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IMPAKT Festival presents 2022 edition The Curse of Smooth Operations

November 2–6, 2022

The central thesis of IMPAKT Festival 2022 is that the most unsatisfactory technology of all is the one that actually functions.

Everyone can see that when technology malfunctions, performs poorly, has unexpected side effects, or breaks down, it causes people to become dissatisfied. The IMPAKT Festival asks the audience to get on a train of thought that goes completely the other way from November 2–6, 2022. Could it be that when technology performs well or goes above and beyond expectations, that’s when it reveals itself to be the most unsatisfactory?

It is become harder and harder to tell the difference between news and propaganda, facial recognition and racial profiling, thanks to algorithmically improved imaging technology. The person is imprisoned in a constant state of creative activity under new models of co-working and co-living that celebrate the importance of home, family, and community. A few hegemonic countries are able to divide up the planet among themselves because to universally accepted systems of measurement that were created to make the same standard equally accessible to everyone. The underlying technology of language lowers the expressive capacity of the human body to a pre-made program of signs and grammar, which aids in communication and orienting us in a chaotic world of passing experiences. Did you consider that technology’s ability to freeze, crash, burn, and inflict unpredictable death was already unsatisfactory? There may be greater dissatisfaction in store for you. What if the most dissatisfying technology of all is the one that works?

The most popular way to see technology is from a humanist perspective, which sees it as a collection of tools that fulfill pre-existing needs in the human society that gave rise to them. The premise of The Curse of Smooth Operations is that this order will be reversed, with technology controlling us rather than the other way around. According to this alternate viewpoint, contentment and discontent have nothing to do with personal preferences made by free-willed individuals. Instead, these needs are deeply technical in nature itself and connect to other devices to construct the complete technological framework of a society. he aim here is to force the common, humanist view to confront this alternative view on technology, and let their antagonism act as the fuel that drives the narrative of the festival.

Erik Bünger and Florian Wüst, the curators, move away from a discourse about technology that is limited to electronic gadgets and digital applications by thinking about technology in the broadest sense of the word—knowledge put to practical use. In order to critically engage a contemporary lifeworld, whose every aspect has been profoundly altered by technology, they mix explorations into the history and future of natural science, industrial capitalism, computing infrastructures, social polarization, and biopolitics.

With The Curse of Smooth Operations, the curators reject the fetishization of fault that is so pervasive in media art and place an emphasis on function rather than dysfunction. If artists want to challenge the dominant technocratic system, they frequently stick to finding and exploiting the system’s little flaws. Such fetishization is categorically rejected by the IMPAKT Festival 2022. It deals with the misery of everything operating perfectly well rather than the beauty of error. Instead than focusing on the oppressiveness of a totalitarian system that is immune to all failure and has the capacity to continue existing indefinitely, it concentrates on the subversive potential of microscopic bugs.

It is perplexing and counterintuitive to think that technology may both eventually gratify and finally leave one unsatisfied. The Curse of Smooth Operations puts art in the spotlight throughout a schedule that includes two exhibitions, film screenings, lectures, talks, and performances because art is uniquely suited to deal with contradiction.

With: Ross Exo Adams, Salomé Aguilera Skvirsky, Peggy Ahwesh, Alena Alexandrova, Marc Bauer, François Bucher, Alan Currall, Kajsa Dahlberg, Danica Dakić, Μarta Dauliūtė & Viktorija Šiaulytė, Anita Di Bianco, DMSTFCTN, Anja Dornieden & Juan David González Monroy, Simon Dybbroe Møller, Zachary Formwalt, Kristoffer Gansing, Johannes Gierlinger, Vincent Graf, Ane Hjort Guttu, Orit Halpern, Alorah Harman, Linda Hilfling Ritasdatter, Ute Holl, Aleksandar Ilić, Vladan Joler, Sarah Kim, Leigh Claire La Berge, Sasha Litvintseva & Beny Wagner, Alaa Mansour, Jesse McLean, Rosa Menkman, Mihnea Mircan, Grace Phillips & Laurie Robins, Manuel Saiz, Reem Shadid, Benedikt Terwiel, The Nest Collective, Päl Thörn, Oxana Timofeeva, Naomi Voet, Why Theory (Todd McGowan & Ryan Engley) and Wang Yuyan.

Curated by: Erik Bünger and Florian Wüst 

Festival exhibition, The Curse of Smooth Operations
November 2, 2022–January 8, 2023
IMPAKT [Centre for Media Culture] (Lange Nieuwstraat 4, Utrecht) and Steenweg 26, Utrech
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