The group exhibition Blinding Pleasures, curated by Filippo Lorenzin, will study the dangers and potentials of a conscious use of the mechanisms behind the False Consensus effect and its marketing-driven son, the so-called “Filter Bubble”. This project will be an occasion to reflect and question these issues with the involvement of artists, psychologists, lawyers, sociologists and communication experts.
The mornings after both the Brexit vote and the 2016 U.S Presidential Election, social media was used more than ever for sharing sadness, fear and even desperation; people felt cheated, asking how it was possible that Brexit and Donald Trump won even though they saw on their social media feeds in the previous months that everyone was going to vote against them. The reality the social media channels perceived and the real and final outcome were too wide and deep.
Blinding Pleasures will explore the reasons and the ways in which the False Consensus effect takes place on a daily basis, online and offline, due to the construction of environments only allowing persons to connect with people who share a similar opinion. Not paying attention to signs that confound expectations is one of the most important and subtle functioning of human psyche; more often than not, it is an involuntary mechanism triggering out selfdefense.
Marketing agencies and centres of power learnt how to master this bias for their interests. Shaping a public opinion doesn’t necessarily mean to filter the information needed to control the extremely partisan communities blind to other opinions but rather, and foremost, to sharpen the differences among opposite groups giving birth to extreme partly blinded communities. Blinding Pleasures is an exhibition that reflects on how people can critically take control over their inner psychological biases, disrupting the attempts of being misled by those who detain power on the platforms they use.
Ultimately, the exhibition questions the means in which one retains control over these systems. Starting from a non social media related point of view, the exhibition explores the perks and troubles of behaving in an environment designed to keep people locked in it by exploiting their need to be socially accepted and reassured. Given the complexity of the topic, inquiry won’t be from a wholly negative or positive presumption; it’ll be an opportunity to start a conversation aimed to collectively address subtle and influential psychological functioning.
Blinding Pleasures is launching arebyte’s 2017 programme surrounding and responding to the theme of Control as inspired by Deleuze’s Postscript for Societies of Control.
Angela Washko will show Survival Rates In Captivity (Free Will Mode #5) (2017), a new unedited work of her ongoing project Free Will Mode. This is a series of videos in which the artist uses The Sims to place human Artificial Intelligence into architectural situations to test the constraints of their ability to rethink the environments they've been placed in.
Benjamin Grosser will present Go Rando (2016), a browser extension that obfuscates feelings on Facebook. Every time users click “Like”, Go Rando randomly chooses one of the six Facebook “reactions” for them. Want to see what Facebook feels like when your emotions are obscured? Go Rando.
Man Bartlett will present an installation titled Browsing the Blues (2017) created in part from the electromagnet output of his iPhone recorded while browsing his social media feeds, as well as a takeaway print that represents the score of the audio piece overlaid on a depiction of the circuitry of the iPhone model he used. In concert, this act as a sort of signature of his digital consumption.
Accompanying the show is a series of events involving both experts and the general public in the conversation.
The first panel discussion will be held on Friday 25th February with Professor of Sociology Amparo Lasén and Social Studies expert Ebru Yetişkin who will explain what is the False Consensus effects in terms of daily offline life. At the end of the event, Ebru Yetişkin will lead a workshop that will show the audience how easy it is to fall within these functions.
In the second talk, taking place on Saturday 18th March, lawyer Kevin Poulter and NBC journalist Catherine Chapman will discuss how being trapped in a comfort zone influences our behaviours at work and the consequences of relying on our habits when we think about politics.
Along these events, we will screen Facebookistan (2016) directed by Jakob Gottschau, a documentary taking a close look at Facebook, its laws, powers and its influence on privacy and freedom of expression. The screening will take place on Saturday 11th March.