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Francis Hunger (de): The Setun Conspiracy

Foto: Evelyn Jahns

‘The SETUN Conspiracy’ takes as its subject the SETUN computer, developed in 1958 by N.P. Brusenzov and his team at Moscow State University. Instead of the binary logic of regular computers, it was based on ternary logic. Hunger has created a performative installation which comprises a research archive, a tri-lingual publication, and an information office. The artist is himself a central part of the installation. Moreover, he functions as the sole interface for visitors, who can use him to obtain information provided they abide by the rules and only ask questions. Though seemingly a modest human interface, the artist is placed, in effect, in a singular authorial position, exercising full control and determining how much information is eventually disseminated. The project’s echo of Cold War complots, secrecy and conspiracy in relation to technology and ideological power struggles, becomes timely in a day and age when information and disinformation are like twisted sisters. Hunger’s play with fact, fiction, and the historical reliability of his source material seem to stab at a current existential angst in relation to data overload and manipulation. It shows us that as technological innovations are fallible, so are history and memory.

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