The Right to Know: Free State

Instead of a conventional exhibition, Impakt will organize a Free State this year, a temporary autonomous zone in which visitors can indulge in a wide variety of mind-broadening behaviour. With spin-offs from various festival projects such as the History is Yours T-shirt Print Shop, as well as several installations and works from the WE-tube-o-theek and the Banned Videos programme.

With two installations, Free State particularly explores the desires and hopes vested in the liberating potential of social media. Next to a reality of monitoring users, political interference and privacy, these desires are also present. The Free State reveals the different faces of social media platforms, both in day-to-day use and in times of revolution.

Banned Videos
In collaboration with Upload Cinema (Dagan Cohen) In the Banned Videos terminal in the Free State visitors can view videos that have been previously banned, as well as add videos to the collection. (for more information see the “Screenings” section)

Johan Grimonprez
In the We-tube-o-theek installation in the Free State visitors can see videos from the We-Tube o-theek project that were not included in the screening (For more information see the “Screenings” section)

History is Yours! T-shirt Print Shop
Hendrik-Jan Grievink & Coralie Vogelaar
This flagship store of the History is Yours project (see also: Impakt Online on page 3) does not only offer an overview of the T-shirts, but you can also make your own. So go ahead and bring your own T-shirts.

STRUGGLE! and fabricated enemies
Foundland (
Foundland very closely followed the Arab Spring of the beginning of 2011 and the ensuing revolutions, protests and uproar in the Middle East from the Netherlands. Ghalia Elsrakbi, one of the Foundland members and of Syrian origin, followed the events of the Syrian uproar online. Her Facebook account with many Syrian friends and acquaintances turned into a battlefield of fierce political discussion, both in opposition and favour of the Syrian regime. These clearly visible transformations formed the beginning of an ongoing investigation into the use of Facebook and other social media in situations like these. They, for instance, functioned as valuable information distribution channels within an international network, but were at the same time used as tools for espionage, hacks and dissemination of disinformation, seeing the current activities of the Syrian Electronic Army. Foundland presents an exploratory research based on archival records dug up during this research. Next to this, Foundland gives a preview of what the future may bring.

Face to Facebook
Alessandro Ludovico & Paolo Cirio
Face to Facebook is a project of the Italian artists Alessandro Ludovico and Paolo Cirio forming part of the Hacking Monopolism trilogy. This part of the trilogy goes into the fine line between sharing personal information and online privacy. For this project, the profile photos of 250,000 users were collected and algorithms were used to rank them into groups based on facial expression (‘climber’, ‘easy going’, ‘funny’, ‘mild’, ‘sly’ and ‘smug’). On the basis of the faces ranked into these groups, they developed a dating site where the images were tagged as ‘single’ and ‘available’. Or to put it differently, the smile once intended to win over the sympathy of a familiar circle of people, was now used for large-scale seduction of other Facebook users; a painful reminder of the consequences of sharing intimate information online. In this way, the dating site questions the issue of online privacy by zooming in on one of the most iconic web platforms. An elegant nod to the beginning of Facebook, with pictures stolen from students.
In 2011 this project won the Prix Ars Electrona Award of Distinction for Interactive Art, and was widely reported in global media outlets such as CNN, Fox News and Der Spiegel.

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