THE ETHICS OF CODING
Video performance, 12 ink drawings, 2015-2019
During the last years Facebook’s algorithm censored countless art historical nudes. Paintings such as Manets‘s „Olympia“, Ingres‘s „Grande Odalisque“ or Botticelli‘s „The Birth of Venus“ have been censored by Facebook because of nudity. Programmed algorithms coded to detect pornography are now used to banish images of art and cultural history from social networks.
In her video performance „Censored -“ Johanna Reich produces 12 ink drawings, on which she marks the censored parts of the famous nudes. The censorship by Facebook raises many questions referring to the ethics of coding: social networks form our society and values like transparency, data sovereignty, and the understanding of algorithmic procedures become indispensable.
A second look at the censored images draws the attention to another debate: Most European paintings are the passive portrayal of an unclothed woman painted for the male viewer. The english art critic John Berger describes this view in his essay „Ways of seeing“ as an active-passive pattern: „men act and women appear. Men look at women. Women watch themselves behing looked at.“