May 7, 2021

Conflict in My Outlook_Don't Be Evil

The University of Queensland Art Museum

Xanthe Dobbie, Cloud Copy (detail), 2020. Virtual reality installation, 4:50 minutes. Courtesy of the artist. 

Matthew Griffin, The outernet, 2018. Two-channel HD digital video, 33:34 minutes. Courtesy of the artist and Fine Arts, Sydney.

Simon Denny, Document Relief 19 (Amazon Worker Cage patent), 2020. Inkjet print on archival paper, glue, custom metal wall mount, unique edition, 29.7 x 21 x 13.5 cm. Collection of The University of Queensland. Courtesy of the artist and Fine Arts, Sydney. 

Forensic Architecture, Model Zoo, 2020. Video, 14:05 minutes. Courtesy of Forensic Architecture. 

Eugenia Lim, ON DEMAND, 2019. 4K video, sound, 14 minutes. Installation view at Gertrude Glasshouse, Melbourne, 2019. Originally commissioned by Campbelltown Arts Centre. Courtesy of the artist and STATION Gallery. Photo: Christo Crocker. 

Angela Tiatia, Narcissus, 2019. Single-channel 2K HD video, colour, 13:18 minutes. Collection of The University of Queensland. Courtesy of Sullivan and Strumpf.

Artists: Zach Blas & Jemima Wyman, Kate Crawford & Vladan Joler, Simon Denny, Xanthe Dobbie, Sean Dockray, Forensic Architecture, Kate Geck, Elisa Giardina Papa, Matthew Griffin, Eugenia Lim, Daniel McKewen, Angela Tiatia, Suzanne Treister, and Katie Vida.

The endlessly popular yet flawed metaphor of the cloud has become an effective marketing term that muddies and mystifies the largest surveillance system we have ever known—the internet. This system has been described as the data industrial complex—a machination that extracts, trades, matches, and sells our personal information through every click, like, and online interaction. The conveniences that we consume are exchanged for our unpaid labour, as we undertake the “work” of being watched.

This exhibition seeks to materialise the invisible power structures operating beneath the surface of networked technologies: complex interfaces of bodies and data that are propelled through satellites, fibre optic cables, and server farms into machine learning initiatives and tradable futures. The exhibition correlates the extractive infrastructures that continue settler-colonial legacies through the mining of data, human labour and finite resources.

Lifted from Google’s original corporate motto before it was insidiously removed in 2015, Don’t Be Evil considers the all-pervasiveness of networked technologies on our everyday lives. With a focus on the techno-politics that define our age, the participating artists investigate how the internet has reshaped social relations and information flows, capitalism and democracy, through forces that we as individuals have very little control over.

Featuring Australian and international artists, this major group exhibition encompasses new commissions and existing projects. Referencing and materialising the internet and its contents, interactive installations and screen-based works meet experiments in augmented reality and vvirtual reality that require embodiment. Together, these artworks reinforce the inseparable entanglement of our online and offline lives.

Don’t Be Evil is the second iteration of the Conflict in My Outlook series, preceded by the web-based exhibition We Met Online, viewable here. Conflict in My Outlook is a phrase lifted from the ubiquitous software program Microsoft Office. Derived from an error message related to a scheduling clash, it alludes to a glitch or failure to connect on the network.

Curator Anna Briers says, “the exhibition series title refers to the sense of cognitive dissonance that underpins our relationships with new, networked technologies, and the deeply polarising realities they reproduce in our heavily mediated lives—between online and offline, public and private, social connection and isolation, information and misinformation, privacy and surveillance, human and machine, and so on...”

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