[NetBehaviour] technological sorcery | Technology is Not Neutral

Johannes Birringer Johannes.Birringer at brunel.ac.uk
Fri Sep 23 14:24:13 CEST 2016

Dear all
yes, Helen, I agree of course, and was pleased to read Marc's response, and waited a bit,
but there's been no further discussion yet. 

I'll go and see the exhibit I mentioned when it
comes to London and will write about it  (and my references, Marc, were taken from their press release, so the
notion of "pioneering," though not neutral, did not cause me any headaches at all, as I think women
artists' work, when it gets the deserved recognition and gets exhibited, does pave the way and also allows
historical judgement in new ways to reflect on gender politics; there is a debate going in right now 
regarding conductors, and why not more female conductors lead orchestras, and at Lucerne Music Festival
in August they chose a, yes, silly marketing ploy too:  PrimaDonna (they invite five women conductors
to direct performances on a special event day; one of them, Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla. will be taking over the City of Birmingham Symphony
Orchestra soon). 

Now, John Hopkins felt the gender question was old, and the critiques of ars electronica (like those of the Venice Biennale, I guess)
also old and predictable, yet suggests that "looking at  'new media' stuff, well, [is] not too different than shopping..."
This made me, in a sense, of course feel a bit saddened as it reflects a defeat, a surrender, as if we all knew it would end like that,
the media arts sector going to their Freezes and mega expositions glancing at the latest toys. 

The press echo in Switzerland and Germany to "PrimaDonna" was mixed; one paper asked: "Noble Geste, paternalistische Herablassung oder längst fälliger Schritt? 
Wie das Musikfestival in Luzern mit einem Erlebnistag Anschluss an den gesellschaftlichen Wandel zu finden sucht"

(Noble gesture, paternalist condescension, or a step forward long overdue? How the Lucerne Music Festival tries to catch up on its 'event day' with societal change........")

yes, the women conductors were featured on an 'event day," which is peculiar.

Johannes Birringer

helen varley jamieson [helen at creative-catalyst.com] schreibt

good on you furtherfield for, as usual, taking the risk :) it's an important critique that should be made, & it would be interesting to hear more - from others who were there, perhaps from ars electronica too.

h : )

On 17/09/16 12:39 21PM, marc garrett wrote:
Hi Johannes,

Thanks for your response,

It is reassuring that the 'Technology is Not Neutral' show has been happening in Brighton and I wish that I'd to the time to be there. But, like yourself I've been too busy what with doing Furtherfield things, and my PhD.

> It includes significant and newly commissioned work by pioneering
>and contemporary female digital artists, spanning a wide range of
>themes and approaches.

Usually, I bulk at words like 'pioneering', they tend to m,ake me feel ill isnide -- but, if you've been kept down by: totalitarianism, sexism, hegemony, suppression, or an established elite - getting around these blockages means you're definitely worthy of upmost respect, as well as being seen as pioneering ;-)

Getting back to your comments regarding the Ars Electronica 2016 Review by KissMyArs on Furtherfield. Featuring it on the site is a risk because we are not rich and do not have the institutional power or resources that Ars Electronica has. And, many of the traditional groups out there may see this as a step too far. However, as one individual said on Twitter "Thanks #KissMyArs for writing on @furtherfield what many of us have been whispering 4 years about..."

And, this is part of the point which is also a big problem that, too many are too quiet until it's too late to do something about it, and when someone (or many) does speak out about these matters, they are more likely to get attacked because to them it feels like you're being unjust, rude or horrible. It was the same when the Sex Pistols & peer punks challenged the establishment.

Of course, the review and its critique on ars Electronica is a bit like an ant bumping into a tank.

They'll survive, the establishment is banking on it ;-)

Wishing you well.


On 16 September 2016 at 18:42, Johannes Birringer <Johannes.Birringer at brunel.ac.uk<mailto:Johannes.Birringer at brunel.ac.uk>> wrote:
dear all
oh, are the techno-sorcerers at it again in Linz?  the alchemists of our time?
thanks for sharing this review with us, I was not aware (of the writer) but glancing at the review i see the critique spelled out in the last
segment --

The lack of social awareness and engagement of issues surrounding our time have begun to impinge on the festival itself, and an awareness campaign called #kissmyars is voicing concerns over the lack of female representation at the festival, particularly in the prix art prize which is awarded to men 9/10 times. The gender diversity in technology sector should no longer be ignored; this is one example of a socio-political issue not only overlooked at the festival program but also exacerbated by the organisation itself. I hope that the #KissMyArs campaign will not only rebalance the gender inequality at the event but also encourage the organisers to address other alarming realisations that operate within and around the application of technology in the social, political and economic sphere...

Can I, in this connection, mention an exhibition that a curator friend, Gordana Novakovic,  drew my attention to:

Technology is Not Neutral
2 – 25 September 2016
Presented in partnership with Phoenix Brighton as part of Brighton Digital Festival 2016
The show highlights and investigates the work of a group of women artists in the field of digital arts, where women are often underrepresented. The title refers to a quote by Donna Haraway taken from her Cyborg Manifesto. It includes significant and newly commissioned work by pioneering and contemporary female digital artists, spanning a wide range of themes and approaches. The exhibition features work by Ghislaine Boddington, Susan Collins, Laura Dekker, Anna Dumitriu, Bhavani Esapathi, Julie Freeman, Kate Genevieve, Sue Gollifer, Luciana Haill, Nina Kov, and Gordana Novakovic.

I missed it as I have been on the continent, but shall catch up with it when the show comes to Watermans in London later this fall.

Johannes Birringer

furtherfield [furtherfielder at gmail.com<mailto:furtherfielder at gmail.com>]
Sent: Friday, September 16, 2016 4:58 PM

Subject: [NetBehaviour] The tireless enchantment of technological sorcery | Ars Electronica 2016 Review.

The tireless enchantment of technological sorcery | Ars Electronica 2016 Review.

By #KissMyArs - http://bit.ly/2ctU82g

A participant asks how Ars Electronica, one of the longest standing and biggest media arts festivals in the world, has found itself so far distanced from the political concerns surrounding technology?

"The alchemists of our time, or as I like to call them 'Dumb wizards', are continuing to design and exhibit technological achievements in self-fulfilling speculative words that have very little concern, consideration or critique with any relevant social issues of our time. Excluding the CyberArts exhibition (curated by Genoveva Rückert), which I thought was a top selection of some of the best media art works of the last years, Ars Electronica is predominantly occupied by interactive spectacles that neglect to examine the social & political impact of technology."

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Marc Garrett
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