KW Open Secret Catalogue

“Ours is a culture obsessed with the unseen, the inaccessible and the known-unknown Open Secret is a six-month long program that explores images of the technological hidden in our apparently ‘open’ society.

Technology is supposed to increase our access to knowledge, making the world more legible, while undermining ignorance and superstition. At least, that’s what we are told. But it sometimes feels like we have entered a new dark age of black boxes. In computer science, a black box is a unit of software or hardware that interacts entirely through its interface. What happens inside it is opaque; veiled in shadow. Users of black boxes may only partially understand how they work, but can easily observe their effects in the world.

There is drama—desire, disappointment, and uncertainty—in coming to terms with these effects. Contemporary intellectual labor is frequently defined by attending a black box as it works on you. The resulting black box culture is marked by affective responses: wonder, paranoia, mythopoesis, and so on.

Black boxes are key props in the personal-political drama of being shut out from a hidden order of reality—unable to access or read its code. As we make our way through a landscape of inscrutable machines (and the life they make for us) we attempt to come to terms with them through incommensurate means, projecting wishes, insecurities, and analogies of what they might be onto them.

Open Secret pursues this topic through numerous artistic commissions and essays by leading thinkers. Additionally, the project critically examines the digital infrastructures that organize civic life. Discourse takes place in hybrid online-offline formats, and are realized in collaboration with a diverse group of interlocutors.”

Nadim Samman, curator

Category: Editorial
Location: Berlin, DE
Client: KW Institute Of Contemporary Art
Collaborators: Solenn Robic, Léonie Montjarret
Website: opensecret.kw-berlin.de
Year: 2021