By Kate Busby
Forward-thinking artists and activists will be gathering to share their thoughts on privacy, freedom and the Internet at the CCCB from October 22nd to 24th as part of The Influencers, dubbed a guerrilla festival of radical entertainment.
Now in its 11th year, The Influencers aims to inspire, provoke and unsettle audiences in equal measure. On the agenda are talks by Annie Machon, a former spy for MI5, conceptual artist Amalia Ulman, graphic design team Metahaven, 8-bit musician Dragan Espenschied, the !Mediengruppe Bitnik collective, Marxist theorist Franco “Bifo” Berardi and subversive cultural activists The Yes Men – all of whom share a common interest in the Internet and its impact on contemporary society.
Barcelona has long been a hotbed for contemporary art that flirts with technology, with several of the city’s institutions dedicating to exploring innovations in the field. This pairing has long been seen as geeky and of marginal interest. That said, with the rise of trendy Internet artists and social media’s proven power as a global mover and shaker, the marriage of art and technology is now a mainstream concern.
Bani Brusadin, festival director, explains: “The Influencers began as a pilot project in 2004, a time when YouTube didn’t even exist. Today, the picture is radically different. The explosion of social networking has liberated unthinkable creative forces. The festival’s key has always been to offer first-hand experience of controversial projects that explore the constant consumption of images and the paradox of a society that is increasingly controlled and self-controlled.”
One of the festival’s highlights is the showing on Friday of Citizenfour, Laura Poitras’ documentary on the events that took place during the week that Edward Snowden met with journalist Glenn Greenwald in a Hong Kong hotel room to hand over the information that has turned him into a hero for many. Or take part in Trail Blazers, a game in which 16 players compete to prove their web surfing skills – no keyboard, no Google, just pure hyperlinks.