re:publica 17 - Arts & Culture

We are living in the middle of the post-digital age. The Internet is omnipresent – particularly in the arts and in culture. Digital art – from remixes and GIFs, to net-art to virtual reality and interactive text-based adventures –, creative activism and politico-cultural questions on decision-making are all things we want to discuss with you at re:publica 2017. What roles do museums and exhibition spaces play in today's world? What can libraries do to close the digital gap?

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Scraping Art - Mapping the Neuland

Marlene Ronstedt, Ahmed Alsharif

Web scraping is a technique to algorithmically scavenge websites for information, images and videos. The place where this data harvest is taking part is the stack, or the internet. The Stack has become a new site of power, a transnational layer of control. Internet infrastructures allow for new modes of control which act outside of the realm of nation states. Due to its planetary scale infrastructure the Stack holds a governing function. Web scraping can be used as a tool to visualize the constantly changing present of this new territory or the “Neuland,” as Angela Merkel has called it.
The “Neuland” is more familiar to us than to conservative politicians beyond 50, but its constant way of updating itself and extending makes it a territory which can never be fully grasped. New technologies, new ways of encryption, faster chips render the old ones obsolete and constantly change the political playing field. The answer to the question of who governs and controls, who sits in the center of the panopticon changes with every new feature. The Internet is no longer an anarchist playground, but it is also still far away from being a unison virtual shopping mall. Scraping a fraction of it to expose its infrastructures shows us the messiness of online power struggles.
On the more technical side we will explain how we are using scrapers to get live data, streams and simulations. Here the dinosaur brain of a C programmer meets the simplicity of Python. We will talk about why giving up on the ego-shot you get doing everything yourself C-style is the way forward and how to hack your way into video streaming and using Selenium, an ugly solution rendered beautifully with Open GL.

Einfach technisch - Heiteres Geräteraten mit dem Techniktagebuch

Volker König, Kathrin Passig, Thomas Renger

Die Redaktion des Techniktagebuchs macht sich zum Obst: Ihr bringt die absonderlichsten Geräte und Werkzeuge mit, die Ihr auf dem Dachboden oder im Keller findet, und wir müssen erraten, was es ist. 
Der Moderator kennt die Antwort und gibt dem Rateteam nach und nach jeweils drei Tipps, die aber nicht zwingend hilfreich sind. 
Natürlich gibt es für die Spender von Artefakten, deren Sinn wir am Ende nicht erraten werden, Preise, die wir noch bekanntgeben.

Ein Taliban spielt Tagesschau - Die absurde Bildkultur Islamistischer Propaganda

Simon Menner

Mitte 2014 veröffentlichte eine den Taliban nahestehende Gruppe eine Reihe von Videos, die in einem nachgebauten Fernsehstudio gedreht wurden – inklusive Nachrichtensprecher und Greenscreen. Vermutlich sollte so dem Ruf „Tod dem Westen“ mehr Nachdruck verliehen werden. Wie kann man es sich erklären, dass eine solche Gruppe den visuellen Codes genau der Medien folgt, die sie ja eigentlich verachtet?
Unsere Köpfe sind zum wichtigsten Schlachtfeld des 21. Jahrhundert geworden und Angst - in der Form von Terror - scheint die wesentliche Waffe zu sein. Hierbei spielt Propaganda eine immer entscheidendere Rolle.
Das ist natürlich auch den Islamistischen Streitern von ISIS, AlQaeda und Co nicht entgangen; allerdings verbreitet man Propaganda heute im Internet und so finden sich diese Gruppen plötzlich auf Plattformen wie YouTube, Facebook und Telegram wieder und konkurrieren mit Minecraft und Pewdiepie um die Aufmerksamkeit des Publikums.
Selbstverständlich verfügen diese Plattformen über eine jeweils eigene visuelle Sprache, derer sich auch Terrororganisationen nicht entziehen können. Dies erklärt dann vielleicht das Fernsehstudio. Diese (gefühlte) Notwendigkeit den visuellen Codes des Mediums zu folgen, hinterlässt dabei zwangsläufig Spuren in der Aussage, die vermittelt werden soll. Eine mittelalterliche Moralvorstellung lässt sich eben nur sehr schwer mit den Mitteln des 21,Jahrhunderts eins zu eins vermitteln. Auf der einen Seite möchte man die Welt ins siebte Jahrhundert zurückversetzen, auf der anderen Seite muss man sich mit den AGBs von YouTube herumschlagen. Ich finde dies fast beruhigend.
Vermutlich habe ich mir in den vergangenen Jahren mehr dieser Videos angesehen, als der druchschnittliche Salafist und entgegen der allgemeinen Vermutung hat diese intensive Auseinandersetzung etwas unheimlich Befreiendes. Ich möchte zeigen, wie sich diese Propaganda an vielen Stellen selbst entlarvt und wie ich als Künstler damit umgehe.
Rühmten sich Islamistische Gruppen Anfang des Jahrtausends noch mit einem Bildverbot, so streamen sie mittlerweile Ihre Propaganda nahezu live in das Internt. Als Reaktion darauf hat sich das Bildverbot in das Westliche Lager verschoben und der Ruf nach Zensur wird immer lauter.
Ich habe mich als Künstler in den letzten Jahren intensiv den Bildern dieser Propaganda auseinandergesetzt und möchte darlegen weshalb ein gesellschaftlicher Diskurs hier sehr wichtig ist und befreiend sein kann.

New Dimensions: Virtual Reality from Africa (en)

Ng'endo Mukii, Jana Wolff, Deborah Seifert

Ng'endo Mukii is an award-winning film director, most well known for ‘Yellow Fever,' her documentary-animation exploring Western influences on African women's ideals of beauty. Her work focuses on relationships, the separation between perception and reality, and the use of moving image to represent unspoken truths. 
 
In ‘Nairobi Berries’ two women and a man wrangle. Each must hollow out the other’s core for fruits promised but only ever borne in dreams. The film is a poetic symphony on Nairobi. The film will be showcased at re:publica’s labore:tory for the duration of the conference.

In cooperation with Electric South, Goethe-Institut South Africa and the European Film Market.

Conflict Zones, VR Documentary Storytelling and Confronting Censorship

Sam Wolson

Director Sam Wolson will explore some of the challenges in VR documentary storytelling in this talk, drawing from firsthand experience shooting We Who Remain in a Sudanese war zone. How can VR be used to combat censorship and oppressive regimes? How do you create a narrative in a medium whose language is not yet established? How do you get VR films out to the world?
We Who Remain, which premiered this year at the South By Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, is the first character-driven immersive documentary shot in an active conflict zone. The 15-minute film weaves together the lives of four people – a student, a rebel soldier, a journalist, and a mother – persevering in war in the Nuba Mountains of Sudan. The film is a co-production between Nuba Reports, a pioneering journalism initiative that produces films and news from the front lines of Sudan’s conflict zones, and Emblematic Group, one of the world's foremost creators of immersive virtual, augmented, and mixed reality, in collaboration with The New York Times, AJ+ and ARTE.

Kinshasas Robocops soon in Berlin? - Digital Africa (en)

Elke Sasse, Geraldine de Bastion, Mugethi Gitau

Berlin has more than 2000 traffic lights – but no Robocops: Robocops are 3-meter high robots, regulating traffic in Kinshasa.  And hopefully one Robocop is soon coming to Berlin – as part of our project on digital innovations in Africa.
“Digital Africa” is a multi-platform project about digital innovations including a documentary film for ARTE TV, a web clip series, a webpage - and the building of a Robocop in Berlin. The documentary, shot in a road movie style, will be presenting the African innovation scene. The web series will bring them to Germany - by animation artist Ebele Okoye. And one project, Kinshasas robot, will hopefully come to Berlin in real. There is also a GIG hosted webpage for information.
It’s an ongoing project, which will be launched in 2018. To be able to present the most inspiring digital projects, we are still looking for input and would like to meet with people interested in sharing their innovative projects in Africa with us after this short session.

TX/RX (Transmit/Receive) (en)

Julian Oliver

What can we, as civilians, do with radio? What can and can't we listen to, and why? What are our rights of broadcast? If the air we breathe is considered public, why not that which passes through it?
Doubling as both intervention and lecture, Julian will lead the audience through an unbridled, hands-on exploration of radio infrastructure on which we depend, from GSM to GPS and WiFi. In doing so, he will read signal domains as highly patrolled techno-political territories, opening up questions of ownership, surveillance and control with a view to activism and decentralised, publicly-owned infrastructure.

Keep VR Weird: Eine Geschichte der VR-Software (2013-2017)

Jan-Keno Janssen

Die Session stellt die interessantesten, absurdesten, sinnlosesten und kreativsten Virtual-Reality-Inhalte vor; in chronologischer Reihenfolge von 2013 bis heute.
Software-Videoloops liefern nicht nur Einblick in die weirde Welt der VR, sondern zeigen auch anschaulich, wie riesig die Entwicklungsschritte sind  – und wie viel sich in lediglich vier Jahren verändert hat.

Strategies for Critical Internet Cultures in the Age of Trump

Geert Lovink

We're overwhelmed by media events that unfold in real-time. Is this spectacle a smoke screen for more drastic, longterm measure? What's our own plan? The politically correct strategies of 'civil society' are all well-meant and related to important issues but seem to move towards a parallel universe, unable to response to the cynical meme design that is rapidly taking over key power positions. Are there ways to not just hit back but also be one step ahead? How can we move from data to Dada and become a 21st century avantgarde, one that truely understands the technological imperative and shows that "we are the social in social media"? How do we develop, and then scale up, critical concepts and bring together politics and aesthetics in a way that speaks to the online millions? How do you make fun of the petty world of the xenophobes? Generations have studied the mistakes made in the interbellum, but what's the conclusion, now that we're in a similar situation? How can we design, and then mobilze, a collective networked desire that unites us in a 'deep diversity'? What do we have in stock now that it's time to act? Is the promise of open, distributed networks going to do the job?

When Kennedy Died: Breaking the News (en)

Khesrau Behroz

Thus far, I have created around 100 square-shaped collages. They show on the left side a screenshot of the push notification, and on the right side a picture of the place I was in when I heard about the news: on the street, in the restroom, in bed, sometimes even playing a game on the very phone on which I received the message. Walking these same places again in my everyday life, I see myself remembering the drone strikes. It's a vague memory: I don't know the victims, I don't know their names, I don't know where exactly it happened. But what I do know is this: walking this soil that is unburdened by those drone strikes, I pulled into my world a distant reality that feels much closer once I interacted with it.
In this talk, I'd like to speak, in detail, about this piece I started over two years ago. I want to discuss unmanned drone strikes, their quite literal impact and what draws me personally to this topic. I will also get into the follow-up project that I felt was necessary to do. 
There will be a Q&A after the talk.