2014-10-21

Lunch Bytes is a series of discussions dedicated on art and digital culture, initiated by the Goethe-Institut in Northwestern Europe. As a collaboration with the Royal Institute of Art as well as Tensta konsthall, the program will also take place in Stockholm. In its first manifestation at the Royal Institute of Art, together with Professor Donatella Bernardi, its format was extended to CYBERPUNK PIZZA DELIVERY IN A DISCO CATHEDRAL. Part of this public two day event are artist talks as well as a Lunch Bytes discussion with the title “Society: Utopia”. 

Programme
Tuesday 28 October, 1-4 pm
Location: Hus 28, Royal Institute of Art
Artists' talk with the participation of:
- Ruanne Abou-Rahme, artist, Ramallah, international
- Tobias Bernstrup, artist, Stockholm
- Constant Dullaart, artist, Berlin

Wednesday 29 October, 6-8pm
Location: Royal Institute of Art, Flaggmansvägen 1
Lunch Bytes Stockholm #1 Society: Utopia. Panel discussion with:
- Ruanne Abou-Rahme, artist, Ramallah, international
- Tobias Bernstrup, artist, Stockholm
- Ana Betancourt, architect, professor of Urban Design at Chalmers University of Technology, Gothenburg
- Constant Dullaart, artist, Berlin

Moderated by:
- Donatella Bernardi, artist, Professor at Royal Institute of Art, Stockholm
- Melanie Bühler, curator Lunch Bytes, Amsterdam

Donatella_Bernardi_small   Image: Donatella Bernardi (2014)

From the mid-90s onwards, artists started to explore the potentials of the emerging new media landscape. New networked technologies, connected via the internet, were perceived by many as providing an opportunity for engaging with art in a different, more radical and non-institutional way. Digital technologies were regarded as agents for change: they held out a promise for more democratic access to art and knowledge, new forms of civic engagement and doing politics, as well as cultivating, global anonymous communities. Whereas many of these hopes proved premature, others have, at least partially, materialized – revolutions and social movements have been facilitated by networked technologies and open-source information platforms such as Wikipedia have rendered information more accessible.

Still, looking at the current state of affairs and the socio-economic reality of our digital environment, these utopian imaginaries have been largely abandoned. Vast parts of the contemporary web are presently owned by a few private mega companies, which capitalize on the content and data generated by the users of their platforms. The internet has turned into a network from which everything is profiled and monitored for commercial and state interests which are beyond our control. The grass-roots medium of empowerment and identity play has turned into a corporate walled garden, in which users are converted into data profiles and potential consumers. This leads us to the question: what is left of the utopian and democratic potential and hopes connected to the internet and digital formats? How have artists, both pre- and post-Snowden, engaged with digital technology as a tool for political action and empowerment? Is there a particular critical aesthetic that has emerged with art that deals with web-based insurrectional practices and, if so, is its mode of critique adequate to comment on the issues confronting today's web? Or, as Geert Lovink puts it in his most recent article for e-flux, "[w]hat is citizen empowerment in the age of the driverless car?"

In collaboration with the Goethe-Institut.