This is your phone on feminism | How to fix our disturbingly unequal relationship with smartphones

… btw, looking forward to the upcoming CrypoParty @ Glasmoog on 26 November 2019, where we will have a workshop, exchange and conversations to emancipate from technologically conditioned powerlessness!

Here are some of the ways our unequal relationship with our smartphones is like an abusive relationship: 

They isolate us from deeper, competing relationships in favour of superficial contact – ‘user engagement’ – that keeps their hold on us strong. Working with social media, they insidiously curate our social lives, manipulating us emotionally with dark patterns to keep us scrolling.

They tell us the onus is on us to manage their behavior. It’s our job to tiptoe around them and limit their harms. Spending too much time on a literally-designed-to-be-behaviorally-addictive phone? They send company-approved messages about our online time, but ban from their stores the apps that would really cut our use. We just need to use willpower. We just need to be good enough to deserve them.

They betray us, leaking data / spreading secrets. What we shared privately with them is suddenly public. Sometimes this destroys lives, but hey, we only have ourselves to blame. They fight nasty and under-handed, and are so, so sorry when they get caught that we’re meant to feel bad for them. But they never truly change, and each time we take them back, we grow weaker.

They love-bomb us when we try to break away, piling on the free data or device upgrades, making us click through page after page of dark pattern, telling us no one understands us like they do, no one else sees everything we really are, no one else will want us.  

It’s impossible to just cut them off. They’ve wormed themselves into every part of our lives, making life without them unimaginable. And anyway, the relationship is complicated. There is love in it, or there once was. Surely we can get back to that if we just manage them the way they want us to?

 Nope. Our devices are basically gaslighting us. They tell us they work for and care about us, and if we just treat them right then we can learn to trust them. But all the evidence shows the opposite is true. This cognitive dissonance confuses and paralyses us.

room2 @ Rundgang 2019


Speaking of the “other” can happen in different forms and dimensions. “Otherness” may include subjects and objects – it all depends on the position of the observer. THE INTERIOR LIVES OF OTHERS is a joint exhibition by Anna Ehrenstein, Will Fredo, Ai Kobayashi, Hend Samy, Bela Usabaev and Myrto Vratsanou, in which the artists engage with perceptions of the “other” and their interiority with diverse working methodologies. 

Anna Ehrenstein’s multimedia installation deals with the embodied manifestation of cultural phenomena in the digital and analogue object. Consisting of lenticular prints, sculptural and textile works “A Lotus is A Lotus” explores the western desire for consumption of difference and the present day circulation, distribution and consumption of exotica.

In addition, Will Fredo’s video installation “Enclosures” questions the meaning and influence of certain buzzwords prominent in global arts circles from the perspective of queer men who live in Chinese metropolises.

Ai Kobayashi’s video work “LIVE ceremony” consists of a recorded one-person performance which deals with the Japanese traditional wedding ceremony and looks at its gender roles.

Hend Samy’s live performance includes spoken word and video where the artist embodies various roles in her nightmares of historically significant events, places and subjects including a repetitious white chicken.

In the durational performance “Just Me. self test 1.”, Bela Usabaev works on breaking a double bind. Inconsistent perception is addressed by meticulous screening, in search for non-fictional facts that are shared with others.

Myrto Vratsanou’s moving image work “Free Immersion Notes” revolves around the non- linear narrations of a bodilless character, she is reflecting on being scattered, connected through digital clutter, hoarding, haunting, glitches and relocations.

While Kurt Heuvens’ still and moving image installation feature his visual travel-log across Germany including subjects whose interiority is speculated. 

Surveillance 102: The Golden Age

Poster by Nikolai Meierjohann

Summer Term 2019: Surveillance 102: The Golden Age

Building on the subject matter covered in Surveillance 101, we take Gilles Deleuze’s “Postscript on the Societies of Control” as a starting point to address contemporary modes of surveillance: algorithmic, fluid, social, multifocal, networked. We’ll look at the different forms that systematic observation takes today and how it can be used towards artistic ends.

Workshops:

Hands-on Surveillance & Counter-Surveillance techniques
Archival practices
Prison field trip (still working on that – seems pretty hard to get in, too)
Mid Term Review: 4./5. June 2019

Readings:

  • Gilles Deleuze – Postscript on the Societies of Control. Very short essay from 1990, available online, e.g. here or here. German translation in the Semesterapparat.
  • Also check out this 20 minute video explaining the core concepts (turn off the music and it’s pretty OK).
  • Shoshana Zuboff – The Age of Surveillance Capitalism. See Semesterapparat. It’s also online already if you know where to look, and pretty cheap to buy at the moment. German translation, too.


Also see all of these from last term (all still of interest):

In the library:

  • Randolph Lewis: Under Surveillance: Being Watched in Modern America
  • CTRL [Space]: Rhetorics of Surveillance, from Bentham to Big Brother, Thomas Y. Levin, Ursula Frohne, and Peter Weibel, ed. (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2002)
  • Surveillance and Security, Technological Politics and Power in Everyday Life. Edited By Toren Monahan
  • Christopher Dandeker, Surveillance,Power & Modernity
  • Newell, Bryce Clayton [editor], Surveillance, Privacy and Public Space
  • Vian Bakir, Sousveillance, media and strategic political communication



Winter Term 2018/19: Surveillance 101 – art work & readings

Readings

Exposed. Voyeurism, Surveillance and the Camera, 2010, catalogue

Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish, 1975. English translation freely available online.

Giorgo Agamben: What is an Apparatus?
 (Was ist ein Dispositiv?) PDF available online

Gerhard Paul – „Video“ oder: Was haben die Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe (BVG) mit Homer zu tun?

In the library:

Randolph Lewis: Under Surveillance: Being Watched in Modern America

CTRL [Space]: Rhetorics of Surveillance, from Bentham to Big Brother, Thomas Y. Levin, Ursula Frohne, and Peter Weibel, ed. (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2002)

Surveillance and Security, Technological Politics and Power in Everyday Life. Edited By Toren Monahan

Christopher Dandeker, Surveillance,Power & Modernity

Newell, Bryce Clayton [editor], Surveillance, Privacy and Public Space

Vian Bakir, Sousveillance, media and strategic political communication

Art works shown and discussed

Niels Bonde (seminar guest Nov 14, 2018), I Never had Hair on my Body or Head, 1996

Jonas Mekas, The Brig, 1964

Harun Farocki, Gefängnisbilder (Prison Images), 2000

Artur Zmijewski, Repetition, 2006

Gregor Schneider, Beach Cells, 2007

(20x20x2,5m each cell 4x4x2,5m), Kaldor Art Projects, Bondi Beach, Sydney 28.09.2007-21.10.2007

Lisa Domin – Faxen, 2018

not-to miss all-time favorites

The Conversation, Francis Ford Coppola, 1974

Das Leben der Anderen (The Lives of Others), Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, 2006

The Social Network Trailer, featuring a cover of Radiohead’s Creep