Screening is a zone bringing together videos and films that have obvious structural defects: plotless films with deformed visuals; footage passed through a special code which acts like a filter created by a neural network; a film with a deliberately complex, convoluted narrative that never becomes linear.
HOW TO TAKE PART
Free admission with exhibition ticket
Afro Cyber Resistance, 2014
Video, 18 min’26”
In her video essay, Afro Cyber Resistance, Rezaire explores Internet art practices in South Africa as a manifestation of cultural dissent towards western hegemony. Looking at digital, cultural, and political means of resistance and media activism on the Internet, this work asks to take responsibility in our communication systems and to challenge the representation of African bodies and cultures through online practices. Afro Cyber Resistance is a call to decolonize the internet.
Poor Magic, 2017
Single-channel video, 7’07”
In the same spirit as his other works, Jon Rafman’s video Poor Magic examines the mutual influence and interpenetration of virtual and physical reality. This strange, fascinating, yet frightening video sequence shows the misadventures of small humanoid figures and a computer-generated throng of people rushing around a geometric space. In places, the space resembles pictures taken through an endoscope. A voice-over describes abstract thoughts and sensations relating to the state of modern consciousness, which exists at a time when technology can easily get inside places into which humans cannot see on their own.
Gradient Ascent, 2017
Single-channel video, 12’
In this video we follow the movement of a self-driving car as it ascends toward the top of the holy Mount Parnassus, known in Greek mythology as the home of the Muses and the abode of the arts. The trip is accompanied by thoughts on the theme of myths and technological progress, inspired by René Damaul’s 1952 novel Mount Analogue. According to this work, the base of the mountain of knowledge and wisdom is located on Earth and visible to the naked eye, but the summit is always hidden from view and accessible only to those who search for it: one must know the goal before it can be achieved. Thinking each time that we have reached the peak, we are often mistaken, as beyond one mountain another is usually hidden. As the first step to ascend is taken, the final goal must be known, and what the summit looks like will depend on where the journey started from. Technologies make myths real, and materialized myths determine our reality and our future.
The Death of Father Men, 2018
Single-channel video, 12’ 26”
Mikhail Maksimov describes The Death of Father Menas a neuro-crime story based on the principles of machine learning. The plot centers on the brutal murder of Alexander Men— Orthodox priest, theologian, and writer on religion—which took place on September 9, 1990 near the Semkhoz railroad station outside Moscow. The investigation into the murder dragged on to September 9, 2000, when it was closed “because all possible lines of investigation had been exhausted.” Although Father Men’s murderer was never found, the investigation helped uncover many other crimes committed in the surrounding area, which contributed to a decrease in criminal acts on the railroad line Moscow - Sergiyev Posad. In this work the plot does not unfold literally or linearly, but serves instead as the starting point around which an associative visual sequence is developed on the screen.
Deep Down Tidal, 2017
Video, 18’ 44”
Deep Down Tidal explores transcoceanic networks examining the political and technological affects of water as a conductive interface for communication. Looking at the infrastructure of submarine fiber optic cables that carries and transfers our digital data, it is striking to realize that the cables are layered onto colonial shipping routes. Once again the bottom of the sea becomes the interface of painful yet celebrated advancements masking the violent deeds of modernity. Deep Down Tidal navigates the ocean as a graveyard for Black knowledge and technologies. From Atlantis, to the "Middle passage", or refuge seekers presently drowning in the Mediterranean, the ocean abyss carries pains, lost histories, and memories while simultaneously providing the global infrastructure for our current telecommunications. Could the violence of the Internet—inflicted upon Africa and more generally Black people lie in its physical architecture? The video suggests that water has the ability to memorize and copy information, disseminating it through its streams. What data is our world’s water holding? Beyond trauma, water keeps myriad deep secrets, from its debated origin, its mysterious sea life of mermaids, water deities, and serpent gods, to the aquatic ape theory, and sacred water spirits celebrated in many cosmologies. Deep Down Tidal inquires the complex cosmological, spiritual, political, and technological entangled narratives sprung from water as an interface to understand the legacies of colonialism.
The reflection on the phenomenon of the surface started within painting because it always has a canvas as a condition to happen. Video artists approach the surface of the screen in a similar way. Helena Nikonole critically explores the digital surface in Distortions specifically its modifying nature. On the first video the artist applies multiple re-conversions of the video-selfie, on the other re-shooting it continuously from the monitor—both acts are repeated until the image is totally deconstructed to noise.
Please Say Something, 2009
Computerized animation, 10’ 1”
A new reading of the cat and mouse conflict familiar from children’s stories and animated cartoons. In director David O’Reilly’s work these well-known heroes are lovers bound together in an unhealthy codependency relationship. In various situations over the course of the film they display contradictory feelings toward each other, from tender devotion to aggression and indifference. As O’ Reilly puts it, his central idea was “to prove that something totally artificial and unreal could still communicate emotion and hold cinematic truth. The film makes no effort to cover up the fact that it is a computer animation, it holds an array of artifacts which distance it from reality, which tie it closer to the software it came from.”
Props for Daily Misunderstanding, 2017
Video made by game engine, 3’ 31”
In Props for Daily Misunderstanding, Sara Culmann continues her inquiry into interactions between humans and inanimate objects, interactions that might pass unnoticed by the conscious mind. The work explores the world of objects that exist within the bathroom: objects with which their owners interact on a daily basis, and which inform their perception of the world through memories and association. The storyline offered by the artist imitates a video game, and the imagery is created with the use of technology common in games: 3D tools, simulations, and spectator mode.
Video, 18’ 41”
Season 4, 2015
Video, 21’ 29”
Florian Meisenberg analyzes various types of artistic media and experiments with combinations of methods and techniques. A student of the British painter Peter Doig at the Dusseldorf Art Academy, Meisenberg invariably returns to traditional easel painting as he works with digital techniques, including virtual reality. He is interested in the limits of what various artistic means can do and what can be gained from an examination of these boundaries. Season 3 and Season 4 are part of a “series,” in each episode of which we observe a deformed plastic lawn chair that the artist intently decorates with a variety of edible and inedible things in unexpected combinations. As Meisenberg says: “The lawn chairs were freed (by the artist!) from their generic industrial existence and shaped by heat and hands into traumatized individuals (….)The chairs act like altars for the sacrifice and mixture of various ingredients, which are clearly recognizable as food and objects become suspended signifiers in the video’s sacrificial choreography".
Premium Connect, 2017
Video, 14’ 4”
The video criticizes Eurocentric-biased thinking and envisions a study of information and communication technologies (ICT), exploring African divination systems, the fungi underworld, ancestors communication, and quantum physics to (re)think our information conduits. Embracing the idea that ICT acts as a mirror of the organic world, capable of healing or poisoning depending on its usage and users, Premium Connect investigates the cybernetics spaces where the organic, technologic, and spiritual worlds connect. How can we use biological or spiritual systems to fuel the technological process of information control and governance? Overcoming the organism/spirit/device dichotomies, this work explores spiritual connections as communication networks and the possibilities of decolonial technologies. This study of dynamic networks from artificial, spiritual, and biologic environments digs into the politics of possibilities, where a mystico-techno-consciousness could nurture a mind-body-spirit-technology symbiosis.
Nudes Descending a Staircase, 2015
Nudes Descending a Staircase is an experimental work in a new aesthetic area. Real people’s bodies were scanned and the texture of the 3D-models animated. This homage to the famous work by Marcel Duchamp is a way to connect the history of art with the new techniques and abilities of the twenty-first century.
deus X mchn, 2017
The project deus X mchn by media artist Elena Nikonole explores security in the Internet of Things and the growing abilities of artificial intelligence (AI).
Nikonole’s project consists in training AI (a long short-term memory neural network) through reading the Old and New Testament, Quran, Torah, Ramayana, Tao Te Ching and other ancient texts. Translating these writings into sequences of numbers, AI analyses the big data of religious texts to reveal grammatical structures and hence the codes of language in which they were written. A trained neural network then produces its own "religious" text by inventing new worlds and exploring the universal poetics of the sacred.
A different neural network learns to synthesize speech, becoming the voice of unprotected devices on the Internet of Things: IP cameras with speakers communicate with humans; files with the texts they produce are uploaded onto servers to be discovered by other humans; every quarter of an hour an IP-printer prints out these texts in the exhibition space; texts are also sent to a random printer somewhere in the world.
HD video, 12’ 38”
All of Sara Culmann’s works have a narrative frame, an encyclopedic structure with meanings and associations grouped around it. C.A.R.R.I.E. also has a hybrid composition. The central line within its narrative framework is a sci-fi novel featuring Carrie Bradshaw from the series Sex and the City. Another line involves the independent, non-utilitarian existence of the objects and materials that humanity treats as consumer goods. The artist’s hypothesis is that objects and substances can interact like humans do. The sci-fi Carrie Bradshaw studies the relationship between various substances, in the same way her prototype from the HBO series studies human relationships, by posing questions and trying to answer them.
The Institute for New Feeling. This is Presence, 2016
Commissioned by Ballroom Marfa for the Artist Film International 2016
The Institute for New Feeling is a collective founded by Scott Andrew, Agnes Bolt, and Nina Sarnelle, committed to the development of new ways of feeling, and ways of feeling new. As a group, their identity is always shifting. Borrowing aesthetics and language from wellness and tech industries, market research, speculative design, and political propaganda, The Institute assume a familiar yet fragile voice of authority.
The video drifts through a fabricated SEO Marketing campaign, a web of interconnected sites populated with training modules, news articles, facility tours, click bait, and social networking sites all linking back to the Institute for New Feeling.
Terence Broad. Autoencoding Blade Runner
2016. Video, 117’
The artist and scholar Terence Broad works on creating visual content using artificial neural networks and machine learning, manipulations of the light field image, and augmented reality. He is interested in possible new ways of perceiving and conceptualizing the visible world and the connection, interaction, and results of interaction between artificial intelligence and human thought. Autoencoding Blade Runner was made as his dissertation project for the research masters in Creative Computing at Goldsmiths College, London. The video was created using a specially trained artificial neural network: an autoencoder that recreates frame by frame fragments of the 1982 film Blade Runner. It is an experimental work whose appeal comes not from its aesthetic qualities (a blurry picture is hardly pleasing to the eye) but from the technique of its creation, which expands the horizons of artificial intelligence.