AGF HYDRA's performance in Athens which was made as part of the "Honey, I'm Data!" project with Phile Magazine and Benjamin Blaquart.

Meet Keiken, a collective based in London and Berlin. They ooze, render, and bedazzle at the nexus of art direction, immersive installations, and theory-as-practice, working together to design a more just digital future. They talk about mutual respect, intimate data, and adaptability—all themes at the forefront of their recent performance-lecture at the ICA London, “Honey, I’m Data.” 

Introduce Keiken to the world: how did you start? What do you do?
We skived school together and found matching jackets. Hana’s said “Japan” on the back because she is half Japanese and Tanny’s had an embroidered dragon that said “Rock & Rock”. Then we found the third water triplet at uni, Issy. Although she did not have a cool Jacket like us, she took us Cornish kids to stay in a Castle in Scotland that had hundreds of butterflies inside a tower with a spiral staircase. One day we were in Issy’s flamingo room and we formulated a classic spider diagram carefully connecting our individual selves to realise what was at the center of our work and the world itself: “experience”.

Then we adopted George Jasper Stone, a hungry baby with a ginormous heart. We began to create this entity, working with Jess Pemberton, Faerie Nyne Derricott, Haruka Fukao, Alberta Shearing, Staz Rybin, Zac Pomphrey, Jasper Golding, Auguste Oldham, Oak Matthias, Ben Wood and then later on with Nati Cerutti, Harriet Davey and Callum Leo Hughes in Berlin.

We moved to the big city from Cornwall and met our long lost sister Suzannah Pettigrew. The rest of the family we met online, connected from the womb: cosmic AGF HYDRA; Zaiba Jabbar, our wild fire sign auntie; Sophie Mars, our sister from another dimension; and Phoebe Smith, our warm water sign mother.

Together we are a hybrid practice that is constantly changing, with collaborators coming in and out. It’s essentially a space where we can grow, create, and practice collective critical thinking. The overall aim is to push the boundaries of immersivity and interactivity, as well as test-drive and imagine potential futures.

Keiken’s name comes from the Japanese word for “experience.” What kinds of media do you work with in your practice, and how do they each relate to the themes of experience and world-building?
The last time we tried to unravel the many strands of our practice and world-building, Hana cried because there were too many layers. World-building really works on so many levels—it is the foundation of how we work collectively. Think of it literally as a world, and that world needs multiple voices and ways of existing both collectively and autonomously to sustain itself.

Then, the world is made of many materials and mediums. For example, we use trans-authorial narrative to build collective stories and different assets to create our world. In terms of interactivity and new technologies, we use game theories and world-building to really place the audience in a simulated future world. Then lastly, conceptually, to test drive and grasp implications and potentials, we use world-building to subvert the laws and structures from our own world—to see the world differently.

A lot of the most prevailing issues are due to structures that are so embedded into society that we accept it as reality, and don’t recognise that we can change them. We also like to connect ideas in a way where the world is like a puzzle from a bird’s-eye view. We are taking very large and varied topics that are all different facets of our own world: inequality, techno-capitalism, climate change, politics, popular culture, and science. We try to reflect on these intersections and how they exist simultaneously. We believe we can’t talk about pressing issues without addressing one separately from another and at least trying to see how they may connect.

I recently saw your lecture-performance at the ICA, where you layered live narration onto a projected collection of your video works. How did you decide on the lecture-performance format?
We always like to try and subvert typical situations, we’ve come along way from doing stupid stuff like wearing nakey selfie badges, getting people to copy us—slowly an entire room wearing their clothes inside out—and accidental food fights. Lecture-performance was something we developed quite a lot last year. The format stems from “Honey, I’m Data!” a performative lecture produced in collaboration with Suz, AGF HYDRA, George and Nati. We really want to make our work accessible, whilst unravelling reality as it is. At the core is collective critical thinking. Our friend and collaborator, Finbar, really helped deconstruct what we do: he said we challenge, rather than accept, the realities that we are demanded to inhabit.

In the talkback after the performance, you described your collective’s format as “open-source.” What inspired you to embrace this spirit of open-ended collaboration? How can people get involved?
We think some of the most vital necessities for our future are being adaptable and fluid: not just being individuated, but actually being a bit of both—collective and an individual. For us it is not about who came up with what, or whether someone else has taken this, it’s about these ideas coming to life regardless. Ownership can be both integral and obsolete so we kinda want to embrace this.

What we mean by saying ‘open-source’ is that when working collectively, we become part of a fluid entity; with interchangeable roles, the collaborators shape, challenge and transform projects. They can take elements back into their autonomous practices as well, so this exchange nurtures both themselves and Keiken.

There is an ideology about open source, but in a literal sense, it doesn’t always work like that. We were talking about it with Suz, she pointed that a lot of the most successful collaborations start with a mutual respect for each other’s work. In Keiken, there are no defined rules but there are boundaries that are respected—then, at the same time, there are boundaries that are waivered. For example, with Tanny, Hana and Issy, their boundaries are super open—they’ve worked together for so long that they no longer have an individual practice, and in fact their practice is each other’s now. It’s great because something you may struggle with, another will excel at.

Being energetically drawn together is how Sophie describes the spirit in which we work. With an aligning vision of the future, our creative process is very fluid, one person gives an impulse and it travels through the whole network. Our collaborations happen very naturally, we hope to meet you soon…

Honey, I’m Data!” highlights the unexpectedly intimate relationships we have with our devices. What’s the weirdest, most bizarrely-intimate task you outsource to your phone?
Issy and Suz have been using this app called Moody which tracks your menstrual cycle. The app lets you log your emotions, how your body feels, and even how you feel about the world. It’s crazy how you enter emotions and feelings into the app which you wouldn’t necessarily share with anyone. In some sense, it’s really nice that we can share intimate data, which can help our own understanding of our bodies and enable more self-awareness. This aligns very much with the quantified self movement, where self-knowledge is obtained through data.

One day I was thinking to myself, wow I feel so calm, focused and relaxed about everything, then I went onto the app to check what it had to say about this day of my menstrual cycle. It said I was likely to be feeling those things, it made me think, wow, my body is just algorithms! If I start to see my body as just algorithms, then the authority shifts away from my individuated feelings into something thats actually quite predictable.

I think this a really positive use of technology, where through data we can learn so much more about ourselves and our bodies. But this is really at the beginning of a much larger potential where the algorithms will know us better than ourselves and we will outsource our decisions to them. However, this also highly depends on who will be in charge of all that data. We believe it’s really important to consider future technological implications as well as design more progressive uses of technology, as an emancipatory politics.

Are there other artists or collectives working today whose work inspires you or you see yourselves in dialogue with?

There are a few. 18plus18plus18plus, and our friends CROSSLUCID, too.

Being drawn to each other is important, but sometimes it means you have a lot of like-minded people in the same room. We don’t want to be talking just amongst ourselves. It’s really important to work with people who share similar values to you, but you also need to check in and critique what and how you are actually challenging. We really want to work with people who see the world differently, who have different backgrounds, skills and understandings.

For example, our collaborator AGF HYDRA is an artist, activist and researcher in the field of regenerative culture, working with psychiatry researchers and international environmental organizations. We are super inspired by the younger generation and their embrace of activism with persistence. It’s unbelievable how children like Greta Thunberg have charged collective action on such a large scale. We would really like to work with academics, scientists, particularly neuroscientists, and tech companies to make knowledge more accessible whilst being mindful of shaping a more conscientious future.

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The atmosphere and landscape of the internet is like a depiction of the global mind, but how accurate is it when it’s so manipulated? With scenes from Sophie Mars. An extract from “Honey, I’m Data!” Online GDPR Data Party! 27/05/18 watch the *full* live stream - link in bio. __________________________ @hervisions_ and us (@_keiken_) held our online ‘Data Party’, a live-streamed discussion with performances, hosted and streamed on the @luxmovingimage website. Following the enforcement of the ‘General Data Protection Regulation’ law on 25/05/18, “Honey, I’m Data!” Online GDPR Data Party! is a celebration of our online identities and an exploration of what the future holds for them. Inside the space behind the screen, you transform into digital algorithms, you are no longer simply biological. You are documentation, an interpretation, a sheer sheet of self that multiplies, you create a culture that streams back into the organic world in ways we do not always understand. You are numbers and a universal language. __________________________ Featuring @doreenrios @licklemore and Frankie Altamura as our guest speakers with Hana Omori (@_keiken_ )and VIP guests and online performers @naticerutti____ , Nyne Derricott, @agf_hydra H Y D R A, @crosslucid (Sylwana Zybura and Tomas C. Toth), @sososugarplum Sophie Mars, @suz_p and @georgejasperstone. __________________________ #gdpr #data #party #datapart #honeyimdata #livestream #googlehangout #lux #luxmovingimage #conferencecall #liveperformance #onlineperformance #digitalculture #netart #performanceart #online #irl

Una publicación compartida de K E I K E N (@_keiken_) el


courtesy KEIKEN


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