!Mediengruppe Bitnik & Low Jack (DE/FR)
Single channel video installation with sound, Full HD, 16:9, 08:28; Amazon Echo and Google home devices, screen, loud speakers and cables; printed 12” EP sleeve, print on acrylic glass, download code.
Intelligent Personal Assistants like Amazon’s Alexa, Google Home and Siri are the brains of the smart home ecosystem. They operate, monitor and control smart home appliances while keeping the algorithms and rule-sets that determine their workings secret. Intelligent Personal Devices are voice controlled, thus dissolving the machinic presence of the computer while placing its functionalities at the users disposal. It’s like living inside the machine, while at the same time having no agency over the composition and structure of one’s environment. What are the relationships that we are forming with these IPA devices? What happens when IoT devices are hacked to form rogue bot-networks? Is my capacity to act expanded or diminished when relying on these semi-autonomous devices?
Together with French musician Low Jack, !Mediengruppe Bitnik have been looking at ways to engage with Alexa and similar ‘Intelligent’ Personal Assistants through music. A set of three songs attempt to capture the feelings we develop toward Intelligent Personal Assistants: The carefree love that embraces Alexa before the data privacy and surveillance issues outweigh the benefits. The alienation and decoupling/uncoupling from the allure of remote control and instant gratification. The anxiety and discomfort around Alexa and other Intelligent Personal Assistants that is Alexiety. The EP is best streamed on the radio for the enjoyment of smart homes everywhere. Play it loud, so your neighbours devices can hear.
!Mediengruppe Bitnik (read – the not mediengruppe bitnik) is a contemporary artist group working on and with the Internet. Carmen Weisskopf’s (1976, Zurich) and Domagoj Smoljo’s (1979, island Vis) practice expands from the digital to affect physical spaces, often intentionally applying loss of control to challenge established structures and mechanisms.!Mediengruppe Bitnik’s works formulate fundamental questions concerning contemporary issues. Their works have been shown internationally, most recently in exhibitions at House of Electronic Arts Basel, Eigen + Art Lab Berlin, Super Dakota Brussels, Centre Culturel Suisse Paris, Aksioma Ljubljana, Kunsthaus Zurich, FACT Liverpool, Onassis Cultural Center Athens, Public Access Gallery Chicago, Kunstverein Hannover, Nam June Paik Art Center South Korea, Fondazione Prada Milano, Shanghai Minsheng 21st Century Museum, The Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts Moscow, Cabaret Voltaire Zurich, Beijing Contemporary Art Biennial and the Tehran Roaming Biennial.
Low Jack / Philippe Hallais is a French electronic music artist born in 1985 in Tegucigalpa (Honduras) and living in Paris. His music plays with the re-appropriation of sonic clichés, media folklores, and the multiplicity of musical languages associated with dance subcultures. He has published three albums under the pseudonym Low Jack (Garifuna Variations, L.I.E.S, 2014 ; Sewing Machine, In Paradisum, 2015 ; Lighthouse Stories, Modern Love, 2016) and one under his own name, An American Hero (Modern Love, 2017). His live performances include collaborations with musicians Ghedalia Tazartès and Dominick Fernow/Vatican Shadow. His work has been commissionned by the Quai Branly museum, the Swiss Cultural Center and the Ricard Fondation in Paris.