Aram Bartholl

Aram Bartholl @ LACMA, Apr 26

25 April 2016

Net-conceptual artist Aram Bartholl and Kathy Rae Huffman will converse in an event called ‘Offline/Online Convergences’ at LA’s LACMA building on April 26.

Curator, writer, and long-term thinker on media art Huffman will discuss with Bartholl the convergence of the physical and the virtual with respect to urban space in his work, as well as considering how digital landmarks and customs translate to urban culture.

Bartholl is based in Berlin and his now infamous and instantly recognisable Dead Drops (2010 – ongoing) sees USB sticks embedded in brick walls in public. He often makes work to answer forms of display for digitally-produced works that maintain the nature of intimacy, privacy and yet anonymity of their experience and receivership outside (necessarily) of an art context. He recently presented group internet cafe show-cum-net art dedication, LA Speed Show featuring artists JODI, Ann Hirsch and Petra Cortright.

It’s interesting that the title of the event is worded in the order: Offline, Online, as opposed to the other way around which is perhaps the way we usually assume to argue for the non-total intervention of the internet.

See the LA County Museum of Art (LACMA) website for more details.**

Image for No One Ever Cried at a Website, A Speed Show (2013). Courtesy Aram Bartholl.
Image for ‘No One Ever Cried at a Website’ – a Speed Show (2013). Courtesy Aram Bartholl.

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Nervous Systems @ HKW, March 10 – May 9

9 March 2016

The Nervous Systems group show is on at Berlin’s Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW), opening March 10 and running May 9.

Hosted in collaboration with Tactical Technology Collective, the exhibition includes an interesting mix of work by the likes of Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Harun Farocki, Jon RafmanAram Bartholl, Douglas Huebler, Privacy International and Share Lab. The aim here is to examine and showcase a range of reflections on our quantified society and on the processes of self-quantification.

Nervous Systems also calls for an interesting reinterpretation of early conceptual art’s concern with quantification, its “aesthetics of bureaucracy,” and the deconstruction of the self in light of current data- collection.

A live installation —conceived by Tactical Tech —offers an active space in which visitors can explore their own digital traces. Do you want to know what it looks like? Is visualising these questions in an art show also a form of quantifying?

See the HKW exhibition page for more details.**

Douglas Huebler, Variable Piece #70 (1975). Courtesy the artist.
Douglas Huebler, ‘Variable Piece #70’ (1975). Courtesy the artist.
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Aram Bartholl’s LA Speed Show, Feb 18

17 February 2016

Artist Aram Bartholl will present a Speed Show in Los Angeles, the first of the series to be held in the City on the evening of February 18.

In 2010 Bartholl initiated the series of Speed Shows in Berlin. Its set up is an exhibition that can take place anywhere in an internet cafe displaying for a moment (or evening) works that already exist online, leaving the job of the curator simply to find a good harmony of things to channel into the cafe space.

“A lot has happened since 2010”, as Bartholl, who aqnb interviewed in 2013, states in the press release. He talks about how manifestos work and interestingly seems to be writing one as a press release that undoes a worded relationship between screens, the internet and artists.

This group Speed Show, at iPC Bang Internet Cafe includes work old (‘classic’) and new by the likes of JODI, Ann Hirsch, Parker Ito, Kate Durbin, Daniel Keller, Yung Jake, Petra Cortright and Nadja Buttendorf and many more.

Despite the dated format, the show’s premise is a moment pulled together in a room, and it kind of works to see and feel what it all looks like now, in one place -especially in a city like LA.

See the FB event page for details.**

Petra Cortright, Petwelt (2014) @ Société installation view. Courtesy the gallery.
Petra Cortright, Petwelt (2014) @ Société installation view. Courtesy the gallery.

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Follow @ FACT, Dec 11 – Feb 21

11 December 2015

Liverpool’s FACT (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology) opens a new group exhibition called Follow, running  from December 11 to February 21, 2016.

The group show brings new works by 10 artists, including Cécile B. EvansSimon Whybray, LaBeouf, Rönkkö and TurnerDebora Delmar Corp. and Aram Bartholl, as well as restaged works by Constant Dullaart and Kurdwin Ayub.

The themes of the show tackle identity in the digital age, examining a world in which Instagram and Twitter follows and likes create the feeling (and sometimes reality) of fame. Like Warhol predicted, everyone will have their 15 minutes of fame—except it might be more like 15 seconds.

See the exhibition page for details. **

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Oxi More On @ XPO / Espace Verney-Carron, Sep 8

7 September 2015

XPO gallery is hosting a new exhibition titled Oxi More On at Espace Verney-Carron, opening at the Lyons art space on September 8.

George and Archibald Verney-Carron let xpo gallery take over with a new exhibition featuring Angelo PlessasPierre ClémentJulieta ArandaAram BarthollVincent BroquaireGrégory ChatonskySara LudyPaul SouvironKatie Torn and Clément Valla.

The exhibition, curated by Alexis Jakubowicz and Philippe Riss, is caught in the fiction of a long-sacrificed miracle, somewhere between “torpor and life”, inspired by a poem by Charles Baudelaire, a famous painting by Watteau, and “the eternal residence of love”.

See the exhibition page for details. **

11882821_895075463861214_117561480121228208_o copy
Paul Souviron, ‘Civilisation’ (2014).

Header image: Sara Ludy, ‘Dream House’ (2014). Video still. 

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Transmediale 2015, Jan 28 – Feb 1

27 January 2015

transmediale 2015 is celebrating its 28th year this week, running at Berlin’s Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW) from January 28 to February 1.

The festival and year-long project looks at the future of work, play and life through “the black mirror of data”, examining a culture that has become dependent on and synonymous with measurement, automation and optimisation, one where all work is fun and all social relations productive.

transmediale 2015, led by a curatorial team made up of Daphne Dragona, Kristoffer Gansing, Robert Sakrowski, and Marcel Schwierin, presents the artistic responses to this contemporary phenomenon, kicking off with an opening ceremony with Erica Scourti, Hanne Lippard and La Turbo Avedon, among others. The next day brings a discussion called “Glossary of Subsumption: Enclosed Athens Disclosed” with Oliver Lerone Schultz, as well as “The First Global unMonastery Summit” with unMonastery and Ben Vickers.

That Friday brings back Vickers together with Scourti and Sebastian Schmieg for “Expose and Repurpose” as well as for “Enclosures of Toxicity”  with unMonastery, and the day also features: “hybrid publishing toolkit” with Florian Cramer, “Appropriate and Accelerate – Art Under Algorithmic Pressure” with Jonas Lund“Attuning to ‘Data Doubles’” with Stephen Fortune and Matthew Plummer Fernandez among others; and Evgeny Morozov at the “All Watched Over by Algorithms” conference.

Other events of the day include “#temporarycustodians” with curator Helen Kaplinsky and artist Maurice Carlin, and “Datafied Research: Capture People” with Mercedes Bunz.

That Saturday brings another handful of great events, including ones with Benjamin Bratton, Shu Lea Cheang, Lorna Mills, Aram Bartholl, and McKenzie Wark.

See the transmediale website for details. **

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Aram Bartholl, Hurt me plenty (2014) exhibition photos

25 September 2014

The impossible desire of breaching the screen is a standard motif of much contemporary art concerned with the ‘digital’ and fixated on the ‘digits’. For Berlin-based artist Aram Bartholl, though, that’s a desire that’s not only possible but already realised via the early ‘first-person shooters’ of archaic video games. Taking its title from a player level of 1993 harbinger to VR violence, DOOM, Hurt me plenty – running at  DAM Gallery September 12 to November 14 – lingers at the halfway point between ‘I’m too young to die’ and ‘Nightmare!’.

Representing said reach into virtual space via the pixelated hands holding guns of these Duke Nukem 3D days, the exhibition immerses its audience in a conceptual milieu that not only confuses any distinction between online and offline notions of reality and materiality but time itself. Large-scale cut-outs of raster images as screen prints in low resolution grids on wood. Framed portraits of passwords, from a database lost by Yahoo! in 2012 and reinstated as a wall hanging made from pencil and paper printed by pen plotter. Graphic cards, usually running unseen as hardware in a computer, are printed, enlarged and electrified, leaning on a wall; they’re fetish-objects for gamers, now seen and aestheticised via hi-res, but still 2D, representations.

In a ‘private tour’ of the Hurt me plenty exhibition, Bartholl films and explains his work, his hands only visible and motion-smoothing giving an impression of ease through video enhancement. “It’s a very 90s space,” he says about an installation that cross-references a timeline of the last two decades of technological advancement, while androids replay recordings of unsuspecting strangers too absorbed in their handhelds to notice they’re being filmed. A tablet screens a commercial for the primitive technology used to crush harddrives (and thereby their data) not far from the real thing, while another shows footage of The Guardian destroying their Snowden files, as compelled by a desperate British authority. The lines linking the private home violence of the videogame with the brutal real violence of the state are fine, but they’re there. And as one tracks these in parallel to the real-world integration of an unreal arena into the cloud, one is inclined to answering in the affirmative when Bartholl asks, “is this already a nightmare?” **

Exhibition photos, top-right.

Read an interview with Aram Bartholl here and Olia Lialina’s Hurt me Plenty opening speech here.

Aram Bartholl’s Hurt me plenty is on at Berlin’s DAM Gallery, running from September 12 to November 1, 2014.

Header image: Aram Bartholl, ‘Hurt me plenty’ (2014) @ DAM Gallery. Courtesy the artist.

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Artists announced for FULL SCREEN exhibition

14 February 2014

The list of artists taking part in Aram Bartholl‘s FULL SCREEN group exhibition at Paris’ XPO Gallery on March 13 has been announced and it’s no less than impressive.

In celebrating the end of “pixels in a rectangle” and the beginning of straight-to-retina mediation, artists to feature include Jennifer Chan, Petra Cortright and Constant Dullaart, as well as Evan Roth, Addie Wagenknecht, Ai Weiwei and more. In the words of Bartholl himself, “for your eyes only”.

See the XPO Gallery website for details. **

Header image: Rafaël Rozendaal, ‘everything always everywhere .com’


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FULL SCREEN @ XPO Gallery, Mar 13

21 January 2014

Berlin-based artist Aram Bartholl is curating an exhibition, FULL SCREEN, at Paris’ XPO Gallery, opening on March 13.

As the screen disappears, along with our control over electronic devices, Bartholl and a selection of 10 yet-to-be-announced artists will perform an anticipatory requiem to the physical picture display by celebrating some of its most extreme incarnations. Soon to be squashed by direct to retina projection technology, Bartholl and company announce:

“Pixels in a rectangle will be history as a medium like oil painting as a media technique is history today”.

RIP. **

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‘Speed Show [2.0]’ @ Kubrick, Hong Kong, Dec 8

4 December 2013

A new installment of artist Aram Bartholl‘s Speed Show is running at Hong Kong’s Kubrick Web Shop, on December 8.

Local and international artists Audrey Samson, Daniel Howe, Fannie Ng, Olia Lialina, Tonio Mundry, Winnie Soon and Helen Pritchard will exhibit work exploring “the playful, political, and aesthetic possibilities” of the internet-as-medium in itself. The one-off event follows Berlin-based artist Bartholl’s concept of presenting “browser based internet art” in the context of an exhibition opening, the public cybercafe becoming the gallery. The implications, from an inclusive, DIY perspective, are endless.

See the Speed Show website for details. **

Tonio Mundry, ‘Kinect_Selfie_!’
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F.A.T. GOLD Europe, Nov 15 – Jan 26

14 November 2013

Free Art & Technology (aka F.A.T.) Lab is now celebrating over five years of “thug life, pop culture, and R&D” in the Netherlands’ MU Eindhoven, with an opening exhibition and book launch, November 15.

With a range of lectures and workshops running at the site from November 13 to 16, the exhibition will bring together 25 collaborators across art, hacking, engineering, music and graffiti-writing, as well as a showcase of F.A.T.’s significant works from 2007 till now, plus new projects to be launched on the night.

See the F.A.T. Gold site for more details. **

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UBERMORGEN @ Carroll/Fletcher, Oct 11

7 October 2013

Swiss-Austrian-American duo UBERMORGEN will be presenting their first solo exhibition, u s e r u n f r i e n d l y, at London’s Carroll / Fletcher, running October 11 to November 16. Featuring work across installations, videos, websites, actions, pixellated prints and digital-oil paintings, it promises a “hyper-active, super-enhanced exploration of censorship, surveillance, torture, democracy, e-commerce, and newspeak”.

Keeping things topical will be two new installations ‘Do You Think That’s Funny? – The Edward Snowden Files’ (2013) and ‘CCTV – A Parallel Universe’ (2013), as well  as a section of UBERMORGEN’s Net.Art works curated by Berlin artist Aram Bartholl and presented across an offline wireless router system, in a similar fashion as his recent OFFLINE ART: HARDCORE in Germany, to which the duo also contributed and is still running until October 13.

u s e r u n f r i e n d l y also comes accompanied by a publication including an essay by curator Magda Tyżlik-Carver and conversations between UBERMORGEN and Austrian quantum physicist Dr. Tobias Noebauer, as well as NSA intelligence leaker and fugitive Edward Snowden.

See the Carroll / Fletcher website for more details. **

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Aram Bartholl’s ‘YOUR ART!! PARTY’

27 September 2013

Evidently, ’tis the season because while celebrates a decade of doing good in London tonight, east a bloc or two and Aram Bartholl will be reveling with YOUR ART!! PARTY at Berlin’s PANKE club on September 27.

Last year’s YOUR ART!! PARTY involved making “your own YOUR ART!! GOLDEN NECKLACE at the YOUR ART!! PARTY. Show off all your works from your phone/tablet/etc wrapped as COOL necklace jewelry. You are the SHOW!! With step-by-step instructions on how to turn your various smartphone and tablet screens into bling -Nokias not excluded -as well as a video of Bartholl and friends rocking their wares with images of other people’s art, taking art appropriation to new levels. Let’s hope for more of the same.

See Today’s Art website for more details. **

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An interview with Aram Bartholl

5 September 2013

I get the feeling that Aram Bartholl is much more open to the digital realm than I am. After all, in being a practicing net artist since the 90s there’s no sense in switching off the screen of our video chat, offering a glimpse of his face from his webcam before going black, for my sake. I wonder, what happened that, I, of a later generation, am less comfortable with digital technology than he is? Maybe, it’s simply a matter of personal preference, age difference or some queer reversion to this classical notion of one’s image being something sacred. But perhaps it’s a part of the rising swell of mass anxiety about the internet, those long lingering science fiction fears about the digital world’s capabilities for civilian surveillance coming to fruition with the NSA scandal, Snowden affair and Manning trial. Going offline doesn’t seem so unappealing anymore; the desire to migrate away from the social networks that are being usurped by corporations in exchange for our online identities, a sensible one. Digital culture has well and truly established its place in the collective consciousness and the art world has consequently reached a crucial point in critical discourse.

That’s why Bartholl’s two exhibitions, the solo Hello World! and group OFFLINE ART: Hardcore (an extension on his previous OFFLINE ART show in Paris’ XPO Gallery earlier this year), running in tandem at Germany’s Kasseler Kunstverein, is such a relevant dual event. Juxtaposing Bartholl’s personal and long-running preoccupations with the blurred lines between the analogue and digital, cyber and ‘real’, worlds, with the radical net art pioneers like  Vuk Ćosić and Eva & Franco Mattes, alongside their younger counterparts, Deanna Havas and Constant Dullaart, the two exhibitions express a fuller picture of yesteryear’s effect (or lack there of) on the present. Expressed through offline routers, accessible by its viewers’ handheld devices but not by the internet, OFFLINE ART: Hardcore places its artists and their concerns, alongside Bartholl’s own works around the more ubiquitous agents of Google Maps or gaming in Hello World!. It’s as if, with the spread of digital control and the rising awareness of our places within that system, it’s important to recognise the influence the web has on our daily lives in order to maintain control over it. Because as Bartholl says, “it’s hard to tell where it ends and where it starts.”

aqnb: I was quite struck by one of the ideas from Hello World!
talking about 3D printing actualising the virtual world.

Aram Bartholl: It’s a thing I’ve been doing for quite a while now. It’s not only 3D printing, but this whole gesture of taking these 3D objects and reinserting them and discussing them in public space.

It’s very much about how this whole digital discussion has finally arrived on a very large scale, with the Snowden leaks, the Arab Spring and all this stuff that has happened over the past three years. When I started working with these topics, it was still very much fresh and new, maybe ‘sexy dot com’, but a lot of people still didn’t know what to do with the internet. Nowadays, it’s sort of taking over or it’s just there. It fits very much the situation we live in right now because there’s Bitcoin, spying, the copyright discussion, the digital revolution happened some years ago but the impact is right now.

aqnb: When you mentioned that you end up outside of the system if you’re not on Google Maps, it reminds me of the gentrification of the internet; communities of online artists being commodified through the corporate takeover of social networks. 

AB: It’s like a neighbourhood, which gets taken over, right? It’s interesting. There’s always been these terms, before it was called ‘blog art’, which is art that is actually made for blogs, to be ‘re-blogged’. I dont look much at Facebook but there’s a lot of art happening there too. It’s probably important to follow these things, like when there were projects on MySpace ten years ago and it was very vibrant, but you’re always depending on these big companies and if there are some boobs, or something that they don’t like, they will censor you. I don’t think it’s right, this enivornment, to work as an artist. You can do it but then you also need to know what to do technically and to know how you’re censored and maybe find other ways to express yourself.

Aram Bartholl 2
aqnb: It’s also the fact they own your images.

AB: Yeah. When you look at the terms of licensing of these things, you can’t do it at all. But I totally understand because it’s very fast, it’s very well-connected to all your artist friends, it’s very influential, high-speed; there’s group art going on and has a lot of attention, I totally get that.

With the routers on the wall [of OFFLINE ART], it’s the opposite, in taking things offline. It also has implicitly this discussion where there are these moments in Net art where people have sold work so it’s always a question of, ‘do I take the work offline or not?’ The very classic pioneers, they would have never taken their work offline but the younger generation is more tending to do it. Either way is fine, people can choose freely.

It works the same way as for the music industry: ‘how can you lock down these files?’ Because there will always be a copy somewhere. There are platforms like s[edition] where they bring in new models of collecting art that are sort of questionable but, on the one hand, it’s my topic of giving these situations, or artistic forms, a physical gesture. The net art is actually on this router, this object. There’s this USB drive on top of this router, so it’s really on there.

Also, in terms of commercial business, I like the idea that I would hang a router like this. I’ve swapped pieces with Evan Roth where I would have a piece of his on my wall and I like, very much, this notion of having it as a piece you can hang. At the same time, of course, it’s ridiculous.

aqnb: That connects to what you said about 3D printing and the actualisation of the virtual in the physical. Because, with music for example, if you actively avoid producing mp3s and only put your product out on vinyl, it’s still possible for someone else to copy that record and disseminate it digitally.

AB: It’s like this whole discussion in big industry, like music and movies. The next thing, with 3D printing, will be sneakers and other professional items. There are already these court cases over people who have created Final Fantasy figures from computer games or tabletop games, where they start suing them for that.

In art, of course, this discussion has been already around with photography, where you can reproduce it all the time, it’s not a painting anymore. As an artist, I would say, ‘look, here’s a gif, it’s an edition of three and you get a contract’, or maybe you get a customised flash drive and certificate and you have a collectors item but it’s still on 4chan, it’s all over the Internet. You cannot lock it down, and that’s not the way art collecting works.

Aram Bartholl 1
aqnb: I suppose that already happened a long time ago with fashion, when you could produce clothes en masse

AB: Exactly. There are many other examples. It’s just that, in terms of market, which is not the most interesting thing to discuss about art [laughs], but our market is very conservative, we all know that. Paintings to hang on the wall are still the most sellable thing but maybe not the most interesting.

aqnb: With all this reproduction going on, on a basic ecological level, the multiplication of all things spells the ultimate end of all things too.

AB: Yeah. On one hand there’s all these technologies to reproduce things and I also think there’s a lot of opportunity in there, open source, DIY, instead of driving cars with gasoline, people ganging up now to produce better technology in terms of the environment and in terms of how they’re made, but at the same time where living now in this super global capitalism now and it’s the overkill for the earth.

It depends on the point of view. You could maybe call it now the Paradise some tribes envisioned many years ago because we have all things but I think most people are quite aware that we are pretty much on the edge. Probably, it’s going to continue for much more time somehow but it will be very unequal for different groups of people, like what it is today already.

aqnb: This myth that the internet has somehow made the world more equal.

AB: There’s this promise that the internet will democratise everything and, to a certain level those things happened, or improved, there’s been Arabic erosions and Occupy –not because of Facebook but because people have the tools now and can gang up easily –but at the same time there’s governments and big interest groups that are very capable of doing what the NSA does. They can use the same tools and they can use them much more efficiently.

Less politically, there’s also this way of seeing these ideas. It used to be this idea of ‘cyberspace’ and ‘we’re going to hook up to the ‘net and fly’, all these movies from the 90s where you’re connected to the grid and you’re in this black vast space with all these cubes floating around, which is a very classic science fiction ideology or fantasy. But what’s happening right now, which I think is more interesting, is that this whole digital space is unfolding on to the real world, on to us, on to cities. When I built these objects for my solo shows, like this Google Map marker and these things, it was always about this question of, ‘how does this take effect in real life and what is visible?’ **

Aram Bartholl’s solo and group exhibitions Hello World! and OFFLINE ART: Hardcore are running at Germany’s Kasseler Kunstverein from August 29 to October 13, 2013.

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Aram Bartholl @ XPO Gallery reviewed

22 May 2013

If contemporary internet-based art is anything to go by, the world-renowned German artist Aram Bartholl could be qualified as a ‘conscientious objector’ of web 2.0. Indeed, right from his start in 1995, and later through his collaboration with the The Free Art and Technology Lab (F.A.T.), he skilfully forewarned people of the coercive power of technology, media and, to some extent, social networks. The exhibition ‘Retweet if you want more followers’, a title that reads like a daily mantra for any surfer, is an examination of the issues of interaction between the virtual world, reality and their collusion.

Working both online and offline, Bartholl’s keynote consists not only of contriving ways to measure the role of cyberspace in physical space, but also to take stock of the data world’s manifestations in the everyday. For him, common arguments centred on areas of public and private life have veered toward questions of “how do digital innovations influence our everyday actions?” This explorative research has been well-documented through the digital practice of ‘Surf-Sample-Manipulate’ theorist Mark Amerika in remixthebook:

the early Net artists were, in many ways, ahead of their time. But now that has all changed. Net Art 2.0, like Web 2.0, is embedded in the practices and rituals of everyday life. You can’t be a Net artist today without taking into account where the impetus for turning the Net into an artistic instrument came from.’ (…) This may be the reason why so much of the artwork being created by next generations Net artists is less avant (ahead of its time) and more pop (in its time).”

Aram Bartholl install view
Aram Bartholl install view

Bartholl’s solo show presents a series of works playing on the idea that the Internet is a permanent, eye-catching stream of signs and codes we analyse and filter on a daily basis. Screens are our windows into the digital world, like painting was treated as a view to the real world during the Renaissance. ‘Print Screen’, reposing on a declination of negative, painted screenshots on paper, canvas, Plexiglas or aluminium, functions as a visual metaphor. It can also be perceived as an allegory for the short display-duration of images or data on the web, so as to make them elusive. ‘Your Art!!’ sets up private screens as public exhibition spaces, while ‘Private Password’ stresses the limitless landscape of personal data and its invading hackers with an engraving of 12,000 LinkedIn user’s passwords, stolen during the summer 2012.

More than an architect (by background), designer, hacker, and curator, Aram Bartholl assumes the role of a kind of social gadfly, that never takes itself too seriously. He subtly upsets our perceptions of Internet usage, challenging our passivity in the web community and attempting to define cultural activity in the digital age. Greg Leuch, his counterpart belonging to F.A.T., accurately asserts that the Internet is not just something you experience on a computer, but it’s also something you can react and respond to, repurpose and remix. Whether or not such practices will go down in the history of art, it pertains to the invention of a free culture where the open-source movement, as well as DIY and peer-to-peer practices are a declaration of independence from a formatted culture embodied, among others, by Google’s monopoly. **

Retweet if you want more followers is running @ XPO Gallery from May 16 to June 14, 2013

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