The Eternal Network
28 Jan – 01 Mar 2020
Haus der Kulturen der Welt
The Eternal Network is a group exhibition about the persistence of networks, with a focus on their potentials and limits in response to current social and technological changes.
In times of environmental and political turmoil, networks have lost their mass appeal and are the subject of widespread backlash: blackouts, propaganda, hate speech, addiction, and a human desire to disintermediate from the platforms of surveillance capitalism. Still, networks are ubiquitous, and thus both the poison and cure for the act of organizing within activism and politics alike. With the now more tangible limits of networks in mind, the exhibition asks how effectively they respond to future models of sociality, technology, and politics.
Starting with the 1960s concept of “The Eternal Network” by Fluxus artist Robert Filliou, the exhibition features a reference system with three lists of terms, quotes, and visuals that highlight histories and transformations of net cultures. Through new interpretations of archival materials, a series of “Revisions” presents select net culture projects from the 1990s until today. If “The Eternal Network” notion predicted new forms of exchange in an emerging global world, the critical net cultures featured in the Revisions similarly speculated on cultural practice in relation to the emerging infrastructure of the web and society after globalization.
By connecting “The Eternal Network,” critical net cultures, and contemporary artworks, the exhibition closes the loop between the pre- and post-internet moments. With the backlash against networks in mind, it re-examines the legacies of critical net cultures, asking if and how they will continue to have an emancipatory relevance in the future.
Networks are everywhere, whether personal or organizational, for social or business life, centralized or decentralized. Leaving behind a decade marked by a backlash against the Internet and the network society, transmediale 2020 End to End focuses on forgotten and potential futures and re-evaluates networks and their limits. European critical Internet cultures that emerged in the 1990s serve as a starting point: They consistently provided alternatives to Silicon Valley’s centralized business models and to the belief that problems can be solved quickly and easily with new technologies.
Where are the limits of Internet-based networks? Is there a conceivable counter-power power? What alternative technological models and cultural narratives are needed to construct the principles of end-to-end communication anew? These questions will be explored at HKW in talks, screenings and the month-long group exhibition The Eternal Network. It shows around 15 artistic positions that question cultural and technological networks and rethink them in relation to contemporary urgencies. The film and video day Streaming Life with short film screenings, a lecture screening, talks and a feature film introduces both artistic and documentary perspectives on the discourse about the history and future of digital and analog networks.