Jan Nikolai Nelles: Technoheritage and the Politics of Digital Preservation
The CSC and program in Computer Science are excited to host a talk with Berlin-based artist and technologist Jan Nikolai Nelles. This talk takes place as part of the Arts and Computing in NYC course offered between Barnard and the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT). We're also grateful for support from Barnard's Digital Humanities Center.
Preserving A Future: Technoheritage and the Politics of Digital Preservation
What do Queen Nefertiti's bust, dinosaur skeletons, and the culturally fracked Buddha's head have in common? In a version of an artist's talk, Berlin-based artist and technologist Jan Nikolai Nelles asks: Do digital versions of these objects exist separately from the physical artifacts and their disputed histories?
Relegated to temperature-controlled museum spaces, prehistoric life-forms and colonial objects are dying a second death. For example, religious artifacts collected largely by Western museums often spend their afterlives in warehouses, justified under the guise of "scientific" preservation practices that mandate finely controlled environments.
The advent of 3D printing and scanning has enabled institutions to create digital copies of these objects, which often replicates fraught colonial relationships of ownership and belonging. With these technologies now widely available via discrete hand-held devices and more advanced scanning instruments, this talk asks how the dynamics of ownership and control are made digital and what this might have to do with the use of computing as an artistic medium.
Jan Nikolai Nelles is a multidisciplinary media artist based in Berlin, Germany. His work pursues approaches in the traditions of institutional critique and decolonial practices. His art counteracts dominant narratives and the condition of cultural fracking by a majority society. Generating challenges for cultural institutions, including public museums, through civil disobedience and creating techno heritage. His practice reflects on technology's potential to contribute to collective imaginaries. Overall, his practice attends to the absurdity of the human condition.
He has received grants for his work from the Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Goethe- Institut, Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen, German Federal Foreign Office European Cultural Foundation, and the Berlin Senate. He has exhibited in the Victoria and Albert Museum’s Applied Arts Pavilion at La Biennale di Venezia, the 3rd Istanbul Design Biennial, ZKM Karlsruhe, Dublin’s Science Gallery, NRW Forum, Space Fundacion Telefonica, Berliner Herbstsalon – Gorki Theater, Ars Electronica, Abandon Normal Devices, The Influencers, and Gray Area Festival Art & Technology, among others.
His work has been featured in The New York Times, BBC, The Times, Artnet, Wired, Le Monde Afrique, Financial Times, Arte TV, The Independent, New Statesmen, Hyperallergic, Smithsonian, Al Ahram, Egypt Today, Vice, Hürriyet, Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung, Spiegel Online, Heise, The Boston Globe, Dezeen, Archdaily, Polska, La informacion, De Volkskrant, Gizmodo, New Scientist, Popular Science and The Verge among others.
This talk will take place online. A Zoom link will be sent to registrants shortly before the event.