The Research Center for Proxy Politics aims to explore and reflect upon the nature of medial networks and their actors, that is, machines and things as well as humans. The proxy, a decoy or surrogate, is today often used to designate a computer server acting as an intermediary for requests from clients. Originating in the Latin procurator, an agent representing others in a court of law, proxies are now emblematic of a post-representational political age, one increasingly populated by bot militias, puppet states, ghostwriters, and communication relays. During the period of the project (September 2014 to August 2017) the center will host a series of workshops at the Universität der Künste, Berlin, revolving around a wide range of relevant topics including the politics of digital networks, the political economy of crypto-currencies, the genealogy of networked thought, the mediality of physical landscapes and strategies of opacity. The center also conducts material, experimental, investigations into the conception and construction of alternative networks, or alternets.
In June 2017, RCPP hosted the conference The Proxy and Its Politics at Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW), video recordings of the lectures and performances can be viewed online. In October the center published the reader Proxy Politics. Power and Subversion in a Networked Age with Archive Books, Berlin.
Selected writing and participation by the center: “A single swing of the shovel”, Former West: Art and the Contemporary After 1989, ed. Boris Buden, Maria Hlavajova, Simon Sheikh, MIT Press (forthcoming March 2017); “The Body of the Web”, for Skulptur Projekte Münster 2017 in frieze d/e (2016); “The Body of the Web” (lecture), Image Trajectories, HGB Leipzig; “Plunge into Proxy Politics” (lecture), 33C3 Chaos Computer Congress (Hamburg 2015); “Plunge Into Proxy Politics”, Springerin (2015); and “Landscape Media” (workshop), The School of Kyiv (Kyiv Biennial 2015); “The City and Its Double” (installation), Hailweed (Auto Italia South East, London, 2016). In 2017, RCPP collaborated with Rike Frank/exhibition studies at KHiO, Oslo Academy of Fine Arts, and Doreen Mende/Research-Based Master Programme CCC at HEAD–Genève.
RCPP is part of Objects as Media of Reflexivity, which investigates if and how reflexivity can be spread and sustained through the mediation of real, tangible objects. It is conducted in partnership with ZU Friedrichshafen and jambit GmbH Munich.
Hito Steyerl is a filmmaker and writer. She teaches New Media Art at University of Arts Berlin and has recently participated in Documenta 12, Shanghai Biennial, Rotterdam Film Festival, Venice Biennale and Berlin Biennale.
Vera Tollmann is a writer. In 2013 she co-curated the 9th Video Vortex conference at the Centre for Digital Cultures of Leuphana University Luneburg. Since 2015, Vera is a PhD candidate in the graduate program “Aesthetics of the Virtual” in Hamburg. Recently published essays: “The Uncanny Polar Bear. Activists Visually Attack an Overly Emotionalized Image Clone” in Image Politics of Climate Change. Visualizations, Imaginations, Documentations. (Birgit Schneider, Thomas Nocke (eds.), transcript 2014) and “Exploding Images” in (networked) Every Whisper is a crash on my ears. Anthology, Arcadia Missa (ed.), London 2014. Recent lectures: “Post-Photography”, conference, European University, St. Petersburg; “Questioning Aesthetics Symposium”, Humboldt University, Berlin; “Virtual Realities”, Beijing Media Art Biennale, Beijing; “Propulsion. On Changing Futures”, Universität für angewandte Kunst, Wien.
Boaz Levin is an artist, writer, and occasional curator. Levin has presented his work internationally, most recently at the CCA (Tel-Aviv), Former West (HKW, Berlin), Rencontres Internationales ( Paris, Berlin), Fidmarseille (Marseille) and The School of Kyiv (Kyiv biennial). Last Person Shooter, directed together with Adam Kaplan, was awarded the Ostrovsky Family Fund Award during the Jerusalem Film Festival (2015). Regarding Spectatorship, an ongoing curatorial research project co-curated together with Marianna Liosi, was shown at Kunstraum Kreuzberg/Bethanien Nov 2015-Jan 2016. Levin is a member of the curatorial team of the 7th edition of the FOTOFESTIVAL Mannheim-Ludwigshafen-Heidelberg, which opened in September 2017.
Maximillian Schmoetzer is an artist who graduated at Universität der Künste Berlin in summer 2016 and who worked with us until September 2016. Recent activities include “A Rare Bird in Estonia“ at konstanet.com & Tallinna Kunstihoone Tallin, “Bird of the Year 2022“ at Ashley, Berlin, “The future is here, it’s just not evenly distributed“ at Import Projects, Berlin, “Text2Speech” at ICA, London, and “Be Water“ at Independent Art Spaces Beijing.
Fred James Lamb joined us in October 2016. Fred is an artist currently studying at Universität der Künste Berlin, having previously completed an undergraduate degree at Central Saint Martins. His practice encompasses film, written word and sculpture. His work has been shown with Wilkinson Gallery, London.
Anil Jain is a social scientist who seeks to overcome traditional disciplinary boundaries. He has made contributions to such diverse fields as the transformation processes of (post-)industrial societies; modernization and globalization; information society; theory of space/time; class, difference and ethnicity; the sociology of values and social networks; metaphors and representation; organizational change and innovation (just to name the most important). In addition, he is a writer and co-publisher of edition fatal.
Robert Rapoport is an affiliate of RCPP. Robert focuses on developing new methodologies for studying moving image workflows that incorporate automation (especially neural nets). He recently completed a PhD (DPhil) at the University of Oxford funded by the Ruskin Scholarship. His dissertation was titled: The Iterative Frame: Algorithmic Video Editing, Participant Observation and the Black Box. He has since been a fellow at the Digital Cultures Research Lab, Leuphana University of Lüneburg. His most recent paper: A Primer for Augmented Reality—A Short History of the Chroma-key as a Performative Space, (presented at Hunter College, New York) develops a historical framework for thinking about the poetics of performance in augmented space.
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