Hito Steyerl, How Not to be Seen: A Fucking Didactic Educational .MOV File, 2013, film still, 14 mins. © Hito Steyerl, courtesy Wilfried Lentz Rotterdam, see the video here.

Hito Steyerl’s latest work was premiered at this year’s Venice Biennale, and in the light of the recent revelations about NSA surveillance it seems to have burning relevance. We live in an age when government agencies are not alone in accessing digital tracks. Our environment is scanned and surveyed in its totality by satellites. We contribute to this scope for surveillance ourselves through our daily dealings with digital data and the Internet. Is there still any chance of remaining unseen or vanishing off the radar?

Hito Steyerl’s work shows us what options we can adopt, ranging from apparently pragmatic suggestions (hide!) to comically absurd ones (be a superhero). The aim is certainly not turn back from our digitalised lifestyles to some primeval analogue reality. Steyerl’s responses are not pessimistic about civilisation or hostile to technical progress. Quite the opposite: subversive strategies can only evolve with and within the new technologies. And Steyerl’s work operates with and within them, too. Her subtitles already hint in this direction: this film does not make use of the classical cinematic strategies. Rather than that, Steyerl’s work is a “.mov file”, a video format that borrows formally and structurally on the kind of tutorials we find on portals like YouTube.

- BERLINISCHE GALERIE

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