Recomposing the Web

Ben Grosser
Ben Grosser
Recomposing the Web: Tools and Techniques to Regain Agency in a Software-Driven World

25 May 2022, 2 PM–5 PM
The Academy of Fine Arts and Design, UL, Video, Animation and New Media, Tobačna 5, Ljubljana

Registration required.

Language: English
Max. number of participants: 25

Aimed at:
art and design students, young artists, professors of visual art, new media and design, students and professionals in the fields of sociology, cultural anthropology and philosophy

Part of Tactics & Practice #12: New Extractivism
In the framework of konS – Platform for Contemporary Investigative Art

Over the last twenty years, software has enabled the web, animated the smartphone and made possible, in the words of one big tech CEO, a world “more open and connected.” Yet software, which is now used by billions across the planet every day, has embedded within it the capitalist ideologies of those who make it. Coming out of growth-obsessed entrepreneurial culture from Silicon Valley in the United States, today’s software wants what its creators want: more. This want is fundamental, driving how software works, what it does and what it makes (im)possible. The result is a global populace now dependent on software platforms that intentionally activate within users a “desire for more” – a need that software meets with its “like” counts, algorithmic feeds and endless notifications, all in the service of what big tech most seeks to realize their hopes and dreams: more users, more data and more profit. 

While periodic cries to #deletefacebook or otherwise disconnect from online platforms gains occasional waves of attention and press, few (are able to) disengage. Given this, an alternative approach is the author’s artistic strategy of “software recomposition,” or the treating of existing websites and other software systems not as fixed spaces of consumption and prescribed interaction but instead as fluid spaces of manipulation and experimentation. Through a series of software observation and online performance exercises, this workshop will introduce methods, tools and techniques of software recomposition that anyone can use to gain renewed agency over the software systems they use every day.

Attendees will develop:
– a critical lens on software interfaces: how do they work, why, who benefits?
– experience detecting when and how software influences us
– an understanding of “software recomposition” methods
– a set of skills/tools/techniques for regaining agency in big tech platforms


Ben Grosser creates interactive experiences, machines, and systems that examine the cultural, social, and political effects of software. Recent exhibition venues include the Barbican Centre in London, Museum Kesselhaus in Berlin, Museu das Comunicações in Lisbon, and Galerie Charlot in Paris. His works have been featured in The New Yorker, Wired, The Atlantic, The Guardian, The Washington Post, El País, Libération, Süddeutsche Zeitung, and Der Spiegel. The Chicago Tribune called him the “unrivaled king of ominous gibberish.” Slate referred to his work as “creative civil disobedience in the digital age.” Grosser’s artworks are regularly cited in books investigating the cultural effects of technology, including The Age of Surveillance Capitalism, The Metainterface, Critical Code Studies, and Technologies of Vision, as well as volumes centered on computational art practices such as Electronic Literature, The New Aesthetic and Art, and Digital Art. Grosser is an associate professor in the School of Art + Design, and co-founder of the Critical Technology Studies Lab at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, both at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA.


Author: Ben Grosser

Aksioma – Institute for Contemporary Art, Ljubljana, 2022

The Academy of Fine Arts and Design, University of Ljubljana

Part of the series:
Tactics & Practice

In the framework of:
konS – Platform for Contemporary Investigative Art

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.

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