Upgrade! International Network Exhibition

curators: Basak Senova and Elena Veljanovska
artists: Not an Alternative, Mushon Zer-Aviv and Laila El-Haddad, Burak Arikan, Michelle Teran, Annemie Maes, Sara Schnadt, and Yael Kanarek
venue: UNESP – Campus São Paulo
coordinates: São Paulo, 2011

Soft Borders was the main theme of the 4th Upgrade! International Conference & Festival on New Media Art, that took place in São Paulo, Brazil, October 18-21, 2010. Soft Borders embraced a wide variety of topics, cross-displinary approaches and presentations of cutting edge technologies. This exhibtion has developed as the outcome of the 4th Upgrade! International gathering.

Soft Borders Exhibition (International Section)

A border, by definition, is simply a line separating two political or geographical fields. The word itself connotes political, economical, cultural, and psychological zones, along with conflicts and their conflicting positions. The same word also inhabits the act and the possibility of trespassing. Diverging thoroughly from this idea, this exhibition focuses on such projects and works that question the circumstances and limits of their territories of research, as well as the capacities and possibilities of the medium they choose to work with.

One of the main intentions of the “Soft Borders” exhibition is to duplicate the operation logic of the Upgrade Network in a gallery space, and to function as an “interface” to aggregate all possible means of perceiving and interpreting the word “border” by the Network. Yet, interface is a protocol that manages a border.

Although the exhibition displays different methodologies, technologies, motivations, and approaches, each and every work shapes, covers, and fills the volume of the gallery space in like attitude. It is the common language of the Network, which values equal distribution, sharing of information and production in tune with a similar mental and productive frequency. Parallel to this basis, the title “Soft Borders” also contains a strong indication of the word “software”, which operates on common languages (follows a code) shared and known by those who are correlated with it. In this respect, the expectation of this exhibition is to build new links and to explore new possibilities through and with the audience by sharing the common language of the Network.

Picture The Homeless Building Occupation in East
Harlem, NYC
Not an Alternative

“At first glance on Thursday morning, it looked as if a fashion photo shoot was in progress on East 115th Street in East Harlem. “Action,” one woman shouted to the model. “Flip your jacket across your shoulder. Now cut.” As the model walked back and forth, trailed by a camera, two people holding a large green screen were shielding others who sliced through an eight-foottall, chain-link fence that separated the lot from the sidewalk. Then, at about 10:30 a.m., about 20 people entered the lot — which they said was owned by JPMorgan Chase & Company — and began transforming it. They constructed simple tents out of bright blue tarps. They assembled a wooden gazebo with a roof and a sign that read “A place to call home!” Soon, they were joined by others.”

NY Times

The purported fashion shoot described here was actually a ploy, intended to provide cover for one of a series of occupations across New York City organized by Not An Alternative and allies working in collaboration with Picture The Homeless. The actions were part of a campaign to bring attention the contradiction and failure of Mayor Bloomberg’s five-year plan to end homelessness by making visible the thousands of city and bank owned properties sitting vacant in New York City.

Text by Jason Jones

You Are Not Here
Mushon Zer-Aviv and Laila El-Haddad

You Are Not Here (.org) is a platform for urban tourism mash-ups. It invites participants to become meta-tourists on simultaneous excursions through multiple cities. By holding a two-sided map to the light, metatourists can find their way through Gaza walking the streets of Tel-Aviv. They locate the You Are Not Here signs in the street indicating they have arrived at an important tourist destination in Gaza City and providing the telephone number for The Tourist Hotline. Calling the number and entering the site-specific access code provides the meta-tourists with a guided audio tour of that destination by Gaza resident and blogger, Laila El- Haddad. Laila will show you around her city and uncover the mysteries of the ancient baths, Souk al-Zawya and The Great Omari Mosque. Walk through the Park of the Unknown Soldier, visit the PLO Flag Shop, the Saraya Prison and Kathem’s ice cream parlor. You Are Not Here attempts to expose the contrasts and similarities between two cities. Gaza City and Tel Aviv are politically involved while emotionally and socially detached from one another. The cultural tendencies within Israel have resulted in the public denying their roles as the occupiers and a disengagement from responsibility to the occupied. You Are Not Here hopes to challenge this detachment and re-engage individuals by providing a mediated, one-to-one, human-scale experience.

Where does the Martian president live?
An Alternate reality installation
Petko Dourmana

“We’ll start by sending astronauts to an asteroid for the first time in history. By the mid-2030s, I believe we can send humans to orbit Mars and return them safely to earth, and a landing on Mars will follow, and I expect to be around to see it.”

Barack Obama’s space policy speech at the Kennedy Space Center, April 15, 2010

Everybody who is interested why Obama cancelled the billions worth program for landing on the Moon of his predecessor and replaced it with his own ambitious program for landing on Mars is invited to the installation Where does the Martian President live? where Obama’s speech from the Kennedy Space Center is visually transcoded for human perception. After the cancelation of Space Shuttle and Constellation programs almost 10 000 rocket scientists and engineers are going to loose their jobs. This could destroy the know-how for building rockets of the US, which is the world leader in space research.

With this decision Obama’s administration in fact hinders human landing on Mars. What Obama did sounds illogical and obviously in contradiction with the Martian program he promoted. But if we assume that besides his obvious position as the president of the United States, he is the leader of the Martians who live around us on the planet Earth disguised as human beings, it becomes logical that his real mission is to prevent humans from landing on Mars. And therefore he uses the TV broadcasts to send messages to his fellow Martians by using frequencies that are beyond human perceptions.

Proceedings Yet To Be Orated
(Tension Series, No. 4)
Burak Arikan

“Proceedings Yet To Be Orated” is the 4th piece of the Tension Series. It is a narrative stream generated by the messaging activities in an imaginary social network. The narrative stream is composed by the messaging protocols and displayed as a scrolling text on a teleprompter, which is placed in front of the visualization of the network activity. “Tension Series” is a set of abstract simulations and installations exploring the dynamics of complex networks. How one can develop awareness about the personality of a network?

The intuitive explorations in this series include the parallel passing of time, the relational movement of elements, the aggregation of interactivities, the reminisces of growth, the ambiguity of centralization and clustering, the intensification and de-intensification of complexity.

Friluftskino: Experiments in Open Air Surveillance Cinema
Car Wash screening
Michelle Teran

A documentation on a series of urban interventions throughout the city of Oslo. The city provides the source and the projection surface for an openair urban cinema. Using a powerful video beamer and video scanner, live surveillance intercepted from wireless CCTV cameras is captured and then rebroadcasted upon the city walls. The live transmission ideally lasts as long as a feature length film and also takes it’s title from a cinematic source, according to the scene created by the surveillance camera. The extended time of the intervention is intended to allow one to contemplate the live image which, contrary to being titillating and actionfilled, is actually empty and still, a place of non-action. They are spaces to be filled, through subtle shifts that take place within the observed scene, or through the viewer’s own physical or imagined intervention.

Spatial boundary conventions of private and public, inside and outside are challenged by the reality of the radio transmission which moves beyond walls and onto the street. By accessing these images one is also offered a view into how the public depicts and represents itself through surveillance while also bringing questions of permission of access and ownership of these transmissions.

Politics of Change
Annemie Maes

The research project ‘Politics of Change’ is a collective work where artists, visionaries, working women, activists and ecologists want to initiate collaborative dialogues to uncover ideas and solutions which support decentralized structures, biodiversity and community development. The project involves not only public discussion, but an extensive mapping and documentation of these proposals in an art context. Drawing on a wide range of artistic and theoretical fields, the aim is to imagine new and sustainable relationships between humans, their environments and technologies.

‘Politics of Change : #1 Mahila Samiti’ focuses on rural communities in India that work with an innovative program and philosophy. They approach solutions in a participatory and bottom up way and implement sustainable changes from within the community itself. There is a specific interest for solutions situated in the field of distributed renewable energies, the use of (appropriate) technology and the conservation of ecosystems. Their innovative approach has led to changes in governmental policy and has expanded dialogue around previously unexplored issues leading to a new discussion about the north-south axis. In ‘Politics of Change’ we want to research what we can learn from these decentralized community-models that succeed to grow into a quickly expanding network in Asia and Africa.

Sara Schnadt

“With the widespread adoption of mobile devices, we are increasingly gaining this access not just while on a computer, but at any time as we move through ordinary space. In this way we are, more and more, existing in ordinary and virtual space simultaneously.”

‘Network’, explores the profound impact of the internet on our sense of special relationships, as it collapses geography and provides unprecedented access to an expansive network of information and relationships in our daily lives. Network visualizes this idea of the infinitely expansive virtual space we now inhabit, using large quantities of electric yellow twine (tied in patterns based on both social network structures and Internet network infrastructure) and mirrors to suggest a ‘virtual’ network landscape cutting through an otherwise ordinary space.

Since November 2009, site-specific versions of Network have been created in Chicago for an unused store front downtown, a gallery space at Hyde Park Art Center, and a house in Oak Park (What It Is project space), where it inhabited the entire space and extended out into the garden, and where the home’s inhabitants lived with the work for a month, negotiating their routines around it.

A version will also be presented this fall in a converted industrial space at MOCAD Detroit.

Yael Kanarek

We draw a horizon to initiate a world: Once ‘One’ is divided, things can grow. This horizon is written-drawn with the words Sunset/Sunrise. While the horizon defines difference in space, sunset/sunrise defines difference in time.

As metaphor for future, who owns the horizon? This horizon is drawn in three languages, English, Hebrew and Arabic that in recent years, especially since 9/11, came to epitomize the political conflict of our times fulled and manipulated by use of the Israeli/Palestinian reality. In English, sunset and sunrise point to a human-centric experience – the sun doesn’t rise nor sink. In Arabic, the words are derived from the words east (ghoroob) and west (shorooq), pointing to geographically coordinated language. In Hebrew the words translate into shine (zrikha) and submerge (shki’a). These words point to the spiritual code of this language in which sunset and sunrise describe functions within the process of the inner work.

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