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An introduction.

  • Jan 06 2022
  • Nadim Samman
    read Philosophy at University College London before receiving his PhD from the Courtauld Institute of Art. He was Co-Director of Import Projects e.V. in Berlin from 2012 to 2019 and, concurrently, Curator at Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary, Vienna (2013-2015). He curated the 4th Marrakech Biennale (with Carson Chan) in 2012, and the 5th Moscow Biennale for Young Art in 2015. He co-founded and co-curated the 1st Antarctic Biennale (2017) and the Antarctic Pavilion (Venice, 2015-). In 2014 Foreign Policy Magazine named him among the ‘100 Leading Global Thinkers’. Widely published, in 2019 he was First Prize recipient of the International Award for Art Criticism (IAAC). He is currently Curator at KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin.

Open Secret is a six-month long program that explores images of the technological hidden in our apparently ‘open’ society.

Technology is supposed to increase our access to knowledge, making the world more legible, while undermining ignorance and superstition. At least, that’s what we are told. But it sometimes feels like we have entered a new dark age of black boxes. In computer science, a black box is a unit of software or hardware that interacts entirely through its interface. What happens inside it is opaque; veiled in shadow. Users of black boxes may only partially understand how they work, but can easily observe their effects in the world.

There is drama—desire, disappointment, and uncertainty—in coming to terms with these effects. Contemporary intellectual labor is frequently defined by attending a black box as it works on you. The resulting black box culture is marked by affective responses: wonder, paranoia, mythopoesis, and so on.

Black boxes are key props in the personal-political drama of being shut out from a hidden order of reality—unable to access or read its code. As we make our way through a landscape of inscrutable machines (and the life they make for us) we attempt to come to terms with them through incommensurate means, projecting wishes, insecurities, and analogies of what they might be onto them.

Open Secret pursues this topic through numerous artistic commissions and essays by leading thinkers. Additionally, the project critically examines the digital infrastructures that organize civic life. Discourse takes place in hybrid online-offline formats, and are realized in collaboration with a diverse group of interlocutors.


To the Open Secret go HERE.