Royal Institute of Art, Stockholm, Sweden

E2-E4: For a Technology in the Service of the People – Felicity Scott and Matthew Fuller

Welcome to Rutiga Golvet at the Royal Institute of Art for a very urgent double session of the E2-E4 program, on Thursday, May 17, 5pm.

In the summer of 1972, the Stockholm exhibition venue Filialen — located in what is today Rutiga Golvet at the Royal Institute of Art — hosted the exhibition For a Technology in the Service of the People, organized by a collective of artists and Alternative Technology activists including Godfrey Boyle, Björn Eriksson, Barbara Hammond, Peter Harper, and Pär Stolpe. The exhibition was timed to coincide with the vast UN conference on the environment which took place concurrently at various places around Stockholm. Against the UN conference’s apolitical, technocratic environmentalism, the Filialen exhibition proposed a radical vision of an egalitarian and ecologically sustainable existence, facilitated by new technologies of communication, production, and distribution.

During this session we will return to the 1972 exhibition in order to ask what has become of the project of placing technology in the service of the people — rather than using it to further intensify the processes of commodification, control, and environmental destruction. We will approach this problem from two directions: from the point of view of historical attempts to devise new, technological structures and networks for egalitarian and eco-friendly coexistence; and from the point of view of contemporary attempts to circumvent the hierarchical structures embedded in today’s computer networks, in order to restore privatized means of production and communication to popular use.

Felicity Scott, “’Don’t Trust the UN Conference’: PowWow and For a Technology in the Service of the People

This lecture will revisit For a Technology in the Service of the People, an exhibition of alternative technologies staged at the Moderna Museet Filialen by the Stockholm-based collaborative PowWow, on the occasion of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in the summer of 1972. PowWow’s contribution ran directly counter to the consensus politics and circumscribed set of environmental issues sought by the UN for the Stockholm Conference, standing as a remarkable attempt to open up a new type of political conversation about alternative, “soft”, or people’s technology.

Matthew Fuller, ”Counter-Forensic Tactics in Networks of Control”
Contemporary computer networks are sites of control and communication, making them ambivalent heirs of radical network structures. Non-hierarchical structures and heterogeneous forms of communication are interwoven with and worked by diverse and competing forms of hierarchy. This lecture will work through a case study of how one document, a pirated film file, has forms of control embedded in it, and how by tracking these methods, they can firstly potentially be disarmed, and secondly, how they reveal a wider set of political, technical and aesthetic forces that require new critical and inventive tools.

Felicity Scott is Professor of Architecture and Co-director of the Critical, Curatorial and Conceptual Practices in Architecture (CCCP) program at Columbia GSAPP. Among her books are Outlaw Territories: Environments of Insecurity/Architectures of Counterinsurgency (Zone) and Architecture or Techno-Utopia: Politics After Modernism (MIT). Matthew Fuller is Professor of Cultural Studies at Goldsmiths, University of London. Recent publications include How to Sleep: the Art, Biology and Culture of Unconsciousness, (Bloomsbury), and Media Ecologies: Materialist Energies in Art and Technoculture (MIT). He is currently a visiting professor at the Seed Box program, Linköping University.

This session will also feature artistic interventions by Catalina Aguilera, Lisa Trogen Devgun, Sean Dockray, and Boris Ondreička. The session is organized in collaboration with Jesper Olsson and the Seed Boxexternal link program at Linköping University.

About E2-E4

E2-E4 is the name of the most common opening move in chess, the one that sets the game in motion. E2-E4 is also the name of a program for theoretical activities, exhibitions, and publications at the Royal Institute of Art, Stockholm. “Theory” is here conceived not as academic superstructure or epistemic authority, but as orientation, as that first grasp of our own situation, and of its location in a wider system, network, or totality, which may allow us to begin, to go from the confusion of undefined possibility, to the provisional determination of practice. The program explores the use values of the exhibition as a critical information system, in the service of education, aesthetic experience, and public dissemination.

The E2-E4 program is created by guest professors Stefanie Hessler, Lars Bang Larsen, and Kim West.