Quantified Life and the Social Question
How does the progressive quantification of our social behaviors through technology and their monetization change these very behaviors? How does extensive data collection impact our understanding of society, the state and the self? Beyond contemporary disclosures about mass surveillance by intelligence services, the promises inherent in “big data” determine discourses about future innovations and systems of classification in government and industry, which aim to increasingly transform political and systemic questions into those of technological management. The promises of social participation and “digital democracy” stand in contrast to new forms of cybernetic control and modulation of social behavior on an unprecedented scale.
The countless sensors of ubiquitous digital and technological infrastructures have united the state, industry, body and technology into ever more complex “nervous systems,” since industrialization began. The nervousness and uncertainty of modern systems are revealed in particular where relationships of power and participation come to the fore, namely in the “social question.” Beyond cybernetic control, there is nervousness within disciplinary systems and today’s ideology of “total information awareness”, made especially evident by the gaps between the promise of information-based, solution-oriented “management,” security discourses and socio-political realities.
Following the exhibition, entitled “The Whole Earth” (2013), the Department of Visual Arts at Haus der Kulturen der Welt continues its exploration of the present and past of cybernetics, as well as the political dimensions of the global infrastructure in the anthropocene.
Nervous Systems is an essay exhibition with artistic works, newly commissioned productions and contextualizing materials curated by Anselm Franke in collaboration with Stephanie Hankey and Marek Tuszynski from the Tactical Technology Collective.
Tactical Tech is an international NGO that helps activists and journalists understand and use digital technologies in their work. Since its founding in 2003, Tactical Tech’s work is guided by principles of freedom of information and expression. Worldwide they have supported thousands of human rights activists to creatively employ information and communication in their work towards social and political change. Tactical Tech works to show how digital traces are left behind in the mesh of power structures. For the duration of the exhibition, Tactical Tech will enable visitors to explore their own “digital shadows” in a walk-through installation. Visitors can also discuss subjects like data footprints and the politics of data directly with experts.
With artistic contributions by Mari Bastashevski, Emma Charles, Charles Gaines, Melanie Gilligan, Goldin+Senneby, Lawrence Abu Hamdan On Kawara, Henrik Olesen, Julien Prévieux, Jon Rafman, Deborah Stratman and others. With contributions by Grégoire Chamayou, Avery F. Gordon, Orit Halpern, Tung-Hui Hu, Lawrence Liang, Matteo Pasquinelli, Noortje Maares, Nishant Shah, and Mushon Zer-Aviv.