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Strings: Data and the Self

  • California Museum of Art Thousand Oaks 1948 Thousand Oaks Boulevard Thousand Oaks, CA, 91362 United States (map)


  • Heather Dewey-Hagborg

  • Branger_Briz (Nick Briz & Brannon Dorsey)

  • Amanda Turner Pohan

  • Jennifer Chan

  • Shawné Michaelain Holloway 

Curated by:

  • Joel Kuennen

  • Riccardo Zagorodnev

Strings explores the manner in which data increasingly determines our behavior, our interactions and our overall relationship to the Self through an essayistic approach to curation

Our lives are increasingly defined by data. From the echo chamber of our Facebook feeds to the flash trading of commodities on our stock markets, data, its collection and its application has come to influence our daily lives like no other force. This exhibition seeks to offer a critique of how data is collected and ultimately how it mediates who we are.

Strings seeks to make evident the transformation of the self through its dialectical relationship with data collection, monetization and replication. The desire to taxonomize and mobilize our subjectivity through data has produced a tendency capable of simultaneously synthesizing value and obscuring it. The need to locate the self within a sea of interdependent systems is urgent but evasive. The prospect of replicating ourselves in these systems is becoming reality. Virtual and fake have become real.

This exhibition approaches the relationship of data to our daily lives through three questions.

How is data extracted?

The work of Branger_Briz (Probe Kit, 2015) exposes the points at which we become data to be exported and extrapolated by companies, organizations and governments, ultimately presenting the viewer with their own lack of choice when participating in a digital world. 

What can become of your data?

Heather Dewey-Hagborg (Stranger Visions, 2012-2013) uses genetic data to discover identities from the traces of our lives. The apparent lack of genetic privacy forces a reconsideration of the boundaries of self within a culture rapidly developing cheap, mass-produced genetic technologies.

How is emotional intelligence affected by data?

Jennifer Chan (Austerity, 2016) uses found footage to create heartfelt works about vulnerability that recenter the self as a series of performances in accordance with imagined ideals. An exuberant longing saturates her video works.  Amanda Turner Pohan’s (The Living Body Archive of Linqox Criss, 2016) work provides a quantified approach to highly subjective experiences relegated to the realms of romance and intimacy. Her compounds exemplify an approach to data accumulation and abstraction that renders the mechanics of meaning mercilessly visible. 

Strings addresses the monumental question of how the subject is defined in an age when every dimension and component of the global environment is atomized and mined for value. The indiscriminate nature of correlational algorithms forces us to consider the latent value of the most insignificant gestures. We have already begun to see self-censorship as a response to a pervasive surveillance networks as well as a complete breakdown in information value systems. Without critical inquiry, the individual risks losing the ability to orient themselves within the multitude of anesthetizing data streams where the only thing that is meaningful is the abstract value assigned to data sets. 

Earlier Event: October 26
Pollock & Martinis