User Preferences is an online Pavilion for the Wrong Biennale which is running online between 1 November 2019 and 1 March 2020. Residing on www.user-preferences.com, it is a virtual space devoted to the exploration of contemporary understanding of usership through new sovereignties and forms of governance.
Global connectivity is bringing together everything we do. We are experiencing an accelerating shift from the ownership-based economy to one more focused on usership. The obsession of capitalist desire is at the verge of its exhaustion and it becomes increasingly difficult to determine what exactly can be owned, but also what can be shared and under what conditions. This new social complexity is worth re-thinking and re-structuring.
In the megastructure of planetary-scale computation, users cease to be individuals and become “un-individuals”, a plurality of agents within a system. Benjamin Bretton developed a model for this megastructure called The Stack. In this mapping of political geography, users occupy the bottom position, below other layers; earth, cloud, city, address and interface. Consequently, humans become software extensions who do not have a role nor essential identity outside the system. This structure is interweaving, hosting us inside of it, while at the same time we become hosts and facilitators to it, our identity extending beyond the body.
The artists in User Preferences question the notions of usership and its implications. They employ the possibilities offered by the digital as a creative medium, but also approach it critically both through the examined themes and exploiting its peculiarities. They delineate the landscape, in which the users operate, create new worlds and subjectivities of human and non-human collaborations while contemplating time in the age of worldwide connectivity. User Preferences becomes an organic entity revealing the sensibilities and fragilities of the collective human and post-human endeavour.
The exhibition invites the viewers to explore the User Preferences menu, wander around artist rooms filled with technicolour lights, disengage from the turmoil of the everyday usership, multiplicity of open tabs and infinite options to choose from, and enter a contemplative state.
Curated by Maria Cynkier, who is a London-based curator and writer. She is currently studying Curating Contemporary Art at the Royal College of Art and an associate curator at MoCDA (Museum of Contemporary Digital Art). In her practice, she is concerned with technology's influence on individual freedoms and choices, and the use of networked infrastructures in socially-engaged projects. She regularly contributes to Hyperallergic and Furtherfield.