Rosa Menkman

6 May 2019, 7 p.m.

“As silly as it sounds, they were surprised she was a real person.”
– Jeff Seideman on Lena Söderberg, “The First Lady of the Internet”.

For a while now storytelling and the practices of ventriloquy have made a return to the artists “toolbelt”. Contemporary technologies have enhanced the power of ghosts and their ability to haunt us: “the ghosts are making a comeback.” (Derrida in Ghost Dance, 1983). Now, with a 538 page Posthuman Glossary (Braidotti and Hlavajova, 2018) next to me, I try to navigate the realms of infomorphs and Xeno Zombies. It seems that the digital realm is full of dummies and that artists are eager to lend their voices. But should ghosts not stay shrouded in a sea of fog, do they need to be pulled out from the realms of static and canned laughter? Is it ok to lend a voice to a material that once was human?
In this talk I will take us through my collection of “ghosts” – bodies and voices from the internet, that have been cut off from their “humanity” – and ask: are these real people? And can I puppeteer these corpses?

Rosa Menkman’s work focuses on noise artifacts that result from accidents in both analogue and digital media (such as glitch and encoding and feedback artifacts). She believes that these artifacts can facilitate an important insight into the otherwise obscure alchemy of standardization via resolutions.
The standardization of resolutions is a process that generally imposes efficiency, order and functionality on our technologies. It does not just involve the creation of protocols and solutions, but also entails the obfuscation of compromises and the black-boxing of alternative possibilities, which are as a result in danger of staying forever unseen or even forgotten.
Through her research, which is both artistic and theoretical, Rosa Menkman hopes to uncover these anti-utopic, lost and unseen or simply “too good to be implemented” resolutions — to produce new ways to use and perceive through our technologies.

This presentation is part of the workshop “Template Culture – Inklusion, Neutralität und gestalterische Verantwortung”, a collaborative course of Anja Lutz and Rebekka Kiesewetter (Hyperwerk Basel) and Prof. Franziska Morlok (FH Potsdam).

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