The Servile Mass Society

Silvio Lorusso

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In this essay, initially published in Italian by NERO, the Rotterdam based writer, artist and designer Silvio Lorusso, discusses his idea of the “delegation society”, which he briefly outlined in his book Entreprecariat: Everyone Is an Entrepreneur. Nobody Is Safe (2018). The delegation society is no longer divided into Marxian classes but is instead formed into a new pyramidal order. At the top sits the professional élite who delegate reproductive work to the lower levels in order to gain time and be able to work more; at the bottom lies the highly fragmented servant class. In the middle an unstable professional class struggles to become a part of the élite, alternating in their work between professionals and servants. The micro-élite at the top legitimize themselves and the delegation system through telling a story that transforms servants into entrepreneurs, exactly what the gig economy platforms do.

Colophon

Silvio Lorusso: The Servile Mass Society*
PostScriptUM #36
Series edited by Janez Fakin Janša
Publisher: Aksioma – Institute for Contemporary Art, Ljubljana
Represented by: Marcela Okretič
Translation: Isobel Butters
Proofreading: Sunčan Stone
Design: Luka Umek
Layout: Sonja Grdina
Cover: Akoi 1 / Not
(c) Aksioma | All text and image rights reserved by the author | Ljubljana 2021
Printed and distributed by: Lulu.com
Published in the framework of Hyperemployment – Post-work, Online Labour and Automation
Supported by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia and
the Municipality of Ljubljana.
*Originally published in: Lorusso, S, “La società servile di massa”, Not, 8 February 2020, https://not.neroeditions.com/la-societa-servile-massa/.

Related event: Hyperemployment

(re)programming: Energy

Holly Jean Buck, Marta Peirano

Unfixed Infrastructures and Rabbit Holes

Mario Santamaría
Mario Santamaría
Unfixed Infrastructures and Rabbit Holes

Exhibition
15 April – 7 May 2021

Aksioma | Project Space, Ljubljana


A deer is wandering through a data center. The beast looks scared of the sound he makes by walking on the technical floor, of the cables scattered around, of the flashing lights of the server. How did it get there, under those artificial lights, in that space that is supposed to be hermetically isolated from the outside? The low res footage, probably recorded by a security camera, gives the touch of reality to this otherwise magical and unreal picture of a living being sifting through flows of data. 

Shown on a vertical screen, the video is the centerpiece of Unfixed Infrastructures and Rabbit Holes (2020), a multimedia installation by Spanish artist Mario Santamaría. Traditionally, rabbit holes are perceived as a backdoor between two different dimensions: it’s through a rabbit hole that Alice gets her first access to the wonderland. Yet, is networked space really different from physical space? Does it lack any materiality? Does it rely on a different notion of space and time? Since 2010, Santamaría has been investigating the physical manifestations of data and information, and questioning the metaphor of the cloud that, before becoming “common faith”, has been widely used by anybody who registered a patent concerning the internet and whatever networked device, as demonstrated in the work Cloudplexity (2019), a collection of Internet representations extracted from the U.S. Patent database. In 2016, Santamaría “tracerouted” the data of his website to follow their movement from his server (located in Bergamo, Italy) to his own computer screen; then he followed this path, traveling from Barcelona to Bergamo through Switzerland, Stockholm, Milan and Perugia. It took 14 days for him to do the same journey that data performs in 50 milliseconds: an absurd, illogical journey if we look at it in human terms, as it’s far from being linear, but that visualizes the infrastructure along which data is moving. With a similar intention, since 2018 Santamaría has been organizing “Internet Tours” in various places, bringing groups of people around a city in search of the nodes of the local network. 

In Unfixed Infrastructures and Rabbit Holes (2020), the floor of the exhibition space is partially covered by a technical floor, normally used to hide cables in data centers. Wired black tubes scattered around the floor form an artist designed router, generating an open network identified with the icon 🕳. The “rabbit hole” network has been programmed to send the signal to different geographical locations before arriving at the exhibition spot, seeking the maximum possible route allowed by network protocols,  thus accumulating a certain amount of delay that becomes visible through another video work: two screens (one connected to the gallery wifi, the other to the “rabbit hole” network) displaying the live feed of a Foucault pendulum. Through an explicit reference to Felix Gonzalez-Torres’ Perfect Lovers (1991), the work manifests the materiality of digital time, usually unnoticed as data seems to travel in no time. 

Allowing us to look through the “consensual hallucination” (William Gibson) of the cloud (formerly known as cyberspace), these three main installation elements (the partially installed technical floor, the deer in the data center and the imperfect lovers) help us to become aware of the physical, corporeal relationship we have with certain infrastructures, supposedly fixed and invisible, but that can be easily re-engineered.

THE AUTHOR
Roberto Ruiz

Mario Santamaría (Spain, 1985) works across a wide range of media, frequently using photography, video, performance, websites and online interventions. His research focuses on the phenomenon of the contemporary observer, paying attention to both the representations of the world and the devices of vision and mediation. His work includes topics such as digitization, networks, infrastructures, body and algorithms. His work has been shown at MACBA and Fundació Antoni Tàpies in Barcelona, ZKM Karlsruhe, WKV Stuttgart, Edith-Russ-Haus Oldenburg, CENART Mexico, Arebyte London, Münchner Stadtmuseum, Das Weisse Haus Vienna, and in the Biennials of Thessaloniki, Havana and Lyon among others. He was also finalist in the Post-Photography Prototyping Prize of the Fotomuseum Winterthur and included in Watched! Surveillance, Art and Photography by the Hasselblad Foundation.


CREDITS

Author: Mario Santamaría

Production of the exhibition:
Aksioma – Institute for Contemporary Art, Ljubljana, 2021

Supported by:
Acción Cultural Española (AC/E) through the Programme for the Internationalisation of Spanish Culture (PICE) in the framework of the Mobility grants; the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia and the Municipality of Ljubljana.

(re)programming: Infrastructure

Benjamin Bratton, Marta Peirano

Hacked Meditation

Tamara Lašič Jurković
Tamara Lašič Jurković
Hacked Meditation

Exhibition
10 March – 2 April 2021

Aksioma | Project Space, Ljubljana

Part of U30+ production programme for supporting young artists


In recent years, taking care of ourselves has become a norm for presenting ourselves as responsible, exemplary individuals in contemporary society. As a result, meditation has become a recipe, not only for overcoming all types of mental distress but also for achieving harmony in our relationships. New age meditation represents a key to a perfectly balanced life, as it suggests that we are responsible for our own happiness and that it depends only on how we perceive ourselves and the surrounding world. It shows us how to calm down and disregard all the unpleasant thoughts running through our mind. With every breath, we take in positive energy, and with every exhale, we get rid of negative emotions such as feelings of anger, stress, tension, dissatisfaction, sadness and despair. But in this way, we also suppress what enables us to question the state of things. In her book Izbira (Choice), Renata Salecl writes: “In today’s crisis and uncertain times, the ideology of positive thinking plays a key role in concealing the need to rethink the nature of social inequality and search for alternatives to the way developed by capitalism. When individuals start to believe that they are masters of their own fate and when positive thinking is available as a panacea for all the misery they suffer due to social inequality, social criticism is increasingly more replaced by self-criticism.” [1]

Hacked Meditation works the opposite way by disrupting our notion of the self and undermining our anthropocentric belief about the exclusivity of the human being. Hacked Meditation is a guided meditation that encourages the meditator to think about what is (not) the meaning of being human if we are to acknowledge all the organisms that coexist with us. Scientifically speaking, a human being consists of 44% human cells and 56% non-human cells. Therefore, when we are thinking about ourselves, we are actually thinking about various other species which comprise an inseparable part of us.

Hacked Meditation helps us understand how dependent we are on natural systems and other biotic organisms. It makes us realize we are involved in the web of life – not the other way in which neoliberalism convinces us as being situated at the very top of the pyramid of life and entitled to exploit natural resources and pollute the environment to any end. Just like traditional meditation, Hacked Meditation encourages self-awareness on two levels: the body and spirit – but with a key difference: it opens a pluralistic view on both and in this way sparks a different attitude towards the world and our place in it. As Robert N. Watson says: “To understand life as – like Shakespeare’s last plays – a series of tragicomedies of separation and reunion, rather than a doomed struggle of the human self towards its own immortality, is a giant step toward an ecological sensibility.” [2]

The project is set as an immersive audio installation which intentionally avoids visual representation of its content, since it talks about microbial life invisible to the human eye and the hidden relations of power. The experience intends to spur contemplation and imagination as well as question prevailing beliefs and ideas, all of which are components that exist in our minds and are most easily accessible when we close our eyes and think.

[1] Salecl, R, Izbira, Cankarjeva založba, Ljubljana, 2010.

[2] Watson, R. N, Renaissance selfhood and Shakespeare’s comedy of the common, The Routledge Companion to the Environmental Humanities, Routledge, 2017.

THE AUTHOR
Julia Karczewska

Tamara Lašič Jurković  (1994) obtained her master’s degree in industrial design in 2020 from the Academy of Fine Arts and Design, University in Ljubljana. In her work, she focuses on environmental and social problems of the 21st century and the role of design in their consideration. She seeks solutions in product, service, systemic and speculative design with an emphasis on co-creation, participation, open source and accessibility for the empowerment of individuals and communities. In the 2018/19 academic year, she took part in a student exchange program at the Academy of Design and Crafts in Gothenburg, where she began researching the theory of posthumanism in the context of design. As a co-curator, she participated in the conception of the exhibition Thinking the Conditions of Our Time, which was presented in 2019 at the 22nd Milan Triennial.


CREDITS

Author: Tamara Lašič Jurković
Mentors: Thomas Laurien (HDK-Valand, University of Gothenburg), Janez Janša
Sound editor: Julij Zornik

Production:
Aksioma – Institute for Contemporary Art, Ljubljana, 2021

Technical support:
Zavod Projekt Atol

Supported by:
the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia and the Municipality of Ljubljana

Sponsors:
e-Bralec and partners Alpineon, Amebis, Institut Jožef Stefan

Softshell Creeper

Andrej Škufca
Andrej Škufca
Softshell Creeper

Exhibition
10 February – 5 March 2021

Aksioma | Project Space, Ljubljana

Curated by
Christina Gigliotti 

Part of U30+ production programme for supporting young artists


Hey, hey, hey, listen! In order for this to work, I’m going to need your full attention. You see, you’ve fallen down right in the middle of a petri dish. You’re a human microbe. No one can see or hear you anymore, not up there anyways. I’m gonna try and help you get out without getting hurt, but I need you to cooperate. Who am I? I’m a resident here. The resident pink flamingo, serpulid worm, animal, vegetable, mineral. This happens quite a lot, actually. You know, visitors falling into the jelly forest. Most of them die, but you look pretty agile, I think you might just have a chance. Did you come to this lab on a school trip or something? Anyways, you’re lucky you fell into a rather new experiment. The bacteria are just starting to grow on this sample, so they’re slow and clumsy. They aren’t even a real colony yet! I’m not sure what kind of bacteria they are, but if I were you, I wouldn’t stick around too long to find out. No matter what they turn out to be, they’re usually hungry.

Take a minute to get your bearings. Did you notice how soft everything is? That’s because we are in a constant state of transformation. Hardened formations only limit us. It is the pliable, squishy goop that encourages life and activity. Some might call it sentience, even. Did you notice its breath? It, here, us, me. We’re breathing – not the way you do, of course. The jelly absorbs everything. If you don’t keep moving, it will absorb you too. Keep walking, don’t touch anything for too long or you’ll get pulled in and become a part of it. Unless that’s what you want.

If Jerry Seinfeld were a bacteria he, might say, ‘What’s the deal with rugged individualism?’ It doesn’t really exist, you know. Humans are so weird.

I’ll get you out, even though I think you should give in. You just have to follow the sound of my voice.


The exhibition Softshell Creeper presents itself as an ever-expanding, over saturated territory of plush capriciousness. The canopy of a hype-stormed alien creep fills the exhibition space with a brightly colored series of a morphing, non-clickable infrastructure that harbors a parallel agency, composed of strike zones and attacks. Inside this reality, which is “more landscape than artifact”, artificial and organic forms blur, as the viewer navigates the uneven, volatile terrain. Making reference to the specific narrative structure of video games and their oft-times gradual unfolding of information, the exhibition explores how this knowledge is propagated and established within these realms. In physically processing any unknown context, there is a heightened sense of fear and instability that comes with the necessity of making instant judgments and decisions. Whether or not the ambiguous, approaching Softshell Creeper is friend or foe, remains uncertain.

THE AUTHOR
Domen Pal

Andrej Škufca studied fine arts both in The Hague (KABK) and Ljubljana (ALUO) and graduated in 2014. His solo shows include: Black Market, The International Center of Graphic Arts, Ljubljana, 2020;  Zero Hedge, Karlin Studios, FUTURA, Prague, 2019;  Xenomorphic Objects, DUM Project Space Ljubljana, 2017; Indifferences, Aksioma | Project Space, Ljubljana, 2016. Alongside his artistic practice he is also a founder and member of the editorial board at Šum journal for contemporary art criticism and theory in Ljubljana.


THE CURATOR

Christina Gigliotti is an American independent curator and writer living in Berlin. She is the assistant to the director and artist liaison at Kraupa-Tuskany Zeidler. She also co-curates the programs for Polansky Gallery in Prague and Brno. Since 2015, she has curated over 55 exhibition projects throughout Europe and abroad, and has been published in a number of publications including magazines, artist books, and catalogues.

CREDITS

Author: Andrej Škufca
Curator: Christina Gigliotti

Specialised production: Nika Batista
Studio: Živa Božičnik Rebec, Maks Bricelj, Neja Zorzut, Ema Maznik Antić
Promo design: Liara T’Soni

Production:
Aksioma – Institute for Contemporary Art, Ljubljana, 2021

Supported by:
the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia and the Municipality of Ljubljana

Offshoring and Other Magic Tricks of Global Finance: An Interview with RYBN

Nika Mahnič

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At the 8th edition of the MoneyLab conference, hosted by Aksioma – Institute for Contemporary Art, Nika Mahnič interviewed RYBN about their work as a part of the Tax havens: Normalized Grand Theft panel. RYBN is an artist collective formed in 1999 that has, over the past years, researched the economy and the global financial system in their contemporary manifestations, thus offering a privileged vantage point from which one can view the transformations brought about by cybernetics. In this interview, they delve into their background, their achievements in databasing, the golden passport phenomenon and why offshoring was and remains a powerful tool of colonial and illiberal dispositions. They often use their art projects to shine some light on the dark side of global finance and show how the neo-illiberal class is successfully working at normalizing and legitimizing it.

Colophon

Nika Mahnič: Offshoring and Other Magic Tricks of Global Finance: An Interview with RYBN*
PostScriptUM #35
Series edited by Janez Fakin Janša
Publisher: Aksioma – Institute for Contemporary Art, Ljubljana
Represented by: Marcela Okretič
Proofreading: Sunčan Stone
Design: Luka Umek
Layout: Sonja Grdina
Cover: A data visualisation of all of the nations implicated in the offshoring accounts disclosed by the Panama Papers, and their relations to one another.
(c) Aksioma | All text and image rights reserved by the author | Ljubljana 2021
Printed and distributed by: Lulu.com
Supported by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia and the Municipality of Ljubljana.
*Originally published in: Nika Mahnič, Max Gorynski, “Offshoring and Other Magic Tricks of Global Finance: An Interview with RYBN”, Medium, June 2020, https://medium.com/wonk-bridge/offshoring-and-other-magic-tricks-of-global-finance-an-interview-with-rybn-56def933d625.
On the occasion of MoneyLab #8 – Minting a Fair Society

Related event: Tax Havens: Normalized Grand Theft

(re)programming: Trigger

Kim Stanley Robinson, Marta Peirano

Tactics & Practice #10: (re)programming

The Proposal

Jill Magid, Régine Debatty

Streaming
Monday, 11 January 2021 at 5 pm (CET)
aksioma.org/streaming

The Proposal is a thriller, a lopsided romance and a documentary that investigates copyright law and in particular the fate of cultural works that fall into private ownership and become commodities. 

In her film, artist Jill Magid interrogates the oversight of creators’ legacies through the case of Mexican architect Luis Barragán, whose professional archive was purchased by a Swiss furniture company after his death. The foundation established to oversee his papers controls the rights to the architect’s work, including the rights to any photographs of his buildings. After long epistolary exchanges with the owner of the archives, Magid will propose a deal to her: free the archives in exchange for a diamond ring grown from the ashes of Barragán.  

Though unconventional, the offer raises a number of important questions: What is capitalism’s relationship to art and legacy? Who or what is the law protecting when it allows for the privatisation of culture? How can art be a methodology through which challenging issues are dissected? 

Jill Magid participated in a streaming conversation with blogger Régine Debatty. The event featured exclusive clips from the documentary.

Special guests: Alenka Pirman, Maja Bogataj Jančič, Matevž Čelik

Related event: The Proposal (movie)

The Proposal (movie)

Jill Magid
The Proposal
A film by Jill Magid

Video on Demand (Slovenia only)
8–15 January 2021
cinesquare.net

Ticket: 3 €

*Language: English with Slovenian subtitles

In the framework of Akcija!, a cycle of screening events


Known as “the artist among architects,” Luis Barragán is among the world’s most celebrated architects of the 20th century. After his death in 1988, his professional archive was bought by a Swiss furniture company in its entirety, and hid from the public eye. In an attempt to resurrect Barragán’s life and art, boundary redefining conceptual artist Jill Magid creates a daring proposition that becomes a fascinating artwork in itself — a high-wire act of negotiation that explores how far an artist will go to democratize access to art.


Director: Jill Magid
Producers: Jarred Alterman, Charlotte Cook, Laura Coxson
Executive Producer: Laura Poitras
Editor: Hannah Buck
DOP: Jarred Alterman
Original Music: T. Griffin
Associate Producer: Pamela Echeverria

Length: 83 min
Language: English with Slovenian subtitles

RELATED EVENT

Live streaming interview
Monday, 11 January 2021 at 5 pm (CET)
aksioma.org/streaming

What is capitalism’s relationship to art and legacy? Who or what is the law protecting when it allows for the privatisation of culture? How can art be a methodology through which challenging issues are dissected?

The writer, curator, critic, and founder of we-make-money-not-art.com Régine Debatty meets the conceptual artist, writer, and filmmaker Jill Magid to discuss with her the many issues her film The Proposal raises.


FILMMAKER

American artist and writer Jill Magid’s work is deeply ingrained in her lived experience, exploring and blurring the boundaries between art and life. Through her performance-based practice, Magid has initiated intimate relations with a number of organizations and structures of authority. She explores the emotional, philosophical and legal tensions between the individual and ‘protective’ institutions, such as intelligence agencies or the police. To work alongside or within large organizations, Magid makes use of institutional quirks, systemic loopholes that allow her to make contact with people ‘on the inside’. Her work tends to be characterized by the dynamics of seduction, the resulting narratives often taking the form of a love story. It is typical of Magid’s practice that she follows the rules of engagement with an institution to the letter – sometimes to the point of absurdity.

With solo exhibitions at institutions around the world including MUAC, Mexico City: Tate Modern, London; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Berkeley Museum of Art, California; Tate Liverpool; the Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam; Yvon Lambert, Paris and New York; Gagosian Gallery, New York; and the Security and Intelligence Agency of the Netherlands, Magid has received awards from the Fonds Voor Beeldende Kunsten, the Netherland-American Foundation Fellowship Fulbright Grant, and most recently the 2017 Calder Prize. Magid has participated in Manifesta, the Liverpool, Bucharest, Singapore, Incheon, Gothenburg, Oslo and Performa Biennials. She is an Associate of the Art, Design and the Public Domain program at the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University, and was a 2013-15 fellow at the Vera List Center for Art and Politics. An adjunct teacher at Cooper Union, Magid is the author of four novellas. Her work is included in the collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, Fundacion Jumex, and the Walker Art Center, among others.

CREDITS

Production of the event:
Aksioma – Institute for Contemporary Art, Ljubljana, 2021
in collaboration with the Center for Urban Culture Kino Šiška

Film screening and the online conversation will take place as pre-events in the framework of Open Knowledge Day, organized by the Intellectual Property Institute and Today is a New Day. #openknowledgeday

Supported by:
the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia and the Municipality of Ljubljana

The Return of the Dead Author

Aude Launay

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In her most recent research project – which culminated in the exhibition Uncertainty-in-the-Loop (2020) – the Slovenian artist Sanela Jahić presented a further stage of her multiyear project. She converted her labour as an artist – her work, research and interests of the past 14 years – into data. The dataset was elaborated by a predictive algorithm that predicted her next artwork.
The independent art theoretician and curator Aude Launay placed Jahić’s work amongst works that question the concept of authorship, as she questions whether the predictive algorithms used by her can be considered to be the author of the new artworks. Since they proceed from the past, predictive algorithms can be related to the figure of the aoidos, the classical Greek oral epic poet who both repeated the song as well as invented it while singing. On the deeper side, the issue focuses on the definition of what is authored: what makes something the product of a specific authorship process?

Colophon

Aude Launay: The Return of the Dead Author
PostScriptUM #34
Series edited by Janez Janša
Language: English
Publisher: Aksioma – Institute for Contemporary Art, Ljubljana
Represented by: Marcela Okretič
Proofreading: Sunčan Stone
Design: Luka Umek
Layout: Sonja Grdina
(c) Aksioma | All text and image rights reserved by the author | Ljubljana 2020
Printed and distributed by: Lulu.com | www.lulu.com
Realised within the framework of the Hyperemployment – Post-work, Online Labour and Automation programme, supported by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia and the Municipality of Ljubljana, and within the Dopolavoro flagship of the Rijeka 2020 – European Capital of Culture project, led by Drugo More and supported by the City of Rijeka – Department of Culture and the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Croatia.

Related event: Uncertainty-in-the-Loop

Flagged for Political Speech

!Mediengruppe Bitnik
!Mediengruppe Bitnik
Flagged for Political Speech

Exhibition
6 January – 4 February 2021
Aksioma | Project Space, Ljubljana

Part of the programme
Hyperemployment – Post-work, Online Labour and Automation


What do algorithms see when they look at your social media profile? Are you a good provider of content? And what exactly is good? What does the algorithmic view on your social media profiles say about you?

Analyses of social media profiles are employed in an increasing number of real-world transactions. From border control to job applications, social media profiles are used to assess the threat-levels of a candidate and verify their suitability to enter a country or organisaton.

Many of these social media checks are done automatically by algorithmic entities. How and what do these algorithms assess exactly? And what do their assessments look like?

To find out, !Mediengruppe Bitnik used Ferretly, an automated online service used by Human Resources Professionals to evaluate candidates’ social media profiles. Ferretly uses algorithms trained on keywords and image recognition to sift through 7 years of social media history. The service evaluates candidates publically available social media posts on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, analyzing original posts, reposts, replies, and likes. Additionally, Ferretly will assess any news items they can find.

With their service, Ferretly promises to reduce the risk of letting a person displaying toxic behaviour into your organisation or country. Toxic behaviour is defined in 11 risk categories, from hate speech, political extremism, drug-related content to explicit images and toxic language. The publicly available posts are also used to look at the sub-text of each post: the candidate’s attitude towards the event or situation they are posting about is rated as positive, negative or neutral. Each candidate is judged according to these per-defined flags and sentiment points and given a social media score which rates them as fit or unfit for entry.

!Mediengruppe Bitnik ran the social media profiles of the leaders of each of the 27 EU member states through the service. Bitnik then interpreted the results of the analysis and used this as the basis to devise a customized sweatshirt for each of the 27 profiles. 

Each shirt shows Bitnik’s interpretation and visualization of the Ferretly ratings. Besides their social media scores for different parameters, each of the shirts publicly displays a number of flagged posts which were rated by Ferretly as toxic and the reason for this rating. Depending on the report, the shirts contain more or less data. Usually more posts and data meant a worse social media rating by Ferretly.

Like the clothes we wear, our social media profiles have become the carrier of our identities. These online identities are used more and more by the gatekeepers of institutions, countries and organisations to verify that we are worthy of access.

AUTHORS
Janez Janša

!Mediengruppe Bitnik (Carmen Weisskopf and Domagoj Smoljo) live and work in Berlin. Contemporary artists working on and with the internet, their practice expands from the digital to affect physical spaces, often intentionally applying loss of control to challenge established structures and mechanisms. !Mediengruppe Bitnik’s work has been the subject of solo exhibitions at leading international institutions, most recently at Centre Culturel Suisse, Paris; Haus of Electronic Arts, Basel; and Helmhouse, Zurich. Group exhibitions have included Kunsthaus, Zurich; Łódź Art Center; Fondazione Prada, Milan; Kunsthalle, Düsseldorf; and the Shanghai Minsheng 21st Century Museum. They have received numerous awards, among them, the Swiss Art Award, Migros New Media Jubilee Award and an Honorary Mention Prix Ars Electronica.


CREDITS

Authors: !Mediengruppe Bitnik

Production of the exhibition:
Aksioma – Institute for Contemporary Art, Ljubljana and Drugo more, Rijeka, 2021

Supported by:
the Municipality of Ljubljana and the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia.

Realized in the framework of the Dopolavoro flagship of the Rijeka 2020 – European Capital of Culture project, with support from the City of Rijeka – Department of Culture and the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Croatia.

RELATED EVENTS

!Mediengruppe Bitnik
Tracking, Networks and Data
Workshop

10 – 11 December 2020
Online / Ljubljana

!Mediengruppe Bitnik
Decisions Decisions Decisions
Exhibition

3 – 24 December 2020
Aksioma | Project Space, Ljubljana

3 December 2020 – 15 January 2020
Delta Lab, Rijeka (HR)

!Mediengruppe Bitnik, Felix Stalder
#algoregimes
Streaming
7 December 2020
aksioma.org/streaming

Decisions Decisions Decisions

!Mediengruppe Bitnik
!Mediengruppe Bitnik
Decisions Decisions Decisions

Exhibition
3 – 24 December 2020
Aksioma | Project Space, Ljubljana

3 December 2020 – 15 January 2021
Delta Lab, Rijeka

Part of the programme
Hyperemployment – Post-work, Online Labour and Automation


The work DECISIONS DECISIONS DECISIONS seeks out the imperfections in the logistic systems in which nowadays computers calculate nearly all necessary decisions. To do so, 27 packages were shipped out from Berlin via the logistics services provider DHL. Each package was, however, given two delivery addresses: one for Aksioma in Ljubljana and one for Drugo More in Rijeka. One address on each side of the parcel.

The resulting installation at the two exhibition spaces is formed from the letters that randomly arrive at each location, leaving the authorship of work as much to the artists as the postal machines.

Before reaching their final destinations, many of the parcels travel back and forth between different postal facilities. Depending on which side is scanned, they change directions multiple times. A TV screen in the gallery shows the recordings of the movements for each parcel, documenting the surrealist journey of the piece.

The now-empty boxes are presented in the gallery as the remaining envelope of the work and skeletons of the process.

The work experiments with forcing a decision-making process on the postal system which does not usually decide – only routes. The work reinterprets The Postman’s Choice by Ben Vautier from the year 1965 in which a postal worker decides where a postcard that has two delivery addresses is finally to be sent. As it was back then, the standard rule in digital shipping operations is that for every shipping unit there must be one sender and one clear recipient. In today’s fully automated logistics systems, it is no longer the postman’s choice, but rather a question of which side of a parcel is “up” for the automated scanning process to read. The logistics system works mechanically by means of barcodes, scanners and programmed directives. Until the human supervisor spots and corrects the anomaly of the undecided recipient.

AUTHORS
Janez Janša

!Mediengruppe Bitnik (Carmen Weisskopf and Domagoj Smoljo) live and work in Berlin. Contemporary artists working on and with the internet, their practice expands from the digital to affect physical spaces, often intentionally applying loss of control to challenge established structures and mechanisms. !Mediengruppe Bitnik’s work has been the subject of solo exhibitions at leading international institutions, most recently at Centre Culturel Suisse, Paris; Haus of Electronic Arts, Basel; and Helmhouse, Zurich. Group exhibitions have included Kunsthaus, Zurich; Łódź Art Center; Fondazione Prada, Milan; Kunsthalle, Düsseldorf; and the Shanghai Minsheng 21st Century Museum. They have received numerous awards, among them, the Swiss Art Award, Migros New Media Jubilee Award and an Honorary Mention Prix Ars Electronica.


CREDITS

Authors: !Mediengruppe Bitnik

Production of the exhibition:
Aksioma – Institute for Contemporary Art, Ljubljana and Drugo more, Rijeka, 2020

Supported by:
the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia, the Municipality of Ljubljana and the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia.

Realized in the framework of the Dopolavoro flagship of the Rijeka 2020 – European Capital of Culture project, with support from the City of Rijeka – Department of Culture and the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Croatia.

RELATED EVENTS

!Mediengruppe Bitnik
Tracking, Networks and Data
Workshop

10 – 11 December 2020
Online / Ljubljana

!Mediengruppe Bitnik
Flagged for Political Speech
Exhibition

6 – 22 January 2021
Aksioma | Project Space, Ljubljana

#algoregimes

!Mediengruppe Bitnik, Felix Stalder

Streaming
Monday, 7 December 2020 at 5 pm (CET)
aksioma.org/streaming

In November 2019, Aksioma started a one-year program of events entitled Hyperemployment – Post-work, Online Labor and Automation curated by Domenico Quaranta and Janez Janša. Now we are ready to wrap up this experience with a publication that bears the same title featuring words by Domenico Quaranta, Luciana Parisi, Silvio Lorusso, !Mediengruppe Bitnik and Felix Stalder, and the works of all the artists who were part of the program. 

With many decision systems within our societies moving towards automation they are becoming increasingly data-driven. Algorithms are assigned a central role within these systems to make the decisions based on numbers. This evolving landscape of decision-making is hard to disentangle because many parts – the data sources, the algorithms, the processes – are deliberately kept secret and opaque. How can aesthetic practices help gain insights into these systems? And what could we do with this insight?

The streaming event is an informal conversation between !Mediengruppe Bitnik and Felix Stalder on topics such as the invisibility of institutional processes, the functioning of infrastructures and logistics, and freedom and control in the data economy. 

#algoregimes is also the title of the conversation between! Mediengruppe Bitnik and Felix Stalder in Hyperemployment – Post-work, Online Labor and Automation, the reader edited by Domenico Quaranta and Janez Janša published by NERO Editions and Aksioma. Here you can find the full and free version of the conversation.

Tracking, Networks and Data

!Mediengruppe Bitnik
!Mediengruppe Bitnik
Tracking, Networks and Data

Electronic Civil Disobedience Workshop
10 and 11 December 2020

Online / Ljubljana

Registration deadline
TUE, 8 December 2020

Language: English
Max. number of participants: 15

In the framework of konS – Platform for Contemporary Investigative Art


With their exploration of logistics infrastructures, !Mediengruppe Bitnik provides insights into systems that usually work invisibly. From the investigation of algorithms that evaluate our social media profiles in their work Flagged for Political Speech to interference with the greatly automated mail system in Decisions Decisions Decisions the artistic duo observes the anatomy of these fully optimized automated systems that assist our daily lives and reveals their gaps and flaws.

Now it’s time for you to join the workshop with !Mediengruppe Bitnik and explore the hidden, unmapped networks of the world around you. Using five mini GPS trackers as tactical tools we will explore the service networks, waste management, transport networks of the city while the position data generated by the trackers will allow us to make visible movements as maps. 

The two-day workshop in the form of a presentation and planning on the first day, and practical work on the second, will take place via Zoom. All participants will be able to follow the movement of devices on the map online for a continuous period of 5 to 10 days. Participants will work in teams of 3 and can either enroll as a group or individually. No special skills are required, however all partakers should have access to an end device and a good internet connection.


SCHEDULE

THU, 10 December 2020 
4:30 pm–6:30 pm
Workshop introduction and planning of the hands-on session and work groups for the next day (online via Zoom)

FRI, 11 December 2020
10 am–12 pm
Pick-up GPS-devices at Aksioma | Project Space (Komenskega 18, LJ). Groups prepare their device for placing and drop them at designated locations within the city. 

4:30 pm–6:30 pm
Online meeting to exchange experiences and share locations of devices (online via Zoom)

THE AUTHORS
Janez Janša

!Mediengruppe Bitnik (Carmen Weisskopf and Domagoj Smoljo) live and work in Berlin. Contemporary artists working on and with the internet, their practice expands from the digital to affect physical spaces, often intentionally applying loss of control to challenge established structures and mechanisms. !Mediengruppe Bitnik’s work has been the subject of solo exhibitions at leading international institutions, most recently at Centre Culturel Suisse, Paris; Haus of Electronic Arts, Basel; and Helmhouse, Zurich. Group exhibitions have included Kunsthaus, Zurich; Łódź Art Center; Fondazione Prada, Milan; Kunsthalle, Düsseldorf; and the Shanghai Minsheng 21st Century Museum. They have received numerous awards, among them, the Swiss Art Award, Migros New Media Jubilee Award and an Honorary Mention Prix Ars Electronica.


CREDITS

Authors: !Mediengruppe Bitnik

Production:
Aksioma – Institute of Contemporary Art, Ljubljana, 2020

The project konS:: Platform for Contemporary Investigative Art was chosen on the public call for the selection of the operations “Network of Investigative Art and Culture Centres”. The investment is co-financed by the Republic of Slovenia and by the European Regional Development Fund of the European Union.

Supported by:
The Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia, European Regional Development Fund of the European Union and the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia.

RELATED EVENTS

!Mediengruppe Bitnik
Decisions Decisions Decisions
Exhibition

3 – 24 December 2020
Aksioma | Project Space, Ljubljana

3 December – 15 January 2020
Delta Lab, Rijeka (HR)

!Mediengruppe Bitnik
Flagged for Political Speech
Exhibition

6 – 22 January 2021
Aksioma | Project Space, Ljubljana

Laborious Relations

Silvio Lorusso, Sebastian Schmieg, Davor Mišković

Streaming
Monday, 23 November 2020 at 5 pm (CET)
aksioma.org/streaming

In November 2019, Aksioma started a one-year program of events entitled Hyperemployment – Post-work, Online Labor and Automation curated by Domenico Quaranta and Janez Janša. Now we are ready to wrap up this experience with a publication that bears the same title featuring words by Domenico Quaranta, Luciana Parisi, Silvio Lorusso, !Mediengruppe Bitnik and Felix Stalder, and the works of all the artists who were part of the program. 

Leading up to the book release, Aksioma presented two streaming events with some of the artists whose works and/or texts are included in the book. This event entitled Laborious Relations is a conversation between two of them: Silvio Lorusso and Sebastian Schmieg.
Lorusso took the cue from the essay (featured in the reader) entitled Gig Economy Art and Its Dark Matter that focuses on the figure of the art worker and critically reflects on the use of outsourcing and crowdworking services in artistic production. Schmieg instead took as a starting point the idea of “laborious intelligence”, expressed in his article published for Kulturtechniken 4.0. The conversation was moderated by the director of the Rijeka cultural association Drugo more, Davor Mišković.

Hyperemployment – Post-work, Online Labour and Automation

!Mediengruppe Bitnik, Felix Stalder, Silvio Lorusso, Luciana Parisi, Domenico Quaranta

ORDER THE BOOK at NERO Editions

24/7. Algorithmic sovereignty. Anxiety. Artificial intelligence. Automation. Crowdfunding. Data extraction. Entreprecariat. Exploitation. Free labour. Free time. Gig working. Human-in-the-loop. Logistics. Machine vision. Man-machine complexity. Micro-labour. No future. Outsourcing. Peripheral work. Platform economy. Post-capitalism. Post-work. Procrastination. Quantification. Self-improvement. Social media fatigue. Time management. Unemployment. These are arguably just a few of the many keywords required to navigate our fragile, troubled, scattered present, in which the borders between life and work, home and office, sleep and wake, private and public, human and machine have faded, and in which the personal is not just political but economic. Edited by Domenico Quaranta and Janez Janša, featuring words by !Mediengruppe Bitnik (Carmen Weisskopf and Domagoj Smoljo) and Felix Stalder, Silvio Lorusso, Luciana Parisi, and Domenico Quaranta and works by !Mediengruppe Bitnik, Danilo Correale, Elisa Giardina Papa, Sanela Jahić, Silvio Lorusso, Jonas Lund, Michael Mandiberg, Eva and Franco Mattes, Anna Ridler, Sebastian Schmieg, Sašo Sedlaček, and Guido Segni, Hyperemployment – Post-work, Online Labour and Automation is an attempt to scrutinise and explore some of these issues. A catchphrase borrowed from media theorist Ian Bogost, describing “the Exhausting Work of the Technology User,” hyperemployment allows us to grasp a situation which the current pandemic has turned endemic, to analyse the present and discuss possible futures.

CREDITS

Published by: NERO and Aksioma – Institute for Contemporary Art, Ljubljana
Format: 11 x 17 cm
Pages: 160
Language: EN
Year: 2020
ISBN: 978-88-8056-112-5

Uncertainty-in-the-Loop

Sanela Jahić
Sanela Jahić
Uncertainty-in-the-Loop

Exhibition
23 September – 23 October 2020

Opening
WED, 23 September 2020 at 7 pm

Aksioma | Project Space, Ljubljana

Part of the programme:
Hyperemployment – Post-work, Online Labour and Automation


As algorithms ripple through and integrate further with our work and daily lives, the future of work projections note creativity, flexibilty and innovative thinking as forecast skill demands that will be required of employees. These skills, which have traditionally also been attributed to the profession of the artist, are supposed to be among the ones most resistant to or the least exposed to automation. Many people think that what they do requires creativity, and that cannot be expressed in the form of executable code or emulated by a machine. Contemporary perception usually sees creativity as something new, divergent and original that takes people by surprise. And yet, many tasks which might entail human faculties such as intuition, empathy, and creativity, are already being outsourced to increasingly capable automated and automatising systems that just perform them in differently.

There are many ways to distill something into data points. In her recent work, Sanela Jahić converted her labour as an artist – her works, research and interests of the past 14 years – into data. As data, the features of her artworks become tables of numbers; each creative decision emerges in a row of digits. The artist then turned the decision making over to a predictive algorithm. The machine uses the dataset to sift through and identify patterns in her artistic labour in order to predict the content and aesthetics of her next artwork. The first stage of this multiyear project was presented at Aksioma in 2018 with the exhibition The Labour of Making Labour Disappear.

Yet such predictive power is limited in its forecast of future outcome, because it gives a selection from among ready-made choices. And even though this may be an original selection, as calculating predictor of the future it is still weighted down in the past. At every step of the way, the capability to create new choices is heavily constrained by choices that came before. In other words, conceiving artworks from the same conceptual depository is not really imagining something new, but a narrow alteration of existing inputs. To break away from the machine algorithm rolling out combinations of prior existing data, and to avoid sparking a feedback loop, the artist – in the final stage of this project – provides the machine a look at her contemporary investigations as an early window into the present disorganization of her thoughts. The algorithm then determines tomorrow’s artwork based on observations today with the past flickering in the rearview mirror. On the basis of the predictive model, Pataka was created, a work that listens to what our voices tell machines about us.

THE AUTHOR
Domen Pal

Sanela Jahić (1980, Kranj) graduated in Painting from the Academy of Fine Arts and Design, University of Ljubljana in 2008, and received her master’s degree in 2010 in Public Art and New Artistic Strategies from the Bauhaus University in Weimar. Jahić is an intermedia artist, who constructs visual and technologically supported kinetic objects and installations. Her artistic practice often involves collaboration with specialists for mechanical engineering, automation, software and electronics. She lives and works in Škofja Loka. Jahić has exhibited her work in numerous shows in Slovenia and abroad.


CREDITS

Author: Sanela Jahić
Technical support: Andrej Primožič
Graphic design: Vasja Cenčič
Development and programming of the predictive model and data visualisation: Iztok Lebar Bajec
Development and programming of the predictive model: Jure Demšar
Research insight and assistance: Nicholas Cummins, Jude Dineley
Dynamic data visualisation design: Peter Primožič
Assistance in filming and picture post-production: Toni Mlakar
Sound post-production: Julij Zornik 

Production of the exhibition:
Aksioma – Institute for Contemporary Art, Ljubljana, 2020

Co-production:
Drugo more, Rijeka

Partner:
Škofja Loka Museum

Realized in the framework of the Dopolavoro flagship of the Rijeka 2020 – European Capital of Culture project, with support from the City of Rijeka – Department of Culture, the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Croatia, the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia and the Municipality of Ljubljana.

RELATED EVENTS

Jure Goršič

Sanela Jahić
The Labour of Making Labour Disappear
Exhibition

12 December 2018 – 11 January 2019
Aksioma | Project Space, Ljubljana

Jaka Babnik

Hyperemployment
Exhibition

 7 November 2019–19 January 2020
MGLC – International Centre for Graphic Arts, Ljubljana

Curated by: Domenico Quaranta
Artists: Danilo Correale, Elisa Giardina Papa, Sanela Jahić, Silvio Lorusso, Jonas Lund, Michael Mandiberg, Sebastian Schmieg, Guido Segni

Automate all the Things!
Symposium
14–15 January 2020
The Academy of Fine Arts and Design of the University of Ljubljana
Moderna galerija

Speakers: Elisa Giardina Papa, Sanela Jahić, Silvio Lorusso, Michael Mandiberg, Domenico Quaranta, Sašo Sedlaček, Sebastian Schmieg

We Need to Talk, AI

Dr. Julia Schneider, Nika Mahnič

Streaming interview
Monday, 26 October 2020 at 5 pm (CET)
aksioma.org/streaming

In the conversation Nika Mahnič and the author Dr. Julia Schneider took us through a number of issues covered in the comic essay and other AI-related topics.

How do we make computer science more attentive to the issue of minorities and the poor? Are some institutions better left undigitized? Is banning certain technologies a necessary solution, or is it just feeding our paranoia? On a free market, is that even possible? Should we renew our conceptions of privacy? Join the streaming and listen to some interesting takes on artificial intelligence and the dilemmas posed by its rapid rise.

Related event: We Need to Talk, AI

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