SIMON DENNY: ART AND THE TECHNOLOGY INDUSTRY
Simon Denny. Photo by Max Pitegoff Calla Henkel
“There are many actors that use art as a way to unpack various different parts of life and culture”
Simon Denny is a contemporary artist from New Zealand based in Berlin, Germany. He makes exhibitions that unpack the social and political implications of the technology industry and the rise of social media, startup culture, blockchains and cryptocurrencies, using a variety of media including installation, sculpture, print and video. From recent technological innovations to data extraction and distribution, Simon's practice explores how technology shapes governmental organisations, culture, and the economy.
Simon’s work draws on the psychology of the new media economy, invoking "clouds" of big data and the constant pressure to "update" our lives. In doing so, he poses a critique to the capitalist models of business which are governed by a logic of extractivism.
In the artist's words: "The reason humans know that climate change even exists is because of measuring devices and strategies and systems of classification. But these are, in themselves, potentially making the situation worse…Instead of being a farmer, you’re building a Google or Facebook, one of these large global platforms, instead of keeping sheep on your land, you keep data in the “cloud” (storage facility). You monetize not the wool, but on the data, you collect…Extraction is the keyword. There is mineral extraction from the ground, mining. But there is also extraction as it works in data and platform capitalist models of business."
Recently, Simon focused on blockchain technology, a digital record-keeping system that has grown in popularity over recent years. In his solo exhibition Mine (2018-2021), he addressed different ways of environmental, political, and technological extraction. Among the works on view was Extractor, a board game inspired by the Australian farming game Squatter, but unlike its original, Extractor players had to farm ‘data’. Mine was also accompanied by a device that collected the visitors' data as they walked through the exhibition. The artist’s goal was thus to present extractivism as a paradigm of the human attitude towards the planet and other humans.
Simon will be in conversation with philosopher Tobias Rees in the debate Sustainability in the Digital Age, which will be live streamed on Friday 11 February at 16:45 pm (CET).
Exhibition view of Mine, 2021. Photo: Jesse Hunniford/Mona
Exhibition view of Mine, 2021. Photo: courtesy of the artist and Petzel Gallery