Workshop: Greenwashing Smart Futures

Andreas Zingerle, Davide Bevilacqua, Linda Kronman

We are interested to continuously explore methods which brings forth new forms of artistic research, especially in context of digitalization, and everyday use of technology in urban environment. Following previous academic and artistic research projects ‘Behind the smart world’ and ‘The Internet of other people’s things’, we want to continue to focus on artistic research that investigates the relationship between increasingly corporatized cities and their citizens. In the research we intend to focus on smart city technotopias and their implementations. We are interested to artistically explore: 1) what implications corporate power has on the rights of citizens, 2) how it affects citizens’behavior and 3) how sustainable these smart city concepts are and if the Internet infrastructure is actually ready to serve the future demands.

A smart city: sustainable, green, effective and clean. It citizens protected from disasters, safe and secure. A sensing city full of life.This is how smart city proposals imagine our future urban life. Specially-built new cities, rising from swamps and marshland, built in deserts or on farming land. There is a disconnection between the vision of the smart city and the incomplete real city. In reality software fails, hardware becomes obsolete, the city is constantly under construction, projects are on hold, and interests of citizens and corporations are competing. Smart cities are actually business models, demo cities, test-beds and playgrounds to benchmark who is willing to become a citizen in these high-tech neoliberal environments.

In this workshop we want to investigate the sustainability aspect of smart cities and its underlying infrastructures. One of the aspects of the focus lies on the very same use of “sustainability” in the jargon of smart urban planners, which claim the eco-friendlyness of the smart world – which means saving resources and optimizing operational costs thanks to the adoption of better technologies. In this case, the sustainability becomes one further rhetorical dispositiv of green capitalism to enforce the production of more and more devices. Based on previous research in South Korea we observed material traces of smart city failures in form of empty malls, dysfunctional high-tech waste management infrastructure, and obsolete tele-presence technology. In the workshop we will unpack the omnipresence of technology in our ‘green’, sustainable, and clean cities and by applying Open Source Intelligence tools, citizen forensics and grassroot journalism we want to look at the current state of internet infrastructure in Scandinavia, with a special focus on Norway.

Together we will create a visual representation of our research on material traces, green electricity and eco data-centers.

KairUs is a collective of two artists Linda Kronman (Finland) and Andreas Zingerle (Austria). Currently based in Bergen (Norway), they explore topics such as vulnerabilities in IoT devices, corporatization of city governance in Smart Cities and citizen sensitive projects in which technology is used to reclaim control of our living environments. Their practice based research is closely intertwined with their artistic production, adopting methodologies used by anthropologists and sociologist, their artworks are often informed by archival research, participation observations and field research. Besides the artworks they publish academic research papers and open access publications to contextualize their artworks to wider discourses such as data privacy & security, activism & hacking culture, disruptive art practices, electronic waste and materiality of the internet.

Davide Bevilacqua

Davide is artist and curator working is the blurry area between media and contemporary art. He is interested on the rhetorics of the technological development as well as on the understanding of the art exhibition as an “interface”, a processual space for exchange.
Lives and works in Linz, Austria.