WHEN FACTS DON'T MATTER
It’s the last chance to see the current exhibition at St Carthage Hall, When Facts Don’t Matter, which closes this Sunday 8 July.
Gallery artist Alan Butler joins Constant Dullaart, Eva & Franco Mattes, Trevor Paglen & Suzanne Treister at Lismore Castle Arts' presentation of When Facts Don't Matter, a group exhibition exploring how artists are responding to internet surveillance and data capture.
The exhibition looks at various aspects of online data capture – highlighted in recent times by Facebook data controversies, we are now more aware than ever of how our personal data can be shared, used, manipulated or deleted. We have assumed in the past that our subscription to social media platforms, or indeed any other form of data capture online, from banking to shopping, means companies will respect our rights to privacy or secrecy, however this is becoming less certain as news stories gather of data compromises.
In his book Psycho-politics: Neoliberalism and New Technologies of Power, Byung-Chul Han writes: Today, we are entering the age of digital psychopolitics. It means passing from passive surveillance to active steering. As such, it is precipitating a further crisis of freedom: now, free will is at stake. Big Data is a highly efficient psychopolitical instrument that makes it possible to achieve comprehensive knowledge of the dynamics of social communication. This knowledge is knowledge for the sake of domination and control…. For human beings to be able to act freely, the future must be open. However, Big Data is making it possible to predict human behavior. This means the future is becoming calculable and controllable.
The exhibition seeks to ask what takes place online and what is the nature of the exchange between the user and the other side of the screen – and in the process looks to the bigger picture – who controls data, who controls information, and ultimately, who controls the digital versions of ourselves. Are we offering up our own autonomy in the new virtual world we inhabit, and are we enslaving ourselves in a neo-liberal virtual reality?
Alan Butler (born 1981) conceptually reflects and refracts the inner-workings of the internet, the implications of new media technology, and the politics of appropriation. Butler’s work is such that you are made to question your grasp of the world around you, itself in the grip of systems of knowledge and coding that is never far away from the override or delete button. For Lismore Castle Arts, he will show Surprise Party Breath, the collection of the contents of Tamerlan Tsarnaev's Amazon.com Wish-list, the elder of the Boston bombers. A seemingly benign stack of books that were ‘curated’ through the online browsing habits of Tsarnaev, meditating upon the relationships between the corporate web and surveillance.
Constant Dullaart (born 1979) is a Dutch conceptual artist whose work is deeply connected to the Internet. He is known for his work series Jennifer in Paradise, which seeks to expose the technological structures that inform modern visual culture. He is also known for distributing 2.5 million bought Instagram followers amongst a personal selection of active art-world Instagram accounts. He was awarded the Prix Net Art in 2015. For Lismore Dullaart will show one of his sim card works, a work referencing minimalist modern artwork made up of sim cards originally used to create fake accounts on social media.
EVA & FRANCO MATTES
Eva and Franco Mattes (both born 1976) are a duo of artists based in New York City. Since meeting in Berlin in 1994, they have never separated. Operating under the pseudonym 0100101110101101.org, they are counted among the pioneers of the Net Art movement and are renowned for their subversion of public media. They produce art involving the ethical and political issues arising from the inception of the Internet. For Lismore they will show Dark Content (2015), A series of video installations about internet content moderators. Contrary to popular belief, the removal of offensive material from the Internet is not carried out by sophisticated algorithms. It is the nerve-wracking, demanding job of thousands of anonymous human beings: people disguised as algorithms.
Trevor Paglen (born 1974) is an artist whose work spans image-making, sculpture, investigative journalism, writing, engineering, and numerous other disciplines. Among his chief concerns are learning how to see the historical moment we live in and developing the means to imagine alternative futures. At St Carthage Hall, Paglen displays two key photographs – Keyhole Improved Crystal from Glacier Point (Optical Reconnaissance Satellite; USA 186), 2008, which documents satellites circulating the earth’s orbit, while They Watch the Moon, 2010, which depicts. A classified ‘listening station’ in. West Virginia. The listening station, which forms part of the global ECHELON system, was designed in part to take advantage of a phenomenon called “moonbounce.” Moonbounce involves capturing communications and telemetry signals from around the world as they escape into space, hit the moon, and are reflected back towards Earth.
Suzanne Treister (born 1958) is a British artist based in London, where she studied at Saint Martin's School of Art (1978-1981) and Chelsea College of Art and Design (1981-1982). Treister will display a selection of 18 prints from the series Hexen 2.0 Tarot, alchemical drawings depicting interconnected histories of the computer and the Internet, cybernetics and the counterculture, science-fiction and scientific projections of the future, government and military research programmes, social engineering and ideas of the control society; alongside diverse philosophical, literary and political responses to the advance of technology including the claims of anarchoprimitivism, technogaianism, and transhumanism. Through representing and re-examining these subjects and histories through the lens of occult belief systems and ideas of the supernatural, the 'HEXEN 2.0 Tarot' takes us to a hypnotic, mesmerising space from where one may imagine and construct possible alternative futures. Acknowledging precedents such as the traditional tarot deck, The Rider-Waite Tarot Deck and Aleister Crowley's Thoth Tarot Deck, Suzanne Treister has here produced a new Tarot.