This year's edition of digital_ia festival is supported by PIKSEL Satellite artists. Thanks to our cooperation, the visitors will have a chance to take part in audio visual performances and workshops that combine art and modern technology.
Piksel Satellite presents one audio visual performance, “Hammer and chisel” by Gisle Frøysland and John Hegre, a DIY concert based in Pure Data by Audun Erikssen and one installationlab “From DNA to NSA” from the artists Gisle F. and Maite Cajaraville. With choosing these artists and their artworks we want to show the broad spirit of the Piksel Festival, posing nowadays the privacy concept through bioart, interlacing the old analogue and the new electronic fields and connecting technology with nature as an renewable art.
The two performative works push the limits of the media and get framed at the so called “postmedia”.
Looking back to Peter Weibel’s postmedia condition, he explained it arrived intwo stages. The first stage saw all media achieving equivalent status and the same dignity as artistic media. The second stage saw the various media intermingling, losing their separate identities and living off one another.¹
At “Hammer and chisel”, Hegre delivers harsh noise and feedback using guitar and effect boxes whilst Frøysland plugs the audio signal to the videomixer, sends it to another videomixer and back, feedback, analog keying, analog filters. From physicality to electronics. They confirm Bourriaud suggestion "What if true art was defined by its very ability to escape the determinacies of the respective medium? Or put differently, it is today necessary to fight, (...) for the indeterminacy of the source code of art, for its dissemination, so that it can prove to be unassignable (...)”.²
“Hammer and chisel” from Gisle Frøysland / John Hegre also inherit Nicolas Bourriaud proposal for postmedia definition. Bourriaud is convinced that the "postmedia condition" is part of a liberating transformation of the arts, one that mixes its themes and theatres as much as it mixes its styles, materials, and media.³
Both artists John Hegre and Gisle Frøysland have a long electronic, analogue and digital trajectory on tools applied to performance. They have passed by numerous media phases. Their background permits them to do recombinant media connections. Tired and bored by computer interfaces they realize old school is the new school. Analogue and digital hybridation brings the artists back into manual labour. Combining essential methodology with electronic technology brings the workers back into art.
As their predecessors, Audun, mixes all kind of media based in open hardware and software. Eriksen is a sound artist and Linux and open source fan. Works with DIY electronics, circuit bending, found and recycled objects as sound sources often connected with open source software/hardware like Pure Data, Arduino, Ardour etc.
Audun’s performance brings us reminiscences of the ecosystem. As a trained biologist he likes to make art pieces that connect technology and nature. It works here as the perfect connection to the next artwork, joining together biological material with Do It Yourself methods and tools to bring the audience to new understandings.
“The US government, with assistance from major telecommunications carriers including AT&T, has engaged in massive, illegal dragnet surveillance of the domestic communications and communications records of millions of ordinary Americans since at least 2001.”⁴
From Snowden we all know what the NSA, the american intelligence Agency, has been recruiting information from citizens without a real purpose. Google, Facebook and other social media act like information providers to NSA informants. Nowadays, privacy is under question whilst is becoming a vague and complex concept. Emails, chats, pictures, facial recognition, friends relationships, emotional moods, all surveillance material we give out with joy is going to be mapped in a worldwide consumer's orientation.
Alike we share our information at social media, we spread our genetic data without noticing. Chewing gums, hair, lips at the coffee cups contain our genetic information and we are not aware on genetic surveillance. "We should be concerned because we don't know, yet, how our DNA might be used against us in the future", says Heather Dewey-Hagborg, an artist who creates portraits of strangers based on DNA extracted from random rubbish.⁵
The NSA collective's project “From DNA to NSA” prompt us with many questions.
DNA to NSA action intervention consists on setting up a DIY laboratory to extract DNA strings from the visitors. Using common, domestic products, audience can follow an easy DIY process and experience how their DNA strings looks like.
Visitors, once they finalize the 5 steps can choose to blend their genetic material with the others visitors forming a new common DNA. A blender is set up at the exhibition space.
As part of the piece, 5 raspberry pi are streaming public DNA records from an internet database and the data is sonified and visualized in different monitors.
They take the very unique Iceland DNA research model carried out by the formerly Icelandic company deCODE. Due to the “purity” of the Icelandic DNA's inhabitants, government granted the right to the company to scan the citizens DNA. Along the years and due to the divergences of anonymity and privacy levels performed by the company, the government limited deCode the use of the data to a subset. DeCode, suffered several economic reverses and to avoid bankruptcy the company went on the market reaching $485 million worth by integrating international "joint venture" investment companies. After various phases, the Icelandic data is
passed to a Chinese mining company which is currently marketing Icelandic DNA information with the restrictions and rules of anonymity.
The DNA business model, data protection mechanisms that governments can "ensure" to the citizens in terms of their DNA, the ethics of the global market, the social benefit dealing with market, the use of DNA data similarities as a new social network where your friend is the one with the most similar DNA to yours, DNAbased algorithms as the new rulers of our social life. All that new questions arised to the privacy arena once again. As they define this project: "The project From DNA to NSA will work with these issues, linking, modulating and distorting variables, displaying data in multiple ways, making statelessments and issuing manifaustos. We do not provide solutions but headaches."
¹) Beyond New Media Art, Domenico Quaranta, page 201, Ed. Year
²) Nicolas Bourriaud: The Radicant. New York: Sternberg Press, 2009.
³) Beyond New Media Art, Domenico Quaranta, page 201, Ed. Year
⁴) The Electronic Frontier Foundation, https://www.eff.org/nsaspying
⁵) BBC magazine, http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine23410521