ATC Lecture – Hito Steyerl – “Proxies and Placeholders”

Hito Steyerl packed Banatao Auditorium yesterday and presented an array of visually striking videos connected to a wide range of topics showing the interplay between society and technology.

Hit launched her idea that art is constantly evolving, and using her piece, Factory of the Sun, as an example. Although it was originally a fictional interpretation of a bank’s projects, Hito said that it became a documentary with the development of real world events. She then touched on the idea of duty-free art. Art stored in tax-free containers away from public view and possibly circulating between containers for years, in places like the Geneva Free Port. She believes that the duty-free art movement is the 21st century version of the biennial art show, and representative of our dark, and possibly dystopian future.

Hito then introduced us to the background behind her ‘High Voltage’ character. ‘High Voltage’ was based on Andrea Wolf, a childhood friend who died in Kurdistan as part of the PKK. Hito’s personal experience of trying to come to terms with Andrea’s death led to the creation of Abstract and a careful exploration of provenance. One of the discoveries, was that many art spaces are funded with money linked to ammunition and military industry.

She finished with a preview of her most recent work, focused on 3-D rendering by Ukrainian engineers, and a meditation on a digital noise filled still labeled ‘Secret’

Check out the photos below and what people had to say about Steyerl’s talk on social media:

2016 ATC Steyerl

Hito Steyerl,. Andrew Kreps, Alice Conconi, Kevin Jensen, and Greg Niemeyer at BCNM Berkeley #theta360 – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

Hito Steyerl is one of the most critically acclaimed artists working in the field of video today. Holding a PhD in philosophy from the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna and teaching at the Universität der Künste Berlin, she is also a frequent contributer to E-Flux magazine, a lecturer, and an engaged thinker on the topics at the core of her practice: the materiality of digital media, technological manipulation, and institutional power relations.

Born in Munich, Steyerl studied film at the Japan Institute of the Moving Image and the University of Television and Film in Munich. Her work was soon selected for the 2008 Shanghai Biennale and the 2010 Gwangju Taipei biennials. In 2010, Steyerl was awarded the New Visions Award at the Copenhagen International Documentary Festival for her film In Free Fall. She has also been prominently featured as part of documenta 12 in Kassel, Germany, and the 2013 Venice Biennale.

Her latest solo exhibitions include the 2015 Bank (Shanghai, China), KOW gallery (Berlin, Germany), Tensta Konsthall (Spånga, Sweden), Too Much World in the Institute of Modern Art (Brisbane, Australia), Artists Space (New York City), Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia (Madrid, Spain), Concentrations 59: Mirror Stage (Dallas, TX), and the Museum of Art (Dallas, TX).

This February, MOCA in Los Angeles will present the U.S. premiere of Steyerl’s landmark video installation Factory of the Sun. In this immersive work, which debuted at the 2015 German Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, Steyerl probes the pleasures and perils of image circulation in a moment defined by the unprecedented global flow of data. Ricocheting between genres—news reportage, documentary film, video games, and internet dance videos—Factory of the Sun uses the motifs of light and acceleration to explore what possibilities are still available for collective resistance when surveillance has become a mundane part of an increasingly virtual world. This video work tells the surreal story of workers whose forced moves in a motion capture studio are turned into artificial sunshine.

‘Steyerl’s films and essays take the digital image as a point of departure for entering a world in which a politics of dazzle manifests as collective desire. This is to say that when war, genocide, capital flows, digital detritus, and class warfare always take place partially within images, we are no longer dealing with the virtual but with a confusing and possibly alien concreteness that we are only beginning to understand. Today the image world, Steyerl reminds us, is far from flat. And paradoxically it may be in its most trashy and hollowed out spots that we can locate its ethics. Because this is where forms run free and the altogether unseen and unrecognised toy with political projects at the speed of light. It is where spectacle and poverty merge, then split, then dance.’ –  Brian Kuan Wood

For a primer on Hito’s work, visit:

You can see a video of her work below!


Co-sponsored by the Cultural Forms in Global Circulation Working Group, the Institute for International Studies, and the Department of German.




Berkeley’s Art, Technology, and Culture Colloquium is an internationally recognized forum for presenting new ideas that challenge conventional wisdom about art, technology, and culture. This series, free of charge and open to the public, presents artists, writers, curators, and scholars who consider contemporary issues at the intersection of aesthetic expression, emerging technologies, and cultural history, from a critical perspective.

All lectures will take place at the Banatao Auditorium in 310 Sutardja Dai Hall from 7:30-9:00pm. *NOTE TIME CHANGE FOR HITO STEYERL’S LECTURE, WHICH TAKES PLACE AT 12 NOON* Visit the ATC Colloquium’s home page at for tickets, directions, a list of speakers, and to join the mailing list.


Photo credit: Hito Steyerl, Factory of the Sun at the 2015 Venice Biennale, German Pavilion, 2015, single channel HD video, environment, 21 minutes, image CC 4.0 Hito Steyerl, photo by Manuel Reinartz.​