PEER TO PEER
Curated by Passing Fancy
Duration:2018.10.13 – 2019.01.12
Opening: 2018.10.13, 16:30PM
Artists: Cory Arcangel, Cao Fei, Stephen Kwok, Miao Ying, Seth Price, Jenna Sutela, Wong Kit Yi
2018.10.13 - 2019.01.12
Taking its name from the decentralized computer network systems made infamous through early internet platforms such as Napster and BitTorrent (BT), Peer to Peer speaks to larger political, ethical, and psychological configurations that mediate internet social bonds; providing an acute lens in which to view such topics as reciprocity, neighborliness, animosity, distribution, eternity, and the demarcations between human and nonhuman intelligence.
In the vernacular use of peer-to-peer, “peer” denotes that each user as being of equal status within a network of peers. However, the term is also etymologically entangled with the act of looking or peering. We propose that a peer-to-peer relation is a confrontation of the self: a peer simultaneously peers at other peers and is peered upon by individual peers, including itself. The works in this exhibition embody the crux of this psychoanalytic reflexivity, proposing that this anxiety is inherent to the construction of bodies in virtual space and IRL.
Peer-to-peer networks only work if users are willing to contribute resources, and these resources may be legally, ethically, or otherwise repugnant because peers are connecting to untrusted sources and forfeiting a core logic that might police network activities along the lines of an ethical consensus. Peer-to-peer lending platforms have recently made the front pages of Chinese news due to their inherent riskiness- over 57 platforms have failed in just two weeks- spreading panic among once emboldened investors. Decentralized systems, like the popular blockchain paradigms, tout this inherent risk, declaring it as not only a progressive system, but also as an effectual strategy for successful returns on investments. Works in this exhibition pick up on the paradoxical ambitions of decentralized power structures, especially decentralization as political, potentially democratic ideal. Can participation (human or nonhuman) in decentralized networks be thought of as a reciprocal action? If so, what does this reciprocity imply about conditions of vulnerability and exposure in social life well into the Information Age? How does participation in decentralized paradigms require a reconsideration of our understanding of intelligence, production, distribution, and information processing?
Using the operations of peer-to-peer networks as a catalyst, this exhibition takes a ludic approach to perceptions of decentralization, particularly in regards to systems of power, and to notions of “peer”- considering it as a body, a server, a buddy, a buyer, a host, a virus, a player, a grunt, a mirror, a verb, a noun, and so on. Through different tactics, this exhibition exposes the ideological coordinates of Internet society, and consider the ways in which bodies, or peers, are split into on-line bodies vs. the flesh and blood beings that make the Internet a reality