Algorithmic Rubbish: Daring to Defy Misfortune

smba-newsletter-142.pdf (588 Kb)

4 July - 23 August 2015

Opening: Saturday, July 4th at 5 p.m.

Margriet Schavemaker (Head Collections and Reasearch Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam) will deliver the opening speech.

Guest curator: Annet Dekker

With: Blast Theory, James Bridle, Constant Dullaart, Femke Herregraven, Jennifer Lyn Morone, Matthew Plummer-Fernandez, Template, Suzanne Treister

The shocking revelations brought to light by Edward Snowden, along with countless other privacy issues on the internet, make clear that secure use of the internet and digital media is not an equal opportunity affair. The exhibition Algorithmic Rubbish: Daring to Defy Misfortune – an automatically generated title – demonstrates how artists use and abuse, with great precision and humor, the mechanisms and strategies applied by large companies and governments. They provide a positive and opportunistic response to the often invisible, yet far-reaching interventions in our lives by taking matters into their own hands. The artists reap the benefits of the existing infrastructures, the illogical behavior of algorithms, and the available data, while also circumventing or exceeding poorly defined or functioning legislation.

The Novice Art Blogger by Matthew Plummer-Fernandez employs “deep algorithms” to look for abstract artworks in digital depots belonging to contemporary art museums and provides “objective” interpretations of the results. In Femke Herregraven’s Precarious Marathon four bots – disguised as a moderator, a cultural critic, an independent trader, and an artist – engage in a 24/7 discussion. Jennifer Lyn Morone pushes the accessibility of data beyond an extreme, and uses her personal data as a new business model. Constant Dullaart also started his own business, DullTech, a typical Trojan horse which Dullaart uses to undermine the unseen laws of the hierarchical art economy. For people who’ve lost their digital way, Karen is there to lend a helping hand. Blast Theory’s special mobile app is a life coach who does thorough but very personal work.

Algorithmic Rubbish: Daring to Defy Misfortune brings together projects that were made with new media and which largely unfold in the digital domain. In many ways, digital art confounds the logic of (museum) presentation institutions: it cannot be seen independently of hardware and interfaces, it is often co-authored, it has scarcely broken through in traditional collection circles like those of private collectors and museums, and it questions art’s focus on the object. The presentation in SMBA is just one manifestation of the work, which also appears within the digital domain or avails of methods and infrastructure positioned outside the established art world. In this way, digital art scrutinizes not only itself and art in general, but also the function of the museum. Algorithmic Rubbish: Daring to Defy Misfortune is a collection of examples which foregrounds the assumptions and methods of contemporary digital culture.


SMBA Newsletter 142 will accompany the exhibition Algorithmic Rubbish: Daring to Defy Misfortune, featuring an introduction by Annet Dekker and a foreword by Jelle Bouwhuis and Joram Kraaijeveld. Pick up a free copy of the bilingual newsletter (Dutch/English) at the exhibition or download the PDF from the SMBA website.


Annet Dekker is an independent curator and researcher. She currently holds positions as Researcher of Digital Preservation at Tate London, Research Fellow at London South Bank University and The Photographers’ Gallery, Core Tutor at the Piet Zwart Institute in Rotterdam, and a Fellow at Het Nieuwe Instituut. She has edited a number of books about digital art and conservation and is a regular contributor to international journals, books, and magazines. Previously she worked as web curator for SKOR, was program manager at Virtueel Platform, and Head of Exhibitions, Education, and Artists-in-Residence at the Netherlands Media Art Institute (NIMk). She earned a PhD from Goldsmiths, University of London in 2014 about conservation and net art. More information here