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Curator, “Ghosted 2018”

 

Curatorial development for 1 of 3 2018 Akademie Schloss Solitude and ZKM | Center for Art and Media  web residencies.  Residents are awarded with the production prize HASH by Solitude & ZKM at the end of the year. Find out more about the program.

»Ghosted 2018«  Four new artistic projects have been selected for the web residencies: The artists Juan Covelli (Colombia/UK), Dananayi Muwanigwa (Zimbabwe), Sahej Rahal (India), and Léa Porré (UK) will work on their projects from April 9 until May 6, 2018. Their proposals include explorations of traditional African beauty/aesthetics with digital paintings, interactive games on Internet shamanism, mythology, and meme culture, 3D-print-archives where images can be downloaded and remixed by the user, and visual examinations of hyperreal oases in the no mans’-land of digital culture.

Original Curatorial Call: >> Ghosted 2018 <<
Through colonialism and apartheid, many African cultures were denied participation in the progress of media technologies. Scientific colonialism ensured access to natural resources (the fuel modernism) and the labelling of African cultures as stagnant and stuck in time. These cultures where essentially »ghosted» in time. On this, Delinda Collier states:

In the case of colonialism in Africa, the ghosting of indigenous media practices was not an unfortunate consequence of colonial rule, as most scholars of the time understood it, but rather an intentional divestment of indigenous populations of power by participation.

The now common knowledge that Europe created the notion of Africa as practicing unchanging traditions – amounted to the limited definition of »medium« in Africa to that of objects and performances as emblems of superstitious practices. (online, 2013)«

Collier uses a part of this argument to identify how in contemporary cultural practices, the histories of technological media are in fact colonial histories, which start to include a power of participation by African’s only much much later. Collier further highlights that »medium« in this frame takes on a slightly altered approach.

My focus in this call, however, expands on the first line of thinking – fast forwarded to 2018.

This is a call for unpacking the place and role of internet culture and the globalized information economy in line with neocolonialism:

What are the consequences of Western technologies on non-Western cultures?

What are scientific or technological colonialisms in 2018?

The term the »digital divide« in the 1990s was about the divide between how nations either did or did not have access to internet connectivity or digital hardware. In 2018 the »digital divide« is no longer about this; it is now about the ability to attain meaningful use from the internet and a globalized information society.

Neil Selwyn states, »[Meaningful] use should be considered to be useful, fruitful, significant and have relevance to the individual,« (Neil Selwyn, 2014) focusing on what an individual can gain not only economically, but also from social and cultural meaning (Ibid.) in this digitized world.

If we unpack these terms: economic capital is not only about access to resources, but furthermore – patterns of use, as economic divisions lead to particular patterns of use when accessing content online. In extension when we explore the role of social or cultural capital, we start seeing how people are influenced by a techno-culture socialization.

This techno-culture socialization is understood (Ibid.) to be linked to obligations and connections of particular networks and the informational power dynamic that exist between cultures, languages, and systems – and content they hold over others.

From a nonwestern perspective, engaging meaningful use means engaging and growing networks that don’t emanate from the West, but rather support content and narratives that focus on Southern social and cultural capital.

There is an increasing need in nonwestern cultures for internet use to be intertwined with the importance of self-determination and decolonial thinking. A position evolving from the African continent – but true for many cultures and their development in the presence as non-western knowledges. I therefore ask:

Where are the transformational archives of the South; bringing ghosted cultures to the fore?

Where are the break-up letters for the Western digital world?

The call is addressed to artists, hackers, visual and audio makers, subaltern archivists and southern healers. This call is for creative and artistic practices on non-Western explorations of cultural capital – or the effects of Western cultural capital – via personal or community archives, web performances, web sculpture and various forms of Net art and online interactions that explore meaningful transformation, self-determination, and decolonization, that may include break-up letters.