Workshop: Contemporary Network activism tactics

Thursday, July 5th, 2018, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.
PACT Zollverein, Bullmannaue 20a, 45327 Essen
Organizer: Office medienwerk.nrw, NRW Landesbüro Freie Darstellende Künste

#BlackLivesMatter and #Metoo are two examples of how digital public spheres can be used to highlight socio-political problems of discrimination and inequality. Often, physical and digital spaces are intertwined: protesting groups accure in urban space and images of these actions circulate in social networks around the world, generating attention for the shared concern.

At the same time, new, anarchic-libertarian and aggressive subcultures are also forming “on the other side” of the political spectrum on the Net, such as Alt Right in the USA and Identitäre in Europe, which are based on self-organization on the one hand and the contempt of all statehood on the other. They also produce strong images with the intention to have a social echo. The focus here is often on campaigns against individuals or public institutions, in which the appeal to lower emotions has replaced the rational exchange of arguments in favour of any construction of reality. The actors of these populist campaigns adopt the tactics of “counter culture” and turn them against the idea of a pluralistic, open society.

The one-day workshop, organized by the Landesbüro Freie Darstellende Künste and the office medienwerk.nrw, aims to explore these contemporary dynamics of activism, in order to understand what role the strategy of border-crossing plays today, how the arts react to these developments, what the power of current movements on the net is – and where their limits might lie. Different forms of artistic action have tried to use similar strategies in recent years. After a short input at the beginning and the discussion of some current artistic projects, the participants looked for suitable ways of dealing with these phenomena themselves. The participants were also invited to bring their own concepts and material in order to refine existing approaches during the the workshop-day.

Since this year, Hans Bernhard and lizvlx have been the professor-team – called UBERMORGEN – for Networks at the Academy of Media Arts Cologne. They are currently researching and working in the field of “Binary Primitivism” and are interested in the Alt-Right movement and related right-wing net cultures globally. They are investigating what transhumanism has to do with gamification in social media systems; what kind of role games – as a “cold” medium – plays for unloved people and what all that have to do with the Right and its revolutionary potential.

Workshop direction: UBERMORGEN | Input: Fabian Saavedra-Lara (Office medienwerk.nrw)

UBERMORGEN: lizvlx (AT, *1973) and Hans Bernhard (CH/USA, *1971) are two artists, working with installation, video, code and performance: “doing strange things with software & hardware”. Their early works have been called ‘Media Hacking‘ and ‘Online Performances’. In 2000, the strategy behind the voting platform Vote-Auction was described by Libération as “un plan machiavélique”. In 2005, the NZZ described the “Google Will Eat Itself”-project as “factual and perverse” conceptual art.

The event took place within the framework of weiterkommen! – the qualification program of the NRW Landesbüro Freie Darstellende Künste. weiterkommen! was supported by the Ministry of Culture and Science of the state of NRW within the framework of the IKF (Individeuelle KünstlerInnenförderung).

The office medienwerk.nrw and the event were supported by the Ministry of Culture and Science of the State of NRW. Office hosted by: Hartware MedienKunstVerein, Dortmund