Public Assembly is where speculative sculptor, installation artist, musician and founder of the Public Assembly collective Lawrence Lek explores collective place in the age of hyperspace. @prosthetic As part of the group's month-long residency at the Barbican in London, he introduces Hardcore Software - a curatorial group dedicated to uncovering hidden systems in technology.
Security is an illusion. Internet activists believe “information wants to be free”, claiming that copyright and intellectual property systems prevent the development of a public domain for information. While legal structures determine what is permitted and what is forbidden in everyday life, laws are difficult to enforce in the open territory of the Internet. In a digital replica of gated communities in cities, data is enclosed in closed zones, protected by 64-bit encryption and user authentication.
Social cultures of past civilizations were determined by physical factors - climate, war, and economics, but today software controls us. Life is determined by stock market algorithms, data feeds, weather simulations, flight patterns and a host of systems that travel vast distances in an instant. As William Burroughs observes in Interzone, our software-driven world is not controlled by tyrannical rulers, but rather by emergent forces created by our immersion in technology.
We have a new type of rule now. Not one-man rule, or rule of aristocracy or plutocracy, but of small groups elevated to positions of absolute power by random pressures, and subject to political and economic factors that leave little room for decision. They are representatives of abstract forces who have reached power through surrender of self. The iron-willed dictator is a thing of the past. There will be no more Stalins, no more Hitlers. The rulers of this most insecure of all worlds are rulers by accident, inept, frightened pilots at the controls of a vast machine they cannot understand, calling in experts to tell them which buttons to push.
Hardcore Software is a platform for decoding the language and legacy of these complex systems. Formed together with curator Rachel Falconer, we take an archaeological approach to discovering patterns in networked culture. By stripping widely adopted technologies down to their skeletal core, we cast systems as agents of cultural exchange.
Piracy Today is their pilot exhibition, presenting work by Geraldine Juarez, AND Publishing, me Lawrence Lek and Martin Dittus. Through a series of hybrid actions and artistic practices, the show presents multiple interpretations of deconstructing, remediating and representing public space. The event is hosted in Public Assembly's Penthouse 4C, a pirated architectural structure that transforms the most luxurious apartment in the Barbican Housing Estate into an open public forum.
The political implications of these artists' readings are tracked through video, sound, code and architecture. The artists’ engagement with traditional and emergent systems of authorship asks: Is piracy a destructive force or a necessary ingredient in cultural transmission?
Join in on Wednesday 28th August at 6pm inside the Barbican Centre Foyer. An open discussion with invited speakers starts at 7pm.
PIRACY TODAY - Presented by Hardcore Software