Hito Steyerl is a German filmmaker and artist whose work explores the complexities of the digital world, art, capitalism and the implications of Artificial Intelligence for society.
Steyerl’s recent artworks cover subjects as diverse as video games, surveillance and art production.
Her series of projects at the Serpentine Galleries was positioned around ideas of ‘power’. Beginning from the premise that ‘power is the necessary condition for any digital technology’, the artist considered the multiple meanings of the word, including electrical currents, the ecological powers of plants or natural elements, and the complex networks of authority that shape our environments. She addressed the notion of power through three interrelated research strands and projects: Actual Realityos, a collectively-produced digital tool; Power Walks, a series of guided walks and a tour that drew upon conversations with campaigners, community groups and organisations in the local area surrounding the Serpentine; and finally this exhibition, Power Plants, which featured new video installations created using artificial intelligence trained to predict the future.
Outside on the grounds of the Serpentine Sackler Gallery, an augmented reality app, Actual Realityos, charts real life data around inequality through virtual means within the communities surrounding this gallery, recorded as one of the most socially uneven boroughs in Europe. Visitors to the Serpentine could download and use the free Actual Realityos app to view a series of architectural models that have been distorted in line with data that charts this social inequality. Through the app and overlayed on the gallery’s exterior walls, visitors see data on social housing, austerity and workers’ rights. These models represent findings by local research partners, including personal testimony and community mapping in relation to national statistical data. Actua