Nervous systems: quantified life and the social question
NERVOUS SYSTEMS: QUANTIFIED LIFE AND THE SOCIAL QUESTION is an exhibition by Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW) in collaboration with the Tactical Technology Collective, co-curated by Stephanie Hankey, Marek Tuszynski and Anselm Franke.
Exhibition: 11 March - 9 May 2016, Haus der Kulturen der Welt
WORKSHOPS AND EVENTS
Photo: © Laura Fiorio/HKW
WHITE ROOM SESSIONS
Every Sat, Sun, Mon, 12:00 - 18:00:
Drop in to Tactical Tech's live installation The White Room to talk to Ingenius Workers about your digital traces and devices or the objects and videos on display; or ask them to guide you through the Alternative App Centre.
Every Saturday and Monday, 14:00 & 16:30:
Mastering your Mobile, Choosing Alternatives, Investigating your Metadata, Digital Security Basics, Taking Control of your Browser, Disrupting your Digital Shadow, De-Googlize your Life, and WTF (What the Facebook)?
About the Nervous Systems Exhibition
Photo: © Laura Fiorio/HKW
Nervous Systems: Quantified Life and the Social Question is an exhibition that asks how the enormous amounts of data captured by billions of sensors from our everyday communications and movements are transforming our behavior, as well as our understanding of self and society.
The exhibition questions the pervasive nervousness that haunts today's systems and data-driven rationalities and ideologies. It asks: Will these systems be able to stabilize themselves, and contain the forces of chaos, disorder, and the unknown, real, or imagined threats? What does 'privacy' mean when it becomes possible to identify someone just as easily from 'anonymous data' as from a fingerprint or identity card? What remains of the world when it is being interpreted for us by machines?
Nervous Systems assembles works by over 25 artists, installed in an architectural 'grid'. A further layer of contributions by media historians and writers illuminate various aspects of today’s 'nervous systems' from both contemporary and historical perspectives. And next to "the grid" is The White Room, a live installation by the Tactical Technology Collective - a practical encounter with our everyday devices; with our digital shadows and data aggregates.
TACTICAL TECH AND THE NERVOUS SYSTEMS EXHIBITION
Haus der Kulturen der Welt displaying the Nervous Systems banner
For the past five years, Tactical Tech has been actively exploring the political questions that arise from living in increasingly data-oriented societies worldwide – from questions of the resulting shrinking free space of civil society, to accumulative disadvantage for marginalised communities.
Building on this work, Nervous Systems gives us the chance to reflect on and challenge the existing narratives around these topics, that otherwise tend to be limited to questions of surveillance and privacy, or fall into simplistic techno-utopic/techno-distopic framings. We believe that in order to reflect on how living in quantified societies will impact political engagement and shift centers of control and power in the future, a broader framework is needed.
In the exhibition, we reflect on the desire we all have as users to access digital technologies that make our lives more convenient and efficient, and the trade-offs this creates with the parasitical nature of the data business model that makes this available to us at low or no cost. We put into question ideologies, ways of seeing and modes of governance that place faith in data as a solution for social problems and for 'developing' societies and communities, and we foreground the dynamics of these new centers of power – the world's new data superpowers and their outsourced allies.
Most importantly, we invite the visitor to explore, to question and - through hands-on sessions in the White Room - make more informed choices.
THIS EXHIBITION HAS BEEN MADE POSSIBLE THANKS TO THE FOLLOWING CONTRIBUTIONS AND COLLABORATIONS:
Trailer created by Tactical Technology Collective Music: Oskar Schuster, Sneeuwland Direction, art direction and animation: Klaas Diersmann
Parts of the following works and artefacts were used (with permission) for this trailer: Malgorzata Gurowska, Heads from the project White; Alphonse Bertillon, Portrait Parle; William E. Burghardt Du Bois, A special Study in Crime, The Philadelphia Negro; Humphrey Jennings / Mass Observation movement, A table recording what is happening on the dance floor & Observations from a dancehall noting the positions of a man’s hand on a woman’s back when dancing; Georges Demeny, Motion Studies - Soldat équipé d'un dynamomètre enregistreur & Locomotion pathologique sur un côté du corps; Timo Arnall, Robot Readable World; Tactical Tech/ K.Diersmann, GPG animation series: Decrypting Encryption; Technopatriots, Thermal Night Operation; Prof. Bo Lenntorp, A time-geographic simulation model of individual activity programs; James Bridle, Citizen X; Prithwijit Guha, Intelligent Traffic Surveillance; Computer Code appearing in the background comes from Tor Browser by Tor Project, and dropkick.sh by Julian Olivier.
Special thanks to the following individuals and organisations: Sunil Abraham, Jacob Appelbaum, Mari Bastashevski, James Bridle, Gui Bonsiepe, Antje Ehmann Vera Franz, Marcin Gajewski, Kristoffer Gansing, Kathy Rae Huffman, Sophie Macpherson, Marian Kaiser, !Mediengruppe Bitnik, Tahani Nadim, NOME Gallery, Nishant Shah, Katarzyna Szymielewicz, Daniel Tirado, Joris van Hoboken, Bits of Freedom, Panoptykon, Privacy International and the Transmediale festival.
Special thanks to co-initiator and White Room producer Diana McCarty.
Particular thanks also go to our funders: Ashoka Deutschland, the Oak Foundation, Omidyar Network, the Open Society Foundations, and the Sigrid Rausing Trust.
And special thanks go to the artists and initiatives participating in the White Room: Jacob Appelbaum & Ai Weiwei, Aram Bartholl, Tega Brain & Surya Mattu, James Bridle, Eric King, Julian Oliver & Danja Vasiliev, Sascha Pohflepp, Veridiana Zurita and contributions by IC Watch, La Loma, Open Data City, Privacy International, Alan Rusbridger, Share Lab, Malte Spitz, the UNHCR, Richard Vilgen, Vooza, and others.
HKW credits and funding can be found here.