Lunch Bytes Conference – Haus der Kulturen der Welt

Flyer, Lunch Bytes Conference Berlin, March 20/21, 2015, image: Lunch Bytes/Hannes Gloor/Kate Steciw/Willem Popellier/Jaakko Pallasvuo


On Friday 20 and Saturday 21 March, the Lunch Bytes Conference will take place marking the conclusion of a discussion series that transpired throughout 2014 in seven cities across northwestern Europe: Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Dublin, Glasgow, Helsinki, London, and Stockholm. These panel discussions focused on the increasing significance of digital technologies with respect to art. Leading artists, academics, designers, and curators examined important trends in digital culture and their influences on contemporary art.

This particular two-day event at Haus der Kulturen der Welt delves deeper into the central themes that have emerged during the series of international meetings. Questions to be addressed at the conference include: How can we develop a fruitful discussion on digital culture now that digital technologies dominate our everyday lives and the internet has been declared “dead”? How can we enter a discourse about the internet’s influence on art that moves beyond the “postinternet” hype? And to what extent do we need to redefine concepts such as medium, materiality, activism, and subjectivity, considering the fact that contemporary art practices are so inextricably combined with digital technologies?

On the evening of 20 March the programme will kick off with an introduction to the conference and its themes, as well as a keynote lecture by art historian David Joselit and performances by artists Ilja Karilampi, Paul Kneale, and Jenna Sutela. The ensuing conference day on 21 March will be structured according to the overarching themes that have shaped the Lunch Bytes discussion series as it took place in 2014, through four panel discussions on “Medium,” “Structures and Textures,” “Society,” and “Life.” After this there will be a second keynote by critic and editor Melissa Gronlund and a closing panel looking back on the conference and its themes.


Friday 20 March 6:00pm–9:00pm 

SEO City
Paul Kneale, artist, London

Paul Kneale’s performance explores how meaning is re-routed, transferred, and affected by the technological and architectural infrastructures it travels through and depends on. His performance is a reiteration of a script of a Lunch Bytes talk in London with the title “Digital Infrastructures and the Organisation of Space.” After a video of the discussion was uploaded to YouTube, the platform automatically generated a transcript using language recognition software in order to make its content searchable. Kneale subsequently worked with this generated script and staged it in a video and an installation, each taking into account the distinct architectural and material framework it was shown in. “SEO City” is the most recent iteration of the work and combines video material created in anticipation of it’s arrival at the HKW with elements of live performance.

Johannes Ebert, Secretary General of the Goethe-Institut, and Bernd Scherer, Director Haus der Kulturen der Welt

Noise Tribe Speaking-Out-of-Control 
Jenna Sutela, writer and artist, Helsinki 

Jenna Sutela’s written, directed, installed, and performed projects seek to identify and react to precarious social and material moments – most recently, the relationship between the body and its technologically mediated environment. Exploring artificial intelligence, Sutela’s performance “Noise Tribe Speaking-Out-of-Control” treats language as a virus and encryption as poetry. It includes a linguistic scramble suit and audio CAPTCHA. In reference to her participation in a previous Lunch Bytes event in Helsinki, entitled “The Status of the Object,” Sutela will act as a node in a network of things.

Melanie Bühler, curator Lunch Bytes, Amsterdam

Keynote Lecture
“Dark Cloud: Shapes of Information”
David Joselit, Distinguished Professor at the CUNY Graduate Center, New York 

This lecture will explore how the metaphor of “the cloud” as an elastic and scalable information storage system applies to artists’ efforts to demonstrate the shapes that information can assume – in other words, information’s plasticity. Two primary themes will be addressed: profiling, as a technique for personifying configurations of data, and extraterritoriality, as the capacity for information (like the weather) to break free from particular locations and thus to challenge territorial forms of sovereignty. Are spaces of extraterritorial information also sites from which political claims can be made? Or, on the contrary, do we need to protect ourselves from the exposure of information’s easy circulation – operating not from a darknet but from a Dark Cloud?

Kapital FM
Ilja Karilampi, artist, Berlin 

Ilja Karilampi’s installations, videos, and texts juxtapose industrial effects with biographical anecdotes, staging mythologies in which mainstream cultures and subcultures are synthesised. His performance for the Lunch Bytes Conference is a mixture of a live version of his weekly radio show “Downtown Ilja” on Berlin Community Radio, fragments of the Lunch Bytes talk he was part of in Helsinki entitled “Structures and Textures: Sound,” which examined signature sounds such as “Maybach Music,” and performative elements in which Karilampi takes on different roles and characters on the mic, with the assistance of a smoke machine.

Saturday 21 March 10:00am–7.30pm 

Panel 1: Medium 

With: Maeve Connolly, writer, lecturer in the Faculty of Film, Art and Creative Technologies at Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology, Dublin Katrina Sluis, artist, writer, curator Digital Programmes Photographers’ Gallery London Ben Vickers, curator of Digital Serpentine Galleries, London 

Moderated by Toke Lykkeberg, curator, Copenhagen

The first panel will focus on the concept of the medium. Digital techniques and tools have transformed raditional disciplines and blurred their external boundaries, while new and emerging forms of artistic roduction reflect the increasing ubiquity of the digital. This panel invites a discussion of the medium as an analytical entity, revisiting the concept of medium specificity. Does it still make sense to think in formal, media-related categories or have we moved beyond the medium as a recognisable and classifiable entity in the age of pervasive computing?

Panel 2: Structures and Textures 

With: Diedrich Diederichsen, critic, journalist, author, Berlin Kerstin Stakemeier, researcher, critic, Munich Christopher Kulendran Thomas, artist, London/Berlin

Moderated by Victoria Camblin, Editor/Artistic Director of Art Papers, Atlanta Carson Chan, writer and curator, Princeton University, New Jersey 

Computational processes can be traced everywhere and are intrinsically interwoven in the fabric of our lives. This hybrid reality increasingly affects the materiality of artistic production in a variety of fields and disciplines. This panel will examine how online culture has affected our understanding of materials and question how contemporary art is shaped by the infrastructures that subtend the digital realm. Considering how the art world’s traditional spaces, such as the gallery or the museum, relate to the internet as a repository and space for the reception of art, the discussion will explore how spectatorship is constituted now that we have become used to online viewing habits. How do artists’ practices extend and relate to online spaces, and how has the production and dissemination of artworks changed?

Panel 3: Society 

With: Stephan Dillemuth, artist, Munich Constant Dullaart, artist, Berlin Hito Steyerl, artist, filmmaker, writer, Berlin 

Moderated by: Kristoffer Gansing, Artistic Director Transmediale, Berlin 

When considering the history of online culture, one sees a significant shift in how networked environments have been perceived as common spaces. The 1990s ideal of cyberspace, where knowledge and resources were shared freely, has largely given way to a webspace that is commercial and enclosed. Vast parts of the contemporary internet are presently owned by a few private mega-companies, which capitalise on the content and data generated by the users of their platforms. The internet has turned into a network via which everything is profiled and monitored for commercial and state interests beyond users’ control. This panel focuses on artistic strategies of resistance in response to present mechanisms of control.

Panel 4: Life 

With: Jesse Darling, artist, London Cécile B. Evans, artist, Berlin/London Cornelia Sollfrank, artist, Dundee

Moderated by: Elvia Wilk, writer, editor, Berlin 

The last panel will zoom in on the individual subject, discussing notions such as affect, emotion, and solidarity online. Artists are invited to talk about their work relating to the question of how identities are established and configured through the various digital and material environments constituting our realities. If bodies don’t end at the skin but instead extend to and reconfigure themselves with the material environments they engage with, what kind of implications do digital technologies have for conceptions of representation, embodiment, and gender? If the various platforms we engage with influence our structures of feeling, how do they shape the way affective ties are created and mediated? 

“What Was Pre-Post-Internet?
Why Net Art and Cybernetics Are Forgotten”

Keynote Lecture
Melissa Gronlund, writer, critic, Co-Editor of Afterall journal, London/Abu Dhabi 

In her presentation Melissa Gronlund will contest the notion that the present postinternet moment occupies a uniquely ahistorical position based on the enormity of the internet’s effects on daily life. The histories of net art, cybernetics, and other new media forms, which would appear to be the obvious forerunners to today’s internet-based art, are not typically cited by artists as relevant, nor do their concerns and methodologies seem to have taken off. This presentation will offer some hypotheses as to why this might be the case, including a shift away from modernism and towards depiction and literary realism. Other contextual factors, such as the role of contemporary internet art in the art world and market, will be addressed. 

Closing Panel Discussion/Q&A 

With: Melissa Gronlund, writer, critic, Co-Editor of Afterall journal, London/Abu Dhabi David Joselit, Distinguished Professor at the CUNY Graduate Center, New York Paul Kneale, artist, London Hito Steyerl, artist, filmmaker, author, Berlin 

Moderated by: Maria Lind, Director, Tensta Konsthall Melanie Bühler, curator, Lunch Bytes

Lunch Bytes is a Goethe-Institut project curated by Melanie Bühler in collaboration with the following organisations: Foam Photography Museum (Amsterdam); Haus der Kulturen der Welt (Berlin); Nikolaj Kunsthal, Kunstforeningen GL STRAND (Copenhagen); Irish Museum of Modern Art (Dublin); Checkpoint Helsinki, Frame Visual Art Finland, Pixelache, Sinne (Helsinki); Centre for Contemporary Arts (Glasgow); Arcadia Missa, Goldsmiths, University of London, Institute of Contemporary Arts (London); Royal Institute of Art, Tensta Konsthall (Stockholm).

Flyer, Lunch Bytes Conference Berlin, March 20/21, 2015, image: Lunch Bytes/Hannes Gloor/Paul Kneale/Jörg Sasse


Haus der Kulturen der Welt – John-Foster-Dulles-Allee 10, Berlin
20-21 March 2015