Lauren Huret, Manila stories (chasing ghosts on social media), 2018

Swiss Media Art: !Mediengruppe Bitnik, Fragmentin, Lauren Huret - Pax Art Awards 2018

In cooperation with the Art Foundation Pax, Swiss artists were awarded the Pax Art Awards for the first time in 2018. This year HeK presents works – including new ones – by the prize winners !Mediengruppe Bitnik, Fragmentin and Lauren Huret.

exhibition

21.02.2019 - 21.04.2019

Admission: 9 / 6 CHF (red.)

Image courtesy: !Mediengruppe Bitnik, Omsk Social Club, Knoth & Renner

The exhibition Swiss Media Art: !Mediengruppe Bitnik, Fragmentin, Lauren Huret consists of three solo shows on the respective winners of the Pax Art Awards 2018. In June 2018, two artist groups and one artist from Switzerland were awarded the prize for the first time. The works presented in the exhibition deal with the potential alienation embedded in the stronger intersection of digital technologies and economics. At the same time, they suggest that a more human outcome is possible, inviting the visitors to ask questions and ultimately take control over the instruments that are given to them.

!Mediengruppe Bitnik have established themselves as a major voice in the Swiss media art scene. The duo deals with relevant topics of public interest such as the surveillance of individuals, the commercial use of chat bots or the economy of the darknet. In their most recent works, the artists explore how the digital revolution affects economic dynamics and how these in turn affect our social behaviour. In their work Random Darknet Shopper (2014), !Mediengruppe Bitnik programmed an automated online shopping bot, which randomly purchased items on the darknet and had them delivered to the exhibition space. The question of the responsibility of illegal actions by a bot was raised. The recent work Postal Machine Decision deals with the automation of postal services: !Mediengruppe Bitnik sent twenty-one parcels with two different delivery addresses – one in Halle (Saale) and one in Brussels. The automated post offices, working with the help of barcodes, scanners and programmed instructions, were completely overwhelmed with the parcels and sent them back and forth – which the artist duo tracked and used to study automated logistical systems.

!Mediengruppe Bitnik developed Cryptoraves in collaboration with OMSK Social Club and Knoth & Renner. Utopian events involving live action role-play (LARP) to open up a thinking space around topics related to cryptocurrencies, blockchain technology and DAO. To attend the Cryptorave, participants need to mine the  anonymous cryptocurrency Monero through a dedicated Cryptorave website. By joining their computing power together, the participating community collectively generates value to enable the autonomous dance party experience. Through the online mining process, participants unlock their LARP identity, the Cryptorave reader and finally their entry ticket to the rave. In March, the tenth edition of Cryptorave will take place at HeK. In the exhibition space, a projection displays the Cryptorave website, revealing the process of collective cryptocurrency mining to unlock the LARP dance experience.

Fragmentin, consisting of Laura Perrenoud, Marc Dubois and David Colombini, works at the intersection of art and design. The studio explores the boundaries between the digital and physical environment and examines the impact of technology on our everyday lives. Displuvium, the most recent work realised by Fragmentin in collaboration with designer Renaud Defrancesco for the exhibition at HeK, deals with the controversial topic of geo-engineering and cloud seeding in particular – a practice that was developed to influence and change weather developments and has been applied by many countries since the 1940s. In addition to other works, HeK also presents an updated version of the work 2199, a virtual reality installation that prompts users to follow certain instructions, resulting in a kind of involuntary choreography. With this work, the artists question forms of control and authority through popular media and the willingness of the population to follow them.

Lauren Huret's work investigates how digital media increasingly influence our social behaviour. The artist uses tools from popular smartphone applications to tell personal stories. In Deep Blue Dream IV, Huret presents herself trapped in a flat screen; her body slowly moves beneath the transparent surface and is pressed against the translucent screen. This work is on the one hand a self-portrait and on the other hand a representation of the complicated relationship between humans and screens in which people get lost more and more. In her most recent video work Praying for my Haters, Huret presents her research on so-called content moderators in Manila who remove offensive content from social networks. Her video shows the difficulties and suffering of these unknown and underpaid workers. For the exhibition at HeK, Huret will develop a new ongoing work, Executive Realness, which will show a livestream resulting from the artist's research on high-frequency trading algorithms used in the stock market. 

Art Foundation Pax is an independent foundation promoting digital and media-based art in Switzerland and is financially supported by Pax. With the Pax Art Awards, ground-breaking prizes for digital art, the Art Foundation Pax in collaboration with HeK, honours and supports media-specific practices of Swiss artists whose works use media technologies or reflect on their effects.

Curator: Boris Magrini

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The exhibition is supported by:

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