Serpentine Gallery

Hito Steyerl

Power Plants

11 Apr - 06 May 2019

Hito Steyerl Power Plants Installation view, 11 April – 6 May 2019, Serpentine Galleries AR application design by Ayham Ghraowi, Developed by Ivaylo Getov, Luxloop
Courtesy of the Artist, Andrew Kreps Gallery (New York) and Esther Schipper Gallery (Berlin) Photograph: © 2019 readsreads.info
Hito Steyerl Power Plants Installation view, 11 April – 6 May 2019, Serpentine Galleries AR application design by Ayham Ghraowi, Developed by Ivaylo Getov, Luxloop
Courtesy of the Artist, Andrew Kreps Gallery (New York) and Esther Schipper Gallery (Berlin) Photograph: © 2019 readsreads.info
Hito Steyerl Power Plants Installation view, 11 April – 6 May 2019, Serpentine Galleries AR application design by Ayham Ghraowi, Developed by Ivaylo Getov, Luxloop
Courtesy of the Artist, Andrew Kreps Gallery (New York) and Esther Schipper Gallery (Berlin) Photograph: © 2019 readsreads.info
Hito Steyerl Power Plants Installation view, 11 April – 6 May 2019, Serpentine Galleries AR application design by Ayham Ghraowi, Developed by Ivaylo Getov, Luxloop
Courtesy of the Artist, Andrew Kreps Gallery (New York) and Esther Schipper Gallery (Berlin) Photograph: © 2019 readsreads.info
Hito Steyerl Power Plants Installation view, 11 April – 6 May 2019, Serpentine Galleries AR application design by Ayham Ghraowi, Developed by Ivaylo Getov, Luxloop
Courtesy of the Artist, Andrew Kreps Gallery (New York) and Esther Schipper Gallery (Berlin) Photograph: © 2019 readsreads.info
Hito Steyerl Power Plants Installation view, 11 April – 6 May 2019, Serpentine Galleries AR application design by Ayham Ghraowi, Developed by Ivaylo Getov, Luxloop
Courtesy of the Artist, Andrew Kreps Gallery (New York) and Esther Schipper Gallery (Berlin) Photograph: © 2019 readsreads.info
Hito Steyerl Power Plants Installation view, 11 April – 6 May 2019, Serpentine Galleries AR application design by Ayham Ghraowi, Developed by Ivaylo Getov, Luxloop
Courtesy of the Artist, Andrew Kreps Gallery (New York) and Esther Schipper Gallery (Berlin) Photograph © 2019 readsreads.info
Actual Reality OS AR application design by Ayham Ghraowi, Developed by Ivaylo Getov, Luxloop, Marker production Philipp Von Frankenberg Photograph: © 2019 readsreads.info
Courtesy of the Artist, Andrew Kreps Gallery (New York) and Esther Schipper Gallery (Berlin) Photograph: © 2019 readsreads.info
Hito Steyerl Power Plants Installation view, 11 April – 6 May 2019, Serpentine Galleries AR application design by Ayham Ghraowi, Developed by Ivaylo Getov, Luxloop
Courtesy of the Artist, Andrew Kreps Gallery (New York) and Esther Schipper Gallery (Berlin) Photograph: © 2019 readsreads.info
Hito Steyerl Power Plants Installation view, 11 April – 6 May 2019, Serpentine Galleries Design by Ayham Ghraowi, Developed by Ivaylo Getov
Courtesy of the Artist, Andrew Kreps Gallery (New York) and Esther Schipper Gallery (Berlin) Photograph: © 2019 readsreads.info
Hito Steyerl is a German filmmaker and artist whose work explores the complexities of the digital world, art, capitalism, and the implications of Artificial Intelligence for society. Her recent artworks cover subjects as diverse as video games, surveillance and art production.

Steyerl's series of projects at the Serpentine Galleries is positioned around ideas of 'power'. Beginning from the premise that 'power is the necessary condition for any digital technology', the artist considers the multiple meanings of the word, including electrical currents, the ecological powers of plants or natural elements, and the complex networks of authority that shape our environments. She addresses the notion of power through three interrelated research strands and projects: Actual Realityos, a collectively-produced digital tool; Power Walks, a series of guided walks and a tour that draws upon conversations with campaigners, community groups and organisations in the local area surrounding the Serpentine, and finally this exhibition, Power Plants, which features new video installations created using artificial intelligence trained to predict the future.
Before visiting the exhibition, we recommend you download the Actual Realityos and Power Plantsos apps from this site. iPads are available within the gallery.
Outside on the grounds of the Serpentine Sackler Gallery, an augmented reality app, Actual Realityos, charts real life data around inequality through virtual means within the communities surrounding this gallery, recorded as one of the most socially uneven boroughs in Europe. Visitors to the Serpentine can download and use the free Actual Realityos app to view a series of architectural models that have been distorted in line with data that charts this social inequality. Through the app and overlayed on the gallery's exterior walls visitors see data on social housing, austerity and workers’ rights. These models represent findings by local research partners, including personal testimony and community mapping in relation to national statistical data.
The series of video sculptures featured in this exhibition, Power Plants, are generated by neural networks: computer systems modelled on the human brain and nervous system, which are programmed to predict the future by calculating the next frame in the video. The artist has used this Artificial Intelligence to create a series of 'predicted' plants that are located precisely 0.04 seconds in the future, connecting to the visual landscape of the surrounding park. In the central room a series of four videos focus on the Power Walks programme and emphasise the research process that is at the core of the artist’s work and her unique project for the Serpentine Galleries. In each of the films, the research partners who have contributed the data sets for the augmented reality app tell stories related to their perspectives on the local area and their campaigns. By including this in the show, the artist brings to the fore the voices and work of the project’s protagonists.
The exhibition design is inspired by the idea of a ruderal garden: an ensemble of plants that grow out of waste ground, perhaps in the wake of human disruption or destruction. Predicted by Steyerl's neural networks as a vision of the future this environment is a garden rich with plants that have various ecological, medicinal and political powers. With Power Plantsos and using the medium of augmented reality that visitors access through iPads suspended from the ceiling, Steyerl annotates her video sculptures with speculative descriptions of future plants, fictitious quotes dated in the future, and human testimony. Utilising a technology often positioned as beneficial to human evolution, the show reverses this promise, instead considering how such tools could impact our natural environment.

The soundtrack accompanying the film includes a collaboration with British musician, rapper and visual artist, Kojey Radical, whose words and riffs help us further imagine the future into which the artist projects us. The vinyl text circling around the gallery walls is an encrypted text that cannot be read without the digital key to unlock it. This mirrors how augmented reality can serve as a tool to decrypt facts, to see what is invisible or, in a more literal sense, to unlock pathways into a future that may often be hiding in plain sight.
 

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