Community College: The Black Box Issues

Risking translations of what is only partly understood.

“Feminism loves another science: the sciences and politics of interpretation, translation, stuttering, and the partly understood. [...] Translation is always interpretive, critical, and partial. Here is a ground for conversation, rationality, and objectivity – which is powersensitive, not pluralist, ‘conversation’.” (Donna Haraway)

Could there be an affectionate feminist algorithm? What can be understood as a black box, that is, as a system whose internal processes evade critical scrutiny or simply overwhelm our perception capacities with too much data: technological devices, unmanageable actor networks and complex organizations? My smartphone, the social media economy, or the view of things from the perspective of another person? What instrumental, intricate and sentimental relationships do we maintain to black boxes and what do they do to us? What prejudices, inequalities and discriminations are, consciously or unintentionally, programmed into them, which are even amplified by feedback loops with an unequal society? Can deep-learning systems also unlearn? Can we answer these questions if the mechanisms that keep the game of regulated relations between input and output going are not completely understood?

The Kunsthalle Wien Community College activates the discursive space of the exhibition Hysterical Mining with open meetings, workshops and collective actions that invite people to work together on diverse ‘translations’ of the inner processes of black boxes. In the sense of “staying with the trouble” (Donna Haraway), we do not shy away from creating productive confusion and suggesting cheerful exercises for a life in complexity. The goal is to initiate a discourse on the impact of black boxes and the need for democratic regulation.

The Community College is Kunsthalle Wien’s open space for reflection and action. Want to be entangled? Surfing on the wave of collectivity, the Community College is a freethinking space to gain new perspectives. People from different fields and backgrounds come together and use art as a context to develop methods of critically reflecting and discussing, sharing and caring, experimenting and acting. The Community College is an interdisciplinary exchange on current discourses and their potential, staying on track with the latest ideas and concepts around art. Thought sharing on contemporary theoretical problems, text and art based discussions, exhibition visits; we hold reading groups developing artistic-based research. Discussing ideas and experiences, we address open questions about our relationship to digital technologies and their consequences for our lives.

Statements by Community College members: We address complex issues touching on the interconnections of technology, society, art & science: we are cross-disciplinary. We translate our research process into tangible interventions to trigger debate within a broader audience and provide tools for reflection. Finding ways out of being lost in diversity; finding ways to enjoy it; exploring knowledge and ignorance about things, about technology of life; (re) discovering so many possibilities in and out of the world of technology. Where you can be reflective and reflexive and not feel like you are the only crazy person in town!

Open get-togethers, workshops and collective action in June (7/6 with Cornelia Sollfrank, 12/6, 21/6 & 26/6 2019), July, August and September (20/9 – 27/9 2019).

For details on the program and possibilities to participate please contact: