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.

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→ author: Francis Hunger, published on: 2015-May-21

Search Routines – Exhibition Leipzig

Search Routines Exhibition at D21 Kunstraum 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.

Deep Love Algorithm – Exhibition view Deep Love Algorithm – Exhibition view


→ author: Francis Hunger, published on: 2014-Oct-02

Search Routines Workshops with Heath Bunting & WaiWai

Update (2015 Jan): Documentation of the workshops can be downloaded here:

Open Call

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. 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 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.

A cooperation of Kunstraum D21 (Lena Brüggemann & Hannah Sieben) und SubLab e.V., Leipzig und

→ 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)

You may also want to watch the other recorded sessions at including Matteo Pasquinelli, Maurizio Lazzarato, Elena Esposito and others.

→ author: Francis Hunger, published on: 2014-Jan-22