The pandemic marks the beginning of an interim period. In our response to the natural disaster, the contradicting forces of the Fourth Industrial Revolution have become very obvious to us all. The disappearance of the old “normal” into “social distancing” and accelerated structural change clears the view for new opportunities. We can decide with which attitude we want to face the future: passive-submissive or active-creative?
The festival exhibition The City As A Data Field. How we want to live in the future is one of the larger projects to have emerged from the extended cultural year 2020 and is part of the subject focus on digital living environments. It asks how individuals and society as a whole are handling global networking, Big Data and “navigating through data”. “First we generate data, then data generates us” – which possibilities for “becoming human” (Flusser) are opened up by technology, what should be taken into consideration?
The story of The City As A Data Field. How we want to live in the future follows pictures of the technology philosopher Vilém Flusser and his plea for an approach to the “design of fate” and the venture of utopia as a playful examination of alternative possibilities of an “honest” life as an answer to the crisis. According to Flusser, the “we” to be redesigned “could no longer be subject to values, but instead be composing them”.
Flusser’s visionary background sets the stage for addressing the conflict between efficiency and optimization versus personal and collective freedom of decision. The City As A Data Field. How we want to live in the future is thus about the advancement of data-driven automatic controls into increasingly intimate areas of personal life. Whether “Smart City”, “Smart Home”, partner choice and family planning, body implants or child rearing – the ubiquity of data controls in public and private products and services in the post-digital age of Industrialization 4.0 requires a reflection on the goals that guide us.
The audience encounters this story of our story in three performative formats that invite repeated active participation:
- A festival and adventure exhibition in ten themed rooms on the ground floor and first floor of the Graz Museum – with high-ranking international works of art and themed installations;
- A ten-week discourse festival on the topics of the exhibition rooms, partly in the Graz Museum and Graz Museum Schlossberg and also at prominent cultural venues with presentations on the individual topics and participation from various Graz initiatives;
- Themed tours on changing thematic focuses such as data economy, privacy, security and much more;
- An accompanying in-depth discursive web format that also takes on the function of a catalog that will outlast the exhibition;
The festival exhibition The City As A Data Field. How we want to live in the future is …
- mobile, not static: It reacts to visitors and changes over time. It is a performative exhibition that introduces visitors to the contradictions of the creative forces and the openness to results in the development of technology (ultimately without resolution).
- metaphorical, a “play in ten pictures”: It opens with Peter Weibel’s and Christian Lolke’s title-giving work “Die Welt als Datenfeld” (English: The World as a Data Field), in which navigation is no longer based on stars, but rather on data, and concludes with a workshop on the manifesto “How we want to live in the future” at the location closest to the stars in all of Graz: on Schlossberg near Richard Kriesche’s ARTSAT disc.
- contradictory: It leads us into contradictions and experiences, to a sense of the world, yet it radiates confidence and never powerlessness or dystopia. It is about living an honest life without giving concrete instructions for action. The question is not how I want to live, but how we want to live.
- participatory: The festival format invites active participation.
Curators: Peter Rantaša, Otto Hochreiter
Exhibition design and graphics: BUERO41A
Exhibition design ground floor: studio-itzo
Project control: Sibylle Dienesch
Project leader: Johanna Fiedler, Angela Rossmann, Franziska Schurig