The white room
The White Room was a live installation by the Tactical Technology Collective. It formed part of Nervous Systems: Quantified Life and the Social Question, our exhibition in collaboration with the Haus der Kulturen der Welt, which opened March 11 - May 09, 2016.
WHAT IS THE WHITE ROOM?
The White Room was a live installation by the Tactical Technology Collective - an inversion of a major company; a sales and training facility staffed with trained experts. Yet what was 'in store' was not the polished corporate image, but rather a practical encounter with our everyday devices; with our digital shadows and data aggregates. It was a space in which we could learn to de-familiarise ourselves with our familiar technological environment, to look beyond the black mirror and the way it reflects our 'selves'.
The objects, books, artifacts, gadgets and artworks gathered here offered a contemplation on autonomy as a disappearing modus operandi of political action, while eye-opening, hands-on workshops, discussions and demonstrations focused on the devices we use every day: How do they work? What individual data traces do they capture? Where do these go, and what kind of control can one regain?
Photos: © Laura Fiorio / HKW
Explore your devices and digital traces in a hands-on workshop. Topics include Mastering Your Mobile, Choosing Alternatives, Investigating Your Metadata, Digital Security Basics, De-Googlize Your Life, Taking Control of Your Browser (Settings, strategies and add-ons), and Disrupting Your Digital Shadow.
White Room Sessions: drop-in advice
The Bar in the White Room. Photo: Andrea Figari / Tactical Technology Collective
Sat, Sun, Mon, 12:00 - 18:00:
From Sat to Mon, the White Room is staffed and "open for business" . Talk to workers at the Bar about your devices and digital traces, the White Room's Alternative App Centre, objects, and artworks.
The Big Mama table demonstrates the modern state's reinvention of itself as either e-government or digital agency, and how its use of data and collaboration with companies may actually be much more banal and bureaucratic than it seems. Dressed up as care, this looks more like Big Mama ("It's for your own good") than Big Brother. Objects in this display look at how institutional observation, tracking, and pattern recognition are taking hold in areas from national identification and refugee aid, to facial recognition in churches and crowd-sourced disease surveillance.
Normal is Boring
Normal is Boring is a comment on the idea of disruption through technology. On the surface, this is California-meets-cybernetics; underneath, it is business: startups are no longer the product of hobbyists and geeks, but have become the designs of marketing departments, Washington D.C. migrants, and Wall Street analysts. What used to be cool 'Un-Companies' are now some of the biggest companies in the world, having rapidly accumulated vast amounts of power, knowledge, and wealth. From tech oligarchs creating fertility chips for women in developing countries, to the path of the Google Empire ("One Account, All of Google"), the Normal is Boring display re-creates this world in miniature, as if to give the visitor a top-down view.
The “Bar Workers”
On Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays, The Bar is staffed by workers who can lead visitors through an interactive exploration of the devices and interfaces we use every day. Through hands-on workshops, demos and discussions, the Bar workers help visitors to ask how digital devices work, what individual data traces they capture, and what this means. Workers can also take visitors through an alternative “App Center” to learn about tools that can offer them better understanding, and more control, of their data and their devices. The workers are not there to assist with sales or fixes, but rather to offer reflection and pause, experimentation and play.