A radical summit at the ICA is offering a fix for your digital anxieties, feat. the Random Darknet Shopper and a feminist dictionary
When it comes to prescriptions for digital anxiety, boundary-pushing artists, theorists and social thinkers seem more qualified to offer a solution than your local GP. With Fear of Missing Out, taking place this weekend at the ICA, radical thinkers working at the forefront of postdigital fields are coming together in response to the concept of FOMO in the age of the internet.
Contrary to its moniker, the event promises to go way and beyond a treatise on how to deal when your friend Instagrams from a party you weren’t invited to. Instead, artist Hito Steyerl will head up several panels and film screenings that aim to capture current debates through the lens of the 21st century so far. Far from a pessimistic outlook, Hito and co. will also hope to offer future possibilities for action and change: miss it at your peril.
A FUCKING DIDACTIC EDUCATION (AMONG OTHER LESSONS)
Heading up proceedings is Berlin-based artist, performer and new media theorist Hito Steyerl, fresh from setting up her Factory of the Sun video installation at the Venice Biennale’s German Pavillion. Dealing with the contemporary status of images in a hyper-mediated world, her films and essays uniquely capture the irrevocable effects of the online networks we have become so firmly embedded in – something she articulates through trippy depictions of investment bankers, aircraft crashes, and sardonic treatises on how to disappear. Watch How Not to Be Seen: A Fucking Didactic Educational .Mov File for your Steyerl primer; then catch her evocative presence chairing events at the ICA through this weekend.
POSTDIGITAL ART’S MOST WANTED – LITERALLY, BY THE POLICE
!Mediengruppe Bitnik are the Berlin-based art group who take Hito Steyerl’s position – at the centre of the networked structures and issues she explores – to an even deeper level. As reported by Dazed, the artists’ Random Darknet Shopper (an online bot) bought ecstacy pills, among other randomly chosen items, on the Darknet. The bot, in an unprecedented twist, was arrested for its crime. At FOMO, Carmen Weisskopf and Domagoj Smoljo will discuss their approach to art, which has also seen them send a parcel to Julian Assange in the Ecuadorian Embassy with a camera inserted in the parcel.
A NEW DICTIONARY JUST FOR FEMINISTS
Founded by Karen Archey (editor of e-flux), Women Inc. is a new working group of artists, writers, curators and academics that want to use art to respond to gender and race-based injustice. Their first feminist project has been to create a new dictionary that reflects the networked surveillance and continued intersectional struggles of our age. Inspired by Hito Steyerl’s work, the new lexicon of neologisms includes “negging out” – that is, “to freak out about something dramatic unfolding on social media, but only react to it on private channels such as GChat.” We’ve already managed to use “tote brag” on our everyday commute (see below).
HUMANOID ROBOTS TO TRANSPORT YOU TO UNCANNY VALLEY
What’s a summit on post-digital anxieties without a cameo from a terrifying robot? Tony Prescott (director of Sheffield Robotics) will present on a recurring nightmare of contemporary times – what if robots gained social cognition? Humanoid robot Zeno will appear on stage – dubbed “the robot that could replace teachers.” Shudder.
YOU’LL NEVER LOOK AT PORN IN THE SAME WAY AGAIN
Chaired by Steyerl, the final panel at FOMO will see media academic Helen Hester present on the idea of “war porn”: from adult entertainment to the atrocities committed at Abu Ghraib, the rubric of war porn tells us much about the simultaneous passivity and taste for shock of the contemporary, media-bombarded subject.
Fear of Missing Out will be happening at the ICA from 29 May – 31 May, 2015