In much of her work, Austria-based artist Addie Wagenknecht takes the concept of connectedness, and technological networks as a jumping off point, and a means to comment on human interaction. Wagenknecht, the recipient of a 2014 Andy Warhol Foundation grant, member of the Free Art & Technology (F.A.T.) Lab and cofounder of NORTD Labs, who’s shown her work around the world, including at the Museum of Modern Art and Phillips auction house, has two shows coming up: subversiv at the GrazMuseum on February 25th, and Panopticon, at the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art in Salt Lake City, opening February 13th.
We asked Wagenknecht to talk us through a couple of her most recent pieces.
XXXX.XXX is about how society is becoming byproducts of the network. I wanted to create a notion of the digital body. The work is a system, which is porous, it breathes. The concept of “the figure” and portraiture are changing with the methodologies which lend to a impulsive constant output of expression, collaboration and history, which new forms of media so seamlessly enable. XXX.XXXX visually emulates server rooms and forms visual nests which mimic textiles and tapestries. At the same time, it becomes about how phones and technology are becoming anthropomorphic, extensions of our arms, altering the methodologies of expression. Like a ‘black box’ of social currency, we depend on these devices to be seen, to interact and exist both offline and on.
BlackHawkPaint addresses material—both physical and social. The series specifically plays with the allure of this materiality, in the same way that Yves Klein blue could not possibly have been any other shade of blue. There is a certain, absolute identifiable aesthetic to materials, texture and colors as being unique in their application. The highly physical act and motion of dripping paint on canvas has been subtracted, the human gesture replaced by a remotely operated device. The drones develop a cultural narrative exploring the status of the body in representation and identity formation. It is reflected even more so in the deposits of pigment- the works become a history of the motion of the devices, and the visual subtraction by the same device in which applied it.
I look at ways that hacking can be applied to systems and networks outside of technology, most recently in terms of mothering/feminism, consumption and societies. The very practice of privacy is all about control, to be seen as public, but that rarely equates being public. I have worked with the relationship between public and private many times. In 2006 I did a performance piece Anonymity which has since become a larger scale public performance piece commissioned by Bogomir Doringer for MuseumQuartier in Vienna. The performance explores the relationship between performer and audience. In Anonymity the performers wear a black bar, mimicking the device used in media to censor facial recognition. The work became about using the body in a passive way and the relationship audience. For some the black bar creates an uncomfortable sensation of anonymity, and others react to it in an immediate relatable way.
Broken_links (seen here) is about the ephemeral nature of versioning. The internet as a medium is so volitile and yet at the same time is completely cached. In the backbone data is being filtered out, the information bias and censorship is happening without our awareness. Images, website, text are removed all the time. This is really where power and manipulation is now. We used to ask God questions and now we ask Google. Google shows us what we want to see based off of prior metadata, our friends, location.. its not a democratic method of researching answers- its not what we asked for, its what they think we want. So I took that false sense of objective trust and ran with it.
See more from Addie Wagenknecht.