­dom of in­for­ma­ti­on and edu­ca­tio­nal equa­li­ty by de­cla­ring pri­va­ti­zed in­for­ma­ti­on to be pu­blic pro­per­ty. At the sa­me ti­me he calls at­ten­ti­on to the sheer
in­ex­haus­ti­ble flood of di­gi­tal da­ta that is vir­tual­ly im­pos­si­ble to get un­der con­trol. The ar­tist Ta­ryn Si­mon in turn sub­jects the flood of In­ter­net ima­ges to a con­cep­tu­al in­ter­ven­ti­on which cle­ar­ly shows that se­arch en­gi­nes are ne­ver “neu­tral” and that they de­ter­mi­ne our ima­gi­na­ti­on to a con­s­i­dera­ble extent. Aleksan­dra Do­ma­no­vić li­ke­wi­se re­veals how the key­word-ba­sed
ac­qui­si­ti­on of know­ledge in­flu­en­ces our thought and per­cep­ti­on, and in a per­for­mance ac­com­pa­ny­ing the ex­hi­bi­ti­on Xa­vier Cha trans­la­tes the of­ten com­pul­si­ve use of di­gi­tal me­dia in­to a cho­reo­gra­phy. Ta­bor Ro­bak pres­ents ad­ver­ti­sing’s se­duc­tive stra­te­gies by me­ans of the pos­si­bi­li­ties of di­gi­tal ima­ging. Si­mon Den­ny, fi­nal­ly, turns hard­ware in­to sculp­tu­re in his cont­ri­bu­ti­on to the ex­hi­bi­ti­on, broaching the the­me of the si­gni­fi­can­ce of tech­ni­cal de­ve­lop­ment, com­mu­ni­ca­ti­ons and in­ter­face. His mas­si­ve block of squas­hed te­le­vi­si­on sets and ana­lo­gue te­le­vi­si­on ima­ges on prin­ted can­va­ses crea­te a link bo­th vi­sual­ly and con­ten­tual­ly to the ex­pan­si­ve black box in the entran­ce area in which the INS ar­chi­ves the vi­si­tors’ si­gna­tu­res it collec­ted: This black box is part of a sys­tem that on­ly makes com­mu­ni­ca­ti­ons and the trans­fer of in­for­ma­ti­on pos­si­ble via the in­ter­face, wi­thout ma­king the in­ter­nal pro­ces­ses vi­si­ble.

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