Ascent – Above the Nation State Rules
Three UV printed canvases enlarge pages from a rulebook of a fictional game “Ascent: Above the Nation State Rules” produced as a part of a project unpacking the political world view of US-based right-libertarian technologist, entrepreneur and venture capitalist Peter Thiel. The rules describe a gamified attempt to supersede national sovereignty in a bid for global individual sovereignty. “Contrarian Heroes” based on figures influential in Theil’s orbit, use their “attack powers” such as “deregulation” and “public outrage” to defeat “maladaptive monsters” like “Democracy”, “Transparency” or “Free Elections”. The game is based on the imagery and structure of the high fantasy dungeon crawl tabletop game “Descent”, published by Final Flight Games in 2005. The imagery and characters as well as the game mechanics synthesise an expansionist political worldview which underlines the aggressive register of one of the most influential figures in Big Tech.
Simon Denny― Artist
Simon Denny (*1982 Auckland/New Zealand, lives in Berlin) is an artist whose work explores the cultures and values behind contemporary technologies. In recent years, Denny has looked at the exploitation of information in data-economies, using his work to visualise systems of competing political and economic visions, interrelationships of labour, capital, developments in technologies, and impacts on the biosphere. He studied at the University of Auckland (2005), and the Städelschule, Frankfurt am Main (2009). Denny’s work has been exhibited recently in solo exhibitions in the K21 in Düsseldorf (2020); Museum of Old and New Art, Tasmania (2019); MOCA, Cleveland (2018); OCAT, Shenzhen (2017); Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2017); WIELS Contemporary Art Centre, Brussels (2016); Serpentine Galleries, London (2015); MoMA PS1, New York (2015); Portikus, Frankfurt (2014); Adam Art Gallery, Wellington (2014); MUMOK, Vienna (2013); Kunstverein Munich (2013). He represented New Zealand at the 56th Venice Biennale in 2015. His works are represented in institutional collections including MoMA (New York), Walker Art Centre (Minneapolis), Kunsthaus Zürich (Zürich), Sammlung zeitgenössischer Kunst der Bundesrepublik Deutschland (Berlin) and Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa (Wellington). Denny co-founded the BPA//Berlin Program for Artists, an artist mentoring program in 2016. Since 2018, he is a professor for Time Based Media at the HFBK, Hamburg.