My work Tokenize This is the subject of a new article at VICE. In it I speak about the work, it’s stance towards NFTs, and how some artists are adapting themselves in the service of cryptoart platforms:
Until recently, [Grosser] said, the digital art community was “disconnected in a happy way from the more conventional art market with its money motivations,” allowing critical art to flourish. But “with the intro of big speculative finance, it’s shifted a lot of artists towards focusing on, ‘How can I get in on the gold rush?’ Now I see artists erasing their own URLs from Twitter bios and replacing them with links to cryptoart platform pages, and turning their Twitter feeds into very noisy adverts for platforms, talking about bids, drops, sales.”
I gave a presentation about several of my Facebook-focused works and then engaged in panel discussion about The Power of Facebook with Nabiha Syed from The Markup, design sociologist Theo Ploeg, and host Margarita Ospian of The Hmm, a group that investigates internet culture out of The Netherlands. From the organizers:
During this event we try to better understand the power of Facebook together with three speakers. Nabiha Syed from the non-profit newsroom The Markup, will tell how they’re keeping an eye on Big Tech companies, and developing tools that reveal when we are being tracked. Artist Ben Grosser will share his Facebook related projects, including ‘Safebook’, a Facebook without content. And design sociologist Theo Ploeg will explain why he thinks our data does not provide any insight into us.
My talk starts at 1:03 in the embed above. I’ve queued it up, but I definitely recommend watching the whole event.
I gave a keynote presentation at Sankt Interface 2020, an annual event from the Interface Cultures Program at the University of Art in Linz, Austria. Interface Cultures is co-directed by Christa Sommerer and Laurent Mignonneau, and the event was co-coordinated by Cesar Escudero Andaluz. I’ve queued up the video above, but I also highly recommend the talk before mine by Valentina Tanni on her Meme Aesthetics book, as well as the Q&A with both of us after my talk.
The Endless Doomscroller in the front of Studio 207 in Bergen, Norway
The Endless Doomscroller is part of this year’s Piksel Festival in Bergen, Norway. The festival spans several sites; my work is up at Studio 207. An annual event focused on electronic art and technological freedom, this year’s festival, titled “The future narrow, where you don’t want to go,” focuses on the following:
…We appropriate and hack Leandro Pisano’s words: We need to understand rural/online/local areas as complex spaces actively immersed in the dynamism of encounters, flows and fluxes of contemporary geographies, and critically question modern discourses of capitalism and metropolitanism in which rural/online/local territories are marginalized and considered as doomed to oblivion.
My film ORDER OF MAGNITUDE is part of the B3 Biennial of the Moving Image in Frankfurt, from 9-18 October. As part of my participation in the festival, I spent some time talking with Johannes Grenzfurthner (founder of monochrom, director of Traceroute and many other films). We chat about software, algorithms, neutralism, social credit, self-driving cars, how big tech influences artistic expression, and, unavoidably, more.
My film ORDER OF MAGNITUDE was named a Jury Selection at the Japan Media Arts Festival in Tokyo. The work will be on exhibit at Miraikan, the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation, from 19-27 September.
Future Present: Design in a Time of Urgency at Science Gallery Detroit
My work Safebook is part of exhibition at Science Gallery Detroit titled Future Present: Design in a Time of Urgency. Curated by Antajuan Scott, Mark Sullivan, Cezanne Charles, Olga Stella, and Ralph Borland, the exhibition asks questions such as:
…how does the design of technology impact society? What impact does design have on the built environment, and on the communities that occupy it? How does design feature in food systems and food security, in biology and scientific inquiry? And what is the entwinement of design with social visions, such as Afro or indigenous futurism?
The exhibition is up through December 11th at 1001 Woodward in Detroit.
I gave an artist talk at the Athens Digital Arts Festival, where my work Safebook was on exhibition. Titled Hide (Nearly) Everything: Understanding Social Media Through Net Art Strategies of Resistance, the abstract was:
The world is learning more every day about how data collected by the dominant software platforms is not just used to “improve the lives of as many people as possible” (Google), or, to “give people the power to build communities” (Facebook), but is also producing broad negative effects for the cultural, social, and political future of humanity. In particular, the designs of these systems compel users to provide increasing amounts of personal information, enabling rapid expansion of corporate and state infrastructures for the purposes of surveillance, profiling, and profit. While outcries over resulting events such as Cambridge Analytica’s manipulations of the electorates in the US and UK have led to campaigns like #deletefacebook, most users remain unwilling to disconnect—especially in this new era of global pandemic. Given this, an alternative approach is the artist’s strategy of “software recomposition,” treating existing websites not as fixed spaces of consumption and interaction but instead as fluid spaces of manipulation and experimentation. This talk by the artist behind Safebook (part of ADAF) will present several of his projects that aim to not only investigate the cultural effects of software, but to also restore user agency over where, how, and when user data is (ab)used.