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Matthew Billings & Amanda Wasielewski

Press release


Matthew Billings & Amanda Wasielewski – ​Telecommunication 

Not Not is a set of video collages by Matthew Billings in which the artist aims to make sense of the fever dream of imagery in the age of Instagram. With his jittery, all-too-human hand, he reassembles glimpses of desire, of humor and humanity as refracted through the prism of commodified social engagement. The ability of the platform to aggregate fragments without offering any sense of coherence becomes a way of organizing Billings’ own way of seeing––at once chaotic and formatted, alienated and oddly tender. His vision is neither techno-utopian, seeing in the gaps and glitches of his work some “escape” from the medium (for where are we to escape to?); nor techno-dystopian, seeing only the neoliberal value extraction through “free” individual performance. The works serve to trouble both characterizations, focusing on how we see now––how belonging, kinship, and authorship are reorganized through the daily habits of image-making and consuming in which we all partake, not art per se but not not art either. (Text by David Lê)

Matthew Billings lives and works in Berlin.

With the advent of automated switchboard technology in the 1950s, phone companies set up their systems with only a single channel for both voice and tonal operational signals, leaving them vulnerable to exploitation. Phone hackers soon found that by playing tones of certain frequencies down the line, they could gain access to the system and make free long distance calls, set up chat-room-like conference calls between users, and even—as myth has it—phone into the White House. When personal computers came onto the scene, phone hackers (or ‘phreaks’) were some of the early pioneers. Phone hacking continued until the 1990s when digital switching systems were gradually put into place and hackers were no longer able to dial in to play with the phones. The last analog carrier system in the continental US was in Wawina, MN. Northern Telephone Company had a customer base of around 30 or 40 homes total, and, in June 2006, made the switch to digital because they could no longer handle the volume of phreaks calling in to play with their phone lines.

Amanda Wasielewski is an American artist and researcher based in Stockholm. Her work explores the interrelation between network technologies and specific locations. She is the author of Made in Brooklyn: Artists, Hipsters, Makers, Gentrifiers (2018) and holds a doctorate in Art History from the Graduate Center CUNY. Wasielewski has taught social media and internet studies at the University of Amsterdam, architectural history at the Spitzer School of Architecture, and modern art history at Lehman College. Her artwork has been exhibited internationally.