Winter Term readings & things to watch

Our topic for the Winter term 2017/18:

Real, Fake and the Imaginary

Here’s what to read and watch. The titles are in the library on the Semesterapparat shelf, unless otherwise noted.


  • Bruce Sterling , Distraction, novel, 1998
  • Bruce Sterling, Zeitgeist, novel, 2001



  • Oliver Sacks, The Man Who Mistook his Wife For a Hat, 1970, (chapter “The President’s Speech”, on aphasia) – online i.e. here
  • Oliver Sacks,  Der Mann, der seine Frau mit einem Hut verwechselte, Hamburg 1993



  • For a  popular imagination, Hollywood take on this, (re-)watch Blade Runner, Fight Club, The Truman Show. Plus Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 for a very contemporary mix of real and fake.

For a quick intro check out these trailers for two of the videos listed above:

There are known knowns; there are things we know we know.
There are known unknowns; the things we know we don’t know.
There are also the third category of unknown unknows; the things we dont know we don’t know. And you can only know more about those things by imagining what they might be.
Pearl Harbor was a failure of imagination. We didn’t know we didn’t know they could do what they did in the way they did it.

The Unknown Known, documentary by Errol Morris about master liar Donald Rumsfeld, 2013



You go into an office and sit at your desk. But maybe it is a fake job. Your real job is shopping. The true factories of our times are the shopping malls. That is where the real hard work is done.

A typical Adam Curtis, good intro to how he works.
Living in an Unreal World, trailer for HyperNormalisation

Winter Term 2017/18: Real, Fake and the Imaginary – poster

Following on from „The Body and the Network“, we explore historical and contemporary discourses and productions of „real“ and „fake“, as well as and their development into various cultural movements and commodities. Starting from personal observation, we focus on the slide from real to fake, and back. What new relationships are there to be had with the fake?

Simon Denny: Tech and Distributed Governance?

the 2nd  Medienkatastrophe-lecture of the summer term

Simon Denny: Tech and Distributed Governance?
lecture in English

From the rise of blockchain (the distributed ledger behind Bitcoin) to the development of management methodology ‘Holacracy’ at Zappos in Las Vegas and the intelligence agencies of the UK, the lecture will map some of the technology industry’s disruptive forces as they alter the conditions of governance.

From dreams of alternatives to hyper-liberalism, and more recently affinities with the far right, the discussion and presentation will touch on various interconnected case studies and unpack the changes being rolled out between the state and extra-state forces extending the tech community’s infrastructure, culture and influence today. As the Silicon Valley community builds and maintains what has become the interfaces for global communications, the tensions between politically nationalist governing systems and global financial and information streams continue to intensify.

Drawing on his work over the last 5 years Denny will unpack moments in this trajectory.


image: SD_BlockchainRiskBoardGamePrototype-Tech_Venture21IncEdition _Photo: Joerg Von Bruchhausen
poster by Nikolai

Summer Term 2017: The Body and the Network

The Body and the Network

A discussion and production seminar, geared to critically engage contemporary surveillance and control measures in artistic practice. The focus is on the development of new methodologies, identities, and narratives, especially those that cross diverse media in a performative way.

Building on the winter term’s „Systematic Observation and Recall“ the seminar will look at body extensions in societies of control and how they manifest in networked media. This includes art works, network activity, performances or videos that reconfigure, refocuse and recontextualize current technologies of connection and display.

We will investigate new transient cultures of extending and marking the body for security, surveillance, pleasure and storytelling, and contemporary platforms for live display including the theatre, the databank and the MAX Patch.

Raspberry Pi Basics
A practical workshop with help from Martin Nawrath to configure and install network devices with the Raspberry Pi as a basis. Aimed at all experience levels, the workshop will introduce the basics of networking technology, the command line, scripting and automation, as well as working with external sensors.

Media for Live Events
Building on this, there will later on in the term be the opportunity to work with Prof. Larry Shea, from School of Drama, Carnegie Mellon University. In this several-weeks long workshop we‘ll use the new skills to imagine and build new networked and sensor-based set-ups for installations, performances and open scenarios, working towards Rundgang.

Mid Term Review: 9 &10 May 2017

Excursion to opening days of documenta 14

Required reading
– Nervous Systems, HKW Berlin, 2016, introduction by Anselm Franke, Stephanie Hankey and Marek Tuszynski (online)
– Out of Body, Skulptur Projekte Münster, 2016: The Body of the Web (online)
– Surveillance, Performance, Self-Surveillance. Interview with Jill Magid by Geert Lovink (online)
– Flesh and Stone, The Body and the City in Western Civilization, Richard Sennett, New York, 1994

Invited speakers
Geert Lovink: Medienkatastrophe, 20.4., 18 h, Aula
Simon Denny: Medienkatastrophe, 26.4., 19 h, Aula
Mark Bain
Prof. Larry Shea (June-July)

poster by Nikolai

Geert Lovink / Medienkatastrophe talk

A State of the Platform Address

By Geert Lovink

20 April 2017, 18h, KHM Aula
This lecture deals with the changes over the years from media, via networks to platforms. What does it mean that the internet has become infrastructure, penetrating society, from taxis to hotels to agriculture and healthcare, going well beyond the media and communication realm? What do we mean when we talk about ‘platform capitalism’? What is aggregation and does it play out in different contexts? We all know how social media operate in daily life, but what’s the next step, and how can the art world, start to play a role in these massive changes in society?

Geert Lovink is a media theorist, internet critic and author of Uncanny Networks (2002), Dark Fiber (2002), My First Recession (2003), Zero Comments (2007), Networks Without a Cause (2012) and Social Media Abyss (2016). Since 2004 he is researcher in the Faculty of Digital Media and Creative Industries at the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences (HvA) where he is the founder of the Institute of Network Cultures. His centre recently organized conferences, publications and research networks such as Video Vortex (the politics and aesthetics of online video), Unlike Us (alternatives in social media), Critical Point of View (Wikipedia), Society of the Query (the culture of search), MoneyLab (internet-based revenue models in the arts) and a project on the future of art criticism.

Network Cultures Critique! Buzzwords: Era of Social Media Monopolies / Platform Capitalism / Cryptocurrencies / the end of the “free” services business model /  etc etc. He’s meeting us at 16h to look at some of your projects. There are a million talks on Youtube. From a short interview about Social Media:

“I sincerely hope that we can still break it open and have space for more experimentation. Because what we see is the reverse development. And that’s got to do with the fact that people are more and more familiarizing themselves. It’s all slipping into this new level of mass subconsciousness, where the social media become part of the everyday life. We all know that, when you walk into the elevator, very very likely he or she is going to get out the smartphone and check it before they arrive at the 6th floor. That is a new habit. And it’s this habitual element which is very very dangerous. Because it forbids further experimentation, and kind of solidifies the network architectures and says, this is what it is. If we know what it is, it can then enter the collective subconsciousness. And that is a very dangerous moment. And that is the moment of complete and utter state and corporate control.”

Update: here’s the recording