Spy on Me

Special Focus Big Data

At least since the revelations of whistleblowers and the NSA scandals we have known that (para) state and private institutions (like Facebook, Google and Amazon) are using digital recording devices and assessment systems to monitor and control even our most intimate data. Through cybernetic behavioural regulation and feedback loops based on big data, every subjective expression also becomes measurable and quantifiable input. “Spy on Me” will look into the effects of surveillance on our selves and society. What happens when data become the essential raw material and information becomes our most important commodity? 

The nine-day focus attempts to track down the influence of digital culture and the power of analytical methods based on big data, including their political and economic consequences. The programme includes two premieres: In their latest work “The Hairs on Your Head Are Numbered” doublelucky productions, the multimedia and digital arts ensemble around Chris Kondek and Christiane Kühl, asks how measurement and quantification turn the body into a data body, while in “COLONIA DIGITAL: The Empire Feeds Back” andcompany&Co. harkens back to the socialist origins of big data. The Berlin collective finds itself in the control room, that “communist machine” that Salvador Allende had built just before Pinochet’s coup, which was meant to guide the state and a national economy in real time. The performative-subversive “The Call-A-Spy Show” by Peng! Collective will make contact with members of surveillance agencies, fitted with a telephone, to throw the NSA/CIA and other American spies off balance. And “YOU ARE OUT THERE”, the second piece by doublelucky productions, re-scrutinizes our omnipresent self-images and digital doppelgängers in social media on either side of the limits of legality.

In a discussion on the topic “Die Pistole ist neutral?” digital experts Timo Daum, Felix Maschewski and Anna-Verena Nosthoff scrutinize the thesis of neutrality proclaimed by Silicon Valley representatives of the Californian ideology. Along with Timo Daum, author of the book "Das Kapital sind wir. Zur Kritik der digitalen Ökonomie", they will talk about the political, social and economic consequences of digital capitalism.

As part of “Spy on Me” the discourse-expanding side of social media and new possibilities for communication will be highlighted by an online cooperation with “Reporter Ohne Grenzen e.V.”, which is engaged worldwide against censorship and for freedom of information and opinion in the internet. For many people all over the world, particularly in countries with insufficient freedom of the press, the World Wide Web is an indispensable source for independent information. On the digital channels of HAU Hebbel am Ufer, the group will present positions, stories and news on the topics of freedom of information, transparent data and algorithms. 

In addition, “Spy on Me” will bring together schools from four Berlin neighbourhoods for the first time with Houseclub & Friends. The collaboration with the programme “Kulturagenten für kreative Schulen” will facilitate exchange between artists and students from three Berlin schools. Kareth Schaffer, Sven Jonke, Emine Palabıyık / BORDALINE, Bogdan Georgescu take up the ordinary experiences of young people, creating pieces with them on the topics of fake news, secrets, self-surveillance and mobile phone addiction.

The special focus will be accompanied by a new edition of the HAU Publication series, including texts by Felix Stalder, Andreas Bernard and Eden Medina as well as a photo series with the HAU avatars, who will once again become active for “Spy on Me”.