(Conference) 24/06 2017
11am - 8pm
@ Haus der Kulturen der Welt
The Proxy and Its Politics – On evasive objects in a networked age
With Tom McCarthy, Wendy Hui Kyong Chun, Kodwo Eshun, Goldin+Senneby, Alexandra Heimes, Brian Holmes, Nicholas Houde, Doreen Mende, Sondra Perry, Robert Rapoport, participants of the lensbased-class at University of Arts Berlin
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-democratic political age, one increasingly populated by bot militias, puppet states, and communication relays. Thus, the proxy works as a dialectical figure that is woven into the fabric of networks, where action and stance seem to be masked, calculated and remote-controlled. The proxy thrives within a habitat defined by sameness, characterized by constant monitoring of human and non-human actors. This homogeneity comes as a technological precondition for effectively blending in, the proxy emerges as a symptom of our prevalent condition. Considering the current political situation, are proxies needed more than ever, or do proxies rather confirm the status quo?
The conference looks at proxy-politics on both a micro and a macro level, exploring proxies as objects, as well as networks as objects. What is the relation between the molecular and the planetary? How to fathom the computational regime? Yet, whilst being a manifestation of the networked age, thinking like a proxy offers loopholes and strategies for survival within it.
In cooperation with Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin
Funded by BMBF, hosted by RCPP , Universität der Künste Berlin
Note: Starting hours might slightly change
starts 11 AM
Welcome and introduction by Vera Tollmann and Boaz Levin
Wendy Hui Kyong Chun
response by Hito Steyerl, discussion
Emergent organs for an eco-body?
response by Robert Rapoport, discussion
On Standardisation – or how to be sure us humans win the final battle against nature
Bruno Siegrist (lensbased class)
In rotation for projection and monitor #1
HATE ON ME
Fanzine launch with leo, Paul Niedermayer, Mizu Sugai (lensbased class at University of Arts Berlin), and contributors from The Academy of Fine Art in Oslo
How I became a seaweed monster
Jonathan Jung (lensbased class)
The Last Chapter in the History of the World – or, Proxthesis
response by Alexandra Heimes, discussion
On the industrialisation of thought
response by Nick Houde, discussion
performative response by Laura Katzauer (lensbased class): DivNationX
with Malin Nilsson (magician) and Théo Bourgeron (sociologist of finance)
closing remarks, Vera Tollmann and Boaz Levin
~ The End ~
Abstracts in order of appearance
Wendy Hui Kyong Chun: Algorithmic Authenticity
Authenticity is allegedly central to the current era: It defines what’s “real”–as opposed to (or distinct from) what’s factually correct–in politics and culture. This talk reveals the extent to which authenticity has itself become algorithmic: a method used by politicians, amateurs and other self-branders to foster participation. It also highlights how authenticity has become central to habituating users–even as and indeed especially when they transgress–to reveal their “private” selves.
Brian Holmes: EMPATHY MACHINES. Emergent organs for an eco-body?
Remote sensing is associated with robot vision, military intervention and invasive information-gathering by the surveillance state. Yet satellite-based observation technology is also crucial to the understanding of global ecological change. Indeed, remote sensing is the indispensable proxy representing the biosphere in the arena of political ecology. With the reactionary turn in the US, an open struggle has arisen over the “vast machine” of climate science. Can this artificial sensorium be deliberately blinded so as to hide the consequences of accelerated extraction, production and consumption? Or will citizens learn to feel the threat through a technologically augmented awareness of biogeophysical change, and therefore demand more, not less, environmental science?
This lecture explores the affective basis of human empathy with the biosphere. The thesis is that the complex instruments of earth-systems science can and should be internalized as the sense organs of a multi-species body (or if you prefer, a global physiology). Only in this way can formerly abstract threats, such as the emission of methane and CO2, be rendered sensible, tangible, and therefore actionable. The future development of our societies hinges on the emergence of an ecological aesthetics at planetary scale.
Bruno Siegrist: On Standardisation (Performance)
Highly purified materials – used in electronic devices – have reliable and therefore predictable attitudes. We say jump! and they do not even ask how high, because the reaction is already embedded in their very – human made – nature.
Instructing nature how it has to function according to our agenda is the secret weapon of humanity in the ongoing war against nature. Following a long tradition of subduing the planet, the ace up our sleeves is called: STANDARDISATION.
Sondra Perry: In rotation for projection and monitor #1 (Performance)
“In rotation for projection and monitor #1” (2017) is a performance about likeness, bodies, objects, and their digital representations as explored through the video installation “IT’S IN THE GAME ‘17 or Mirror Gag for Vitrine and Projection”, which is about the artist’s twin brother whose physical resemblance and statistics as an athlete were used in basketball video games produced by EA Sports and 3D renderings of artifacts housed in the collections of encyclopedic museums.
Leonardo Lina, Paul Niedermayer & Mizu Sugai
Hate on Me is an independent publication developed with the aim of embracing brazen attitude and approach in critical terms that functions as an open space of multiple authorships and subject matters.
Jonathan Jung: How I Became A Seaweed Monster (Performance)
“I planned to go home, when everybody did. I didn’t take a shower, because I didn’t feel confident to expose my naked body in front of the other teammates.
Now the water drops are covering my face, with a mist of slurry.
A quest for the urgent creature in times of activist calibration in apprehension of the rise of Neo-Nazi Germany.”
Tom McCarthy: The Last Chapter in the History of the World – or, Proxthesis
In this talk, award-winning novelist Tom McCarthy traces the logic of prosthesis, from the theories of Freud through the films of David Lynch to the writings of William Burroughs and Michel de Certeau. If the field of the prosthetic opens up the question of deputed agency, of autonomy ‘outsourced’ to the realm of the technological, then the question for the artist within network culture becomes: Who ‘writes’? And for the activist: Where does control reside, and how might its citadel be stormed?
Doreen Mende: Industrialization of Thought
The intervention will undertake the attempt to conceptualize the image as a navigational landscape whose horizon continuously escapes the eye’s sight, because that kind of image does not represent but is part of an operation causing disorientation in tandem with routine actions. GPS-system. Computer screen with layered windows/frames. Desktop-documentary. Datalogical turn. The image of navigational vision operates through that endless frame which re-generates itself constantly with the purpose to balance / regulate / compensate / correlate the slowness of human immersion and the speed of distance: a techno-mode of production that ‘excludes me and shuts me out’ as Harun Farocki analysed the ‘industrialization of thought’ in 1993. The image as navigational landscape seems to generate a new spatiality that is defined by the sprawling paradox of slowness and speed, once the movement-temporality has began. The intervention is informed by the discussions during a joint work-session with the Research Center for Proxy Politics and the Theory Fiction seminar of CCC Research Program at HEAD Geneva, as well as from the conversations with the Farocki Institut.
Kodwo Eshun will use a magnifying glass to look inside a Convoluted Neural Network (CNN): What exactly happens between Input and Output? In his talk, Kodwo will pick up on the idea to consider algorithms as proxies.
Laura Katzauer: DivNationX (Performance)
Kat Skyllah, a member of the NatX community, connects to the DivNationX oracle, making contact with the heart of the network called Deja. With the help of NatX, Deja managed to evacuate the apparatus of Qozeto Systems, that had held her captive and had exploited her to work as an algo-mother. By transcending the machine and collaborating with NatX, she eventually manages to establish her own technology, Tecryvar Systems. As a being with no definite ends, Deja can inhabit different forms of organic or non-organic bodies, which act as an interchangeable shell. While growing resistant to any kind of programming and classification, she becomes the mother of the young NatX community.
Goldin+Senneby: ACID MONEY
Goldin + Senneby present a magical demonstration. A magician makes us see things that do not exist: In “Acid Money”, the magic trick takes place on the financial markets. Goldin+Senneby have infiltrated a secretive hedge fund in the US and recreated its short selling practices (i.e. the practice of selling shares that one does not own). In collaboration with the magician Malin Nilsson and finance sociologist Theo Bourgeron, they have developed a magic trick for the financial markets that has the capacity to undermine the perceived value of a publicly traded company and to profit from this. The stage performance “Acid Money” introduces the audience to this magic trick. Algorithms are often understood as proxies working on behalf of people. Following their own mystifying agenda, algorithms cunningly employ people as their proxies, seeing us as a resource, the fuel to be mined. This evening of metamorphosis and revelation offers a special opportunity to take some magic home with you.