Hello, welcome to our home page! We are !Mediengruppe Bitnik, an artist duo based in Berlin founded by Domagoj Smoljo and Carmen Weisskopf 📛. We work both on the 🏄‍♀️ Internet and with it as a 🕳️ medium. Within our works we raise topical questions about data realities, surveillance, non human entities, and networking, among others.

In our practice we utilise deliberate loss of control 💅 as a means to question established structures. Pushing software to its limits — misusing it to provoke errors — provides us with insights into a system’s inner workings. In the public art piece H3333333K we experiment with the aesthetics of imperfections and translate a fleeting visual error onto the 🍕 architecture of the House of Electronic Arts (HEK) in Basel. We had a lot of fun translating an ephemeral glitch into stone 🏗️

In Download Finished we use the error, the glitch, to give new life to downloads from peer2peer networks — illegal in some countries and nevertheless a widespread cultural practice — ↪️ as raw material for artistic reinterpretation.

The❗exclamation mark in our name !Mediengruppe Bitnik is a reference to != in coding language and means not. Read “The Not Mediengruppe Bitnik”. Unintentionally 🎠 (of course), it also always puts us first in any list in alphabetical order ٩(◕‿◕。)۶

We’re most interested in looking at the ⚙️ fractures and fissures where technologies can be re-invented and opened to other uses. During the 2020-2021 pandemic, we built a set of one, two, three browser plug-ins that change your browser’s user-agent settings to that of a search engine bot. 🕹️ The plug-ins give users 🔑 access to the grey-web, a space usually open only to search-engine bots. In this space, the Internet is simpler: images are smaller, design complexities are reduced. Most importantly, no ads appear (bots are not potential customers) and archives and newspapers give the search engine bots unrestricted access. ⌨️ Where humans encounter paywalls, bots are allowed to browse, because only the content that bots have indexed are later retrievable through the search engines.

Playful exploration is also the starting point for 🌵 Non Guided Tour 🚷, a work that was commissioned by Neuer Berliner Kunstverein (n.b.k.). 🌐 It is a re-interpretation of Tomas of Schmit’s piece Sanitas #79 from 1962. In his controversial performance piece, Schmit asked the audience to board a tour bus. The audience expected to be taken on a scenic tour, but was instead driven the exact distance of 100 kilometers, only to be abandoned by the roadside 🚌 (and had to find their way back). We translated the experience to the Internet: The players of Non Guided Tour are dropped at a random point exactly 100 km from n.b.k. on a virtual map. 🗺️ The challenge is to find your way back to n.b.k. using only rudimentary clues and 🖱️ click-walking back along dusty roads to the city center. 🎫 Non Guided Tour transposes the Fluxus work into an interactive online game. 🌐💄

📷 With Delivery for Mr. Assange we intervened into a highly tense political crisis. In 2013 we sent a parcel containing a camera with live-feed to Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy in London. The parcel documented its journey into one of the most surveilled buildings in London, establishing a 🔓 connection with Julian Assange, 🛈 one of the most important journalists and proponents of freedom of information. The images from the parcel take us on a 32-hour wild pictorial journey of the UK postal system and into the Ecuadorian embassy — or as someone on Twitter put it: This is more exciting than the Mars Rover. Unmanned photography charting unknown territory. 📦📦📦

Sometimes we venture 📡 deep into the grey zones at the fringes of technology or society or art and get into legal trouble ⚖️. This happened most notably when the installation piece Random Darknet Shopper was seized by Swiss police in 2015. Random Darknet Shopper was an 💻 automated shopping bot which went shopping on the Internets dark markets. 🔌 For three months, Random Darknet Shopper logged into the dark web once a week and 🎲 randomly chose one item costing under $100 in bitcoins 🔗, automatically purchased it and had it delivered to the exhibition space at Kunst Halle St. Gallen. 📢 The installation was seized by the police after the bot bought 10 Ecstasy pills from Germany. We were investigated for illegal possession of drugs, but all charges were dropped in the end.

Before that, we also got in trouble for a piece called 📺 UBS lies. In this case the Swiss bank UBS threatened to sue us for libel (also here) because we put up a billboard of UBS lies as part of an exhibition at SPACE gallery in East London.

And sometimes one of our art pieces also triggers legal speculation. Both CCTV - A Trail of images and Surveillance Chess hack into feeds from surveillance cameras, 🍿 prompting academics to write a paper on the implications of using CCTV footage in artistic practice. This in turn prompted us to write a peer-reviewed article for a fantastic journal called Surveillance and Society.

We have published two books 📀 Delivery for Mr Assange and <script>alert("!Mediengruppe Bitnik");</script>, which documents our works until 2017. The title for the second publication is actually JavaScript code which makes some book store websites go crazy. The book was a collaboration with the talented designers Knoth & Renner (as was this website design).

With the amazing and talented French music producer Low Jack we collaborated on Alexiety, a set of three songs that interact with voice-triggered ☁️ Smart Home devices. The release was part of an exhibition at panke.gallery Berlin and the ⛵ release party for the EP was the start of the Cryptorave series 🪩, a series of events we ran as LARPs in Berlin, Barcelona, Athens and Basel.

Since 2021 we have been ⛏️ collaborating with activists, philosophers, artists, poets, writers and technologists on ISSA, Island School for Social Autonomy ⚒️. ISSA is a place that imagines, experiments with, and cultivates forms of knowledge production and sharing that go beyond traditional notions of education and its purpose. 🌊 It also fosters modes of living that extend beyond mere 🛟 survival in the “age of extinction.” ISSA is located on the Croatian island Vis. 🏝️

When we are not on Vis, we are based in Berlin. Our gallery is Super Dakota based in Brussels 💌. They have supported our work for many, many years with enthusiastic energy 🪛 and inspiring encouragement. Actually, there are a number of friends, collaborators and accomplices that have shared our journey. panke.gallery Berlin, Drugo More Rijeka, Aksioma Ljubljana, Annka Kultys London.

In 2023, we curated a show called Unreal Data at Drugo More in Rijeka. The show is based on research from the ongoing research project Latent Spaces. Performing Ambiguous Data 🧱. Curating has become a format in which we publish findings from artistic research. And a great way for us to think through new topics and fields of research that we periodically delve into. We first did this in 2014 when we co-curated the show The Darknet — From Memes to Onionland. And Exploration at Kunst Halle St. Gallen.

In 2024, we further 🦺 developed the concept of 'Unreal Data' into a 3-month curatorial programme for Aksioma - Institute for Contemporary Art Ljubljana called Unreal Data - Real Effects. With one, two, three exhibitions, a conference, a podcast series, talks, workshops and a forthcoming publication. For the exhibitions we worked with Simon Weckert and Total Refusal and with Selena Savić and Gordan Savičić we developed a series of 🧱 works for the programme called 1 ⭐ Review Tour.

Our favourite musical event of 2023 was 🍰 4x4, a punk inspired performance project we co-curated together with panke.gallery and panke.club to dispel the Berlin winter blues and foster new collaborations. 40 artists were randomly divided 🎲 into 10 new bands which then performed one club night. The performances were 💯!

We teach. For two semesters we had the honour of guest-professoring Birgit Brenner’s class 📝 at the State Academy of Arts in Stuttgart. The teaching coincided with lockdowns for Covid-19, so together with the amazing students 💐, we exhibited the end-of-year exhibition in the summer of 2020 on eBay Kleinanzeigen, the largest plattform for classified ads in Germany. When we left, the students gave us the most amazing gift: a meme book (more here and here).

We run server infrastructure for ourselves and others. For many years, we hosted nettime mailinglists (now run by our friends at servus.at). We currently host server infrastructure for panke.gallery, /rosa and Zentrum für Netzkunst, ISSA, Aksioma and others. We co-founded and co-run the Mastodon instance tldr.nettime.org with Felix Stalder, Gordan Savičić & Ted Byfield.

Currently, we are working on building 🌸 a non profit foundation for adventurous and risky art projects. It will be ⛔ called 417 Expectation Failed.

Some beautiful people 📋 have written a page for !Mediengruppe Bitnik on the French Wikipedia. We also have an entry in ⚓ SIKART Lexicon on art in Switzerland.

You can find us also on 🕳️ mastodon, 🕳️ twitter & 🕳️ instagram. Or come join us with an account on the mastodon instance 🕳️ tldr.nettime.org.