Article: “transmediale/conversationpiece: Adrift in a Sea of Data” on Berlin Art Link

Hito Steyerl, Keynote Conversation, Anxious to Act at transmediale 2016, HKW Berlin, Photo by Nadine Roestenburg
Hito Steyerl, Keynote Conversation, Anxious to Act at transmediale 2016, HKW Berlin, Photo by Nadine Roestenburg

In the last keynote conversation of transmediale 2016, Hito Steyerl presented a perplexing image to the audience. The classified material leaked by Edward Snowden seemingly presents little more than static, or noise. Encrypted, the image would traditionally require machine decryption to be read. But instead of revealing the photograph concealed behind it, Steyerl referred to an internal NSA website posting, where an analyst describes a sea of data in which she is afraid she might drown. In an act of apophenia – or active misrecognition refusing to see the obvious – Steyerl argued that the noisy image does not require decryption to reveal its signal: the noise is the signal. It depicts precisely the sea of data in which we are all drowning. Divided into four streams — Anxious to Act, Anxious to Make, Anxious to Share and Anxious to Secure — transmediale/conversationpiece confronted post-anthropocene complexity to explore ways of moving through the information overload: the sea of data.

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