Beyond the visible


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Technologies and applications such as the automated monitoring of work, networking on platforms and the assistance systems and processes of machine learning are altering our view of technology and society. Conversely, as this changes, so too does the view of the technologies of us – and indeed greatly. The aim of this year’s conference is to discuss new approaches to (in)visibility and visualization on the basis of the current developments in technology, society and art. To this end, artistic and scientific positions will be confronted with each other.

Presentations will be given by Fred Turner, Tabor Robak, Vladan Joler, Roland Meyer, Rindon Johnson, Jakob Birken, Andreas Bunte, Angela Krewani, Mareike Foecking and Sebastian Randerath, among others.

Admission is free. Register now for free at


Conference Venue

Salon 21
Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen
Ständehausstraße 1
40217 Düsseldorf

Venue Keynote Fred Turner 03.07.2019

Sipgate GmbH
Gladbacher Str. 74
40219 Düsseldorf

Pre_Invent is a conference series initiated by Prof. Mareike Foecking from the Faculty of Design at the Peter Behrens School of Arts (PBSA) – part of the University of Applied Sciences Düsseldorf (Hochschule Düsseldorf, HSD) – that has been curated in collaboration with Nina Ditscheid and Sebastian Randerath. The aim of the series of conferences is to analyze historical and current digital and political concepts as well as various design methods. On such a basis it will be possible to develop design approaches that will reformulate the digital as an intervention and an arena for political action.


Admission is free. Register now for free at


Mittwoch 03.07.

Dr. Doris Krystof, Kuratorin K21

Einführung – Das Sichtbare, das Wahre und das Schöne
Prof. Mareike Foecking, Hochschule Düsseldorf PBSA

(In-)Visible Media
Sebastian Randerath, Universität Siegen

Q &A


Manifesting Realities – Some Forms of World Making in Virtual Space
Rindon Johnson, Berlin

Operative Portraits. Faces, Profiles, and the Visual Culture of Identification
Dr. Roland Meyer, Universität Cottbus

Q &A


I am Silicon Valley – Silicon Valley is Me
Prof. Mareike Foecking, Hochschule Düsseldorf PBSA


Keynote: The Arts at Facebook: An aesthetic Infrastructure for Surveillance Capitalism
Prof. Dr. Fred Turner, Stanford University
(findet abweichend bei der sipgate GmbH statt)

Donnerstag 04.07.

Das Wunderbare und das Nützliche
Thomas Brinkmann, Berlin

Look on my Work(s), ye Mighty, and despair!
Dr. Jacob Birken, Universität Kassel

Q &A


Motion Specimens
Andreas Bunte, Berlin

Artists in Labs: Working at the Edge of Innovation
Prof. Dr. Angela Krewani, Universität Marburg

Q &A

Process makes perfect
Tabor Robak, New York

Exploitation Forensics
Prof. Dr. Vladan Joler, University of Novi Sad


Prof. Mone Schliephack, Dekanin HSD/PBSA FB Design


Prof. Fred Turner (Stanford University) – The arts at Facebook – An aesthetic infrastructure for surveillance capitalism


For almost a decade, Facebook has maintained two internal organizations to commission and create artworks for Facebook offices around the globe. This presentation will map those enterprises, their organizational practices, and the aesthetics they promote. It will then build on recent work in the critical sociology of capitalism to make two cases: one, that the ways Facebook works with the arts marks a radical departure from traditional, industrial-era corporate collecting practices; and two, that Facebook’s arts initiatives mirror and help legitimate profit-seeking techniques particular to social media. Together, it will conclude, these features give us a glimpse of the ways that surveillance-based for-profit media such as Facebook are creating new relationships between the arts, the corporation, and their respective publics.

Prof. Vladan Joler (University Novi Sad) – Exploitation Forensics


‘Critical Cartography of the Internet and Beyond’ is a collection of maps and documents created as a result of investigations conducted in the last few years by the SHARE Lab. In this presentation, Vladan Joler will dive into the landscapes shaped by the algorithmic factories of the surveillance economy, and the associated exploitation of material and immaterial labor and natural resources. He will explore maps of the Facebook Empire and investigate the deep anatomy of machine learning systems and the hidden human labor behind them.

Sebastian Randerath (University Siegen) – (In-)Visible Media


In the 20th century, László Moholy-Nagy, Marvin Minsky and Frank B. Gilbreth each developed different understandings of the visible and optical media that are having a significant impact on our current technological environment. Like in these three discourses, the visibility and visualization modes in the platform infrastructures, organization software, IoT environments and technologies of machine learning are undergoing a shift. Who is the observer and who is becoming visible? This presentation will try to examine these altered groups of human and technological actors on the basis of visibility and visualization. In this way, the existing media theories around the social understanding of (in)visibility will be expanded.

Andreas Bunte (Berlin) – Motion Specimens


One of the principal concerns of the Institut für den Wissenschaftlichen Film (IWF) [Institute for Scientific Research Films] in Göttingen (1954-2010) was to make things visible that were otherwise not perceivable by the human eye. The medium of film was above all a scientific instrument that made it possible to capture and preserve movement by using slow motion, time lapse and microscopic magnification. This presentation will introduce the concept of the Bewegungspräparat [movement specimen] – a term coined by the IWF for its filmic output – and will discuss the implications of this concept of visibility for “Laboratory Life”, Andreas Bunte’s contribution to the most recent iteration of Skulptur Projekte Münster.

Prof. Dr. Angela Krewani (University Marburg) – Artists in Labs – Working at the Edge of Innovation


As is widely known, many modern natural sciences such as, for example, the life sciences, bio-nanotechnologies as well as climate research work with an image and recognition reservoir computer that frequently relies, to a large extent, on visualized data. In many cases, the ‘real’ object of study is thus replaced by diagrams, photographs and moving or simulated images that contribute to the production of reality and knowledge for the respective science. In such a context, all types of visual materials are no longer regarded as simple documentation of the factual but, actually, as the technical design of social and cultural knowledge. While the production of knowledge in laboratories is accordingly considered to be the production of ‚real‘ knowledge, for some time now, artists have been frequently and readily invited into research laboratories. Here, they accompany the work of the scientists and comment on it through their own aesthetic projects.

Prof. Mareike Foecking (Hochschule Düsseldorf, PBSA) – The Visible, the True and the Beautiful


Never before have the world and people been so visible through images and on platforms as they are now. With the invention of photography and mobile photographic devices people were able to produce images of unfamiliar places and display them in other places. Through new technologies and infrastructures we have the possibility of receiving visual impressions from everywhere simultaneously and without delay. However, in the transfer of images through new distribution channels mental images also become visible when people record their beliefs and thoughts visually and in writing and share them. If we follow Eadweard Muybridge, there are two methods for producing images. One used image devices for motion studies to visualize a reality that was not visible to the human eye. The other worked from the concept of an image that existed in an assumed reality and for which a technological realization was developed.

Prof. Mareike Foecking (Hochschule Düsseldorf, PBSA) – I am Silicon Valley – Silicon Valley is Me


Silicon Valley is a dream location, an innovation machine and a cash distributor where something novel can arise from nothing and new business models can emerge from old ones. Yet, Silicon Valley is also suburban and small and is destroying established communities and producing inequality and a housing shortage that is pushing up real estate prices because it has reached its limits. It’s a village – a global village. A village is cozy, cute and has traditions that structure time. In a village you’ve all met each other and accept the secrets that you know about the others without discussing them. A village is only a home until someone comes from the outside and wants to become part of the village. When that happens, the concentrated power of the village becomes apparent as in Lars von Trier’s movie ‘Dogville’ with its stage-like set.


Is Silicon Valley our friend or our enemy? Or, has Silicon Valley long since been in all of us? A slide show attempts to get to the bottom of the Silicon Valley myth.


Tabor Robak (US) – Process Makes Perfect


In his presentation, Tabor Robak will give an overview of his work with an in depth discussion of how the process of creating the work has developed and refined over time, on a micro and macro scale. He will show the work that is hidden behind the final artwork from how the work is made and where he finds his inspiration, to how he schedules his time and manages the business side of his art career. He will focus on his own methodology and describe how the relation of his works to the „art industry“ shaped his own art practice during the past 5-8 years. What are the methods and routines behind the art making process? Which business structures are related to the publicity and visibility of an artwork?

Dr. Roland Meyer (University Cottbus) – Operative Portraits. Faces, profiles, and the visual culture of identification


Our faces have become big data captured by ubiquitous cameras, automatically detected, recognized, and interpreted by advanced algorithms, and assembled into ever-growing personalized profiles; our faces have turned into a valuable resource for tech companies and government agencies. This presentation takes a look at the dispersed beginnings of these recent developments, re-examining the history of the face in an era of massively increased image production and circulation. How did facial images become the object of an identifying gaze that tries to read stable information from them? When did it become conceivable, even normal, for endless series of images depicting individuals to be circulating in vast social networks? And what ideas of personal identity have informed the protocols of automated facial recognition? The presentation will pursue these questions by bringing together several strands from the history of modern visual culture that are normally dealt with separately: the social history of private portrait practices, the art history of modernist redefinitions of portraiture, and the media history of forensic identification. By interweaving these different stories, a fundamental transformation of the status of facial images in modern visual culture becomes apparent. Since the beginnings of technical image production, the traditional claim of the portrait to represent an autonomous individual has been gradually replaced by the promise of operativity. Rather than synthesizing the various aspects of an individual into a single, stable and permanent representative image, operative portraits are merely exchangeable elements in an ongoing series of visual documents that are destined to be compared, combined, and linked together with unlimited masses of other data.

Dr. Jacob Birken (University Kassel) – Look on my Work(s), ye Mighty, and despair! Virtual and invisible labor in late capitalism’s representative spheres


Within the arts, labor and its representation have traditionally held rather precarious roles. In the 20th century, there’s the myth of the ‘suffering genius’, whose creativity would be essentially compromised by granting him or her normatively acceptable standards of living; there’s the equally dubious heroic worker adorning the facades of impoverished socrealist states. In the 21st century, things turn even more complicated as ‘labor’ itself defies definition; what was once understood as an ever-expanding creation of goods and surplus value now seems to be ground up between statistics and speculation. At the same time, various disenfranchised kinds of labor remain as invisible as they were in the early years of industrialization. What, then, is work today, and what does it look like?


In 2018, the German Federal Employment Agency spent Euro 60 million in order to recover Euro 18 million of unemployment benefit overpayments that, in many cases, were minuscule. Meanwhile, services like Amazon’s ‘Mechanical Turk’ provide a platform for outsourcing mind-numbing microtasks to people outside or at the fringes of the regular jobs market. While such services turn your home into a segment of a production line, the very concept of ‘private space’ is being abstracted and monetized at the other end of the spectrum. For $ 15,000 so-called influencers can rent a fully furnished New York penthouse as a backdrop for their reasonably authentic Instagram home stories that are paid for by multi-national fashion brands. This presentation navigates the fractured visual spheres of today’s virtual or invisible labor and examines the effects of a precarious work crisis in a globalized society on the visual arts and the responses that the arts might come up with.


Thomas Brinkmann (Berlin) – The Glorious and the Useful


Jacques Vaucanson’s sequencer or the mechanization of music and what that could have to do with a weaving loom. Holes, samples, patterns and robots -“I want to be a machine. Arms to grasp legs to walk – no pain no thoughts.”(H.Müller )

Rindon Johnson (US/DE) – Manifesting Realities – Some Forms of World Making in Virtual Space


When we have a choice, what worlds do we spend our time in and what does it say about us? In this presentation, Rindon Johnson will speak about and around three popular video games to consider what kind of worlds we are propagating and what forms of changes our bodies and minds are undergoing as we dive deeper into these virtual worlds.




Hochschule Düsseldorf
Peter Behrens School of Arts
Fachbereich Design
Georg-Glock-Straße 15
40474 Düsseldorf
Telefon +49 (0) 211 4351–201
Telefax +49 (0) 211 4351–203

Bei Hinweisen, Anregungen und Beschwerden wenden Sie sich bitte zunächst an Prof. Mareike Foecking. Für folgende Teilbereiche des Webangebotes gelten abweichend andere Verantwortlichkeiten:

Konzeption und inhaltliche Bearbeitung:
Prof. Mareike Foecking, Sebastian Randerath

Alexander Mainusch

Technische Realisation:
Stefan Völker mit Robert Dominic Cobb

Angaben zum Dienstanbieter:
Hochschule Düsseldorf
Peter Behrens School Of Arts
Georg–Glock–Straße 15
40474 Düsseldorf
Telefon 0211–4351–101
Telefon 0211–4351–201

Der Fachbereich Design der Peter Behrens School Of Arts wird vertreten durch die Dekanin Prof. Mone Schliephack. Die Hochschule Düsseldorf ist eine Körperschaft des Öffentlichen Rechtes. Sie wird durch die Präsidentin, Prof. Dr. Edeltraud Vomberg, gesetzlich vertreten. Zuständige Aufsichtsbehörde ist das Ministerium für Innovation, Wissenschaft, Forschung und Technologie des Landes Nordrhein- Westfalen.
Völklinger Str. 49, 40221 Düsseldorf
Fon +49 (0) 211 896–04
Fax +49 (0) 211 896–4555

Die Umsatzsteuer-Identifikationsnummer gemäß §27a Umsatzsteuergesetz der FH Düsseldorf lautet DE119432315.


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