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Catalog view is the alternative 2D representation of our 3D virtual art space. This page is friendly to assistive technologies and does not include decorative elements used in the 3D gallery.

Catalog:

The Identity Factory

San José Museum of Art Opened August 5th, 2021 View 3D Gallery
Poster image for The Identity Factory

Statement:

This is not a game. This is real life.

Your behaviors in this space are being monitored and recorded. The work you do will create the collective meaning of this experience.

You are constructing an identity by making choices out of finite sets of categories. You will then document your experience and share it in a feed with the other workers.

What is captured when you move through online spaces? Who is watching, and what do they extract from you?

How much of the identity you create is really yours?

Artworks in this room:

When Fiction Becomes Reality

Hito Steyerl

Filmmaker and writer Hito Steyerl has studied philosophy and documentary filmmaking, written journalism, trained as a camera person, and spent her formative days as a stuntwoman and bouncer. At seventeen she cast close friend Andrea Wolf in her first film—a feminist remake of Russ Meyer’s 1965 action adventure Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!, only enacting the fighting scenes with a gang of three vigilante women. Steyerl later used footage from the film for November (2004) and Lovely Andrea (2007) to traverse the real-life tragedy of Wolf’s death in Kurdistan, where she had joined the women’s army of the PKK (Kurdish Workers’ Party). When Wolf died, Steyerl envisioned her original action film with Wolf as a form of documentary—albeit contrived—about women fighting for justice. The artist’s recirculation of images from the original fiction, interwoven with images of the Turkish government’s repression of the Kurdish struggle for independence, complicates the relationship between fact and fiction. Photo by Trevor Paglen.

Hito Steyerl 50X50
Photo portrait of Hito Steyerl by Trevor Paglen.

Factory of the Sun

Hito Steyerl

Hito Steyerl’s futuristic films are based on the strangeness of contemporary life: “Real biographies are so much more interesting than anything I can imagine,” says the artist, who studied documentary filmmaking. Screened in an immersive grid of glowing blue LED lights—a kind of Star Trekkian “holodeck” able to materialize a different world in three dimensions—Factory of the Sun (2015) tells the story of workers whose forced dance moves in a motion-capture studio are turned into artificial sunshine. The surreal story is loosely based on an actual YouTube phenomenon— homemade dance videos made by Steyerl’s studio assistant’s brother went viral and were then used as a model for Japanese anime characters—and a news story about an experiment at CERN nuclear research facility in Geneva that claimed to have measured a particle traveling faster than the speed of light. On screen, Steyerl rendered such a reality through “images and avatars” using a montage of YouTube dance videos, drone surveillance footage, video game characters, fictitious news, and real documentation of recent international student uprisings. Modern warfare, corporate culture, and anti-capitalist resistance movements are played out by disembodied characters—avatars, bots, or proxies for human viewers who watch the video from the vantage of reclining beach chairs.

Hito Steyerl 50X50
Installation view of Hito Steyerl, Factory of the Sun, 2015. Single-channel video and environment. San José Museum of Art. Purchased jointly by Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; San José Museum of Art; and Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, through the Board of Overseers Acquisitions Fund, 2017.08. Courtesy of the artist and Andrew Kreps Gallery, New York. Photography by Manuel Reinhartz.

Entrance

Welcome. This is not a game. Unfortunately it is real. Please go to Zone 1 and begin work. Roll the die in each zone to operate our proprietary Chance Algorithms. Your work will make them better. Complete all three zones and head outside to submit your work for review.

Zone 1

You are the owner of your own destiny. Your decisions matter. Our machines are made of pure sunlight. In our factory everyone dances and the sun is always shining. Please select a dancer which authentically represents you, and move on to Zone 2 for your next assignment.

Zone 3

Our sponsors are some of the most prestigious intelligence services, defense contractors, investment banks, and sovereign wealth funds on the planet. They generously provided some of their products to us for this exercise. Select your favorite object and continue to our replica NSA listening station.

Zone 2

Our factory (powered by enterprise artificial intelligence solutions) learns by forming associations. Please match your dancer to an environment. Your work is valuable to us. When you are finished, proceed along the yellow safety line to the simulated basement to begin your final task for the day.

Listening Station

Thank you for providing us with your valuable data. Your identity has been recorded in our logs and forwarded to our sponsors for analyses. Your work is valuable to us. Please take a screenshot of your work and submit it for review.

Instructions (Entrance)

Welcome. This is not a game. Unfortunately it is real. Please go to Zone 1 and begin work. Roll the die in each zone to operate our proprietary Chance Algorithms. Your work will make them better. Complete all three zones and head outside to submit your work for review.

Instructions (Zone 1)

You are the owner of your own destiny. Your decisions matter. Our machines are made of pure sunlight. In our factory everyone dances and the sun is always shining. Please select a dancer which authentically represents you, and move on to Zone 2 for your next assignment.

Plan your visit

Factory of the Sun will be installed at San José Museum of Art from August 6 2021 to Fall 2022.

Plan Your Visit to the San José Museum of Art