EXILE, Vienna

POSTCITY, Bunker, Säulenhalle/Paketspeicher

EXILE is a platform for contemporary art founded in 2008 by Christian Siekmeier. EXILE understands art as a collaborative, inter-generational and overarching discourse embedded in a complex web of socio-political, gender and personal histories as much as in aesthetic theory and conceptual practice.

Within the belly of the building’s vast and outdated machinery, our metabolism remains as slow as the pre-amazonian redundancy of the untimely seven minute itemized processing time that makes Ars Electronica’s POSTCITY building, with its nuclear bunkers, countless sorting slides, and endless conveyor belts, one of the last pre-url jokes of the past. In 2019, Ars Electronica’s POSTCITY prevails for a final time, en route to destruction in favor of condo capitalism – a final hiccup heard from inside the belly of the sorting machine.

Chatbots don’t talk

When talking to Lou Cantor’s chatbots, we speak into an acoustic void used to isolate the sounds spoken into a recording microphone. The microphone itself is replaced by a sculpted humanoid mouth. We expect a response while voicing questions or concerns yet there will not be any communication between us and the chatbot’s microphone replacement. Any desire for meaningful conversation is left as empty and unfulfilled as when talking to Siri or Alexa. Yet, a beautiful silence makes our one-way conversation a relief as truly no one cares to listen.

Pills don’t work

When consuming Fette Sans pills, we expect solution, salvation, reaction, enlightenment, modification, relief, or at least a truly good high. Her pills, all individual and artisanally crafted from various digestible matter, disappoint and refuse any shift to reality. We are still here, the pills don’t work. They fail us, we remain in the bland reality of the belly we thought we could get a high out of. The pills are pretty and colorful, their poor function frustrates yet is not a bad trip, but a reminder of the importance of modifying the here and now. No escapism available – deal with it and make your own reality worthwhile.

Videos don’t animate

When watching Patrick Panetta’s films, their simplicity seems as banal as it is disturbing and hypnotic. Filmed off the computer screen, Panetta’s retro-constructivist photoshop files are organized in layers and animated by pressing the arrow buttons on the keyboard. A blue square moves up, a purple circle moves towards another purple circle, a red triangle approaches a black rectangle. Each film’s soundtrack represents what the artist was listening to on the radio when filming the moving shapes. Not much is happening, each film’s outdated programming refers back to a time when Photoshop was the height of digital manipulation. Panetta’s films seem like ancient digital mantras foreshadowing current uncertainties such as FaceApp or Deepfakes.

All works in EXILE’s presentation fail their own expectation. Chatbots, pills and videos remain passive to the viewer, inactive, disappointing to us and disappointed by themselves. No process, no progress is to be found that elevates the digital realm to the advanced enlightened spirit we so badly want it to be. Nothing talks, nothing works, nothing animates our senses to expect more from the machine we are trapped in than acidic hiccups of our own outdated consumption. Found together in a corner of the outdated POSTCITY machinery, the works of Fette Sans, Lou Cantor and Patrick Panetta appear allegorical like ancient artefacts found in some newly opened tomb.