HOW CAN THE RAW MATERIAL OF THE SNOWDEN FILES BE TRANSFORMED INTO ART AND COMMONS?

SIGNALS is the first project to critically engage with artists responding to the NSA files leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden. It reflects on how artists are deploying the files as raw material and, by creating all kinds of works, are transforming them into commons. The exhibition and books feature contributions by Zeljko Blace (CRO), Andrew Clement (CAN), Naomi Colvin (GBR), Simon Denny (NZL), Christoph Hochhäusler (GER), Evan Light (CAN), Geert Lovink (NED), M.C. McGrath (USA), Henrik Moltke (DEN), Deborah Natsios (USA), Julian Oliver (NZL), Trevor Paglen (USA), Laura Poitras (USA), SAZAE bot (JPN), Stefan Tiron (ROU), University of the Phoenix (CAN), Maria Xynou (ESP), John Young (USA) and more.

Exhibition

Objectives

The title takes its cue from intelligence agencies: they refer to any type of communication as a 'signal', and they collect and analyze these 'signals' on a massive scale. The exhibition translates this into the language of culture, where the world is coded and decoded in the form of 'signals' shaped by political and economic contexts. The exhibition is partitioned into two sections: frontend and backend. These terms designate on the one hand computerized user interfaces, on the other data bases which reside behind the interfaces. The backend structures the possibilities of the frontend, e.g. by monitoring all interactions and by using that data to predict future uses. All of this remains opaque to users. The exhibition turns the tables on these conditions and complicates them.

Frontend

The frontend of the SIGNALS exhibition presents a representative spectrum of appropriations of the Snowden documents in the fields of art, media and archives. In this way the frontend provides insights into processes and infrastructure that usually remain black-boxed: e.g., the cooperations between security services and commercial web services, the web of undersea cables that actually constitutes the celestial cloud, the discursive construction of quantified citizens, etc. The disclosures of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden are not simply documented at the exhibition's frontend; instead they appear transformed through various forms of appropriation: as works of art, as material of archives, as dubious media sources.

Backend

The backend of the exhibition has the look and feel of an open participation platform. The exhibition appears unfinished and confronts the visitors with the question of how they can contribute to the show and expand the actual body of work. The backend presents options for working with the Snowden documents. In this way it places the potential of the precarious documents up for discussion. Material, tools, workshops and art works offer possibilities to transform the documents and their 'secret knowledge' into means of political communication. Meanwhile, additional materials such as news clippings or quotes from movies are calling forth doubt – last but not least about the socio-political consequences of any work that has been done with Snowden files so far.

Program

Events

The exhibition program is complemented with talks, performances and workshops involving many of the project contributors. The first dates have been set: September 11, book launch of "A Field Guide to the Snowden Files" at book shop Walter König, at 7 p.m. (tbc); September 12, exhibition opening at DIAMONDPAPER Studio, at 6 p.m.; September 13, Workshop "Snowden Archive in a Box" at DIAMONDPAPER Studio, at 6 p.m. More dates will be announced soon.

Book 1: A Field Guide to the Snowden Files

Two publications, both published in English by DIAMONDPAPER, extend the dialectical frontend/backend narrative of the exhibition. "A Field Guide to the Snowden Files. Media, Art, Archives. 2013-2017", edited by the exhibition curators Magdalena Taube and Krystian Woznicki, gathers for the first time a representative selection of artists working with the Snowden files and places them in context with appropriations by media folks and archivists. Order the book by clicking here.

Book 2: Fugitive Belonging

"Fugitive Belonging. The Politics of Citizenship in the Networked State" is authored by Krystian Woznicki. Combining theory and photography, it reflects the broader socio-political context behind the Snowden disclosures. Conceiving of the interconnection between the post-sovereign state and global networks as the contemporary framework for political agency, it asks profound questions about what it means to be a non-/citizen today.

Information

The Berliner Gazette (BG) has worked on the Snowden disclosures from the very beginning. It has launched several critical interventions under the motto Snowden Commons that are intended to explore and expand the democratic potential of the disclosures. As a nonprofit and nonpartisan team of journalists, researchers, artists and coders, the BG analyzes and tests emerging cultural and political practices. Since 1999 the BG has been publishing berlinergazette.de under a Creative Commons license – with more than 900 contributors from all over the world – as well as organizing symposia, exhibitions and editing books. Mail suggestions to: info(at)berlinergazette.de. Visit our site http://berlinergazette.de

Organizer

Organizer

The independent art and theory publishing house DIAMONDPAPER has managed an exhibition space at the address Köpenicker Strasse 96 in Berlin since the fall of 2015. The venue, which is accessible to the public and open on the side facing the street, is situated on the boundary between Mitte and Kreuzberg and is meant to function as a showcase for the ‘book works’ that are designed in the rear section of the building. The publishing house was founded by artist Thomas Scheibitz, designer Karsten Heller and manager Volker Ludwig in the early 2000s. It aims to create a common space in which to bring together important artistic positions and critical thought. Artists include Maria Loboda, Johannes Kahrs, Katja Strunz, Michael Schmidt.

Venue

Venue

DIAMONDPAPER Studio is located on Köpenicker Straße 96, Berlin-Kreuzberg, D-10115. The opening hours between September 12-26, 2017 are Tuesday through Saturday 12 to 8 p.m. The admission is free. Note: The exhibition will be open in October by appointment only.

Address + opening hours

Address + opening hours

In the week of the BG annual conference – FRIENDLY FIRE. Failed Citizens or Failed States? – which is taking place on November 2-4, 2017 at ZK/U, the exhibition will be open daily. Between October 30 and November 4, the opening hours are daily from 12 to 8 p.m.

Special opening hours

Special opening hours

The books of the SIGNALS project will be available via the DIAMONDPAPER website ( http://diamondpaper.de ) and in bookshops, such as pro qm, Walther König, b books and Motto Books in Berlin.

Bookshops

Bookshops

The SIGNALS project is supported by the Capital Cultural Fund. It is administered by the Senate department responsible for culture of the city-state of Berlin, which in turn is financed by the city-state.

Funding

Funding

Partners