The publication »Search Routines: Tales of Databases« enlarges on the topics discussed in the exhibition, the workshop and during the symposium which took place at D21 Kunstraum and sublab hackerspace Leipzig in 2014. A series of interviews with Francis Hunger, Kernel, Pil and Galia Kollectiv and Sebastian Schmieg review artistic strategies like narration or the translation of data and algorithms to adress the invisibility of databases. Reports from the workshops with Heath Bunting and WaiWai tell about the potential of making the invisible visible or simply of hiding oneself from the databases’ range of view. The symposium discusses databases from a sociological and cultural science perspective.
Design: Paul Spehr
Copy Edit: William Clapp, Juliane Richter
Printed by: Bod, Norderstedt 2015
Authors: Lena Brüggemann, Marcus Burkhardt, Cesca Golodnaya, Francis Hunger, Daniel Pauselius
Artists: Francis Hunger, Kernel, Pil and Galia Kollectiv, Sebastian Schmieg, Jonas Lund und Johannes P Osterhoff
Funded by Kulturstiftung des Freitstaates Sachsen. Realized in cooperation with the Hybrid Publishing Lab, Innovation Incubator, Leuphana University Lüneburg.
→ author: Francis Hunger,
published on: 2015-Nov-10
Deep Love Algorithm Exhibition and Database Derive in Berlin
The exhibition included the workshop Database-Derive, an exploration into the concept of »Infrastructural Inversion« (Bowker/Star) and »Infrastructural Tourism« (Mattern). For the workshop the non-profit city-run exhibition space Galerie Wedding issued an invitation to participate. About ten people with diverse backgrounds, mostly art-affinicados, artists or students of related fields attended. After a 45 min introduction into the topical field, the idea was to walk around the Berlin streets and try to identify the visible ends of database systems. I had a few paper forms on pads prepared where participants could take notes. One was simply space for a hand drawn map, another recorded the general mood or spirit of the particular participant and another form allowed to record a list of our observations. Initially I had also prepared a coin, so we could throw coins, when deciding which direction we should take – inspired by the chance operations of John Cage. It turned out however, that in this particular street, the occurences of database signs were so dense, that after one-and-a-half hours we were still on that same street and decided to finish the walk in a cafe. The walk turned out to be inspiring since it produced new knowledge to which all participants contributed. It also fostered discussion amongst the participants. Some of them enjoyed the opportunity to discuss and interact, to experience the city differently and to acquire or share knowledge, but it also was questioned if what we were doing, could be called art.
Bus Stop with schedule. Basically we assumed from common knowledge, that all the scheduling data is stored in the municipal transport services’ database.
Tree with ID number. The ID indicates that this tree is recorded on file of the Berlin land-registry office. We assume that it is used to store information about the trees health status and calculate the environmental balance on that particular street.
Gas pipe sign signals, where the gas pipe is to be found on the ground. The ID (11-digit number on top) implies that this location is stored in a file at GASAG, the local supplier.
Computer Store – We asked the owner, which Enterprice Resource Planning System (ERP) he was using…
A participant explained, that inside each post box is a bar code to be scanned when the post box is emptied. The status of the emptied post box is then updated in a database and recorded for tracking reasons.
→ author: Francis Hunger,
published on: 2015-Jul-02
Database Infrastructure – Factual repercussions of a ghost.
»The US-societies’ low income fringe, which grew significantly during the crisis years, includes people who rely on state-run food support. These benefits still bear the name ›food stamps‹, a term that refers to the post-World War II period although a private company actually runs a digital system called ›Electronic Benefits Transfer‹, in short EBT, that deals with the financial transactions. […] Last Saturday, around 9 a.m. [Oct. 12, 2013] in some northern federal states the electronic EBT-cards began to malfunction. The food chains‹ shopping peak time had not yet begun. One and a half hour later the EBT-payment system failed at the West coast and shortly after in the East as well down to Florida, at a time when many clients began their shopping. […] Within a few days the situation escalated. The computer problems appeared to be of serious nature and the EBT-system stayed offline. Occasionally reports of organized supermarket plundering appeared on the Internet – it got dicey in gunmens’ country« (Kurz 2013:37, transl. F.H.). This is how journalist Constanze Kurz describes in the newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung an infrastructural breakdown, providing an impressing example for infrastructures getting visible only during break-down.
Aim of the following text is to develop a notion, how the visibility of database systems – understood as basic infrastructure in Post-Fordist societies – can be raised. Infrastructure studies, a relatively new theoretical field, provides the theoretical framework, which is enriched with methods from media studies, media history and media art. First I’ll discuss infrastructure in general, and in how far database systems can be addressed as infrastructure. Further we look into the various dimensions of database infrastructure, such as time, space, membership, organizational structures and practices. This shall lead to an practical approach for making database systems more visible, through paying attention to recurring aspects of user interfaces that can help to identify underlying database infrastructures. My intention with this text is to develop a theoretical base for further practical, artistic explorations.
→ author: Francis Hunger,
published on: 2015-May-21
Search Routines – Exhibition Leipzig
Search Routines: Narrations of Databases – Kunstraum D21, Leipzig
curated by Lena Brüggemann & Hannah Sieben
Oct 4 – Nov 2, 2014
The exhibition sets its focus behind the user interfaces and aims to establish a consciousness for the societal, political and cultural dimensions of databases. Instead of trying to visualize data, the exhibited works examine the underlying history of ideas, showing not so much the content, but the logics and form of data administration and the culture behind.
Participating Artists: Kernel, Pil and Galia Kollectiv, Sebastian Schmieg, Jonas Lund und Johannes P Osterhoff, Francis Hunger
Francis Hunger: Deep Love Algorithm (2013), produced by The Bergen Assembly, Installation (video, wood, digital prints)
Idea and Realisation: Francis Hunger, Photography: Sebastian Hühmer, Sound: Cornelia Friederike Müller, Translation: Tom Morrison, Actress: Franziska Leiste, Actor: Torsten Hampel.
→ author: Francis Hunger,
published on: 2014-Oct-02
Search Routines Workshops with Heath Bunting & WaiWai
Along the exhibition and symposium Search Routines at Kunstraum D21, Leipzig/Germany come two workshops with irationalists WaiWai and Heath Bunting. Both workshops are about hacking – not so much in a technological sense, but as a social matter.
Bunting: Status Project
Within this workshop we’ll construct an identity or an anonymous corporation using and further developing Heath Buntings Status database and other material. http://status.irational.org/ The workshop is open– with the participants’ input – to also practically talk about how to build and use databases and/or how to visualize data from databases. This is in no way a technical workshop, although it may involve some kinds of technology. It is about ideas, sharing of knowledge and questioning the invisible of the database. »42 years old from birht / 63 kilos in weight / a Bank of England creditor / able to accept terms and conditions / able to access the internet / able to bath myself« (Excerpt from Artist’s self portrait by Heath Bunting) – 10 participants
WaiWai: Outside the Default
This workshop will move the opposite way and will do further research into questions of disappearing from the radar of databases. Given that more and more details of us individuals get collected in several databases (surveillance, corporate) it would be interesting to learn and try how to escape them. This might lead finally into the woods, but maybe an escape is also possible within the city or even while being online. The main focus of the workshop would be understanding how dependency was developed by a fabricated system to its users, and how we can free ourselves from the database through extracting resources outside of the default routing. e.g. sourcing fire, water, food, network outside of the system. – 10 participants
Call for participation: We are looking for up to ten participants per workshop in Leipzig on October 23–25 in Leipzig.
There is no workshop fee. We try to provide a travel grant of 50,00 Euro for up to seven participants, depending on distance to Leipzig. On request we can try to place free private accommodation. Please indicate, if you need that. Workshop language is English.
Application Deadline: September 27 or earlier. First come, first serve. To apply, please send three to five sentences to firstname.lastname@example.org why you would like to be involved. We’ll inform you latest September 30.
Curated by Francis Hunger
Funded by Kulturamt der Stadt Leipzig, der Kulturstiftung des Freistaates Sachsen and Stiftung Kulturwerk der VG Bild-Kunst.
→ author: Francis Hunger,
published on: 2014-Aug-12
Algorithms and machines in knowledge production. Lecture
Algorithmen und Maschinen in der Wissensproduktion was a lecture in the frame of New Industries Conference. Money and dept in the post-industrial world. January 16. – 19., 2014, HMKV at Dortmunder U. A discussion with a panel about algo trading with Constanze Kurz (Berlin), RYBN.ORG (Paris), Wolfgang Coy (Berlin) und Francis Hunger (Leipzig), Moderation: Judith Funke (HMKV)