Biometric technology is on the rise. Its applications are wide-ranging: facial scanning to replace passwords; iris recognition to replace debit cards; fingerprints to replace passports. Value is increasingly tied to faces, and faces have increasing value. Boaz Levin and Vera Tollmann, theorists and cofounders of the Research Center For Proxy Politics, explore the “token value” of identity resulting from such software and hardware, where one’s “digital identity and physical body become closely entangled” and one’s virtual proxy enters the political realm. Can the one-to-one relationship between self and proxy be skewed through forms of obfuscation? What will happen when the face on the screen looks back?
Stefan Heidenreich’s book recently published by Merve Verlag is titled Money(2017). What it presents is not exactly a polemic against money, but rather a convincing speculation that soon we may not need money at all. While the notion that currency might soon become obsolete sounds like science fiction to many, Heidenreich argues that we are likely already within the first phase of a media transition leading to that point. Given the complex information infrastructures that have already been developed for documenting transactions, tying consumer habits to identities, and accurately predicting future exchanges, the substructure of a new kind of economy is now in place. In excerpts from his book, Heidenreich explores the potential ways this system might function, based partially on sophisticated “matching” formulas, leading to an age that could be more fair and equitable, but that might also produce monopolization and co-option in entirely new ways.
In the 1990s, cyberfeminists conceived a new feminism for the twenty-first century. Inspired by the as-yet-unexplored possibilities of digital networked technologies, enthusiasm spread with the idea that the new imaginary realm of zeroes and ones could make discrimination based on physical and material differences obsolete, thus offering new forms of resistance. In this text, originally published in across & beyond—Post-digital Practices, Concepts, and Institutions, pioneering cyberfeminist Cornelia Sollfrank revisits the various elaborations of cyberfeminism practiced in the 1990s, in order to ask how they might live on and apply to the present.
Friedrich Kittler's keynote from transmediale 2007, transcribed and translated for the first time
What is the relation between computational algorithms and creative production? Can the second be arrived at through use of the first? Is there historical specificity to their relationship due to recent advances in technology, or are there age-old connections between mathematical constraints and creative questioning of the universe? In 2007 the eminent media theorist Friedrich Kittler (1943–2011) worked through these questions (and many others) in a lecture at transmediale. The lecture and following conversation, moderated by informatics professor Wolfgang Coy, is publicly presented as text and translated from the original German for the first time here.
The German Film and Television Academy (dffb) was a lively center of artistic and intellectual discourse in the 1980s. Inspired by punk, students and professors experimented with new electronic media, which allowed them to slice up traditional narrative form to create works that entered the international art scene to great acclaim. The dffb’s director, Heinz Rathsack, was eager to keep up with the times, and in a seminar in February 1985 invited the eminent Hungarian filmmaker Gábor Bódy to present his ideas on non-narrative work the future of the digital image. Inspired by Bódy’s often esoteric ideas, students created a series of projects called Zeittransgraphien—loosely “time transfigurations”—and later a series of three works (together titled Videolabyrinth) on interactive videodisc, a medium that had fascinated Bódy. In the middle of the production of the first works, Bódy died in mysterious circumstances, and the experiments with time sequencing gained an uncanny symbolism. Friederike Anders, a student at the dffb at the time, recalls the development of these artworks against the backdrop of the development of the academy as well as global events, providing a vital record of the time and a call for further archival efforts.