One Star Review Tour

!Mediengruppe Bitnik, Selena Savić, Gordan Savičić
!Mediengruppe Bitnik, Selena Savić, Gordan Savičić
One Star Review Tour

Curated by
!Mediengruppe Bitnik

Exhibition
3–26 April 2024
Aksioma | Project Space, Ljubljana

Opening and project presentation
Wed, 3 April at 7 PM

Part of Tactics&Practice #15: (Un)real Data – Real Effects


With One Star Review Tour, Selena Savić, Gordan Savičić and !Mediengruppe Bitnik look at how rating systems shape the perception and experience of a place. In contemporary data-driven environments, credit scores, social influence rankings and product/service reviews dictate choices regarding, for example, selecting a doctor, shopping or dining out. One of the most widely used evaluation schemes online is the five-star system. Its popularity stems from the ease of judgement it proposes, its implied clarity (five is better than one) and the way it transforms personal opinions into objective values by way of aggregation (individual reasoning doesn’t matter if many people come to the same conclusion).

While the reviews are often nothing more than personal opinions, their cumulative values have become a driving force for the service and tourist industries as well as many other sectors of the economy. For businesses, reviews have become a feared measure of success or bust.

Not all sites, services or products can align with conventional consumer requirements. To obtain the five-star rating, they must be easy to consume, readily available, impressive, fun or “instagrammable”. And while privately owned companies can fight bad online reviews, public spaces can hardly talk back or ask Google to leave them alone.

The exhibition at Aksioma explores what it means when places we love are scrutinised and publicly rated: it investigates the politics of rating systems and engages with the power of reviews to produce real effects.

1 Review Tour Ljubljana
Video, 4K UHD, sound, 16 min 15 sec, loop. Yellow PVC lamella curtain, automatic massage chair, screen, speakers.

“This is a 16 minute tour of Ljubljana where you get to see and hear ONLY negative reviews. And they are all about public places in Ljubljana. Like people come with these exaggerated expectations and then are disappointed when Ljubljana is not like Rome or Paris. Or when a place is not as NICE or NOTABLE as they thought. The things people complain about!!! Elsewhere is better!!! Roadworks!!! The weather?!! Too many tourists!! EXACTLY!!! People are so stupid!!!!!

At least you get to sit in an amazing fully automated massage chair while watching this. Make sure to make the most of the free massage by pressing the zero gravity button. Then the rage you are feeling about the art piece gets massaged right out of you. Even better if you remember to bring ear plugs and just close your eyes. That way you don’t have to actually see the video and you can REALLY enjoy the massage.”

1 Review Tour Secrets
Video, 4K UHD, 60 fps, sound, 20 min 15 sec, loop. Portable massage chair, tablet, tablet holder, headphones. 

“Just a 4K silent walk through Ljubljana. A popular format on Youtube and would be relaxing to watch if it weren’t for the whispering. Talking about the oldest customer complaint and reviews and the Karenina Principle, as if it were a secret. Weird ASMR vibes. They delve into how algorithms shape our experience of places. But all I see is lots of tourists walking in Ljubljana’s old town. Also would have been nice to hear more about the scams and how people game the rating system. It is not at all pleasant to watch a video sitting in a shiatsu chair. I fell asleep. So inconvenient. 1/5.”

1 Review Tour Browser Extension
Browser extension for Chrome and Firefox. Lying face down gaming cushion, foldable yoga mat, screen, mouse. 

“This extension sucks!!!! Not even worth reviewing it. This browser based artwork shows only 1 ⭐ reviews on Google Maps. Unless you are trying to find the worst option for everything, this is NOT HELPFUL. Who wants to focus only on the negative reviews? The artists drivel about the poetics of failed expectations and the shift of perspectives. They think this is a good way to understand and challenge the power of rating systems. The browser extension is basically a shadow software-defined tourist agency that gives you a nightmare view of Ljubljana. How is that going to help anything??!!

And to experience the 1 ⭐ Review Tour – Browser Extension in the exhibition they make you lay on a mat on the floor. And look through a cushion. So awkward and uncomfortable. And you don’t even get a massage.”

1 out of 5
Light installation. Five polyethylene stars, custom electronics.

“The only piece that makes sense. 5/5”

THE AUTHORS

!Mediengruppe Bitnik (read: the not Mediengruppe Bitnik) are 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. In the past, they have been known to subvert surveillance cameras, bug an opera house to broadcast its performances to people at home, send a parcel containing a camera to Julian Assange and physically glitch a building. In 2014, they sent a bot called Random Darknet Shopper on a three-month shopping spree in the darknets where it randomly bought items like keys, cigarettes, trainers and Ecstasy, and had them sent directly to the gallery space. !Mediengruppe Bitnik’s works are shown internationally, and the group has received various awards including the Swiss Art Award, the PAX Art Award and the Golden Cube from Dokfest Kassel.

Selena Savić is a researcher and trained architect. Since 2023, she has been Assistant Professor of Protohistory of Artificial Intelligence and Machines in the Arts at the University of Amsterdam. After a PhD at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne and an SNSF-funded postdoc at Architecture Theory and Philosophy of Technics, TU Vienna, she worked at the Basel Academy of Art and Design, where she led the Make/Sense PhD programme. She has edited four books (Radio Explorations, forthcoming; Teaching Artistic Strategies, forthcoming; Ghosts of Transparency, 2019; and Unpleasant Design, 2013) and written numerous book and journal contributions on computational modelling, feminist hacking and posthuman networks in the context of art, design and architecture. Her research interests animate a practice at the intersection of computational processes and posthumanist and postcolonial critique of technology. Her current research focuses on data and measurement, offering a generative perspective on the interrelations between technicity of making art and technicity of circulating it.

Gordan Savičić is an artist and critical engineer whose work investigates the impact of digital culture on society through a diverse range of media. His artistic research focuses on rendering invisible infrastructures visible, probing the significance of datafication and performing digital interventions, both on- and offline. Born in Vienna, he pursued studies in media art and design in Vienna and Rotterdam, currently holding a teaching position in Lucerne. Recognitions include awards and honorary mentions from transmediale, Rhizome and Ars Electronica. He regularly collaborates with groups like Berlin’s weise7 in organising workshops, exhibitions and publications that focus on networking, tactical media and software art.

WORKSHOP

!Mediengruppe Bitnik, Selena Savić, Gordan Savičić
⭐ 1 Star Workshop
TUE, 2 April 2024, 3-6 PM
ALUO, Tobačna 5, Ljubljana

CREDITS

Authors: !Mediengruppe Bitnik, Selena Savić, Gordan Savičić

Production of the exhibition: Aksioma – Institute for Contemporary Art, Ljubljana, 2024

Part of the series: Tactics&Practice

Financial support: the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia and the Municipality of Ljubljana

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