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Lisa Rein / Hysterical Pixel

Lisa Rein a.k.a. Hysterical Pixel is an artist-researcher-designer based in Berlin. Their work ponders questions of digital media infrastructures, codes, languages, and emancipatory practices. They graduated from Aalto University, Helsinki’s department of New Media, with a minor in Visual Culture, Curating and Contemporary Art in 2021. Their Master’s Thesis, Dirty Computers — On the Sociocultural Implications of the Computational investigates the diverse histories of computers, the internet and the digital, and maps out ten metaphors that describe the paradigmatic features of current digital landscapes. LR teaches at the University of Applied Science (HTW), Berlin, and will start teaching at University of the Arts Bremen in April 2022. They are a member of collectives such as FemMusic and faces and contribute in different ways to digital feminist practices.

Recent projects:
2021 research assistant at Tirana Art Lab (with Aalto University Helsinki)
2020 participation in C& — Center of Unfinished Business (transmediale 2020).
2020 Strange Things, UdK group show at Silent Green Berlin


Hot Network Questions (working title)

I have been researching digital infrastructures (programming languages, internet, algorithms, network theories, etc.) with artistic and scientific means for several years. and during the residency at Arbeitszimmer thealit I will work on the symbiosis of computer forums as a gathering place of the "brogrammer" scene and the paradigm of programmability, which is deeply rooted in the history of digital systems.

“Creating the new tag ‘feminism‘ requires at least 150 reputation.
Try something from the existing tags list instead.“ is one of the most frequented internet forums for questions about programming languages and computer technology. Google referred me to the site for the first time a few years ago when I was once again stuck on a coding problem. While I was clicking through questions and answers about Javascript and HTML, I noticed the category Hot Network Questions, which presented the best questions from all the forum entries on the right-hand side of the screen.

"Why was Sauron preparing for war instead of trying to find the ring?“
"Does academia have a lazy work culture?“
"How to respond to a sexual harrassment claim made against you?“

The questions seemed so arbitrary and at the same time so specific that I became less and less interested in my Javascript problems and more and more interested in the hot network queries. I wanted to get involved and, above all, we wanted to understand how stackoverflow works, as a community that cooperates and as a structure, as an automaton that generates answers to questions that are not as clearly answerable as the multi-tongued apparatus would suggest.

Automated Communication

The same rules apply to all of these platforms: Questions and answers only, no opinions, no discussions, no "chit-chat". Good (right) answers, and also good (right) questions are voted up by other users, bad ones down. Users earn "reputation" through their rightful and good answers, questions and activities and reputation equals power: It is counted in little stars and the more stars a user has earned, the more functions are unlocked. Someone with a high reputation can comment, delete and vote on questions and answers, someone with no or low reputation cannot.

The paradigm of programmability determines the codes of conduct of Stackoverflow and generates a communication structure in which answers to a conversation are not ordered chronologically, but according to their supposed value. True to the logic of the Computational Universe (N. Katherine Hayles), not only numbers can be sorted along a scale from 0 to 100, from good to bad, but all kinds of other complex elements, such as the contributions in a conversation. The obsessive attempt to classify and automate human communication leads to regular overload, to stackoverflow, as the name of the forum anticipates in unintentional comedy.

My first explorations of the forum were some years ago. Time and again I have taken screen walks on Stackoverflow, sometimes throwing questions myself into the maw of the answer-generation machine, usually getting back a many-voiced roar and capturing in screenshots what I could hold on to before my posts were deleted by users with more reputation. This collection lies in a folder on my computer, waiting for me to devote myself to it. During the studio fellowship, I will sift through it, expand it and strive to find a form for it. When I think about it, suddenly the documented snippets of chat conversation become a dialogue in space, a theatre, a communication machine or a cyberfeminist collaboration.

Lisa Rein Arbeitsproben