19 May 2017

ANONYMOUS: MANY BECOME ANONYMOUS Aesthetics and Politics, Algorithms and Selfies

Talk by Gabriella Coleman and Geert Lovink, featuring Donatella Della Ratta, Teresa Numerico and Peter Sarram


Wednesday 24 May 2017 at 12.00 

 MACRO – Museum of Contemporary Art of Rome

Auditorium, Via Nizza 138

Selfies, algorithms, and anonymous: the different strategies for one’s digital identity

A unique occasion to visit the MACRO, Rome’s Contemporary Art Museum, in the special context set in the midst of the Urban Culture exhibition CROSS THE STREETS, where great intellectuals and media activists that at Uniroma Roma Tre and John Cabot University of Rome, will speak about what exactly a selfie is, and what its political, aesthetic, and social consequences are on one’s digital identity. What are the reasons, the social transformations, and the risks that come from the obsessions of showing ourselves on social media when we smile, eat, or kiss somebody?

How does the Big Data world feed on what appears to us as an intimate, yet at the same time, social habit? How can we coincide our right to privacy, with that of our staying on the web, and not losing our soul in it?

The conference “Fear and Loathing of the Online Self: A Savage Journey into the Heart of Digital Cultures” will be held May 22nd and 23rd and will welcome scholars from all over the world, including  Geert Lovink, Jodi Dean, Bifo, Gabriella Coleman, Wendy Chun, and many others;  including video art exhibitions as well. The conference will be divided into: Behind and beyond selfie, Politics and aesthetics of mask design, Online subjectivity theory, and  Artistic practices of the online self.

On May 24th the final meeting between Gabriella Coleman and Geer Lovink, which will also feature Donatella Della Ratta, Teresa Numerico, and Peter Sarram, will be held at the MACRO Museum.

The selfie has inevitably become a common practice in our online lives. It is difficult to find a reason that explains the compulsive nature through which we tend to saturate every daily event with images, and that we then instantly share with friends and acquaintances through our social networks.

We are facing an ambivalent perception of an underlying observer. If questioned nobody would say that he/she wants to be surveilled, however in practice, we tend to give priority to the possibility of being seen, to our privacy.

Many critics have dwelt on the narcissistic dimension of the selfie. We desire a constant gratification for the actions that show our popularity on our profiles, which push us to put our life constantly online. The choice of exhibiting is however caught through the Big Data practice, for a continuous profiling of the preferences and desires of people from the traces that opaque, secret and efficient algorithms interpret, with the aim of anticipating the future for us.

The overwhelming exposure of the faces also produces a rejecting reaction. The position of Anonymous aesthetic, but also ethical and political, is to avoid recognition by suggesting that subjectivity is always multiple, precarious and partial. Anonymous claims that the collective action and shared responsibility and participation are the only source of meaning.

However, the selfie also has a possibility of artistic expression and auto-observation as a process of recognizing oneself. Many artists have used this instrument by connecting it to a universal sense of self-exhibition.

To all these open-ended questions, answers are planned on being given through an international conference organized in Rome with the collaboration of John Cabot University, The Department of Philosophy, Communications, and Theatre of the Roma Tre University, and the Institute of the Network Culture in Amsterdam.

Scientific and organizational committee:  Donatella Della Ratta (JCU), Geert Lovink (INC), Teresa Numerico (Uniroma Tre), Peter Sarram (JCU).

Closure of the conference “Fear and Loathing of the Online Self: A Savage Journey into the Heart of Digital Cultures” is organized by Donatella Della Ratta and Peter Sarram (John Cabot University), Geert Lovink (Institute of Network Cultures) and Teresa Numerico (Università Roma Tre), on the 22nd , 23rd 24th of May in Rome.



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