The Influencing Machine. Automatized dystopias made real

An exhibition at nGbK Berlin and a publication explore the role and agency of bots in an increasingly automatized and dataficated society.

Una mostra a Berlino presso nGbK ed un libro esplorano il ruolo e l’azione dei bot in una società segnata da nuova  automatizzazione e datafication.

It’s not minutes since our mobile phones have suggested it’s time we step out of sci-fi. In the continuously evolving reflection on the boundaries of human realm, bots and their agency are to be considered as real, a sociological issue affecting contemporary reality, socio-technical phenomena whose efficacies require and provoke novel and manifold relations and imaginations.

Bots, inconspicuous computer programs automatically performing tasks on a digital code base, often given human features — names, voices, bodies on occasion — supplement and at times displace human agency and labour, thus shaping virtual and analog structures.

How do bots and data form politics, participation, accountability and knowledge? Why do racist or sexist logics reproduce and intensify on digital platforms, social networks, and data-driven expert systems?

What does it mean for the value of labour and human agency if transactions, communication, and decisions are increasingly carried out by fully automated devices? Which cultural imaginations shape the design and function of human-machine interfaces?

These are the questions structuring “The influencing machine”, the current exhibition at nGbK gathering position in contemporary art that examine the automation and datafication of our habitat.

Avatars speaking for social media moderators, i.e. people disguised as algorithms; negotiation of time and gestures in nowadays labour (from Amazon warehouses, Apple manufacturers in China to freelance translating and parcel delivery); Alan Turing exploring an ungrounded scene as he drifts on a raft for one last research.

PC screens as real estate for action solicitors; an absent administrator gradually emerging through an act of theft; playful self-alienations to finally understand all the non-human knowledge existing; dumb — old, malfunctioning —appliances turning smart and encrusted with decorative pebbles.

The main components and reflections of the influencing machine are shown and criticized, introducing the public to the act questioning our position, which is no longer a sci-fi fantasy at all. 

The Influencing Machine
Curated by:
Vladimir Čajkovac, Kristina Kramer, Bettina Lehmann, Sophie Macpherson, Tahani Nadim, Neli Wagner
Anna Bromley, Kajsa Dahlberg, Egemen Demirci, Fabien Giraud & Raphaël Siboni, Fokus Grupa, Eva & Franco Mattes, Mimi Onouha & Mother Cyborg, Sascha Pohflepp & Chris Woebken, Tactical Tech, Jane Topping, Sarah Tripp, Clement Valla, Laura Yuile
nGbK - neue Gesellschaft für bildende Kunst
Oranienstraße 25, 10999 Berlin
Opening dates:
until January 20, 2019
"The Influencing Machine" (ISBN: 978-3-938515-74-7)

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