bitflips and battlefields

hito_battlefield [image] Hito Steyerl, Is a Museum a Battlefield? was shown at the Adam Art Gallery Wellington - 4th July to the 10 August.

If you have never considered a museum as a battlefield, consider again. In Hito Steyerl's lecture/video installation/performance Is the Museum a Battlefield, she gives a convincing presentation that might make you consider otherwise. Her ‘work’ traces the debris from a battlefield in the mountainous areas south of the city of Van, Turkey where the Kurdistan PKK has been fighting for independence from Turkey. Some of the items collected includes the ‘invisible’ shell casings of a 20mm Gatling gun made by General Dynamics.

Steyerl goes on to retrace the origins of these shells back to their manufactures which implicates various corporate and industrial giants in a technological ‘bit-flip’ linking them to the biggest museums in the world through architecture, software, the 'gentrification of culture' and the corporatisation and sponsorship of art institutions by some of largest weapons manufactures in the world.

Steyerl’s uses the term ‘bit-flip’ to describe the dual use of technology, where it can be both culturally and scientifically important but at the same time can act as the collaborator to humankinds atrocities. This usage resonated with my views on the ‘new and disparate interactions’ which we are enacting through our mobile devices. Technically, ‘bit-flip’ is not a word but it suggests a manipulation of sorts where a 0 becomes a 1, an off an on and vice-versa. For me, it conjures up images of multiplicities where intent is polyvalent, where technologies ‘flip back’ on themselves, masking one of their binate ambitions.

The following video is an edited version.

[vimeo 76011774 w=700 h=393]

Documentation of Hito Steyerl's lecture "Is the Museum a Battlefield", first shown at 13th Istanbul Biennial. Steyerl’s new lecture, pro­duced for the 13th Istanbul Biennial, takes as its departure point her March 2013 talk ‘I Dreamed a Dream: Politics in the Age of Mass Art Production’ and focuses on the arms industry, a phenomenon constantly re-conceptualized by the media through the regular flow of images. It asks the question of how a museum and a battlefield could be related. The question emerges when Steyerl follows the trace of an empty bullet casing which she found in the area where the mass grave of Andrea Wolf and her friends were located in Van, Turkey.