|An exploration of the falsification of reality in media and new frameworks for civic integrity, on display September 18 – October 31, 2019
Slought is pleased to announce The Potemkin Project, an exploration of the falsification of reality in media and new frameworks for civic integrity, on display from September 18 – October 31, 2019. The project, part of Slought’s ongoing Photographies of Conflict series, is organized by Ivan Sigal, and presented in partnership with the Center for Media at Risk at the University of Pennsylvania. A public conversation featuring contributors to the project—the organizations Bellingcat, Global Voices, and Witness, as well as artists Ivan Sigal and Robin Bell—will take place in October.
Grigory Potemkin is infamous for having fabricated villages in Crimea in advance of Catharine the Great’s visit to the region. Yet this story partially myth, spread by Potemkin’s opponents to discredit him. The Potemkin Project is a series of installations, initiatives, and discussions that addresses the construction and falsification of reality in media. It is an inquiry into the many media forms that assert authority over our perceptions, and of the logic that underpins those claims. It explores how media events drive and shift real-life events, from the history of war propaganda to current obsession with disinformation; from the hype surrounding virtual reality to the effects of so-called deep fakes and synthetic media.
The Potemkin Project seeks to reveal and explain the mechanisms of control, surveillance, restrictions on rights, and misinformation by governments and their agents, and to explore their complicated relationships with the technology companies that underpin our communications systems. The civic value of our networked media structures lies latent; while the internet’s architecture has shifted toward massively capitalized players, the underlying structure of networks, for now, remains available to us, but only if we protect and use it. In order to maintain a vibrant media ecology, we need to invest in diverse communities that produce legitimate information and knowledge. Committed media activists, journalists, researchers and theorists around the world are witnessing events as they experience them, and inventing new ways to document and disseminate information to advance this vision. A media ecology that aspires to be democratic in form and content needs to be rooted in activities that support our collective civic life.