Test shots exhibition opening

Test shots is a series of interventions that taps into the data found on test-model cameras in media stores. If you stop to browse these photos and videos you often find a gallery of haphazard shots, mostly of the opposite shelf, some of friends, some of the photographer, and some of strangers.

Test shots #1: Facebook

Curated by Susanne Kudielka & Kaspar Wimberley
Artists: Unknown

As our society and lifestyle becomes increasingly integrated with and reliant on the use of digitalised information, it’s hard to avoid leaving any traces. Twitter, Google, Facebook, etc. Do we even know what information we are revealing, when, and to whom?

In our local Media Markt in Stuttgart row upon row of video cameras and digital cameras are lined up, offering customers the chance to try them out before they make a purchase. Many of these devices save the users ‘test-shots’ onto the cameras memory, a shared Facebook of Media Markt users (39% were female of which 4% had red hair, 41 % looked over forty, 50 % of the jackets were black, 57% of the hands were not visible, 29% looked into the camera, and so on). A piece of identity carelessly left behind.

During Filmwinter, a festival for expanded media in Stuttgart, we declared that the camera department in Media Markt had opened as a temporary art gallery. The shelves were labelled and an official opening event offered shoppers some bubbly and nuts. For seven days we invited visitors and customers to browse through the photos and videos that had been left behind on the cameras, examining them within a gallery context to discover a collection of beautifully haphazard images, mostly of the opposite shelf, some of friends, some of the photographer, and some of strangers.

Perhaps it is the concentrated objectivity of the protagonists that leads to the creation of such intimate, honest and human portraits. The photographers are not creating images to be presented to anybody in particular (they are not performing); their images have simply slipped inadvertently into the public domain. Accidental artists leaving us traces of their personality.

When does looking at these images become an intrusion of privacy? Do we have the right to declare that this space is now a public gallery?

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Susanne Kudielka and Kaspar Wimberley work internationally as interventionists and performance researchers specialising in site-specific and site-responsive art, alternative strategies for audience interaction and new forms of artistic collaboration.

The artistic process usually begins with a given site, and a process of observation and dialogue that analyses, and eventually responds, to the architectural, socio-political, geographical, mythological, connotative and historical narratives that can be found there.

Projects are quietly subversive, playfully readjusting the narrative and appreciation of a particular activity or a given site. The working process often involves those that live in an area, and aims to be accessible and relevant.

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