11 March - 20 May
The exhibition presents a set of possible borders, or more precisely, gives us a kit of instruments to delineate the fitful, slippery and serpentine edges of technology so we can keep control of the data hidden within the substrata of our bodies. The show is more of a virus than an art exhibition, one that sets out to disrupt the control systems that invisibly ensnare us all.
It’s been said that in order for an activity to be modern, it needs to be easily reduced into data. However, I would say that an action is only truly modern if this data has the potential to be quickly converted into cash. And nowhere is this more present than in our movements online. Bitcoin and other types of cryptocurrency attempt to decentralize banking and the global transport of wealth to give us greater control over our resources. So, in light of this and the recent Cambridge Analytica scandal, should we now develop methods of decentralising the economy of our online bodies? This question is examined in ‘De-Leb’, at Banner Repeater and is explored through the ways in which we might redistribute the power that Facebook, banks and governments have over our personal data back to ourselves.
The distinction between all the facets of our lives is becoming finer and more enmeshed, but most aggressively in how our public and private thoughts are merging together. Hi-tech sports clothing brings out our intimate musculature in high resolution - dreams, fears and ambitions that were once safely locked away in our heads, now play out all around us in the form of social media posts. We used to look at advertising as we walked down the street, but now we are advertising as we flaunt our lifestyle and recent purchases online. We used to own and trade commodities and money, but now we are commodities. Boundaries and borders are always related to capital, and by breaking personal frontiers it has allowed others to make money from our actions.
This monetization of our private space and thoughts is made possible by stalking, the primary mode of contemporary human interaction. It’s normal to stalk people online, watching people without them knowing you are following them, but this has also paved the way for much larger and intelligent organisations to stalk us. They do this by economising on how work and pleasure bleed into each other — again, a merging of boundaries. We go online to relax, but the tiny grains of our data movements are constantly being weighed and monetised. Unbeknownst to us, we work even while we unwind after our day jobs.
In disciplinary societies we were controlled by physical enclosures, be it that of the home, the school, the barracks or the factory. But all these constructs have been atomised and we are instead controlled through a mist of complexity and by ghostly algorithmic stalkers who filter unseen like a gas through the once safe boundary of our flesh and into our frontal cortex’s. This type of control is in a constant state of evolution, so we can’t even carve it into a recognisable whole in order to fight against it.