From URL to IRL – a host of exhibitions this month focus on our ever-evolving relationship with technology.
Back in 1965, Gordon Moore predicted that computer processing speeds would double every two years. Moore’s Law (as it is called) has mostly held true, leading to the exponential growth of information and an age where questionable data can affect our elections, much less our moods. It is no surprise, then, to find Berlin’s artists, galleries and project spaces increasingly addressing these contemporary concerns.
For the last two years, Spektrum (co-founded by media artist Alfredo Ciannameo and community organiser Lieke Ploeger), has been presenting technology-driven exhibitions, science-focused events and community-minded workshops in the heart of Kreuzkölln. It’s become a crossroads for artists, scientists, hackers, designers and activists. This month alone sees Dark Habitats Dark Ecology, a group exhibition about sustainability including works by the likes of Matthias Fritsch, Valery Vermeulen and Spektrum’s own Smell Lab Berlin (Jun 8-11); an evening with avant-garde filmmaking legend Larry Gottheim (Jun 14); a workshop on the use of algorithms in surveillance capitalism (“Data Mercenaries” with Joana Moll and Ramon Sangüesa, Jun 24-25); and Spektrum’s two-year anniversary party (Jun 17).
Similarly tech-inclined is the three-year-old Eigen + Art Lab where, thanks to a new exhibition by artist duo !Mediengruppe Bitnik, you can currently interact with five “female” Berlin-based bots hacked from the Canadian online cheating platform Ashley Madison. Across from the monitors, the exhibition title – Is anybody home lol – is presented in large-scale neon, creating an infinitely reflecting false reality mirror loop. Like the group’s previous interventions involving the Zurich Opera and London Underground, this is just a stand-in for the actual act of tapping these global digital networks – and this relationship to the reality outside the gallery is their biggest strength. In addition to regular technology-engaged exhibitions such as this one, Eigen + Art Lab continues to seek new partnerships with Berlin’s start-up community through an ongoing artist residency with the start-up support programme Axel Springer Plug and Play (currently hosting ‘post-studio’ artist Naifei Wu), and Die Wand, a one-wall exhibition space in the Kreuzberg offices of startup incubator Rheingau Founders.
Kraupa-Tuskany Zeidler’s post-internet artist roster includes (former) Berlin darlings Aids-3D, Andrea Crespo, and Florian Auer, but this month the gallery presents their second solo exhibition by Beijing-based Guan Xiao, Living Sci-Fi, under the red stars. Here high design (namely, custom wheels) and low materials (spray foam) combine to allude to classical (or corporate?) sculpture and evoke a similar empty non-feeling. Also featured is the three-channel video Dengue Dengue Dengue that somewhat didactically equates our relationship to technology with a disease that travels the globe via selfi es. Despite some self-evident truths, it’s worth a watch though, especially through the camera of your cell phone.
Like Spektrum, Nome has been focusing on art, politics, and technology since 2015. In their current exhibition, drone artist James Bridle is Failing to Distinguish Between a Tractor Trailer and the Bright White Sky, while using the self-driving car as a central subject to test the limits of human and machine perception. Needless to say, algorithms reign supreme.
Dark Habitats Dark Ecology Jun 8-11 Spektrum, Neukölln | !Mediengruppe Bitnik: Is anybody home lol Apr 27-Jun 24 Eigen + Art Lab, Mitte | Guan Xiao: Living Sci-Fi, under the red stars Apr 28–Jul 1 Kraupa-Tuskany Zeidler, Mitte | James Bridle: Failing to Distinguish Between a Tractor Trailer and the Bright White Sky Apr 22-Jul 29 Nome, Kreuzberg