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The public self

Panel Discussion

Artist and media scholar Hasan Elahi, sociologist Harald Welzer, artist Florian Mehnert and cyber psychologist Catarina Katzer will discuss the displacement of private life into public space and the associated effects. The event will be moderated by Ann-Christin Bertrand of C/O Berlin and Anne-Marie Beckmann of Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation as part of the Watched! series on the topic of surveillance art & photography.

"If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place." Eric Schmidt, Google

Authenticity versus fictionality, stability versus dynamics – the 'self' is no longer a fixed psychological and philosophical variable but rather marked with fragility and fractures. It can't simply exist on its own, but rather forms in the exchange with its surroundings and requires public attention in order to learn values, norms and behaviors. The ego is only constructed in the gaze of the other and as such is the result of a narrative that constantly redefines itself. So far, the self has constructed itself in its immediate environment. Through the digital revolution and social media, one's radius and options are expanded to a much larger degree – anyone can present themselves at any time at any location and in real time. At the same time, this pinnacle of networking leads to a blurring of the private and public, an increasing individualization and results in constant surveillance – both internally and externally.

As such, the Internet acts as a completely new coordinate system for the whole of our behavior. The tendency to share and open oneself is increased through social media – a balancing act between virtual identity and one's everyday self, between digital voyeurism and permanent attention and affirmation. When does self-determination become a necessitation? How does virtual reality affect real and as of yet autonomous actions and as a result our self-perception? Does an internal censor exist by default if we're conscious of the control of our data? Or are we only able to reclaim our autonomy with the radical surrender of our private lives? Where do we define our primary location – in real life or on the media stage?

In the discussion, representatives of the arts, psychology and sociology will grapple with current developments and potential consequences as well as the challenges for the self in public space. Media scholar and artist Hasan Elahi has informed the public about his activities for over ten years, sociologist Harald Welzer warns of a new digital totalitarianism, artist Florian Mehnert is initiating a social revolt against big data and the social psychologist Catarina Katzer is researching the interplay between the real and the virtual self.

Surveillance has long been a major issue in society. Sociologists, psychologists, lawyers, politicians and artists address the different forms of surveillance and their effects on individuals and entire groups. They don't merely concentrate on issues of privacy and the potential threat to individuals through governmental and private surveillance, but rather critically and playfully deal with the various forms of daily surveillance as constitutive part of our social lives. Given this universal development, the question arises: What effect does this have on us? How are these developments reflected in artistic works? And how can contemporary art and media theory contribute to a better understanding of our modern surveillance society? With the Watched! - Surveillance Art & Photography event series, C/O Berlin and the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation seek to answer precisely these questions and present different commentaries and reactions from the perspective of contemporary art and media experts. The concept of the event series was created with the participation of city sociologist Dr. Dominik Haubrich.

The discussion will take place in English.

Doors open from 8 pm . start 08:30 pm
Admission 10 Euros / 6 Euros . Online Ticket (plus pre-sale fee)
Place C/O Berlin . Amerika Haus . Hardenbergstraße 22-24 . 10623 Berlin