Vilém Flusser Residency for Artistic Research 2017: Demystification Committee

Offshore Investigation Vehicle, Demystification Committee
Offshore Investigation Vehicle, Demystification Committee

For the Vilém Flusser Residency Program for Artistic Research 2017, we are pleased to announce that jury members Kristoffer Gansing, Susanne Kriemann and Maren Hartmann have selected the The Demystification Committee, consisting of the artist duo Oliver Smith and Francesco Tacchini, for their residency project proposal Offshore Investigation Vehicle.

Chaired by Smith and Tacchini, The Demystification Committee is a collaborative framework set up to investigate the globalised, extra-state, covert systems and large-scale networks, processes and technologies that shape our society. The exploration of such fluctuating technology encompasses, but is not limited to, the study of platforms, machines, physical networks, virtual & artificial forces, legal & juridical frameworks. With a focus on these processes the Committee attempts to represent, expose and understand clashing technological and societal trajectories through artistic experimentation. Going beyond the use of specific techniques, tools or technologies, the Demystification Committee experiments with alternative narratives to the dominant myths surrounding technology and society.

The proposal for the residency, Offshore Investigation Vehicle is based on ongoing research into the structures of power embodied in offshore practices and tries to identify means of dislocating these financial systems. The artists have chosen an interventionist approach through which they themselves propose to become offshore. But how does one do that when such structures and their perpetrators remain obscure? By the creation of an “Offshore A-Z” database, the Committee has carried out a first, pre-Panama Papers, data collection on which algorithms operate, mapping and utilising patterns such as recurring tactical mistakes in the naming and legal frameworks of offshore finance. The next phase of the project involves setting up an offshore entity in order to research the subject further from within as well as exploring possible offshore tactics with additional collaborators through a series of workshops. The jury especially valued the political nature of the project as combined with a sensitivity for the aesthetics of offshoring and the provocative nature of the experimental methodology, formulated as a “research threat”. As the artists themselves write, they are “using the tools of financial secrecy to create not an offshore investment vehicle, but an offshore investigation vehicle.” In this sense, the jury found the project also related to Vilém Flusser’s concept of ”apparatus“, since ”[a]pparatuses, though the result of industry, point beyond the industrial context towards post-industrial society. Therefore a formulation of things based on industry (…) is no longer competent to deal with apparatuses and misses what they are about. We have to reach out for new categories in order to be able to tackle apparatuses and define what they are.“ (Flusser, Towards a Philosophy of Photography)

The residency program is a cooperation between the Vilém Flusser Archive at the Berlin University of the Arts (UdK) and transmediale, festival for art and digital culture Berlin.